April -- June 2016
Mary's act of worship brought joy to the heart of Jesus and malice to the heart of Judas, who wanted the money she had spent (Jn 12:6). Other women came to anoint Him after His burial, but Mary did it when He could be encouraged by her love.
Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death. [Ps 13:3]
There are occasions that usually carry the voice of God, seeking your soul to wake up and notice. Such occasions as: a problem that faces you so you turn to the Divine help, an illness that left you bedridden thinking about your destiny. Seize such occasions and review your relationships with God. Maybe your love to Him went to sleep, so your soul hears, on such occasions, a voice that wakes it up. (Pope Shenouda II)
Watch yourself with all diligence, lest the enemy steal and rob you, depriving you of this great treasure, which is inner peace and stillness of soul. The enemy strives to destroy the peace of the soul, because he knows that when the soul is in turmoil it is more easily led to evil. But you must guard your peace. (St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain)
BENEDICT was born of a noble family in Nursia, and was given a liberal education at Rome. For the purpose of giving himself wholely to Jesus Christ he sought out a deep cave in a place called Subiaco. For three years he lived there in concealment, his hiding-place being known only to a monk named Romanus, who used to bring him the necessities of life. One day he was subjected to a violent temptation to impurity so he rolled himself in brambles until the desire of the flesh was extinguished by the pain of his torn body.
The fame of his holiness spread abroad beyond his hiding place, and some monks came to him to be taught; but their loose way of living was such that they could not bear his chidings, and they decided to poison his drink. However, when the cup was given him, at the sign of the cross the vessel broke. He left the monastery and returned to his solitude. But since many disciples came to him daily, he built twelve monasteries, and established them with holy laws.
Later he went to Cassino, where he destroyed an image of Apollo that was still worshipped there, threw down the altar, and burned the groves. There he built the shrine of St. Martin and the chapel of St. John, and instructed the townsfolk and local inhabitants in Christianity. Benedict grew in the grace of God day by day, so that, being prevented with the spirit of prophecy, he foretold things to come. When Totila, king of the Goths, heard this, he wished to find out if it were really true, so he sent his swordbearer with his royal insignia and retinue, who was to pretend to be the king. When Benedict saw him, he said: Put off, my son, put off those things you wear; for they are not yours. He prophesied that Totila would reach Rome, cross the sea, and die in nine years time.
Several months before he passed from this life, Benedict forewarned his disciples of the day on which he was to die; and he ordered them to open the tomb in which he wished his body to be buried, six days before he was carried thither. On the sixth day he asked to be carried to the church; there, after receiving the Eucharist, in prayer, with eyes uplifted to heaven, in the arms of his disciples, he breathed forth his soul. Two monks saw it going up into heaven, adorned in a costly mantle, surrounded with shining lights, and a man of illustrious and stately aspect, standing above his head; and hey heard him say: This is the way by which Benedict, beloved of the Lord, went up into heaven. [The Passing of our Holy Father St. Benedict]
Christ charges the Scribes and Pharisees with 8 woes in opposition to 8 beatitudes. The 6th woe was that they were all for outside and not at all for the inside, of religion. The main business of a Christian lies within to get cleansed from sin.
Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to me, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
THE Angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a Virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the Virgin's name was Mary.
Homily by St. Julian, (642--690) Archbishop of Toledo
IT was through an Angel that Daniel learned the mystery of the seventy weeks referring to the birth of Christ; and similarly Zacharias, when an Angel appeared to him, heard that his son John was to be begotten by him; and Mary, when an Angel foretold that Christ was to be born of her, both believed and consented. We see that these three things were announced and fulfilled through an Angel. We must now, therefore, carefully consider whether this Angel who appeared to Zacharias and Mary was the same one that foretold those things to Daniel.
Daniel himself, in his prophetical book, when he learns through the Angel of that mystery of the weeks referring to the birth of Christ, clearly makes mention of that Angel's name. For he says: The man Gabriel, whom I had seen at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me, and said: Daniel, understand the matter; and so on, as there recorded. Similarly, when those times drew near, it is found, according to the Evangelist, that the wonderful name of that Angel is uttered again. For the same Angel said to Zacharias: I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
Again, in the same Gospel, where we read of the childbearing. of the blessed Virgin Mary: The Angel Gabriel, says the Evangelist, was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a Virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the Virgin's name was Mary.
Therefore it is now clear that it was one and the same Angel who both shewed the fore-ordained time of the birth of Christ to Daniel, and revealed the childbearing of the Virgin when the time came. He comes, therefore, at the appointed time, and proves by the actual events that what he had formerly foretold has now been fulfilled, faithful in that prophecy of the weeks, and faithful in the revelation of the mystery.
The Lesson from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke
THE angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
Homily by St. Ambrose, Bishop THE divine mysteries are well hidden, and their meanings are not easy to grasp. For, as the prophet says: What man is he that can know the counsel of God? And yet we can gather from other sayings of our Lord and Saviour, that there was some prevalent reason for singling out for the Childbearing of our Lord one who wa& espoused to a man. Why was her time not fulfilled before her espousal? To give the devil chance of saying that she had conceived in adultery.
And well did Scripture declare that she would be both espoused and virgin: virgin, that it might be clear that she had no intercourse with man: espoused, lest she be branded with the infamy of defiled virginity, for the pregnant womb would seem to point to this desecration. The Lord preferred rather that men should doubt the origin of his birth than the purity of his mother. For he recognized a virgin's delicate reserve, and the retiring nature of modesty; nor did he think fit that faith in his birth should be built upon injury to his mother.
And the Angel came in unto her. Mark the virtue of a virgin in her behaviour, mark it in her hesitancy, mark it in her words, in the mystery itself. It is natural for a virgin to be timid, perturbed at the approach of men, and troubled at their salutation. Here is an example of modesty for women to study. She was alone in her chamber, she who would not be seen by men, and an Angel alone discovers her there. She was alone with neither companion nor witness, when the Angel saluted her, so that their converse could not be basely interpreted.
Now this mystery was not to be entrusted to men, but was to issue from the mouth of an Angel. To-day is heard for the first time: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee. It is both heard and believed. Then she says: Behold the handmaid of the Lord: let it happen to me according to thy word. How humble she is! How she consecrates herself! She who is chosen to be the Mother of the Lord calls herself his handmaid, instead of exalting herself at the unexpected promise.
