On the Beatitudes of Christ: Godly Sorrow

It is indeed fitting that those who meditate on Christ's deeds mourn and weep. Were one to consider what novel things were accomplished for our salvation, what would happen to our indifference and the sleep which detains us? Whether we are grieved at the loss of things most precious, or constrained to weep by the memory of good things which we have lost, this is the way that we learn how great are and how we may waste them.

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On the Beatitudes of Christ

Who then are these whom He calls happy, who alone are truly blessed? Those who are poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, those who are merciful, those who are pure in heart, those who are peacemakers, those who endure persecutions and every reproach for their righteousness and zeal for Christ. Such are they who have laid hold on the blessed life.

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Ascending the Heights

Venerable Pachomius

Venerable Pachomius

My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord, Redeemer, God and Our Only True Savior,

CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

RESURRECTION ODE

Let us who have beheld the Resurrection of Christ, worship our Holy Lord Jesus, Who is alone without sin. We worship Thy Cross, O Christ, and praise and glorify Thy Holy Resurrection. For Thou art our God, and we know none other beside Thee, and we call upon Thy Name. Come, all ye faithful, let us worship Christ's Holy Resurrection, for behold, through the Cross, joy has come to the whole world. We praise His Resurrection, and forever glorify the Lord. He endured the Cross for us, and by death destroyed Death. Jesus, having risen from the grave, as He foretold, has given to us Eternal Life and the Great Mercy.

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TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):

On May 15th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarch, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Our Righteous Father Pachomius the Great of Egypt; Saint Achillius, Metropolitan of Larissa, one of the 318 Holy and God-bearing Fathers who gathered at Nicaea; Saint Father Varvarus the Myrrh-streamer; Saint Andrew the Hermit and Wonderworker; Saint Reticius, Bishop of Autun in Gaul; our Father among the Saints Esaias the Wonderworker, Bishop of Rostov; our Righteous Father Esaias the Wonderworker of the Kiev Caves; Saint Euphrosynus of Pskov and his disciple Serapion; Holy Fathers Silvan and Pchomius of Nerekhta; Holy Crown Prince Demetrius of Moscow and all Russia, the Wonderworker; Holy New Hieromartyrs Pachomius, Archbishop of Chernigov; and his brother, St. Avercius, Archbishop of Zhitomir; their father, the Priest Nicholas; and their brother-in-law, the Priest Vladimir.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Hermits, Holy Wonderworkers, Holy Ascetics, Holy Righteous, Holy Fathers, Holy Mothers, Holy Monks, Holy Nuns, Holy Archbishops, Holy Hieromartyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

OUR RIGHTEOUS FATHER PACHOMIUS THE GREAT. OUR FATHER AMONG THE SAINTS ACHILLIUS THE WONDERWORKER, ARCHBISHOPS OF LARISSA.

Saint Pachomius was born of pagan parents in the Upper Thebaid of Egypt. He was conscripted into the Roman army at an early age. While quartered with the other soldiers in the prison in Thebes, St. Pachomius was astonished at the kindness shown them by the local Christians, who relieved their distress by bringing them food and drink. Upon inquiring who they were, he believed in Christ and vowed that once delivered from the army, he would serve Him all the days of his life. Released from military service, about the year 313 AD, he was baptized and became a disciple of the hermit Palamon, under whose exacting guidance he increased in virtue and grace, and reached such a height of holiness that "because of the purity of his heart," says his biographer, "he was, as it were, seeing the invisible God as in a mirror." His renown spread far, and so many came to him to be his disciples that he founded nine Monasteries in all, filled with many thousands of monks, to whom he gave a rule of life, which became the pattern for all communal monasticism after him. While Saint Anthony the Great is the father of hermits, Saint Pachomius is the founder of the cenobitic life in Egypt; because St. Pachomius had founded a way of monasticism accessible to so many, St. Anthony said that he "walks the way of the Apostles." Saint Pachomius fell asleep in the lord before his contemporaries Saints Anthony and Athanasius the Great, in the year 346 AD. His name in Coptic, Pachom means "eagle".

SAINT ACHILLIUS was one of the 318 God-bearing Fathers who were present at the First Ecumenical Council; after returning to Larissa, he cast down many pagan temples, delivered many from the demons, and raised up churches to the glory of God. He reposed about the middle of the 4th century.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Righteous One. Plagal of First Tone

Thou didst prove a chief pastor of the Chief Shepherd, Christ, guiding the flocks of monastics unto the heavenly fold, whence thou learntest of the habit and the way of life that doth befit ascetic ranks; having taught this to thy monks, thou now dancest and rejoicest with them in heavenly dwellings, O Great Pachomius, our Father and guide.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Hierarch. Fourth Tone

The truth of things hath revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, an icon of meekness, and a teacher of temperance; for this cause, thou hast achieved the heights by humility, riches by poverty. O Father and Hierarch Achillius, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

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TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 15:5-12
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 10:17-28

INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY FATHERS AND HOLY MOTHERS OF THE CHURCH:

Meditating upon the words of St. John 15: 18-19 ("If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you."), St. Tikhon wrote: "What is there more comforting to a soul than these words? Sweet is the love of God, comforting and joy giving. This I wish, this I choose. Let all the world hate me if it wishes; let them do to me what they want, so long as God alone loves me and keeps me in His mercy. His love and mercy are to me above all the love and favors of the world. The good is to me, Lord, Thy mercy! I wish nothing in heaven or earth except Thee alone and Thy love."

