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
O Lord and Master of my life, Give me not a spirit of laziness, of aimless curiosity, A spirit of lust for power over others and of vain talk. (Prostration).
Rather, grace me, Your servant, With the Spirit of purity, humility, patience and love. (Prostration).
Yes, O Lord King, Grant me discernment to see my own faults, And not to judge and condemn my fellow human beings. (Prostration).
For You are Blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.
FROM THE LADDER OF DIVINE ASCENT
by St. John Climacus
"Eyes show different colors and the sun of the spirit may shine in different ways in the soul. There is the way of bodily tears and there is the way of the tears of the soul. There is the way of the contemplation of what is before us and the way of the contemplation of what remains unseen. There is the way of things heard at second hand and the way of spontaneous joy within the soul. There is the way of stillness and the way of obedience. And in addition to these there is the way of rapture, the way of the mind mysteriously and marvelously carried into the Light of Christ."
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On April 7th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous spirit in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint George the Confessor, Bishop of Mitylene; Saint Rufinus, Acquilina, and 200 soldiers at Sinope; Saint Tikhon , Patriarch of Moscow and Apostle to America; Saint Leucius of Volokolamsk; Saint Savvas the New of Kalymnos; Saint Daniel of Pereyaslavl-Zalesski; Saint Calliopius at Pompeiopolis in Cilicia; Saint Serapion, Archbishop of Novgorod; New Holy Martyr George of Rabrichka, fool-for-Christ; Saint Govan of Cornwall.
THE HOLY MARTYR CALLIOPIUS. OUR RIGHTEOUS FATHER GEORGE, BISHOP OF MYTILENE. The Holy Martyr Callipius was from Perga in Pamphylia, brought up in piety by his godly mother Theocleia. When the persecution of Maximian broke out, Saint Calliopius presented himself of his own accord before the Governor Maximus in Pompeiopolis of Galatia. After he had suffered many tortures, his mother visited him in prison and encouraged him in his martyrdom. After this, his thrice-blessed mother, upon learning that he was to be crucified on Holy and Great Thursday, bribed the tyrants to defer it one day, that he might imitate the Lord's Crucifixion on the same day that He suffered it. The holy Martyr Calliopius received the crown of martyrdom on Holy and Great Friday in the year of our Lord 304, being crucified upside down.
The righteous George struggled in behalf of the holy icons, and reposed in peace about the year 821 A.D.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Martyr. Fourth Tone
Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our Immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants, and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Hierarch. Third Tone.
As a garden planted by the Spirit, thou didst yield as fruit the soul's salvation, teaching men the ineffable mysteries of Him that fell as a grain of wheat in the earth and by His dying hath made all the world to live. Righteous Father George, entreat Christ our God in our behalf, that His great mercy may be granted unto us.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE TAKEN FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT:
Isaiah 48:17-49:4; Genesis 27:1-41
SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"Hate operates and multiplies so powerfully in some people that they are not afraid to say, 'Let me perish, yet I will get even with him!' Poor creature! Perhaps you do not know what destruction is? Put your hand to the fire and you will taste its bitterness in part. You cannot stand it. Will you be able to stand the bitterness of the fire of Gehenna in which your entire person will be immersed and submerged and will burn forever and not be consumed? But if you look at yourself you will see for yourself that the evil, the spirit of malice, works and speaks such words in you. You see, beloved Christian, how cruel and serious an evil malice is? The fruits of malice are evil and bitter and evil and bitter is malice itself which gives birth to such fruit." (Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk).
MANY ARE THE WILES OF THE ENEMY (SATAN) TO DESPOIL US OF INNER PEACE; SO WATCH
(Source: Unseen Warfare as edited by Saint Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain and revised by Saint Theophan the Recluse)
Our enemy, the devil, rejoices when our soul is in confusion and our heart in agitation. So he uses all his cunning to try and perturb our souls. The first means in these attempts is to excite self-love, resulting in withdrawal of the grace, which creates and preserves inner peace. For this purpose, he suggests the idea that all things which are and appear good in us, are acquired by our own labor and diligence and, banishing humility and simplicity, disposes us to put a high value on and ascribe great weight to ourselves, and to feel ourselves something important, shrouding in forgetfulness the action of Divine grace, without which no one can even say the Lord's Name, as Saint Paul testifies, saying: 'No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit' (I Cor. xii. 3). This grace is given to all believers and its presence is a sign that a man is a true believer. Having received it, a believer n longer does, nor can do, anything truly good without its help; it remains always with him, according to the Lord's promise, and the enemy (Devil) can do nothing with him, while it is in him and encompasses him. So the enemy strives by all possible means to make it withdraw, and the first thing he does for this end, as was said, is to suggest self-appreciation or feelings that we are not nothing, but something, and something not without importance. To him who accepts such suggestions, the enemy offers a new idea, consisting in being sure that he is better than others, more zealous and more rich in works. Having succeeded in implanting this opinion, the enemy thereupon leads a man to judge and despise others, which is invariably followed by pride. All this can take place in the heart in the course of a single moment; but even so, the action of grace is immediately reduced, which results in inattention to oneself, weakening of zeal, and arising of thoughts, at first empty, and later passionate, which is followed by the stirrings of passions themselves, and is indissolubly connected with a storm raging in the heart--inner peace is lost. Such a state is not permanent, and if the sufferer remembers himself, he returns to himself, and is filled with contrition, repents, and by prayer reestablishes his habitual inner order. The enemy is banished; but he does not lose heart, and returns again and again with the same suggestions for the same purpose--to destroy inner peace.
Knowing this, my brother, and in order to oppose these hostile efforts, keep an alert watch over yourself, according the words of the Lord: 'Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation' (St. Matthew xxvi. 41). Watch yourself with all diligence, lest the enemy steals near and robs you, depriving you of this great treasure, which is inner peace and stillness of soul. The enemy strives to destroy the peace of the soul, because he knows that when the soul is in turmoil it is more easily led to evil. But you must guard your peace, since you know that when the soul is peaceful, the enemy has no access to it; then it is ready for all things that are good and does them willingly and without difficulty, easily overcoming all obstacles.
He uses all the means and methods he can invent to disturb the soul: he introduces into the heart superfluous fears, increases the soul's weakness, prevents it from keeping the necessary dispositions and from delighting as it should in Confession, in Holy Communion, or in Prayer, but makes it go through all thes,e not with humble daring and love, but fearfully and confusedly;--he makes the soul receive with hopeless sorrow and pain the impoverishment of religious feeling and the absence of inner delight, which often come in times of prayer or during other spiritual exercises,---by suggesting to it not that this impoverishment is allowed by God for its own good, but that it means that all abandoned; by this he actually begins to think that everything it does is indeed useless and fruitless, and that God has completely forgotten and abandoned it.
But this is clearly a lie. A soul may experience dryness and an impoverishment of religious feelings and of spiritual sweetness; but in spite of this, it can perform all kinds of good actions, moved by simple faith and armed with holy patience and constancy.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God