Orthodox Spiritual Life (Part XV)

St. Joanna the Myrrhbearer

St. Joanna the Myrrhbearer

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 ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ.

PRAYERS OF THE FIRST AND THE THIRD HOUR
THE THIRD HOUR (11:00 a.m.)

+ In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Glory to You, Our God, glory to You. Come, let us bow down and worship God our King. Come, let us bow down and worship Christ our God and King. Come, let us bow down and worship Christ Himself, our King and our God.

On the Third Hour, O Lord, You sent Your All-Holy Spirit upon Your Apostles. Do not take away from us, O Gracious Lord, but pour this same Holy Spirit upon us, who beseech You now. Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me.

On the Third Hour, O Lord, You sent Your All-Holy Spirit upon Your Apostles. Do not take away from us, O Gracious Lord, but pour this same Holy Spirit upon us, who beseech You now. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

On the Third Hour, O Lord, You sent Your All-Holy Spirit upon Your Apostles. Do not take away from us, O Gracious Lord, but pour this same Holy Spirit upon us, who beseech You now.

Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

O Blessed Theotokos, You are the True vine that blossomed the fruit of Life. We beseech You, intercede for us, O Lady, together with the Apostles and all the Saints, that our souls may find mercy in the Lord.

Blessed is the Lord God, Blessed is the Lord God day by day. May the God of our salvation, the God Who saves, guide us aright and make us prosper...

Lord God, Almighty Father, Lord God, Only-Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and Lord God, the Holy Spirit, One God, One Power and One Essence, have mercy on me a sinner. And through the judgments which You know best, save me Your unworthy servant, for You are Blessed unto age of ages. Amen.

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

On June 27th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of Your 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 Joanna the Myrrh-bearer; Saint Sampson the Hospitable of Constantinople; Saint Kirion II, Catholicos-Patriarchs of All Georgia; Saint Anectus of Caesarea; Saint Severos, Presbyter of Interocrea in Italy; Saint Martin of Turov; Saint Pierios, Presbyter of Antioch; New Holy Martyr Priest Gregory Nikolsky of Kuban (1918) Saint Serapion of Kozha Lake; Holy Martyrs Marcia and Mark.

+ By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Myrrh-bearers, Holy Patriarchs, Holy Presbyters, Holy Ascetics, Holy Mothers, Holy Teachers, Holy Fathers, Holy Evangelists, Holy Confessors, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

VENERABLE SERAPION OF KOZHA LAKE. In the 16th century, Murza, as he was called, was a captive of the Kazan Tatar and was sent to Moscow. He lived in the home of a Moscow nobleman and accepted baptism there with the name Sergius. He practiced his faith with zeal and decided to the monk-hermit Niphon. Sergius had a great desire to become a monk, so Niphon tonsured him with the name Serapion. After Niphon's death, Saint Serapion went to visit the Russian tsar, asking for a land deed to build a monastery. He returned to Kozha Lake and in the forest there he built two churches, one in honor of the Holy Theophany and the other in honor of Saint Nicholas. Towards the end of his life, Saint Serapion made one of his disciples the Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Monastery. He died peacefully and was buried in a church at the Monastery he had built.

SAINT JOANNA THE MYRRH-BEARER. Saint Joanna was the wife of Chuza, King Herod's steward (St. Luke 8:3). When King Herod had Saint John the Baptist beheaded, he cast his head out into an unclean place. Saint Joanna took the head and buried it with honor on the Mount of Olives, on Herod's land. Later, in the reign of Constantine the Great, the head was found. Saint Joanna is also remembered because she was present at both the Passion and Resurrection of Christ. She died peacefully.

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TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: Romans 6:11-17
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 8:14-23

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

"Where there is sympathy, love and humility, how can anger, resentment or any other passion prevail?" (Saint Dorotheos of Gaza).

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ORTHODOX SPIRITUAL LIFE: THE FRUITS OF SUFFERING
By Saint Silouan the Athonite

Suffering and the spiritual struggles that come with it must be viewed in a positive light since they offer such a wide variety of virtues and rewards. Biblical and Patristic references to the benefits of suffering are numerous. Let it suffice to cite just a few isolated examples. The Apostle Paul teaches: "...we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint…" (Romans 5:3-5).

Saint John Chrysostom, in his homily devoted to this same verse, distinguishes between the future rewards of suffering from those benefits enjoyed in the present. Among those benefits oriented more to the present, he mentions 'the increase of faith', which in itself leads to many other benefits. Saint Mark the Ascetic writes that pain and suffering lead to the fear of God and to repentance, and that voluntary suffering is "by nature the enemy of sensual pleasure." ["...every man who loves God suffers gladly, and voluntary suffering is by nature the enemy of sensual pleasure" (St. Mark the Ascetic).] Such views are shared by Saint Maximos the Confessor who sees sufferings "blunting" sensual pleasure, while Saint Isaac the Syrian refers to it as "killing the sweetness of passions", as well as "purifying the heart". Saint Symeon the New Theologian writes that such trials benefit the believer because they lead to a greater recognition of the compassion and mercy of God, and that they also turn one's love toward Him. Another interesting observation is made by Saint Thalassios. He notes that one practical benefit of such trials is that they reveal who your true friends are.

Saint Silouan adds another benefit. When referring to his early years as a novice on Mount Athos, he recalls his own personal experience of intense suffering that led ultimately to participation in grace. He recounts how he once suffered from such an oppressive attack of despair and despondency which was so frightening that it terrified him to even think about it. He made his way to church for Vespers and while looking at the holy icon of the Lord he fervently prayed the Jesus Prayer. Then, as he himself explains, he saw the living Lord in the place of the icon. Both his soul and body were filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit. He was also filled with a new desire to suffer for the sake of Christ. Through such examples we see how pain and suffering can lead to spiritual progress, deeper prayer and a greater understanding of God's love. They can also lead to "unbearable joy" and "extreme bliss." [Elder Sophrony writes: "... extreme suffering is allied to extreme bliss, the one accompanying the other in the strange manner."

There are also those blessings of suffering that await the believer in the life to come. Among these eternal and everlasting blessings are joy and glory. It is interesting that Elder Sophrony considers these future rewards of suffering an "inalienable possession" referring also to the fact that the fruit of such labors "stay engraved in us for eternity". Thus, suffering provides the believer with the opportunity for spiritual progress and the acquisition of a wide variety of benefits and virtues.

(Next: Universal Love: Love for God)

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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