Beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You understand my path, all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me. And Your right hand shall hold me...[vs. 1-11].
On May 4th 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 Silvanos, Bishop of Gaza; Saint Necephorus of Mt. Athos; St. Pelagia of Tarsus; St. Hilarion the Wonder-worker; Translation of the holy relics of Righteous Lazarus and St. Mary Magdalene; Sts. Aphrodisius, Leontius, Anthony, Valerian, Macrobius, and others, monks of Palestine; St. Athanasius, Bishop of Corinth; St. Nikephoros, Abbot of the Medikion; Sts. Nicetas, Cyril, Nicephorus, Clement and Isaac of Novgorod; St. Erasmus, bishop of Formium.
SAINT ERASMUS, BISHOP OF FORMIUM. Saint Erasmus was bishop of Formium in third-century Italy. During the persecutions of Co-Emperors Diocletian and Maximian, Erasmus hid himself on Mt. Libanus for seven years. Then one day an Angel of God appeared to him and admonished him, saying that no one can defeat an enemy while he himself sleeps. The Angel sent him back to Formium, telling him to be brave and that he would defeat his enemies. En route soldiers arrested Erasmus for being a Christian and took him to Antioch, where he stood before Emperor Diocletian. He denounced Diocletian for his impiety, and for this he was horribly tortured; still he was unyielding. He was chained and imprisoned, and again an Angel appeared and led him out of prison, promising that he would be the salvation of many. St. Erasmus bravely taught in Lycia, and when he raised the son of an illustrious citizen from death, ten thousand men were baptized. Hearing this, Emperor Maximian ordered St. Erasmus to stand trial. St. Erasmus confessed and was beaten. Then he was forced to go to a pagan temple, but along the way all of the idols of the temple fell to the ground and were destroyed. Then fire shot out of the temple, killing many of the pagans. Saint Erasmus was set free and he baptized many pagans from that city. When he went to Sirmium, he was arrested and put into a red-hot oven, yet he remained unharmed. This caused the Emperor to go into hiding. An Angel freed St. Erasmus from his chains and returned him to Fornium, where he baptized many. Saint Erasmus died there peacefully.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Fathers, O Christ Our God have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 8:40, 9:1-19
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 6:48-54
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"Seas dry up, mountains collapse, but the glory of Christ remains forever." [+Geronda Gabriel of Georgia]
YEARNING FOR GOD
by Saint Silouan the Anthonite
My soul yearns after the Lord and I seek Him in tears. How could I do other than seek Thee, for Thou first didst seek and find me, and gavest me to delight in Thy Holy Spirit, and my soul fell to loving Thee. Thou seest, O Lord, my grief and my tears...Hadst Thou not drawn me with Thy love, I could not seek Thee as I seek Thee now; but Thy spirit gave me to know Thee, and my soul rejoices that Thou art my God and my Lord, and I yearn after Thee even to tears.
My soul yearns after God and I seek Him in tears.
O Merciful Lord, Thou seest my fall and my distress. Humbly I entreat Thy mercy. Pour upon my sinful self the grace of Thy Holy Spirit. Recollection of Thy grace draws my spirit to seek out Thy compassion anew.
O Lord, grant me Thy spirit of humility that I lose not Thy grace again, and weep for it as Adam wept for paradise and for God.
In the first year of my life in the Monastery my soul apprehended God in the Holy Spirit. The Lord loves us greatly. This I know by the Holy Spirit Whom the Lord gave me in His singular mercy.
I am an old man, preparing for death, and I write of truth for the sake of the people. The Spirit of Christ Whom I had of the Lord desires the salvation of all, that all should know God.
The Lord gave the thief Paradise. Thus will He give Paradise to every sinner. With my sins I am worse than a noisome cur but I began to beseech God for forgiveness, and He granted me not only forgiveness but also the Holy Spirit, and in the Holy Spirit I knew God.
