Orthodox Daily Devotional for July 14-20
1 Peter 5:6 Dearly beloved: All of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the Godof all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Saint Focus: Monday is the Feast of St. Vladimir who brought Orthodoxy to Kiev in Ukraine. Unlike many leaders (and individuals) who throughout history have ‘converted’ in name only for a variety of worldly reasons, his conversion was based on his love of the truth and the change in his life reflected this. Do our lives show others that Christ lives in us?
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 Judgement…
“We rush to judgment when we act based on logic. Only our brain is working, and this is the result. It would be good for those who have great minds if God took a screwdriver and turned the screws of these good minds a bit. The less logic works, the more Grace comes and fills our minds. When I say “mind”, I mean human judgment, egoism and self-confidence. From the moment we acknowledge that we may not have the right judgment and say, “I risk making mistakes because my judgment is simply logical and lacks divine enlightenment; I should not use it anymore,” God will enlighten us. We will be able to discriminate and truly discern right from wrong.
The devil makes bright people useless when they judge according to appearance.16 When we have only the human element in our nature, we judge based only on human standards and have therefore, committed a crime. Only when this human element disappears will our judgment become divine. A judgment based only on secular criteria is a wrong judgment. There is so much injustice in this world! People are tempted and scandalised all the time! This is why, if you want to ensure a good state for your soul, your thoughts must always be good. Human beings are a mystery! It is so difficult to know the inner self of the other person, to know what is on his mind!”
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.
Elder Ephraim of Arizona on the Importance of What We Do…
“At the extremely difficult and exceedingly grievous hour of death, there is no one to help a person except for his works. In fact,no one except God. If we serve Him, we shall have an almighty helper and protector at the fearful and deadly separation of our soul and body. What a struggle the soul has as it is separated from the body! Keep this struggle constantly in mind; think and note that we also have to pass the aerial tollhouses which impede souls from ascending… 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. Only good deeds done for God will remain and will follow man beyond death.”
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. Porphyrios on Sanctifying Our Prayers…
“Effort is required. For we have to wrestle against the rulers of the darkness of this age. We have to wrestle with the roaring lion. We cannot allow the devious enemy to prevail in the struggle. This presupposes tears, repentance, prayer, almsgiving and entreaties in conjunction with trust in Christ and not being of little faith. Only Christ can free us from the shackles of solitude. Prayer, repentance and almsgiving: give at least a glass of water if you don’t have money. And you may know that the more you are sanctified, the more your prayers are heard’.”
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 St Paisius on Worldly Attachments…
“Ingratitude and greed are evils. A person that is possessed by material things is always possessed by worries and anxiety. He trembles at the thought that he may lose both his belongings and his soul…People’s lives are sheer misery because they do not keep things simple. Most of the conveniences we have cause difficulties. Those who live in the world often drown in abundance. They have filled their lives with gadgets and conveniences and have only succeeded in making their lives difficult. As long as we do not simplify things, even one convenience will give birth to a host of difficulties.”
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
“Therefore, force yourselves to purify your soul and body. Do not accept filthy thoughts at all, and you will see what I am telling you, and then you will certainly be persuaded by my words. Test everything I have written to you so far, and you will find in practice that I am telling the truth from experience. Wherever there is obedience, humility, and struggling, the demons can never take a person captive. Hardness, disobedience, and pride give birth to despondency and negligence. Then all the demons come and turn the soul of that person into a dunghill and a stable. And the y do not relent until they make him responsible for new and old sins, and totally captive. So exert yourself, my child, along with all the other sisters. For if you are negligent, you will of necessity undergo bad and awful things. But if you exert yourselves, you will save yourselves eternally.”
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 Anthimos+ on Remembering Judgement…
“The phrase of Abba Evagrios in the Gerontikon: ‘Always remember eternal judgment and do not forget your departure, and no fault shall be imputed to your soul’… ‘By the daily repetition of this phrase, we restrain the weakening of our zeal and of falling into sin. Our mind must be turned to seek God and ceaselessly commemorate the final Judgment of our justly judging Lord. Only thus will our passions be tamed and wiped out. The memory of death is inextricably associated with the fear of God. We drive Him far away from us when we do not contemplate death and the punishment which awaits us. When we do not pay attention to ourselves, when we do not examine how we spent the day, what we did, in what we transgressed, but we live indifferently and keep company with spiritually indifferent people. The three things which help a person preserve virtue in his soul are mourning, tears for sins, and the constant remembrance of death. He who considers the day he is living as the last one of his life will not sin.”
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)