The Way into the Kingdom of Heaven (Part IV)

St Constantine of Smolensk and Yaroslav

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,


O Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, the personally existing Wisdom of God, the Great Light of the world, the Way, the Truth and the Life of mankind, our Teacher and Instructor, who has revealed the Name and the Will of the Heavenly Father, and Who has proclaimed the words of Eternal life, the One Who not only commissioned Your Aoly Apostles and Disciples to go out and to proclaim the Gospel but also sent upon them the Spirit of Wisdom, empowering them to preach the Gospel to the whole world and to teach all the nations, it is You that we praise and glorify and thank with our whole heart and soul for Your innumerable and priceless benefactions towards us. We thank You, Lord, and we glorify and highly praise Your Name, for You have called us to a holy and sacred mission. You have guided us in the knowledge of Your Truth, and You have empowered us to serve in Your Holy Church for the salvation of mankind, by receiving from You Your Divine words and by transmitting them to those who hunger and thirst for Your Truth and the Righteousness. Glory to Your Goodness, Glory to Your Loving-kindness, Glory to Your condescension to us sinners. Amen.


On September 19th 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: Holy Martyrs Trophimos, Savvatius, and Dorymedon; our Father among the Saints Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury; Righteous virgin Martyr Pomposa was beheaded in Cordova by the Moors in the year of our Lord 853; Saint Theodore, Prince of Smolensk, and his sons David and Constantine, the Wonderworkers.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

THE HOLY MARTYRS TROPHIMOS, SAVVATIUS AND DORYMEDON. In the time of the emperor Probus, in the third century, when Atticus was governing Antioch, two Christians, Trophimos and Savvatius, both eminent and honored men, came to that city. Just at that time, there was a pagan festival and offerings to the idol of Appolo in Daphne near Antioch. Atticus made a special effort to ensure that all the citizens took part in the festivities. When someone saw Throphimos and Savvatius, and told Atticus that these two old men were not taking part, Atticus summoned them for trial, and, when they refused to deny Christ, put them to torture one by one. After beating and torturing Trophimos, he sent him to Phrygia to Dionysios, a yet harsher torturer of Christians, himself taking Savvatius from prison and trying him. When the torturer asked Savvatius who he was and what his rank was, he replied: "My rank and dignity, my homeland, my glory and my riches are Christ the Son of God, Who is alive forever and by Whose providence the whole universe is held in being." He was therefore beaten and flogged with iron flails until his bones showed through his flesh, and he died under these horrific tortures. The torturer put St. Trophimos to harsh torture, and held him in prison to inflict yet greater torture on him. Then a certain Senator, Dorymedon, a secret Christian, came to the prison and ministered to St. Trophimos. When the torturer discovered this, he put them both to torture and finally threw them to the wild beasts. But the animals would not touch them. Holy Dorymedon even shouted into the ear of a she-bear to eat him up, but the bear only became even more docile. The torturer ordered, as consequence of this, that Saints Trophimos and Dorymedon be beheaded. The souls of these two holy Martyrs now reign in Heaven.


Holy Epistle Lesson: I Timothy 1:12-17
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 21:12-19


"Once, Abba[Father] Moses was severely beset by thoughts of fornication and, unable to sit any longer in his cell, he departed and confessed his thoughts to Abba Isidore. The Geronda[Elder] asked him to return to his cell. However, not wishing at all to listen to this advice, he replied to Abba Isidore: "I can no longer hold out, Abba". The Elder then took Abba Moses with him and, after climbing onto the roof of the cell, said: "Look towards the West". So he looked carefully in that direction and saw a host of demons provoking confusion and causing disturbance with their warmongering. Then Abba Isidore said again: "Now look towards the East". When he turned to the East, Abba Moses saw countless hosts of Holy Angels surrounded in Glory. The Elder then said to Moses: "There! These that you see are the ones the Lord sends to help the Saints who struggle. But the ones that you saw previously in the West are those who make war on them; our allies, therefore, are greater in number. This is why you should have courage and not be afraid." After this Abba Moses gave thanks to God, took courage and returned to his cell."

by Saint Innocent of Alaska


Although these inner crosses present themselves as burdensome, do not despair and do not think that the Lord has abandoned you. No! He is always with you and invisibly sustains you, even when you forget Him. He will not burden you with trials beyond your capacity. Fear nothing, but with total humbleness and devotion bear your cross and pray. He is the gentlest of fathers that could be wished for. If on occasion He allows His faithful servants to be tempted, it is only to remind them of their feebleness and to completely cleanse their hearts form pride. In our hearts is where He intends to reside with His Son and His Holy Spirit.

