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.
THE PSALTER According to the Seventy
Shall not my soul be subjected to God? For from Him is my salvation. For He is my God, my Savior and my helper, and I shall not be shaken no more. How long do ye assail a man? Ye kill, all of you, as ye might assail a leaning wall and a tottering rampart. But they made plans to cast aside mine honor, they ran in falsehood; with their mouth they bless, but with their heart they curse. But be subject unto God, O my soul, for from Him is my patient endurance. For He is my God, my Savior, and my helper, and I shall not be moved from hence. In God is my salvation and my glory; He is the God of my help, and my hope is in God. Hope in Him, all ye congregation of the peoples; pour out your hearts before Him, for God is our helper. For the sons of men are vain, the sons of men are a lie in the balance; out of vanity they gather themselves together that they might do injustice. Set not your hopes on injustice, and lust not after plunder; if riches flow in, set not your hearts thereon. Once hath God spoken; these two things have I heard, that dominion belongeth to God, and mercy is Thine, O Lord; for Thou wilt render to every man according to his works.
Saint John of the Ladder
"Struggle with all of your strength to be raising your mind in health and purity during prayer, and to secure and contain all of your thinking and your thoughts to understand the reason and the content of the prayer you are doing, without inclining the whole toward one thing or to another in distraction. And if your mind should tire and fall from it natural weakness, or from its bad habits, recall it and bring it back directly to its proper place. And do not neglect or grow weary in recollecting your mind, if you wish to correct it and to heal it completely. For it is characteristic of the mind to be transferred from place to place and to be removed from its proper activity and from prayer. But it is also characteristic of God to be able to hold everything in its proper place."
"Patience reigns quietly and fruitfully in the life of man who does not harm or endanger anyone, who is content with little and is obedient to the commandment of the Heavenly Father" (Modern Orthodox Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene of Lesvos)
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS): Saint Vessarion the Great of Egypt; Saint Agatho, Pope of Rome; Saint Sadoc, Bishop of Cyprus, and 128 Holy Martyrs with him; Saint Leo, Bishop of Catania; Saint Cindeus, Bishop of Pisidia; Saint Cornelius of the Pskov Caves, and his disciple Bassian of Murom; our Righteous Father Plotinus; Saint Agatho of the Kiev Caves; Saint Macarius and 34 monks and novices of Valaam Monastery.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Bishops, Holy Monks, Holy Ascetics, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
VENERABLE CORNELIUS, EGOUMENOS (ABBOT) OF THE PSKOV CAVES. Saint Cornelius was from a wealthy family in 16th century Pskov. He was educated at a monastery close by, where he also painted icons, transcribed books, made candles, and cut wood. He became a monk at the age of 28, and then the Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Pskov Caves Monastery. Under his leadership, the monastery grew from fifteen monks to two hundred. He built churches, hospices, orphanages, and shelters for the needy. He spread Orthodoxy to those living in the area of the monastery. When there was a plague in Pskov, Saint Cornelius walked through the diseased areas to give Holy Communion and to bury the dead. During the Livonian War, he went through the occupied cities and gave aid to the suffering. He doctored and fed the injured and buried the dead. Saint Cornelius once sent holy bread and holy water as a blessing to the Russian army, which was fighting at the city of Thellin, and the German army surrendered that same day. Saint Cornelius expanded the Pskov Caves Monastery and built a stone wall around it. After 41 years as the monastery Egoumenos (Abbot), he was beheaded by an angry Ivan the Terrible, who falsely believed that Saint Cornelius had slandered him. Ivan quickly repented and carried Saint Cornelius' body back to the Caves. When his holy relics were uncovered 120 years later, they were found to be incorrupt.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: I John 4:20-21,5:1-21
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Mark 15:1-15
FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS AND HOLY MOTHERS AND FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"Groan after you have sinned, not because you are to be punished (for this is nothing), but because you have offended your Master, one so gentle, one so kind, one Who loves you so much and longs for your salvation as to have given even His Son for you. On account of this, groan." (Saint John Chrysostom)
ON THE MYSTERION (SACRAMENT) OF REPENTANCE
Rules of a Saving Confession
by Archmandrite Seraphim Aleksiev (Source: The Forgotten Medicine: The Mystery of Repentance)
All Christians without exception must go to Confession if they wish to be saved. But how should the truly faithful Confession occur? Many do not know this, and that is why it is necessary to discuss this question more thoroughly. Here we will look at the following three parts of Confession:
a) What we should do before we go to the confessor.
b) What we should do when we are with the confessor.
c) What we should do when we come out of Confession.
WHAT SHOULD WE DO BEFORE WE GO TO THE CONFESSOR?
The first and the last of the Apostles of Christ sinned gravely. Peter denied Christ; Judas betrayed Him. But Peter was forgiven and Judas perished. Peter regained his Apostolic dignity, but the condemnation of the ages is still weighing on Judas. What saved Peter, and what destroyed Judas? What should have this wretch done? Should he have confessed the sin after he committed it? But, technically speaking, he confessed when he went to the scribes and the elders and told them, "I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood" (St. Matthew 27:4), and with the confession gave back the thirty silver pieces to them. Is this not enough? Alas, no! A confession by itself does not save. Besides a broken heart, a live faith in God's grace is needed. Judas despaired of his salvation; that is why he hung himself after his confession. His body hung on a tree, and his soul went to hell for eternal torment.
Peter did not do so. In the yard of Caiaphas he denied Christ, his Benefactor and Teacher, three times: "I do not know the Man" (St. Matthew 26:74) but at the third denial, when he heard the rooster crow, he remembered what Christ had prophesied, realized his sin, and humbled his heart. He went out of that yard, got out of the bad company of the servants of the high priest, and, most importantly, began to shed bitter tears--tears of sincere, heartfelt, deep repentance. According to one tradition, throughout his whole life, whenever he heard a rooster crow Peter remembered his heavy sin, and his eyes turned into two springs of most repentant tears. Peter did not despair; he believed in God's mercy and thus saved himself.
WHAT SHOULD WE DO WHEN WE ARE WITH THE CONFESSOR?
We have to do the following: (1) Remember that we have come to Christ's infirmary. Here, the visible doctor is the priest, and the invisible--Christ Himself; (2) Confess our sins without false shame; (3) Not seek excuses for our sins; (4) Consciously conceal absolutely nothing; (5) Do not confess with general phrases which have no meaning; (6) Confess briefly, but precisely, the character of each of our sins; (7) Not reveal other people's sins, and conceal, whenever possible, the names of the persons who have tempted us or who have sinned with us throughout our fault; (8) Not to boast before the priest of any virtues of ours; (9) Not to transfer the blame on others, but only on ourselves; and (10) Have a sincere desire not to sin again.
(To be continued)
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God