On the Beatitudes of Christ

Martyr Peter of Ancyra

Martyr Peter of Ancyra

My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord, Redeemer, God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!

ΚΟΝΤΑΚΙΟΝ

O Christ our God, though Thou didst descend into the grave, yet didst Thou overthrow the power of Hades, and rise as an Immortal Conqueror. Thou didst greet the Myrrh-bearing women, and to Thine Apostles give peace, and to the fallen bring Resurrection.

OIKOS

The Myrrh-bearing maidens anticipated the dawn and sought, as those who seek the day, their Sun, Who was beloved the sun, and Who had once submitted to the Grave. And they cried to each other: O friends, come, let us anoint with spices His quickening and buried Body; the Flesh which raised up the fallen Adam, and which now lies in the tomb. Let us go, like the Magi; let us hasten and let worship; and let us bring myrrh as a gift to Him, Who is wrapped, not now in swaddling bands, but in a winding-sheet. Let us weep and cry: O Master, raise Thyself up, and to the fallen bring Resurrection.

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

On May 18th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Ascetics, Teachers, and of every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Peter of Lampsacus with Saints Dionysia, Andrew, Paul, Christina, Heraclios, Paulinus, and Benedimus, at Eurdinus; St. Tecusa with Alexandra, Claudia, Phaine, Euphrasia, Marrona, Julia, and Theodoros, of Ancyra; St. Stefanos the New, Patriarch of Constantinople; St. Theodore, Pope of Rome; St. Christina of Athens; Saint Euphrasia of Nicaea; Saints Simeon, Isaac, and Bakhtisius of Persia; Saint Anastaso of Ludada; St. Martinian of Areovinthus; Holy Martyr Julian; Holy New Martyr Theodore in Orenburg; St. Davit and Tarichan of Georgia; St. Elgiva, Queen of England.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Mothers, Holy Fathers, Holy Ascetics, Holy Bishops, Holy Queens, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

SAINT STEFANOS THE NEW, PATRIARCH OF CONTANTINOPLE. Saint Stefanos lived during the 9th century. He was the brother of Emperor Leo the Wise and the son of Emperor Basil the Macedonian. Patriarch Photios ordained him a priest, and when St. Photios resigned, Stefanos replaced him. In this capacity, he aided widows and orphans, helped the defenseless, and otherwise watched out carefully for his spiritual flock. He was known for his extreme temperance. He died peacefully.

TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 17:1-9
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 47-54

INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY FATHERS, HOLY MOTHERS OF THE CHURCH:

"With no other fault the Devil so effectively pull man down into the abyss of corruption, as he does by persuading one to disregard the conduct of his own life according to the teachings and counsel of the Fathers; but rather to follow his own will. For he who follows his own judgment and opinion will never proceed with certainty, but will stumble over many obstacles and be diluted--encountering many terrifying dangers, as though walking continually in darkness" (Saint Nikolai Velimerovich).

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ON THE BEATITUDES OF CHRIST
By Saint Nicholas Cabasilas

Who then are these whom He calls happy, who alone are truly blessed? Those who are poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, those who are merciful, those who are pure in heart, those who are peacemakers, those who endure persecutions and every reproach for their righteousness and zeal for Christ. Such are they who have laid hold on the blessed life. If, therefore, we proceed from these reflections and in our examination find that the chorus of Saints has been transformed according to that noble model, and that their crowns have been pleated by these thoughts, it will be quite evident to everyone that the study and meditation of these reasonings is a sure passage leading to the blessed life, a ladder by which we may ascend to it, or whatever other figure of speech we may employ.

The First Beatitude--Poverty of Spirit

For example, "poverty of spirit" is, as St. Paul says, "not to think more highly than one ought to think, but to think soberly" (Romans 12:3). To whom would this pertain except those who understand the poverty of Christ? Although He was the Master, yet He shared with slaves their nature and ways of life. Though He is God, yet He "became flesh" (St. John 1:14). He who was rich chose poverty, the King of Glory endured dishonor, and He who had set mankind free was led about in chains. He was indicted for lawless deeds though He had come to fulfill the law. He whom "the Father had given all judgment" (St. John 5:22) endured judges who gratified a maddened and murderous mob. What conceit would not be brought low by these things?

Furthermore, whenever deeds which seem to excel in virtue become the occasion for pride, he who has meditated on the deeds of Christ will know that not only has he achieved nothing great, but that he has availed to contribute nothing at all to this release from captivity, let alone preserve his freedom inviolate after his release. It is Christ Who has redeemed us with His blood and granted us freedom after purchasing it at so great a price. But who of those who have been freed has remained in the freedom which he has received? And who has kept the spiritual riches inviolate to the end? Is not only he who has committed minor offences against grace regarded as very virtuous? What reason will there be for us to think highly of ourselves when we are conscious of sin, and when our virtue by itself leads to nothing that profits us? If there is any true goodness in us, God has implanted it without any effort on our part. We are worthless that we are unable to guard even the riches imparted from without as if they were an inanimate treasure. After the new creation and the burial in water and the table that is full of fire even the wisest men are so weak in virtue that they stand in constant need of the holy table and the cleansing Blood and the helping hand from above, if they are not to be carried away into the utmost wickedness...

How then shall we think proudly? Because of our good deeds? But we have done nothing that is great! Because we have our merits? But they are not our own! Because we have preserved what we have received? We have betrayed it! Is it that we bear Christ's seal? This pride is the very proof that we do not bear it, for those who are proud have nothing in common with Him who "is meek and lowly in heart" (St. Matthew 11:29). By these thoughts pride collapses on itself and is vanquished from all sides. Either we think what we ought to think, or else we think proudly. When we perceive that by proud thoughts we are far removed from Christ and there is no health in us we shall realize that we are worthless and not think proudly.

(Next: The Second Beatitude--Godly Sorrow)

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CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!

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Glory Be To GOD For All Things!

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With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George