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.
CONTRITE PRAYER TO CHRIST GOD
At all times and every hour, in heaven and on earth, O Christ our God, You are worshipped and glorified; You are long-suffering, most merciful, most compassionate, You love the righteous and have mercy upon the sinners; You call everyone to salvation through the promise of future blessings; received, O Lord, our prayers at this hour and direct our life toward Your Commandments. Sanctify our souls; make our bodies chaste; Correct our thoughts; purify our intentions; and deliver us from every grief and pain that comes from evil. Encompass us by Your Holy Angels, so that guarded and guide by them we may attain to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of your inapproachable glory. For You are Blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On February 10th 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 Charalampus the Hieromartyr and Wonderworker; Holy Martyrs Porphyrios and Baptus; Saint Anastasius II, Archbishop of Jerusalem; Saint Anatole, Metropolitan of Odessa; Saint Zeno of Caesarea; Saints Prochoros the Orach-eater of the Kiev Caves; Saints Ennatha, Valentina, and Paula of Palestine; Synaxis of Novgorod Hierarchs; Saint John Chimchimeli of Bachkovo; Saint Scholastica of Italy, sisters of Saint Benedict; Saint Anna of Novgorod, wife of Yaroslav I; Saint Longinus of Vologda; Saint Martyrius, Archbishop of Novgorod; Synaxis of God in Areobindus.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Archbishops, Holy Ascetics, Holy Hieromartyrs, Holy Mothers, Holy Confessors, O Christ our God have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HIEROMARTYR CHARALAMPUS. This great Saint was bishop of Magnesia, and suffered for Christ at the age of 113. When a violent persecution broke out under the pagan Roman emperor Septimus Severus, the aged St. Charalampus did not hide from his persecutors, but freely and openly preached the Christian faith. He endured all tortures as though not in the body, and when they flayed the living flesh from him, the godly Saint said to the emperor's soldiers: 'Thank you, my brethren, for scraping off the old body and renewing my soul for new and eternal life.' He performed many wonders (miracles) and brought many to the Faith. Even the emperor's daughter, Gallina, repudiated the paganism of her father and became a Christian. Condemned to death and led to the place of execution, Saint Charalampus raise his arms to heaven and prayer for all men, that God would give them bodily health and salvation of soul, and that He would grant them the fruits of the earth in abundance: ' Lord, Thou knowest that men are flesh and blood; forgive them their sins and pour out Thy blessing on all. After praying thus, the saintly elder gave his soul to God before the executioner had laid his sword to his neck. He suffered in 202 A.D. Gallina took his body and buried it.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 2 Timothy 2:1-10
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 15:17-27, 16:1-2
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"Know that material alms should always be followed by spiritual alms: with affectionate, brotherly, and pure-hearted love for your neighbor. Do not allow him to notice that he is become beholden to you, do not appear proud. See that your material alms do not lose their value through your failure to provide the spiritual." (Saint John of Kronstadt)
THE SPIRITUAL STRUGGLE OF THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN
Every Orthodox Christian will eventually come across the Greek word "αγώνας" (agonas). The word itself has been defined in the Church as "spiritual struggle." Like so many things in the Holy Orthodox Christian faith, in practicing it, we understand it within our hearts and nous, even though we cannot always explain it. In performing our personal agona (sruggle), we find it as a means of drawing closer to our Savior Jesus Christ as we travel along the path of salvation.
We bear the wounds of sin in our bodies which drags us down to the earth like a magnet, yet our soul longs to ascend to the heights. As human composed of body and soul, we find the two opposing each other. Even Saint Paul, writes: "I cannot understand my own behavior, I fail to carry out the things I want do, and I find myself doing the very things I hate...for though the will to do what is good in me, the performance is not, with the result that instead of doing the good things I want to do, I carry out the sinful things I do not want" (Romans 7:15).
As Orthodox Christians, we believe that we must work toward purification, illumination, theosis (deification). The first step of purifying ourselves from the passions, from all which draws us away from the Almighty God and shackles us from ascending to the heights, employs the use of agona (struggle).
Saint Theophan the Recluse defines our total Christian life as αγώνας (struggle). He says that the spirit hates sin, while the flesh dwells in it. How is this battle within ourselves to be won? Through αγώνα (struggle) of bringing the soul into mastery over the body.
According to Saint Theophan "all the Saints accept the only true path to virtue to be pain and hard work…lightness and ease are a sign of a false path. Anyone who is not struggling, not in an agona, is in spiritual delusion" (The Path to salvation).
Our Lord Jesus Christ said, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me" (St. Matthew 16:24). Saint Innocent of Alaska, in his book, Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven, writes clearly that he way which leads to the Kingdom of Heaven is precisely to deny oneself, take up the cross, and follow Christ. He continues by saying, "to deny oneself means to give up one's bad habits, to root out of the heart all that ties us to the world...there are external and internal crosses. To take up one's cross means not only to bear crosses laid on us by others or sent by Divine Providence, but...even to lay crosses upon oneself and bear them." It is far more than giving up smoking or chocolate for Holy and Great Lent.
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