Beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord,
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! Χριστός Ανέστη! Αληθώς Ανέστη!
PRAYER OF METROPOLITAN PHILARET OF MOSCOW
Lord, I know not what to ask You. You alone know what my true needs are. You love me more than I myself know how to love. Help me to see my real needs which may be hidden from me. I dare not ask for either a cross or a consolation. I can only wait upon You; my heart is open to You. Visit and help me in Your steadfast love. Strike me and heal me; cast me down and raise me up. I worship in silence Your Holy Will. I offer myself to You as a living sacrifice. I put all my trust in You. I have no other desire than to fulfill Your will. Teach me to pray. Pray Yourself in me. Amen.
On April 24th 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 and Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Savvas Stratelates of Rome and 70 soldiers with him; St. Elizabeth the Wonderworker; Saint Sava, Metropolitan of Ardeal; Saints Pasicratus and Valention of Dorostolum; Saints Evsevius, Neon, Leontius, Longinus, and others of Nicomedia; Saint Alexander of Lyons; St. Innocent, presbyter on the Mount of Olives; Sts. Savvas and Alexius the hermits of the Kieve Caves; St. Nicholas of Magnesia; St. George in Anatolia; St. Joseph the Confessor, Bishop of Maramures; St. Iorest, Metropolitan of Ardeal; St. Thomas of Syria, Fool-for-Christ's Sake.
SAINT THOMAS OF SYRIA, FOOL-FOR-CHRIST'S SAKE. Saint Thomas was a 6th century monk from Caesarea of Cappadocia (present day Asia Minor). His job for the monastery was to collect alms. He once went to Antioch in Syria, and in one of the churches, a steward named Anastasios became aggravated with St. Thomas and hit him on the face. St. Thomas said that he would accept nothing from Anastasios, nor would Anastasios be able to give him anything. Anastasios died the next day. St. Thomas also died on route to his monastery, and he was buried near Damphne. After while, another stranger died there and was buried over St. Thomas' body in the same grave. After a few hours, the dirt was strangely thrown off the grave, and when they recovered the grave, the dirt was found thrown off again. Therefore, they moved the stranger. Later when two women were buried close to St. Thomas the same thing happened. When the patriarch of Antioch heard this, he had St. Thomas moved to Antioch, to a place where holy martyrs were buried. Later a church was built over this holy relics, and many people were healed there. Again later, a plague was stopped because of the prayers of Saint Thomas.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saint, Holy Martyrs and Holy Confessors, O Christ Our God have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 4:1-10
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 3:16-21
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION:
"When someone commits a sin for the first time, he feels a certain censure, a certain amount of grief. If he repeats the sin a second time, he feels a lesser degree of censure; and if he remains negligent and repeatedly sins, his conscience becomes callous. For example, when you point out to some people their error, they will change the subject; so that they won't be troubled by their conscience - much like the Hindus seeking Nirvana." (+Geronda (Elder) Paisios the Athonite)
by Archimandrite Sophrony [Wisdom From Mount Athos]
My soul thirsts for the Living God. Time and again my soul seeks fullness of delight in the Lord. O mercy of God that passeth all understanding: the Lord formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the soul of man was made kin to God.
The Lord so loved His creature that He gave man the Holy Spirit, and man knew his Creator and loved his Lord.
The Holy Spirit is love and sweetness to the soul, the mind and the body, but when the soul loses grace, or grace is diminished, once again the soul will seek the Holy Spirit in tears, and yearn for God and cry:
My soul yearns for the Lord, and I seek Him in tears. How could I not seek Thee, O Lord? For Thou Thyself did seek me out aforehand, and gave me to delight in Thy Holy Spirit; and now my soul years for thee. My heart fell to loving Thee, and I pray Thee: give me to the end to abide in Thy love. For the sake of Thy love empower me to endure all sickness and affliction. My soul is seized with fear and trembling when I would write of the love of God. My soul is poor and without strength to describe the Lord's love. My spirit fails, but love constraints me to write. The Lord ascended into heaven and awaits our coming; but to be with the Lord we must be like Him, or like little children - lowly and meek --and we must serve Him. Then, according to the words of the Lord, "Where I am, there shall also My servant be", we too shall be with Him in the Kingdom of heaven. But now my soul is overspread with melancholy, and I am unable to lift an undistracted mind to God, and I have no tears wherewith to bewail my evil deeds: my soul is withered away and spent with the night of this life.
