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.
According to the Seventy
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for my soul trusted in Thee. And in the shadow of Thy wings will I hope, until iniquity shall pass away. I will cry unto God the Most High, unto God my benefactor. He hath sent out of heaven and saved me, He hath given over to reproach them that were trampling me down. God hath sent forth His mercy and His truth, and hath delivered by soul from the midst of lions' cubs; I lay me down to sleep as one troubled. As for the sons of men, their teeth are weapons and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. Be Thou exalted above the heavens, O God, and Thy glory above all the earth. They have prepared a snare for my feet, and bowed down my soul. They have dug a pit before my face and have fallen into it themselves. Ready is my heart, O God, ready is my heart; I will sing and chant in my glory. Awake, O my glory; awake, O psaltery and harp; I myself will awake at dawn. I will confess Thee among the peoples, O Lord, I will chant unto Thee among the nations. For magnified even unto the heavens is Thy mercy, and Thy truth even unto the clouds. Be Thou exalted above the heavens, O God, and Thy glory above all the earth.
by Saint John Chrysostom
"...For neither prudence alone can save without the other virtues, nor the care of the poor, or goodness, or any other of the virtues, for they must all work together in our souls. Prayer is always there as the root and the foundation. As the keel makes the ship strong and holds it together as a unified whole, and as the foundations hold up the building, by the same token, our life is upheld and strengthened by prayers, without which nothing good and salutary can come to us. This is why the Apostle Paul insists and constantly reminds us: 'Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving' (Col. 4:2). In another place he says: 'Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you' (1 Thess. 5:17).
On January 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: Veneration of the Precious Chains of the Holy Apostle Peter; Saints Speusippus, Eleusippus, and Meleusippus, with Neon, Turbo, Leonilla, and Jonilla in Cappadocia; Saint Honoratus, Archbishop of Arles; Saint Danax the Reader; Saint Damascene of Bulgaria; Blessed Maximos of Totma; New Holy Martyr Nicholas of Mitylene (+1777); Saint Romilos of Ravanica; Saint Sigebert, king of the East Angles; Saint Fursey of Burgh Castle.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Ascetics, Holy Archbishops, Holy kings; Holy Apostles, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
SAINT FURSEY OF BURGH CASTLE, ENLIGHTENER OF EAST ANGIA AND LANGY. Saint Fursey was from 6th century Ireland. When he became well known for his asceticism, he left there with other missionaries and went to Suffolk. King Sigebert received him well and gave him ground for a monastery at Burgh Castle. Saint Fursey went about preaching the Gospel and converting many. One evening he fell ill and his soul left his body, only to be restored to it the next morning. Venerable Bede writes that St. Fursey encountered extraordinary combat from the evil spirits, who fought to stop his journey to heaven through frequent accusations, but the Angels of God protected him. Saint Fursey saw many terrible things. Soon after, St. Fursey left the monastery for a year to live as a hermit. Influenced greatly by St. Fursey, King Sigebert also left his throne to become a monk. Later, when a pagan king invaded their land, the people carried the unwilling Sigebert to the battle, as he had once been their brave commander. However, King Sigebert carried only a rod, and he was killed. Saint Fursey went to France, where the mayor of Neustria gave him land to build a monastery, and he soon died. When Saint Fursey's holy relics were unearthed four years later, they were found incorrupt, and his intercessions wrought many wonders (miracles).
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 12:1-11
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 21:14-25
FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"The enemy is standing and observing day and night directly against our eyes to detect which entrance of our senses will be opened to him to enter. Once he enters through one of our senses because of our lack of vigilance, then this devious shameless dog attacks us further with his own arrows." (Saint Isaac the Syrian)
THE BODILY SENSES-ENERGY OF GRACE-THE SOUL'S PERCEPTION
by His Eminence, Metropolitan of Nafpaktos, Hierotheos
[Source: Hesychia and Theology: The Context for Man's Healing in the Orthodox Church]
(Please note: Hesychia means inner stillness, the peace of the heart. In the Orthodox Church, hesychia is a complete science for healing the thoughts, the heart and the senses.
Theology means speaking about God based on knowledge and experience of Him. Hesychia is the way in which we acquire this spiritual knowledge of God.
We live in an age of constant activity, gratification of the senses, uncontrolled imagination and speculations that wear people out. They are searching for inner stillness--hesychia--from the world of the senses and imagination, but also for theology--knowledge of God--to give their lives meaning.)
Clearly there are bodily senses and also a perceptive faculty of the soul. The soul and the body interact, and so do their faculties of perception.
It is interesting that, in fallen, passionate man, there is confusion between the senses of soul and body, and between consolation from God and comfort from the devil. Once a person begins to purify his soul, however, he becomes conscious of the difference between the bodily senses and the soul's single faculty of perception. He is also able to distinguish between awareness of the Holy Spirit and the self-indulgent pleasure provoked by the demons.
Apart from the pure perception of the nous, there is also the sense of deceptive sweetness that comes from the devil. When man's nous begins to perceive the consolation of the Holy Spirit, the devil also starts to comfort his soul with a certain pleasurable sensation in the quiet hours of the night. Distinguishing between the consolation of the Holy Spirit and the devil's deceptive comfort is only possible through the Jesus Prayer, when we call upon the name of Christ.
We have seen that Saint Diadochos teaches that the grace of God is established in the depths of the nous and heart through Baptism. When we remember God we feel longing for Him welling up from the depths of our heart. At that point, however, "the evil spirits invade and lurk in the bodily senses, acting through the compliancy of the flesh upon those still immature in soul." The evil cluster round the bodily senses of those whose souls are still infantile, and act through them. As he goes on to explain, a struggle ensues between Divine grace and the evil spirits. Divine grace brings joy to the body "through the perceptive faculty of the nous", whereas the demons capture the soul by violence "through the bodily senses", when they find us faint-hearted.
God's grace and the energies of the demons do not dwell simultaneously in man's heart. Through Baptism Divine Grace is established in the very depths of the heart, whereas the devil acts from outside. Although it may seem as if satanic thoughts arise from the heart, this is because the soul is subject to satanic attacks, as "the nous, being highly responsive, makes its own the thoughts suggested to it by the demons through the activity of the flesh". This happens when we do not struggle. On the other hand, when someone lives virtuously, especially when he practices poverty, then Divine Grace illumines his whole being profound awareness and, "the arrows of the fiery demon are extinguished before they reach the body." When Divine Grace, through the perception of the nous, inspires a person, the devil's attacks on him through his bodily senses are brought to an end. What is more, the grace of the Holy Spirit quenches the fiery arrows of the demons while they are still in did-air.
Perceptive Faculties of the Nous, Heart and Soul
Saint Diadochos of Photiki describes the perceptive faculty of the soul in many different ways in his teaching. Sometimes he calls it the perceptive faculty of the nous, sometimes "noetic perception", elsewhere "the experience of perception" of the healthy nous, and in other places a consciousness in the soul and heart. Elsewhere he refers to "the heart's organs of perception" and to "spiritual perception".
This is connected with the fact that in the Patristic tradition, as it was also interpreted by Saint Gregory Palamas on this point, the term 'nous' is used to denote the whole soul, the energy of the soul and its essence (the heart). In each case it refers to an inner faculty of perception that acquires participation in, and knowledge of, the life of the spirit. This spiritual knowledge is communicated to the body as well, and to the whole man.
(To be continued)
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God