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.
THE SEVENTH PRAYER OF ORTHROS (MATINS)
+In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
(Please note: When an Orthodox Christian prays, he begins always by invoking the Name of the Holy Trinity, Our God. Over the many years of my diakonia, I have heard some of our faithful, and I even heard once, one of my fellow priests, begin to pray thusly: 'Lord if you are there, and if you are listening..."' I personally consider this approach to prayer offensive, faithless, disrespectful, and blasphemous. Not even the Gentiles and pagans pray to their gods in this shameful way. It is not a prayer!)
O God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, You have raised us from our beds of sleep, and have gathered us for the hour of prayer. Grant that as we open our mouth in prayer, our offering of thanksgiving prayers may be acceptable to You. Teach us Your judgments, for we do not know how to pray unless You, Lord, will guide us by Your Holy Spirit. For this reason we beseech You to have, voluntarily or involuntarily, committed in word, deed, in thought. For if You were to regard our sins, O Lord, who would be able to stand before You, Lord? Redemption comes from You; for You are the Only One Who is Holy; the only powerful Helper and Defender of our life, and our praise is always given to You. May the power of our Kingdom be ever Blessed and Glorified, of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On February 17th, 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 and Great Martyr Theodore the Tyro; Saint Mariamne, sister of Saint Philip the Holy Apostle; our Righteous Father Auxibius, Bishop of Solon in Cyprus; Saint Theosteriktos, and the finding of the holy relics of Saint Menas the Most Eloquent; the Sovereign Marcian and Pulcheria of pious memory; Holy New Martyr Theodore the Byzantine was perfected in martyrdom by hanging on the Greek island of Mytilene in the year 1795; our Righteous Father Theodote the Silent of the Kiev Caves; our Righteous Father Theodosius and Romanus of Bulgaria; our Righteous Father Hermogenes, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia; Saint Barnabas of the Gethsemane; Holy New Martyr Hieromartyr Theodore, Priest of Udobnaya, who was slain by the atheists (communists) in the year 1918; our Righteous and God-bearing Father Nicholas Planas, Presbyter of Athens, who reposed in peace in the year 1932.
+By the Holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Apostles, Holy Mothers, Holy Righteous, Holy Hieromartyrs, Holy Patriarchs, Holy Sovereigns, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY-GREAT MARTYR THEODORE THE TYRO. Saint Theodore, who was from Amasia of Pontus, contested during the reign of the pagan Roman emperor Maximian (286-305 AD). He was called Tyro, from the Latin Tiro, because he was a newly enlisted recruit. When it was reported that he was a Christian, he boldly confessed Christ; the ruler, hoping that he would repent, gave him time to consider the matter more completely and then give an answer. Saint Theodore gave the answer by setting fire to the temple of Cybele, the "mother of the pagan gods," and for this he suffered a martyr's death by fire. (See also the First Saturday of the Holy and Great Fast).
TODAY'S HOLY SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 2 Timothy 2:1-10
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 20:46-47; 21:1-4
SIN TORTURES MAN
By Saint Paisios of Mount Athos (Source: Spiritual Struggle)
--Geronda (Elder), does Christ fit into everyone's heart?
--He does, but it's people who can't contain Him, because they make no effort to correct themselves. The heart must be pure for Christ to fit in it. "Create in me a clean heart, O God..." (Psalm 50:12).
--Geronda (Elder), why is it that wild animals do not harm the Saints?
--When human beings are tamed, the wild animals are also tamed and acknowledge that man is their master. In Paradise, before the Fall of man, the "wild" animals approached Adam and Eve with reverence, but after the Fall they started attacking humans. When a human being regains his status as it was before the Fall, the animals recognize him once again as their master. Today, however, one can see human beings who are worse than wild animals, worse than poisonous snakes. People exploit unprotected children, deprive them of their money, and when in trouble, they wrongly accuse an innocent child, call the police, and even commit him to a psychiatric clinic. This is why I read Psalm 147, read by Saint Arsenios the Cappadocian to tame wild animals and prevent them from harming humans. I read this Psalm for humans to become tamed, and not harm their fellow human beings and the animals.
--Geronda (Elder), how can man regain the status he had prior to his Fall?
--The heart has to be purified. Man must acquire spiritual chastity; that is, sincerity, honesty, selflessness, humility, goodness, forbearance, sacrifice. This is how man becomes akin to God and how divine Grace comes to dwell in him. When someone has physical chastity but lacks spiritual chastity, God cannot dwell in him because he harbors cunning, pride, evil and so forth. Then this person's life is a sham; this is where you must begin your struggle: acquiring spiritual chastity, spiritual purity.
--Geronda (Elder), can a bad habit be broken immediately?
--First of all, man must realize that such a habit is harmful to him, and then he must be willing to struggle to break the habit. One must have a lot of willpower to struggle to break a bad habit all at once. Just as the rope rubs against the edge of the well and over the years forms a small groove that holds the rope in place, every habit forms a groove in the heart, making it then difficult to get rid of. This is why we must be very careful not to develop bad habits, because it takes a lot of humility and great willpower to overcome them. Father Tychon on the Holy Mountain used to say, "My child, a good habit equals virtue; a bad habit equals passions."
In any case, I have found that when a man, while struggling, continues to make the same mistakes and does not change, the reason is usually egoism, self-love and self-interest. Humility and love are missing, thus blocking Divine intervention. The person himself does not allow God to help him. If, for example, God helps him overcome a particular passion, such a person will selfishly take credit for it and assume that it was his own achievement, without any help from God.
(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