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 SINCERE AND A CONTRITE PRAYER THE ALMIGHTY LORD
(The Vespers of Pentecost)
Blessed are You, Master, Almighty Lord, for You light the day with the light of the sun and brighten the night with the rays of fire. You enabled us to pass the span of the day and so come to the beginnings of the night. Hear our prayer and that of all Your people, and forgive us all our deliberate and unwitting sins; receive our evening petitions and send Your inheritance the abundance of your mercy and compassion. Encompass us with Your Holy Angels; arm us with the weapons of Your righteousness; fortify us within Your Truth; make Your strength our garrison, spare us all adverse circumstances and all assaults of the adversary. Finally, vouchsafe to us this evening, and the impending night, perfect, holy, peaceful, sinless, free of disturbing visions, and all the days of our lives, through the prayers of the Holy Theotokos and all the Saints who have pleased You through the ages. Amen.
WRITINGS OF SAINT NEKTARIOS OF AEGINA
Selected Passages From The Writings of Orthodox Saints Compiled by Farther Demetrios Serfes
"Spiritual training (pneumatike gymnasia) is askesis for piety. It is most valuable, "having promise for the life that now is, and for that which is to come." The efforts made for the sake of piety bring spiritual gladness.
Saint Theophylaktos says: "Train yourself for piety, that is, for pure faith and the right life. Training, then, and continual efforts are necessary; for he who trains exercises until he perspires, even when there is no contest."
Training accustoms one to be lenient, temperate, capable of controlling his anger, subduing his desires, doing works of charity, showing love for his fellow men, practicing virtue. Training is virtuous askesis, rendering one's way of life admirable.
Askesis is practice, meditation, training, self-control, love of labor."
"Fasting is an ordinance of the Church, obliging the Christian to observe it on specific days. Concerning fasting, our Savior teaches: "When thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash they face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father Who is in secret: and thy Father, Who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." From what the Savior teaches we learn (a) that fasting is pleasing to God, and (b) that he who fasts for the uplifting of his mind and heart towards God shall be rewarded by God, Who is most liberal bestower of Divine gifts, for his devotion.
In the New Testament fasting is recommended as a means of preparing the mind and the heart for divine worship, for long prayer, for rising from the earthly, and for spiritualization."
"Attention is the first teacher of truth and consequently absolutely necessary. Attention rouses the soul to study itself and it longings, to learn their true character and repulse those that are unholy. Attention is the guardian angel of the intellect, always counseling it thus: be attentive. Attention awakens the soul, rouses it from sleep...Attention examines every thought, every desire, every memory. Thoughts, desires, and memories are engendered by various causes, and often appear masked and with splendid garb, in order to deceive the inattentive intellect and enter the soul and dominate it. Only attention can reveal their hidden form. Often their dissimulation is so perfect that the discernment of their true nature is very difficult and requires the greatest attention. One must remember the saving words of the Lord: "Be wakeful and pray that ye enter not into temptation." He who is wakeful does not enter into temptation, because he is vigilant and attentive."
"True prayer is undistracted, prolonged, performed with a contrite heart an alert intellect. The vehicle of prayer is humility, and prayer is a manifestation of humility. For being conscious of our own weakness, we invoke the power of God.
Prayer unites one with God, being a divine conversation and spiritual communion with the Being that is Most Beautiful and Highest.
Prayer is forgetting earthly things, an ascent to Heaven. Through prayer we flee to God.
Prayer is truly a heavenly armor, and it alone can keep safe those who have dedicated themselves to God. Prayer is the common medicine for purifying ourselves from the passions, for hindering sin and curing our faults. Prayer is an inexhaustible treasure, an unruffled harbor, the foundation of serenity, the root and mother of myriads of blessings."
"The Mysterion (Sacrament) of the Divine Eucharist that has been handed down by the Lord is the highest of all the Mysteria (Sacraments); it is the most wondrous of all the miracles which the power of God has performed; it is the highest which the wisdom of God has conceived; it is the most precious of all the gifts which the love of God has bestowed upon men. For all the other miracles result through a transcendence of certain laws of Nature, but the Mysterion (Sacrament) of the Divine Eucharist transcends all these laws. Hence it may justly be called, and be viewed as, the miracle of miracles and the Mysterion of Mysteria.
Do you want to become a partaker of the blessings conferred by Divine Communion? Do you want your salvation? Become a true Christian, have fear of God, faith in the Mysterion of Divine Communion, and love for God, and for your neighbor.
"Miracles are not impossible from a logical standpoint, and right reason does not deny them. Natural laws do not have the claim to be the only ones, nor are they threatened with being overturned by the appearance of other laws, supernatural ones, which also are conducive to the development and furtherance of creation...Miracles are consequence of the Creator's love for his creatures".
[Source: "Modern Orthodox Saints, St. Nectarios of Aegina", by (Dr.) Constantine Cavarnos, Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Belmont, Massachusets., 1981., pp. 154-187.)
Personal note: As you can all see our Saints, our Holy Fathers and Mothers, are not only venerated and honored by us because of their holiness but also because of the great spiritual treasures that we have inherited from them. Our Holy Church is a repository of an enormous spiritual wealth thanks to the Holy Fathers and Mothers of the Church. It is up to us to make every possible effort to take some of this spiritual wealth and use it to strengthen our personal spiritual life, faith, understanding, commitment, conviction, ascesis, knowledge and relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
It is of no benefit to inherit this spiritual treasure and wealth and not to ever use it. Our spiritual struggle can become less difficult and painful if we turn to our Saints and learn from them and their experience and ascesis. They are the great Christian Teachers of our Church and they have much to teach us about how to be obedient, humble, loyal and devout people of God.
Many of their writings and works have been translated into English and other languages and therefore everyone who is interested has access to them.
There is absolutely no reason to keep any Orthodox Christian today from knowing his Orthodox Christian faith as much as it is possible and to translate this knowledge into a true Christian life.
I do ask that those of you that receive this email from the church pass on this important information to your young adult and College children. Most of them have absolutely no idea of what they believe. They need our help and guidance so as to enrich their knowledge of our Orthodox Christian faith. It would be even better if you or they give their personal email to the church office so they can receive everything directly wherever they are.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God