Orthodox Daily Devotional for April 14-20
**The reading is taken from the Psalms for next week’s Palm Sunday verses honoring Christ as the Messiah**
Psalm 24 The earth is the Lord’s and all that therein is: the compass of the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas: and prepared it upon the floods. Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors: and the King of glory shall come in. Who is the King of glory? It is the Lord strong and mighty, even the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors: and the King of glory shall come in. Who is the King of glory? even the Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.
Psalm 47 O clap your hands together, all ye people, sing unto God with the voice of melody. For the Lord is high, and to be feared, he is the great King upon all the earth. He shall subdue the people unto us and the nations under our feet. He shall choose out an heritage for us, even the worship of Jacob, whom he loved. God is gone up with a merry noise, and the Lord with the sound of the trump. O sing praises, sing praises unto our God, O sing praises, sing praises unto our King. For God is the King of all the earth, sing ye praises with understanding. God reigneth over the heathen, God sitteth upon his holy seat. . The princes of the people are joined unto the people of the God of Abraham. For God, which is very high exalted, * doth defend the earth as it were with a shield.
Saint Focus: Saturday is the feast of Zacchaeus who ‘climbed up in the sycamore tree’ to see the Lord passing by. As with many individuals mentioned in the New Testament the Lord had a lasting impact on his life. He eventually became the Bishop of Caesarea speading the Good News to others that he had received. What have you done with the ‘Good News’?
The church service for this Sunday is devoted to the memory and glorification of the spiritual efforts of Saint Mary of Egypt (See Apr. 1), who “has cut down with the sword of abstinence the desires of your soul and the passions of your flesh. You have choked your sinful thoughts with the silence of the ascetic life, and you have watered all the wilderness with the streams of your tears, and caused the fruits of repentance to spring up for us” and “with works of Lenten fasting”, “as the sun she shines revealed as a guide to all who have sinned”. In her life the Holy Church pays attention to two contrasts: on the depth of her sinful falling and on the height of her graceful rising, that it points out that true repentance wipes away the very heaviest sins, and can uplift the repenting trespasser to a high degree of spiritual perfection.
O come, let us worship God our King.
O come, let us worship and fall down before Christ our King and God.
O come, let us worship and fall down before Christ Himself, our King and God.
“Some people living carelessly in the world put a question to me: “How can we who are married and living amid public cares aspire to the monastic life?” I answered: “Do whatever good you may. Speak evil of no one. Rob no one. Tell no lie. Despise no one and carry no hate. Do not separate yourself from the church assemblies (Liturgy). Show compassion to the needy. Do not be a cause of scandal to anyone. Stay away from the bed of another, and be satisfied with what your own wives can provide you. If you do all this, you will not be far from the kingdom of heaven.”
– St John Climacus’ advice to those living in the world
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.
“Do not be despondent if you unexpectedly fall. The Lord may let us fall to teach us, to help us realize our own weakness so that with greater faith we would turn to the Almighty, Who is capable of filling our weakness with His Power. Taming the passions is the work of our whole life; in this warfare, we learn to see our absolute weakness and fragility, and the mighty power of God, Who can by a wave of His hand raise us from the abyss of sin and passions. The Lord may let us suffer much from both ourselves and our neighbor to help us acquire the divine virtue of humility.”
(Archimandrite John Krestiankin+, letters)
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 – F)
In his Paschal Homily St John Chrysostom invite all to take part in the Feast of Pascha even those who have ‘come late’.. “If any have arrived only at the eleventh, let him not be afraid because he comes so late. For the Master is generous and accepts the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes at the eleventh hour in the same was as him who has laboured from the first. He accepts the deed, and commends the intention.” If we don’t participate in the fast of Lent and don’t attend any Holy Week services we are not ‘closed out’ of the Feast but at the same time we have an empty feeling because we haven’t done anything to deserve the invitation. It’s like attending a celebratory banquet of farm workers who just finished harvesting the crop.. we don’t have the feeling of ‘belonging’ as they do even though we can smile and eat the food. It is not too late to change that as Holy Week is just ahead.
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears! Turn, then, O most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
On Saturday Lenten Devotional of the 6th Week, the Holy Church commemorates the miracle of raising Lazarus accomplished by the Savior six days before the Jewish Passover during which He suffered (John 11:45-57). The Holy Church glorifies the raising of Lazarus, as proof of the divine power of Jesus Christ and as evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and in the general resurrection of all the dead, as is expressed in the Troparion of the feast. The faithful finding out the great value accomplished by the Lord remembered in today’s miracle, the Holy Church hymns: “O Lord, your voice destroyed the kingdom of Hades and the word of Your authority raised from the grave the one who was dead four days, and Lazarus became once again the saving first fruits of the regeneration of the world. All things are possible to You, O Master and King of all”. But at the same time the Holy Church reminds also that the commemoration of this event has served as the beginning of the resolute revolt of the council of the priests and Pharisees against the Savior. Performed before the eyes of innumerable people, the great miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus turned many to the faith in Jesus Christ and caused the strongest indignation against Him by the high priests and elders of Judah, and the Sanhedrin now decided, upon the advice of Caiaphas to arrest Jesus only where it will be possible (John 11, 47-50). Thus the paradigm of the resurrection of Lazarus served as the direct reason for the condemnation of the Savior to death.
Blessed by the name of the Lord from henceforth and forevermore.
On this day [tomorrow] the Holy Church especially commemorates the imperial glorification of Jesus Christ before His death on the cross to indicate that the sufferings of the Savior were voluntary. The event of the feast is described in the Gospels and the beginning of this feast goes back to deep antiquity. It is traditional to use palms on this feast (palm branches). It is even called “Palm” Sunday, “Flower bearing”, “Flower offering” or “Flowery”, and in popular usage “Palm Sunday”. In Russia] willows replace palms because the willow tree blossoms before other trees. The tradition to use palms on this feast is based on the circumstances of the event of the Entry of our Lord into Jerusalem. Praying as though we will invisibly meet the Lord and greet Him as the Victor over Hades and death, we hold in our hands the “signs of victory”: the willows and lighted candles.
Lord, I have cried to Thee, hearken unto me. Hearken unto me, O Lord. Lord, I have cried to Thee, hearken unto me. Attend to the voice of my prayer, when I cry unto Thee. Hearken unto me, O Lord. Let my prayer be set forth as incense before Thee, the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice. Hearken unto me, O Lord.