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!
Let us who have beheld the Resurrection of Christ, worship our Holy Lord Jesus, Who is alone without sin. We worship Thy Cross, O Christ, and praise and glorify Thy Holy Resurrection. For Thou art our God, and we know none other beside Thee, and we call upon Thy Name. Come, all ye faithful, let us worship Christ's Holy Resurrection, for behold, through the Cross, joy has come to the whole world. We praise His Resurrection, and forever glorify the Lord. He endured the Cross for us, and by death destroyed Death. Jesus, having Risen from the grave, as He foretold, has given to us Eternal Life and the Great Mercy. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On May 4th 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 Silvanus of Gaza and 40 Martyrs with him; St; Nicephoros the Solitary of Mt. Athos; St. Pelagia of Tarsus; St. Hilarion the Wonderworker of the desert; Translation (Anakomide) of the holy relics (lipsana) of Righteous Lazarus and Mary Magdalene; Sts. Aphrodisius, Leontius, Anthony, Valerian, Macrobius, and others, monks of Palestine; St. Athanasius, Bishop of Corinth; St. Necephorus, Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Medikion; The Alphanov Brothers: Nicetas, Cyril, Nicephorus, Clement, and Isaac of Novgorod; St. Erasmus, Bishop of Formia; St. Monica of Tagaste; St. Florian and 40 companions, Austria; "Staro Rus" holy Icon of the Theotokos.
+By the Holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Monks, Holy Solitary, Holy Mothers, Holy Nuns, Holy Bishops, Holy Egoumenoi; O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
VENERABLE HILARION THE WONDERWORKER. Saint Hilarion embraced Christianity as a young man and subdued the passions of his body through prayer and watchfulness of his soul. God granted him the blessing to work miracles through his prayers. He could cast out demons and cure diseases. After some time, he went to live alone in a hut in a remote, quiet place and there acquired a measure of dispassion. Afterwards, he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood, and the miracles continued through his supplications. He healed a paralytic and restored a withered hand. He could quiet a raging storm or bring rain in the midst of a dry spell. He could part a river for a safe crossing to the opposite side, and he could drive away animals that would destroy young crops. Saint Hilarion died peacefully.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 10:1-16
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 6:56-69
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY FATHERS AND HOLY MOTHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"The struggle against self-love is hard, but everything is accomplished with the grace of God. If the person--especially a beginner--is not strict with himself, cowardice and self-love take the wind out of his sails. And if a person does not jump into the sea of temptations with faith and without hesitating, he will not find tangible help from God and thus will not make even one step of progress."
ENVY (ILLNESS AND THE PASSIONS)
By His Eminence Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos [Source: "The Science of Spiritual Medicine", Orthodox Psychotherapy in Action]
The sickness of envy is one of the soul's worst illnesses. It does great damage to the envious person's soul, as well as causing serious distress to others. Someone in the grip of envy does not consider friends, relatives or benefactors. Unhappiness is the distinguishing characteristic of the envious person. The difficulty with this illness is that, as Saint Basil the Great says, someone who is envious "cannot even acknowledge it, hands his head, is downcast and troubled, laments and is utterly ruined by evil." Usually the envious man does not want to admit his sickness or reveal the wound in his soul, so he is continuously miserable.
What is Envy?
Envy is mainly sadness at our neighbor's happiness and joy at his misfortune. As Saint Basil notes, envy "is sorrow over one's neighbor's success." Our brother's happiness is "food for the disease and added suffering for the envious man." Usually the envious person is anxious and overcome by unbearable sorrow, not because something bad has happened to him, but because something good has happened to his fellow human being. He takes no account of his own blessings and does not praise God for the benefits bestowed on him every day. Instead, he is tormented by his brother's happiness. He is distressed because his brother is glad and possesses more than he does.
Envy is a serious wound, as no other passion is "so destructive of men's souls." It is a serious wound because it originates from the root of all the passions: pride. Saint Thalassios points out that the distinguishing feature of self-esteem is hypocrisy and falsehood, whereas the characteristic of pride is presumption and envy. So when we are overcome by envy, it is certain that we are in the grip of its mother, pride. We may appear to be humble, but if we are envious we are proud.
