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.
Midnight Prayers [Μεσονύκτιες Προσευχές]
"It is not at all unusual for a spiritual person to keep a vigil and to pray also during the late hours of the night. The quiet and the darkness of the night offer an altogether favorable atmosphere in which to concentrate our thoughts and to develop a fervent and contrite prayer, overflowing from the heart that is sensitive to the grace and the presence of God Who loves mankind. The Monastic tradition of the Orthodox Church is especially fond of nocturnal prayers, both in the form of person extended devotions and in the form of corporate prayer and worship.
When, however, there are various difficult circumstances in our life, such as a sickness, some danger, a sorrow, an emotional upheaval in persons and families, or even the temptations and generally the various sins and passions that burden us, then, certainly, the midnight vigil prayer acquires a particular significance and becomes all the more fruitful.
For the nights when the believer is particularly moved by a deeper sense of contrition to pray more extensively, besides these regular night time prayers, the interested person may also use additional prayers."
A PRAYER TO OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
At all times and at every hour, in heaven and on earth, O Christ our God, You are worshipped and glorified; You are long-suffering, most merciful, most compassionate, You love the righteous and have mercy upon the sinners; You call everyone to salvation through the promise of future blessings; Receive, O Lord, our prayers at this hour And direct our life toward Your Commandments. Sanctify our souls; make our bodies chaste; Correct our thoughts; purify our intentions; And deliver us from every grief and pain that comes from evil. Encompass us by Your holy Angels, So that guarded and guided by them We may attain to the unity of the faith And the knowledge of Your inapproachable glory, For You are Blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.
On December 5th 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 righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Savvas the Sanctified; Saint Necetius, Bishop of Trier (Gaul); Saint Philotheos and Saint Nektarios of Karyes, Mt. Athos; Righteous Gratos; Righteous Nonnos; Saint Gurias, Archbishop of Kazan; Commemoration of Saint Cosmas of Vatopedi and the monks of Karyes, Mt. Athos; Holy Martyrs Diogenes and Averkios; Holy Martyr Anastasios; Saints Carion and Zacharias of Egypt.
OUR HOLY FATHER SAVVA THE SANCTIFIED. The unknown village of Mutalaska, in the province of Cappadocia, became famous through this great light of the Orthodox Church, for Saint Savva was born there. He left the home of his parents, John and Sophia, at the age of eight and became a monk in a nearby monastery called 'Flavian's'. After ten years, he moved to the monasteries of Palestine, staying longest in the monastery of Saint Efthymius the Great and Saint Theoctistus. Saint Efthymius, who had the gift of discernment, foretold that he would be a famous monk and leader of monks, and that he would found a monastery that would be greater than any other of that day. After Saint Efthymius's death, Saint Savva went into the desert, where he lived for five years as a hermit in a cave which an Angel of God showed him. After that, when he had become a perfect monk, he began by divine providence to gather round him many desirous of the spiritual life. They very quickly grew in number, so that Saint Savva had to build both a church and many cells. Some Armenians also came to him, and he set aside a cave for them, and they celebrated the services there in their own language. When his father died, his aged mother Sophia came to him and he made her in a nun and gave her a cell away from the monastery, where she lived in asceticism till her death. This holy Father endured many attacks from those close to him, from heretics and from demons. But he overcame them all in these ways: those close to him he won over by his goodness and forbearance, the heretics by an unshakable confession of the Orthodox faith, and the demons with the sign of the Cross and the invocation of God's aid. He had a particularly severe battle with the demons on the mountain of Castellium, where he founded the second of his seven monasteries. He and his neighbor, Saint Theodosius the Great, are considered to be the greatest lights and pillars of Orthodoxy in the East. Kings and Patriarchs were brought to the right Faith by them, served each day and every man as an example of humility. Saint Savva entered into rest in 532 A.D. at the age of 94, after a life of great labour and great reward. Among all his other great and good works, let this be remembered above all: that he compiled the First Order of Services for use in Monasteries, know known as the Jerusalem Typikon.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Ascetics, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Galatians 5:22-26, 6:1-2
Holy Gospel Lesson: Saint Matthew 11:27-30
FOR YOUR PERSONA REFLECTION AND SANCTIFICATION
"The Holy Church is a place of Angels, a place of Archangels, the Kingdom of God, Heaven itself". [Saint John Chrysostom]
SEEKING THE WILL OF GOD IN SOLITUDE
Saint Theophan the Recluse
You know, of course, that your whole purpose at the moment is to change yourself inwardly. And so, corresponding to these inward changes and obeying the impulse that comes from them, external things must be changed as well. My advice to you in your present position is this. Begin retreating into solitude at your own home, and dedicate these hours of solitude to praying above all for one thing: "Make known to me, O Lord, the way wherein I should walk". Pray thus not merely in words and thought, but also from your heart. For this time of solitude, set aside certain hours every day, which is the better way; or else certain days of the week. And then observe this time of solitude properly, seeking above all for enlightenment, and to be shown the right way by God. To this add the practice of fasting, which affects the flesh: it will be a good aid to prayer. And during this time try, by way of experiment, to make acts of inward renunciation--now of one thing, now another--in order to become indifferent to everything; and retreat into seclusion in such a way that nothing can draw you back. The aim is to bring your soul to a state in which it longs to escape from its present way of life as a prisoner seeks to break loose from his fetters.
