The Virtues (Part II)

Conception by Righteousness Anna of the Most Holy Mother of God

Conception by Righteousness Anna of the Most Holy Mother of God

My beloved spiritual children 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 TO THE HOLY SPIRIT OUR GOD
(Saint Symeon the New Theologian)

Come, O Life of delight, eternity and all power, the All-Holy, Life-Giving and creative Spirit, Who are of equal honor in Authority with the Father and the Son, whose convergence and unity into one is through the identity of worth of will in the Three Persons of the Divinity.

Come, O my Lord, my anguished soul has yearned and still yearns for You.

Come, O Yearning that is in me and causes me to desire You Who are altogether inaccessible.

Come, O my constant joy and delight and glory.

Come, O my breath, my life and the consolation of my soul.

Become one spirit with me, O Most Benevolent Lord, yet without confusion, without change, without alteration, since You are God above all.

Become for me the One Who is everything to all, inexpressible nourishment, totally free, constantly flowing on the lips of my soul and streaming in the fountain of my heart, a shining garment that burns the demons, the catharsis that washes me with incorruptible and holy tears that are granted by Your presence to those You approach.

Become for me, O Lord, the Light without night, the unsetting sun that illumines me in every place, the One Who turns away from no one at all, so that we may not be overcome by the darkness of our sins and be unwilling to come to You. Amen.

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

On November 9th 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: The Holy Feast Day of the Conception of Saint Anna of the Most Holy Theotokos; Consecration of the Church of the Resurrection in the Holy City of Jerusalem in the year 336 A.D.; Prophetess Hannah, mother of Prophet Samuel; St. Stephen the 'New Light' of Constantinople; St. Narses of Persia; St. Sergius Mechiev of Moscow (+ 1941); St. Sositheus of Persia; Holy Martyr Isaac; St. Valeria of Aquitaine; "Unexpected Joy" holy Icon of the Mother of God.

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

THE CONCEPTION BY SAINT ANNA OF THE MOST HOLY THEOTOKOS. Righteous Joachim and Anna were childless for 50 years of their married life. In their old age, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to them, to each one separately, and told them that God had heard their prayer and that a daughter would be born to them. Then Saint Anna conceived by her husband and, after nine months, bore a daughter blessed by God and all generations of men: the Most Holy Virgin Mary and Mother of God.

SAINT HANNAH, MOTHER OF TEH PROPHET SAMUEL. Saint Hannah was the wife of Elkanah from Romathaim-Zophim, or Arimathea (1 Samuel 1). She had had no child, being barren, and she wept and grieved for this. But God in His mercy took pity on her, and removed her barrenness in response to her ceaseless prayers and sighs. St. Hannah bore a son, Samuel, and dedicated him to God from his childhood. Samuel was a great leader of the nation of Israel, and a Prophet who anointed two kings, Saul and David. Saint Hannah sang a hymn of thanksgiving to God, a hymn wonderful in its wisdom and beauty, which is used to this day in church services (1 Samuel 2:1).

Consecration of the Church of the Resurrection in the Holy City. Emperor Constantine the Great and His mother Helen built this church and had it consecrated in the year 336 A.D. However, the Persian Muslims set fire to it and destroyed it in 614 A.D. Twelve years later, Egoumenos (Abbot) Modestos, who would later be Patriarch of Jerusalem, rebuilt it. In 934 A.D. the Saracen Muslims set fire to part of the church on Holy Pascha, and again 35 years later, the Muslims set fire to the dome, stole all of the sacred objects within, and burned the church and the Patriarch of Jerusalem in the flames. Then in 1010 A.D., the Muslims destroyed the church down to its foundation. Eighteen years later, Emperor Argyros of Constantinople began construction of a more modest version of the original, which was completed in 1048 A.D. Fifty-one years later, the Crusaders stormed Jerusalem and ruled for 84 years, but the church has remained intact since the last reconstruction.

TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Galatians 4:22-27

Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 8:16-21

WHAT TO DO TO STRENGTHEN YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE DURING THE HOLY NATIVITY FAST:

"Striving to remember God at least every hour. Purchase a watch which beeps every hour, or a clock with chimes. Decide upon a short prayer or prayers to say every hour when you are "called to prayer." Perhaps you may say "Meet it is," or the Jesus Prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner," or the prayer of the Publican. "O God be merciful to me a sinner and cleanse me." You may merely cross yourself and call God to mind. The content or variety of prayers is not so important, and is a matter of personal preference. The important idea here is to somehow shake ourselves out of our lethargy at least every hour, so that we do not forget God.

