Daily Devotional for March 29 – April 3
Galatians 4:22 It is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount SL nai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the Mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou bar- ren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Neverthe- less what saith the Scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
We adore Thee O Christ and we bless Thee for by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.
The Philokalia for Lent…
I was also astonished how God, who is good beyond all goodness and mil of compassion, permits all the many and various trials and afflictions of the world. Some He allows as sufferings conducive to repentance. These include hunger, thirst, grief, privation of life’s needs, abstinence from pleasure, the wasting of the body through asceticism, vigils, labors, hardships, prolific bitter tears, anguish, fear of death, of cross-examination, of being called to account, of living in hell with demons, the appalling day of judgment, the ignominy that is to fall on the whole world, the terror, the bitter searching out and assessment of one’s acts, words and thoughts, the threats and the wrath; and in addition to these, the various agelong punishments, the useless lamenting and the ceaseless tears; the unrelieved darkness, the fear, the pain, the exile, the dismay, the oppression, the throttling of the soul in this world and in the next. And then there are all the dangers facing one in this world: shipwrecks, illnesses of every kind, lightning, thunder, hail, earthquake, famine, tidal waves, untimely deaths-all the painful things that God allows to happen to us against our will.
(St Peter of Damascus)
Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord my strength and my redeemer,
In the case of a beginner in the art of spiritual warfare. God alone can expel thoughts, for it is only those strong in such warfare who are in a position to wrestle with them and banish them. Yet even they do not achieve this by themselves, but they fight against them with God’s assistance, clothed in the armor of His grace. So when thoughts invade you, in place of weapons call on the Lord Jesus frequently and persistently and then they will retreat; for they cannot bear the warmth produced in the heart by prayer and they flee as if scorched by fire. St John Climakos tells us, ‘Lash your enemies with the name of Jesus’, because God is a fire the cauterizes wickedness (cf. Deut. 4:24; Heb. 12:29). The Lord is prompt to help, and will speedily come to the defense of those who wholeheartedly call on Him day and night (cf. Luke 18:7). But if prayer is not yet activated in you, you can put these thoughts to flight in another manner, by imitating Moses (cf. Exod. 17:11-12); rise up, lift hands and eyes to heaven, and God will rout them. Then sit down again and begin to pray resolutely. This is what you should do if you have not yet acquired the power of prayer. Yet even if prayer is activated in you and you are attacked by the more obdurate and grievous of the bodily passions – namely, listlessness and lust – you should sometimes rise up and lift your hands for help against them.
(St Gregory of Sinai)
O Lord come to my assistance, O Lord make haste to help me.
Every genuine confession humbles the soul. When it takes the form of thanksgiving, it teaches the soul that it has been delivered by the grace of God. When it takes the form of self-accusation, it teaches the soul that it is guilty of crimes through its own deliberate indolence. Confession takes two forms. According to the one, we give thanks for blessings received; according to the other, we bring to light and examine what we have done wrong. We use the term confession both for the grateful appreciation of the blessings we have received through divine favor, and for the admission of the evil actions of which we are guilty. Both forms produce humility. For he who thanks God for blessings and he who examines himself for his offences are both humbled. The first judges himself unworthy of what he has been given; the second implores forgiveness for his sins.
(St Maximos the Confessor)
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.
The person who sees with physical eyes knows when it is night and when it is day; the blind man is unaware of both. The person who has come to see with the eyes of the spirit, and who has beheld the true and quenchless light, is consciously aware when he is deprived of it should he return, out of laziness, to his former blindness; and he will not be ignorant of why this has happened. But the person blind from birth, and remaining so, knows nothing of these things from personal experience of their operation. He knows about them only from hearsay, but has never actually seen them; and if he tells others what he has heard, neither he nor his audience will know what he is talking about.
We cannot both sate ourselves with food and spiritually enjoy divine and noumenal blessings; the more we pander to the stomach the less can we experience such enjoyment. But to the degree that we discipline the body we are filled with spiritual nourishment and grace.
(St Symeon the New Theologian)
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord god of Hosts, the whole earth is filled with Thy Glory.
Do not shun the person who opportunely berates you; but go to him and he will show you how much evil lies hidden from your consciousness. Once you have swallowed the bitter and nauseous draught, you will taste the sweet nourishment of health. The greater the pain that you feel, the more you should welcome the person whose reproof makes you feel it. For he is bringing about within you that total purification without which your intellect cannot attain the pure state of prayer. When you are reproved, you ought either to remain silent, or else gently to defend yourself to your accuser— not indeed in order to gain his approval, but to help him rise up in case he has stumbled by reproving you in ignorance. f someone is rightly offended with you, but you repent before he calls on you to do so, you lose nothing; but if you repent only after you have been asked to, you forfeit half the harvest. If you never cause estrangement by giving offence to others, you recover all the seed that you sowed; but if you always put the blame on yourself, you gain in addition more than you originally laid out.
(Ilias the Presbyter)
O Lord and Master of my life, a spirit of idleness, despondency, ambition, and idle talking give me not.
But rather a spirit of chastity, humble-mindedness, patience, and love bestow upon me Thy
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my failings and not condemn my brother; for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Consciously look on yourself as an ant or a. worm, so that you can become a man formed by God. If you fail to do the first, the second cannot happen. The lower you descend, the higher you ascend; and when, like the psalmist, you regard yourself as nothing before the Lord (cf. Ps. 39:5), then imperceptibly you will grow great. And when you begin to realize that you have nothing and know nothing, then you will become rich in the Lord through practice of the virtues and spiritual knowledge. ‘Break the arm of the sinful and evil man’ (Ps. 10:15), by which I mean the sensual pleasure and evil from which all vice arises. Break it through self-control and the innocence born of humility, so that when your actions are assessed and judged, no sin will be found in you, however rigorous the search. For our sins are eradicated once we come to hate what causes them and to do battle against it, repairing earlier defeat with final victory.
Glory to Jesus Christ…Glory forever.