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 CONTRITE PRAYER TO OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST
+In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
At all times and at every hour, in heaven and on earth, O Christ our God, You are worshipped and glorified; You are long-suffering, most merciful. Most compassionate, You love the righteous and have mercy upon the sinners; You call everyone to salvation through the promise of future blessings; receive, O Lord, our prayers at this hour and direct our life toward Your Commandments. Sanctify our souls; make our bodies chaste; correct our thoughts; purify our intentions; and deliver us from every grief and pain that comes from evil. Encompass us by Your holy Angels, so that guarded and guided by them we may attain to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of Your inapproachable glory, for You are Blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On February 16th, our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the supplications 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: Holy Martyrs Pamphilos, Valens, Paul, Selefcos, Porphyrios, Julian, and Theophilos, together with Elias, Jeremias, Essaias, Samuel, and Daniel of Egypt, all of whom were martyred in Caesarea of Palestine; Holy Martyrs of Martyropolis in Persia, and our Righteous Father Maruthas, Bishop of Martyropolis, who raised up the city named for the Martyrs; our Righteous Father Flavian; our Father among the Saints Flavian the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople; Holy New Righteous Martyr Romanos, from Sovolak of Carpenision, who was beheaded in Constantinople in the year 1694.
By the intercessions of Your Holy Martyrs, Holy Confessors, Holy Bishops, Neo Martyrs, Holy Ascetics, Holy Mothers, Holy Prophets, Holy Fathers, O Christ Our God have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY MARTYR PAMPHILOS AND THOSE WITH HIM. The Holy Martyr contested during the reign of the pagan Emperor Maximian, in the year 290 AD, in Caesarea of Palestine and was put to death by command of Firmilian, the Governor of Palestine. His fellow contestants' names are Valens, Paul, Selefcos, Porphyrios, Julian, Theodoulos, and five others from Egypt: Elias, Jeremias, Esaias, Samuel, and Daniel. Their martyrdom is recorded in Book VIII, ch.II of Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, called The Martyrs of Palestine.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) hymn. Fourth Tone
Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption, O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Kontakion. Fourth Tone
When fearful instruments of torture were brought forth, the noble athletes of the Lord went with gladness and an undaunted spirit to endure them all; for they set the flesh at naught forever. And without ceasing, they all intercede for us, who laud the great conflicts they underwent.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 1 Peter 3:10-22
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Mark 7:5-15
EXCUSES COME FROM EGOISM
By Saint Paisios of Mount Athos (Source: Spiritual Struggle)
---Geronda (Elder), when I don't excuse others for some action of their, does this mean that I am hard-hearted?
You don't excuse others but you excuse yourself? Next time Christ Himself will not excuse you. It is quite possible in a moment for a man's heart to become hard as a rock, when he acts out of malevolence, and on another occasion to become very tender, when acting out of love. You should seek to acquire a maternal heart. You see, a mother forgives everything, and sometimes pretends not to even see certain things.
He who does his spiritual work correctly finds excuses for everyone else in order to justify their shortcomings, but never justifies himself, even when he is in the right. He always says he is to blame for not making the most of the opportunities afforded to him. For example, he sees someone stealing and thinks to himself, "If I had not been helped by God, I would now be stealing more than he is. God helped me and, instead, I arrogated to myself all His gifts. I am the greater thief. The difference is that his thievery is seen but mine is unseen." Thus, he condemns himself and judges his fellow human beings with leniency. Or, if he sees a certain shortcoming in another person, be it serious or trivial, he will excuse him with good and positive thoughts. He thinks of his own many shortcomings that are obvious to everyone. For if one looks carefully and honestly, one can readily find many things wrong with oneself, in which one can easily justify the other. How many things we have all regrettably done? "Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions...O Lord" (Psalm 25:7).
--Geronda (Elder), when help is asked of me and I render it willingly, but cause some damage in the process because of my hurry, I justify myself when reprimanded.
--You did something good, but in the process you also did some small damage. Accept the reprimand for the small damage, in order to receive the fullness of the reward in Heaven. The devil is very cunning. He really knows his stuff: after all, he has thousands of years' experience! So he tempts you to justify yourself in order to deprive you of any spiritual benefit for the good you have done. When you see someone who is worn out and sweating while carrying on his shoulders a heavy load and you go to assist him, well, this is a natural inclination on your part. You saw the weight he was carrying and you were moved out of philotimo to help him. But to be able to carry a remark thrown at you unjustly by someone else, this "carries" a great deal of spiritual weight. But if we immediately seek to justify ourselves when others make critical remarks against us, this shows that we are still actively carrying within us the worldly mindset.
--Geronda (Elder), why do we resort to excuses?
Because of egoism (pride). Excusing is a fall; it drives God's Grace away. Not only must one not excuse himself, but he must embrace the injustice done to him. It is justification that exiled us from paradise. Is this not what happened to Adam? God asked him, "Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" He did not answer, "Yes, Lord, I disobeyed Your Commandment and sinned; forgive me." Rather, he tried to justify his disobedience. "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." This response is as if Adam had said, "You are to blame for my transgression because You created Eve!" In this case, of course, Adam was not obligated to obey Eve. God also asked Eve the same question and she answered, "The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat" (Cf. Genesis 3:11-13). If Adam had said, "O my God, I have sinned; forgive me," and if Eve had said, "I have sinned, Lord," everything would have been made right. Instead, they resorted to excuses.
--Geronda (Elder), what is at fault when someone does not understand how very wrong such excuses are?
What is at fault? Rather, one should ask who is at fault! When someone is constantly justifying himself, considering that others don't understand him, others are unjust, and he is only the suffering victim, from then on such a person is beyond control. And do you know the strange thing that sometimes happens in this case? While the person himself has been at fault and unjust, he will say, "Ordinarily I would have accepted the injustice, but I don't want the other person to be condemned." In other words, he tries to justify himself out of a pretence of love...supposedly to bring to his senses the other person who he imagines has wronged him, and thus to save him from sin! Or he may begin rambling a bunch of explanations supposedly to prevent misunderstandings that may lead the other person into sin! You see how skillful the devil is? You see how refined his work is?
(To be continued)
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.
Glory Be To GOD For All Things!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God