Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS AND IS AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ. ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
A SUPPLICATION TO THE ALMIGHTY GOD
You, Lord God, are the Father of Wisdom, the Creator and Cause of all creation that has come into existence through Your Son; You are the Provider of Good Things of Divine Providence; You are the Giver of the laws and the Commandments; You fulfill every deficiency and ever need; You love the righteous and are merciful and forgiving to the sinners; You are the Lord God of the Christians, who revere and worship the Savior whose promises are never contradicted, whose judicial judgment is incorruptible, and whose will is steadfast and immovable. To Him is due unceasing worship in truth and in spirit and unending gratitude. And in His Name, every rational and holy nature is also obliged to offer to You, the God and Father and Creator of all, the appropriate veneration and worship unto the ages of ages. Amen.
On December 18th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers, and every spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Modestos I, Archbishop of Jerusalem; Saint Zacchaeus the Deacon and Alphaeus the Reader; Saint Floros, bishop of Amisos; Saint Zoe at Rome; Saint Sebastian at Rome; Saints Nicostratos, Castorios, Tranquillinos, Marcellinos, Mark, Claudius, Symphorian, Victorinos, Tiburtios, and Castulos; Saint Daniel the Hesychast; Saint Michael the Confessor; Living-martyr Eviotos; Righteous Symeon of Verkhoturye.
RIGHTEOUS SYMEON OF VERKHOTURYE. Saint Symeon was a wealthy 7th century nobleman, but he hid this and went about as a beggar. He would sew coats and other clothes, mostly for the poor, and in so doing he would purposely neglect to sew a small article properly so as to endure the abuse of his customers. He usually lived in a churchyard not far from the village. He loved to contemplate the beauty of nature and to go fishing, as this would remind him of the Apostles. Symeon would also instruct the people in Christianity, and his conversions helped the faith to grow in Siberia and the Urals. He died at the age of 35 near the same churchyard where he had lived. He worked abundant miracles after his death. He would appear to the sick in their dreams and heal them, but he would also give them guidance for the benefit of their souls. Saint Symeon also helped those who had fallen into the despair of drunkenness.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 4:1-13
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Mark 10:2-12
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND SANCTIFICATION
"God gave man a mind so that he can become aware of his fault, repent and ask forgiveness. Unrepentance is a cruel thing. The unrepentant person is very foolish in not wanting to repent and thus be spared from the small hell in which he is now living, and which will lead him to eternal hell." [Geronda [Elder] Paisios of Mt. Athos]
HOW DOES THE DEVIL CONFIRM SINNERS IN THEIR SLAVERY TO SIN?
by Saint Theophan the Recluse [source: Unseen Warfare]
When the devil keeps a person in slavery to sin, he takes special care to darken him more and more by spiritual blindness, banishing from him every good thought, which could bring him to realize the perniciousness of his life. Not only does he banish thoughts, which could lead to repentance and turn the person to the path of virtue, but instead of them he implants evil and depraved thoughts, at the same time presenting opportunities for committing the sin, which is most habitual to him, and enticing him to fall into it or into other more grievous sins as often as possible. Thus the poor sinner becomes more grievous and more blind and darkened. This blindness strengthens in him the habit and constant impulse to go on ever sinning and sinning. Led from sinful action to greater blindness, and from blindness to greater sins, the unhappy man whirls in this vortex and will do so right up to death itself, unless special Divine grace is sent to save him.
If a person finds himself in this perilous state and wishes to be freed from it, then, as soon as a good thought, or rather, a suggestion comes to him, calling him from darkness to light and from sin to virtue, he should immediately and without delay accept it with his whole attention and desire, and put it at once into practice with all diligence, calling from the bottom of his heart to the generous Giver of all blessings: "Help me, O Lord, God, Help me quickly, and let me no more linger in this sinful darkness." Let him never weary in appealing to God in these or similar words. At the same time let him also seek help on earth, by turning to those who know for advice and guidance as to how better to free himself from the bonds of sinful slavery that hold him. If he cannot do it immediately, he should do so as soon as chance presents itself, at the same time never ceasing to appeal to Lord Jesus, crucified for us, and to His Holy Mother, the Immaculate Virgin, imploring them to have mercy on him and not to deprive him of their speedy help. He should know that victory and triumph over the enemy (Satan) lie in not delaying and in quick readiness to follow a right prompting.
Suppose a person has overcome the devil's obstacles, is filled with desire to be free of the bondage of sin and has begun to work for it without delay. Even here the enemy does not leave him alone. He changes only his tactics, but not his evil desire and hope to make the man stumble against some stone of temptation and to ruin him. The holy Fathers described such a person as being under fire from all sides--from above and below, from left and right, from front and rear, from everywhere arrows speed towards him. Arrows from above are suggestions for excessive spiritual works, above his powers; arrows from below are suggestions to reduce or even completely abandon such works through self-pity, negligence and heedlessness; arrows from the right are when, in connecting with some right undertakings and works, the enemies lead a person with some right undertakings and works the enemies lead a man into temptation and the danger of downfall; arrows from the left are when the enemies present concrete temptations and draw a man towards sin; arrows from the front are when the enemies (demons) tempt and disturb a person by thoughts of what is to come; arrows from the rear are when they tempt him with memories of past deeds and events. And all these tempting thoughts attack the soul, either inwardly or outwardly, through images and or through direct evil suggestions planted in the heart, accompanied by habitual impulses of passion; outwardly--through the impressions received by the external senses in a ceaseless flow, as we have said already. Having so many means to harm us, the enemy (devil) is never daunted by the first failures and constantly puts into use now one, now another means of tripping or leading astray the servant of Christ, who eludes his power.
After a person has decided to abandon his wrong ways and actually does abandon them, the first task of the enemy (devil) is to clear a space for an unhampered field of action against him. He succeeds in this by suggesting to a person, who has entered the right path that he should act on his own, and not go for advice and guidance to the teachers of righteous life, who are always attached to the Church. A person who follows their guidance and verifies all his actions, both inner and outer, by the good judgment of his teachers--priests in their parishes in the case of laymen, experienced Gerondes (Elders) in Monasteries-- cannot be approached by the enemy. Whatever he may suggest, the experienced eye will at once see where he is driving and will warn his pupil. In this way all his wiles are defeated. But if a person turns away from his teachers, the enemy (devil) will at once confuse him and lead him astray.
With sincere agape In His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God