Be strict with yourself in self-examination of every sin you commit. Have a fixed time for yourself to sit and judge yourself, not others. "For if we judge ourselves, we would not be judged" (1 Cor 11:31). Fight the sin and overcome them by grace of God as St. Paul says: "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (2 Cor 7:l)
From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, pages 46 - 47:
What then is the Paraclete's administrative office but this: the direction of discipline, the revelation of the Scriptures, the reform of the intellect, the advancement toward the better things? [Tertullian]
One possesses the Holy Spirit to the extent he loves the Church of Christ. [St. Augustine]
He founded His Church upon the rivers, making it, through His divine legislation, capable of receiving the Holy Spirit, from Whom, as from their Fountainhead, the different graces flow as fountains of living water. [Didymus the Blind]
The Lord does not will the death of a sinner but rather that he should change and live. There is a time of long-suffering, a time of healing, a time of correction. Have you stumbled? Arise. Have you sinned? Cease. Do not stand in the way of sinners, but spring away. Out of labor comes health, out of sweat, salvation. Beware lest, from your wish to keep certain obligations, you break your obligations to God. Do not sink back. There is salvation, there is amendment. (St Basil the Great)
[by] Father Basil (Gavrilovic)
In our [Eastern] Orthodox tradition a beautiful prayer is recited throughout the Great Lent:
O Lord and Master of my life, give me not the spirit of sloth, meddling, lust for power and idle talk. But grant unto me, Thy servant, a spirit of chastity (integrity), humility, patience and love.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see mine own faults and not to judge my brother. For blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.
This prayer is attributed to the great poet, theologian and saint of the crucified Syria, St. Ephrem (IV century). We pray with this prayer only in the time of the Great Lent, on matins and vespers, hours and pre-sanctified liturgies.
The prayer itself is seen as the most concise explanation of the meaning of the Great Lent. In this prayer we pray for God's blessings and protection. We pray for good virtues, and ask that God in the Holy Spirit safeguards us from all hate and judgment.
The Holy Lent has been entrusted to us by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Matthew 4:1-2; 6:17-18; 9:15; 5:6; 17:21). Through the Holy Lent we are called not to fast only bodily i.e. physically abstaining from food and drink, but also spiritually. Spiritually in the sense that as Christians we strive to overcome our ego, our I, and sacrifice as much as it is possible to our other through love. The prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian teaches us exactly this, to sacrifice ourselves in love towards God and our neighbour. The fulfilment of all commandments of God is the commandment of love, through love all commandments attain their meaning. St. John the Theologian in his first epistle writes: "If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?" (1 John 4:20). When Christ was approached by an expert of law and was tested asking what he must do to achieve life everlasting, Christ announces the program of salvation by answering: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself." (Luke 10:27). Our devotional Lenten prayer portrays this commandment throughout. Firstly by praying for preservation from enemies i.e. demons, who attack us (especially during the Lenten period). These enemies (demons) are manifested through apathetical and cold-hearted states of consciousness; when one is not attentive and attracted to the eternal existence in Christ. We pray that we be shielded from sloth, despondency, lust and idle talk. All these unnatural psychophysical conditions brings one to the state of melancholic depression, unblessed sorrow, wretched hopelessness. In such conditions we cannot see God, we cannot see nor love our neighbour, our other. Dessert monks and Holy Fathers of our gracious Church have warned us against these dramatic conditions. Yet, in our modern perspective they can be observed throughout our culture. As Orthodox Christians we are called to battle these lukewarm states we find in each other, for they do not bring us salvation, as St. John in his Revelation writes: "So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of my mouth." (Revelation, 3:16). Meaning that such persons will not achieve in entering the heavenly Kingdom, they will not be recognized by our Lord, for they have not strived to recognize the Lord in this given life, by being too busy with worldly things and thus falling into the mentioned demonic conditions (Matthew, 25: 46). It is up to us to free-willingly pray to Him and struggle with our own self. Through prayer, these psychophysical states are truly conquered.
In the second part of the prayer we pray for chastity (integrity), humility, patience and love. Through these virtues we reach the pinnacle of love. Chastity and integrity provides clarity to our being, our ways of thought. Such state cleanses us, brings us closer to our Creator. Such chastity is not only bodily but also spiritual. Our mind, body and soul, during the Lenten period, should become chaste, and this is done through prayer, through interaction with our Triune God. For such conditions one is to attain humility, patience and -- above all -- love. These virtuous conditions are not the goal for themselves, rather they are Lenten instruments that help us become more god-like. They can be observed as ascetic tools that help us in the redemptive work that God bestowed us with. Through humility we learn true love, through patience we strive towards perfection, being patient with others as with God Himself, who is All-patient with us.
These virtues which we supplicate from our Lord are undivided. They can only be manifested in totality, there is no chastity without humility and patience vice versa. And the centric gluing element is love. Love gives meaning to everything that we sacrifice in the Holy Lent, love towards God and neighbour. An ascetic once wrote: "Love has rightly been called the capital city of all virtues, the fulfilment of Law and The Prophets. So let us make every effort to attain this holy love. By means of love we will be liberated from the tyranny of evil obsessions and be raised up high to heaven on the wings of goodness, and we will even see the face of God, so far as this is possible for the human nature." (Theodoros the Ascetic).
The pragmatic concept of love in Christianity cannot be emphasized enough. We have to spread love, show love, be in love. The third part of our prayer accents the practical aspect of love, for it teaches us to love our neighbour by not judging him/her, but rather to be interested more with ourselves, to enter into our own being and see all the rubbish and garbage that has piled in our souls. In such states we cannot judge our neighbour, our other, for firstly we were not created to judge (there is only One Judge - God), and secondly who are we to judge in such conditions? As our Lord teaches us: "And why behold you the mote that is in your brother's eye, but perceive not the beam that is in your own eye?" (Luke 6:41), and "Judge not, that you be not judged." (Matthew 7:1). We are to love, and pray, especially in this Lenten period, so that we can in peace await the Holiest Pascha - the Resurrection of our Lord. Christian love towards others is not based only on emotions, it is existential, ontological, we love because God created our other, and through these persons we attain the wings that lead us to salvation. This is why we call everyone gathered in Church brothers and sisters, for we become one in Christ a big family that each day and each Sunday prepares for the eschatological reality in the awaiting Heavenly Kingdom. Thus let us, in this holy period prepare with peace and reverence, with joy and happiness, with friendship and respect in awaiting the most Holy feast of feasts Pascha of our Lord, the Holy Resurrection and vanquishment of death.
