My 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.
A PRAYER FOR THE WORKERS OF THE GOSPEL
O Eternal Logos of God the Father, O mystical ΙΧΘΥΣ (΄Ιησού Χριστέ Θεού Υιέ Σωτήρ), O Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior, You drew the fishers of fish to come to You so that You may transform them into fishers of men, who would draw "the rational fish" from the depths of perdition into the nets of your Church.
Lord, as You once walked bodily along the sea of Galilee and the sight of the people, discouraged and without shepherds, touched Your heart and motivated You to select disciples, who would be trained and guided by Your word and example to sacrifice their life for the sheep, may You in like manner now come down among us, who are suffering badly from a serious lack of man-power, and continue with an abundance of spirit and power Your apostolic invitation.
O Lord, give to Your Orthodox Christians Christ-bearing men, who will lead them as leaders of sanctification. Raise up judges among the people of new Israel, who will lead them to victory against their various enemies. Increase, support and strengthen the orders of workers of the Gospel, so that they may all the more effectively carry on the work of evangelization and sanctification of the people for the glory of Your Church, and of Your Holy Name, the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and always. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On January 21st Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors, and entreats the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Maximos the Confessor; Saint Neophytos of Nicaea; Saint Zosimas, Bishop of Syracuse; Saint Agnes of Rome; Saint Maximus the Greek of Russia; Saints Eugene, Candidus, Valerian, and Aquila at Trebizond; holy Martyr Anastasius; New holy Hieromartyr Elias, priest; Saint Neophytos of Vatopedi (Mt. Athos); 4 Holy Martyrs of Tyre; Saint Timon, monk of Kostroma; "Directress of Vatopedi Monastery," "Consolation (Paramythia)," and "The Stabbed" holy Icons of the Mother of God.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyr, Holy Fathers, Holy Mothers, Holy Hieromartyrs, Holy Priests, Holy Ascetics, Holy Confessors, Holy Bishops, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
SAINT MAXIMOS THE CONFESSOR-GREAT DEFENDER OF ORTHODOXY
"Every bit of Church dogma was imposed through the blood of those ready to give their life to defend it; being a matter of life - not merely a theoretical speculation."(Theologian Fr. Dumitru Staniloae)
Saint Maximus the Confessor wrote: "Even if all the world shall enter into communion with the (Heretical) Patriarch, I will not".
Saint Maximus the Confessor, the greatest of Byzantine theologians, lived through the most catastrophic period the Byzantine Empire was to experience before the Crusades.
By birth a citizen of Constantinople and at first a high-ranking courtier at the court of the Emperor Heraclius, he then became a monk and the Egoumenos (Abbot) of a monastery not far from the capital. He was the greatest defender of Orthodoxy against the so-called Monothelite heresy, which developed from the heresy of Eutyches. That is to say: as Eutyches asserted that there is in Christ only one nature, so the Monothelites asserted that there is in Him only one will. Saint Maximus resisted this assertion and found himself in opposition to both the Emperor and the Patriarch. But he was unafraid and persevered to the end in proving that there are in the Lord two natures and therefore also two wills. By his efforts, one Council in Carthage and one in Rome stood firm, and both these Councils anathematized the Monothelite teaching. Saint Maximus's sufferings for Orthodoxy cannot be fully described: tortured by hierarchs, spat upon by the mass of the people, beaten by soldiers, persecuted, imprisoned; until finally, with his tongue cut out and one hand cut off, he was condemned to exile for life in Skhimaris, where he gave his soul into God's hands in the year 662 A.D. (Source: St. Nikolai Velimirovich in "The Prologue from Ochrid")
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistles Lesson: Galatians 5:22-6:2
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 6:17-23
SACRED AND INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"If love is long-suffering and kind, a man who is contentious and malicious clearly alienates himself from love. And he who is alienated from love is alienated from God, for God is love." (St. Maximos the Confessor)
(Texts taken from the book "Maximus the Confessor" by Andrew Louth)
CONTEMPLATION OF THE VIRTUES
Consequently a human being is blessed who has virtues, whether or not he has any other blessings besides. If he has virtues and other advantages too, he is blessed in a general sense, as one said who was wise in divine matters. If he has virtues alone and for their own sake, he is blessed in a more circumscribed sense. For some things are thought of in a more circumscribed way, as when we think of two cubits, others in a more general way, as when we think of a heap. For you can take away two measures from a heap, and will be left with a heap. If you take away all bodily and external advantage from the condition of general blessedness, and leave nothing whatever but the virtues, it remains a state of blessedness.
For virtue, by itself, is sufficient for happiness. Therefore every bad person is wretched, even if he has all the so-called blessings of the earth, if he is deprived of the virtues. And every good person is blessed, even if he is deprived of all earthly blessings, since he has the radiance of virtue. It is because of this that Lazarus rejoiced, at rest in the bosom of Abraham.
CONTEMPLATION OF HOW GOD'S IS UNDERSTOOD FROM CREATION
"So therefore when the Saints behold the creation, and its fine order and proportion and the need that each part has of the whole, and how all the perfect parts have been fashioned wisely and with providence in accordance with reason that fashioned them, and how what has come to be is found to be not otherwise than good beside what now is, and is in need of no addition or subtraction in order to be otherwise good, they are taught from the things he has made that there is One Who fashioned them. So, too, when they see the permanence, the order and position of what has come to be, and its manner of being, in accordance with which each being, according to its proper form, is preserved unconfused and without any disorder; and the course of the stars proceeding in the same way, with no alteration of any kind, and the circle of the year proceeding in an orderly manner according to the periodic return of the [heavenly bodies] from and to their own place, and the equal yearly proportion of the nights and days, with their mutual increase and decrease, taking place according to a measure that is neither too small nor too great, they understand that behind everything there is Providence, and this they acknowledge as God, the Fashioner Of All."
CONTEMPLATION OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE
Anyone who is convinced that God exercises Providence over the things that are, from which he has learnt that he exists, will judge it right and reasonable that He is none other than the Guardian of the things that are and cares for them and that He alone is the Fashioner or what is.
OTHER QUOTES FROM ST. MAXIMUS ON LOVE
Letter 2: On Love
"Divine Love in its power is beyond circumspection or definition".
"Nothing is more truly Godlike than Divine Love, nothing more mysterious, nothing more apt to raise up human beings to deification [theosis]."
"The mystery of love which out of human beings makes us gods".
"Love is the goal of every good, being the highest of goods with God, and source of every good."
"The power of love [is] the adversary of self-love."
"Love is said to be God Himself which from the beginning the thorns of self-love have covered."
"For the sake of love the saints all resist sin continually finding no meaning in this present life."
"Love binds human beings to God and one another."
Love "never fails" since it possesses God Who is alone unfailing and unalterable."
(Source: Orthodox Word)
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