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 Χριστός έν τώ μέσω ημών. Και ήν και έστι και έσται.
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
I praise, bless and thank You, Almighty God, the Father of Light,
that You have again shown to me the light of this day. I entreat
You: forgive my sins and accept my prayer in Your great mercy,
for I seek refuge in You, the merciful and Almighty God. Shine
in my heart the Light of Christ, the Sun of Righteousness.
Enlighten my mind and my whole being that I may live according
to Your Commandments and serve You in all that I do and say.
For You are the source of Life and Light, and to You I give praise
and thanksgiving, to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
now and forever. Amen.
On February 9th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorate, honor and entreat the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics and Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Hieromartyr Peter of Damascus; Saint Nicephoros of Antioch; Hieromartyrs Marcellus, Philagrius and Pancratius; Saints Aemilianus and Bracchio of Tours; Saint Romanos, the miracle-worker of Cilicia; Saint Pancratius of the Kiev Caves; Saint Gennadius of Vologda; Saint Nicephoros of Vazheozersk.
HIEROMARTYR PETER OF DAMASCUS: This particular Peter, as there were two, was an ascetic. It was said that he collected wisdom as a bee collects honey. He never owned a book and was forced to borrow everything that he read. As bishop of Damascus, he spoke out so forcefully against Islam that the Arabs cut off his tongue and sent him into exile in Arabia. Through a miracle, he was still able to preach the Gospel, and he converted many there. He wrote a book about the spiritual life. He wrote about the general and particular gifts of God, the general being the four elements as well as His works revealed in the Gospel. The particular gifts sent to each man, though they seem dramatically opposed, are all sent for salvation--wealth for mercy, poverty for patience, health for helping and feebleness for humility. His life ended in martyrdom.
+ By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: I John 1:8-10, 2:1-6
Holy Gospel Lesson: 13:31-37, 14:1-2
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION:
"Through mindfulness of God, you will always reflect on 'whatever is true, whatever is modest, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good report, whatever is holy and deserving praise' (Phil. 4:8); and in this way you will banish from yourself the pernicious evil of forgetfulness". [Saint Mark the Ascetic]
ON HUMBLENESS AND PATIENCE
by Geronda [Elder] Paisios of the Holy Mountain
"God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (Jc 4:6)
Father Paisios used to say: When we patiently endure our problems and turn to God for help, we notice that He gives us the best possible solution. Unfortunately, in our days, people are very impatient. We do not love patience at all. Christ assured us, however, that only the ones who are patient will inherit the Kingdom of God. ("...they are those who are who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience." St. Luke 8:15 - "but he who endures to the end will be saved" (St. Luke 24:13) - "by your endurance you will gain your lives" St. Luke 21:19.
Sometimes God allows for a relative or a fellow worker to cause us problems in order to exercise our patience and humbleness; however, instead of being grateful for the chance God gives us, we react and refuse to be cured. It is like refusing to pay the doctor who is giving us a shot when we are ill.
The good Christian must also endure his corrupt supervisors; for they are amazed by his good behavior, while they are being unfair to him. God does not want us, His children, to be pestered. He gives us temptations and hardships, in order to become perfect. Temptations will cease to exist in our life, when we reach the level of perfection.
We, Christians, ought to love afflictions, and not try to get rid of them; afflictions are necessary means leading to our perfection. When people treat us unjustly, we must be happy, because God's justice, which is superior to human justice, will protect us. We should either seek human justice, or patiently wait for the justice of God. We must be careful, however, not to pursue an unjust treatment, because this would be unfair on our part and would indicate lack of love towards other people.
It is for our own benefit to hope for divine justice, when treated unfairly, and not react to the injustice done to us. Not only we will profit from this, but later on our children will be benefited as well. However, the opposite thing happens, when people curse us and the curse is just. When God sees that we are proud and arrogant, He allows for the presence of temptations in our life. He will take them away from us, ONLY when He sees that we humble ourselves.
Father Paisios said that the spiritual work of a Christian should focus on the acquirement of humbleness.
God loves man very much; He knows very well the problems of each one of us, and wishes to help us before we ask Him to do so. Since God is Omnipotent, there are no difficulties which He cannot overcome, except one. The difficulty God faces, and I repeat, it is the only one, is that He "CANNOT" help us when our soul is not humble. God "feels sad" because while He sees His creature suffer He cannot offer any help. Whatever help He offers, it will harm the person because he lacks a humble mindset.
Man wants to progress spiritually and asks God to give him love, prayer, obedience and all virtues. We should be aware that God will not give us what we are asking for, no matter how hard we try, unless we humble ourselves. If our only aim is humility, then God will give us everything for free.
God wants and desires only one thing from us: our humbleness. He does not need anything else, just to humble ourselves, so He can actually make us partakers of His Divine Grace, which was granted to us through the Mystery of Holy Baptism. Although we did not love Him yet, neither had we struggled to acquire His grace, He gave it to us as a gift out of His extreme kindness. He is only asking for us to humble ourselves and respond out of gratefulness and appreciation to His love. Thus, divine grace, which abides in us, will be activate and function accordingly. It will make us love God and get to know Him; it will do everything for us, if we only humble ourselves and allow for it to act. The only obstacle to the energy of God's Grace is our pride, our lack of humility.
Saint Peter in chapter 5 of his 1 Epistle helps us to clearly understand our fault and tells us what we should do: "Clothe yourselves, all of you, with HUMILITY toward one another, for God opposes the proud, but gives GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Humble yourselves therefore under the Mighty Hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you. Cast all your anxieties on Him, for He cares about you." [1 Peter 5:5-7]
If we concentrate solely on our struggle for humility, then everything else will be granted to us by God as a blessing. When we take of everything else except our humbleness, then we will never achieve anything good; even if we did, we wouldn't be able to keep it for long. We need one thing: The humbleness of our heart, which will give rise to the Kingdom of God's Grace.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God