On the Beatitudes of Christ: Godly Sorrow

Hieromartyr Patrick the Bishop of Prusa with his companions

Hieromartyr Patrick the Bishop of Prusa with his companions

My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord, Redeemer, God and Only True Savior,

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

CHRIST IS RISEN!

By Father Alexander Schmemann

"...My belief in Christ does not come from the opportunity given to me to participate since earliest childhood in the paschal celebration. Rather, Pascha is made possible, that unique night filled with light and joy and such victorious power in the greeting 'Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!' because my faith itself was born from experience of the living Christ. How and when was it born? I don't know, I don't remember. I only know that every time I open the Gospel and read about Christ, read His words, read His teaching, I consciously repeat; with all my heart and being, what was said by those who were sent to arrest Christ but who returned to the Pharisees without him: 'No man ever spoke like this man" (St. John 7:46). Therefore what I know first of all is that Christ's teaching is alive and that nothing on earth can be compared with it. And this teaching is about Him, about eternal Life, about victory over death, about a love that conquers and overcome death. I know as well that in a life where everything seems so difficult and tiresome, the one constant that never changes and never leaves is this inner awareness that Christ is with me. 'I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you' (St. John 14:18). And He does come and give feeling of His presence through prayer, through a thrill of soul, through a joy so incomprehensible yet so very alive, through His mysterious, but again so certain presence in Church during services and in Sacraments.  This living experience is always growing, this knowledge, this awareness which becomes so obvious that Christ is here and that His word has been fulfilled: whoever loves Me, 'I will love him and manifest Myself to him' (St. John 14:21).

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

On May 19th 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: Holy Hieromartyr Patrick, Bishop of Prusa, and those with him: Acacius, Menander, and Polyaenus, the Presbyters; our Righteous Father Memnon the wonderworker; Holy Martyr Acoluthus of Egypt; Holy Martyr Kyriake of Nicomedia was perfected in martyrdom by fire; Holy Martyr Theotima of Nicomedia was perfected in martyrdom by the sword; Saints Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury; Holy Thirteen Righteous Martyrs of Cantara in Cyprus who were slain by fire by the Latins in the year 1231 AD; St. Cornelius of Paleostrov; St. John, Prince of Uglich, who in the holy schema was renamed Ignatius, Monk; St. Cornelius of Komel; St. Sergius of Shukhtov.

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

THE HOLY HIEROMARTYR PATRICK, BISHOP OF PRUSA, AND HIS FELLOW MARTYRS ACACIUS, MENANDER, AND POLYAENUS. Saint Patrick was Bishop of Prusa, a city of Bithynia (the present-day Brusa or Bursa). Because of his Christian Faith, he was brought before Julias (or Julian) the Consul, who in his attempts to persuade St. Patrick to worship as he himself did, declared that thanks was owed to the gods for providing the hot springs welling up from the earth for the benefit of men. Saint Patrick answered that thanks for this was owed to our Lord Jesus Christ, and explained that when He, Who is God, created the earth, He made it with both fire and water, and the fire under the earth heats the water which wells up, producing hot springs: he then explained that there is another fire, which awaits the ungodly. Because of this, he was cast into the hot springs, but it was the soldiers who cast him in, and not he, who were harmed by the hot water. After this Saint Patrick was beheaded with the Presbyters (Priests) Acacius, Menander, and Polyaenus. Most likely, this was during the reign of the pagan Roman emperor Diocletian (284-305 AD).

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Fourth Tone

Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns 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

Since the Church hath thy body as a sacred gem of Jesus Christ, she now rejoiceth thereat, O blest Patrick, and with joy she crieth unto thee: Through thy prayers, O wise Father, all the world is preserved in peace and tranquility, and it is kept unharmed and unconquered by any heresy.

