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 CONTRITE PRAYER TO THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
[Saint John Chrysostom]
O Lord my God, great, awesome and glorious Creator of all things visible and invisible; You Who faithfully keep Your covenant and Your mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments; I thank You now and always for all the visible and invisible blessings which You have bestowed upon me. I praise, glorify and magnify You, up to the present time, for in accepting me from my mother's womb and providing for me out of Your abundant goodness and love for mankind, You have providentially protected and guided me in a holy manner, and thus Your rich mercy and compassion has been wonderfully demonstrated in me throughout my life. You did not overlook my lowliness because of my unworthiness and sinfulness, nor did You cease to help me and provide for me because of Your loving kindness and compassion. Do not forsake me then, O my God, even until my advanced and old age.
O Jesus Christ, the good name above all names, my sweetness, my longing and my hope. You became man for us and in wisdom planned and assigned everything for our salvation. With all my heart, O Lord my God, I confess to You. I bow down upon the knees of my body and my soul and recount before You, my God, all my sins. May I hope that You too will incline Your ear to my supplication and will forgive the irreverence of my heart.
I have sinned; I have transgressed; I have offended; I have irritated and embittered You my good Master and Tutor and Guardian. There is no speakable or unspeakable type of evil that I have not committed excessively in word and deed, in knowledge and ignorance, in recollections and in thoughts, so as to have sinned exceedingly. And having promised many times to repent, I have also as often fallen into the same sins. It is easier to number the drops of rain than the multitude of my sins; they have risen higher than my head and as a heavy burden they press heavily upon me. From the time of my youth and up to now, I have opened the door of improper desires, using the unbridled and disorderly impulses to defile the heavenly robe of Holy Baptism, to stain the temple of my body, to pollute severely my soul shameful passions, and to do every other transgression and injustice. If I were to attempt to remember each one of these sins separately, time would not permit me...
Alas, O my soul, for this has my life advanced! Life is short and troubled, moving quickly and leading to death. Eternal is the punishment of sinners, eternal also is the Kingdom of the righteous. And the life of both is not interrupted by death. What then must I do? How should I act? Into what chaos should I hurl myself? Death is horrible and evil, especially the death of sinners, for the death of sinners is indeed evil. But it is a far more fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, from which there is none who can rescue.
On August 13th 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: The Translation of the holy Relics of Saint Maximus the Confessor; Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk; Saint Dorotheos of Gaza; Saint Xene-Irene of Hungary and Constantinople; Saint Dositheos of Thawatha; Saint Hippolytos of Rome and 18 holy Martyrs with him; Saint Evdokia the Empress, wife of Theodosios II; Serid, Abbot of Gaza; St. Radegunde of Poitiers.
SAINT TIKHON OF ZADONSK. Born in 1724 in the village of Korotsk, in the Novgorod region, into a simple, peasant family, he received the Monastic habit at the age of thirty-four and very soon, because of his ascesis and spiritual wisdom, was given higher and higher service until he was consecrated bishop of Voronezh. He served as bishop for a little under seven years and then, because of ill-health, retired to the Monastery of Zadonsk and entered into rest there in 1783. His wonderworking relics are kept there to this day. A great ascetic of the Russian Orthodox Church, he was a rare shepherd, a man of prayer and the writer of beautiful spiritual works. In his wisdom, his holiness and asceticism, he could be counted an equal of the great Fathers of the Orthodox Church of former times. Because of the many witnessed miracles that were performed over his holy relics, he was first proclaimed a Saint by the people, and then officially by the Church in 1861 AD.
+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: 2 Corinthians 2:3-15
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 23:13-22
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"Love Christ Who loves you and you'll see how happy you'll be. If only you know how much Christ loves you. Make an effort to love Him too." [Geronda [Elder] Porphyrios the Kapsokalivite]
SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE TO AVOID ANXIETY
[Geronda [Elder Paision of the Holy Mountain] "Worldly Happiness Causes Worldly Anxiety" [source: WITH PAIN AND LOVE FOR CONTEMPORARY MAN]
The more people distance themselves from a natural, simple life and embrace luxury, the more they suffer from anxiety. And as they distance themselves from God, they naturally cannot find rest in anything they do. This is why they go around restless; they even spin around the moon--like the belt of an engine spinning around the "crazy wheel"--since earth cannot contain all their restlessness.