[From: Istochnik (Herald of the Serbian Orthodox Church - Canada Diocese / Issue 90 - August 2014 / pages 25 - 26]
One of the desert fathers said, "Fasting for the body is to be hungry for food, but fasting for the soul is to be hungry and thirsty for righteousness, to fast from evil and to remember sin." St. Paul said, "And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for imperishable crown. ... I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." [I Cor 9:25-27]
O Lord, purify me in the fire of divine love. Grant that I may know You; and that I may know myself so that I may humble myself.
There is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.
On watchfulness, Abba Poemen used to say, "Teach your heart to keep that which your tongue teaches."
Watch therefore, for you know nether the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.I could not lift my heavy load
Or face the day ahead
Until I met along the road
A friend with whom to tread.
I could not bear my cross alone
With such mountains to climb
Until I came to realize
He was there all the time!
Receive any fast by returning to our righteous God, by repentance from your sins. Keep away from spite, hate, and malice. Fast with clean heart, clear thoughts, and pure conscience so that God would be merciful to you and accept your fasts and prayers.
O DIVINE Creator of all things, Thou our God, in thy pity, have mercy upon us. Unto Thee, O Christ, the King of Kings, rejoicing in praise together, we pray Thee, have mercy upon us. Thou to Whom ever belongeth praise, virtue, peace, and dominion without end, have mercy upon us. O Christ, King, only Son, co-eternal with Thy gracious Father, have mercy upon us. Thou who didst save lost man, restoring him from death unto life, have mercy upon us. Jesu, the Good Shepherd, that the sheep of Thy pasture perish not, have mercy upon us.
Repentance is given us as grace after grace, for repentance is a second regeneration by God. That of which we have received an earnest by baptism, we receive as a gift by means of repentance. Repentance is the door of mercy, opened to those who seek it. By this door we enter into the mercy of God, and apart from this entrance we shall not find mercy. [St. Isaac the Syrian]
It was a very long way from the great throne of heaven to the cross on which the God of heaven and earth our Lord Jesus died. That is how much Jesus loved us. As He loved us we are to love each other whether there is a response or not.
This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
When the soldiers of the king are standing at attention, they cannot look to the right or left; it is the same for the man who stands before God and looks toward Him in fear at all times; he cannot then fear anything from the enemy. [Abba Serapion]
Why does the Lord compare His people to sheep? Sheep are prone to wander (Is 53:6) and need a shepherd to guide them. The Good Shepherd protects them and provides for them.
I am the Good Shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.
Sometimes we need some quiet time
We can say that we truly know and love God if we keep His commandments. To keep the way of God is to carefully attend to all the conduct and motion in life. Those who abide in Him, must walk after His pattern.
He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
Christians are the living stones placed in the spiritual house of God (I Pet 2:5). Stones may require cutting [and] chiseling to prepare it to fit in the building. God is the Divine Workman who says to us; "I am shaping you down here so that you will fit up there." Of course, we may rebel against this, but when we submit our will to His the day will come when we will see its value.
O GOD, who by the foolishness of the Cross didst wondrously teach thy blessed Martyr Saint Justin an excellent knowledge of Christ Jesus : grant that by his intercession, we being delivered from the deceitfulness of all false doctrine, may be firmly grounded in thy true religion. Through the same Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen.
JUSTIN the Philosopher, usually surnamed Martyr, was the first to defend the Christian religion in written works of any considerable length. Wherefrom we learn that he was born in Palestine, probably about the year 100, of pagan parents, whom we may suppose to have been of Greek descent. But Justin saith that he was, as it were, a Samaritan, in that he was born at Sychem (which same is now called Nablus). His parents used their wealth to give him a good education, and he so loved truth that he studied diligently all the known philosophies of the whole world. But each and everyone of them left him unsatisfied. Then one day he saw a venerable old man that seemed to be following him. With whom he held converse, and was told of a philosophy nobler and more satisfying than any he knew. It concerned a revelation from God to Hebrew Prophets, and was consummated in the coming of the very Truth of God in one named Jesus. * Henceforth he kept the Scriptures in his hands day and night. And therefrom he acquired an excellent knowledge of Christ Jesus ; and when he was about thirty, he became a Christian. Thereafter he devoted his great learning to the composition of books, and to private and public disputations, in the defence and explication of our holy religion. Of his many treatises, three only have come down to us entire, to wit, the two Apologies and the Dialogue with Tryphon The first Apology is addressed to the Emperor, his two sons, the Senate and the Roman people. It is a vindication of the moral and spiritual character of Christianity, which same the Roman courts held to be criminal practice, worthy of death. Toward the end of this treatise are describe the ceremonies of Baptism and the Sunday Eucharist of those days wherein we have a most precious record of an ancient form of the Church's liturgy. The second Apology is something of an appendix to the first. And the Dialogue with Tryphon is a vindication of Christianity against the attacks of Judaism. * In the garb of a philosopher, Justin travelled much, holding disputations with pagans, hereticks, and Jews. Finally he came to Rome, where he debated publicly with the cynic Crescens, whom he convicted of ignorance and wilful misrepresentations. But on a later visit to Rome, he was apprehended, probably through the enmity of the Cynics, and sentenced by the Prefect Rusticus to be scourged and beheaded. The Acts of his trial and martyrdom are authentic, and shew how boldly he witnessed to Christ in the face of death. With him were martyred six other Christians, five men and one woman. The date of their heavenly birthday is not recorded, but it was somewhere around the year 165. However the Feast of Saint Justin is kept on the day following the commemoration in the Martyrology of the Martyr Carpus, whose name in the Chronicle of Eusebius immediately precedeth Justin Martyr. The purpose of whose life is summed up in his own words : It is our duty to make known our doctrine, lest we incur the guilt and punishment of those who sin through ignorance.
St. Matthew the Poor was a native of a small village in the city of Qus, Egypt, during the early eighth century. He went to a monastery in Aswan mountain. He grew in virtue and God granted him the gifts of healing the sick and exorcism of evil spirits. When St. Mathew achieved his course, he departed in peace. There is a monastery that carries his [name] in Isna, upper Egypt. This monastery is also known as the Potter Monastery.
We, who are sick, let us partake of this sacrament with faith, for those who touched the border of His garment were healed; what about those who eat Him all. (St. John Chrysostom)
Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and will raise him up at the last day.
demonstrated His own
love towards us,
in that while we were still
Christ died for us.
Judas' betrayal immediately followed Jesus' anointing at Bethany. When a woman poured ointment on Jesus' head, Judas heard Jesus say, "In pouring this ointment on My body she has done it to prepare Me for burial" (Mt 26:12). Judas' interest in money appeared to play a significant role in his betrayal of Jesus to the extent that he closed his ears to hearing the words of the Lord (Mt 26:15, Jn 12:5).
