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.
I HAVE SINNED--FORGIVE ME. HELPED BY THY GRACE I SHALL TRY TO CORRECT MYSELF.
Approach the Compassionate Father, O sinner, and confess your sins, saying with tears: I have sinned against heaven and before Thee, Lord God Almighty, and am no longer worthy to be called Thy son/daughter, nor even to pronounce Thy glorious name with my sinful lips, for I have made myself unworthy of heaven and earth by incurring Thy wrath, O good Master!
I beseech Thee, O Lord, cast me not away from Thy face and turn not away from me, that I might not perish. If Thy hand had not protected me, I would have perished already; I would be like dust before the wind; it would be as if I have never appeared in this world. Indeed, from the time that I left Thy path, I have not encountered one good day, for a day spent in sin, though it may seem good, is actually the bitterest of all bitter things.
And from this day forth shall I hope on Thy mercy, that Thou will give me strength to work out my salvation. Now do I fall down before Thee and beseech Thee: help me, who have strayed from the path of truth. Shower me with Thy compassion like the prodigal son, for I have made a shame of my life and squandered the wealth of Thy grace. Have mercy on me and scorn me not, due to the depravity of my life. Have mercy on me, as Thou had mercy on the harlot and the publican; have compassion for me as thou had compassion for the thief: on earth he was rejected by everyone, but thou did accept him and make him an inhabitant of the sweet Paradise. Accept also my repentance, for I too have been rejected by everyone. Thou, O Lord, came not to save the righteous, but to call sinners to repentance--accept therefore also me, who repent before Thee.Amen.
On June 25th 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: Righteous Favronia; St. Gallicianus the Patrician; Saint Symeon of Sinai; St. Nikon of Optina; St. Dometios of the Monastery of the Forerunner, Mt. Athos; Saint Dionysios of Dionysiou Monastery, Mount Athos.
SAINT DIONYSIOS OF DIONYSIOU MONASTERY, MOUNT ATHOS. Pious parents raised St. Dionysios and his brother Theodossy, and the two brothers had the same love for God. At the age of eighteen, Theodossy went to the Patriarchate in Constantinople in search of an experienced spiritual father. He received training in general education, the Holy Scripture, and ascetic principles. The Patriarch ordained Theodossy as a deacon and then later as a priest. Theodossy later left for the quiet of Philotheou Monastery on Mt. Athos, where he became the Egoumenos (Abbot). When Dionysios came of age, he eagerly went with his brother, who wisely instructed him in asceticism, the study of Holy Scripture, and the dogmas of the Church. Dionysios was later ordained as a deacon, and at the age of thirty, a priest, and yet he was he was humble before God. He went to live in a cave deep in the wilderness of Athos and in silence. Other monks began arriving to be taught by him, and even though he accepted them, he sent them to live a short distance from him, and they built cells and a church. At this same time, Theodossy had been made a bishop and had the emperor's favor. Taking advantage of this, Dionysios went and received funding for his monastery as well. On one of these trips, pirates attacked but Dionysios prayed for divine intervention and Saint John the Baptist appeared and he paralyzed the arms of the pirates and drove them away, and this is how the monastery of Saint John the Baptist on Mt. Athos came to be named. St. Dionysios died peacefully on one of these fundraising journeys.
+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: Romans 9:18-33
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 11:2-15
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"When reading the Holy Scripture, he who is humble and engaged in spiritual work will apply everything to himself and not to someone else" [Saint Mark the Ascetic].
THE ASCETIC AND THE THIEF
There was an ascetic elder and anchorite, who had been leading an ascetic life in a desert place for seventy years, in fasting, chastity and vigil. Although he labored for God for so many years, he was never accounted worthy to receive a vision or revelation from God. Thinking about this and bearing this in mind he said, "Perhaps my ascesis is not pleasing to God for some reason I do not know, and my work is unacceptable, and on account of this I am not able to receive a revelation or behold any mystery."