There is also a close link between envy and praise. We are usually jealous of others because they are honored and we are not. It is very characteristic that, according to Saint Mark the Ascetic, the person who praises somebody for something and criticizes somebody else for the same thing is certainly dominated by the passion of vanity and envy. Such a person often tries to hide the envy in his heart by giving praise. This is typical of the malice with which the passion of envy manifests itself. The passion of envy may lie concealed within those who continually praise others.
How Envy Manifests Itself
The envious man usually examines other people's lives and tries to compare his own life with theirs. When he realizes that his brother surpasses him, he lets the terrible passion of envy show itself. Usually the first sign of the passions is dejection, distress and misery. "Sorrow and despondency never leave the envious man." The physical and spiritual merits of others become a source of sorrow and gloom. Even their material possessions upset him. Someone afflicted by envy "is life a naked man wounded by everyone." He is very deeply hurt, cut to the heart. "All these wounds and injuries strike to the depths of his heart" (Saint Basil the Great).
The envious man usually has his eyes everywhere. He is always carefully watching for grounds to make an accusation. He observes how the other person talks and behaves. He is always ready to make comments to him, especially in front of others, in order in order to belittle him and exalt himself at the same time. When the victim of his envy is praised, the envious man is ready to contradict. He is ready to say, "That may be true, but..." and then reveal possibly unknown aspects of the other person's life, with the clear intention of humiliating him.
Saint Basil the Great also gives an eloquent description of the envious man's physical appearance. It is a fact that the soul's passions often show themselves in the body too, as there is a close relationship between the soul and body. Saint Basil says that envious people are clearly recognizable from their expression. "Their gaze is harsh and gloomy, their face downcast, their brows knit, their soul troubled by this passion. They have no criterion for judging what is true." Envious people do not find anything good or praiseworthy in others. They are like birds of prey that fly over beautiful meadows looking for animal carcasses; or like flies that ignore what is clean and head for what is contaminated. Envious people only see what is ugly in others and assiduously search out reasons to criticize them, while at the same time they disregard the good aspects of their lives.
Envy usually reveals itself through the misery and sorrow that consume the heart of the envious person, and it often betrays itself through his body as well. It also finds expression through fault-finding and shows itself through our readiness to condemn and blame others. The passion of envy may be carefully hidden behind sorrow and a tendency to criticize. It is also sometimes concealed behind praise for others.
The Consequences of Envy
Envy has terrible consequences. It distorts a person's soul. We may be slow to realize that we have this passion. It may not grieve us as much as other passions, but it deforms our whole spiritual organism. We could list a few of its dire effects.
Envy is a sign of a carnal life. We usually think of fleshly, sensual life as involving certain bodily sins, to which we pay great attention, ignoring all others. However, any passion that results in us losing the grace of God means that we are carnally minded. The works of the flesh are the opposite of the fruits of the All-Holy Spirit. Saint Paul the Apostle, listing the works of the flesh, also mentions envy: "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, sedition, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, revelings and such like..." (Galatians 5:19-21). Saint Gregory of Sinai stresses the same point: "Those who are completely given over to pursuits of the flesh and full of self-love are always slaves to sensual pleasure and to vanity. Envy, too, is rooted in them."
All those enslaved to self-indulgence and self-esteem, in whom envy has taken root, are carnal. It is obvious that the Holy Spirit is absent from them.
The envious man is spiritually blind. The eye of his soul, the nous, is blinded and cannot discern good from bad. It cannot even perceive the grace of God. The nous is the eye of the soul, by which the soul beholds the glory of God, so if this eye is blind, we are unable to see God, which amounts to being dead. Saint Thalassios says succinctly, "The Lord blinds the envious nous, because it is resentful of its neighbor's blessings."
The person overcome by the passion of envy ends up without faith. Is it not the case that the Jews who were Christ's contemporaries were blinded by envy and denied Him, thus losing their faith? Envy always has this effect on man's soul and lead him to lose his faith. Saint Nikitas Stithatos says, "Lack of faith is evil, the worst offspring of wicked avarice and envy." If lack of faith is such a great evil, envy that produces it must surely be even worse..."
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
Glory Be To GOD For All Things!
With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God