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.
PSALM 50  (A Prayer of Repentance)
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight-- That You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the inward part, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart--these, O God, you will not despise. Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion; build the walls of Jerusalem. Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.
[Psalm 50  is a psalm of repentance and God's mercy, and a prophecy about salvation through baptism (vv. 2, 7). It is also a teaching about worship in spirit (vv. 17-19). Of all 150 Psalms, this Psalm is the one most used in our Holy Orthodox Church. It is a psalm of repentance said three times daily--Orthros (Matins), Third Hour, and Compline (Apodeipnos)--as well as in every Divine Liturgy, where it is recited by the Priest as a sign of repentance while he censes before the Great Entrance. Historically, this Psalm is Prophet and King David's prayer of confession after his adultery (sin) with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12:1-15).
TODAY'S SYNAXARION: (The Month of February has twenty-eight days, Or, if it be a leap year, twenty-nine. The day has eleven hours, and the night thirteen)
On January 31st Our Holy Orthodox Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, and Teachers and of every righteous spirit made perfect in our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Unmercenaries Cyrus and John; Saint Arsenius of Paros; Holy Martyr Tryphon of Lampsacos in Phrygian; our Righteous Father Peer of Galatia, who led the ascetic life in Antioch; Saint Bendimianus; Saint Basil the Confessor, Archbishop of Thessaloniki; Holy Martyr Theion, with two children, was perfected in martyrdom by the sword; Holy Martyr Carion, his tongue having been cut out; Holy Martyr Perpetua of Carthage and those with her: Saturus, Revocatus, Saturninus, Secundulos, and Felicity; Holy New Martyr Anastasios of Nafplion, having been cut into small pieces, was perfected in martyrdom in the year of our Lord 1655; St. Severus, Bishop of Ravenna; our Righteous Mother Brigid of Kildare; Holy Hieromartyr Agrippanos, Bishop of Puy in Gaul, and his fellow Martyr Ursicinus; Saint Symeon the Stylite, George, and David of Lesvos, who were brethren; Saint Tryphon of Pechenga; holy New Hieromartyr Peter Skipetrov, Priest of Petrograd, who was slain by the atheists in the year of our Lord 1918.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Hieromartyrs, Holy Mothers and Fathers, Holy Ascetics, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY MARTYR TRYPHON. Saint Tryphon was born in the village of Lampsacos in Phrygia of poor parents, he kept geese as a child. He also had from childhood great grace from God, healing both people and animals and driving out evil spirits. At that time the pagan Roman Emperor Gordian (238-244 AD) came to the throne in Rome. He had a mad daughter, the source of great distress to her father. Doctors could do nothing to help her. But the evil spirit in the girl broke silence and said that no one but Tryphon could cast it out. After many other Tryphons in the Empire had failed, this young Tryphon was sent for, by the Providence of God. He was taken to Rome, where he healed the Emperor's daughter. The Emperor heaped gifts on him, which Saint Tryphon gave away to the poor before returning home. This holy youth remained in his village, tending the geese and praying to God.
When Decius, who was violently opposed to the Christian faith, became Emperor, Saint Tryphon was interrogated and cruelly tortured for Christ. But he endured all his sufferings with great joy, saying: 'Oh, when shall I become worthy, through fire and torture, to make an end for the Name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and God?' No torture was able to harm him, and the torturers finally condemned him to be beheaded. At the moment of his death, Saint Tryphon commended his soul to his Creator, in the year of our Lord 250. (The Prologue from Ochrid)
(Please note: The Prologue is a wonderful source of the lives of the Saints of our Holy Church and every one of you should have it at home. The best way to teach our Orthodox Christian faith to our children is through the Lives of the Saints. Children love to hear stories. The stories are true and inspiring. All of our children are exposed to violence through TV, electronic games and the Internet. However, we try to "protect" our children from learning what our Holy Martyrs and Saints endured for the faith and of the tortures they suffered. Many of the holy martyrs were children and young adults who had the same faith as our children today.)
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: I Corinthians 12:27-31; 13:1-8
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 10:1, 5-8
FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY FATHERS AND MOTHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"Abba (Father) Joseph put the same question Abba Poemen said to him, 'If someone shuts a snake and a scorpion up in a bottle, in time they will be completely destroyed. So, it is with evil thoughts: they are suggested by the demons; they disappear through patience.' (The Sayings of the Desert Fathers).
ON THE WILL OF GOD Part II
by Staretz Silouan of Mt. Athos
It is good to learn to live according to the Will of God. The soul then dwells unceasingly in God, and is serene and tranquil; and from the fullness of joy man prays that every soul may know the Lord, know His great love for us and how richly He gives us of the Holy Spirit, Who rejoices the soul in God.