O who shall sing me the song that I have loved since the days of my youth--the song of the Lord's Ascension into heaven, of His love for us, of the vigil He keeps for our coming? To this song would I hearken with tears, for my soul is weary on earth.
What has befallen me? How came I to lose joy, and shall I attain to joy again?
Weep with me, all ye wild beasts and birds. Weep with me, forest and desert. Weep with me, every creature created of God, and comfort me in my grief and sorrow.
O man, what a feeble creature thou art.
When Grace dwells within us the spirit glows and reaches day and night towards the Lord, for grace constrains the soul to love God; and now that she has come to love Him she cannot tear herself away from Him: Never can she have enough of the tenderness of the Holy Spirit.
And there is no end to the love of God.
I know a man whom the Lord in His mercy visited with His grace. And had the Lord asked him, 'Wouldst thou have Me give thee more?', from the weakness of the flesh his soul would have made answer: 'Thou seest, Lord, that I cannot bear more but would die.' For man has little strength and may not carry the fullness of grace.
Thus it was that on Mount Tabor the Disciples fell on their face before the glory of the Lord.
With what shall I requite my Lord?
At times I beseech the Lord Who is merciful to grant that I may love my enemies; and by the grace of God I have experienced what the love of God is, and what it is to love my neighbour; and day and night I pray the Lord for love, and the Lord gives me tears to weep for the whole world. But if I find fault with any man or look on him with an unkind eye my tears dry up and my soul sinks into despondency. Yet do I begin again to entreat forgiveness of the Lord, and the Lord in His mercy forgives me, a sinner.
Brethren, before the face of my God I write: Humble your hearts, and while yet on this earth look upon the mercy of the Lord.
No man of himself can know what is God's love, unless he be taught of the Holy Spirit, but God's love is known in our Church through the Holy Spirit, and so we speak of this love.
The sinful soul which does not know the Lord fears death, thinking that the Lord will not forgive her sins. But that is because the soul does not know the Lord and how greatly He loves us. But if people knew this, then no man would despair in his heart, for the Lord not only forgives but rejoices exceedingly at the return of a sinner. Though you be at death's door believe firmly that the moment you ask you will receive forgiveness.
The Lord is not like us. He is passing meek, and merciful, and good; and when the soul knows Him she marvels greatly and exclaims: 'O what a Lord is ours!'
The Holy Spirit gave our Church to know how great is God's mercy.
The Lord loves us, and gently and without reproach takes us to Himself, just as the father in the Gospel story did not reproach his prodigal son but called his servants to bring a new robe and put a precious ring on his finger and shoes on his feet, and told them to kill the fatted, and be merry; and in nothing did he condemn his son.
'Did not our heart burn with us?' said the Apostles after Christ drew near them. So does the soul recognize and love her Lord, and the delight of His love is a burning delight.
In heaven there is one and the same love in the hearts of all, but on earth there are some that greatly love the Lord, others love Him in small degree, while still others love Him not at all.
The soul that is filled with love of God is forgetful both of heaven and earth. The spirit burns and invisibly beholds the Desired One, and the soul sheds many sweet tears and is unable to forget the Lord for a single second, for the grace of God gives strength to love the Beloved.
Brethren, let us humble ourselves that we may be worthy of the love of God, that the Lord may adorn us with His lowliness of spirit and His humility, that we may become worthy of the heavenly mansions which the Lord, has made ready for us.
The Lord loves all men but his love is greater for the man who seeks Him.
"I love them that love Me," said the Lord, "and those that seek Me shall find grace." And with grace life is good, and the soul rejoices and says, "My Lord-I am Thy servant."
In these words there is great joy: If the Lord is ours, than all things are ours. That is how rich we are.
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God