On Prayer (Part II)

Hieromartyr Zenobius of Aegae in Cilicia

Hieromartyr Zenobius of Aegae in Cilicia

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND SHALL EVER BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

A PRAYER FOR THE ASSEMBLIES OF THE CHURCH
(from the Divine Liturgy of Saint Mark)

Lord God, Creator of the light, giver of life, You have demonstrated an extraordinary condescension toward sinful mankind through Your Great Goodness. You are the Founder through the ages of all the creatures of Your creation; You are the treasury of True Wisdom and the Teacher of Holiness. You grant to mankind the exceptional gift of True knowledge; You hear and accept the prayers which are raised up to You from sincere hearts that have been cleansed of sins. You are indeed the Greatest Benefactor of our souls. To the faint-hearted, who take refuge in You and set they hope in You. You provide such wonderful benefaction that even the Angels themselves seem to ponder. You have raised us up to the light of the True knowledge of God and to real salvation. In the place of an eternal death, You have granted us eternal life; You have rescued us from the slavery of sin and have provided us with real freedom; You are the One Who, through the coming of Your Only-Begotten Son into the world, has dissipated the darkness of sin; You, O Lord God, by sending Your Holy Spirit, enlighten us now, who have gathered in Your Name, enlighten the eyes of our understanding and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the Evil One. In Your Great compassionate love for mankind, You well know, Lord, that because of our many human imperfections we do not have the power needed to endure and to overcome temptations. For this very reason then we beseech You, Lord, when You do not permit some difficulty or temptation to come upon us, give us the strength to endure it well and to overcome it. Lord, You did grant us "the authority to step upon serpents and scorpions and to overcome every power of the enemy."

Lord, we call upon You to bless the assemblies of the faithful; they are assemblies for the purpose of worship, of enlightenment, of edification, of encouragement and support of the faithful. Grant us, Lord, the ability to gather in Your Name on a regular basis, without any difficulty or obstacle, according to Your Holy will. Grant us places of worship, sacred temples, in which we, and those who will come after us, will be able to gather to praise and glorify Your Name until the end of the ages.

Rise up, O Lord our God, and help us. May Your enemies be scattered; and may those who hate Your Holy Name flee from our sight. Bless Your faithful and Orthodox Christians, and multiply them to become numerous and strong. Do not permit the death of sin to prevail over us and over all Your people. O Lord, grant, we pray, O Lord God, all of these requests of our prayer, through the grace and compassionate love of Your Only-Begotten Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, through Whom all Glory and Power and Worship belongs to You, together with Your All-Holy, All-Benevolent and Life-Giving Spirit, now and ever and to ages of ages. Amen.

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TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):

On October 30th 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 soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Cleopas the Apostle of the 70; Holy Martyrs Zenovios and Zenovia.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Fathers, Holy Confessors, Holy Righteous, Holy Ascetics, Holy Apostles, Holy Mothers, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

HOLY MARTYRS ZENOVIOS AND HIS SISTER ZENOVIA.

These Saints and Holy Martyrs were from Aegae in Cilicia, brought up in piety by their parents. Saint Zenovios was a physician, and healed many freely by the power of God; because of his virtue he was consecrated Bishop of Aegae. With his sister he was taken by Lysias the Governor, and after many tortures they were beheaded, about the year 290 A.D., during the reign of the pagan Roman emperor Diocletian.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Fourth Tone

Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crown of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption, O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

Kontakion Hymn. Plagal of Fourth Tone

With songs inspired by God, let us now render honor, as is due, unto Zenovios and wise Zenovia, the pair of siblings in the flesh, who proclaimed true religion; those two Martyrs of truth, who, passing their lives as one, also received together through Martyrdom crowns that shall not fade. +++

TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: Colossians 4:10-18
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 11:23-26

INSPIRED WORDS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:

"The power of prayer lies in its holy work to bring to perfection the ascent of man and to unite him to God, and thus to be the bond between rational beings with their Creator, especially when prayer, through fervent contrition, succeeds in transcending those passions and thoughts which tend to accompany prayer. For it is impossible for a passionate mind to be united with God." (Saint Gregory Palamas)

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ON PRAYER (Part II)
By St. Thaddeus of Vitovnica (Source: Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives)

One must prepare for Holy Communion, to become one in soul and body with our Lord, for we are His sons and daughters not only in spirit but also in body. The Lord became Man in the flesh and took upon Himself all human cares, suffering, and pain. He is the only One Who can carry this burden. He wants us to draw near to Himself with all our heart, our feelings, and our being.

