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.
Patristic Texts on Prayer
Saint John Chrysostom [Second Homily On Prayer]
"Prayer is the beginning of every good thing, and the mediator of salvation and eternal life…"
"The greatest thing we have to say about prayer is that every praying person converses with God Himself, and this to the extent that, being human, one can speak with God...One cannot adequately express in words this honor. For this honor exceeds even the magnificence of the Angels themselves...At the time of prayer we are forgetful of our human nature, considering ourselves to be in the midst of Angels and carrying out the same worship as they. For all the other things are very different and separated--I mean between us and the Angels--but the work of prayer is common to both Angels and humans.
It is impossible for man to be able to carry on a divine conversation without the activity of the Holy Spirit, and that is why this activity must be present and associated with the sacred struggle (of prayer). Thus, we are enabled to bend the knees, to petition and to pray..."
AN EXTEMPORANEOUS PRAYER TO SAINT JOHN THE FORERUNNER AND BAPTIST
O Prophet and Forerunner and Baptist of Jesus Christ, you who baptized in the Jordan River the One Who bore the sins of the world, you who saw the Holy Spirit and heard the voice of God the Father bearing witness, beseech the All-Holy Trinity and intercede for us who praise you.
May you, the herald of the grace of Christ pre-announcing repentance to all the nations, guide my unrepentant and hardened soul on the way to repentance.
May you, divine Forerunner, as a blossom of the most sacred root, cut off in me the roots of evil with the sacred axe of repentance, so that the passions may not choke my mind and my heart. On the contrary, O Baptist, plant in my soul faith, hope and love.
You, O Baptist, by becoming the mediator between the Old and New Covenant, mediated on my behalf who have grown old in sin, and renew all of me by interceding for me to the One Who makes all things new.
You, who traversed through the narrow gate of ascetic self-control, inspire me to follow this salutary way, for I am being drowned by earthly desires and passions...
You, who are the voice of the Logos (Word), direct the voices of all those who honor you and pray to you so that forgiveness of sins may be granted to us through your intercessions. Amen.
On September 28th 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: Holy Prophet Baruch; Saint Chariton the Confessors; Saint Mark the Shepherd of Phrygia, and Saints Alexander Zosimas, Alphius, and other in Pisidia; Saint Eustathios of Rome; Saint Neophytos the Recluse of Cyprus; Saints Cyril and Maria, parents of Saint Sergius of Rodnezh; Saint Chariton of Vologda; Saint Herodion, Abbot of Hoezersk; Saint Juliana Olshanskaya (+1550); Saint Wenceslaus, Prince of the Czechs; holy Martyr Alexander; Saint Zenkouka.
SAINT WENCESLAUS, PRINCE OF THE CZECHS. Saint Wenceslaus was raised in piety by his grandmother Princess Ludmilla, who was later martyred. After the death of his father, Saint Wenceslaus inherited the throne at the age of eighteen. He was peace loving and well educated, and he proved to be a just and wise ruler. He built a magnificent church dedicated to Saint Vitus in the capital city of Prague, and he had great reverence for the clergy. But some envious nobles plotted to have Saint Wenceslaus murdered, and to that end, they incited his younger brother Boleslav to kill Wenceslaus so that he might inherit the throne himself. Boleslav plotted this murder by inviting St. Wenceslaus to the dedication of a church. The next day, despite the conspiracy warnings of his servants, Saint Wenceslaus went and was stabbed at the doors of the church by Boleslav, and his body was discarded and left unburied. When their mother heard this, she found her son's body and placed him in a church. The blood on the church doors could not be washed away, but on the third day, it vanished of its own accord. Boleslav repented of this deed, and he took his brother's body to rest at the Saint Vitus Cathedral in Prague.
+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: 2 Corinthians 4:6-15
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 6:17-23
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"Godliness is perfection that is never complete". [Saint Philotheos of Sinai]
ON STRIFE AND RECONCILIATION
by Archimandrite Seraphim Aleksiev [source: The Meaning of Suffering and Strife and Reconciliation]
" For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses". [St. Matthew 6:14-15)
Strife among people is one of the great evils of this life. It ruins brotherly relations among men and makes enemies out of friends. If you ask: "Why do these neighbors not speak to each other?" you usually hear, "They quarreled!" If you ask: "Why do these friends not greet each other?" you are answered, "They quarreled!" If you ask, "Why do these relatives not visit one another?" the same answer follows, "They quarreled!" You probably have known or know two nice families, both of which are composed of very kind people of themselves, but they cannot stand each other. The demon of strife has come between them and does not let them be reconciled and live in peace. Satan's instigation is the original cause of all dissension and discord. How many people today take each other to court and waste time and money, and lose their peace because of revenge. Again, if you ask, "Why are they suing each other?" you will hear, "They have quarreled, exchanged hurtful words, and do not want to forgive..."
