Beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord, God and Only Savior Jesus Christ,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, Who walks in His ways. When you eat the labor of your hands, You will be happy, and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine In the very heart of your house, Your children like olive plants All around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the Lord. The Lord bless you out of Zion, And may you see the good of Jerusalem All the days of your life. Yes, may you see your children's children. Peace be upon Israel!
On May 10th 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 Simon the Zealot, Apostle of the Twelve; Saints Alphacos, Philadelphos, Cyprian, Onysimos, Erasmus, and 14 others; Saint Simon, bishop of Vladimir; Saint Hesychius of Antioch; Saint Simon of Yrievits and Zharki; Saint Synesius of Irkursk; Saint Laurence, monk of Egypt; Saint Basil of Mangazea, the Wonder-worker.
SAINT SIMON THE ZEALOT, APOSTLE OF THE TWELVE. Saint Simon was the groom at the wedding feast in Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle in public, turning water into wine (see St. John 2:1-11). Seeing this miracle caused St. Simon to become the Eleventh Apostle. He had belonged to a radical anti-Roman group known as the Zealots, which was formed in an effort to resist the Roman census. St. Simon was present at Pentecost and there committed himself to spreading the message of Jesus. His frequent missionary journeys took him to preach in such faraway places as Africa and England. It was said that he was tortured and finally crucified in pagan England.
[Commentary on the miracle at the wedding in Cana]
The "wedding in Cana" is the setting for the first of the Seven Signs (miracles) performed by Jesus in the Gospel of Saint John...The setting is significant. In the Old Testament, marriage feasts symbolize the union of God with His bride, Israel. Jesus begins His ministry at a wedding in Galilee, which was largely Gentile territory (see note on St. Matthew 4:15); thus this sign becomes a symbol of the joy of the Kingdom being spread beyond Judea to all the world. It is "the third day" from the call of the first disciples (1:35). "The Mother of Jesus was there" perhaps as a relative of the bride or groom. Tradition names St. Simon the as the groom. By His presence at this wedding, Jesus declares marriage to be holy and honorable (Hebrews 13:4); therefore this passage is read at Orthodox weddings. [Orthodox Study Bible].
+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 Corinthians 4:9-16
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 6:12-19
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"We forget that He is everywhere and that any job we do and any task we perform is His. We think that the job we are doing is for someone else and we often perform out tasks unwillingly. When we perform a task unwillingly, soon resistance and a feeling of disgust are born in us, and then our life becomes filled with resistance and disgust for everything, and we grow old in this manner". [Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica]
OUR LORD ON "HOW TO PRAY"
(St. Matthew 6:5-13)
"And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray go into your room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father Who is in secret place and your Father Who sees in secret will reward you openly.
And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray:
THE ANSWER TO OUR PRAYER
by Monk Moses
[Part III. "Prayer as an important Aspect of Our Spiritual life]
The delay in seeing our prayer requests fulfilled, in having our questions answered, is yet another point on which our life of prayer is tested. It is neither a matter of God not hearing our prayers nor of His being indifferent to our suffering. God does not want us to be troubled and tormented, but to be in constant communion with Him with our fervent prayers, which should increase if not immediately answered. We should thank God whether He gives what we ask for or not, since in either case He is acting for our own good. We should not be discouraged and disillusioned when we do not receive what we ask for in prayer, God may be testing our persistence. Let us not tire easily.
If we do not receive what we seek we should thank God nonetheless, as if our prayer has indeed been answered, since He knows our true needs of the present hour better than we do. It may be that our hope does not materialize because what we desire is not essential, even though it may seem indispensable to us at the time. If something is truly indispensable God will provide it instantly. Therefore, even in the case of apparent rejection, Saint John Chrysostom reassures that in essence we have succeeded. Any failure that brings a benefit to our life is in fact not a failure but success.
"But Father, I am asking for spiritual things that are good for me, why is it that I do not receive them?" you may ask. Perhaps because your zeal for them is insufficient. Perhaps because the requests are not truly from your own heart, but contrived from other sources or motives. Perhaps you are not worthy to receive them at this time. It is not possible that God, Who takes care of the birds, the irrational animals and the plants of the earth, and Whose compassion for human beings far surpasses any paternal bond of kinship ignores us without reason.