In time of sorrow do not seek comfort from people. Most people are not experienced in affairs of salvation and are poor advisers. Make the Lord your only helpmate, comforter and tutor, and form Him alone ask help. The man to whom the Lord sends afflictions is blessed a hundredfold, because it is afflictions that cure our souls. When enduring sorrows, a Christian is likened to Jesus Christ, Who suffered for us. We should consider sorrows a gift from the Lord and a sign of His care for our salvation.

If you bear your cross with perseverance and seek comfort only from Him, then He, through His mercy, will not abandon you but will touch your heart and will impart to you the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is then that you will feel an indescribable delight, a wonderful inner peace and joy such as you have never experienced before, and at the same time you will feel an influx of spiritual strength; prayer will become easier and your faith stronger. Then your heart will be kindled with love of God and all people. All these are gifts of the Holy Spirit.

When the Lord decides to honor you with such gifts, do not consider them as rewards for your labors, and do not think that you have attained perfection. Such thoughts come from pride. The comforts and grace of the Holy Spirit are not rewards but gifts of Divine Mercy. Occasionally the Lord allows us to get a foretaste of future blessings so that we will put forth a greater effort in seeking His Eternal Kingdom.

Finally, a disciple of Christ must follow Him. This means that in all deeds and actions we must try to be like our Lord Jesus Christ in His virtues. We must strive to live and act as He lived and acted. For example, Jesus Christ always thanked His Heavenly Father and constantly prayed to Him. Thus we also must constantly thank God and pray to Him in all circumstances, whether successful or difficult.

Jesus Christ revered His Mother and submitted to lawful authority. Thus we also should revere our parents and educators; we too should respect those in positions of responsibility provided their requests are not in conflict with God's Commandments. Jesus Christ fervently and with love performed the task for which His Father sent Him. We should also conscientiously and zealously perform the duties which are laid upon us by God and civil authorities.

Jesus Christ loved everyone and did good to all. So should we love our neighbor and do good to as many people as possible. Jesus Christ did everything possible for the salvation of mankind. So must we do good to others, not sparing our own well-being and time.

Jesus Christ voluntarily suffered and died for us. Therefore we too must not grumble when some unpleasantness befalls us but be ready to make sacrifices with humility and devotion to God. Jesus Christ not only forgave His enemies their ingratitude and animosity but wished them well. So we also must forgive our enemies, repaying them with good for their evil while blessing those who revile us.

Jesus Christ, the King of Heaven and earth, lived in poverty and obtained His daily necessities through His own labor. So we also must be industrious and content with what God has given and not be consumed with desire for riches for their own sake. In words of the Savior: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God" (St. Matthew 19:24).

Jesus Christ, being meek and humble of heart, never strove for adulation but directed all towards the glory of His Father. We also must not parade ourselves or seek recognition. For instance, do you help your neighbors, do you give alms, do you live more piously than those around you, are you wiser than your friends, or are you in some way above others? Do not brag about it. Remember that all your praiseworthy attributes are not yours but gifts of God. Yours are weaknesses, mistakes and sins.

Following Jesus Christ means accepting with faith and submitting to all that Christ taught without question and with simplicity of heart. He who accepts Jesus Christ's words becomes His disciple, but he who fulfills His Commandments with complete devotion becomes His true and devoted follower.

This is the meaning of denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following Jesus Christ. This is the only straight path into the Kingdom of Heaven. Christ walked this path and calls us to follow Him. There never was and never will be any other path to salvation but this one, shown to us by Jesus! To the beginner this path may seem too narrow and steep. But it seems this way only because our understanding of Divine blessings and happiness has become distorted. Many of us regard the bitter as sweet and the sweet as bitter. However, as we come closer to God, much of what seemed difficult or bitter before will become easy or sweet, and what seemed to please before will come to seem boring and harmful.

Of course, there will be trying periods in our life when the path of ascension toward God will seem exceptionally difficult. Then we should think that for every step taken there are a thousand rewards being prepared. Sufferings along this path are momentary, but the rewards are Eternal. Therefore, do not fear the path of Christ, for a smooth and wide path ends in hell, but a thorny and narrow one leads to Heaven.

(to be continued)

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George