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.
An Extemporaneous Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Revelation of the Holy Trinity at the Baptism of Jesus Christ
During Your Baptism in the Jordan River, O Lord, the Mystery of the Holy Trinity was revealed to us. When we saw You, Jesus, "as a man in the river," and the Holy Spirit "in the form of a dove," descending from the heavenly Father, Who confirmed that You are His "Beloved Son," our heart was filled with the delight of real joy. With the eyes of our soul we saw then the invisible dragon being vanquished, and the gate of our regeneration being founded at last. How great is Your love for mankind, O Lord!
The Mystery of the Holy Trinity is completely incomprehensible for us, O Loving Jesus. But Your loving kindness, Lord, has revealed it to us. We glorify and praise You, for that which we cannot approach with our research and touch with our fingers, You have marvelously revealed to us. And we believe, Lord, that this revelation to us is not made for the sake of a dry intellectual knowledge of "the indescribable Three-Sun Divinity," but rather for the Mystery of the Holy Trinity to be a matter of great importance for our daily life.
For this reason we beseech You to help us always, but especially during the difficult times of our life, to keep in our thoughts the truth that "the Father without beginning" is our Loving Father. Never let us forget that His Paternally providential love watches over us and never abandon us, not even for an instant.
We beseech You, moreover, to sustain vividly in our memory the truth that You, "the Son, Who is Co-equally without beginning as the Father" are indeed our Savior. And when we stray away from Your way and we sin, help us not lose hope and come to despair, but to have complete confidence in Your love, which redeems us from every transgression through Your sacrifice on the Cross.
Finally, our faith in "the Holy Spirit, Co-equal in honor and worship with the Father and the Son," the Spirit of Consolation and the Giver of Life, will accompany us always in our Christian life and especially during times of temptation and testing.
During this time of the celebration of Your Holy Baptism, Lord Jesus Christ, we ask that, in Your loving kindness, You will enable us to fix our gaze upon You and, guided by Your Divine Light, to send up without ceasing our doxology, our thanksgiving and our worship to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the consubstantial, Life-Giving and undivided Holy Trinity, now and always. Amen.
On January 9th 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 Polyefktos at Melitene in Armenia; Saint Peter, Bishop of Sevaste; Saint Efstratios of Tarsus; Saint Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow; Holy Prophet Shemaiah; Saint Jonah, founder of Holy Trinity Monastery in Kiev; Saint Adrian of Canterbury; Saint Parthena of Edessa; Saint Finian, bishop of Lindisfarne.
HOLY MARTYR PHILIP, METROPOLITAN OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA. He was from noble lineage in 16th century Moscow. Saint Philip's father prepared him for government service and Great Prince Basil, the father of Ivan the Terrible, brought him into the court. Philip's pious mother, who later became a nun, planted in Philip's soul faith and piety. Young Prince Ivan was devoted to Philip, but Philip saw the vanity and sinfulness of court life and left to live as a shepherd. He entered a monastery and accepted the most difficult jobs. He was the first in church and the last to leave. He also spent much time alone in the wilderness. Saint Philip was made the Abbot (Egoumenos) of the Solovki Monastery and it experienced a spiritual revival and many new churches were added. Tsar Ivan the Terrible finally convinced St. Philip to become a Metropolitan of Moscow and to be his counselor. But Ivan created a group of henchmen who dressed like monastics and attended services from four to ten a.m. each day. However, by day they spread a terrible oppression throughout Russia. They were murderers and profiteers, spilling blood everywhere in waves of executions. In 1568, on the Sunday of the Elevation of the Cross, the Tsar and his secret police entered the Cathedral but Saint Philip would not bless them because of the atrocities they committed. Ivan reacted violently. Saint Philip was put on trial and the false witnesses included his former disciples and novices who accused him of sorcery. He was sentenced to life in prison and placed in heavy chains, but after one year he was murdered.
+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 Timothy 2:1-10
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Mark 1:9-15
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND SANCTIFICATION
"The soul cannot know peace unless she prays for her enemies." (Saint Silouan the Athonite).
WHAT THE HOLY FATHERS SAY
by Monk John Vranos [source: The illustrated Sayings of the Holy Fathers]
The Usefulness of Reading the Holy Scriptures
Progress in spiritual life is impossible without the continual study of the Holy Scriptures and the holy writings of the Holy Fathers. It is especially necessary for those who have only recently abandoned a sinful life, and have determined to live in a Christian manner, to make the Holy Scriptures their chief study, that they may penetrate their meaning. Silence contributes much to the deep understanding of the Scriptures. It is necessary for us to study as far away from disturbance and conversation as possible. And what is unknown to many is noted here: the Scriptures, when studied with care, transmit Divine energy. When someone has been long absorbed in the study of the Holy Scriptures, the Divine energy becomes very perceptible. He who studies feels inspiration in his heart and, without knowing why, begins also to shed tears. After the tears, he feels much peace; and when he begins to study again he understands the thoughts of the Bible more purely. This purifying and sanctifying energy exists in other works of the Church Fathers as well, but less intensely. Someone who knows this Divine energy from personal experience is able, should he read books by faithless and sinful men (such as various erotic novels, gangster stories, and so on), to sense a polluted energy leaping up from the pages of these books. For this reason, as soon as he sees them, and even before he reads, he feels in his heart an uneasiness, a heaviness. It is God's warning of what harm they contain.
We gain a unique advantage from the continual reading of the Gospels: we understand the personality of the God-man, Jesus, and we know the details of the Divine Commandments which are indispensable for our salvation.
Saint Isaac the Syrian, in many of his discourses, emphasizes the great benefit of reading the Holy Scriptures, saying that "reading helps prayer, and prayer helps reading."
THE VALUE OF TEARS
Most people do not know what a great mystery is concealed in tears. We refer only to the tears of those who are occupied seriously with their spiritual progress, and not to the tears of unbelievers.
When someone weeps, remembering his many sins, and repents; when he remembers the height of noble conduct to which the preaching of Christ calls us, and perceives and weeps over his own wretchedness--these tears save the soul. When during prayer the eyes fill with tears of repentance and tender-feeling, let the man to whom this happens know that God is taking care of his soul and is healing its hidden diseases. These tears absolve sins, and the sinner receives again a felicitous boldness before the face of God. Discerning Saints considers tears a great gift of God. The great Saints wept often. At first sinners weep from the remembrance of their sins. These are tears of repentance, which purify and make the soul bright. When enough time has passed in tears of repentance and one begins to feel the grace of God in one's soul, then follow other tears mingled with joy. The first come from grief and suffering of soul. The second come from joy and sweetness and gladden the soul.
"O Lord, grant us tears, so that we may weep before Thee over the multitude of our sins, and make us worthy of that consolation which Thou givest to such as weep from joy and delight at being united with Thee."
To better understand the value of tears, let us consider the words of Saint Isaac the Syrian, the great ascetic: "The fruit of spiritual life begins from tears."
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God