As soon as we break the law of God, our conscience begins to bother us. It does not give us rest. And so, we must beseech the Lord in prayer that He may teach us to cleave to Him with all our heart and soul. We often forget that we are only temporary visitors in the life and so we must abide in prayer at all times, for prayer is the breathing of our soul. Prayer draws energy from the Source of life, the Lord, Who guards, protects, and nurtures all beings.

No one but God knows the level of prayer that a person has attained, for if it were possible to see the amount of Grace that another has, some people would be saddened by it [because they have not reached that state].

It is detrimental for those who live in seclusion and stillness to contemplate the faces of other people and to engage in conversation with them. It is rather like hailstones falling on the tender fruit on the trees, making them wither and fall off. In the same way encounters with people, no matter how brief and for what good cause, prevent the ripening of the fruits of virtue which have flowered in silence and stillness. Just as frost burns the tender shoots of flowers that have sprung from the earth in early spring, likewise do encounters with people burn the fruit of the mind that has begun to sprout virtue.

There are very few people who come to their senses, every few who understand life. We pray with our lips only, and we hurry through our prayers to "get it over with" as soon as possible, and then we lose peace. Fasting and prayer are a means of embellishing our soul and bringing it back to its original state. We must strive, with God's help, to attain the traits of Christ the Savior. We know that He was meek, humble, and good, and we must try to imitate Him. However, we have no strength to do this by ourselves; therefore we must ask the Lord for help. It is impossible for the light bulb to give us light without electrical power, and it is impossible for us to live without God; as He Himself said, "Without Me you can do nothing" (St. John 15:5).

They taught me how to pray the Jesus Prayer [at Milijkovo Monastery]. I prayed all the time, and it often happened that although I might have been engaged in conversation with another person, I still heard the words of the Jesus Prayer which came from my heart on their own. I felt indescribable joy, and there was nothing that could make my angry. Thoughts about the things of this world had no place in my heart as I was in a state of Grace. Let us remember the state that the Most Holy Mother of God was in. She lived in the Grace of the Holy Spirit all her life.

I have always loved music, even from my earliest childhood. But when I was in that state of Grace and tried to recall a certain melody, it would not come to mind. The prayer flowed quietly and joyfully, and I could not remember any tunes. However, as soon as one's attention turns to the things of this world, one's zeal ebbs away...

"...The Holy Fathers speak of noetic prayer, the Jesus Prayer. There is a series of rules on how to employ the Jesus Prayer and how to let one's mind descend into the heart, but it is necessary to have an experienced spiritual guide in order for one to learn the Jesus Prayer in the right way.

Prayer is something that must be practiced always. Every movement of the heart must be prayerful. The Holy Fathers say that just as even the smallest speck of dust prevents us from seeing, so too does even the slightest care prevent us from praying. A carefree life is needed for pure prayer.

The Most Holy Mother of God has appeared and spoken to many people in recent times. She has said that she prays to her Son for us, but that there is no repentance among us. She has instructed us on many occasions to repent, because time is accelerating and hard days are ahead for Christians. She tells us that we will have to repent so as to share the fate of those who have fallen away from God...

"...The Lord is not tired of hearing us complain all the time. He is tired of our sins, not turning to Him for help. He wants us to call upon Him all the time and to pour out our hearts to Him. You stand in front of an icon, recite your prayers, and go about your business. That is not prayer.

Strong faith in a man's heart both requires and produces prayer, and a prayer life of many years produces love. The goal of our life is nothing other than cleansing our heart to such an extent that it is able to sing with joy. Thus prayer of the heart leads to joy of the heart. Nothing is difficult for a joyful person, because he has love.

(To be continued)

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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.

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Glory Be To GOD For All Things!

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,

The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George