Worldly stress is the result of worldly happiness, of worldly pleasures and self-indulgence. Educated externally and being full of anxiety, hundreds of people (even young children) are driven to psychoanalysis and psychiatrists. New psychiatric hospitals are being built and young psychiatrists go on for post-graduate studies. Many of them do not even believe in God or accept the existence of the soul. How can these people help the human soul, when they themselves are full of anxiety? How can one feel truly comforted, if he does not believe in God and in the true and eternal life after death? When man grasps the deeper meaning of this true life, stress goes away, divine consolation comes and he is healed. If someone went to psychiatric hospitals and read the Abba Isaac to the patients, those who believe in God would get well, because they would come to understand the deeper meaning of life.
People try to calm themselves with tranquillizers or with the theories of yoga, and they neglect altogether the true serenity that comes when the soul is humble and God fills it with divine consolation. And imagine how all those tourists must suffer who come from other countries to Greece, and walk the streets in the hot summer sun, in the dusty and noisy streets! What great pressure they must feel inside, how stressed they must be if they need all this heat and noise to find comfort! It's like their own selves are driving them away, and all they can see in this trouble is rest!
When we see a person who has everything be stressed, anxious and sad, we must know that God is missing from his life. In the end, wealth will make people suffer, because the material goods cannot really satisfy them. Theirs is a double affliction. I know wealthy people who have everything and are miserable. They do not even have children but they are still miserable. They are too lazy to lie down or take a walk. "Fine," I told someone, "since you have some free time, do something spiritual; read one of the Hours of prayer, read a passage from the Gospel." "I cannot," he said, "Then", I told him, "try doing something good; go to a hospital to visit some sick person". "Why should I go all the way there," he says "what will become of it?" "Go help some poor person in your neighborhood." "No", he says, "that does not please me either." Can you believe that this person is miserable despite the fact that he has everything: free time, numerous houses and so on? Do you know how many people like this are in society? And these people suffer to the point that they lose their mind. What a dreadful thing! And if they happen to be independently wealthy and do not work, then they are the most miserable of all. If they at least had a job they would feel somewhat better.
Rushing Back and Forth Makes Modern Life Hell
People are always in a hurry, rushing from one place to another. They have to be here, the next hour they must be there, and the hour after that they will have to be somewhere else. To remind themselves of their many obligations, they have to write them down. With all this running around, it is a good thing they still remember their names! They do not even recognize themselves! No wonder! It's so difficult to see yourself mirrored in murky waters. May God forgive me, but the world has become a huge madhouse! No one thinks of the next life anymore. All they want is more and more material goods. This is why they cannot find peace and run around constantly.
Fortunately, the other life exists. Considering what they have done to their lives, if people lived eternally in this life, there would be no greater hell. With the stress they have, if they lasted eight or nine hundred years like people did in Noah's time, their lives would be hell. In Noah's time they lived simple and long lives and that's how Tradition was preserved. What is happening now is what we read in the Psalm: "The years of our life are three-score and ten, or even by reason of strength fourscore; yet the span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away" [Psalm 90:10]. Seventy years is barely enough time for people to provide for their children.
One day an American doctor stopped by my Kalyvi [hut] and was telling me about life over there, and how people have turned into machines. All they do is work. Each member of the family must have their own car. At home, to accommodate everybody, there must be four television sets. And they continue to work and to wear themselves out in pursuit of money, so that one day they can say that they are comfortable and happy. But what do all these things have to do with happiness? Such a life, filled with stress and anxiety, is not a life but hell. What's the use of a life full of anxiety? If we all had to live this way, I would not want this life. If God were to say to these people, "I will not punish you for the life you lead, but I will let you live this way forever," this, for me, would be pure hell.
Today God Is Put Aside
The Good God gives us His blessings in abundance. We should not be ungrateful and rouse His anger, because "the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience" [Ephesians 5:6]. God forbid. In our days, people have not seen war and hunger, and they say that they have no need of God. They have everything and appreciate nothing. But if hard times come, such as a famine and so on, and they have nothing to eat, be sure that they will come to value even bread and marmalade and everything else they will be deprived of. If we don't praise God, He will allow us to be tried with some misfortune, so that we may come to appreciate the good things that we have. But if we are full of appreciation, God will not allow anything bad to happen to us.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God