Lenten Spiritual Pearls from the Holy Fathers (Part II)

40 Holy Martyrs of Sebaste

40 Holy Martyrs of Sebaste

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.

LENTEN SPIRITUAL PEARLS FROM THE HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH (Part II)

Pseudo-Macarius

"Grace affects us in various ways and leads the soul in so many different paths, refreshing it in accord with the will of God. Grace exercises the soul differently in order to restore it to the Heavenly Father perfect and faultless and pure."

"The person who wishes to come to the Lord and to be deemed worthy of eternal life and to become the dwelling place of Christ and to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that he may be able to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit and perform the commandments of Christ purely and blamelessly ought to begin first by believing firmly in the Lord and giving himself completely to the words of His commands and renouncing the world in all things, so that his whole mind not be taken up with anything ephemeral. And he ought to persevere constantly in prayer, always waiting in faith that expects His coming and His help, keeping the goal of his mind ever fixed upon this. Then he ought to push himself to every good work and to doing all the commandments of the Lord, because there is sin dwelling within him."

Saint Athanasius writes: "God works in various manners for our salvation by means of His Logos/Word, Who is not restricted or hindered as He deals with us. Since His grace is rich and manifold [1 Peter 4:10], He varies Himself according to the individual capacity of each soul.

He suffered to prepare freedom from suffering for those who suffer in Him; He descended that He might raise us up; He took on Himself the trial of being born, that we might love Him Who is unbegotten; He went down to corruption, that corruption might put on immortality; He became weak for us, so that we might rise with power; He descended to death, that He might bestow on us immortality and give life to the dead."

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem writes: "Treat this body with care and understand that with this body you will rise from the dead to be judged. But, if any doubt should steal into your mind, as though the thing [i.e., resurrection] were impossible, judge the things unseen from your own experience. Just think where you yourself were a hundred or more years ago. From what an extremely small and insignificant substance you have come to such magnitude of stature and to such dignity of form! Cannot He, Who brought what was not into being, raise up again what has already existed but has decayed? Will He, Who raises up the corn for us when it dies year by year, have difficulty in raising us up, for whose sake the corn was raised?"

"It is not only among us who are marked with the name of Christ (Christians) that the dignity of faith is great; all the business of the world, even of those outside the Church, is accomplished by faith. By faith, marriage laws join in union persons who are strangers to each other; the spouses, though previously strangers, give each other their bodies and material possessions, because of faith in the marriage contract. By faith agriculture is sustained; for one does not endure the toil involved unless he believes that he will reap a harvest. By faith, seafarers, entrusting themselves to a tiny wooden craft, exchange solid land for the unstable motion of the waves, surrendering themselves to uncertain hopes and carrying about with them a faith more sure than any anchor. Indeed, most human affairs depend on faith."

Saint Basil the Great writes: "That evil exists, no one living in the world will deny. What shall we say then? Evil is not a living animated essence; it is the condition of the soul opposed to virtue...So, do not go beyond yourself to seek for evil, nor imagine that there is an original nature of wickedness. Let us all acknowledge that each of us is the first author of our own vice...Do not look for the guiding cause beyond yourself, but recognize that evil, rightly so called, has no other origin than our voluntary falls."

Saint John Chrysostom writes: "Sins have become an art! We pursue them not by chance, but with studied earnestness, and finally the devil assumes control of his own troops. When drunkenness arrives, chastity departs. Where there is filthy talk, the devil is always eager to make his own contribution...You mock me when I rebuke you, and say I am too austere. This is only another proof of your perverted manner of life. Don't you remember Saint Paul's words: "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31) [Sermon 12, on Colossians 4:18]

Saint Anthony advised, "When we rise up in the morning each day let us think that we shall not abide until the evening and when we come to lie down also let us think that we shall not abide until the morning; for we do not know the days of our life, but they are known to God. If we do this each day we shall not sin, and we shall do nothing wicked before God, and we shall not lust eagerly for anything belonging to this world, and we shall not be angry with anyone, but in everything we shall be regarding our souls, even as those who await death."

"The brothers asked, 'What should be the beginning of the fight against sin?' The old monk answered, 'In all the contests against sin and its lusts the labor of fasting is the first thing to undertake, and it is so especially in the case of the one who fights against the sin which is within him."

"Whoever loves the occupation of fasting all the days of his life is a friend of chastity...Fasting is the abode of all spiritual excellences, and the one who holds it in contempt disturbs them all...For who should treat with contempt or hold lightly the armor which has been forged by God? If He Who laid down the law fasted, who is there among those who would keep the law that has no need to fast?"

The brothers asked, 'How ought we to pray before God?' The old man (geronda) answered, "For the repentance of sinners, and the finding of the lost, and the drawing near of those who are afar off, and friendliness towards those who do us harm, and love, towards those who persecute us, and sorrowful care for those who provoke God to wrath."

(Source: A Patristic Treasury: Early Church Wisdom for Today by James R. Payton, Jr.)

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THE PRAYERS BEFORE HOLY COMMUNION

I believe, Lord and confess that You are truly the Christ, Son of the Living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the greatest. I also believe that this is truly Your spotless Body, and that this is truly Your precious Blood. Wherefore I pray to You: have mercy on me and forgive my offenses, whether intended or not, whether committed in word or in deed, knowingly or unknowingly; and count me worthy to share without judgment in Your pure Mysteries (Sacraments), for remission of sins and for everlasting life. Amen.

"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom

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

+Father George