To increase your participation in the Mystery of Repentance and Confession and to receive Holy Communion as often as possible. Becoming more active in charity. Forgiving your enemies and pray for their salvation.

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THE VIRTUES (PART II)

Self-Control. Self-control is also listed by the Holy Apostle Paul as a "fruit of the spirit," (Galatians 5:22). This virtue is one which is not often easily attained because people forget that, like patience, it is a grace of God and they must seek it from the Lord. Instead they think it can come from human effort and will power alone.

Self-control is one of the main characteristics of God and is one of the main gifts of man as created in God's image. According to the Holy Fathers, self-control is one of the main elements of the Divine image in man, coextensive with the gift of freedom which is often explained as the essential and basic element of man's likeness to his Creator. When one is perfectly free by the grace of God-"where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Corinthians 3:17)-there is also perfect control over oneself.

Man loses his self-control when he tells himself to sin and become a slave to the corruption of his fleshly passions. Such a man has been characterized well in the Second Letter of Saint Peter:

"...those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority...bold and willful...irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and killed, reviling in matters of which they are ignorant...They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their dissipation...They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin...They have hearts trained in greed...They have gone astray...These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm...For, uttering loud boasts of folly, they entice with licentious passions of the flesh men who have barely escaped from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved" (2 Peter 10=19).

The man without self-control is enslaved. He is the captive of sin, the willing instrument of carnal passions, the victim of all foolishness and evil. He is bound in his mind and heart by "the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life" (1 John 1-17). He is "a child of the devil" (St. John 8:44; Acts 13:10; 1 John 3:10) and possesses a "carnal mind" (Romans 8:7).

"...following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. Among these we also once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of the body..." (Ephesians 2:3-4; Romans 1:18-32).

Self-control, according to the spiritual tradition of the Orthodox Christian Church, is the spiritual mastery over the lusts of the mind and the flesh. Passionlessness (apatheia) does not mean the destruction of the natural drives and desires of the body and soul, such as the need to sleep, food and drink; or the emotions such as spiritual desire, zeal, excitement, joy, awe, sorrow or fear. It means rather, the control of the feelings that are normal, natural and healthy, and the mortification of the feelings that are wicked and evil.

Kindness. The spiritual person is kind. He never practices cruelty in any of its forms, but is always gentle in his relations with others. Kindness, according to the Holy Apostle Paul, is also a "fruit of the spirit" (Galatians 5:22).

According to the Holy Scripture, God Himself is kind. For all of His anger and wrath over the sins of men, the Lord is 'kind to the ungrateful and selfish" (St. Luke 6:35).

"For great is His merciful kindness toward us; and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever" (Psalm 117:2; cf. Psalm 31:21, 119:76).

Christians are urged to follow God in His kindness and to do all things gently and with tenderness. Especially when rebuking and correcting others, the spiritual person must be kind.

"...the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome, but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, forbearing; correcting one's opponents with gentleness..." (2 Timothy 2:24; cf. Galatians 6:1).

Parents especially are urged not to "provoke their children to anger" by unkindness and cruelty (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21).

Very often it happens that people can be kind to strangers and to those with whom they have but a passing and casual relationship, but with persons with whom the relationship is longer and deeper-family, relatives, co-workers, fellow members of the same church community-it is sometimes assumed that they may be unkind, and that they even have a certain right to act carelessly and with harshness. This is a great temptation. Familiarity and everyday contact do not give one the right to act unkindly or to behave crudely. To those closest and nearest, the need for continual gentleness, tenderness and kindness in every action and word is especially necessary. There can be no excuse for insensitivity and harshness, whatever the relationship. Spiritual persons must "do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10).

"…for we are members one of another. Be angry, but do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil (Cf. Psalm 4)...Let no evil talk come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear...Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:26-32).

Kindness does not mean overlooking people's sins; it means forgiving them. Kindness also does not mean "being nice" to everyone, whoever they are and whatever they do. It does not mean "going along" with others in every way. A kind person will correct others, if need be, and his very kindness will be shown by his care and concern for the well-being of his fellow creature "for whom Christ died" (Romans 14:15).

"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother" (St. Matthew 18:15).

The correction by a kind person is never with contempt or cruelty. It never ridicules, demeans or condemns. It always encourages and edifies with gentleness and understanding.

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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