Despair, the Great Joy of the Devil

Saint Theodosius the Great

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

PSALM 144[145]

I will exalt You, my God and my King, and bless Your Name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and praise Your Name forever and ever. The Lord is great and greatly to be praised, and to His Greatness there is no end. Age after age will praise Your works, and proclaim Your Might. They will tell the glorious splendor of Your Holiness, they will recount Your wondrous works; they will speak of the power of Your awesome deeds, they will declare Your Greatness. They will recall Your abundant Goodness and will exult in your righteousness. The Lord is gracious and merciful: He is long-suffering and abounding in love.

The Lord is good towards everyone, and His grace extends over all His works. Let all your works give thanks to You, Lord, and all Your faithful ones bless You. They shall speak of the Glory of Your Kingdom and tell of Your power, to make known Your Might to the children of men, and the glorious splendor of Your Kingdom. Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages and Your dominion is for all generations. The Lord keeps faith in all His promises and is hallowed in all His works. The Lord supports all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.

The eyes of all look up to You, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hands and satisfy all living beings; the Lord is just in all His ways, and faithful in all His works. The Lord is close to all who pray to Him, those who call upon Him in truth. He will meet the desire of those who fear Him, and hear their pleas and save them. The Lord keeps watch over those who love Him, but the wicked He will utterly destroy. My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless His Holy Name, forever and to all eternity.


On January 11th 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, Teachers and every righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Theodosios the Great, the Cenobiarch; Saint Theodosios, Bishop of Trebizond; Saint Stephen of Placidian; Saint Agapius of Apamea; Saint Romilos the Hermit; Saint Vitalis of Seridos at Gaza; Saint Michael of Klops Monastery, fool-for-Christ (1452 A.D.); St. Joseph the new of Cappadocia; Saint Major the holy Martyr; On this day we celebrate the Synaxis (Assembly) of the Ten Thousand of holy Angels, which is celebrated in the Martyrium of Saint Anastasia at the Colonnade of Domninus.

OUR HOLY FATHER THEODOSIUS THE GREAT. The first founder and organizer of cenobitic monasticism, he was born of devout parents in Cappadocia, in the village of Mogarisses. As a young man, he visited Saint Simeon the Sylites, who blessed him and predicted for him great spiritual glory. Saint Theodosius set out in search of a place in which to found a monastery. He took with him a censer containing cold charcoal and incense. At the place where the charcoal suddenly ignited itself, he stopped, settled down and began to lead a life of asceticism. There very quickly gathered round him many monks of different nationalities and with different languages. He therefore built a church for each language-group, so that services were conducted and God praised at the same moment in Greek, Armenian, Georgian and so forth. But on the day when they were to receive Holy Communion, all the brethren gathered in the great church, where the service was conducted in Greek. The refectory was common to all; they held all possessions in common, labored in common, endured in common and often hungered in common. Saint Theodosius was a sublime example to all the monks; an example in work, in prayer, in fasting, in vigils and in all the Christian virtues. And God endowed him with the gifts of wonder-working (miracle-working), to heal the sick, to be present and help from a distance, to tame wild beasts, to predict the future and to increase bread and wheat. Prayer was on his lips day and night. He entered peacefully into rest in the Lord in the year 529 A.D. at the age of 105.

BLESSED MICHAEL OF KLOPS. A fool-for-Christ, a Russian of princely family, he made himself a fool in order to hide his virtues form the world and escape the praise of men, and he thus received praise from God. He died in the year 1453 A.D. in the monastery of Klops near Novgorod, where his holy relics are preserved.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.


Holy Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 13:7-16
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 11:27-30


"The tempter spreads many a snare to trap the soul, and of itself human nature is too weak to defeat him. This is why the Apostle bids us to arm ourselves with heavenly weapons, when he says: 'Put on the breastplate of righteousness and have your feet shod with the gospel of peace and have truth around your waist as a belt.' Can you not see how many forms of salvation the Apostle indicates, all leading to the same path and the same goal? Following them to the heights of God's Commandments, we easily complete the race of life. For elsewhere the Apostle says: 'Let us run with fidelity the race that has been set before us, with our eyes on Jesus, the origin and the goal of our faith." (Saint Gregory of Nyssa)

By Monk John Vranos [source: The Illustrated Saying of the Holy Fathers]

Other beneficial spiritual contemplations, such as the miracles and the sufferings of Christ, also exist. Let us realize, however, that many times there come to our mind various good thoughts, but the devil brings them with the intent of harming us. He reminds men of their sins and simultaneously withers them with grief and despair. He presents them with the idea that they are not going to be saved. In this way he takes away from them all eagerness for virtuous life, and makes them wretched and almost as dead. Despair--that is to say, hopelessness--is among the devil's weapons. After one confesses his sins, the devil comes to him again and disturbs him, presenting him with the idea that his sins were not forgiven. This trick of the evil one ensnares only the ignorant, who do not understand well the character of Christ and His infinite goodness. It is impossible that God would condemn a person who sincerely repents. Impossible. I vow, says the Lord, "that I do not desire the death of a sinner, but that he should be converted and I grant him eternal life." Do you see, O man, you who are sinking in the open sea of despair that God assures you with an oath that He does not wish for you to be cast out, but to repent and be saved? If, however, you do not believe in God's vow, know that you are sinning. It is necessary for you to understand that despair is a satanic force, it is a diabolic 'breath' and a poisonous thought that injures the foolish. He who commits suicide and he who despairs commits the same evil to himself, because despair also kills the eagerness and vivacity of the soul and casts it into deadly sorrow and sluggishness. Take care, for if you despair, you are sinning. Despair is blasphemy against the goodness of God. In order to show that despair is a great weapon of the evil one, Saint Barsanuphius often writes in his works: "Despair is the great joy of the devil."

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George