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 MORNING PRAYERS AFTER RISING FROM SLEEP
+In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Glory to You, our God, glory to You.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.
(many times silently)
Heavenly King, the Spirit of consolation, the Spirit of Truth, You are everywhere present and You fulfill all things, You are the treasury of virtues and the Giver of Life, come, and dwell in us, cleanse us of every stain, and save our souls, O Holy Spirit of God.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Have mercy on us. (3)
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
All-Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, forgive our sins. Master, pardon our transgressions. Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for the glory of Your Name.
Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Our Father, Who art in heaven...
For Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
From: A Prayer Book: An Anthology of Orthodox Prayers
Fr. Peter A. Chamberas
"Tell me, how will you face the sun, if at first you do not pray to the God Who sends this most pleasant light to your eyes?" For Saint John Chrysostom, who expressed this thought, our daily orientation toward God is a self-evident truth and even a necessity for the believer. With the dawn of the physical sun of nature a new day begins to give us new life and to provide for us the opportunity to undertake new responsibilities, new efforts and new hopes. The faithful Orthodox Christian, after rising from sleep and the usual preparations, will face the east, standing with reverence before the holy icons, and will offer his or her prayers to the Truly Spiritual Sun of Righteousness, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Romans 8:28-39
Holy Gospel Lesson: Saint Luke 10:19-21
FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS AND HOLY FATHERS AND MOTHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"There is joy in heaven over those who are being saved, and Christ, like the father of the prodigal son, makes a feast for his rescued child" (Saint Gregory of Nyssa).
ON THE WILL OF GOD
In his book My Life in Christ, Saint John of Kronstadt wrote: "It is never so difficult to say from the heart, 'Thy Will be done, Father,' as when we are in sore affliction or grievous sickness, and especially when we are subject to the injustice of men, or the assaults and wiles of the enemy (Satan). It is also difficult to say from the heart 'Thy Will be done' when we ourselves were the cause of some misfortune, for then we think that it is not God's Will, but our own will, that has placed us in such a position, although nothing can happen without the Will of God. In general, it is difficult to sincerely believe that it is the Will of God that we should suffer, when the heart knows both by faith and experience that God is our blessedness; and therefore it is difficult to say in misfortune, 'Thy Will be done.' We think, 'Is it possible that this is the Will of God? Why does God torment us? Why are others quiet and happy? What have we done? Will there be an end to our torments? And so on. But when it is difficult for our corrupt nature to acknowledge the Will of God over us, that Will of God without which nothing happens, and to humbly submit to it, the is the very time for us to humbly submit to this Will, and to offer to the Lord our most precious sacrifice--that is, heartfelt devotion to Him, not only in the time of ease and happiness, but also in suffering and misfortune; it is then that we must submit our vain erring wisdom to the perfect Wisdom of God, for our thoughts are as far from the thoughts of God 'as the heavens are higher than the earth.'
'Thy Will be done'. For instance, when you wish and by every means endeavor to be well and healthy, and yet remain ill, then say: 'Thy Will be done.' When you undertake something and your undertaking does not succeed, say: 'Thy Will be done'. When you do good to others, and they repay you by evil, say, 'Thy Will be done'. Or when you would like to sleep and are overtaken by sleeplessness, say: 'Thy Will be done'. In general, do not become irritated when anything is not done in accordance with your will, but learn to submit in everything to the Will of the Heavenly Father. You would like not to experience any temptations, and yet the enemy daily harasses you by them; provokes and annoys you by every means. Do not become irritated and angered, but say: 'Thy Will be done.' "
In the midst of today's complex of seemingly endless choices between consumer products, activities and entertainment, the underlying simplicity of life can easily become obscured--that is, that before us the real choice is simple and fundamental. The choice before us in each moment of our lives is between doing God's Will or our own sinful will or the will of the devil.
A disciple of Joseph the Hesychast said: "We observed that the Geronta (Elder) never embarked on anything without first praying. We would ask him about something in the future or for the next day, and his reply was that he would tell us tomorrow. He would do this so that he could pray first. So, when you want to find out the Will of God, abandon your own will completely, together with every other thought or plan, and with great humility ask for this knowledge in prayer. And whatever takes shape or carries weight in your heart, do it and it will be according to God's Will..."
Saint Pimen the Great said, "Our will is like a wall of brass between us and God, preventing us from coming near to Him or contemplating His mercy." My dear friends, to sincerely submit (to be obedient) our will to God takes a genuine and honest humility.
Mother Dorothea of St. Xenia Skete writes: "We see, then, the importance of giving ourselves entirely over to God's Will. But let us back up just a bit, because in order to be submitted to God and do His Will in the moment, especially in difficult times, we must first be practicing the remembrance of God in our lives."
However, remembering God constantly has always taken great struggle, and this is true since today's society where noise, visual, audio, subliminal, psychological and emotional take control of our minds. You all know for a fact how distracted all of us are day and night because we are constantly bombarded with messages that divert our attention and devotion from God.
