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 LENTEN PRAYER OF SAINT EPHRAIM THE SYRIAN
Lord and Master of my life, cast away from me the spirit of laziness, idle curiosity, love of power and vain talk. (Prostration) But grant me, Your servant, the spirit of moderation, humility, patience and love. (Prostration) Yes, Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults and not to judge my brothers and sisters. (Prostration) For You are Blessed forever. Amen.
FROM THE GERONTIKON
"An Elder (Geronda) said: "These three things should be consecrated to the service of God: to wit, a man's mind should always be thinking about God and not consorting with the works of darkness; his speech, both oral and internal, should always be about God, and he should never utter words that are harmful to the soul; and his actions should always be in accordance with God's Will and never at odds with Him."
TODAY'S SYNAXARION(THE COMMEMORATION OF THE TODAY'S SAINTS):
On March 7th 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 every righteous spirit made perfect in faith: Holy Hieromartyrs and Bishops of Cherson: Ephraim, Vasileus, Evgenios, Agathodors, Elpidios, Capito, and Aetherius; Saint Nestor and Arcadius, Bishops of Trimythus; our Righteous Father Paul the Simple of Egypt; Saint Ephraim, Patriarch of Antioch; Saint Laurence, Founder of the sacred Monastery of Phanerumene on the Isle of Salamina in Greece; Synaxis of the Holy Icon of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary called of Surety of Sinners.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Hieromartyrs, Holy Bishops, Holy Mothers, Holy Fathers, Holy Patriarchs, Holy Monks, O Christ Our God have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Orthros (Matins) Old Testament: Isaiah 3:1-14
Esperinos (Vespers) Old Testament 1: Genesis 2:20-3:20
Esperinos (Vespers) Old Testament 2: Proverbs 3:19-34
FROM THE HOLY SCRIPTURE:
"Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 5:18).
LOGISMOI (EVIL THOUGHTS) ACCORDING TO ASCETICS AND FATHERS OF THE CHURCH
Q. Sometimes I see in my heart that evil thoughts surround my mind like wild beasts, but cannot at all harm me. What does this mean?
A. From Saints Barsanuphius and John: This is a deception of the enemy (devil), in which is concealed high-mindedness, with the aim of convincing you that evil thoughts cannot harm you in the least, so that thereby your heart might become exalted. But be not deceived by this, but rather remember your [spiritual] infirmity and sins, and call on the Holy Name of God for aid against the enemy."
"When negative logismoi (singular "logismos") manage to enter your spiritual bloodstream they can affect you in the same way that a needle, full of poison, penetrates you and spreads the deadly substance throughout your body. Your spiritual world becomes contaminated and you are affected on a very deep, fundamental level. Your entire spiritual edifice can be shaken from its very foundation. Sometimes the intensity of a single logismos is so great that the human beings under its spell may feel totally helpless. They may employ all of their powers to defend themselves against such intruders but to no avail." (Mounatin of Silence, 119)
Father Maximos a monk of the Holy Mountain explains that logismoi (literally "false reasoning" in Greek) are the means by which Satan assaults the hearts and minds of believers. They are thoughts of special power and intensity: they are both a symptom and a manifestation of our distance from God since the Fall.
The Geronda (Elder) Evagrius Ponticus wrote: "We have learnt, after much observation, to recognize between Angelic thoughts, human thoughts and thoughts that come from demons..." He also developed a comprehensive list in 375 A.D. of 8 evil thoughts (logismoi) or eight terrible temptations, from which all sinful behavior springs. The list was intended to serve a diagnostic purpose: to help readers identify the process of temptations, their own strengths and weaknesses, and the remedies for overcoming them.
The Eight Evil Thoughts are:
Some two centuries later in 590 A.D. Saint Gregory the Dialogist would revise this list to form the more commonly known Seven Deadly Sins, where Saint Gregory the Great included acedia (discouragement) and tristitia (sorrow) into a newly defined sin of sloth; vainglroy a part of pride; and added envy to the newly defined "Seven Deadly Sins."
Understanding assaultive thoughts and how to deal with them is key to a living a victorious life in Christ. Logismoi, (pronounced, log-is-mee) are thoughts and thought/images that come to us to lead us way from Christ. They are distracting and are a result of the Fall of mankind. There are many Church Holy Fathers who teach us how to identify them and how to deal with them. Saint John Climacus (of the Ladder) of Divine Ascent speaks of various stages of how they afflict us and how we should deal with them.
Father Maximos describes the stages of development of the logismoi.
- The Assault. A thought enters our mind in the form of a suggestion urging us to do something.
- Interaction. We begin a dialogue with the logismos. When a logismos (evil thought) urges you to steal, for example, you begin to wonder "Should I or should I not?" At this stage, although the dialogue is risky and dangerous, there is no accountability on the part of the individual. No sin is committed as yet. But if the person is weak by faith and temperament, then defeat may be the most likely outcome of that exposure to the logismoi.
- Consent. You consent to commit what the logismos (evil thought or suggestion) urges you to do, in this particular case to steal money. You have made a decision. That is when guilt and accountability start to emerge. The logismos is still confined to thought. There has been no action and the spiritual war is still on the mental level. In such a case, if a person manages to invoke the Name of God and to confess, they can avoid the next stage. It is still possible, through God's Providential intervention and love, to liberate oneself from the stage of consent.
- Captivity. The person becomes hostage to the logismoi. The moment the person succumbs, the next time around the logismos returns with greater force. It is much more difficult to resist then.
- Passion or Obsession. The logismos has become an entrenched reality within the consciousness of the person. The person becomes a captive of obsessive logismoi, leading to ongoing destructive acts to oneself and others.
Geronda (Elder) Ephraim the Philotheitis explained it this way: Think of an airport and that every airport has a tower which allows (gives permission) for aeroplanes arriving from different directions and places of the world to land there. The pilot of the individual aircraft must first identify who he is, where he is coming from, the country of origin, etc. but it must always be verified by the tower before permission to land is given.
The human mind resembles an airport. All kinds of thoughts enter our minds throughout the day but especially when we are worshiping and at times of prayer. Every Christian believer must always exercise caution and discernment before one is to allow any thought to enter his/her mind. He/she must examine the thought carefully and identify its origin before he/she allows it to enter therein. If the person does not exercise caution and discernment and the evil one enters, he may eventually take control of the mind and lead the person to destruction. The Christian must not hesitate to run to his/her father confessor and seek his guidance and blessing to overcome the temptation and assault from the devil. Through the grace of the Holy Spirit the believer will be protected and freed from every demonic influence.
We, as Christians, must not go about our everyday lives thinking whatever thoughts come to our mind without considering that we are constantly engaged in an unseen spiritual warfare. The evil one is unrelenting and will continue to pursue us because he seeks the destruction of our immortal soul. He is the hunter and we the prey. He will chase us, as wild animals chase their prey until they tire and then attack them and devour them. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8).
"The devil and his angels explore us individually, looking for our weaknesses. The enemy offers appealing visions to our eyes, music to our ears, to each of our senses setting forth whatever might tempt us to sin. He arouses our tongues to speak evil about others, and urges our hands to injure them. He sets forth profits to be earned by shady and immoral means, and holds out earthly honors and false values to be preferred to heavenly ones. When he (the devil) is unable to tempt us, he brings forth a threat of persecution so that fear may cause us to betray the faith. Thus we must always be alert for his many-faceted attacks, ready to "resist" him at every turn." (Orthodox Study Bible, page 558)
Our spiritual struggle never ceases but we must not ever be willing to surrender to our Adversary for that will cause the separation of our soul from our Creator and thus bring about our spiritual death.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God