St. Sophia and Her Three Daughter, Faith, Hope and Love
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.
PRAYER TO THE GUARDIAN ANGEL
O my holy guardian Angel, Attendant of my wretched soul and afflicted life, Do not abandon me, a sinner, Do not depart from me because of my lack of self-control. Do not allow the evil demon to subdue me Through the oppression of this mortal body of mine. Take hold of my wretched and outstretched hand And guide on the way to salvation. O holy Angel of God, Guardian and protector of my miserable soul and body, Forgive me for all those things with which I have grieved you Throughout all the days of my life; And for whatever I have sinned this day. During this present night shelter me and keep me safe From every attack of the adversary, That I may not through some sin bring anger to God. Intercede with the Lord in my behalf To give me strength to stand in awe of Him And to become a worthy servant of His goodness. Amen
On September 17th 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 faith: The holy Martyrs: Saints Sophia and her three daughters, Faith, Love and Hope.
THE HOLY MARTYRS FAITH, LOVE AND HOPE AND THEIR MOTHER SOPHIA. They lived and suffered in Rome in the time of the pagan Roman Emperor Hadrian. The wise Sophia (as her name--Sophia--wisdom, indicates) was left a widow and, as a Christian, steeped herself and her daughters in the Christian faith. At the time that Hadrian's persecuting hand stretched out over the virtuous house of Sophia, Faith was twelve, Hope ten and Love nine. The four of them were brought before the pagan Emperor, with their arms entwined 'like a woven wreath', humbly but firmly confessing their faith in Christ the Lord and refusing to offer sacrifice to the goddess Artemis. At the moment of their passion, the mother urged her valiant daughters to endure to the end: 'Your Heavenly Lover, Jesus Christ, is eternal health, inexpressible beauty and life eternal. When your bodies are slain by torture, He will clothe you in incorruption and the wounds on your bodies will shine in Heaven like the stars.' The torturers inflicted horrific tortures on Faith, Love and Hope one by one. They beat them, stabbed them and threw them into fire and boiling pitch, and finally beheaded them one after the other. Saint Sophia took the dead bodies of her daughters out of the town and buried them, and stayed by their grave in prayer for three days and nights, then gave her soul to God, hastening to the heavenly company where the blessed souls of her daughters awaited her.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Galatians 4:28-31, 5:1-10
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 3:19-22
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"The Evil One will never cease shooting at us with his flaming arrows and trying to overcome and dominate us. But we also have many deadly weapons. In particular the prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me" literally burns him."[Geronda (Elder) Ephraim of Arizona]
THE NEW GENERATION
By Geronda Paisios of Mount Athos
The Spirit of Sacrifice Is Missing
Most people today have not tasted the joy of sacrifice and are not fond of toil. An easy going, lazy life and much comfort have taken centre stage. Gone are philotimo and sacrifice. People consider it a great achievement when they succeed in something without making an effort, when they are easily accommodated. But when they have to make an effort, they are unhappy. If they were approaching life spiritually, things would be different: the mere opportunity to struggle would give them joy.
Nowadays, both young and old, care only for convenience and comfort. Spiritual people aspire to holiness, but they want to get there the easy way. Those who live in the world want to make more money but work less. Young people want to pass their exams without studying and get their diplomas without ever leaving the coffee shops. And if possible, they would even love to call from there and get their exam scores over the phone! This is how far they will go. Many young students come to my Kalyvi and tell me, "Pray for me to pass my exams." They do not study and then say, "God will help me." "You must study and pray too," I advise them. "Why," they answer, "can't God help me?" They expect God to bless their laziness. That's not possible. Now, if someone studies hard but he doesn't get anything out of it, God will help him. There are some young people who have memory and comprehension problems but try hard nevertheless. God will help them become brilliant.
Fortunately, there are exceptions. A young man from Chalkidiki applied to three University Schools and was accepted in all of them with a first or second rank. But he felt more comfortable finding a job to relieve his father who was working in the mines. So he deferred his studies and took a job. Such souls are medicine for me. I am willing to die for them, to have them step all over me. Most young people, however, have been affected by the secular spirit and are in bad shape. All they know is how to take care of their needs. They could not care less about others, they only think of themselves. The more you help them, the lazier they become.
You cannot imagine how bland some young people are today. All they do is judge everything and get bored with everything when, in essence, the heart is never bored and does not get old. The monastic life, they find it boring; marriage scares them. You see these robust young men come to the Holy Mountain again and again and say, "Oh, the monk's life is so tough; you must get up at midnight every day, not just one or two days, a week..." So they return to the world. "What will I do in this kind of society," they wonder, "what kind of person will I have to live with if I get married? Oh, it's such a bother," they conclude, and they return to the Holy Mountain. They stay for a while...and then they start all over again, "It's so tough..."
