The Life in Christ: Christ the Exemplar of Our Perfection

St. Jonah the Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia

St. Jonah the Metropolitan of Moscow and all Russia

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 GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT
(Saint Symeon the New Theologian)

Come, o Life delight, Eternity and all Power, the All-Holy Life-Giving and Creative Spirit, Who are of equal honor in authority with the Father and the Son, Whose convergence and unity into One is through the identity of worth and of will in the Three Persons of the Divinity.

Come, O my Lord, my anguished soul has yearned and still years for You.

Come, O yearning that is in me and causes me to desire You Who are altogether inaccessible.

Come, O my constant joy and delight and glory.

Come, O my breath, my life and the consolation of my soul.

Become one spirit with me, O Most Benevolent Lord, yet without confusion, without change, without alteration, since You are God above all.

Become for me the One Who is everything to all, inexpressible nourishment, totally free, constantly flowing on the lips of my soul and streaming in the fountain of my heart, a shining garment that burns the demons, the catharsis that washes me with incorruptible and holy tears that are granted by Your presence to those You approach.

Become for me, O Lord, the Light without night, the unsetting Sun that illumines me in every place, the One Who turns away from no one at all, so that we may not be overcome by the darkness of our sins and be unwilling to come to You.

Take away from me, O Lord, every destructive pride and give a prudent countenance to my eyes; set a bridle on my tongue, make my ears obedient to Your Holy Commandments, provide me with patience in afflictions, make my heart wise and strong in forbearance, in goodness, in restraint, in sympathy, in charity, in love, in humility, in peace toward myself and all others, and in rejecting the indolence and slothfulness of the demons in which I once indulged as if they were mere confessions.

Grant me the gift of seasoned discretion to be able to discern which thoughts and whose judgments to prefer. Grant me also the ability to discern the machinations of the devil and to reject them and him. And may I cut off altogether my own will so that I may rely upon Your Providence, hoping to receive from You whatever is beneficial for me. For my life is dependent upon You, Who are my Light, my salvation. And I bless, glorify and worship You, together with the Father and the Son, with Whom You are Co-Eternal and Co-Existing, always, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

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

On May 27th 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 spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Hieromartyr Helladius, Bishop in the East; St. John the Russian; St. Therapon, Bishop of Sardis; Venerable Bede; St. Therapontes of White Lake (Belozersk); Holy Martyrs Alypius and Eusebiotus; St. Michael of Parekhi; St. Basil, son of King Bagrat III of Georgia; St. Julius the Veteran at Dorosolum, Moesia; Translation of the holy relics of Nilus of Stolben Island; Translation (Anakomide) of the holy relics of Saints Cyprian, Photios, and Jonah, Metropolitans of Kiev.

 

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

HIEROMARTYR HELLADIUS, BISHOP OF THE EAST. The story passed down to us about St. Helladius centers on the contest of his martyrdom. He was a bishop who suffered under the Persians during their invasion of the Roman Empire in the 4th century. He was arrested by pagans and showed himself to have great candor as he articulated the existence of the Holy Trinity. He refused the bribe of wealth, so he was tortured. Without mercy, his body was lacerated, and then he was imprisoned. Jesus appeared to him and healed his many wounds, and his chains were broken as easily as a spider's web. All of this gave St. Helladius a renewed boldness and vigor that further aggravated his tormentors. He was thrown into fire but it left him unscathed. This phenomenon converted many pagans. His torments grew worse, but St. Helladius had no fear. Finally, he was dragged along the earth and his heels were excruciatingly pierced, which caused him to bleed to death.

TODAY'S SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 23:1-11
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 16:15-23

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

"The multitude...imagine that there are many different things which ruin our virtue: some say it is poverty, others bodily disease, others loss of property...Some bewail and lament the inmates of the prison...others those who have been deprived of their freedom, others those who have been seized and made captives by enemies...but no one mourns those who are living in wickedness: on the contrary, which is worse than all, they often congratulate them, a practice which is the cause of all manner of evils." (St. John Chrysostom)

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THE LIFE IN CHRIST: CHRIST THE EXEMPLAR OF OUR PERFECTION
By Saint Nicholas Cabasilas

It was for the new man that human nature was created at the beginning, and for him mind and desire were prepared. Our reason we have received in order that we may know Christ, our desire in order that we might hasten to Him. We have memory in order that we may carry Him in us, since He himself is the Archetype for those who are created. It was not the old Adam who was the model for the new, but the new Adam for the old, even though it is said that the new Adam was generated according to the likeness of the old (Romans 8:3) because of the corruption which the old Adam initiated. The latter Adam inherited it in order that He might abolish the infirmity of our nature by means of the remedies which he brings and, as St. Paul says, so "that which is mortal might be swallowed up by life" (2 Corinthians 5:4).

For those who have known him first, the old Adam is the archetype because of our fallen nature. But for Him who sees all things before they exist, the first Adam is the imitation of the second. It was in accordance with His pattern and image that he was formed, but he did not continue thus. Rather, he started to go in His direction but failed to attain to Him. Accordingly, it was the former who received the law but the latter who fulfilled it. Of the old Adam obedience was demanded; the new Adam, as St. Paul says, displayed it "unto death, even death on a cross" (Phil. 2:8). The one by transgressing the law manifested himself as lacking the things which are required of man, for the law for which the transgressor was liable to punishment did not surpass nature. But the second Adam was perfected in all things and, as He says, "I have kept my Father's Commandments" (St. John 15:10). The former introduced an imperfect life which needed countless aid; the latter became the Father of immortal life for men. Our nature from the beginning tended to immortality; it achieved it much later in the body of the Savior Who, when He had Risen to immortal life from the dead, became the ladder of immortality for our race.

To sum it up: the Savior first and alone showed to us the true man, who is perfect on account of both character and life and in all other respects as well.

Since incorruptible life is truly the end of man, God formed him with a view to this goal. It became possible after his body became pure from corruption and his will free from all sin. The perfection of anything consists in this, that the craftsman makes it all that he thinks it should be, as when the beauty of a statue is achieved by the final touch of the sculptor's hand. But while the former Adam fell greatly short of perfection, the latter was perfect in all respects and imparted perfection to men and adapted the whole human race to Himself. How then would the latter not be the model of the former? We must, then, regard Christ as the archetype and the former Adam as derived from Him. For it is most absurd to regard the most perfect of all things as striving towards the imperfect, and to posit the inferior as the model of the superior, as though the blind were to lead those who see!

It is not surprising that the imperfect is prior in time when we consider that many things were prepared in advance for the use of men and that man who is the measure of all these came from the earth last of all. But it is fitting, to believe that the perfect is the first principle of the imperfect by reason of its perfection.

So then, for all these reasons man strives for Christ by nature, by his will, by his thoughts, not only because of His Godhead which is the goal of all things, but because of His human nature as well. He is the resting place of human desires; He is the food of our thoughts. To love anything besides Him or to meditate on it is a manifest aberration from duty and a turning aside from the first principles of our nature.

(Next: How Meditation is Based on Constant Prayer)

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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