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TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 17:19-28
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 12:19-36

INSPIRING WRITINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:

"For where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God." (Saint Irenaeus of Lyons)

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THE BEATITUDES OF CHRIST: SECOND BEATITUDE-GODLY SORROW
By St. Nicholas Cabasilas (Source: The Life in Christ)

It is indeed fitting that those who meditate on Christ's deeds mourn and weep. Were one to consider what novel things were accomplished for our salvation, what would happen to our indifference and the sleep which detains us? Whether we are grieved at the loss of things most precious, or constrained to weep by the memory of good things which we have lost, this is the way that we learn how great are and how we may waste them. Or if our conscience prick the soul and cause it to waste away because we are ungrateful towards so great a Benefactor, it is in this way that it would become most clear to us how great is the gentleness and loving-kindness with which He has dealt with us, and how great is the indifference we have shown to Him.

First, He came down from heaven to seek us. He spoke to us with a voice like ours and appeared to us with a face like ours. This He did in order that, whether it is the one like ourselves that we love or the One Who is the best, He Himself might be both. Thus by uniting in Himself the two which everywhere inspire love He sought the means of inspiring the greatest love.

Further, He added this also in order to increase this friendship: Since everyone loves himself and also loves his kin, yet, being much closer to himself than to his fellowman, he cares more for himself than for his neighbor--so, with the aim of being in the best position for receiving our love, which is the most desirable thing of all, and thus to be loved, not in the way that we rejoice over our fellow men, but in the way that we are objects of our own love, He was not content to become like us by sharing in our nature, but imparted to us His very body and blood and spirit so that He might thus be loved by all men. Thus He Himself becomes in actuality that which the proverb says concerning our friends in exaggeration--the 'other self' of everyone who cleaves to Him.

Thus it was that He sought us and left nothing undone which pertained to this friendship. He showed Himself as our Benefactor and Brother. He took the place of our very selves, not merely in will or by the command by which He created the heavens, but by the sweat of His brow and by toils which were entirely alien to Him, by agony, by dishonor and stripes, and finally by death. Yet towards Him Who thus is good to us in every way we have not only forgotten gratitude and failed to seek how we may require Him, but we behave so badly that we are devoted to the things which are hateful to Him and cleave to the things from which He turns away. As for the things to which He urges us we flee from them, and thus display unnatural wickedness. Is this not worthy of laments and tears? We highly esteem other things, but neglect the Savior and that which is His as though it befitted others to seek Him, or as though His unutterable Providence had nothing to do with us.

As for the things which are useful to us, we regard it our duty to use them as we ought. In all the things which have to do with living, all words, acts and skills, whether we must farm or command an army, whether they pertain to public affairs or to one's personal life, in every case we seek what is fitting and embrace the right opportunity. In short, everywhere we highly value that which is customary, fitting, and just. It is only in the case of that which is truly our own--how we ought to guard it as we should, by what means we must do justice to ourselves--that we consider these things least of all, as though we regarded ourselves inferior to everything else!

If for no other reason, we should turn our attention to that novelty which has shaken and displaced all things. Because of it the very foundation of the earth has seen the things which are above heaven, and earth has ascended above the heaven itself...

But how should the righteous fail to regard the whole time of this life as an opportunity for sorrow? What then do we bewail? Is it disease? In our case, is not the best part diseased? Is it poverty? Indeed, in this respect we are far worse off than the poor, since spiritual wealth is more necessary and excellent by far. Material poverty must presently cease, but death cannot destroy the terror of spiritual poverty but rather must greatly increase our disgrace in the life to come. Madness is miserable. What then? Does not a wicked demon harass the mind into which it has poured so great a measure of folly? If rushing upon the sword, casting themselves down from steep heights, ignoring their friends and fawning upon their worst enemies, are acts of madmen, then are we not also mad for fleeing from Him who loves us, and do we not seek our enemy by our actions? Are we not hastening to hell by doing all the things which drive us to it?

Thus, since we have the most horrible things on our conscience, it is fitting for us to weep and mourn...Since He Himself took man's nature though He was God, we should become gods instead of men and exchange earth for heaven, slavery for a Kingdom, our accustomed dishonor for the true glory. For the sake of these things it was that the Creator of heaven clothed Himself with earth, and that He who by nature was Lord 'was found in the fashion of a slave" (Phil. 2:6, 7), and the King of glory "endured the Cross, despising the shame" (Hebrews 12:2).

(Next: The Third Beatitude--Gentleness)

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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 Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George