And all things are then dear to the soul, for all things are of God.
The Lord in His mercy gives man to understand that he must suffer affliction with a grateful heart.. My whole life long I never once rebelled against affliction but accepted all things as physic from the hand of God, and I ever offered up thanks to God, wherefore the Lord enabled me to bear all affliction lightly.
No one on this earth can avoid affliction; and although the afflictions which the Lord sends are not great, men imagine them beyond their strength and are crushed by them. This is because they will not humble their souls and commit themselves to the Will of God. But the Lord Himself guides with His grace those who are given over to God's Will, and they bear all things with fortitude for the sake of God Whom they have so loved and with Whom they are glorified forever.
It is impossible to escape tribulation in this world but the man who is given over to the Will of God bears tribulation easily, seeing it but putting his trust in the Lord, and so his tribulations pass.
When the Mother of God (Theotokos) stood at the foot of the Cross, the depth of her grief was inconceivable, for she loved her Son more than anyone can realize. And we know that the greater the love the greater the suffering. By the laws of human nature, the Mother of God could not possibly have borne her affliction; but she had submitted herself to the Will of God, and the Holy Spirit sustained her and gave her the strength to bear this affliction.
And later, after the Ascension of the Lord, she became a great comfort to all God's children in their distress.
The Lord gave us the Holy Spirit, and the man in whom the Holy Spirit lives feels that he has Paradise within him.
Perhaps you will say, 'Why is it I have not grace like that?' It is because you have not surrendered yourself to the Will of God but live in your way.
Look at the man who likes to have his own way. His soul is never at peace and he is always discontented: this is not right and that is not as it should be. But the man who is entirely given over to the Will of God can pray with a pure mind, his souls loves the Lord, and he finds everything pleasant and agreeable.
Thus did the Most Holy Virgin submit herself to God: "Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto to me according to Thy Word." And were we to say likewise--'Behold the servant of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word'--then the Lord's words written in the Gospels by the Holy Spirit would live in our souls, and the whole world would be filled with the love of God, and how beautiful would life be on earth! And although the words of God have been heard the length and breadth of the universe for so many centuries, people do not understand and will not accept them. But the man who lives according to the Will of God will be glorified in heaven and on earth.
The man who is given over to the Will of God is occupied only with God. The grace of God helps him to continue in prayer. Though he may be working or talking, his soul is absorbed in God because he has given himself over to God's Will, wherefore the Lord has him n His care.
There is a legend that a robber met the Holy Family when they were journeying into Egypt, but did them no harm; and when he saw the Child he said that were God to become flesh He would not be more beautiful than this Child. And he left them to go in peace.
What an astonishing thing that a robber, who like a savage beast spares no one, should neither annoy nor hurt the Holy Family! At the sight of the Christ Child and His lowly Mother the robber's heart softened and was touched by the grace of God.
Thus it was with the wild beasts that grew gentle when they saw martyrs and holy men, women and children, and did them no harm. And even devils fear the meek and humble soul who vanquishes them by obedience, soberness and prayer.
Another thing to marvel at: the robber had pity on the Infant Lord, but the high priests and elders delivered Him to Pilate to be crucified. And this was because they did not pray and seek enlightenment of the Lord as to what they should do, and how.
So it often happens that leaders and their people desire good but are ignorant where it is to be found. They do not know that it is in God, and comes from God.
We must always pray to the Lord to tell us what to do, and the Lord will not let us go astray.
Adam was not wise enough to ask the Lord about the fruit which Eve gave him, and so he lost Paradise.
David did not ask the Lord whether it would be a good thing if he took Bathsheba to wife, and so he fell into the sins of murder and adultery.
So with all the saints who sinned: they sinned because they had not called upon God to enlighten and help them. Saint Seraphim of Sarov said, "When I spoke of myself I was often in error."
The Holy Spirit sets us all on different paths: one man lives a life of silent solitude in the desert; another prays for mankind; still another is called to minister to Christ's flock; to a fourth it is given to comfort or preach to the suffering; while yet another serves his neighbor by his goods or by the fruits of his labor--and all these are gifts of the Holy Spirit given in varying degrees: to one man thirtyfold, to another sixty and to some an hundred.
If we loved one another in simplicity of heart the Lord through the Holy Spirit would show us many miracles and reveal great mysteries. God is love insatiable.
My mind is arrested in God, and I leave writing...
How clear it is to me that the Lord steers us. Without Him we cannot even think a good think. Therefore we must humbly surrender ourselves to the Will of God, that the Lord may guide us.
(To be continued)
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God