This is happening also among Orthodox Christians, among brothers in the Faith whom Jesus Christ Himself united through His Divine Teaching, and for whom He hung on the Cross to redeem and save! This is happening among followers of Christ who have received from their Heavenly Teacher the legacy: "A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love to one another" (St. John 13:34-35). Today, where is this love which should be among us?
We have one dedicated enemy--the devil. Is he not enough (for us), but we make enemies out of our brothers in the faith, too? When the devil seduces us to be hostile, he makes us even worse than himself, because a demon never opposes another demon. Yet under the pressure of Satan's malice, human turns against human, Christian against Christian, and brother against brother.
Bandits when they unite become friends. Their common goals and interests bring them closer. They break bread together at meals and respect each other as brothers, but we Christians, supposedly pursuing the highest common goal--the salvation of our souls--and lining up at the same spiritual meal to partake from the same cup of the Body and Blood of God, in reality fight among ourselves like ferocious beasts and are far worse than bandits. It is so because we have allied ourselves with the devil. When the devil becomes our friend, we begin to quarrel with people. Therefore, if we want to be reconciled with our human enemies again, we must quarrel with the devil.
Of course, in life as it is now, it is impossible to have perfect and lasting peace. It is natural, considering our sinfulness, that discord, and quarrels appear among people; but that does not mean that once having quarreled we should remain in perpetual strife. We have sinned! We have quarreled! Now, let us be reconciled! Unfortunately, few are those who make peace after a fight and return to living like brothers. Even fewer are those who forgive their irreconcilable enemies from the heart and put up with them. Too often strife remains among people to grow and gains strength until it brings them a harvest of eternal death. There are then three kinds of relations possible between those who have quarreled: (1) strife; (2) mutual reconciliation, and (3) long-suffering and for the enemy who may be irreconcilable.
Let us first look at the case of mutual animosity.
Why do people usually quarrel?--For being insulted by hurtful words, because of rumors and slander, for posts and jobs, for money and property, pre-eminence and honors. Whatever the reasons for the quarrel may be, the animosity created by it begins to poison the soul unrelentingly. The poor man once having surrendered to strife loses sweet spiritual peace and is tormented by malice and helpless anger. He becomes restless and nervous, and burns with a satanic hatred; happiness leaves his heart. He seeks a way to get revenge and thinks that he will regain peace only after destroying his enemy. This, however, is only one of the devil's lies: The evil one is inducing him to commit more and more crimes which fail to give him peace and make him even more miserable. When looked at from the outside, the cup of anger seems full with a drink promising satisfaction; but when we drink it, the intoxicating liquid only stuns us for a moment until we carry out the revenge, and afterwards it may lead us to despair and moral exhaustion
Thus, once deceived by the devil, one seems powerless to overcome his anger and again seeks to be drunk with its giddiness, finding some perverted pleasure in the deep sorrow which anger brings. If anger is not uprooted in time--while it is still a small sapling with weak fibers in the earth--it is not easy to be defeated later, when it becomes a large tree with strong roots; then it turns into incurable satanic venom. This is why the Word of God advises: "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil" (Eph. 4:26-27); otherwise, if you once lose control of the fire, you will never be able to put it out. Saint Tikhon of Zasonsk says, "Just as fire if it is not extinguished quickly will swallow many houses, so anger if it is not stopped right away, will do great harm and will cause many troubles."
The sin of strife ruins both this life and the life beyond. It is an enemy to both our body and our soul. How is it, then, that some people seek comfort in quarrels and revenge? Why do they say, "I will not rest until I am avenged?"
Put an end to your strife, and the sun of joy will rise in your heart! You will not find the desired peace and satisfaction in quarrels and revenge, just as a thirsty man cannot quench his thirst with salty water. The more you fight and become embittered the deeper you descent into hell. And what happiness can you find in hell?! Wretched captive of strife, beware whom you are serving with your quarrels! The devil is deceiving you in order to cast you into the abyss. God will condemn to eternal torment those who, like you, are stubbornly fighting with their neighbor.
Fatal is the spiritual condition of the man who ages with malice and strife. Such a man is implacable and incorrigible. The wildest and most ferocious beasts submit more easily to taming than he. If this man persists in his bitterness to the end, God will take His grace away from him and, since he cannot be corrected, He will send him to hell which the man himself has chosen. He has been merciless towards others and thus has become unworthy of God's mercy. He has not forgiven, and that is why he cannot be forgiven. The holy Apostle James writes: "For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shown no mercy…" (St. James 2:13).
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God