When Christ was about to leave the world He had no silver or gold to leave His poor disciples who had left all for Him. But He left them that which was infinitely better than silver or gold, His peace. The peace that Christ gives is infinitely more valuable than that which the world gives.
Peace I leave you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.
Rank III has First Vespers only and uses the psalms of the occurring feria, with proper antiphons (or antiphons from the Common).
Rank IV are commemorated only at First Vespers and Lauds, though the Mass may be of the commemorated saint(s).
See Customary for ranking of Sundays.
TO ALL THE FRIENDS OF CHRISTMINSTER
Christ is risen from the dead;
Excerpts from Paschal message of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia.
"Christ's resurrection has become the breach into eternity thanks to which human limitation has been overcome and the thirst to be united with God has been satisfied."
"What does 'perfect love' mean? It is a love that extends to a love for strangers, for ill-wishers and even for enemies. It is a sacrificial love which transcends all human reasoning as it cannot be contained by the framework of everyday worldly logic. We can attain it only through great spiritual endeavours which evoke the grace of God that grants to us the chance to respond to hatred with love and to evil with virtue."
"May the saving light of Christ's resurrection, which surpasses all human comprehension, immutably illumine our way through life, enlightening and comforting us in making us participants and heirs of the kingdom of heaven."
Link for the entire message.
And the life.
He who believes in Me,
Though he may die,
He shall live.
God is the Lord, and He has given us light. [Ps 118:3]
The Power of Christ's Resurrection
The following is a chant setting of the Orthodox Easter hymn, which we use at Christminster as part of grace at meals during Paschaltide.
The Lord compares His people to sheep. The sheep are prone to wander and need a shepherd to guide them.
And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, * who, for the defence of the honour of holy images, didst endue thy blessed Saint John with heavenly learning and wondrous strength of spirit : grant unto us, we pray thee, that, by his intercession, and example; we may so honour the images of thy Saints, that we may follow them in all true godliness, and feel the effectual succour of their advocacy. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, St. John of Damascus]
THIS John was born about 676, at Damascus. There, at the court of the Caliph, his father was an important official, but a Christian, who spent his considerable wealth in good works, specially in ransoming Christians whom the Mohammedans had enslaved. And he paid a great price to ransom a Sicilian monk named Cosmas, which same was a man both good and learned, who schooled the boy John in Christian thinking and living. Later John succeeded his father at the court of the Caliph. But after three years he entered the monastery of Saint Sabas at Jerusalem. There he began composing both hymns and tunes. And once, to cheer the brethren who were sad-faced, he sang one of his compositions, which so shocked them (for they thought such things contrary to the monastic state) that he was made to do penance, as for a fault, until God taught the abbot that John's gift of song was divinely given. * There also John began a defence of our holy religion, and in particular against Iconoclasm. Whence it finally came to be perceived that abhorrence for holy images sprang from unbelief in Christ as the true Image of the Godhead. For this he drew upon himself the persecution, first of the Emperor Leo the Isaurian, and later of Constantine Copronymous. But they dared not proceed too far against one who was loved and protected by great Mohammedan princes. In the East, John, with Saint Romanus the Melodist, is likewise reckoned the greatest hymn-writer of the Eastern Church. He was also the last of the Greek fathers and the first of the Christian Aristotelians ; and as a defender of the Faith he was worthy of the high praises which were officially given him by the second Council of Nicaea. * As a monk John set a bright example of obedience and humility. When he was sent to Damascus to sell the baskets which he had himself made, he welcomed the mockery he received in that city where before-time he had held the most honourable offices. On account of the golden streams of his eloquence, he was entitled : John of the golden streams. And a story was believed of him (to which the Gospel of his feast hath reference) that once when he was wrongly accused of a crime, the Caliph had his right hand struck off, whereat John invoked our Lady and was made whole again. But his greatest praise is that he was the first to arrange in order a complete course of theology, whereby he prepared the way in which holy Thomas Aquinas so clearly dealt with the whole body of sacred doctrine. Full of days and good works, he fell asleep in the peace of Christ about the year 754. He was honoured in the West on May 7th until the year 1890, when he was proclaimed Doctor of the Church, and his feast fixed for March 27th, near to the Feast of the Annunciation.
For we need in this to put on our Lord Jesus, so we may be able to celebrate the 'heavenly' feast with Him. Now we are clothed with Him (and) are enemies to wickedness when we exercise ourselves in temperance and when we love virtue, and mortify lustfulness ... and do not forget the poor." (St. Athanasius of Alexandria)
O EVERLASTING God, who hast ordained and constituted the services of Angels and men in a wonderful order : mercifully grant that as thy holy Angels always do thee service in heaven, so by thy appointment they may succour and defend us on earth. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, Vision of St. Michael, May 8/21]
THE Book of Daniel saith that the Archangel Michael standeth for God's people ; that is to say, that this Archangel standeth for us against our enemies, in that he is the chief angelic Captain set over that part of mankind which is the inheritor of God's promises. Such was the belief of the Jews in the time of our Lord, and such was the tradition received by the Catholic Church ; which therefore venerateth Michael as the Protector of Christendom, and the angelic Guardian of the Blessed Sacrament. For belief in his propitious intervention in creaturely affairs continued to increase amongst God's people down to the time of Christ ; and from that time, as the New Testament so plainly sheweth, it was part of the Catholic Faith. Hence the Church hath come to celebrate September 29th as a general commemoration both of him, as God's Commander-in-chief of the Angelic Hosts, and also of all his Angel-Companions. That holy day, however, was not the only one to be kept in his honour. For from time to time, and in various places, the faithful had reason to believe that they had experienced his direct intervention in moments of peril or need. Therefore feasts in honour of such wonders were instituted and locally observed. But none of them ever gained widespread observance save the one which was kept at the shrine of Saint Michael on Mount Gargano in Apulia.
THE origin of this shrine, from lack of historical records, is now uncertain ; but its dedication is by some authorities placed at an earlier date than the one which the Dedication Feast of September 29th was instituted to commemorate. According to the story which hath for many centuries been told of the foundation of the Church of Saint Michael on Mount Gargano, it took place on this wise. A bull belonging to someone who lived on this mountain strayed away, and men were sent to look for him. And after a long search they found him jammed in the opening of a cavern. And because, in their attempts to extricate him, certain strange portents occurred,where-by they were frightened, in that the place was so awesome, they left in terror, and went down the mount to the town of Siponto at its foot, and there consulted the Bishop. Which same decreed three days of fasting and prayer, in hopes that God would reveal to them his blessed will. Whereupon the Archangel Michael himself made known to the Bishop that the place was under his protection, and that God wished a shrine to be built on the spot, in order that the faithful might there give thanks for angelic protection, and also there experience it. Then the Bishop, with his people, repaired to the cavern, and made out of it a church, and performed divine worship in it ; and from all this it came about that in time a great shrine was there built.
