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 TO THE HOLY SPIRIT
(Saint Symeon the New Theologian)
Come, O Life of delight, Eternity and Power, the All-Holy, Life-giving and creative Spirit, Who are of equal Honor in Authority with the Father and the Son, Whose convergence and unity into One is through the identity of worth and of will in the Three Persons of the Divinity.
Come, O my Lord, my anguished soul has yearned and still years for You.
Come, O yearning that is in me and causes me to desire You Who are altogether inaccessible.
Come, O my constant joy and delight and glory.
Come, O my breath, my life and the consolation of my soul.
Become one spirit with me, O Most Benevolent Lord, yet without confusion, without change, without alteration, since You are God above all.
Become for me the One Who is everything to all, inexpressible nourishment, totally free, constantly flowing on the lips of my soul and streaming in the fountain of my heart, a shining garment that burns the demons, the catharsis that washes me with incorruptible and holy tears that are granted by Your presence to those You approach.
Become for me, O Lord, the Light without night, the unsetting sun that illumines me in every place, the One Who turns away from no one at all, so that we may not be overcome by the darkness of our sins and be unwilling to come to You.
Take away from me, O Lord, every destructive pride and give a prudent countenance to my eyes; set a bridle on my tongue, make patience in afflictions, make my heart wise and strong in forbearance, in goodness, in restraint, in sympathy, in charity, in love, in humility, in peace toward myself and all others, and in rejecting the indolence and slothfulness of the demons in which I once indulged as if they were mere confections.
Grant me the gift of seasoned discretion to be able to discern which thoughts and whose judgments to prefer. Grant me also the ability to discern the machinations of the devil and to reject them and him. And may I cut off altogether my own will so that I may rely upon Your Providence, hoping to receive from You whatever is beneficial for me. For my life is dependent upon You, Who are my Light, my salvation. And I bless, glorify, and worship You, together with the Father and the Son, with Whom You are Co-Eternal and Co-Existing, always, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
On March 7th 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: Ton en Chersoni Episcopisanton Hieromartyron: Ephraim, Patriarch of Antioch; Basil, Ephraim, Eugene, Capiton, Elpidius, Agathorodos, and Aetherius; Emilian of Rome; Saint Paul the Simple of Egypt; Saint Laurence of Megara; Saint Nestor and Arcadius, bishops of Tremithus; Saint Dandus and all Saints of Thrace.
VENERABLE LAURENCE OF MEGARA. Saint Laurence was named Lambros at birth in 18th century Megara. Lambros was an intelligent, well-educated man who married, had two sons, and became a successful businessman. He was extremely devoted to the Church. After his sons married, Lambros bought a large tract of land in Corinth and there intended to settle with his wife Vasilike. However, the Theotokos appeared to him on two successive nights with the same vision, which convinced him that he must move to the remote island of Salamina to build a church in her name. Lambros and Vasilike sold their belongings and went to the island, where they found a church dedicated to the Theotokos in ruins. While excavating the site, they found an ancient icon of the Theotokos and took it to the Geronda [Elder] Laurence at a nearby rundown Monastery. Lambros built the church, renovated the Monastery, and became a monk there, taking the name of his Geronda, Laurence; Vasilike became a nun. The Monastery was soon filled to capacity, and Laurence labored well as an ascetic. Through devious means, a Muslim confiscated the Monastery lands. When his wife fell ill, St. Laurence healed her with his prayers, and the lands were returned. Saint Laurence died peacefully.
+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: 1 John 4:20-21, 5:1-21
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Mark 15:1-15
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND EDIFICATION
"For sin is the cause of each and every misfortune that occurs in this world. If it were not for sin there would be no misfortune. Sin came into being in the world and upon followed every calamity. Sin is sweet to men, but its fruits are bitter to them." (Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk)
THE MANNER IN WHICH CHRISTIANS SHOULD GO TO THE CHURCH OF THE LORD
by Saint Nicodemos the Hagiorite [source: Christian Morality]
That Christians should, of necessity, go to Church; the Church contains the spiritual Table and Fountain for those that hunger and thirst.
There are five ways,, my Christian brothers and sisters in which you should go to Christ's Church: (1) of necessity; (2) with longing; (3) constantly; (4) in purity; and (5) out of duty.
