My beloved spiritual children 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.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all that He hath done for thee, Who is gracious unto all thine iniquities, Who healeth all thine infirmities, Who redeemeth thy life from corruption, Who crowneth thee with mercy and compassion, Who fulfilleth the desire with good things; thy youth shall be renewed as the eagle's. The Lord performeth deeds of mercy, and executeth judgment for all them that are wronged. He hath made His ways known unto Moses, unto the sons of Israel the things that He hath willed. Compassionate and Merciful is the Lord, long-suffering and plenteous in mercy; not unto the end will He be angered, neither unto eternity will He be wroth. Not according to our iniquities hath He dealt with us, neither according to our sins hath He rewarded us. For according to the height of heaven from the earth, the Lord hath made His mercy to prevail over them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our iniquities from us. Like as a father hath compassion upon his sons, so hath the Lord had compassion upon them that fear Him; for He knoweth whereof we are made, He hath remembered that we are dust. As for man, his days are as the grass; as a flower of the field, so shall he blossom forth. For when the wind is passed over it, then it shall be gone, and no longer will it know the place thereof. But the mercy of the Lord is from eternity, even unto eternity, upon them that fear Him. And His righteousness is upon sons of sons, upon them that keep His testament and remember His Commandments to do them. The Lord in Heaven hath prepared His throne, and His Kingdom ruleth over all. Bless the Lord, all ye His Angels, mighty in strength, that perform His word, to hear the voice of His words. Bless the Lord, all ye His Hosts, His Ministers that do His will. Bless the Lord, all ye His works, in every place of His Dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On October 8th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Our Righteous Mother Pelagia of Antioch, the former courtesan; Holy Martyr Pelagia the virgin of Antioch; Saint Thais of Egypt, the former harlot; Holy New Righteous Martyr Ignatius of Athos was perfected in martyrdom by hanging in Constantinople in the year 1814 by the Muslims; our Righteous Father Dositheos of Psakov; our Righteous Father Tryphon of Vyatka.
+ By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Mothers, Holy Martyrs, Holy Virgins, Holy Monks, Holy Nuns, Holy Ascetics, Holy Confessors, Holy Apostles, Holy Evangelists, Holy Teachers, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
SAINT PELAGIA THE FORMER COURTESAN. Saint Pelagia was a prominent actress of the city of Antioch, and a pagan, who lived a life of unrestrained prodigality and led many to perdition. Instructed and baptized by a certain bishop named Nonnus (Saint Nonnus is commemorated Nov. 10th), she departed for the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem, where she lived as a recluse, feigning to be a eunuch called Pelagius. She lived in such holiness and repentance that within three or four years she was deemed worthy to repose in an odour of sanctity, in the middle of the 5th century. Her tomb on the Mount of Olives has been a place of pilgrimage ever since.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Plagal of Fourth Tone
In thee the image was preserved with exactness, O Mother; for taking up thy cross, thou didst follow Christ, and by thy deeds thou didst teach us to overlook the flesh, for it passeth away, but to attend to the soul since it is immortal. Wherefore, O righteous Pelagia, thy spirit rejoiceth with the Angels.
Kontakion. Second Tone
With fasting didst thou consume they body utterly; with vigilant prayer didst thou entreat thy Fashioner that complete forgiveness of thy former deeds be granted thee, which, O Mother, thou didst receive. The path of repentance hast thou shown to us.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Ephesians 5:35-33
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 6:46-49, 7:1
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"When we achieve and find love, which is the nourishment of the Angels, then we, too, will be nourished by heavenly bread and, without labor or effort of any kind, will be strengthened by the power of his heavenly bread. He, then, who finds love feeds upon Christ, experiencing immortality in being nourished by Him. This truth rests on the affirmation of the Lord: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven" (St. John 6:51) "and giveth life unto the world" (St. John 6:33). "He that eateth of this bread shall live forever" (St. John 6:58). He, then, who is moved by love, and who lives therein already in this world, has gained life eternal. Though still found here in this place of vanity, he feels himself caressed by those breezes of freedom which the righteous will enjoy at the Resurrection of the dead. This is precisely that mystical food and drink, above word or understanding, of which Christ promised His Apostles they would partake in the Kingdom of Heaven, when, as we know, He said to them: "That ye may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom" (St. Luke 22:30). [Source: From Abba Isaac; The Evergetinos: A Complete Text)
Excerpts from the diary of Saint John of Kronstadt
"Every valley" and dale "shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight...and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." The valley and dale are humble hearts. The mountain and hill shall be brought low--that is, proud men who think highly of themselves, and despise the lowly and humble. So it is: the Lord unceasingly acts through the spirit of righteousness and mercy in the hearts of men, humbling the proud by various worldly circumstances--by maladies, losses, humiliations from other people and exalting the humble.
