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 ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ. ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
A MORNING PRAYER TO GOD THE HOLY TRINITY
O Lord, Yours is the day and Your is the night; You have perfected the light and the sun; You have made all good things of the earth, and we ask You: cause Your rich mercies to rise on our lowliness, together with the daylight. Free us from the darkness and the shadow of death and from every evil thought and device of the devil. For Yours it is to have mercy and to save us, O God, and to You we send up glory, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
On June 20th 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 Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Methodios the holy Martyr, Bishop of Olympus; Saint Kallistos I, Patriarch of Constantinople; Saint Nicholas Cavasilas.
THE HIEROMARTYR METHODIUS, BISHOP OF PATARA. He devoted himself from his youth to the ascetic life and, like a city set on a hill, was seen and called to the episcopate in the city of Patara in Lycia. Saint Methodius was a learned and eloquent hierarch and wrote against the heresy of Origen. His words, "inspired by God, illumine the whole world like lightning." The pagans rose up against him, tortured him and beheaded him in the year of our Lord 311 A.D., in Chalcis in Syria.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs and Hierarchs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Romans 8:2-13
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 10:16-22
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"If a person doesn't have his guard up, the evil one can readily enter his mind through proud thoughts and delude him with fantasies and false lights, none of which can raise up to Paradise; instead, they will hurl us into chaos. This is why a person must seek repentance, not light and divine gifts. It is repentance that leads to humility; and then the benevolent God provides for us all that is necessary" (Geronda Paisios of Mount Athos)
"And coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples
also followed Him. When He came to the place, He said to them, 'Pray that you may not enter into temptation.' And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying 'Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.' Then an Angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. And His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. Then He said to them, 'Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation" (St. Luke 22:39-46).
"Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, "What, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (St. Matthew 26:40-41).
Watchfulness is the action to guard us from our automatic thoughts stimulated by our senses. It is being attentive to your inner self. The Greek word that is translated as watchfulness is "Nepsis". It comes from "nepho", which means to guard, inspect, examine, watch over and keep under surveillance. Watchfulness has been described by Geronda Ephraim of Philotheou and now Arizona (St. Anthony's Monastery) as "the axe which shatters the large trees, hitting their roots. When the root is struck, it doesn't spring up again."
Saint Hesychios sees watchfulness as follows:
Watchfulness is a continual fixing and halting of thought at the entrance to the heart...If we are conscientious in this, we can gain much experience and knowledge of spiritual warfare.
He shows us that this involves an effort to intercede on our thoughts, forcing them to be examined, to shine the Commandments of our Lord on them. He emphasizes the importance of this by calling it warfare. We know in warfare we need to have effective weapons that are stronger than those of the enemy.
Another Church Elder from modern times, Father Paisios, tells us about some of the consequences of not being watchful.
"When our soul lives carelessly without watching over its thoughts, it will consequently fill up with dirty and sly thoughts.
As a result, people start developing psychological problems which gradually pile up...Some people, while they are found in this situation and come face to face with the problem itself, they do not realize it, and thus are unable to humbly confess to their Spiritual Father their fall. Instead, they look for a "secular' solution and consult a psychiatrist, who will inevitably prescribe medication...The only solution is to become aware of the problem and confess it to a spiritual father and then humbly follow his advice.
"In our days, people have lost control over their lives, and they do not know what they are doing. The reason being, that they do not wish to be guided; they want to live undisturbed, following their own free will, which will eventually bring their total destruction...when man uses his freedom and independence without taking into consideration his human weakness, he becomes deceived; he experiences and interprets everything by using his own logic. Instead of God's grace, human logic (reason) rules his life, and his mind is in confusion. This is terrible." (Geronda Paisios)
It is essential to develop self-control over the inner workings of our mind. Most importantly, you can learn to harness the actions of your mind which tends to run wild and unchecked. This unbridled condition leads you to rely on mental programming that needs to be changed if you are going to live the Orthodox Christian life
Being watchful means you have the necessary self-discipline to guard your inner sanctuary from being violated or invaded by thought stimulated by your senses and passions that lead you to sinful actions such as anger, hate, vindictiveness, immorality, vanity, fornication, adultery, slander, stealing, lying, etc. etc. It is an ability to intervene in the process of choosing how to act based on any kind of stimulus that leads to a thought. It is a capacity to intervene in real time in your thought process.
A mind that is left to its own devices will remain undisciplined. An undisciplined mind is impossible to control. To develop a disciplined mind one must be willing to obedient to the will of God and accept His divine guidance. To develop mindfulness or watchfulness requires ascetic discipline, such as prayer and fasting, as well as help from the Holy Spirit.
Geronda Paisios was asked, "Geronda, what happens when the same person is sometimes cunning and sometimes good?
Geronda Paisios responded: "In that case, a man goes through the commensurate influences and changes. Man is mutable. Cunning thoughts sometimes stem from the tempter, the devil, and at other times, the man himself thinks cunningly. Often the devil creates the conditions that lead a man to evil thoughts."
"Since the Fall, man's nous has been confused, and therefore it has to be freed. This constitutes true freedom. The liberation of the nous from logic is done through hesychasm (stillness). This means that the man struggles to rid himself of the things which bind him, he does obedience to a deified spiritual father, practices scientific prayer, that is today he tries to do spiritual prayer unceasingly, sometimes with his lips, sometimes with reasoning, he is constantly sober, watchful not to let any tempting image from his thinking enter his heart; and this method is called therapy. Thus the man is cured and proceeds towards deification (theosis)-he throws off the mask of the passions and becomes a person." (Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos).
"From the morning watch until the night, from the morning watch let Israel hope in the Lord" (Psalm 130 . The Prophet uses the word "watch" in its military sense of guard duty. A watch is the period or shift of guard duty undertaken by Roman soldiers, who divided the night into three-hour watches, with the guard changing every three hours.
According to the commentary by Saint Nicodemus the Hagiorite on this passage, "From the morning watch" refers to the final period of guard duty of the night, from three until six o'clock in the morning, which was regarded as being already a daytime or morning watch.
The interpretation of the passage, "From the morning watch until the night, from the morning watch let Israel hope in the Lord", therefore, is that Israel should hope from daybreak until night and, by extension, our own hearts should hope in the Lord from morning until night.
Saint Nicodemos also quotes a passage from Saint John Chrysostom, who gives another, broader interpretation, that it is not just the day that is meant here, but the whole of life. Saint John Chrysostom says: "Let Israel hope all life long, in other words, night and day, for nothing is as conducive to salvation as always looking towards God and clinging to this hope". This means that you should hope in God throughout your life, with your nous turned towards God and attached to Him, and you should cling to this hope as long as you live.
According to these last interpretations, the holy Psalmist says that, from the beginning, or morning, of our lives, from our youth, we ought to fight the good fight of faith, to live according to God's commandments and be united with the Holy Triune God. It is from this perspective that we Orthodox Christians speak about imitating Christ. This does not mean imitating Him outwardly just by copying certain actions, but man's communion and union with Christ.
This verse of the psalm teaches in a prayerful way that man should cleave to God, be inwardly inspired, constantly remember God and be in communion with Him, either all day long, from morning to night, or throughout his life, from his youth until extreme old age. If we live this verse of the psalm, we shall continuously experience spiritual inspiration in our life: we shall be inspired" (Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos).
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God