IN the long-continued wonders which have come to pass at this shrine, or have come to be commemorated there, the signs given at its beginning now seem of small moment. For throughout all the years since its foundation, the devotion of the faithful hath there found constant expression, in testimony to their belief in the assistance which this Prince of the heavenly hosts hath always given to redeemed mankind in times of temptation or dire need, if he were but devoutly invoked, with a true faith in God and a right zeal for God's glory. In particular the people of Siponto attributed to Saint Michael their victory over certain enemies of theirs, in a battle which took place upon May 8th, 663 ; in commemoration whereof the feast in honour of the appearance of this Archangel, and his assistance to the faithful in times of need, came to be kept with such devotion that it hath spread far and wide throughout the world.
O GOD, by whose providence blessed Gregory Nazianzus was sent to guide thy people in the way of everlasting salvation : grant we beseech thee, that as we have learned of him the doctrine of life on earth, so we may be found worthy to have him for our advocate in heaven. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, Gregory Nazianzus, May 9/22]
THIS Gregory, who is one of the first four Eastern Doctors of the Church, was born about the year 325 in Cappadocia, of a remarkable Christian family. For his father, Gregory the Elder, and his mother Nonna, and his brother Caesarius who became a physician at the imperial court of Constantinople, are all revered in the Eastern Liturgy as Saints. Saint Gregory the Elder was a wealthy magistrate when he was converted to Orthodoxy, and thereafter he was ordained to the priesthood, and finally became Bishop of Nazianzus, which See he ruled for forty-five years, being assisted therein, during the latter years of his life, by his holy son Gregory. To both Caesarius and Gregory he had given the best education available ; and Gregory used it to such purpose that, because of his extraordinary depth of sacred learning, he was afterwards given the honour (which he shareth with the Apostle John) of being called The Divine (that is, the Theologian).
HIS education was acquired chiefly at Athens, where he became the intimate friend of his fellow-student Saint Basil, with whom likewise, when they had acquired knowledge in divers branches of earthly learning, he gave himself up to learn the things of God. This they did for some years in a monastery, framing their opinions, not out of their own heads, but according to the interpretation arrived at by the wisdom and decision of the ancients ; at which time Gregory assisted Basil to write the famous monastic Rule which Basilian monks follow. They were both distinguished by power of doctrine and holiness of life ; they were both called to the duty of preaching the Gospel of truth ; and through the Gospel they both begat many sons unto Christ. Gregory after a while returned home. He was first made Bishop of Sasima, and afterwards administered the Church at Nazianzus. Then he was called to rule the Church of Constantinople. That city, which he found reeking with heresy, he purged, and brought again to the catholic Faith. But this, which deserved for him the warmest love of all men, raised up many enemies.
AMONG the bishops themselves there was a great party against him and to still their contentions, he, of his own free will gave up his See, saying with the Prophet Jonah : Take me up, and cast me forth ; for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. So he went his way back again to Nazianzus, and when he had seen that Eulalius was set over that Church, he gave himself up altogether to think and write concerning the things of God. He wrote much, both in prose and verse, and that with wonderful godliness and eloquence. According to the judgement of learned and holy men, there is nothing in his writings which doth anywhere stray from the line of true godliness and catholic truth, and not a single word which any one can justly call in doubt. He was a most vigorous champion of the doctrine that the Son is of one substance with the Father. During the reign of the Emperor Theodosius he dwelt in the country after the manner of a monk, unceasingly taken up with writing, study, and prayer until in the year 390 or thereabouts, being then in a good old age, he laid down his earthly, to enter on an heavenly life. He is reckoned one of the three Cappadocians (as he and Basil, and Basil's blood-brother Saint Gregory of Nyssa are jointly called), and by the Eastern Church is named one of the three Holy Hierarchs, which same are himself and Saints Basil and John Chrysostom.
AN ORTHODOX MONASTIC RESPONSE TO ISLAM
Several generations ago, in what seemed then to be an unlikely possibility, the writer Hilaire Belloc predicted that the greatest challenge to Christianity in the coming decades would be the rise of Islam in the west. What then was oddly insightful is today the stuff of our daily news. The responses to the rise (and, for those with a memory of history, the return) of Islam in the west are varied: psychological, legal, military, economic, sociological, theological. What is missing is an over-arching spiritual approach, one appropriate to Orthodox Christians and monastics -- an approach both simple and powerful. That approach is prayer. And the only reasonable prayer to be made is for the submission of Islam to Christ, not by means of the sword but by the weapons of Christian truth and love. To be converted to the love of Christ and his truth, the followers of Islam must come to see clearly in the followers of Christ his truth and love. And these become infused in us by the mystery and grace of prayer. No doubt, in a general way we Orthodox Christians do pray over this issue, but our prayer may lack focus. To remedy this, perhaps Orthodox Christians (and indeed all Christians) might direct their prayers to a particular heavenly patron whose earthly life was spent in the fiery crucible of confrontation between Christianity and Islam: St. John of Damascus. The following prayer is offered as a means of focusing our minds and hearts daily on the need for heavenly help in the deepening crisis of our times as Islam once again challenges Christendom. It does not suggest any solution apart from absolute fidelity to witnessing the Christian faith, so ably defended by St. John in his Exposition of the Orthodox Faith -- a witness of speaking the truth in love, and a willingness, should it be God's will, to suffer the loss of all things for ourselves "if only Christ be gained."
Most merciful God, who didst raise up thy servant Blessed John of Damascus to proclaim and defend the faith of thy holy Church, even in the midst of her enemies: we ask, by his prayers, for the wisdom and courage to show forth that faith in our words and in our works, in our living and in our loving, and -- if it be thy will -- in our dying; that thy holy Church may be defended against all adversities; and that we and all faithful Christians, armed with the spiritual weapons of truth and love, may join valiantly in the struggle to bring the faith and love of Christ thy Son to the minds and hearts of all who follow the way of Islam; that they may come to know and adore our Saviour Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord; to whom with thee, Father, and the Holy Ghost, the one true God, all-compassionate and all-merciful, be all honor, glory and dominion, world without end. Amen.
