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.
THE OFFICE OF ORTHROS
THE SEVENTH PRAYER
+In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, having raised us up from our beds and brought us together at the hour or prayer, give us grace as we open our lips and accept the best thanks we can offer. And teach us Your statutes, for we know not how to pray fittingly unless You, Lord, through Your Holy Spirit, lead us. Wherefore we pray, if up to this moment we have sinned, in word or in deed or in thought, deliberately or not, loose, remit, forgive. If You retain sins, Lord, O Lord, who can stand: With You there is deliverance. You alone are Holy, our help, Mighty Champion of our lives, and our hymn of praise is to You forever. May the might of Your Kingdom be blessed and magnified, of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Please note: "Prayer is cause for salvation, mediation for the immortality of the soul, an unbreakable rampart of the Church, an unshakable guardian, fearful to the demons but salutary to the pious.
When prayer enters into the souls, every other virtue will enter also. For what the foundation is for the house, this is what prayer is for the soul. And it is necessary to have prayer, as a basis and a sort of root implanted first in everyone so that all may be able to also cultivate prudence, meekness, righteousness, care for the poor and all the Commandments of Christ, through Whom and with Whom Glory and Dominion be to the Father together with the Holy Spirit unto ages of ages. Amen." (Saint John Chrysostom)
On February 12th 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 Meletios, Archbishop of Antioch; Saint Anthony II, Patriarch of Constantinople; Saint Alexis, Wonderworker of All Russia; Saint Meletius, Archbishop of Kharkov; Saint Mary, called Marinus, and her father Eugene, at Alexandria; New holy Martyr Alexius, Bishop of Voronezh (1930); holy Martyrs Plotinus and Saturnius; Saint Bassian of Uglich; Saint Nicholas Dvali, Prochorus the Georgian, Luke of Jerusalem, and the Holy Fathers of the Georgian Monasteries in Jerusalem; New holy Martyr Chrestos the Gardener.
SAINT LUKA OF JERUSALEM. Saint Luka was from a pious Georgian family in the 13th century. After his father died, his mother left her son to become a monk in Jerusalem. When Luka was twenty years old, he went to visit his mother, as well as to venerate the holy places there. After some time, he decided to stay and become a monk at the Holy Monastery in Jerusalem. He was later made a deacon and was asked to become the Egoumenos (Abbot). After three years in this capacity, a Persian named Shekh-Khidar attacked the Monastery with armed soldiers, and Sultarn Penducht transferred possession of the property to Shekh-Khidar. He treated the monks horribly and soon threw them out of the Monastery. Saint Luka went to confront Shekh-Khidar to defend the brotherhood, ignoring the pleas of many that told him to run and hide. Saint Luka asked for the release of the imprisoned monastics, and said that he would accept any demands. The Persian demanded that Saint Luka convert to his religion, promising to make him an emir if he agreed. Saint Luka refused, and for this he was beheaded. Immediately, Saint Luka's head turned of its own accord toward the east with an expression of peace. Seeing this, Shekh-Khidar had Saint Luka's body burned.
+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: Saint James 3:1-10
Holy Gospel Lesson: Saint Mark 7:5-15
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND MEDITATION
"Fear evil like fire. Don't let it touch your heart even if it seems just or righteous. No matter what the circumstances, don't let it come into you. Evil is always evil." (Saint John of Kronstadt)
PATIENCE AND THANKSGIVING IN AFFLICTION
by Monk John Vranos [source: The Illustrated Sayings of the Holy Fathers]
Sicknesses are regarded as a great evil by most men. They keep them from their work, cause pain, are expensive, bring anguish and affliction. "I will never be well!" the sufferer cries. "My life has become a torment; it is better to die!" complains another. This is how ordinary unbelieving men think--but how differently the Saints confront such matters! "Sickness is an educational process to which God subjects His servants who sin, in order to make them repent. They should therefore thank God for this lesson of illness and be patient until God frees them from it." This is Saint Barsanuphiu's teaching on sickness. "The Saints rejoice in time of illness, spiritual enrichment," says Saint Isaac the Syrian.
But how does one profit spiritually from sickness? Only when one knows how to face them and how to pray. "I thank Thee, my God, great Physician, that Thou has remembered me a sinner and has sent me this small illness in order to awaken me from my sleep of indifference. I need great illnesses, but Thou, being good, have allowed me this small one. Glory to Thee, O my God!" This kind of prayer, this disposition, blots out a man's sins and makes him a friend of God. Saint Irene Chrysovalantou said to her nuns: "If I had boldness (the courage of a friend before God) I would ask Him to send us illnesses. By this we profit spiritually more than by any other virtue." With this discerning counsel she made her sick nuns patient and taught them how to face illness in the right way.
When someone is impatient in his illness and thinks that God is unjust and cruel, that "it's all His fault," and is not patient, this disposition is called murmuring. This is a great sin, sickness upon sickness. Murmuring alone is enough to separate a person from God. Saint John Kolovos writes: "Face your various afflictions and illnesses with patience and thankfulness to God".
The Repose of the Flesh is an Abomination Before God
Frequent and good meals, many hours of sleep, and especially the enjoyment of sexual pleasure--all these things are the "desires of the flesh." Technological progress makes it easy for us to enjoy carnal pleasures almost continually, and most men pursue them and labor for them every day.
The path which leads to the Kingdom of God, however, the road by which one gains eternal life, is completely the opposite. It requires toil. We should labor to serve others, bear hardships to feed our families, endure standing at prayer before God, in order to acquire an enlightened mind and upright character. We should fast when it is necessary. We should sacrifice an afternoon walk in order to visit a sick person. Eternal life is gained by toil. The path of fleshly repose, the broad way, leads to Hell. The straight and narrow way of Christian duty leads to eternal salvation and blessedness. O man, the time of your life is given you so that you might struggle against sin, so that you might leave this life with a pure conscience and full of good works; and instead, you foolishly spend your days at dances, card games, theatres and movie-houses. You regard revelry and merry-making as a good, and you are indifferent to the law of God and the voice of your conscience. How mistaken you are! All these things are an abomination before God. Precious is the sweat which is poured out in keeping God's Commandments, for love of one's neighbor.
Those who satisfy their lower desires and appetites follow "repose of the flesh." They stay awake at sinful spectacles, they use up precious hours in beautifying the body, at card games and dances. All of this predisposes them to fall into immorality, which is the greatest "desire and repose of the flesh" of all.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God