Love For All Creation

Venerable Moses the Black of Scete

Venerable Moses the Black of Scete

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.

PSALM 62 (63)

O God, my God, early at dawn I rise to You. My soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for you in a barren, untrodden and unwatered land. So I have appeared before You in the sanctuary to see Your power and Your Glory. For Your mercy is better than life; my lips shall praise You. Thus I shall bless You while I live, and I will lift up my hands in Your Name. Let my soul be filled with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You at dawn. For You have become my helper; I shall rejoice in the shelter of Your wings. My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand has been quick to help me. But those who seek my life, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth. They shall fall by the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals. But the king shall rejoice in God; everyone who swears by him shall be praised; but the mouths of those who speak lies shall be stopped.

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

On August 28th 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 faith: Father and Saint Moses the Ethiopian; Holy Martyr Akakios the Younger of Miletus; Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Holy Martyrs Diomedes and Laurence, and the Holy Forty Martyrs; the Righteous Hezekias, king of Judah; Saint Anna the Prophetess, daughter of Phanuel; Holy Thirty-three Martyrs of Heraclea were perfected in martyrdom by fire; Holy Martyr Julian of Brioude in Auvergne; Saint Amphilochios, Bishop of Vladimir in Volhynia; our Righteous Father Savvas of Kryptsy; On this day we celebrate the Synaxis of the Righteous Holy Fathers of the Kiev Caves; Holy New Hieromartyr Sergius, Archimandrite of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Kazan, and twelve brethren with him, who were slain by the atheists in the year 1918; Holy New Hieromartyr Theodore, Priest in Kazan, who was slain by the atheists in the year 1918.

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

Our Righteous Father Moses the Ethiopian. Saint Moses, who is also called Moses the Black, was a slave, but because of his evil life, his master cast him out, and he became a ruthless thief, dissolute in all his ways. Later, however, coming to repentance, he converted, and took up the monastic life under Saint Isidore of Scete. He gave himself over to prayer and the mortification of the carnal mind with such diligence that he later became a priest of exemplary virtue. He was revered by all for his lofty ascetical life and for his great humility. Once the Holy Fathers in Scete asked Moses to come to an assembly to judge the fault of a certain brother, but he refused. When they insisted, he took a basket which had a hole in it, filled it with sand, and carried it on his shoulders. When the Holy Fathers saw him coming they asked him what the basket might mean. He answered, "My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and I am come this day to judge failings which are not mine. When a barbarian tribe was coming to Scete, Saint Moses, conscious that he himself had slain other men when he was a thief, awaited them and was willingly slain by them with six other monks, at the end of the 4th century. He was a contemporary of Saint Arsenius the Great (see Mary 8th).

THE SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS OF THE DAY ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: 2 Corinthians 11:5-21
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Mark 4:1-9

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

"It is essential to summon the priests to confirm with prayers and blessings the couple in their life together, so that the groom's love might intensify, the bride's chastity of mind be strengthened, everything may work to ensure that the virtues settle into their home, the machinations of the devil be scattered, and that the couple, united through God's help, might spend their life in joy." (Saint John Chrysostom- 4th cent.)

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LOVE OF ALL CREATION
(Source: Orthodox Spiritual Life according to Saint Silouan the Athonite.Author, Mr. Harry Boosalis)

The love of Saint Silouan extends not only unto all mankind, but includes all of creation. He does not limit his love to intelligible beings, such as man and the Angels; his love embraces every living creature, that is to say, the whole of God's creation. [Elder Sophrony writes, "Charity...seeketh not her own (1 Cor. 13:5) but is entirely concerned with others, embracing the whole world--the Divine and the created--in humility. Thus all that is forms the content of this love." We shall See Him as He Is, p. 128)]. Saint Silouan refers to specific examples. For instance, flies, bats, snakes, trees, flowers--even leaves--are all included, as creatures of God, in his compassionate love for all creation.

