The Way into the Kingdom of Heaven (Part VI)

26 Monk-Martyrs of Zographou of Mt Athos

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


O Mary, Mother of God, we too sent up a doxology and hymn of praise to you, who are the Most Revered Treasure of the whole world, the Ever-burning Lamp, the Crown of virginity, the Scepter of Orthodox Christianity, the space in which He who is altogether uncontainable was contained within you, who are both Mother and Virgin. You are the person for whom heaven rejoices, the Angels Delight, the demons are banished and Satan is vanquished and fallen. Through you, O Theotokos, man, who had fallen into the depths of the abyss, is now able to once again rise to heaven. Through you all of creation has come to the knowledge of the Truth. Through you all of the nations can be guided to salvation. Through you the Only-Begotten Son of God and our Savior Jesus Christ has shown a Great Light upon us sat in darkness and in shadow of death. Amen.


On September 21st 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 Apostle Quadratos of the Seventy Holy Apostles; Holy Prophet Jonah the Savvaite; Saints Efsevius, Nestabus, Zeno, and Nestor of Gaza; Saint Efsevius of Phoenicia; Saint Priscus of Phrygia; Saint Isaacius and Meletius, bishops of Cyprus; Saint Daniel, Abbot (Egoumenos) of Shugh Hill; Saint Theophan of Lipetsk and Belo-Russia (1937); Saint Joseph of Zaonikiev Monastery; Six holy Martyrs slain by the sword; Uncovering of the holy relics of St. Demetrios, Metropolitan of Rostov.

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

HOLY MARTYR EFSEVIUS OF PHOENICIA. On his own will, Saint Efsevius presented himself before the ruler of Phoenicia and declared that he was a Christian. He asked the ruler why he was persecuting Christians. Angered by the accusation, the ruler ordered that Saint Efsevius be suspended and his flesh scraped. He was tortured even more when salt was added to his wounds. Holy Martyr Efsevius endured the tortures gladly and felt as though he was not suffering, but someone else. At a loss, the ruler ordered Saint Efsevius beheaded, and he received a martyr's crown from heaven.


Holy Epistle Lesson: I Corinthians 1:26-31; 2:1-5
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 8:21-30


"It is dangerous for anyone to teach who has not first been trained in the practical life. For if someone who owns a ruined house receives guests there, he does them harm because of the dilapidation of his dwelling. It is the same in the case of someone who has not first built an interior dwelling; he causes loss to those who come. By words one may convert them to salvation, but by evil behavior, one injures them". (Saint Syncletiki of Alexandria)

by Saint Innocent of Alaska

How Jesus Christ Helps Us

While walking the path of Christ, you should not rely only on yourself. If Jesus Christ, our Great Benefactor, had not given us help every step of the way, no one could have reached salvation. Even the Apostles, when left to themselves, were unable to follow Jesus and faintheartedly dispersed. But when on Pentecost they received help from above, they joyfully followed His path, and then neither dangers nor difficulties nor death itself could discourage them.

What is this help given by Jesus Christ to Christians? This help is the Grace of the Holy Spirit. God's Grace surrounds us, and with it the Lord draws us to Himself. All who wish can receive this help and become filled with it.

The Holy Spirit, being God, equal to the Father and the Son, is the source of life and strength. He gives to believers wisdom, inner peace and inspiration, not according to their merits but for Jesus Christ's sake. How the Holy Spirit helps us, what are His gifts, and how one should attract His Grace will now be explained in accordance with the Holy Scriptures.

1. When descending upon a Christian, the Holy Spirit gives him faith and light. No one can have a true living faith without the Holy Spirit.

2. Descending upon a Christian, the Holy Spirit brings true love which warms his heart. This love inspires a person to do good deeds, so that for him there is nothing impossible or terrifying anymore. God's Commandments, which appeared to be difficult before, now become easy. Faith and love, gifts from the Holy Spirit, are such powerful means that the person possessing them can easily and joyfully follow the path of Jesus Christ.

3. The Holy Spirit corrects a worldly outlook and attitude, so that a Christian is no longer overwhelmed by the temptations of this passing world. Gratefully using what God has bestowed, a true Christian does not become attached to anything temporary but considers himself a stranger in this world and wises most of all to be in contact with God. On the other hand, a person without the grace of the Holy Spirit, despite all his learning and capabilities, always remains a worshiper of the world and a slave of the flesh.

4. The Holy Spirit gives a Christian wisdom. This is illustrated very obviously in the case of the Holy Apostles. Because of their low social position, they were the most simple and unlearned of men. However, after the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon them on the day of Pentecost, they received such wisdom and power of speech that even philosophers and orators could not stand up to them. The Holy Spirit always teaches Christians what they must do, and when and how they should act. Thus guided by the Holy Spirit, they will always find the time and the means for the salvation of their soul. Amid all the turmoils of the world and in spite of being busy, they will be able to collect their inner self to be with and pray to God. A non-spiritual person, on the other hand, cannot focus or pray sincerely, even in church.

5. The Holy Spirit gives Christians true joy and undisturbable peace. They feel this peace and joy even during external difficulties and in times of trial. People, on the other hand, who do not have the Holy Spirit, can never truly rejoice or attain inner peace. When they enjoy themselves, they find their joy is transient, frivolous, and pitiful, and on occasion even sinful. After their revelry, a boredom greater than ever before fills their heart. Similarly, when a non-spiritual person feels tranquility, this is not a true spiritual peace but a sort of dozing or apathy. Woe to the people who do not awaken in time and do not start being concerned with the salvation of their soul! They will remain spiritually dead even while alive physically.

6. The Holy Spirit gives true humility. Even the most intelligent people, if they do not possess the Holy Spirit, cannot know themselves well enough, because their internal illness and spiritual poverty are hidden form them. When they do something good or act honestly, they become haughty, look down on others, and even judge those who, in their opinion, are inferior to them. Through their own blindness, many self-satisfied falsely righteous ones did not ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and strengthening, and consequently, perished. The Holy Spirit always comes back to those who ask for enlightenment and help. As a bright ray of sun penetrates the darkness, enhancing the smallest details found within, so does the Holy Spirit, having descended upon people, disclose to them all the weakness and wretchedness of their soul.  Enlightened by the Heavenly Light, Christians can no longer boast about their good works, because they realize their soul needs healing and complete renewal. This realization makes them more humble and they begin to repent and decide to live more carefully.

7. The Holy Spirit grants true fervent prayer. Until they receive the Holy Spirit people cannot pray in a manner truly pleasing to God because they cannot control their scattered thoughts and feelings. Christians in whom the Holy Spirit resides, however, vividly feel the presence of God; their prayer flows evenly, and they know how and for what to ask God. In this inspired state, they can beseech God for anything, even the seemingly impossible.

This is a short list of the most needed gifts of the Holy Spirit.

In summary, it is impossible to enter the Kingdom of Heaven or even come close to it without the assistance (Grace) of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we should implore the Holy Spirit with all earnestness to come dwell in us and help us, just as He helped the Holy Apostles. In order for the Holy Spirit to be kind toward us, to descend and reside within us, it is important to know what draws Him to us and what pushes Him away.

 (to be continued)

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

+Father George