Daily Devotional for April 10-16
We find ourselves in a fight during Lent. The individual wrestles with the reality of his or her addictions and insecurities. The Christian community suffers through grumbling, gossip, and even slander. It is like clock work. Everyone carries baggage with them in every Christian community, and when we are not tending to our heart, the devil gets inside.
“You have been grieved by various trials,” St. Peter writes to the Church, “So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1: 6-7).
Lent is a time of dying. Then Pascha/Easter arrives — Pascha, the most holy season! Everything is beautiful during Pascha.
At Pascha we dip into the glory of Christ’s resurrection. How do we need to go about Pascha? We need to just soak it all in. Lent is a time for fasting. Pascha is time for feasting. Lent is a time for detaching from pleasures. Pascha is a time for reattaching, with a new heart, a joyful heart. Each and every day of Lent is a day for repenting. Each and every day of Pascha is a day for giving thinks.
We adore Thee O Christ and we bless Thee for by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.
Monday of the Sixth Week of Lent
A tale of Elder Barlaam to Ioasaph: The citizens in a certain town had a custom of choosing as king a stranger who did not know their laws and customs. After they had crowned him king, they clothed him in beautiful robes, fed him abundantly and surrounded him with every luxury. However, as soon as one year had elapsed, they deposed their king, stripped him of all his goods and his clothes, and drove him completely naked to a distant island, where he had neither bread nor roof nor companions, and where he would die in misery and humiliation. The citizens of this town would then choose another king, also a stranger and also for one year; then a third, then a fourth, then a fifth and so forth. But it once happened that they chose a very wise and cautious man. He learned from his servants what had happened to the kings of this town after their year. Therefore, over the course of the whole year he zealously gathered food and goods and daily sent them to that island. When the year had run out and when he was stripped of his clothing and cast onto the island, he found himself amidst an enormous quantity of food, silver, gold and precious stones, and continued to live there even better than he lived as king in that town. The interpretation is this: The town represents the world; the citizens represent the evil spirits; the kings are men, either foolish or wise. The foolish men think only of the pleasures of this life, as if it were eternal; but in the end, death cuts everything off and they, naked of all good works, go to hell. The wise, however, perform many good works, and send these good works ahead of them to the other world. At their repose, the wise kings-the good men-depart to that world where their accumulated riches await them, and where they reign in greater eternal glory and beauty than they reigned here on earth.
From St. Nikolai’s ‘Prologue of Ohrid’
Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord my strength and my redeemer
Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Lent
God hears the prayers of the just. This is clearly seen from the lives of Moses, Elijah, and the other Old Testament righteous ones and prophets as well as from the lives of the apostles and saints. While St. Genevieve, as a nun, lived a life of asceticism in Paris, it so happened that Attila with his savage Huns surrounded Paris. Fear and terror overcame the entire population of Paris who, at any moment, awaited the capture of the city by the enemy. Then, St. Genevieve called upon the people to fast and to pray to God and then the calamity will be averted. Many men and women responded to the call of this saint and began to fast and pray to God. Genevieve herself fasted the most and prayed most ardently to God. After a short while the enemy turned away from Paris without any visible reason and departed for another place. That which the sword of many sinners cannot do, the prayer of the righteous person can.
O Lord come to my assistance, O Lord make haste to help me.
Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Lent
The love of God, as a fragrant oil, is shed abroad in our hearts by no other than the Holy Spirit, the All-gentle and All-powerful Spirit. Completely undeserved by us, the Spirit of God is shed abroad in us: the love of God in our hearts in the Mystery [Sacrament] of Chrismation. However, in time we neglect this love and by sin we alienate ourselves from God and fall into the disease of spiritual paralysis. And the Holy Spirit unwilling to abide in an impure vessel, distances Itself from our heart. When the Holy Spirit distances Itself from us, then joy, power, peace and courage also departs from us immediately. We become sorrowful, weakened, disturbed and fearful. But the All-good Spirit of God only distances Itself from us but does not abandon us completely. He does not abandon us but He offers to us who are sick, remedies through the Mystery of Repentance and the Mystery of Holy Communion. When we again cleanse ourselves through the Mysteries [Sacraments] of Repentance and Communion then He, the Holy Spirit of God, again abides in us and the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. We fall, we rise, we fall and we rise! When we fall, the Spirit of God stands by us and raises us if we desire to be raised. However, when we are raised, the Spirit of God stands within us all until we, by sin and foolishness, do not desire to fall. Thus, we in this life interchangeably become a fertile field and a wilderness, sons of repentance and prodigal sons, fullness and emptiness, light and darkness.
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.
Thursday of the Sixth Week of Lent
We should not desire the death of a sinner, but his repentance. Nothing grieves the Lord more, Who suffered on the Cross for sinners, then when we pray to Him for the death of a sinner and thereby to remove him from our path. It happened that the Apostle Carpus lost his patience and began to pray that God send down death upon two sinful men; one a pagan and the other an apostate from the Faith. Then the Lord Christ Himself appeared to Carpus and said: “Strike me; I am prepared to be crucified again for the salvation of mankind.” St. Carpus related this event to St. Dionysius the Areopagite and he wrote it down and gave it to the Church as a lesson to all, that prayers are needed for sinners to be saved and not for them to be destroyed, “for the Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
From St. Nikolai’s ‘Prologue of Ohrid’
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts, the whole earth is filled with Thy Glory.
Friday of the Sixth Week of Lent
The ingratitude of man is most strongly exposed by the gratitude of animals. When the irrational ox knows who his master is and when the ass knows from whose crib it is fed, how then can rational man not know about God, His Creator and Nourisher? The word Israel means “one who sees God.” And every rational man should by his rationality be “one who sees God”, to know God, to feel the presence of God and to serve God as once did the meek and wonderful Jacob. But when rational man, whose entire dignity is in the knowledge of God, does not know God, i.e., when the “one who sees God” becomes blind toward God, then the dignity of the ox and the ass is raised in dignity above such a man. For an ox, without exception, recognizes his master and the ass, without exception, recognizes the one who feeds him while among men there exists exceptions, i.e., there exist men and, very often leaders of men, who do not recognize their Lord nor their Nourisher. In all of created nature, godlessness is a disease only among men for godliness is the condition of normality and health only for men and not for animals. Thus, godlessness is not the disease of animals but of men; alas, only of men, only they who are destined to be “ones who see God” and who, when they lose their godliness, become poorer than the ox and the ass.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
(St. Patrick’s Breastplate prayer excerpt)
Saturday of the Sixth Week of Lent
Even in His pain on the cross, the Lord Jesus did not condemn sinners but offered pardon to His Father for their sins saying, “They know not what they do!”(St. Luke 23:34). Let us not judge anyone so that we will not be judged. For no one is certain that before his death he will not commit the same sin by which he condemns his brother. Saint Anastasius of Sinai teaches, “Even if you see someone sinning, do not judge him for you do not know what the end of his life will be like. The thief, crucified with Christ, entered Paradise and the Apostle Judas went to Hell. Even if you see someone sinning, bear in mind that you do not know his good works. For many have sinned openly and repented in secret; we see their sins, but we do not know their repentance. That is why, brethren, let us not judge anyone so that we will not be judged.”
O Come let us worship and fall down before Christ, O Son of God, Who didst rise from the dead, save us who chant unto Thee, Alleluia.