From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 47:
What the soul is to the body of man, the Holy Spirit is in the Body of Christ, which is the Church. [St. Augustine]
The Spirit of God is direct, authoritative, the fountain of wisdom, life, and holiness. [St. John of Damascus]
Come, Holy Ghost, Who, ever one,
Reignest with Father and with Son,
It is the hour, our souls possess
With Thy full flood of holiness.
[St. Ambrose of Milan]
Christ knows His sheep, that is, He approves and accepts them under their many infirmities. He is known of them, that is, they observe Him with an eye of faith trusting Him. And as the Son knew the Father, loved and obeyed Him, so believers know Christ. They love and obey Him.
I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.
God is like a farmer in planting the seed that one day results in many faithful believers. But in spite of all the good planting that God does, evil grows along with the good. But God will weed out the evil at the end.
The righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
PACHOMIUS was born in heathenism in the Upper Thebaid of Egypt, about the year 292, and in youth was forced into military service ; whereat the kindness of certain Christians toward him and other young conscripts, determined him to become a Christian so soon as he might. Wherefore, when his military service was at an end, he sought instruction and Baptism, and became the disciple of the hermit Saint Palemon. After some years he was moved by divine inspiration to found a monastery at Tabenna and teach men to live the cenobitical life, which same was greatly blessed of God, so that it hath become the common form of the monastic life ever since followed in the Church ; for before his time only the eremitical life had found favour. At his death, to wit, about the year 346, he held rule over nine monasteries of men and two of women, wherein there lived many hundreds of dedicated souls. * His monasteries consisted of many buildings surrounded by a wall. Monks unto the number of forty were alloted unto one house, whereof all were wont to be of one trade, such as farmers, or carpenters, or whatsoever other craft by which they served the Lord in the monastery. Three or four houses were called a tribe, and from thirty unto forty houses made a monastery. The same was ruled by an abbot, with provosts and other officers for each house. On Saturdays and Sundays all came together in the church for Mass. On the other days their Offices and prayers were celebrated in the houses. Large monastic establishments such as these required much industry ; wherefore they had ships of their own upon the Nile to carry their produce to market and return with necessaries for the monks. But withal the life was very harsh, from their rigorous observance of fasting and holy poverty. Nor did they lie down to rest, but slept in a reclining position. * Pachomius was famed for his patience and discretion as well as for power of governance and discipline. All his monks he assigned to classes according to their proficiency in obedience and observance ; and each class was known by a letter of the alphabet to designate their degree, beginning with one letter which stood for those truly obedient, and ending with another letter which indicated the very troublesome. In the fifty-seventh year of his age, and the thirty-fifth of his monastic life, a plague broke out in the monastery at Tabenna, and a hundred monks died, whereof Pachomius himself went to his eternal rest. The like of his rule was not seen ever again in the East, nor in the West until the Cistercian and mendicant Orders arose in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. For he governed as superior-general over all the monasteries, with chapters general and visitors, to bind his scattered flock into the unity of one Order, which at the time of his holy death, about the year 346, is said to have comprised seven thousand monks.
Do thou, O Lord, increase our faith in the Resurrection, Thou that workest wonders in the relics of Thy saints: and make us partakers of that immortal glory, a pledge of which we venerate in their ashes. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, Feast of All Relics]
BRENDAN is reputed to have been a disciple of Saint Finian of Ireland, and later of Saint Gildas of Brittany. And he himself had for one of his disciples that holy man who is known in England as Machutus, and in France as Malo. Blessed Brendan founded several schools and monasteries, and wrote a monastic Rule which was remarkable for its austerity. * He was known in olden times as Brendan the Voyager because of a voyage which he is said to have made to the Land of Promise beyond the setting of the sun in the Western Seas ; which legend (celebrated by the minstrels of olden times in all the European languages as one of the greatest adventures of all ages) is interpreted by some to mean that he planted a colony of monks in the Americas. * This story doubtless encouraged Christopher Columbus and others in their efforts at discoveries in the new world, most of the earliest of which had, among less noble purposes, the making over the seas of a way for Christ's Gospel. Brendan died at the age of ninety-four, about the year 580, and is reverenced as one of the most distinguished monks and missionaries of Ireland.
What is the sign that a man has attained to purity of heart, and when does a man know that his heart has entered into purity? When he sees all men as good and none appears to him to be unclean and defiled, then in very truth his heart is pure. [St. Isaac the Syrian]
On Memorial Day, we honor and remember the service and sacrifices of our veterans and servicemen and women.
From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 48:
They hanged upon a tree Him Who stretches out the earth; they transfixed Him with nails Who laid firm the foundation of the world; they circumscribed Him Who circumscribed the heavens; they bound Him who frees sinners. [St. Alexander of Alexandria]
O strange and inconceivable thing! We did not really die, we were not really buried, we were not really crucified and raised again. Yet our imitation is only a symbol, though our salvation is in reality. Christ was actually crucified, and actually buried, and truly rose again; and all these things have been granted to us, that we may participate in His sufferings by imitation, and might gain salvation in reality. [St. Cyril of Jerusalem]
DUNSTAN, born of a noble race, was driven from the king's court by the hostility of rivals. He thereupon bade farewell to the world and went to Glastonbury, which was then untenanted by monks. There he formed a community of monks and became abbot. King Edmund and King Edred regarded him with the highest favour, but Edwy hated him because he reproved his shameful deeds. Hence it came to pass that he was compelled to flee, and he lived as an exile in Ghent in Flanders. But when Edgar became king he was recalled home, to the joy of all, and was shortly afterwards raised to the Archbishopric of Canterbury. He was an eager champion of Church discipline; he expelled clergy who were living disorderly lives and introduced monks in their place; he compelled even the king himself to undergo a seven years' penance for sins he had committed. Although many feared the sternness of Dunstan, all men marvelled at his sanctity, so that he became known among the people as, The Good Archbishop. When the kings Edgar and Edward were dead he crowned the next king, Ethelred, to whom he is said to have foretold his hapless reign and unending troubles. He died in old age at the end of the tenth century, and was buried in his own church.
[Lesson, St. Dunstan, May 19/June 1].
O GOD, who hast translated blessed Dunstan thy Bishop to thy heavenly kingdom, grant that we, for his glorious sake, may pass into joy everlasting. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen.
God in His providence puts disgrace upon the haughty and honor upon the humble. And He chose the weak to spread His gospel. Humility is the first of all Christian virtues.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly.
Saint Radbod (or Radboud) (before 850 -- 917) was bishop of Utrecht from 900 to 917.
He was a descendant of the last King of the Frisians. He spent his youth with his uncle Gunther, Archbishop of Cologne. After that, he served at the court of Charles the Bald.
