Battling the Senses

St. Phanourius

St. Phanourius

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 PRAYER TO THE ALL-HOLY THEOTOKOS

+In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. All-Holy Virgin Mother of God, we humans cannot offer to you the hymns and the praises that is appropriate to you, for your proper praise is superior to any human melody. From you God Himself received flesh and was born as a human being. The totality of nature in heaven and on earth offers to you its boundless respect. For you have become an Angelic Throne of Cherubim. As a reflection of light, you shine brightly in the imperceptible world and in all the ends of heaven and earth and in the whole universe, where the Unoriginate Father is praised, Whose power always overshadowed you; where the Son is worshiped, the Son to whom you gave birth; where the Holy Spirit is glorified, the Spirit which enacted in your womb the birth of the Great King. Through you, who are full of grace, the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity is revealed in the world to become known by human beings. We pray to you and beseech you, Most Blessed Theotokos, to make us also worthy of your perfect grace that we too may partake of it with you in Christ Jesus, our Lord, in Whom the Glory and the Power abides unto the ages of ages. Amen.

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

On August 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 soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Great Holy Martyr Phanurius the Newly Revealed of Rhodes; St. Poemen the Great of Egypt; St. Savvas of Benephali; St. Hosius the Confessor; St. Anthusa; St. Liberius, Pope of Rome; St. Caesarius, Bishop of Arles; Saints Kuksha, Pimen, and Nikon of the Kiev Caves; Holy Martyrs Michael and Stephen, and those with them of Nizhni-Novgorod; St. Chrysostom, Metropolitan of Smyrna; St. Djan Darada, the Ethiopian eunuch of Queen Candace.

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

GREAT MARTYR PHANURIUS THE NEWLY REVEALED OF RHODES. Although he was proclaimed a Saint on the strength of only a recovered icon on the island of Rhodes depicting the trials of his life, St. Phanurius later appeared to many people on the island of Rhodes in the 16th century. Through his prayers during these apparitions, he healed many. He is venerated not only on this island but also on the island of Crete and in Egypt. The people there say that his mother was an unconverted sinner whom even St. Phanurius could not help. Nevertheless, he prayed for her more than he did for himself. Even at the time of his death by stoning, St. Phanurius prayed that because of his own suffering God grant help to all that prayed for the salvation of his mother.

TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: 2 Corinthians 10:7-18
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Mark 3:28-35

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

"If the poison of pride is swelling up in you, turn to the Eucharist; and that Bread, Which is your God humbling and disguising Himself, will teach you humility. If the fever of selfish greed rages in you, feed on this Bread; and you will learn generosity. If the cold wind of covering withers you, hasten to the Bread of Angels; and charity will come to blossom in your heart. If you feel the itch of intemperance, nourish yourself with the Flesh and Blood of Christ, Who practiced heroic self-control during His earthly life; and you will become temperate. If you are lazy and sluggish about spiritual things, strengthen yourself with this heavenly Food; and you will grow fervent. Lastly, if you feel scorched by the fever of impurity, go to the banquet of the Angels; and the spotless Flesh of Christ will make you pure and chaste" (Saint Cyril of Alexandria).

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BATTLING THE SENSES
By Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite (Source: Orthodox Heritage)

Why One Must Struggle to Control One's Senses

According to Saint Gregory the Theologian we must struggle to block our senses and to control them, for they are the easy ways toward evil and entrances of sin. I say to you then, put all your strength forward to protect your senses. I also say to you to be attentive, to struggle, and I insist on this, by using various synonymous words.

I wish to prove to you that the devil is always standing before us, observing and studying the condition of our senses. Just as soon as we open even one sense to him, he enters into our soul directly and brings death to us, as Saint Isaac has noted: "The enemy (devil) is standing and observing day and night directly against our eyes to detect which entrance of our senses will be opened to him to enter. Once he enters through one of our senses because of our lack of vigilance, then this devious shameless dog attacks us further with his own arrows."

We must also struggle to protect our senses because it is not only through curious eyes that we fall into the sin of desire and commit fornication and adultery of the heart, as the Lord noted. There is also the fornication and the adultery of the sense of hearing, the sense of smell, the sense of taste, the sense of touch, and of all the senses together. Therefore, Saint Gregory the Theologian has written in his heroic counsel to the virgin: "Virgin, be truly a virgin in the ears, in the eyes and in the tongue! Every sense that wanders with ease sins. Saint Gregory of Nyssa also said: "The Lord has spoken, I believe, about all the senses, so that the one who touches and the one who uses every inner power in us to serve pleasure has actually committed the sin in his heart."

Those Who Live in the World Must Protect Their Senses More than Those Ascetics in the Desert.

You who are in the world, dear friend, must guard yourself even more than those who are in the desert. Saint Basil the Great wrote to someone living in the world the following advice: "Do not relax your efforts because you are in the world. In fact you are in need of greater efforts and more vigilance to achieve salvation. After all you have chosen to live in the midst of all the pitfalls and in the very stronghold of the sinful powers. You have before you constantly the instigation of sins and day and night all of your senses are being attached by their evil desires."

If we are overcome by the desire for food and drink, we do not experience such as strong attack. Being in a desolate place where one does not see or hear anything out of place or experience the other causes of sin, we are thus surrounded by a protective wall that helps to win our battles without wars, as saint Isaac said: " When one does not receive a sense of perception, then he can have a victory without a struggle."

In other words, the monks who have removed themselves from the world are fighting behind trenches, but you are fighting an arm-to-arm combat against the enemies. The attacks are coming from all directions. And the causes of sin are all around you. While they stand afar off from the precipice, you are at its very edge. The great luminary of spiritual discretion, Saint Poemen said: "Those who live far away from the world are like those who are far from a precipice and, whenever they are misled by the devil, before they reach the edge, they call upon God Who comes to save them. Those who live in the world, however, are like those who are near the precipice and when the devil draws them toward it, they have no time to call upon God and be saved but fall directly into the abyss."

Therefore, because you are so close to this abyss, you are in immediate danger just as soon as you neglect or open one of your senses. God forbid! This is the reason why you want to use all your energy to protect your senses from coming into contact with sin. As it is impossible for a house not to be darkened by smoke entering from the outside, it is similarly impossible for a man not to let them in without restraint, allowing all manner of passionate images to enter the soul. The wise Saint Syngletike said: "Even when we do not want it, the thieves will enter through the senses. For how is it possible for a house not to be darkened by the smoke entering from outside through the doors and windows that have been left opened?"

It is a Great Victory to Overcome Ourselves

Do not think for a moment that this victory is small and insignificant. In fact it is a greater victory to overcome one of your passions and a pleasure of your senses than to overcome one hundred of your enemies. It is a more glorious trophy of victory to shed willingly a few drops of perspiration and one drop of blood, for the love of God, in order to overcome one of you evil wills and to spite the devil, than to shed rivers of blood to subdue entire armies. Again it is a greater hegemonious mind than to subdue large kingdoms.

Once, when king Alexander was praised for having conquered the whole ecumene, he responded with the prudent remark: "All of my victories will prove to be vain, if I do not succeed to conquer myself." Many who have subdued their enemies, cities, and countries have later been subdued miserably by their own improper passions and have shamefully become slaves of their own passions. A certain Holy Father was very correct when he said that "the first victory is the victory of self." Saint Isidore Pelousiotes also said: "The true victory is not he who subdues the foreign barbarians, but he who wages spiritual warfare against the evil passions. Many who have conquered barbarians have in turn been shamefully subdued by their own passions."

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MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU

The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the lover 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