On the Beatitudes of Christ: Gentleness

St. John-Vladimir the Prince of Bulgaria, the Great Martyr and Wonderworker

St. John-Vladimir the Prince of Bulgaria, the Great Martyr and Wonderworker

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 CONTRITE PRAYER TO OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST

At all times and at every hour, in heaven and on earth, O Christ Our God, You are worshiped and glorified; You are long-suffering, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate, You love the righteous and have mercy upon sinners; You call everyone to salvation through the promise of future blessings; Receive, 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 guided by them we ma attain to the unity of faith and the knowledge of Your inapproachable glory, for You are Blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

+++

ON PRAYER
By Saint Neilos the Ascetic

"Do you desire to pray? Remove yourself from these present things, and always have your commonwealth in heaven, not merely in word but in Angelic activity and a more divine knowledge. As of all the senses sight is the greatest, so also of all the virtues prayer is the most divine. The praise of prayer is not simply in the quantity, but rather in the quality...When you are standing in prayer and the joy comes to you that is greater than any other joy, then you have indeed found prayer."

+++

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

On May 22nd 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 of every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Martyr Vasiliscus, nephew of Saint Theodore the Tyro; On this day we commemorate the holy Second Ecumenical Council, which was assembled in the year 381 AD, and deposed Maacedonius, Archbishop of Constantinople, who said that the Holy Spirit is not God; Holy Martyr Marcellus, have been made to swallow molten lead, was perfected in martyrdom; Holy Martyr Codrus, having been dragged by horses, was perfected in martyrdom; Saint John Vladimir the Wonderworker, king of Serbia, was perfected in martyrdom by the sword; Holy Martyr Sophia the Physician was perfected in martyrdom by the sword; Holy, Glorious, and Right-victorious New Righteous Martyr Paul of the Peloponnesus, Greece, who contested in the year 1818; righteous Melchisedek, king of Salem; righteous Father James of Borovichi.

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

THE HOLY MARTYR VASILISCUS. This holy Martyr was from the city of Amasia on the Black Sea, and a nephew of Saint Theodore the Tyro (Feb. 17th). When his fellow Martyrs Eftropius and Cleonicus had been crucified (see March 3rd), St. Vasilscus was shut up in prison. As he was praying the Lord to count him also worthy to finish his course as a martyr, the Lord appeared to him, telling him first to go to his kinsmen and bid them farewell, which he did. When it was learned that he had left the prison, soldiers came after him, and brought him to Comana of Cappadocia, compelling him to walk in iron shoes set with nails. He was beheaded at Comana, and his body was cast into the river, during the reign of the pagan Roman emperor Diocletian (284-305 AD).

Apolytikion of the Holy Martyr. Fourth Tone

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

+++

TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 19:1-8
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 14:1-11

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

"The Church is one, (because she resembles) God in the Trinity. She is one because she stands on one sole Foundation, Christ; one unity of teaching--the word of God; one belief in the Holy Trinity. She is one in the unity of the Spirit Who leads her; in the hope of the resurrection. Thus, both militant (Church on earth) and triumphant (Church of heaven), she is one" (Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk).

__________________________________________________

THE THIRD BEATITUDE--GENTLENESS
(Source: The Life in Christ by St. Nicholas Cabasilas)

Of the many examples whereby the Savior brought the true philosophy into the world, the most and the greatest of all were examples which He gave of gentleness, restraint of anger, and patient endurance of those who grieved Him, by means of his actions and the sufferings which He endured. For example, on behalf of those who had grieved Him He was content to partake of blood and flesh; He came to seek and set free the very men whom He could have indicted for the most heinous offenses. At their hands He afterwards received reproaches for the good deeds by which He restored our nature, yet He ceased not to do them good. Because He cast out the demons from men He heard Himself called Beelzebub and the ruler of demons (St. Matthew 9:34) and the worst names of all; yet nevertheless He drove them out. So far from casting out one who was disaffected with Him from the company of the disciples, He conversed with him as is proper to friends. Even though He was taken prisoner He had dealings with the murderer and the betrayer of His secrets and of His blood, and finally gave Himself to be embraced and kissed.

Even though He ventured on that which was most novel of all--He died for those to whom He had done good. The recipients of benefits drew the sword, the friend led the murderers in the act of murder, the kiss was the signal for the betrayal. He who underwent these things behaved Himself so gently and lovingly, that when one of the disciples had wounded one of those bestial men He did not ignore his wound but at once healed it by touching the member. When He had thus given a sign both of His extraordinary power and of utmost gentleness He did not destroy those who neither feared the one nor respected the other. He did not rain fire upon the wretches nor cast thunderbolts on them, worthy as they were of these and even worse punishments.

He Whom the hosts of Angels could not behold without fear followed those who dragged Him off. The hands to which the bonds of disease had yielded and by which the tyranny of demons was broken, He presented to be bound. Though He was able to do so, He did not destroy that most wicked and desperate slave who struck His cheek, but though him worthy of being addressed most gently and kindly and, as far as He was able, He corrected his ill will.

He then in silence endured the sentence of those brutal judges who had condemned Him to death. When He had accepted the penalty and was already nailed to the tree He did not desist from His affliction for His murderers, but went as far as to implore His Father to exact no penalty from them for their atrocity against the Only-Begotten One. He not merely interceded for them but defended them. The voice of the defense came from One Who was burning with exceeding mercy, for He said, "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do" (St. Luke 23:34). Just as a father who loves his children is sorry for them when they are foolish because of their tender age, so He made their Chastener be gentle towards them, and then died with these words on His lips.

After He returned to life He received those of His friends who had continued in their purpose to share in the festal joy. He bore them no grudge for having deserted Him and fled at the height of perils. So He called His disciples together and made known to them where they should assemble and meet with Him. When He met them and appeared to them He did not reproach them for their flight. It does not appear anywhere that He remembered any such things against them--how they had all affirmed that they would share death and the uttermost extremity with Him, yet could not endure the thought of the terrors even before they happened. He bestowed upon them peace and the Holy Spirit and similar blessings, and then entrusted to them the care of the whole world and set them up as rulers over all the earth...

Thus it is manifest by His deeds that the Savior has cast out anger. Is there anyone then who surpasses Him in gentleness as He teaches and gives laws? He goes so far as to say that when we are angry with anyone He will not accept even the prayer which we utter and the sacrifice we offer. Of the forgiveness of sins, which He came from heaven to bestow on us as a gift common to all, He says that He will never grant it to those who are angry at each other even though we do everything to obtain it, even if we pour forth floods of sweat and tears, even if we give our very body over to the sword and to fire (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:3)--so high is the value that He sets on gentleness.

So it follows that those who reflect on the things that are His should have a heart which is gentle towards those who grieve them. This too He shows by meaning in effect, "If you know how gentle I am, your heart also will become thus," when He says, "Learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (St. Matthew 11:29).

Further, in the following way as well gentleness may result from meditation on Christ. He who lives in these thoughts must be inflamed with love of the Holy Table, but from it one may not receive when one bears ill will. So he will stand firm and keep his soul pure from hatred, since this Blood which was first shed for reconciliation will not endure those who are slaves to anger and wrath, and rightly so. Even though He lifted up His voice to the Father concerning His murderers, as did Abel's blood when it was shed, yet He bore no accusation to Him against the wrongdoers nor asked for their punishment as did Abel for that of his brother. This Blood truly redeemed, and His voice brought pardon to those who slew Him.

(Next: The Fourth Beatitude--Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness)

_____________________________________

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.

+

Glory Be To GOD For All Things!

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George