Spiritual Life

St. Michael of Synadda

Beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord, God, and Only True Savior Jesus Christ,


[Stichera of Pascha. Plagal of First Tone]

A Pascha of delight, Pascha, the Lord's Pascha, an all-venerable Pascha hath dawned for us, a Pascha whereon let us embrace one another with joy. O Pascha, ransom from sorrow! Today Christ hath shone forth from the tomb as from a bridal chamber, and hath filled the women with joy, saying: Proclaim it unto the Apostles. Glory; both now.

Plagal of First Tone
Ii is the Day of Resurrection; let us be radiant for the festival and let us embrace one another. Let us say, O brethren, even to those that hate us: Let us forgive all things on the Resurrection; and thus let us cry: Christ is Risen from the dead, by death hath He trampled down death, and on those in the graves hath He bestowed life.


On May23rd [Apodosis of Pascha] 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 Michael the Confessor, Bishop of Synadon; Saint Mary the Myrrhbearer and wife of Cleopas.

SAINT MICHAEL, BISHOP OF SYNADON. From his childhood, this wise and holy hierarch consecrated himself to the service of Christ. He labored in asceticism together with Saint Theophylact of Nicomedia. Once, in a time of drought, these two holy men caused an abundance of rain to fall on the earth by their prayers. Because of the life of asceticism and chastity that St. Michael had led from his early youth, he was chosen and consecrated by Patriarch Tarasius as Bishop of Synadon. He took part in the Seventh Ecumenical Council in 787 A.D. At the wish of the Emperor, he visited Caliph Harun al-Rashid to conduct peace negotiations. In the time of the wicked Emperor Leo the Armenian, he was deposed from his episcopal throne for his veneration of the holy icons and sent into exile, where he died in want and poverty, faithful to Orthodoxy to the end. He entered into the Kingdom of Christ the King in the year of our Lord 818 A.D.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Hierarchs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.


Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 18:22-28
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 12:36-47


"Just as too much drinking comes from habit, so too from habit comes overindulgence in sleep. For this reason one has to struggle against it especially at the start of one's religious life, because a long-standing habit is very difficult to correct". {Saint John of the Ladder}

by Elder (Geronda) Paisios of Mount Athos

Good and Evil Thoughts. [The term logismos (reason, thought in the ascetic writings) denotes either a simple thought that passes through the mind, or an emotion of the soul directed toward good or evil, or even a good or evil tendency, which has been acquired with the help of the mind, the conscience, the emotions and the will. Since a thought precedes every action, for this reason the struggle of every believer, but primarily of every monastic, to be authentic, requires constant vigilance and examination of these thoughts in order to cultivate the good and discard the evil.]

Q. Geronda, in the Old Testament, in the book Maccabees IV, it is written: "For devout thought does not uproot the passions but is their antagonist" (4 Mac. 3:5). What does this mean?

The passions are deeply rooted in us, but the good, devout thought helps us to not become enslaved to them. When man brings only good thoughts to mind and establishes a strong and healthy spiritual state, then the passions lie dormant, and it is as if they did not exist. In other words, devout thoughts do not uproot the passions altogether, but combat them and can defeat them. I think the author is describing what the Holy Seven Young Men, their mother Saint Solomone and their teacher Saint Eleazer were able to endure by having good and devout thoughts, and thus is indicating precisely the extent of the power of good thoughts.

One good thought is equal to a very long vigil! It is very powerful. Similar to how certain new weapons can intercept a missile at its base by using laser beams and prevent it from being fired, so good thoughts can also anticipate and immobilize evil thoughts at the devil's "airports", where they are launched from. This is why you must struggle as much as you can -- before the tempter devil has a chance to plant evil thoughts in your mind -- to plant good thoughts and transform your heart into a flower garden, so that your prayer will be enriched by the divine fragrance of your heart.

When we hold even the slightest grudge, a small bad thought about anyone, any ascetic discipline we may undertake, such as fasting, vigils and so forth, will be in vain. What will be the use of such ascetic disciplines, if one does not struggle concurrently to prevent and reject all evil thoughts? Why not first empty the vessel of any impure residue oil, which is only good for making soap, before putting in the good oil; why should we mix good oil with filthy residue?

A single good and pure thought has more power than any ascetic exercise. For example, a young man is tempted by the devil and has impure thoughts, and he undertakes vigils and three-day fasts in order to be rid of his impure thoughts. But one single good and pure thought which he manages to bring to mind can have greater effect than the vigils and the fasts; it can be of more positive help to the young man in overcoming his problem.

Q.  Geronda, when you say "pure thought", are you referring to specific matters or to more general ones?"

I am also referring to more general matters. For when man can see all things with good thoughts, he is purified and filled with the Grace of God. With evil thoughts one condemns and wrongs others, impedes the coming of divine Grace, and then the devil comes to do this evil work to us and in us.

Q. In other words, Geronda, do we give the devil the right to attack us just because we condemn someone?

Yes. Everything starts from good thoughts. This is what elevates a person and changes him for the better. One must reach a point of being able to see all things in purity. It is as Christ said: "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (St. John 7:24). And having acquired this, man can reach the point of seeing everything with spiritual eyes, not physical eyes. All things can be justified, in the good sense of the term.

We must be careful not to accept the devil's evil messages, so as not to pollute "the temple of Holy Spirit" (I Cor. 6:19, 3:16), thereby banishing the Grace of God and bringing spiritual darkness to our soul. When the Holy Spirit sees our heart in purity, He comes and dwells in us, because He loves purity -- this is why He manifests Himself as a dove.

With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George