Daily Devotional for February 25 – March 3
John 1: 43 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”
48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
50 Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter[j] you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
In everything and at every time strive to please God and think of the salvation of your soul from sin and from the Devil, and of its adoption by God.
~ On rising from your bed, make the sign of the Cross and say: ” In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost,” and also: ” Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin and teach me to do Thy Will.”
~ While washing, either at home or at the baths, say: ” Purge me with hyssop, Lord, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.”
~ When putting on your linen, think of the cleanliness of the heart, and ask the Lord for a clean heart: “Create in me a clean heart, O God!” If you have made new clothes and are putting them on, think of the renewal of the spirit and say: “Renew a right spirit within me”; laying aside old clothes, and disdaining them, think with still greater disdain of laying aside the old man, the sinful, passionate, carnal man…
Continued from Monday…
“…tasting the sweetness of bread, think of the true Bread, which gives eternal life to the soul–the Body and Blood of Christ–and hunger after this bread–that is long to communicate of it oftener;
~ drinking water, tea, sweet-tasted tea, sweet-tasted mead or any other drink, think of the true drink that quenches the thirst of the soul inflamed by passions–of the most-pure and life-giving Blood of the Savior;
~ resting during the day, think of the eternal rest, prepared for those who wrestle and struggle against sin, against the subcelestial spirits of evil, against human injustice or rudeness and ignorance;
~ lying down to sleep at night, think of the sleep of death, which sooner or later will unfailingly come to all of us, of that dark, eternal, terrible night, into which all impenitent sinners will be cast; meeting the day, think of the nightless day, eternal, most bright–brighter than the sunniest earthly day–the day of the kingdom of Heaven, at which all those will rejoice who have striven to please God, or who have repented before God from their whole life during this temporary life;
~ when you are going anywhere, think of the righteousness of spiritually walking before God and say: “Order my steps in Thy word and let not any iniquity have dominion over me;” when doing anything, strive to do it with the thought of God…”
To what end do fasting and penitence lead? For what purpose is this trouble taken? They lead to the cleansing of the soul from sins, to peace of heart, to union with God; they fill us with devotion and sonship, and give us boldness before God. There are, indeed, very important reasons for fasting and for confession from the whole heart. There shall be an inestimable reward given for conscientious labor. Have many of us the feeling of sonlike love to God? Dare many of us, without condemnation and with boldness call upon the Father in Heaven and say: “Our Father!”…. Is there not, on the contrary, no such sonlike voice to be heard in our hearts, which are deadened by the vanities of this world and attachments to its objects and pleasures? Is not our Heavenly Father far from our hearts? Is it not rather an avenging God that we should represent to ourselves, we who have withdrawn ourselves from Him into a far-away land? Yes, by our sins all of us are worthy of His righteous anger and punishment, and it is wonderful how long-suffering and forbearing He is to us–that He does not strike us like the barren fig trees. Let us hasten to propitiate Him by repentance and tears.
When praying, we must absolutely subject our heart to our will, and turn it towards God. It must be neither cold, crafty, untruthful, nor double-minded, otherwise what will be the use of our prayers, of our preparation for the Sacrament? It is good for us to hear God’s voice of anger: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” So do not let us stand in church in a state of spiritual prostration, but let the spirit of each one of us on such occasions burn in its working towards God. Even men do not much value the services which we render to them coldly, out of habit. And God requires our hearts. “My son, give Me thine heart.” Because the heart is the principal part of the man–his life. More than this, the heart is the man himself. Thus he who does not pray or does not serve God with his heart, does not pray at all, because in that case his body only prays, and the body without the mind is nothing more than earth. Remember, that when standing in prayer, you stand before God Himself, who has the wisdom of all. Therefore, your prayer ought to be, so to say, all spirit, all understanding.
The evil spirit tries to scatter prayer as if it were a sand-heap, tries to turn the words into dry sand, without coherency or moisture–that is to say, without fervour of heart. Thus prayer may become either a house built on sand or a house built on a rock. Those build on sand who pray without faith, absently, coldly; such prayer is scattered of itself, and does not bring any profit to him who prays; those build on a rock who, during the whole time of their prayer, have their eyes fixed upon God, and pray to Him as to a living person, conversing face to face with them… Our hope of obtaining that which we ask for during prayer is founded upon faith in God’s mercy and bountifulness, for He is the God of mercy and bountifulness, and the Lover of men…
The voice of the readings in church, the hymns, prayers, and supplications, is the voice of our own souls pouring forth from the acknowledgment and feeling of our spiritual needs and requirements; it is the voice of all mankind acknowledging and feeling its poverty, its accursedness, its sinfulness, the necessity of a Savior, the necessity of gratitude and praise for the innumerable benefits and the infinite perfections of God. Wonderfully beautiful are these prayers and hymns; they are the breathing of the Holy Ghost! The sign of the cross as a blessing from a priest or a bishop is an expression of the blessing or of the favor of God to a man in Christ and for Christ’s sake. What a joyful, significant, and precious ceremony this is! Blessed are all who receive such a blessing with faith! How attentive should the priests themselves be in bestowing their blessing upon the faithful! ” And they shall put My name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”