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.
TO THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
Grant to us, O Master, as we prepare for sleep, Rest of body and soul; protect us from the dark sleep of sin and from every sinful and nocturnal pleasure. Calm the impulses of the passions, Quench the fiery darts of the evil one hurled treacherously against us. Subdue the rebellion of our flesh and suppress every earthly and material sentiment. Grant to us, O God, a vigilant mind, a sober heart, prudent reasoning, and a sleep that is free from every satanic fantasy. And at the time of prayer, raise us up again, Strengthened in the observance of Your Commandments and ever mindful of Your judgments. Grant that we may glorify You throughout the night, Praising, blessing and glorifying Your Most-Honored and Majestic Name, The Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
On January 14th 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 Macrina the Elder (Grandmother of St. Basil the Great); Saint Savvas I, first Archbishop of Serbia; St. Nina (Nino), enlightener of Georgia; Saint Theodoulos of Sinai; New holy Martyr Bishop Ambrose (Gudko) and other martyred at Raitho Monastery near Kazan (1918); holy Martyr Agnes; Saint Meletius, Bishop of Ryazan; St. Stephen of Chenolakkos Monastery; Saint Joseph Analytinus of Raitho Monastery; Saint Felix of Nola.
SAINT MACRINA THE ELDER. She was the mother of Saint Basil the Elder in the 4th century and grandmother of Saint Basil the Great, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Saint Peter of Sevaste, and Saint Macrina the Younger. She lived during the persecutions of the pagan Roman Emperor Galerius and Diocletian, escaping at one point for seven years with her husband into the forest and suffering deprivations. When they returned, they found that the Emperors' agents had taken all their belongings. Saint Macrina was greatly influenced by the writings of Saint Gregory the Wonderworker and she and her husband were honored as confessors of the faith after the persecutions. Saint Basil the Great received his first Christian instruction on St. Marcrina's knee. It is said that the instruction that flows from a holy life leads other to holiness, and that words make noise but example thunders. Saint Basil later thanked his grandmother St. Macrina for teaching him to love Christ.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Confessors, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 10:32-38
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 12:32-40
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"We must not approach Christ out of fear of how we will die and of what will become of us. Rather, we must open our hearts to Him, as when we tug a window curtain and the sun immediately shines in. In this way Christ will come to us, that we might truly lvoe Him. This is the best way. " [Geronda [Elder] Porphyrios of Kafsokalyvia].
THE STUDENT THAT MET GOD THROUGH ELDER PAISIOS OF THE HOLY MOUNTAIN
Several years ago a young student approached me. Very hesitantly but in the strength of a demanding seeker, he told me he was an atheist but would really like to believe, but he couldn't. He was trying and seeking for years with no result. He talked to professors and educated people but his thirst for something serious was not satisfied. He heard about me and decided to share with me his existential need. He asked me for scientific proof of God's existence. "Are you familiar with integrals or differential equations?" I asked. "Unfortunately not", he replied, "I study philosophy". "That's unfortunate, because I knew one such a proof" I said, obviously joking.
He felt awkward and remained silent for a little while. "Look", I said, "I am sorry for teasing you a bit, but God is not an equation or a mathematical proof. If He were such, then all educated people would believe in Him. You should know that God is approached in a different way. Have you ever been to Mouth Athos? Have you ever met an ascetic?" "No father, but I am thinking about going. I've heard so much! If you tell me, I can even go tomorrow! Do you know any educated person whom I can go meet?" "What do you prefer? An educated man who is able to dizzy you or a Saint who is able to wake you up?""I prefer the educated man. I am afraid of Saints". "Faith is a matter of the heart. Why don't you try a Saint? What is your name?" I asked. "Gabriel" he answered. I sent him to an ascetic. I told him how to get onto Athos and gave him appropriate directions. We even made a map. "Go" I said, "and ask the same thing: I am an atheist, say to him, and I want to...believe. I want proof of God's existence."
"I am afraid, I am shy", he replied. "Why are you shy and afraid of a Saint and are not shy and afraid of me?" I asked. "Simply go and ask the same thing". A few days later, he went to meet the ascetic and found him talking with a young man in his yard. On the opposite side, another four people sat on some logs. Gabriel timidly found a seat among them. No more than ten minutes passed by when the elder's discussion with the young man ended.
"How are you lads?" he asked. "Have you treated yourselves to any sweets? Have you had some water?" "Thank you Geronda", they answered in an agreeable worldly politeness. "Come here", he says addressing Gabriel and differentiating him from the others. "I'll bring water and you bring the box with the sweets. And come closer so that I can tell you a secret: It is alright for someone to be an atheist, but to have the name of an Angel and be an atheist? This is the first time we've seen something like this".
Our friend nearly had a heart attack from the sudden revelation. How did he know his name? "Father, may I talk to you for a while?" being hardly able to murmur. "Look, now, it is almost dust. Take a sweet, drink some water and go to the closest monastery to spend the night".
"Father, I would like to talk, can't we?" "What'll we talk about, my chap? For the reason you're here?" "To this question I immediately felt my breath opening up", the youth later narrated, "my heart overfilling with faith, my inner world warming up, my questions answered without any logical argument, without any discussion, without the existence of a clear answer.
Automatically all 'ifs' were shattered inside of me, the 'whys', the 'maybes', and the only thing remaining from now on was 'how' and 'what'." Whatever the thoughts of the educated did not give him, the kind hint of a Saint gave him, one whose schooling reached only the fourth grade. Saints are most discerning. They operate on you without anesthesia and you don't feel pain. They give you a transplant without opening up your belly. They elevate you to inaccessible peaks without using ladders of worldly logic. They implant faith in you, without tiring your mind...
[source: "Voice of Gentle Breeze" -Metropolitan Nikolaos of Mesogaίa. Translated by the Holy Monastery of Pantokrator]
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God