Do you see God's love for us? And who shall describe such mercy? O my brethren, on my knees I beg you to believe in God--believe that there is a Holy Spirit Who bears witness to Him in every church, and in my soul.
The Holy Spirit is love (agape); and the souls of all the Saints who dwell in Heaven overflow with this love, and on earth this same Holy Spirit is in the souls of them that love God.
My soul knows that the Lord is merciful but His mercy passes portrayal. He is exceedingly meek and lowly, and when the soul sees Him she is all transformed into love for God and her neighbour, and becomes meek and lowly herself. But if a man loses grace, he will weep like Adam cast out of Paradise. Adam wept and the whole desert heard his groaning. His tears were bitter with affliction, and he wept them for long years.
In such wise the soul who has known and lost the grace of God yearns after God and cries. 'My soul yearns after God, and I seek Him in tears.'
I am a sinful man yet I have witnessed the Lord's grace, love and mercy toward me.
While still a child I would pray for those who gave me offence. I used to pray, 'O Lord, lay not sins on them because of me.' But though I loved praying, I did not escape sin. Still, the Lord remembered not my sins, and gave me to love people, and my soul longs for the whole world to be saved and dwell in the Kingdom of Heaven, and see the glory of the Lord, and delight in the love of God.
I judge my own case: if the Lord so loved me, it must mean that He loves all sinners in the same measure as He loves me.
O love of God, no power can describe it, for it is immeasurably great and wonderful.
The grace of God gives strength to love the beloved; and the soul is drawn to pray unceasingly, and cannot even for a second forget the Lord. O Lord, Lover of mankind, how came it Thou didst not forget Thy sinful servant but didst look down in mercy upon me from Thy Glory, and inscrutably reveal Thyself to me? Always I wounded and grieved Thee. Yet I had but to turn to Thee and Thou, O Lord, wouldst give me to know Thy love and immeasurable goodness. Thy meek and gentle gaze captured my soul. with what shall I requite Thee, O Lord? What hymns of praise shall I sing unto Thee? Thou givest Thy grace that the soul may evermore burn with love, and day and night she knows no rest from love of God.
Remembrance of Thee warms my soul, and she finds no peace on earth save inThee, wherefore I seek Thee in tears, and lose Thee again, and again my mind would delight in Thee, but Thou shewest not Thy Face, for which my soul longs day and night.
O Lord, grant me to love Thee alone. Thou didst create me, thou didst enlighten me through Holy Baptism, Thou didst forgivest my sins and sufferest me to partake of Thy most pure Body and Blood. Do Thou enable me at all times to dwell in Thee.
O Lord, grant unto us the repentance of Adam and Thy holy humility.
Saint Silouan writes on love:
"Love does not depend on time, and the power of love continues always. There are some who believe that the Lord suffered death for love for man but because they do not attain to this love in their own souls, it seems to them that it is all an old story of bygone days. But when the soul knows the love of God through the Holy Spirit, she feels without a shadow of a doubt that the Lord is our Father, the closest and dearest of fathers, and there is no greater happiness than to love God with all our mind, with all our heart and with all our soul, according to the Lord's commandment, and our neighbor as our self. And when this love, is in the soul, everything rejoices her, but when it is lost sight of, man cannot find peace, and is troubled, and blames others as if they had done him an injury, and does not realize that he himself is at fault: he has lost his love for God and has accused or conceived a hatred for his brother."
On the Holy Apostles he says:
"The Apostles walked the earth, speaking to the peoples concerning the Lord and the Kingdom of Heaven. But their souls wearied and thirsted to behold their beloved Lord, and therefore they had no fear of death but met death gladly, and if they were content to live on earth, it was only for the sake of the people to whom their love had gone out.
The Apostles loved the Lord, wherefore they feared no suffering. They loved the Lord and they loved the people, and this love removed all fear from them. They feared neither suffering nor death, and for this reason the Lord sent them out into the world to enlighten men."
With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God