How to use moments of solitude
You should devote your moments of solitude exclusively to working for God--to prayer and the thought of God. These practices, if followed even reasonably aright, will not allow you to grow bored. For they bring spiritual consolation such as nothing else on earth can give.
War with passions--in community and in solitude
You are assured, so you tell me, that there is more merit in striving to serve God in the hubbub of daily life than in working for salvation in solitude. Do not argue against this conviction. Those who truly strive to serve God do not aim at gaining merit. All they care about is to purify themselves from the passions, from all passionate thoughts and feelings. For this purpose life lived in common with other is more suitable, because it provides us with practical experience in struggling with the passions and overcoming them. These victories strike the passions in the chest and the head, and repeated victories quickly kill the passions completely. In solitude, on the other hand, the struggle goes on only in the mind, which is often as weak in its effect as the impact of a fly's wing. This is why it takes longer to kill the passions in solitude. Besides, in such a struggle it is practically always the case that the passions are not wholly killed but merely forced to subside for a time, until the object of passion is again encountered. And so it sometimes happens that the passion suddenly flashes out like lightning: in that case a man who has long enjoyed peace from passions, through fighting them not only mentally but in actual fact, will not be shaken by their sudden attack. This is why men of experience in the spiritual life advise other to overcome the passions by battling against them in a definite form whilst living in community, and only later to retreat into solitude.
The true wilderness
How should you order yourself inwardly so as to enjoy peace of soul? Secure for yourself inner solitude. But such solitude is not a mere vacuum nor can it be gained simply by creating complete emptiness in oneself. When you retreat into yourself, you should stand before the Lord, and remain in His presence, not letting the eyes of the mind run away from the Lord. This state of standing before the Lord is something that supports and maintains itself. To be with the Lord is the aim of our existence, and when we are with Him we cannot fail to experience a feeling of well-being; this feeling naturally attracts our attention to itself, and through this, to the Lord from Whom the feeling comes.
Preserving inner concentration among outward cares
You were granted a great favor from the Lord. Through it He is expressing His approval of your past labors and encouraging you to undertake greater labors still. But maybe He is also teaching you this: are not inner temptations, or external sorrows and burdens, approaching to face you? Such is the thought of Saint Isaac. He says that whenever you happen to feel a special action of grace, you should look well on all sides, lest any calamity should befall you and cast you down. But attacks of boasting are more likely to assail you than sorrowful misfortunes. In that case recollect from your former life all that our conscience forbids you to praise, and thus damp down the thoughts that arise within you, just as one sometimes damps a fire down with earth, in order to prevent a big blaze being born from a small flame. Self-praise and self-esteem are followed by sinful thoughts and sinful movements, and other such feelings which are far from negligible. May the Lord save you from them all! The Lord approves your desire for solitude, but does not indicate the time. You must wait for precise indications: until they are given, keep inner silence, and continue to do all you can to look after your household properly.
How can you keep inner concentration amongst outward cares? Do you work with zeal and attention, unremittingly and without haste. Every piece of work which you have to do, accept as given you by God Himself, and do it as such. Your thoughts will then be with the Lord. You can acquire this habit with God's help.
Failure to trust in God
As soon as you turn away--however slightly--from God, and no longer place your trust in Him, things go awry; for then the Lord withdraws, as though saying: 'You have put your trust in something else--very well, rely on that instead.' And whatever it may be it proves utterly worthless.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God