When he was appointed as bishop of Utrecht in 900, the city was in ruins after a number of Norman raids. Like his predecessors, he was seated instead at Deventer.
He died in Ootmarsum in 917. His feast day is 29 November.
Hunger and thirst, O Christ, for sight of Thee,
came between me and all the feasts of earth.
Give Thou Thyself the Bread, Thyself the wine,
Thou sole provision for the unknown way.
Long hunger wasted the world wanderer,
with sight of Thee may he be satisfied.
- - - - Radbod of Utrecht
Words of St. Silouan of Mount Athos: "There are people who say that monks ought to be of some use in the world, and not eat bread they have not toiled for; but we have to understand the nature of a monk's service and the way in which he has to help the world. A monk is someone who prays for the whole world, who weeps for the whole world; and in this lies his main work. ... Thanks to monks, prayer continues unceasing on earth, and the whole world profits. ... St Sergius by fasting and prayer helped the Russian people to free themselves from the Tatar yoke. St Seraphim prayed silently, and the Holy Spirit descended on Motovilov. And this is the task of the monk. ... Perhaps you will say that nowadays there are no monks like that, who would pray for the whole world; but I tell you that when there are no men of prayer on the earth, the world will come to an end. ... The world is supported by the prayers of the saints."
Without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ we cannot be saved from the punishment of sin when we die. Unless we are not of this world we cannot be with him because He is not of this world. Unless we are born from above we cannot unite with Him in heaven above.
If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.
The one who provokes his family to anger and resentment will finally have nothing worthwhile left. Listen to what king Solomon says: "He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind." (Prov 11:29)
God desires that we experience the peace and unity in a family relationship. Pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.
If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
On Rogation Days
Days of prayer, and formerly also of fasting, instituted by the Church to appease God's anger at man's transgressions, to ask protection in calamities, and to obtain a good and bountiful harvest, known in England as "Gang Days" and "Cross Week", and in Germany as Bittage, Bittwoche, Kreuzwoche. The Rogation Days were highly esteemed in England and King Alfred's laws considered a theft committed on these days equal to one committed on Sunday or a higher Church Holy Day. Their celebration continued even to the thirteenth year of Elizabeth, 1571, when one of the ministers of the Established Church inveighed against the Rogation processions, or Gang Days, of Cross Week. The ceremonial may be found in the Council of Clovesho (Thorpe, Ancient Laws, I, 64; Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, III, 564).
The Rogation Days are the 25th of April, called Major, and the three days before the feast of the Ascension, called Minor. The Major Rogation, which has no connexion with the feast of St. Mark (fixed for this date much later) seems to be of very early date and to have been introduced to counteract the ancient Robigalia, on which the heathens held processions and supplications to their gods. St. Gregory the Great (d. 604) regulated the already existing custom. The Minor Rogations were introduced by St. Mamertus, Bishop of Vienne, and were afterwards ordered by the Fifth Council of Orleans, which was held in 511, and then approved by Leo III (795-816). This is asserted by St. Gregory of Tours in "Hist. Franc.", II, 34, by St. Avitus of Vienne in his "Hom. de Rogat." (P.L., LVIII, 563), by Ado of Vienne (P.L., CXXIII, 102), and by the Roman Martyrology. Sassi, in "Archiepiscopi Mediolanenses", ascribes their introduction at an earlier date to St. Lazarus. This is also held by the Bollandist Henschen in "Acta SS.", II, Feb., 522. The liturgical celebration now consists in the procession and the Rogation Mass. For 25 April the Roman Missal gives the rubric: "If the feast of St. Mark is transferred, the procession is not transferred. In the rare case of 25 April being Easter Sunday [1886, 1943], the procession is held not on Sunday but on the Tuesday following".
The order to be observed in the procession of the Major and Minor Rogation is given in the Roman Ritual, title X, ch. iv. After the antiphon "Exurge Domine", the Litany of the Saints is chanted and each verse and response is said twice. After the verse "Sancta Maria" the procession begins to move. If necessary, the litany may be repeated, or some of the Penitential or Gradual Psalms added. For the Minor Rogations the "Ceremoniale Episcoporum", book II, ch. xxxii, notes: "Eadem serventur sed aliquid remissius". If the procession is held, the Rogation Mass is obligatory, and no notice is taken of whatever feast may occur, unless only one Mass is said, for then a commemoration is made of the feast. An exception is made in favour of the patron or titular of the church, of whom the Mass is said with a commemoration of the Rogation. The colour used in the procession and Mass is violet. The Roman Breviary gives the instruction: "All persons bound to recite the office, and who are not present at the procession, are bound to recite the Litany, nor can it be anticipated".
O GOD, who by the preaching and miracles of blessed Augustine thy Confessor and Bishop, hast caused the light of the true Faith to shine forth among the peoples of England : grant that by his intercession the hearts of them that are gone astray may return to the unity of thy truth; and that we may dwell together in peace according to thy will. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, St. Augustine, First Archbishop of Canterbury, May 26/June 8]
Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe thy only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into the heavens; so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell. Who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. [Collect, Ascension of Our Lord]
O King of glory, thou Lord of Sabaoth, who triumphing to-day hast ascended above all heavens, leave us not comfortless; but send on us the promise of the Father, even the Spirit of truth, alleluia. [Magnificat antiphon, second Vespers, Ascension of Our Lord]
From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, pages 48 - 49:O surpassing loving-kindness! Christ received the nails in His undefiled hands and feet, and He endured anguish; while to me He granted salvation, without suffering or toil, by the fellowship of His pain. [St. Cyril of Jerusalem]
The Cross, if you wish to define it, is the confirmation of victory, the way by which God descended to man, the trophy against material spirits, the repulsion of death, the foundation of the ascent to the true day, and the ladder for those who hurry to enjoy the light that is there. [St. Methodius of Olympus]
Whoever shall not confess the testimony of the Cross is the devil. [St. Polycarp of Smyrna]
Christ will not account those His sheep that are deaf to His calls. The word of command has always been, "follow Me." We must tread in His steps, follow the Lamb wherever He goes. In vain do we hear His voice if we do not follow Him.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they know me.
The salvation of sinners is the will of God. Christ made this work His business and delight. He gave that responsibility to His disciples to continue the work. Christ talks to us through his disciples to repent and leave out the worldly lusts.
My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.
Christ is the true light. Without Christ there is no light in our life. It is not enough to look at this light, but we must follow it, believe in it, and walk in it, for it is a light to our feet, not our eyes only. It is the happiness of those who follow Christ that they shall not walk in darkness.