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ASCENDING THE HEIGHTS: A Layman's Guide to "The Ladder of Divine Ascent"

By Father John Mack

Bending Without Breaking

Saint John Climacus (of the Ladder) speaks On Meekness and introduces it this way:

"As the gradual pouring of water on a fire puts out the flame completely, so the tears of genuine mourning can extinguish every flame of anger and irascibility."

When we looked at mourning we noted that Saint John is describing a life of sobriety. To mourn is to realize that we are all caught in a large web of sin and deceit; it is to recognize and fully believe that perfection is not possible in this world (even the Saints made mistakes!); it is to pursue only the Kingdom which is to come. Those who have grasped what Saint John Climacus is describing can understand why the next step is to put aside anger.

Why do we become angry? Is it not most often because we are pursuing the perfect in this world? Is it not because we are busy building up our own "kingdom" instead of the Kingdom of God? Is it not because we are concerned about how we appear and are treated in this world, rather than how we will appear and be treated in the world to come? Does not our anger most often have its source in our exalted opinions of the possibilities and capabilities of ourselves and of all those who are around us?

Anger is a terrible passion which drives away from us the Spirit of God and allows the demonic spirits to inhabit our souls. Anger, when it is given license in our souls, distorts our perspective, muddles our thinking, confuses our heart, and renders us unable to defend ourselves against the attacks of Satan. Saint John Climacus describes it this way:

"Angry people, because of their self-esteem, make a pitiable sight, though they do not realize this themselves. They get angry and then, when thwarted, they become furious."

Meekness is the Antidote to Anger

"So, then, anger the oppressor must be restrained by the chains of meekness, beaten by patience, hauled away by blessed love."

Saint John Climacus is very practical in his advice for developing meekness. Meekness is first of all developed by not answering back when we are spoken to in an angry way. Those who are beginning on the road to meekness must take as their first rule: "I will never speak in an angry tone of voice to anyone who speaks in anger to me. I will not answer back in kind." They should then extend this rule to include the following: "I will never allow myself to speak in anger to anyone," period. This is especially true when I give advice or counsel or rebuke to those who are under my authority.

Those who are progressing on the road to meekness must take as their second rule: "I will not allow my mind to think angry thoughts against those who speak in angry words to me. By extension, this means: "I will not allow my mind to think angry thoughts against anyone," period. Those who have progressed this far are close to perfection: "I will not notice those who offend me."

These have achieved true inner peace. The goal of meekness is not merely to say nothing back, nor is it to think nothing--it is to notice nothing; to be absent from self-concern and others--concern that the praise and the rebukes of men are not even noticed! Can you even begin to imagine the joy and the inner freedom of those who have attained this position? The tyranny of the opinions of others, the ability of others to control our lives by "making us angry" through their treatment of us, is terrible bondage. To be freed from this is wonderful freedom. The road to this freedom is before us:

"Take [anger] before the tribunal of reason and have it examined in the following terms: 'Wretch, tell us the name of your father, the name of the mother who bore you to bring calamity into the world, the names of your loathsome sons and daughters. Tell us, also, who your enemies are and who has the power to kill you.' And this is how anger replies: 'I come from many sources and I have more than one father. My mothers are Vain-glory, Avarice, Greed. And Lust too. My father is named Conceit. My daughters have the names of Remembrance of Wrongs, Hate, Hostility, and Self-justification. The enemies who have imprisoned me are the opposite virtues--Freedom from Anger and Lowliness, while Humility lays a trap for me.'

On the Eighth Step (Ladder of Divine Ascent) is freedom from anger. He who wears it by nature may never come to wear another. But he who has sweated for it and won it has conquered all eight together.

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CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!

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Glory Be To GOD For All Things!

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With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George

The Life in Christ (Part II)

What then can you meditate upon with greater profit and pleasure than these things? For when we examine the, and these thoughts prevail in the soul, no evil thoughts will gain entry into us. Then it will come about that, as we learn of His benefits, we will increase in longing for our Benefactor. When we thus greatly love Him we become keepers of His Commandments and participants in His purpose, for as He says, "he who loves Me will keep My commandments" (St. John 14:15, 21).

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The Life in Christ

It follows, therefore, that he who has chosen to live in Christ should cling to that Heart and that Head, for we obtain life from no other source. But this is impossible for those who do not will what He wills. It is necessary to train one's purpose, as far as it is humanly possible, to conform to Christ's will and to prepare oneself to desire what He desires and to enjoy it., for it is impossible for contrary desires to continue in one and the same heart. As He says, "the evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart knows how to produce nothing but evil" (cf. St. Luke 6:45), and the good man that which is good.

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The Confession of Faith

The very act of confessing personal and corporate belief effects the transformation of faith from an incipient or inchoate stage to one that is fuller, deeper, and more mature. A child raised in a Christian context will grow in his faith progressively by continually hearing the Word of God and by regularly participating in the Church's liturgical worship. The incipient faith of a former agnostic or atheist, however, normally rests upon a temporary suspension of the cognitive faculty because the content of the Church's proclamation cannot be directly verified by empirical evidence. His commitment is based upon a conviction of the heart rather than of the mind.

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