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.
AN ADMONISHING EPISTLE ON OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR NEIGHBOR AND ON THE MEANING OF SORROWS (Part II)
By Monk Markellos Karkallinos
The spiritual condition of a person and the grace he possesses is demonstrated by the patience he has. The proof of the existence of this virtue is the tolerance, longsuffering, patience. These are the jewels of every struggling Christian.
For this, my dear soul, during periods you struggle and get burnt by the fire of sin, do not fall asleep, do not neglect to struggle and hope on the on-combative power of God with which you will put out the fire of sin, overcoming thus the devil. Sing with joy and contentment together with the melodic St. Theodore the Studite: "With Your right hand Oh Logos/Word protect me, that the fire of sin not burn me" (5th antiphone, 1st tone).
You should know that the devil is useful to all of us, if we use him appropriately. He owes us a lot and we succeed from him not with small profit, as happened with the just Job. If you do not become negligent and if you do not betray yourself, neither could the devil harm you. The weak becomes harmed everywhere while the strong benefits everywhere. For the spiritual inclination is always very important and man's intention succeeds.
Let us therefore not blame the responsibilities of our sins on the devil nor on others. What is appropriate for us to do? To do just this. To introspect ourselves and our wounds for then we shall b able to apply the medicine for our healing, for he who ignores his disease will not tend to his healing.
Saint John Chrysostom prompts us to bless those that disturb us and to consider them benefactors and not curse them as enemies. "This we should always consider that the one who blesses his enemies blesses himself and he who curses the enemy curses himself and the one who prays for the enemy prays for himself and not him." Elianos praised the tax collectors of Sparta because they did not revenge the Klazomenes who dishonored them. They had gone to Sparta and painted the thrones of the tax collectors where they sat while in judgment. The inspectors when they learned this, they did not become angry nor did they delve evil for evil. They ordered however the speaker to declare the following famous words: "It is allowed for the Klazomenes to act ugly". These tax collectors we should imitate, us Christians. And if they curse us or do us evil or swear at us, we should not revenge but let us hear what St. John Chrysostom advises us in his sermon on repentance: "He who does not treat himself unjustly, no one else can make him suffer loss...and if you do everything you can do, the help of God will surely follow...however if one suffers loss and is wronged, it certainly derives from himself, not from the others, even if they were innumerable all those that wronged and harmed him. For if he did not suffer this by himself, all those living on the whole earth, even if they hit him, they could not in the least harm him who walks and is attentive in the Lord...."
The sorrows and the diverse temptations always are spiritually beneficial. Holy Adelphotheos ('brother of the Lord') Jacob considers the sorrows as a cause for spiritual joy, and for this he observes: "Count it all joy my brothers, when you fall into various temptations, knowing that the test of your faith works patience" (St. James 1:2-3). You will rejoice in your sorrows and temptations knowing that the test of your faith through the sorrows will certainly result in a safe and completely steady patience. This patience then being unshakeable will produce the fruit of your perfection, that you may be perfect and complete, that you will thus lack nothing.
Apart from the temptations that God permits, there are temptations that are produced by our sinful passions (πάθοι). No man who suffers from sin, say that God is the reason he is tempted and pushed into sin. Everyone becomes disturbed and pushed into sin by his own bad intentions, which bring him down and with the bait of pleasure draws him in.
Most happy is the man that maintains himself with patience and looks forward to the test of sorrows. And he is most blessed for when through this test he becomes unshakeable, tested and fit, he will receive the bright and glorious crown of eternal life, which the Lord promised to those who love Him. (Source: Pantokratoras)
ON OCTOBER 23RD OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHURCH COMMEMORATES THE FEAST DAY OF THE HOLY APOSTLE JAMES (IAKOVOS), THE LORD'S BROTHER AND FIRST BISHOP OF JERUSALEM
He is called 'the Lord's brother because he was the son of righteous Joseph, the betrothed of the Most Holy Mother of God. When Joseph was dying, he shared out his goods among his sons and wanted to leave a share to the Lord Jesus, the son of the Most Holy Ever Virgin Mary, but his sons opposed this, not reckoning Jesus to be a brother of theirs. James (Iakovos), though, loved Jesus greatly and announced that he would include Him in his share, counting himself to be indeed brother to the Lord. James was, from the first, devoted to the Lord Jesus. According to Tradition, he went to Egypt with the Most Holy Virgin and Joseph when Herod tried to kill the new-born King. As soon as he heard Christ's teaching, he began to live by it. It is said that, during the whole of his life, he ate neither fat nor oil, but lived only on bread and water, and he was chaste to the end of his days. He often kept a vigil of prayer at night. The Lord included him among his Seventy Apostles, appearing to him after His glorious Resurrection, as the holy Apostle Paul testifies (1 Corinthians 15:7). He was Bishop in Jerusalem for 30 years, and governed the Church of God with zeal. On the Lord's instruction, he composed the first Liturgy, which was far too long for later Christians and was shortened by Saint Basil the Great and Saint John Chrysostom. He brought many Jews and Greeks to the Christian faith, and even unbelieving Jews marveled at his justice, nicknaming him James the Just.
When Ananias became High Priest, he decided, along with other of the Jewish elders, to kill James as a preacher of Christ. One day, at Pascha, when many people were gathered in Jerusalem, the elders told him to climb up on onto a roof and speak against Christ. Saint James climbed up there, and began to speak to the people about Christ as the Son of God and the True Messiah, and of His Resurrection and Eternal glory in Heaven. The infuriated rabbis and elders cast him down from the roof, and he was badly injured though still alive. A man then ran up and gave him such a vicious blow on the head that his brains spilled out. Thus this glorious Apostle of Christ died a martyr's death and entered into the Kingdom of his Lord. Saint James was 63 years old when he suffered for Christ. (Source: The Prologue from Ochrid)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" -- Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God