Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ. ΚΑΙ ΗΝ, ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ, ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
A PRAYER OF SAINT EPHRAIM THE SYRIAN
O Lord Jesus Christ, our God Having shown Your Holy Mother to be more honorable Than all the Heavenly powers, Through her intercessions and those of all Your Saints, Provide spiritual comfort and forgive me Your unworthy servant; Forgive whatever I have sinned today as a human being--Rather as a sub-human being--My voluntary and involuntary transgressions, Which I have committed in knowledge or ignorance, Through beguilement, or by my own inattention, great laziness and negligence. If I have sworn by Your Holy Name, If I have committed perjury or blasphemed in thought, If I have stolen anything or lied or in any way irritated You; If a friend came to me and I slighted him, If I have grieved and embittered a brother, If, while standing to pray and sing psalms, my evil mind wandered off toward earthly and evil things; If I ate more than the appropriate amount or engaged in idle talk, If I laughed imprudently or had vainglorious thoughts, If I behaved arrogantly or looked upon vain beauty, and my mind was attracted by it; If I talked idly about things I should not, If I curiously examined the fault of my brother and condemned him, while my own innumerable faults I overlooked; If I neglected my prayer, or brought to mind any other evil thing--All these many things, and others, that I have done and do not remember, Forgive me, O God, That I, the prodigal, may sleep in peace and find rest, Glorifying You, together with the Father, And the All-Holy and Good and Life-creating Spirit, Now and forever and to the age of ages. Amen.
On January 15th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honor 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 Paul of Theves; Saint John the Calyvite; Saint Pansophius of Alexandria; Saint Prochoros of Pshina in Bulgaria; Saint Mavros, disciple of Saint Benedict; Saint Maximos, bishop of Nola; Saint Varlaam of Keret Lake; Saint Salome and Perozhavra of Sivnia, Georgia; Saint Ita of Killleedy; Saint Gabriel, found of Lesnovo Monastery; Saint John the Cave Dweller.
OUR HOLY FATHER PAUL OF THEVES. Born of wealthy parents in Egypt in the reign of the pagan Roman Emperor Decius, he and a sister of his together inherited all their parent's property. But his brother-in-law, an idol-worshipper, plotted to seize St. Paul's inheritance. He therefore threatened Saint Paul that he would betray him to the authorities as a Christian if he did not hand over his share of the property. This misfortune, coupled with the examples of self-sacrifice by the Christian martyrs that Saint Paul saw with his own eyes, induced him to give his half of the property to his sister and go off into the desert, where he lived in asceticism until his death. The spiritual heights attained by this giant of a monk are testified to by no less a person than Saint Antonios the Great, who once visited Saint Paul and saw how the wild animals and birds of the air ministered to him. Returning from his visit, Saint Antonios said to his monks: 'Woe is me, my children, a sinful and false monk, who am a monk in name only. I have seen Elias, I have seen John in the desert, and I have seen Paul--in Paradise!' Saint Paul lived 113 years, and entered peacefully into rest in the Lord in the year 342 A.D.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Ascetics, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Galatians 5:22-26, 6:1-2
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 12:32-40
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND MEDITATION
"It is well known how powerfully corrupt images act upon the soul, no matter in what form they may touch it! How unfortunate is the child who, closing his eyes, or being left alone and going within himself, is stifled by a multitude of improper images--vain, tempting, breathing of the passions. This is the same thing for the soul as smoke is for the head." (Saint Theophan the Recluse)
DO NOT CONSIDER IN YOUR HEART THAT YOU HAVE DONE ANY GOOD, AND YOUR REWARD WILL BE KEPT SAFE
By Monk John Vranos [source: The Illustrated Sayings of the Holy Fathers]
Much care is needed so that our works will be in accordance with the will of God. It is not enough, however, that an act is as God wills, but it is necessary besides for us to take care lest our mind lose its humility. It is to this point that Saint Barsanuphius calls our attention. If you have distributed whole treasures to the poor, if you have tired yourself and sweated whole years serving other men, in spite of whatever you may have achieved, you must think humbly. Do not have a great idea about yourself, thinking that you are a virtuous person. Do not have in your mind the idea that you have done many God-pleasing works. No. In order to keep safe the reward of your good deeds, you must think and confess that you have not done any good in your life. When one thinks in this way, then his good deeds are safeguarded with the lack of humility and they are not in danger of being stolen by pride and boasting. These things Saint Barsanuphius the Great teaches us with this short saying.
Someone, however, will raise the question: "Very well, but have I no merciful deeds? Did I not build that church? Did I not give money to that poor family? Did I not divide such and such things among my poor neighbors? How can I say that I have not done any good deed?"
Yes, O man, you have done good deeds, but they are not perfect and pure. Because neither did you do them with all your willingness, nor was your charity sufficient, because you could have given more. Besides this, you secretly praised yourself and did not with all your heart render glory to God. Do you see that your good works are like an apple that is worm-eaten? How can you offer it to the King, Who is God? Knowing all this a certain monk said: "It is enough for me that my good deliver me from punishment; I am content. I do not expect any reward for them." Thus should we also think.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God