Contemplating these things the elder began to ask and supplicate God even more, praying and saying, "Lord, if my ascesis is pleasing to You and You accept my deeds, I-a sinner and unworthy one-ask of You, to grant even unto me a drop of Your gifts, that I may learn from the appearance of a mystery that You have heard my prayer, so that emboldened and enlightened I may live out my ascetical life." As the holy elder was praying and asking these things, he heard the voice of God say to him, "If you desire to see My glory, go to the inner desert and mysteries will be revealed to you."
When the elder heard this, he went out of his cell and went far from there. A thief then came across him who, upon seeing the abba (father), violently rushed at him desiring to kill him. And when he caught him he said to him, "It's a good thing I ran into you, Elder, so that I can finish my job and be saved. For we thieves have this custom and law and belief that he who commits one hundred murders will surely go to Paradise. So I, having labored hard, have murdered ninety nine, and lacking one more I have tried hard to finish my hundredth and be saved. So I really owe you and thank you, because today I will delight in Paradise because of you."
And when the elder heard the thief say these things, he was beside himself and was afraid at this sudden hopeless temptation. And turning the eyes of his mind towards God and reflecting on these things he said, "Is this Your glory, Lord and Master, which You promised to show me Your servant? What counsel is this You have given me, to leave my cell and be informed by this dreadful mystery? With such gifts You pay the recompense for the ascesis which I underwent for Your sake? Now I truly know, Lord, that all the labor of my ascesis was in vain; and every one of my prayers before You was considered abhorrent and a desecration. However, I thank You for Your philanthropy, Lord, that, as You know best, You chastise my unworthiness, as is needed, because of my uncountable sins and You have given me over to the hands of a thief and murderer".
Saying these things the pitiful elder thirsted greatly and said to the thief, "My child, since I am a sinner God has given me over to you for you to kill me and for you to have your way, as you have desired, and I to be deprived of life, as the evil man that I am. For this I ask you to do me a favor-a slight wish-and give me a little water to drink, and then cut my head off." When the thief had listened to the elder, willing to fulfill the elder's wish he put his sword back into its sheath, as he had been holding it out. And he pulled out a flask from his bosom and went to a river that was close by so as to fill it up and take to the elder to drink. And there where he went to fill the flask, he gave up his soul and died. So, when a little time passed and the thief did not come, the elder pondered and said, "Perhaps he was sleepy and fell asleep and that is why he is slow in returning and I will be able flee to my cell. But seeing as I am old, I am afraid, since I do not have the strength to run, and as one weak I will become tired and he will catch up with me. Then I will anger him and he will want to torture me without pity, cutting me in many pieces while still alive. Better I do not leave, but go to the river to see what he is doing." So the elder went thinking about such things and found him dead, and when he saw him he marveled and was taken aback. And lifting his hands towards heaven, he said, "Lord Who loves mankind, if You do not reveal to me this mystery, I will not lower by hands. Therefore, pity my toil and reveal to me this thing."
As the elder prayed these things, an Angel of the Lord came and said to him, "Do you see, Abba, this dead man who lies before you? For your sake he was taken by sudden death, so that you may escape and he not kill you. Therefore, bury him as one saved. For obeying you by returning his murderous sword to its sheath in order to bring you water to quench the flame of your thirst, he pacified the wrath of God and was accepted as a worker of obedience. And his divulgence of the ninety-nine murders was counted as confession. Therefore, bury him and consider him among the saved. And by this, know the expanse of God's philanthropy and compassion. And rejoicing, go to your cell and be avid in your prayers, and do not feel sorrow and say that you are a sinner and deprived of revelation. For behold, God has revealed a mystery to you. And know this too, that all the toil of your ascesis is acceptable before God; for there is no toil that is done for God's sake that does not come before Him." Having heard this, the elder buried the dead man.
[From the Gerondikon manuscript, from the Holy Monastery of Philotheou]
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God