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 OF SAINT BASIL THE GREAT
Master, Lord Jesus Christ, Our God, You have been forbearing over our transgressions; And having led us to this present hour, when You were hanging upon the Life-Giving Cross, Opening the entrance into Paradise for the repentant thief, and destroying death by death, be merciful to us sinners, Your unworthy servants. For we have sinned and transgressed, and are not worthy to lift up our eyes and to look upon the height of Heaven. For we have indeed abandoned the way of Your Righteousness, and have walked according to the will of our own hearts. But now we beseech Your unimaginable Goodness. Spare us, O Lord, according to the multitude of Your mercy, and save us for the sake of Your Holy Name, for the days of our life have been spent in vanity, release us from the grasp of the Adversary, and forgive us our transgressions; mortify our sinful inclinations, so that we may put away the old self, put on the new man and live with You, Our Lord and Master. And thus, by following Your Commandments, we shall attain to that eternal rest, which is the dwelling place of all those who delight in You. For You are indeed the True Light and gladness of those who love You, O Christ Our God, and to You do we send up glory, together with Your Unoriginate Father, and Your All-Holy, Good and Life-Giving Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
ON HOW TO PRAY
Saint Symeon the New Theologian
"One gathers the mind within the self, removing it from all sensory things, to protect all of its senses and to gather all of its thoughts from wandering over the vain things of this world. Sometimes one will examine his thoughts and sometimes will pay attention to the words of his prayer. Other times he will need to recall his thoughts which were captivated by the devil and were distracted by evil and vain things. And at other times, again, one may with much effort and difficulty become aware in himself of some passion that may have come to rule over him. Having this struggle to contend with in himself, he is not able to find peace, nor the time to cultivate the virtues and to receive the crown of righteousness. Such a person resembles the man who is fighting his enemies in the darkness of night; he hears the sounds of his enemies and receives their blows, but he cannot see clearly who they are and where they have come from and how and why they inflict him with wounds. This is the case because of the darkness which is in his mind and the confusion which he has in his thoughts, causing this damage and preventing him from ever being saved from his enemies the demons who are attacking him. Such an unfortunate person endures this ordeal in vain and loses the reward, without even knowing why, simply because he considers himself to be careful and attentive to his spiritual life.
On January 27th 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: Saint Peter of Egypt; Saint Marciana the Empress; Venerable Claudinus; New Hieromartyr Peter of Russia (+1929); Saint Leonty of Ivanovo (+1972); New Holy Martyr Demetrios of Constantinople (+1784); Translation (Anakomide) of the holy relics of Saint John Chrysostom; New Hieromartyr Leontius of Tarnopol and Jablechna (+1972).
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Ascetics, Holy Mothers, Holy Hieromartyrs, Holy Fathers, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE TRANSLATION (ANAKOMIDE) OF THE HOLY RELICS OF OUR FATHER AMONG THE SAINTS JOHN CHRYSOSTOM. This event took place on this day in the year 438 AD, when Saint Theodosius the Younger had been Emperor for thirty years; he was the son of Arcadius and Evdoxia, who has exiled Saint John The Archbishop of Constantinople at that time was Proclus, who had been the Saint's disciple.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Plagal of Fourth Tone
Grace shining forth from thy mouth like a beacon hath illumined the universe, and disclosed to the world treasures of uncovetousness, and shown us the heights of humility; but whilst instructing us by thy words, O Father John Chrysostom, intercede with the Word, Christ our God, to save our souls.
Kontakion. First Tone
The holy and august Church is mystically gladdened today on the translation of thy holy relics. And though she had kept them hid in concealment like precious gold, by thine intercessions she unceasingly granteth, unto them that praise thee, the divine grace of healing, O Father John Chrysostom.