Young people of today resemble new engines whose oil is frozen. The oil has to be warmed in order for the engines to restart; there is no other way. Many young men, troubled souls, come to my Kalyvi--it's not just one or two--and they ask me, "What should I do, Father? How should I spend my time? I am bored." "Find a job, my son!" "I have money; I do not need to work," he tells me. "But," I reply, "the Apostle Paul says, "If anyone will not work, let him not eat." (II Thes. 3:10). You must work in order to eat even if you have money. Work helps a man thaw out the oil of his engine. To work is to create. It gives you joy and takes away your stress and boredom. So, my son, this is what you should do; find a job that you like enough to get started. Just give it a try, and you will see the difference!"
Indiscriminate Love Spoils Children
I have observed that today many children, especially those who are students, are harmed by their families. While they are basically good children, they are rendered useless. They don't put their mind to work; they have become insensitive. It is the parents who spoil them. Because the parents have gone through difficult years, they do not want their children to be deprived of anything. They don't cultivate philotimo in their children so that they can find joy in deprivation. It's not that parents don't mean well. It would be cruel to deprive a child that does not understand the reason for the deprivation. But it is right for the parents to try and help their children acquire a sort of monastic conscience, to rejoice when they do not have something they want. Now, with their goodness, their indiscriminate goodness and generosity, parents are spoiling their children. They use no discernment and end up stupefying them. These children expect to be served at all times; even a glass of water they will not get for themselves, supposedly because they are studying and cannot afford to waste any time. And they end up spoiled, both boys and girls. Even when they are not doing their homework, they still expect to be served.
Directives From the Dark Powers
Today many young people are being misguided and destroyed by all kinds of ideas and theories. This is why so many of them are upset and confused. They want to go in one direction, but the current of our times takes them elsewhere. There are dark powers out there pushing their propaganda on young people who may not be very intelligent. In schools, for example, some teachers will say to their students, "If you want to develop initiative, do not listen to your parents; do not obey them." Words like these ruin young people. They no longer listen to their parents or teachers. And you can't blame them really, since that's what they think is expected of them. On the one hand there is the state, which often supports this kind of behavior, while on the other hand we have people, who care nothing about country and family, issuing directives and taking advantage of the young people to achieve their evil ends. As a result, our youth has been so harmed that some of them end up under the direct leadership of the devil himself. Satan worship is wide spread. One can hear people in clubs singing all night, "Satan we adore you, we do not want Christ. You give us everything." What a horrific thing! But what is it that the devil will give you and what will he take from you, miserable children?
You see young men and women, adolescent youths, who have a wild look in their eyes from the many coffees they drink and the many cigarettes they smoke... Their eyes do not sparkle; the glow of God's Grace is nowhere to be seen on their face. An architect was right when he said to a group of young people whom he was escorting to the Holy Mountain, "Our eyes resemble the eyes of spoiled fish."
Christ does not require big things from us to help us in our struggle. He expects very little, a tiny bit. A young man was telling me that he went to the island of Patmos to worship and fell into temptation's trap. A female tourist jumped on him and hugged him while he was walking. He pushed her away saying, "My Christ I have come for worship not for love" and he went away. That same night in his hotel room, during prayer, he saw Christ immersed in Uncreated Light. Do you see the reward he received for that one push? Others strive for years in the ascetic life and may never be blessed with something like that. And he saw Jesus Christ only because he resisted temptation. And this experience, naturally, made him stronger spiritually. Later on, he saw Saint Marcella, Saint Raphael, and Saint George more than once. One day, he came and told me "Father, say a prayer for me so that I may see Saint George again and be consoled. I cannot find any consolation in this world!" And then you see where other young people end up.
What I have come to realize is that; if we don't take advantage of the opportunities offered to us when we are young, the devil will exploit this situation. Don't we have the saying, "Strike while the iron is hot"? When iron smiths wanted to join two pieces of iron together--this was before modern welding--they would put the iron in the fire, pour hot water and borax on it, and then, the moment they removed it, while still spewing sparks, they would join it another piece. But this would not work, if the iron got cold. It's the same thing with a young person. When opportunities present themselves and he shows no interest, he will concern himself with other people, judging them, criticizing their ways, and thus slowly losing the Grace of God. But if he is full of divine fervor, he will prosper. This is why parents should help their children as much as they can when they are still young. Children are like empty cassette tapes. If we fill them with Christ, they will stay close to Him forever. If we don't, it will be easier for them to go astray when they become older. But if we help them when they are young, even if they later stray a bit, they will eventually come to their senses. Wood soaked in oil does not rot. Youth soaked in the "oil" of piety and the fear of God will have nothing to fear later.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God