Devotional for January 5-11
Isaiah: In those days, Isaiah the Prophet spake, saying: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Sion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.
Collect verse: Almighty God, who hast poured upon us the new Light . of thine incarnate Word: grant that the same Light enkindled in our hearts may shine forth in our lives. Through the same Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord: Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Prayer: O Most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. O Lord, blot out our sins. O Master, pardon our iniquities. O Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for Thy name’s sake.
Feast of Ephiphany (Wise Men coming) and Theophany (Baptism of Jesus)
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.’ ”
4 Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit [a]and fire. 12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”
15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and [b]He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Prayer: 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.
**From Parish Life, 2019 from St. John the Baptist Cathdral in Washington, DC
“The Apostle Paul writes regarding time that we walk circumspectly “…Redeeming the time, because the days are evil…” Thus he concisely said… the days are evil, life is short, and that is something we need to remember, to feel to the depths of our hearts, and to understand how precious is the time allotted to us. Some people think that reflection on the swift passage of time is to contemplate something sad, something that drives us towards anguish and gloomy thoughts. But it is not at all like that. To the contrary, every minute brings us closer to eternity, and asks us, “What have you done [to prepare] for that?”After all, we are but guests here on this earth. We are guests for a brief span of time, a very brief period that comes out of a mystery and departs into a mystery. But the Lord reveals to us that this brief life is of great significance for us, for it is the school of eternity in which our person, our conscience, all within us that is Divine, grows and becomes educated.
How frightening it is for someone who has wasted his time, spent it on an abyss of trivialities, on miserable, insignificant things. He turns around only to find that his life has already passed, spent in petty concerns, empty fruitless chatter, in things perhaps not even worth contemplating. Time passes.
Time cannot be turned back for even a second, and that is why the Apostle implores us to redeem the time, not waste it, not spend it on idle words and needless works. Continued tomorrow…
Prayer: Soul of Christ, sanctify me, Body of Christ, save me Blood of Christ, inebriate me, Water from Christ’s side, wash me, Passion of Christ, strengthen me, O good Jesus, hear me, Within Thy wounds hide me, Suffer me not to be separated from Thee, From the malicious enemy defend me, In the hour of my death call me, And bid me come unto Thee, That I may praise Thee with Thy saints, and with Thy angels, Forever and ever, Amen.
Remember: every minute is precious. Any hour may cost a person life eternal. When we think about this, we treat life, our responsibilities, our efforts, and everything around us differently. We take more care, knowing that today or tomorrow we can be called to account. Just imagine: today, tomorrow, we may all perish. Half of us, bent over with serious illnesses, are already moving toward life’s end. The rest of us can die at any moment.
Once again, I repeat: thinking about proper life, about responsibility, reflecting on what we bring with us when we present ourselves, what we have managed to be able to do in this life with what our conscience, our duty demanded of us – is no cause for despondency. How beautiful, how really fulfilled life becomes when you feel a sense of responsibility. Remaining mindful of what is to come for us should serve to encourage and strengthen us, keeping us from weakening, becoming undisciplined, falling into despondency, idleness, pettiness, and utter insignificance. This is why in days of old it was the custom to keep a human skull as a reminder of death, in one’s home; people would even add a sign saying “Memento moiré!” — “Reminder of death!” Remember, so as to live properly, self-collectedly, cognizant of all, to live in love, in labors, in understanding that this is all given to us but for a short time.” Continued tomorrow…
Prayer: Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
How many stones there are scattered about! Millions, billions, and we tread upon them without even noticing them. Yet gold is collected in tiny grains, and one gram of gold costs an enormous amount of money, as a single grain is not enough. So here, we also have time, which just like gold, is something precious. Therefore, let each of you keep to a firm rule that we treat it reverently. If we work, work, if we pray, pray, if we rest, rest. But nothing should be done senselessly, stupidly. ‘To kill time’ is a frightening expression. The words are correct, but also frightening, for time is life. And if we kill time, if we waste it, we kill our own life. Let us test ourselves, think, try to see that nothing ever transpires in vain, in idleness, in futility, in mediocrity. Continued tomorrow…
Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O, God, who taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
And finally: when the Apostle tells us, “Redeem the time, for the days are evil,” the words should teach us to distinguish what is the main thing in life, what is the most important, from what is less important. The main thing is what makes us people, what we will carry over to the other side, the characteristics which remain with us when we are old, decrepit, dead in body but eternal in soul. The main things are that which each of us collects as a treasure in this our life. All of the rest but serves that end. We eat, we clothe ourselves, we work – all in order to support life, so that the spirit might grow, for without that goal, how are we any different from any animal or tree that takes nourishment, grows, and multiplies?
So, redeem the time for the sake of your soul, and in your life, treat it as a great gift from God. I know several people who were gravely ill, and then found that the Lord had granted them additional time. How they treasured it, how they were thankful to God for allowing them another year, two years, or some other indeterminate span. It was then that they were sharply aware of time, as one should be. So why should we wait for some grave danger or sickness? How much better to hearken today to the Apostle’s words, “Redeem the time, for the days are evil.””
Prayer: We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.
*Sub Tuum Praesidium
“Ignore evil. Look towards Christ and He will save you. Instead of standing outside the door shooing the evil one away, treat him with disdain. If evil approaches from one direction, then calmly turn in the opposite direction. If evil comes to assault you, turn all your inner strength to good, to Christ. Pray, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.’ He knows how and in what way to have mercy on you. And when you have filled yourself with good, don’t turn •my more towards evil. In this way you become good on your own, with 1 lie grace of God. Where can evil then find a foothold? It disappears!
All things are possible with Christ. Where is the pain and effort for you to become good? Things are simple. You will invoke God and He will I transform things into good. If you give your heart to Him, there will be no room for the other things. When you ‘put on’ Christ, you will not need any effort to attain virtue. He will give it to you. Are you engulfed by fear and disenchantment? Turn to Christ. Love Him simply and humbly, without any demand, and He Himself will free you.” (Elder St Porphyrios)
Prayer: 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.
*Psalm 140 (141)