THE VENERABLE PETER OF EGYPT. Saint Peter was an Egoumenos (Abbot). The following are some of his counsels. A brother once told him that he had no peace in his soul when someone came to his cell with words from people in the world. Saint Peter responded that the monk open the door for this unrest of soul when he asks the visitor questions about where he comes from and how the other monks are doing, and did they receive him with hospitality or not; then he hears these answers and his soul is disturbed. Saint Peter continued, saying that when one has penthos, that is grief for his sins, penthos teaches him what to do. Without penthos, a person cannot watch over himself. The brother answered that he had penthos when he was in his room, but it left when he departed from his room. Saint Peter said that when penthos becomes a habit, it no longer leaves. Another time, Saint Peter was asked what a servant of God is? Saint Peter said that as long as a person practices any kind of passion, he is not a servant of God but a servant of that passion (pathos). And as long as he is conquered, he cannot teach others about this passion until he has been freed from it. Saint Peter ended his life peacefully in old age.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 7:26-28, 8:1-2
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 10:9-16
FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"Pray first for the purification of the passions; secondly, for deliverance from ignorance and forgetfulness; and thirdly, for deliverance from all temptation, trial and dereliction". (Abba (Father) Evagrius the Solitary)
THE COVENANT OF GOD
by His Eminence, Metropolitan of Nafpaktos, Hierotheos
The Covenant of God, Old and New, is central to the theology of the Orthodox Church because it is connected with God's grace, man's participation in this grace, and his rebirth. God makes a personal covenant with man, which contributes to his personal regeneration. This subject is of considerable interest and touches on both theology and hesychia.
The Meaning of 'Covenant'
The Greek word diatheke derives from the verb diatithemi, meaning 'arrange' or 'dispose', and signifies an agreement between two parties (covenant), and also the disposition of the property of the deceased by will (testament).
In ecclesiastical language 'covenant' is understood as the agreement which God concluded with man, in both ancient and modern times. It means the Old and New Covenants, but also refers to the personal agreement which God makes with each person, when He sends His grace. At the same time it is stated that when God establishes a covenant with man, He keeps His pledges, and everything He has promised will come to pass without fail.
When the Apostle Paul speaks about the promise of the Spirit, he uses the example of a will or covenant. "Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto" (Galatians 3:15). He goes on to say that this covenant that God made with Abraham and his descendants cannot be annulled by the law. "The covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of one effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise" (Gal. 3:17-18).
Certain characteristic elements are easily distinguishable in the case of a covenant: the person making the covenant, its recipient, its content, its promises and assurances, and its ratification.
Many passages in the New Testament refer to the term 'Covenant of God' and its significance.
The Old Covenant
The old Covenant and agreement of God with mankind was made first of all with Abraham. God's assurances and promises to our forefather Abraham are well known: "And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great...and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:2-3). Elsewhere the book of Genesis says: "In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land" (Gen. 15:18). Further on we read: "And I will establish my covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee...And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep My covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations" (Genesis 17:7-9)
This Covenant is sealed by circumcision. "This is My covenant, which ye shall keep, between Me and you and thy seed after thee; every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you" (Genesis 17:10-11). Personal sacrifice and offering confirm this covenant.
Many passages in the New Testament and the discourses of the holy Apostles refer to this pledge.
In his address to the Jews after Pentecost the Apostle Peter alluded to God's Covenant with Abraham. Among other things he said, "Ye are the children of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed" (Acts 3:25). The Protomartyr (First-Martyr) and Archdeacon Stefanos (Stephen) referred in his speech to this Covenant of God with Abraham, saying "...He gave him the covenant of circumcision" (Acts 7:8). God's Covenant was mentioned by Zachariah, the father of the Holy Forerunner and Baptism John, in his renowned hymn of praise: "To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant" (St. Luke 1:72). According to the Apostle Paul, the Israelites had the special blessing of God to receive His Covenant. "Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises" (Romans 9:4-5). By contrast, the Gentiles, who had not received God's Covenant, behaved like atheists in the world: "...at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12).
God's Covenant with the Israelite people reached its highest level with the Prophet Moses. In this instance we can see both the content of the Covenant and the way the agreement was concluded, as they are described in the book of Exodus.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God