Strive by every means constantly to rejoice the Heavenly Father by your life; that is, by your meekness, humility, gentleness, obedience, abstinence, right judgment, love of peace, patience, mercy, sincere friendship with worthy people, kindness to everybody, cordial hospitality, universal benevolence, accuracy in business, simplicity of heart and character, and by the purity of all your thoughts. Teach and strengthen us, O God, to live in accordance with Thy Will, for Thou art our Father, and we are Thy children, in Jesus Christ our Lord.
But, in accordance with Christian love, you must be indulgent in every possible way to the faults of your neighbor, you must cure him of his wickedness, of his spiritual infirmity (for every coldness, every passion is an infirmity) by love, kindness, meekness, humility, as you yourself would wish to receive from others, when you suffer from a similar infirmity. For who is not subject to infirmity? Whom does the most evil enemy spare? Lord! Destroy all the snares of the enemy (Satan) in us.
Should thoughts of self-praise, of self-satisfaction, occur to you, say: "I myself am nothing; all that is good in me is accomplished by the grace of God." "What hast thou that thou didst not receive?" "Without Me ye can do nothing." Should the thought of despising any of your neighbors, or of your family occur to you, say: "The entire man is the beautiful work of God's hands; everything in him is very well ordered."
To love God with all your heart means--to love with all your soul, meekness, humility, purity, and chastity, wisdom, truth, mercy, obedience, for the sake of God, and never to act contrarily to these virtues; that is, not to become proud, irritated, angry against anyone; not to commit adultery even in the heart; not to violate chastity, either by look, thought, or gesture; to avaiod every inconsiderate, needless word and deed; to shun every iniquity; to hate avarice and covetousness; to flee from self-will and disobedience.
The Nativity of Christ--He has come upon earth, He Who in the beginning created us from earth and breathed His Divine breath into us; He has come Who "giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;" He has come, He Who by a single word called all things visible and invisible from non-existence into existence, Who by a word called into being birds, fishes, quadrupeds, insects, and all creatures, existing under His Almighty Providence and care; He has come, He Whom the innumerable hosts of Angels continually serve with fear and joy. And in what humility has He come! He is born of a poor Virgin, in a cave, wrapped in poor swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. Riches, honors, glory of this world! Fall down, fall down in humility, tearful devotion, and deep gratitude before the Savior of men, and share your riches with the poor and needy. Do not pride yourselves on your visionary, fleeting distinctions, for true distinction can only be found in virtue…Learn here, before the manger, your vanity. Thus, let us all humble ourselves; let us all fall down in the dust before the boundless humility and exhaustion of the Sovereign of all, of God Who has come to heal our infirmities, to save us from pride, vanity, corruption, and every sinful impurity.
Our Lord Jesus Christ's purpose for us is to drive away from our hearts falsehood (flattery), pride, and diabolical malice, and to implant in the place of these His Truth, Love, Meekness, and humility.
When anyone, out of kindness, praises you to others, and they transmit these praises to you, do not consider them as a just tribute of esteem really due to you, but ascribe them solely to the kindness of heart of the person who thus spoke of you, and pray to God for him, that God may strengthen him in his kindness of heart and in every virtue; but acknowledge yourself to be the greatest of sinners, not out of humility, but truthfully, actually, knowing as you do your evil deeds.
Prayer is the constant feeling of our own spiritual poverty and infirmity, the contemplation in ourselves, in others, and in nature of the works of the great wisdom, mercy, and Almighty Power of God; prayer is--a continually grateful frame of mind. ______________________________________
The Holy Scriptures state the following on pride:
"And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (St. Matthew 23:12)
"He [Lord] says: 'God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.' (St. James 4:6)
Saint James's answer is that, if God makes a great demand, He gives great grace to fulfill it; and the greater the demand, the greater the grace God gives. But grace has a constant characteristic--a man cannot receive it until he has realized his need of it, and has come to God humbly pleading for help. Therefore, it must always remain true that God sets Himself against the proud and gives lavishly of His grace to the humble. "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." This is a quotation from Proverbs 3:34; and it is made again in 1 Peter 5:5.
What is this destructive pride? The word for proud is hyperephanos which literally means one who shows himself above other people. Even our Greek ancestors hated pride. Theophrastos described it as "a certain contempt for all other people." Saint Theophylactos, called it, "the citadel and summit of all evils." Its real terror is that it is a thing of the heart. It means haughtiness; but the man or woman who suffers from it might well appear to be walking in downcast humility, while all the time there is in his/her heart a vast contempt for all his/her fellow-men.
As children of God we must avoid pride at all cost for it brings the destruction of our soul and condemnation. Pride leads to spiritual blindness to the point of not recognizing its own sin. The gift of discernment is totally lost and therefore is not able to know right from wrong. A pride like that cannot receive help, because it does not know that it needs help, and, therefore, it cannot ask.
The Christian must have humility, but it is a humility which gives him/her dauntless courage and knows that the way to God is open to the most fearful Saint.
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God