Our drowsy yawning, our flight even from the very first disappointment when everything seems to bother us, our indifference, accompanied by much carelessness and doubt, indicate quite clearly that in the final analysis we do not really know what we want and what we seek. There are times when it is clear, as when we do not ask today what we were asking just yesterday, that we do not really need what we pray for. The illness of constant change in our desires, easily understood psychologically, can affect and torment our life of prayer. Essential changes in the way we pray come from mystical experiences, divine breezes, subtle whispers of the Holy Spirit in humble, peaceful and understanding hearts. As our heart improves so does our attitude in prayer.
Saint John Chrysostom asks rhetorical questions and provides answers which summarize the matter well:
"Are you in a state of calmness and serenity? Then, beseech the Lord to make more permanent this joy in your heart. Are you troubled by the onslaught of tribulations and temptations? Beseech the Lord to calm the storm in your life. Has your prayer been heard? Thank God. Have your not been heard? Persist in your prayer until you are heard."
To thank God for pleasant things that come our way is natural. But to be able to thank God for even the unpleasant events that happen in our life is remarkable, and when this really happens in our lives, we truly bring delight to God and shame to the devil. Sorrow changes to spiritual joy. No one is more holy than the person who can be grateful to God in his suffering.
Saint John Climacus (of the ladder) says that effective prayer is characterized by two main elements: sincere thanksgiving and contrite confession. He clearly tells us that our requests in prayer are sometimes not fulfilled for one of the following reasons. We may be asking before the appropriate time, we may not be worthy, or we may be seeking out a sense of vainglory. Another possible reason is that, if we do receive what we pray for, we may fall into the sin of pride. Also having received what we ask, we may fall into the other sin of negligence.
CONTRITION AND COMPUNCTION IN PRAYER
According to the same holy Father, Saint John, who authored the famous spiritual book, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent", true prayer is both mother and daughter of tears. Contrition and compunction are its regular companions. Compunctious prayer is based on an attentive life, attentive to the ever-presence of God in our life, to the purity of our heart, to the genuine humility of our spirit, and to the mystery of death which we must even remember and contemplate. As it is impossible for fire and water to live together, it is similarly impossible to mix compunction with a life of luxury. And if we could only direct our awareness to the many salutary interventions of God in our life, our eyes would fill with tears of joy for His abundant blessings. Orthodox hymnology is replete with such sweet tears of gratitude combined with tears of compunction, which in ascetic terminology refer to harmolypi (joyful sadness).
Should our prayers be favored with such tears, let us be careful not to lose this blessing because of pride. Mark the Ascetic informs us that with tears Christ has visited us and has opened our eyes. The memory of our sins in general, and not necessarily specific sins, is sufficient for compunction. Saint Barsanouphios says that compunction will come when we tame our will such that we are able to abandon our non-spiritual rights and our love for worldly popularity. It is important to distinguish true compunction from the tears of superficiality, vanity and sentimentality. And we must be careful. Compunction can be wiped out by a careless tongue.
Prayer without compunction is like a meal without taste, according to Elias the elder. The saintly Theognostos tell us that compunction can be gained in prayer by temperance, vigilance and humility. And Niketas Stethatos observes that compunction begets humility and compunction.
Geronda [Elder] Paisios of Mt. Athos says, "The Name of Christ is all-powerful. The prayer is a fearsome weapon against the devil. First we should confess to God, after saying everything to our elder, and then we can start the prayer of the heart ("Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner"). That way, we'll make a good start every day. The prayer should be said noetically [that is, within the nous] instead of aloud...What helps someone say the prayer?" the elder was once asked. He answered, "What enables us to say the prayer with eager goodness, instead of mechanically, is a feeling of our sinfulness and gratitude for God's gifts. Eventually, we get used to it. When we know ourselves and think about how ungrateful we are, we'll want to say the prayer. When we've been saying the prayer in our sleep, and then we wake up and keep going with it--that's when it's spiritual spring time."
With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God