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.
BE ALWAYS WITH ME AND IN ME
By Saint John of Kronstadt
Reverence in every way images of living men, in order that you may duly reverence the image of God. For the image of the Lord Jesus Christ is the human image. He who does not respect the human image will not respect the image of God.
Am I not everything to you--I am the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit--your God, your life, your peace, your joy, and your blessedness? Your riches, your meat, and drink; your raiment, your all? To what, then, do you cling? Is it not to dust? What is that you grudge Me in the person of your neighbor? Is it not dust? Do you grudge it to Me who has created all things, Who can turn earth and stones into bread, and can bring forth water from a rock? Be always with Me and in Me, and you shall be always at peace and joyful. Has your trust in Me ever been in vain? Have I not always given you tranquility and new life?
If you share your prosperity with your neighbor, if you have it in common with him, then all God's blessings will be in common with you. "You shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you...All Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine" (Saint John 15:7, 17:10).
When you forbid the Devil in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, then His name, the sweetest to us, and the most terrible and grievous to the demons, itself creates power, like a two-edged sword. Equally, if you ask anything of the Heavenly Father, or do anything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, then the heavenly Father, for the sake of the name of His Beloved Son, shall give you all things in the Holy Spirit, in the Sacraments (Mysteria), if you fulfill His commandments, and will in no wise consider your unworthiness: for the very name of God is power.
Some persons ask: What is the use of mentioning the names of the departed or living in prayer for them? God being Omniscient Himself, knows their names and the needs of each one. But those who speak thus forget, or do not know, the importance of every word said from the whole heart; they forget that the justice and mercy of God are moved by our heartfelt prayer which the Lord, in His Goodness, imputes to the merit of the living or the departed themselves, as to the members of the one body of the Church. They do not know that also the Church of the first-born, which are written in heaven (Hebrews 12:23), in her love continually prays to God for us, and expressly mentions before God the names of those who pray for them--equal for equal. We make mention of their names, and they of ours. Whilst he who does not lovingly remember his brethren in prayer, will not himself be remembered, and does not deserve to be mentioned. Even one word of faith and love means much in prayer. "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (Saint James 5:16).
When we pray for the living and for the departed, and mention them by name, we must pronounce these names lovingly, and from the whole heart, as though we carried in our souls the persons whose names we mention, "even as a nurse cherisheth her children" (1 Thessalonians 2:7), remembering that they are our members, and members of the Lord's body. (Ephesians 4:25; 30). It is not right to stand before God and merely run over their names with the tongue without the heart's participation and love. We must remember that God sees into the heart; that the persons for whom we pray also require from us brotherly love and sympathy as a Christian duty.
There is a great difference between the apathetic repetition of names and their hearty remembrance: the one is a far from the other as heaven from earth. However, above all, the name of the Lord Himself, that of His Most Pure Mother, and those of the Holy Angels and Saints, must always be pronounced from a pure heart with burning faith and love. In general, the words of the prayer must not be merely run over with the tongue as if we were turning over the leaves of a book or counting money, the water must flow like a stream of living water from its source--they should be the sincere voice of the heart, not a strange, borrowed garment.
Have the same attention and respect for the Logos/Word as you have for the living man, and firmly believe that "the word of God is quick and powerful" as a living being, as an Angel, and that, by reason of its spiritual fineness, it is "piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). The word of God is God Himself; and therefore when you speak, believe that you have to do with living, and not with dead beings, with active, and not with inert and powerless ones. Know that you should pronounce word with faith and assurance. The words are living pearls. "Neither cast ye your pearls before swine" (Saint Matthew 7:6).
During prayer, it is necessary, in the first place, that the object of the prayer should be definitely expressed, or at least, that there should be a clear sense of it and desire for it in the heart; in the second place, it is necessary that this desire should be expressed with feeling and lively trust in the mercy of the Lord or in that of the Mother of God; in the third place, there must be a firm intention not to sin in the future, and to fulfill God's will in everything. "Thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee" (Saint John 5:14).
When you pray for anything, either to the Lord or to the Most-Pure Mother of God, or to the Angels and Saints, asking their intercession before God for yourself or for others, then consider the words. Express your petitions, your needs, as the very things, the very matter, for which you ask the Lord, and believe that you have already a sure pledge of receiving the objects of your prayer, in the very words by which these objects are designated. For instance: when you pray for health for yourself or for someone else, look upon the word health as the very thing itself, as the very deed; believe that you already have it by the mercy and Omnipotence of God, for the word itself, the name, may in an instant become deed with the Lord, and you will unfailingly receive that which you ask for in return for you unshaken faith. "Ask, and it shall be given you" (Saint Matthew 7:7). "What things soever you desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them; and ye shall have them" (Saint Mark 11:24). [Source: Orthodox Heritage]
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God