On Serving God and Neighbor (Part II)

Conception of the Honorable and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John

Conception of the Honorable and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,


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

O Prophet and Forerunner and Baptist of Jesus Christ, You who baptized in the Jordan River the One Who bore the sins of the world, you who saw the Holy Spirit and heard the voice of God the Father bearing witness, beseech the All-Holy Trinity and intercede for us who praise you.

May you, the herald of the grace of Christ pre-announcing repentance to all the nations, guide my unrepentant and hardened soul on the way to repentance.

May you, divine Forerunner, as a blossom of the most sacred root, cut off in me the roots of evil with the sacred axe of repentance, so that the passions may not choke my mind and my heart. On the contrary, O Baptist, plant in my soul faith, hope and love.

You, O Baptist, by becoming the mediator between the Old and the New Covenant, mediate on my behalf who have grown old in sin, and renew all of me by interceding for me to the One Who makes all things new.

You, who traversed through the narrow gate of ascetic self-control, inspire me to follow this salutary way, for I am being drowned by earthly desires and passions.

You, who are the lamp illuminating the way of those walking in the darkness of life, light up the lamp of my soul which has become extinguished because of neglect.

You, who are the sweet-singing swallow, pre-announcing the arrival of Spring, Christ our God, beseech Him to deliver us from the winter that destroys the soul.

You, who are the friend of the Bridegroom, make me worthy to acquire this Friend and to love him with steadfast and unwavering resolve.

You, who extended your right hand and baptized in the waters the One Who was immaculate, extend now your hand upon me and cleanse me through your intercessions.

You, who live as an Angelic being, while bearing flesh upon this earth, liberate my soul from the carnal way of thinking and acting.

You, who found yourself a prisoner for the sake of truth, dissolve the bonds of my difficulties and empower me to observe the venerable Commandments of Jesus Christ.

You, who are the voice of the Logos (Word), direct the voices of all those who honor you and pray to you so that forgiveness of sins may be granted to us through your intercessions. Amen.

(A Prayer Book: An Anthology of Orthodox Prayers by Ff. Peter A. Chamberas)




On this day are celebrated God's mercy, His wondrous act and His wisdom: His mercy towards the devout and righteous parents of Saint John, the aged Zacharias and Elisabeth, who had all their lives begged a child of God; the wonder of the conception of St. John in Elisabeth's more-than-aged womb; and the wisdom of the dispensation of man's salvation. For St. John, God had an especially great plan: that he should be a Prophet and the Forerunner of Christ the Lord, the Savior of the world. Through His Angels, God revealed the birth of Isaac to the childless Sarah, and of Samson to the childless Manoah and his wife, and of St. John the Baptist to the childless Zacharias and Elisabeth. Through His Angels, God revealed the birth of those for whom He had a special plan. How could children be born of aged parents? If someone is curious to find out, let him not ask men, for men do not know, nor does natural law (it being beyond natural law), but let him turn his gaze to the power of Almighty God, Who made the whole world from nothing and who, for the creation of Adam, the first man, used no parents, either young or old. Instead of being curious, let us thank God that He often reveals to us His power and mercy and wisdom beyond the natural law, by which we would otherwise be fettered and, without these special wonders of God, would fall into despair and forgetfulness of Him.

+Through the holy supplications of the Precious glorious Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.


Holy Epistle Lesson: Galatians 4:22-27
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 1:5-25


by Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica (Source: Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives)
When we talk to our fellow men and they tell us about their troubles, we will listen to them carefully if we have love for them. We will have compassion for their suffering and pain, for we are God's creatures; we are a manifestation of the love of God. However, we often consider this a great burden, for we are oppressed by our own cares, worries, and weaknesses. We need to rest from all these cares, but only God can give us rest. He is the Bearer of all our infirmities and weaknesses. That is why we must always turn to Him in prayer. That is our only source of comfort. Then we will be relieved of our burdens and the burdens of our neighbors' troubles as well, for we will have taken all of them to the Lord.

As we take more concern for our neighbors' cares and problems, they soon become our own. And our thoughts immediately become occupied with them.

If we listen to our neighbor with only half our attention, of course we will not be able to answer them or comfort them...We are distracted. They talk, but we do not participate in the conversation; we are immersed in our own thoughts. But if we give them our full attention, then we take up both our own burden and theirs.

If we have a burden beyond our bearing, we must turn to the Lord immediately, like this: "O Lord, I cannot even bear my own infirmities, yet now I must bear the burden of so-and-so. I cannot cope with all this responsibility. I cannot do this myself, and, because I feel that I have no desire to cope either, all this weighs even more heavily on my conscience. I wish to help my fellow man, but I don't have the means. My neighbors think that I don't want to help, and that is an additional burden to me."

When we pray to the Lord from our heart and bring all our cares and troubles to Him--as well as the cares and troubles of our fellow men--He takes this burden from us, and we feel lighter immediately. Whereas before we were entangled in the net of our own thoughts, now we are relaxed and at peace, for we have given everything over to the Lord. If we do not learn to do this, then we will become more and more burdened each day, and there will come a time when we will not even be able to talk to our fellow men. Why? Because we are overstressed. And we think to ourselves, "Go away! I can barely cope with my own hardships--I cannot cope with yours as well." That is why we must learn to be at peace in our thoughts. For, as soon as our thoughts begin to oppress us, we must turn to God and take to Him our cares and the cares of our neighbor. I always take my problems and the problems of those who come to me for advice to the Lord and His Most Holy Mother for them to resolve. And that is what they do. As for me, I cannot help even myself. How, then, can I help anyone else?

When our neighbor comes to us with his troubles, we take part in them, but if we do not know how to relax--to give all our infirmities and those of our neighbor to the Lord--then we bear this cumbersome burden in our own minds and hearts and, over time, we become unbearably stressed and nervous. We become irritable; we cannot stand our own selves, let alone other people around us--our family members and, of course, our co-workers. Our life becomes miserable and stressed, and our nerves become strained. This is because we have not taught ourselves to let go of our thoughts. When our thoughts are at peace, our body rests too.

Our plans and interests often interfere with our lives. We make all these plans, believing that we will never succeed in anything unless we arrange everything meticulously. We truly must try to do everything as our conscience tells us, but we must not do anything in haste. It is when we are in a hurry that the enemy (Satan) traps us. In haste we cannot be aware of whether we have said something to offend our fellow man or whether we have ignored him, because we have no time to think of him; we are too busy with the plans inside our head. In this manner it is easy to sin against our neighbor. And when we sin against our neighbor, we are actually sinning against God, for God is everywhere. He dwells in the souls of each and every one of us. Our relationship toward our fellow men defines our relationship toward God.

It seems that we do not understand one thing: It is not good when we return the love of those who love us, yet hate those who hate us. We are not on the right path if we do this. We are the sons of Light and Love, the sons of God, His children. As such we must have His qualities and His attributes of love, peace and kindness toward all.

(To be continued)



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.


Glory Be To GOD For All Things!


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George