Orthodox Daily Devotional for May 12-18
1 Peter 2:19… Dearly beloved: This is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the Tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
SAINT FOCUS: St. Pachomius of Egypt was one of the pioneering ‘desert dwellers’ who sought a stronger relationship with God in harsh isolation. But he was converted by the actions of Christians feeding he and other army conscripts early in life because of their love of their God and others. We usually never know the full impact of the small things we do in the name of the Lord…that’s why they are so important.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me.
St Tikhon of Moscow on Seeing Our Sin…
“Unfortunately, brethren, we do not like to acknowledge our transgressions. It would seem natural and easy for a person to know his own self, his own soul and his shortcomings. This, however, is actually not so. We are ready to attend to anything but a deeper understanding of ourselves, an investigation of our sins. We examine various things with curiosity, we attentively study friends and strangers, but when faced with solitude without extraneous preoccupation even for a short while, we immediately become bored and attempt to seek amusement. For example, do we spend much time examining our own conscience even before confession? Perhaps a few minutes, and once a year at that. Casting a cursory glance at our soul, correcting some of its more glaring faults, we immediately cover it over with the veil of oblivion until next year, until our next uncomfortable exercise in boredom. Yet we love to observe the sins of others. Not considering the beam in our own eye, we take notice of the mote in our brother’s eye.”
PRAYER: O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of all impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.
Elder Ephraim of Arizona on Remembering Death…
“When the remembrance of death is diligently meditated upon, it provides great strength in the beginning when one ineffective then, for every mouth shall be silenced with no excuse. We should ponder these things and other such things so that we can trace out more clearly what kind of goal we have and so that we can run as quickly as possible to obtain it, for we do not know what tomorrow holds. The time of death is unknown. Only good deeds done for God will remain and will follow man beyond death. And what is better than working for God all one’s life so those dwelling in them will tell you: ‘For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?’”
– ‘Counsels from the Holy Mountain’
PRAYER: All my hope I place in thee O Mother of God keep me under thy protection.
Making Our Visit to Church ‘Real’…
“So much that is put in front of us is so rich, and yet we don’t slow down our hearts enough and
our minds enough to take delight in the abundance of what surrounds us. The more you exercise
yourself in seeing the gift that these things are, the more obvious the gifts become.
Let us take, for example, the Holy Liturgy. It is a familiar friend to us, we know it well, we experience it often. But how different it is when we open our eyes to the ineffable beauty of what is in front of us. This is the mystery of heaven and earth intermingling! When you walk into the temple, as soon as you feel your foot hit the floor of the temple—every time—let that be the bell in your head that causes you to remember that this is not just another building. There is something astonishing in it, and I am being allowed to set my foot into a place where God Himself chooses to dwell, where God makes Himself manifest to people who need Him; and I’m allowed to just walk in, as if it were my house. Let us take a moment to be astonished by that, every time we walk in.
As you cross that threshold from the narthex into the main church, to remind yourself that for many centuries, in the life of our Church, people weren’t allowed beyond that threshold. It was barred off, and we still remind ourselves of it in the liturgy: ‘The doors! the doors! Close the doors to the unillumined!’ And here, we not only walk freely into the temple but even into the heart of the temple. We say in the prayers before Holy Communion, 1 will not speak of Thy Mysteries to Thine enemies,’ but here we’re allowed not just to speak of these things but to see them, to feel them, to touch them, to taste them; and to remind ourselves that this is an awesome thing, just walking into the temple.”
– Talk by Bishop Irenei of Western Europe
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.
The Correct Attitude Towards our Sin…
“It has been said of the 16th Century Western European religious climate, that the prevailing attitude was a conviction that man is so sinful that it would be nearly impossible for God to forgive him. We are now at the other extreme, as it seems to be the prevailing attitude that human beings are faultless and have no need of forgiveness. They might say that even if there are failings, it is the parents, the culture or other external influences that are to blame. We have a “no fault” attitude when it comes to sin. There are many who say that they have no need of confession because they have no sins. There are some who come to confession because it is the rule and requirement for receiving Holy Communion and they might even say that they have no sins. This of course is spiritual blindness and hardness of heart. This neutralizes the power and force of the mystery of confession. Anyone who can say that they have no sins is surely insensitive and blind to the reality of their lives. In the end we do ourselves no favors if we pass by this wonderful mystery of the Church. We should remember that the fathers tell us that the sins that are not confessed (and not repented of), are not forgiven.”
(Fr Joseph, ‘The Talanton’ monastery newsletter)
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.
Fr John Konkle on the state in which we are judged…
I finally made it to confession and asked for advice on how to overcome my slavery to anger, and the judgment and defensiveness that accompanies it. My confessor simply and without hesitation replied: “When that happens to me, I try to remember that Christ could come back for me at this very moment. When I do that, the anger departs.” Immediately upon hearing his humble words, the anger left me. I was free for the first time in weeks. I do not recall any time since then that anger has held me in bondage. Sure, I’ve succumbed to anger on different occasions, but not persistently so. His simple instruction became so associated in my mind with anger, that soon after an occasion of becoming angry I am reminded of what it would be like if Christ were to return for me now. The anger always leaves at that very moment.
The vividness of this experience opened my eyes to the practical implications of our Lord’s teaching on His Second Coming. When He comes again, when He comes for us, we will be judged in the state that we are found. If the master of the house would have known when the thief was coming, he would have prevented the robbery (c/Mt 24:43-44), but as it was he was robbed in the state he was found. If the servants would have known when the master of the house was coming, they would have been ready to receive him instead of partying (c/Mt 24:45-51); they will be judged as they are found when the master returns. The five foolish virgins should have had oil, but they are judged in the state they are found, as are the wise virgins (c/Mt 25:1-13).
– ‘Burning Bush’ of Dormition of the Mother of God
Queen of Heaven rejoice, alleluia: For He whom you merited to bear, alleluia, Has risen as He said, alleluia. Pray for us to God, alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.Because the Lord is truly risen, alleluia.
Elder St Paisios on God and Pain…
“How can God allow for such a harsh thing to happen? Doesn’t God feel pain – God’s pain for the people who are suffering from ill nesses, from demons, from barbarians and so forth is also full of joy over the heavenly reward He has prepared for them. By keeping in mind the reward that awaits those who endure tribulations and knowing what is there for them in the other life, God is able to “endure” this pain He allowed Herod to do so much evil…The more the child was tortured, the more God was pained, but He was also aware of the great glory awaiting them in Heaven. He could rejoice for these little angels, who would make up His order of angelic martyrs. Angels from martyrs!”
– ‘Family Life’
PRAYER: Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the) rest in peace. Amen.