Daily Devotional for September 19-25
St. Nikolai Velimirovich on God as the ‘Subject’… “To have one’s sins forgiven and to be cleansed of passion to be untied from the world and in one’s entirety elevated to God; to have one’s heart cleansed and open and filled with loo toward God and with the desire for direct contact with Him that is what it means to be ready to receive God into oneself. And when God, according to His unspeakable providence and incomprehensible love, moves into such a man, then God within man becomes the subject and the man becomes the object. This question has been solved by Christian saints. They solved it in themselves in a practical manner. God moved into them and became the subject. They renounced themselves unto themselves and allowed God to think for them, to love for them and to act through them and for them. Whence then is the knowledge of the truth in them? From God. Whence such a force within them, such mighty deeds and miracles? From God.” – ‘Missionary Letters Vol. 3’
Prayer: O Gentle Light of the holy glory of the immortal, heavenly, holy, blessed Father, O Jesus Christ: Having come to the setting of the sun, having beheld the evening light, we praise the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: God. Meet it is for Thee at all times to be hymned with reverent voices, O Son of God, Giver of life. Wherefore, the world doth glorify Thee.
*Eastern Vesper Hymn
Elder St Paisios on the Preiminent Virtues…
“…love and humility. As soon as these two virtues are nurtured, pride and evil will become malnourished and the passions will start to perish. In this way, one by one, all of the passions will gradually disappear, and the rest of the virtues will come on their own. Therefore, direct all your efforts towards love and humility. True love and humility embrace each other like loving twin siblings. Love cannot be separated from humility. Love contains humility and humility contains love. For me, the foundation of spiritual life is love and humility. Where there is love, Christ dwells within, as He is Love; and where there is humility, the Grace of God becomes the “rent-control tenant”. Thus, God reigns everywhere and earth is transformed into Paradise.”
– ‘Passions and Virtues’
Prayer: Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
St. Nikolai Velimirovich on Seeing Our Real Self… “Others have told you that you have an ugly passion, but you did not believe it. Why didn’t you? Do you now know that the ugliness of our face is always seen by others before we see it ourselves. The eye sees everything except itself. Others see our lace without a mirror, but we see it only in a mirror. The mirror of our souls is Christ. Look at Christ – gaze upon Him for a while, as into a mirror, and think – would He do in secret that what you do? Obviously not. So, the mirror would give a negative answer, which is to say, it would show spiritual ugliness. A drunk man, even when he is completely drunk, still convinces the whole world that he is sober and that he knows what he is talking about.” – ‘Missionary Letters Vol. 3’
Prayer: Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world: have mercy upon us. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world: have mercy upon us. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, grant us peace.
Elder St. Paisios on Obtaining a Spiritual Crown…
“For the athlete to be crowned with victory takes patience, philotimo/Christ Worldview and spiritual bravery. Bravery stems from a heart filled with philotimo/Christ Worldview; and when one does something with his heart for Christ, he neither tires nor feels pain, because such suffering for Christ is a spiritual feast. Spiritual progress can be rapid with a little philotimo/Christ Worldview-filed effort and awareness of our inner self. In the meantime, the soul will be befriended by Jesus Christ, by Panaghia/Virgin Mary, the Angels and the Saints. Study, prayer, introversion and some peace and tranquility help a lot too. Christ helps those who are fighting the good fight that all the Saints embraced in order to subdue the flesh…”
– ‘Spiritual Awakening’
Prayer: O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance. Grant victory over their enemies to Orthodox Christians, and protect Thy people with Thy Cross.
Elder Ephraim on Remembering Death… “When we remember death, we find an excellent guide that helps us discover the truth of things. Death says, “Why are you treasuring things up, why are you proud, why do you boast, O youth, O health, O science? When I come, 1 will render you your worth! When you are laid in the dark grave, you will know what the profit of earthly good things is!” We are departing to the world that transcends the senses, my children. We do not stay in this world which is full of bitterness, distress, sin, and miseries. There in the unfading life, God will wipe away every tear from the eyes of the saved, and there will be no pain, grief, or sighing, but an eternal day, a life without end or death! This is the life, my children, that we should long for wholeheartedly and fervently, so that by God’s grace we may acquire it and be delivered from painful hell.” (Elder Ephraim of Arizona in ‘Counsels from the Holy Mountain’)
Prayer: O my God relying on Thy infinite goodness and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.
*Act of Hope
Elder Epiphanios on the Devil and Distraction “Any person whatsoever can be concentrated, even for hours, thinking of a certain problem or a certain matter— without his attention being distracted by anything else. In earlier times also, when adding machines did not exist, accountants worked for eight hours doing additions without lifting their heads and without their mind wandering, even if a compressor was working next to them! Something analogous occurs with many students when they are occupied by their lessons. If, however, someone sets out to pray, then all the personal, family or business occupations project themselves before him and distract him. This is proof that the devil exists and that prayer burns him up. For this reason, he fights it.” – ‘Counsels for Life’
Prayer: O my God I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all-good and worthy of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.
*Act of Contrition
Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi on Temptation …
Generally speaking, temptations according to our Fathers are the bearers of every agitation and pain which occur in our lives. Sometimes they provoke sorrow, sometimes anxiety, at other times physical pain. As a doctor, God orders the appropriate medicine according to the source of the passion which has overcome the soul. “Where I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of the sand” (Psalm 139, 18). To some people God permits the onslaught of temptations to abolish sins which have already been committed; to others to prevent them from committing the sins which they were about to commit. Certainly there are also testing temptations. These occur to reveal the strength of the virtue and the holiness of the great athletes, like Job, in order to strengthen the Church. Unless there is a cause which will become a motive, the most evil demons cannot start a fight, from which the onslaught of the spiritual war is launched.
One basic source from which they usually direct the attack is the passions which reside in a man’s soul. These passions are the wicked habits, which he has created out of negligence or self-love. The evil demons are watching these passions and their demands which want satisfaction, and bring to the mind wicked thoughts and force man to agree to them. When they achieve this, they continue pressing the enslaved man to proceed with committing the deed which he almost cannot resist.
. – ‘The Significance of Pain’
Prayer: O my God I love Thee above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because Thou art all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee. I forgive all who have injured me, and ask pardon of all whom I have injured. (Act of Charity)