On the Beatitudes of Christ: Purity of Heart and Striving for Peace

St. Damiane (Demetrius) the King and Hymnographer

St. Damiane (Demetrius) the King and Hymnographer

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 GOD

O Eternal God, the Uncreated Light, Infinite and without beginning, the Creator of all creation, the inexhaustible source of mercy, the deep ocean of goodness, and the unsearchable abyss of Loving-kindness for mankind, let the light of Your countenance, O Lord, shine upon. Illuminate our hearts, O spiritual Sun of Righteousness, and fill our souls with Your gladness. Teach us always to meditate and to speak of Your judgments, and to constantly confess to You, our Master and Benefactor. Direct the work of our hands to conform with You will, and support us in doing what You love and what pleases You. Thus, even through our unworthiness, Your All-Holy Name will be glorified, the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, of the One Godhead and Kingdom, to Whom befits all glory, honor and worship, unto ages of ages. Amen.

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

On May 23rd 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: Saint Michael the Confessor, Bishop of Synnada; St. Mary Cleopa the Myrrh-bearer; St. Michael the Black-robed of Saint Savvas Monastery; Saint Salonas the Roman; Saint Paisius, Egoumenos (Abbot) of Galich; Uncovering of the holy relics of St. Leontios, Bishop of Rostov; Holy Martyr Seleucus; St. Damiane of Georgia; St. Ephrosyne, Princes of Polotsk; St. Ioannicius I, Archbishop of Serbia; Synaxis (Assembly) of All Saints of Rostov and Yaroslavl.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Egoumenoi, Holy Bishops, Holy Archbishop, Holy Mothers, Holy Ascetics, Holy Myrrh-bearers, Holy Monks, Holy Nuns, Holy Archbishops, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

THE VENERABLE DAMIANE. Demetre, as he was called in the world, was the son of king Davit the Restorer in 12th century Georgia. Demetre was made co-ruler by his father because of his wisdom, chastity, and bravery. He was also a fine young commander of the military, seizing the castle of the Shirvans and returning home with much wealth and many captives. After king Davit's death, Demetre protected the kingdom, defended and expanded its borders, and repopulated many regions that had been deserted. However, Demetre was force to deal with evil intrigues when his noblemen revolted, and his first-born son rebelled against him. This convinced Demetre to leave the vanity of the world to become a monk in the Davit-Gareji Wilderness. He was tonsured a monk, taking the name Damiane. He abdicated the throne to his son Davit; however, he soon died and Damiane was forced to once again become involved in the affairs of his country. He named another of his sons, George, as co-ruler. St. Damiane completed the construction of Gelati Monastery, which his father had begun. While at the Davit-Gareji Monastery, St. Damiane composed many great hymns for the Church.

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TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 20:7-12
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 14:10-21

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

"The soul of a humble man is like the sea: throw a stone into the sea--for a moment it will ruffle the surface a little, and then sink to the bottom. Thus do afflictions disappear down into the heart of the humble man, because the strength of the Lord is with him" (St. Silouan of Mt. Athos).

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ON THE BEATITUDES OF CHRIST: PURITY OF HEART
By Saint Nicholas Cabasilas (Source: The Life in Christ)

To cleanse one's heart and to exercise one's soul for sanctification--what striving or effort or exertion would affect this more than these thoughts and meditations? Yet, if one examines this carefully, one would not call it the effect of meditation on Christ, but rather of the meditation itself.

To be occupied with the noblest of thoughts means to abandon evil thoughts; but this is to be pure of heart. Our life and our birth are twofold, both spiritual and fleshly. But its desires, the spirit fights against the body and the body resists the spirit. Since it is impossible for contraries to be at peace and to join together, it is quite evident that one or other of the desires will, by means of memory, gain control over the thoughts and cast the other out. The memory of the life and birth which are according to the flesh and concentration on such matters produce the most depraved desires and the uncleanness to which it leads. So likewise, when the soul is constant remembrance holds fast the birth of the baptismal washing, the divine food which is appropriate to this birth, and the other things which belong to the new life, it is likely to lead desires from the earth to heaven itself.

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The Seventh Beatitude-Striving for Peace

Since Christ "is our peace, Who has made both one, and has broken down the dividing wall, the hostility in the flesh" (Ephesians 2:14), Who planned all things for the sake of peace, what would come before that peace for those who highly esteem the care of the soul and are eager for that which is His? Above all else they will "strive for peace" (Hebrews 12:14, cf. Romans 14:19), as Saint Paul commands, and will be leaders in this matter for others. They will cast away useless hostility and will stop those who are rashly at war, knowing that peace is so precious a thing that God Himself came to the earth for the purpose of purchasing it for men. Though He was rich and the Lord of all, He found no price sufficient for it but that of shedding His Own Blood. Since He found those who were already born in possession of no just equivalent for the peace and reconciliation which He sought, He created a new creature for Himself, His Blood. By giving this He at once became the Reconciler and the Prince of Peace. Those, then, who worship that blood, hope to achieve, beyond their own salvation, peace for men as agents of reconciliation.

Thus it is possible to discern in the character of the only Savior the whole of righteousness, that is, virtue and how great a benefit it is and what beauty it contains. He alone has exhibited a character totally pure from all that is contrary to virtue, for "He committed no sin" (1 Peter 2:22). Nor, when the "ruler of the world" came, did he find anything for which he might persecute that divine soul, nor anything with which he might fault His beauty as he looked at Him from all sides with an envious eye. It is obvious that it is possible for those who meditate on the things of Christ to be kindled with love for Christ and for virtue by that alone. The result will thus be that one understands the beauty of virtue and of the Savior, and those who understand will also love, since to understand always leads to love. It was instead the deceptive fruit of the forbidden tree which overpowered Eve, for it says, "She perceived that I was a delight to the eyes and good for food" (Genesis 3:6).

(Next: The Eighth Beatitude-Suffering Reproach for Christ)

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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