1. You should go of necessity, firstly because just as those who are hungry and thirsty need to go to a perceptible table and a perceptible spring in order to have their fill of food and drink and satisfy their hunger and thirst; so also you Christians, who hunger both for daily bread, which is the Life-Giving Body of the Lord, and for spiritual bread, which is the word and teaching of God, as Saint Gregory the Theologian says, and who thirst both for the Immortal drink, which is the vivifying Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and for spiritual drink, which is the wine of the Divine word and teaching, are compelled to go to the Holy Church in order to assuage your hunger from the Mystical and Holy Table of the Lord...For if you do not go to Church in order to eat and drink continually become weak and die spiritually, as the Lord said: "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His Blood, ye have no life in you" (St. John 6:53). For the Divine David prophesied that these good things of twofold food and twofold drink are found in the house of God's Holy Church, saying, "We shall be satisfied with the good things of Thy house; Thy temple is holy, wonderful in righteousness" (Psalm 64:5-6), as did the Prophet Joel, who foretold the teachings concerning the drink of the Divine teaching that wells up from the Holy Church and waters Christians, who are dry and barren like reeds, saying: "And it shall come to pass in that day that...a fountain shall go forth from the house of the Lord, and water the valley of flags" (Joel 3:18).
The Church is an Ark
You Christians should of necessity go to Church, secondly because the Church is an Ark. Therefore, just as, in the time of the Flood, all of those people and all of those animals that entered the Ark escaped from the deluge, whereas all of those people and all of those animals that remained outside the Ark were drowned and destroyed, so also now all of those Christians who go to the Holy Church and enter into it are delivered from the spiritual deluge of sin and the passions, whereas all of those Christians who remain outside the Church are engulfed and destroyed. This is why the Divine Chrysostomos said:
"The events that took place were a type of things to come. For example, the Ark is the Church; Noah is Christ; the dove is the Holy Spirit; the olive branch is God's love for mankind...But the former are a type, and the latter are the Truth. For, just as the Ark in the midst of the ocean preserved those inside it, so also the Church preserves all who are in error."
The Church is a Spiritual Fold
You are compelled to go to Church, brothers and sisters, thirdly because the Church is your spiritual fold, and you are the rational sheep of such a fold. Hence, when the sheep are outside their fold, they are at risk of perishing, since either a wolf, a jackal, or some other wild animal will snatch them, whereas none of the sheep inside the fold are in any danger. Just so, all of those Christians who do not go to Church but remain outside it are at risk of being killed by the spiritual wolf, the Devil, and those other wild beasts, the passions, whereas all of those inside the Church escape from peril. For this reason, the Divine Chrysostomos said:
"Remain inside the Church, and the Church will not betray you; but if you depart from the Church, the Church is not responsible [for your capture]. For if you are inside, the wolf does not enter, whereas if you go outside, you become prey to wild beasts--though this is not the fault of the fold, but of your own pusillanimity. For there is nothing to equal the Church...Do not absent yourself from the Church, for there is nothing mightier than the Church. The Church is your hope; the Church is your salvation; the Church is your refuge. It is loftier than the heaven; it is more spacious that the earth. It never grows old, but always flourishes."
The Church is a Common Surgery
You are compelled to go to Church, O Christians, fourthly because the Church is a common surgery, which cures all sinners who have been wounded spiritually by the Devil. Therefore, just as all who have bodily wounds are compelled to go to a doctor in order to be healed, lest they die, similarly all of those Christians who are afflicted with spiritual wounds of the passions and sin are in great need of going to the common surgery of the Church, so that they might show their wounds to a spiritual Father and receive from him the medications and plasters suitable for their healing. For if they make light of such wounds and do not go to this surgery, their wounds putrefy and cause them spiritual and eternal death. Hence, Saint John Chrysostomos says about the Church:
"This house is a spiritual surgery, so that here we might heal whatever wounds we may have received outside." And elsewhere: "The Church is a surgery for souls... and we must depart from it like those who visit a surgery, after receiving the remedies appropriate for the sufferings that burden us."
The Church is a Spiritual Haven
You should run to Church, my beloved, fifthly and finally with as much longing as sailors in peril on the sea race to harbors, for the Church of God is a spiritual haven, secure, free from storms, and tranquil, providing refuge for all those in peril on the ocean of the cities from the tempest of sin and from the waves of cares stirred up by the sea of this world, so that they might find calm and stillness therein. Thus does the pen of Saint John Chrysostomos liken the Church to a haven:
"O do you not know that God has planted Churches in the cities like harbors on the main, in order that, seeking refuge herein from the tempest of life's cares, we might enjoy the greatest tranquility? For here we do not have to fear the surge of the waves, nor the incursion of brigands, nor the onslaughts of malefactors, nor the violence of winds, nor the attacks of wild beasts, for it is a harbor immune to all of these; it is a spiritual harbor of souls."
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God