The genuine sincerity and heart-felt compassion of Saint Silouan's love are evident in his words, "Once I needlessly killed a fly. The poor thing crawled on the ground, hurt and mangled, and for three whole days I wept over my cruelty to a living creature, and to this day the incident remains in my memory." He writes with deep conviction and in such a way that he seems to identify with the pain and suffering that any creature of God endures. His extreme love for all creation could be characterized in two words: tears and pity. Saint Silouan writes, "One day, going from the Monastery...I saw a dead snake on my path which had been chopped into pieces, and each piece writhed convulsively, and I was filled with pity for ever living creature, every suffering thin in creation, and I wept bitterly before God."

His love expends not only to animate creatures, such as those mentioned above, but it embraces even foliage and flora, "The Spirit of God teaches the soul to love every living thing so that she would not have no harm come to even a green leaf on a tree, or trample underfoot a flower of the field."

Certainly to many modern ears such a way of thinking seems rather extreme. [Elder Sophrony writes in regard to Saint Silouan's teaching on love for all creation, "...there was compassion...for all living creatures carried to extremes that might suggest a pathological sensibility, while at the same time another side of his life showed that it was not pathological but genuine supra-natural greatness and grace-given kindness."] Even those who appear to uphold somewhat similar views, such as the supporters of the world-wide ecological movement, as well as radical elements of animal-rights activism may be astonished at these words of Saint Silouan. Many may not expect such a teaching to come from the Christian tradition. The recent popularity of these movements is more likely due to the rampant secular humanism and neo-pagan religious revival of today, which could characterize much of contemporary western 'spirituality', rather than the theology or practices of western Christianity. Indeed the exploitation of the environment by the industrialized western society of the past century and the ever-widening gap between man and nature may not be entirely unrelated to certain ideological aspects of both Scholasticism and the Protestant Reformation. [Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) writes: "...Puritanism and mainstream Calvinism exploited to the utmost degree the Genesis verse urging man to 'multiply and to dominate the earth', thus giving rise to capitalism and eventually to technology and to our present day civilization." "Preserving God's Creation: Lectures on Theology and Ecology" in King's Theological Review, 12. 1, Spring 1989, p. 4)

Going further into Saint Silouan's teaching, many are also surprised to learn how at the same time he counter-balances his great love and compassion for animals with a much more sober and realistic approach. His perspective is truly Christ-centered. His focus is entirely on the Divine Person of the Son of God united hypostatically to human nature. Thus, to the chagrin of many Orthodox Christians, Saint Silouan considers excessive affection and attachment to animals, which lead to the neglect of human suffering and a lack of love for God, as something unnatural and a debasement of the divine dignity accorded to man in Christ. For instance, Saint Silouan writes, "Feed the animals and cattle, and do not beat them--in this consists man's duty of kindness towards them; but to become attached, to love, caress and talk to them--that is folly for the soul".

In closing this discussion on Saint Silouan's teaching on love for all creation, let it be emphasized that he is expressing Holy Tradition, although in his own personal way. His teaching on love for all creation becomes even more significant in light of the growing number of environmentally minded who are searching for a solution to the present world-wide ecological crisis. Many seek a new and inspired vision of man and the natural environment. It is interesting to note that in a recent publication of the Ecumenical Patriarchate entitled Orthodoxy and the Ecological Crisis, Saint Silouan is quoted directly. His unique perspective on love embracing the whole of created nature makes his teaching particularly significant, not only for the life of the Orthodox Church today, but also for modern man.

To conclude Saint Silouan's teaching on love, it could be said that love opens the way to communion with God and indeed with all mankind. Christ's Commandments of love reveal the ontological unity of all mankind. The believer participates in the philanthropic love of Christ and comes to appreciate the unique worth that He places on each and every human 'hypostasis' or person. Through love the believer becomes Christ-like. Love is thus man's way toward deification (theosis) in Christ.

Such a high and lofty degree of love is rarely found today. Many people talk about love and look for love, yet few see the significance of the Christological perspective of this Divine mystery. Although many different philosophies and religions, as well as countless poets and playwrights throughout history, all offer their own perspective on the mysterious nature of love, none share the truth provided by the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church: "Many people have said much about love, but only in seeking it among Christ's disciples will you find it, for only they have the true love, the teacher of love...Therefore, the one who possesses love possesses God Himself, since 'God is love.'" (St. Maximos the Confessor, Chapters on Love 4. 100).

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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