I am the light of the world, he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.
"If we live with Him and associate with Him, we shall ascend with Him and assumed with Him into Heaven. And that not merely when we depart this life, but even now. Rather, He will take us up and glorify us with Himself, and bestow on us the enjoyment of eternal benefits." (St. Symeon the New Theologian)
Metropolitan Tikhon's Public Statement on the Orlando, Florida shootings.
If you wish to honor the Eucharistic Victim, offer your own soul for which the Victim was sacrificed. Make your soul into gold. If your soul remains viler than lead or clay, what good does it do to have a golden chalice? Do you wish to honor the Body of Christ? Then do not disdain Him when you see Him in rags. After having honored Him in church in silk vestments, do not leave Him to die of cold outside, for lack of clothing. 'I was hungry but you did not feed Me,' says the Lord. St. John Chrysostom
The unclean spirit has no choice but to obey Jesus because God has authority over these spirits. The demons recognize Jesus as God and they do rightly fear the Holy One. But they do not do the good deeds.
With authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.
Persecution against Christians will provide them with opportunities to give testimony to their faith. The Lord Jesus assures His disciples that He will give them wisdom in answering their enemies. Endurance for tribulations will assure a place for us in the kingdom of God.
I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.
We are God's servants, and He expects us to be faithfully doing our work when Jesus Christ returns. But when we stop looking for His coming, loving it, and longing for it, our hearts get cold, and we get worldly. Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning.
Love delights in giving attention rather than attracting it.
Love finds the element of good and builds on it.
Love does not magnify defects.
Love knows how to disagree without becoming disagreeable.
Love rejoices at success of others instead of being envious.
(Yesterday) Whitsunday, or Pentecost, is the descent of the Holy Spirit, completing the revelation of God as Trinity. The Holy Fathers say the Church existed from the beginning of the world -- so, strictly speaking, this was not the birth of the Church. But it was a new life by new grace, a spiritual Renaissance. The grace of the Holy Spirit impelled the apostles to evangelize the world and make a disciple of each willing hearer. We follow it, in the old Roman rite, with the Apostles' Lent, for without ascetic self-denial we will not succeed in preserving the gift, nor will we be able to present to our fellow man an intuitive image of the suffering Christ, drawing him to desire the Crucified One.
How many of us [say], "I wish to see the Lord?" God gave us Himself not only to see but to eat and take Him inside us and live.
I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.
From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 49:
How great a terror to the demons is this sign. See how, when adjured by Christ, they flee from the bodies which they have besieged. [Lactantius]
By the Sign of the Cross all magic is stopped, and all witchcraft brought to nothing. [St. Athanasius]
In every act we do, in every step we take, let our hand trace the Lord's Cross. [St. Jerome]
In all our actions, when we come in or go out, when we dress, when we wash, at our meals, before retiring to sleep, we make on our foreheads the Sign of the Cross. These practices are not committed by a formal law of Scripture, but tradition teaches them, custom confirms them, faith observes them. [Tertullian]
Some know that Abbot James was recently in hospital and rehab. Prayers are asked for his continued health and well-being.
Blessed is God Who uses corporeal objects continually to draw us close in a symbolic way to a knowledge of God's invisible nature. O Name of Jesus, key to all gifts, open up for me the great door to Thy treasure-house, that I may enter and praise Thee with the praise that comes from the heart. [St. Isaac the Syrian]
Joses, who by the Apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is being interpreted,the son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet. When Paul after his conversion, was come to Jerusalem, the disciples were all afraid of him, but Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles. When tidings that a great number believed and turned unto the Lord came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem, they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.
'Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: and when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be a great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul. And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.
Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers with Paul and Barnabas, and as they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work where unto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. And they travelled through many cities and territories round about, preaching the Gospel with great gain to those that heard them.
At length Barnabas separated from Paul, and took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus. There, on June 11, about the time of the seventh year of Nero, Barnabas added the crown of martyrdom to the glory of the apostolate. During the reign of the emperor Zeno his body was found in the island of Cyprus, and on his breast was a copy of St. Matthew's Gospel, written in Barnabas' own hand.
OUR LADY OF GLASTONBURY
ALMIGHTY GOD, Father eternal, who of thy great love didst send us thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, to be born of our human flesh in the womb of the blessed and ever-virgin Mary: grant that, as we celebrate this day her memorial as our Lady of Glastonbury, and holpen by her prayers, we may be delivered from all present sorrows and brought to the fullness of eternal life and joy in thee: who with the same Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest, ever one God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, Our Lady of Glastonbury, celebrated on the third Saturday in June]
A Prayer to the Mother of God Our Lady Saint Mary of Glastonbury
Holy Mother of God, most Gracious Queen, Our Lady Mary of Glastonbury, We beseech thee by thy powerful intercession, together with that of Blessed Michael the Archangel, Blessed Joseph of Arimathaea, and all the saints and martyrs of Glastonbury, that true unity of Faith may be restored among all Christians; and that, by thy help and protection we thy children may ever rejoice in health of mind and body, to render fitting service to our great God and Saviour, the Holy and Undivided Trinity, whom we ever adore, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.
The Lord Jesus prayed for all His church to share the life and the glory of the Father and the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit. Christians enjoy the unity with the Trinity and with one another through the Holy Trinity.
And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as we are one.
From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 49 - 50:
In the . . . Sign of the Cross is all virtue and power. . . . In this Sign of the Cross is salvation for all who are marked on their foreheads. [St. Cyprian of Carthage]
By this sign the passions are truly blunted. The passion of the passions took place in the Passion, and the death of death by the death of Christ, since He was neither subdued by death, nor overcome by the pains of the Passion. [St. Methodius of Olympus]
He has changed sunset into sunrise, and through the Cross brought death to life. And having wrenched man from destruction, He has raised him to the skies. [St. Clement of Alexandria]
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (I Tim 6:10)
BOTULPH, and his brother Adulph, both of whom are venerated as Saints, went as youths to Belgic Gaul, and there became monks. Adulph is said to have become a regionary bishop at Utrecht. Botulph in the course of time returned to England, and founded, about the year 654, a monastery at a place usually identified with Boston in Lincolnshire, for Boston is a corruption of Botulph's Town. He was proclaimed far and wide as a man of remarkable life and learning, full of the grace of the Holy Spirit, and went to God about the year 680. And when the monastery was destroyed during the Danish invasion of the ninth century, his relicks, and those of Saint Adulph which had been enshrined with him, were saved, and later distributed among various great Minsters in England./h3>