Saint Theophan the Recluse wrote: "The recollection (or remembrance) of God is mentally standing before God in the heart." "Everywhere and always God is with us, near to us and in us. But we are not always with Him, since we do not remember Him; and because we do not remember Him, we allow ourselves many things which we would not permit if we did remember." "The more firmly you are established in the recollection of God, the more quiet your thoughts will become and the less they will wander." "Remembrance of God is something that God Himself grafts upon the soul. But the soul must force itself to persevere and to toil. Work, making every effort to attain the unceasing remembrance of God, and God, seeing how fervently you desire it will give you this constant remembrance of Himself." He continues, "To succeed in this remembrance it is advisable to accustom oneself to the continual repletion of the Jesus Prayer, 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me,' holding in mind the thought of God's nearness, His presence in the heart. [If one prays the Jesus Prayer when one is idle for a time, while driving, doing dishes, etc., it will help greatly in building prayer in the heart and mind.] "To pray", St. Theophan says, "does not mean to stand in prayer. To keep the mind and heart turned towards God and directed towards Him...this is already prayer."
Saint Macarius of Egypt said "that we must first remember God in order to love Him."
The Holy Fathers of the Church teach us that in order to be able to remember God we should be striving at times to keep our conscience clean. When we get angry with someone or say or do something that wounds another, we should immediately repent and ask God's forgiveness and apologize to the person we have hurt. Arguing and judging come from pride, and pride immediately cuts us off from remembrance and communion with God. Saint Silouan said, "A cloud blows over and hides the sun, making everything dark. In the same way, one prideful thought causes the soul to lose grace, and she is left in darkness. But, equally, a single impulse of humility--and grace returns. This I have experienced and proved in myself."
Saint Silouan expresses here the simplicity of our life in Christ. One bad or prideful thought and we are separated from God, and one humble one and we are with Him again, which is why must keep ourselves from indulging in bad thoughts, especially judgments of others, if we want to be with God.
Saint Macarius of Optina wrote on the Conformity with the Will of God: "Deeply moved as we are by your sorrow, yet what can we say? Open your heart, perceive the Will of God. From Him seek help, in Him seek consolation. Believe firmly: this tragedy is not the outcome of a chance concatenation of events. God Himself-God, Whose ways are inscrutable-has confirmed them with the seal of His Divine purpose. Why? Either as a punishment-but not necessarily for any sins of yours-or to try (test) the power of your faith, and steel it. But whatever the reason, the whole occurrence is one more proof of His love of you, for Whom the Lord loveth His chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons (Hebrews 12:6, 8). These are not words of our own invention. It is the Apostle Paul himself who thus testifies that you are a beloved child of God. Strive hard with patient endurance! Do not weaken. Hourly thank God for all. And He will see to it that good comes of your right attitude."
Saint Maximus the Confessor gives the following explanation to the phrase of the Lord's Prayer: "Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven". In this phrase Saint Maximus sees man becoming equal in honor to the Angels, as asking for equality with the rational beings. In the fulfillment of God's Will on earth as it occurs in heaven, man imitates the Angels. In the Angels there exist no sinful desires, which paralyze the spiritual faculties with pleasure, nor anger, which is fiercely directed against brothers. We find only the natural leading of rational beings towards God and nothing else."
To pray "Thy Will be done" according to the Holy Fathers, is a daring and even dangerous act. This is so, first of all, because when one makes this prayer, he must be ready, like Christ, to follow where it leads. God will answer this prayer, and make known His Will. The believer who prays must be ready to obey, whatever the consequences. When asked why many Christians are frustrated and irritated, a holy elder said that the reason is very clear. They pray "Thy Will be done", and continue daily to do so, while at the same time they resist God's Will in their lives and so are always troubled. Then they begin to justify their attitudes and actions, to explain and to rationalize their personal behavior, before their own consciences. A person in such a state can never be at peace, for "it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Living God." (Hebrews 10:31).
The other reason why it is said that the prayer "They Will be done"--and prayer generally--is daring and dangerous is because the devil ferociously attacks the person who prays. Indeed one of the greatest proofs of demonic temptation, and the reality and power of the devil, is to be fervent in prayer. For the devil wants nothing so much as for man to fail to accomplish the Will of God which is the purpose of all prayer.
Saint Nilus of Sinai wrote: "If you strive after prayer, prepare for diabolical suggestions and bear patiently their onslaughts; for they will attack you like wild beasts...Try as much as possible to be humble and courageous...He who endures will be granted great joy".
Saint Isaac the Syrian writes: "For every created being is in need of God's power for assistance, and by his need of another's assistance every man reveals his natural weakness. But the man who knows his own weakness must of necessity humble himself, so that his need may be supplied by Him Who has the power to give it. And if he had known it from the beginning, and had looked upon his weakness, he would not have grown negligent; and if he had not grown negligent, he would not have slumbered, and been given over to the hands of those who afflict him in order to wake him up.
Therefore, whoever walks the path of God must give thanks to Him for all things that come upon him, and revile and blame his own soul, and know that he would not have been delivered over by his Provider except because of some negligence, in order that his mind might be awakened, or else because he has become puffed up. But he should not be troubled on this account, nor quit the arena and the fight, nor leave himself free of self-reproach, lest his evil grow twofold. For with God, Who abundantly pours forth righteousness, there is no injustice. Far be it! Unto Him be glory unto the ages. Amen."
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God