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.
PRAYER OF SAINT BASIL THE GREAT
Lord God Almighty, The God of heavenly Powers and every human being, You dwell in high heaven, yet look after the humble, You examine the hearts and the inner nature of people And You know well their hidden things; You are the Divine and Uncreated Light for which there is no comparison and no chance to be overshadowed; You Yourself, O Immortal King, accept our prayerful petitions, At this present time of the night, As we take courage, from the multitude of Your Loving-kindness, To address them to You with unclean lips: Forgive us our transgressions in deed, in word and in thought, which we have knowingly or unknowingly committed. Cleanse us from every defilement of the flesh and spirit and make us temples of Your Holy Spirit...For You are the True Light Who enlightens and sanctifies all things, and all creation in turn praises and glorifies You Unto the ages of ages. Amen.
On February 16th 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: Saints Pamphilos, Paul, Valens, Selefcus, Porphyrios, Julian, Theodoulos, Elias, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Samuel, and Daniel in Palestine; Flavian, Archbishop of Antioch; Saint Maruthas, bishop of Martyropolis, and other with him in Mesopotamia; Saint Macarius, Metropolitan of Moscow; Saint Flavian the Hermit; New holy Martyr Romanos of Carpenision (1694); New holy Martyrs Elias and Peter of Russia (1931); Persian holy martyrs under Shapur.
MEMORY OF OUR VENERABLE FATHER FLAVIAN THE HERMIT. This holy ascetic of unknown origin have lived about the time of the Emperor Valens (364-78 A.D.). For sixty years, he lived a hidden life, not speaking to a soul, in a small hut at the top of a mountain. His whole effort was directed to making his spirit return to his heart, where he received from God true consolation and contemplation of His mysteries, according to the word of the Prophet-king: "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart" (Psalm 36;4). He had made a round, slanting opening in the wall of his hut through which once a week he received, without being seen, his scant allowance of sodden beans.
He kept to this Angelic way of life rigorously for all of sixty years, and God endued him with the power of working miracles. He slew a dreadful dragon by his prayer, destroyed a serpent, drove off a cloud of locusts which were threatening the crops, expelled an evil spirit from a youth, healed a woman of cancer and even restored to life a man who had been trampled by a bull. Having thus gained luster by his valor in the contests of ascesis, he attained the heavenly mansions and the enjoyment of everlasting rest.
+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: I Thessalonians 5:14-23
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 24:34-37, 42-44
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"Never correct someone with anger, but only with humility and sincere love. When you see anger ahead, forget about correcting for a moment. When peace has returned, then your powers of discernment are functioning properly and then you can speak beneficially. Since man was created rational and gentle, he is corrected far better with love and gentleness. An angry and irritable man is not accepted into the Kingdom of God even if he raises the dead. Therefore, suppress anger with all of your might, and you will find it weaker the next time." (Geronda [Elder] Joseph the Hesychast]
LOVE OF PLEASURE, VAINGLORY, AVARICE
by Monk John Vranos [source: The Illustrated Sayings of the Holy Fathers]
These are the Three Great Passions, the three heavy chains with which the devil binds men and hold them captive. Every sin we commit is usually a small branch from the trunk of three trees. Men steal and lie from love of money, they bear false witness for pay. These are the particular offspring of avarice.
Out of envy, men hate and accuse their neighbors; they waste much money to make an impression at dinners and receptions; they buy expensive furs and jewels to impress others with ostentatious displays. Most deplorable of all, many spend on vanity the money they need for food; they deny themselves bread in order to scatter to the wind of vanity. These are a few of the offspring of vainglory.
Unlawful love, adultery, fornication, and all the sins of immorality are the offspring of love of pleasure. To these add also greed, gluttony, smoking, drunkenness, and laziness.
Every Christian who forces himself to salvation guards against the three giants of the passions. Take care, O man: is the action you just performed a branch of one of these three passions?
The three great monastic virtues--poverty, chastity, and obedience--completely put to death these three giants. Poverty mortifies avarice, obedience kills vainglory, and temperance and chastity conquer love of pleasure. That is why a genuine monk is a free man who walks truly to the Kingdom of God.
We will not cite any patristic witness here, because what we have said above is a short summary of what has been repeated many times in all the patristic writings.
EVIL DOES NOT CONQUER EVIL
(Saint Barsanuphius the Great)
The holy Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians of Rome, "Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21). How much the Christian martyrs of Rome endured in those hard years at the hands of the unbelieving pagans! Slander, persecution, insults; floggings, various tortures to make them deny Christ, and finally death. The great Apostle counseled them in his Epistle how they should behave toward their persecutors.
The Holy Fathers of the Church knew by experience the great power hidden in love, and how the weapon of love crushes the assault of evil. "Evil can by no means conquer evil," writes Abba (Father) Poemen, "but if someone mistreats you, treat him well, so that by your goodness you destroy his wickedness." And Saint Barsanuphius the Great, being asked about this replied: "Evil does not conquer evil."
Do not be overcome by the evil of others, O man. He who mistreats you must be repaid by kindness. Do not allow anger to overcome you so that you seek revenge on him. Christian behavior does not know the meaning of revenge. Have great patience in temptations: raise your hands and heart to God and pray for your enemies. Beg God to enlighten them so that they will return to the knowledge of God. Did someone steal your property? Do not rush to plunder his possessions or to prosecute him, but pray for him with love. Did he strike you? Remember that the Lord commanded us to turn the left cheek also when they strike us on the right. Evil is neutralized by goodness. If you try to conquer the evil of others with your own evil, you nourish and strengthen it even more. But if you do good to the one who injured you and make excuses for him, when he learns about it he will be ashamed of his evil behavior, and will repent and ask forgiveness. Great is the power of agape, it is the greatest characteristic of God.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God