Daily Devotional for April 5 – 12
Hebrews 9: Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own Blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the Blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God ? And for this cause he is the Mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace good will among men.
The Philokalia for Lent…In Scripture the virtues are called ‘ways’. The greatest of all the virtues is love. That is why St Paul said, ‘Now I will show you the best way of all’ (1 12:31), one that persuades us to scorn material things and value nothing transitory more than what is eternal. Love of God is opposed to desire, for it persuades the intellect to control itself with regard to sensual pleasures. Love for our neighbor is opposed to anger, for it makes us scorn fame and riches. These are the two pence which our Savior gave to the innkeeper (cf. Luke 10:31), so that he should take care of you. But do not be thoughtless and associate with robbers; otherwise you will be beaten again and left not merely unconscious but dead. Cleanse your intellect from anger, rancor and shameful thoughts, and you will be able to perceive the indwelling of Christ.
(St Maximos the Confessor)
Prayer: May the Strength of God guide us. May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us. May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us. May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Angels of God guard us. – Against the snares of the evil one.
Prayer for the Faithful of St. Patrick Part 1
The Philokalia for Lent…
At the times when you remember God, increase your prayers, so that when you forget Him, the Lord may remind you. When you read Holy Scripture, perceive its hidden meanings. ‘For whatever was written in past times was written for our instruction’ (Rom. 15:4). Scripture speaks of faith as ‘the substance of things hoped for’ (Heb. 11:1), and describes as ‘worthless’ those who do not know the indwelling of Jesus (cf. 2 Cor. 13:5). Just as a thought is made manifest through actions and words, so is our future reward through the impulses of the heart. Thus a merciful heart will receive mercy, while a merciless heart will receive the opposite.
(St Mark the Ascetic)
May Christ be with us! May Christ be before us! May Christ be in us, Christ be over all!
May Thy Grace, Lord, Always be ours, This day, O Lord, and forevermore. Amen.
Prayer for the Faithful of St. Patrick Part 2
The Philokalia for Lent…
Love of praise and love of material wealth must not be regarded as pertaining to the body. Only the love of sensual pleasure pertains to the body. The fitting remedy for this is bodily hardship. Love of praise and love of material wealth are the progeny of ignorance. Having no experience of true blessings and no knowledge of noetic realities, the soul has adopted such bastard offspring, thinking that riches can supply its needs. Also it plunges after material wealth in order to satisfy its love for pleasure and praise, and even for its own sake, as if such wealth were a blessing in itself. All this results from ignorance of true blessings. Love of praise does not derive from any lack on the part of the body, for it satisfies no physical need. Inexperience and ignorance of primal goodness and true glory give rise to it. Indeed, ignorance is the root of all evils. For no one who has once grasped as he should the true nature of things – from where each thing comes and how it is perverted – can then totally disregard his own purpose and be dragged down to worldly things. The soul does not want a good that is only apparent. And if it is under the sway of some habit, it is also quite able to overcome this habit. Yet even before the habit was formed it had been deceived by ignorance. Hence one should above all strive after a true knowledge of created beings, and then spur one’s will towards primal goodness, scorning all worldly things and aware of their great vanity. For what do they contribute to our own true purpose?
(St Theodoros the Ascetic)
Glory to Jesus Christ – Glory forever!
It is hard to find a guide who in all he does, says or thinks is free from delusion. You can tell that a person is undeluded when his actions and judgment are founded on the testimony of divine Scripture, and when he is humble in whatever he has to give his mind to. No little effort is needed to attain a clear understanding of the truth and to be cleansed from whatever is contrary to grace, for the devil – especially in the case of beginners – is liable to present his delusions in the forms of truth, thus giving his deceit a spiritual guise.
If, then, you are striving in stillness to attain a state of pure prayer, you must journey with great trepidation and inward grief, questioning those with spiritual experience, accepting their guidance, always lamenting your sins, and full of distress and fear lest you should be chastised or should fall away from God and be divorced from Him in this life or the next. For when the devil sees someone leading a penitent life, he retreats, frightened of the humility that such inward grief engenders. But if, with a longing that is satanic rather than authentic, you are presumptuous enough to imagine that you have attained a lofty state, the devil will easily trap you in his nets and make you his slave. Thus the surest guard against falling from the joy of prayer into a state of conceit is to persevere in prayer and inward grief, for by embracing a solace-filled grief you keep yourself safe from harm. Authentic prayer – the warmth that accompanies the Jesus Prayer, for it is Jesus who enkindles fire on the earth of our hearts (cf. Luke 12:49) – consumes the passions like thorns and fills the soul with delight and joyfulness. Such prayer comes neither from right or left, nor from above, but wells up in the heart like a spring of water from the life-quickening Spirit. It is this prayer alone that you should aspire to realize and possess in your heart, always keeping your intellect free from images, concepts and thoughts. And do not be afraid, for He who says, “Take heart; it is I; be not afraid’ (Matt. 14:27), is with us – He whom we seek and who protects us always. When we invoke God we must be neither timid nor hesitant.
(St Gregory of Sinai)
For as many have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ…Alleluia
The Philokalia for Lent…
Self-control is common to all the virtues, and therefore whoever practices self-control must do so in all things. If any part, however small, of a man’s body is removed, the whole man is disfigured; likewise, he who disregards one single virtue destroys unwittingly the whole harmonious order of self-control. It is therefore necessary to cultivate not only the bodily virtues, but also those which have the power to purify our inner man. What is the good of a man keeping the virginity of his body if he lets his soul commit adultery with the demon of disobedience? Or what is the good of a man controlling gluttony and his other bodily desires if he makes no effort to avoid vanity and self-esteem, and does not endure with patience even the slightest affliction? At the judgment what crown will he deserve, when a just reward is given only to those who have accomplished works of righteousness in a spirit of humility?
Those pursuing the spiritual way should train themselves to hate all uncontrolled desires until this hatred becomes habitual. With regard to self-control in eating, -we must never feel loathing for any kind of food, for to do so is abominable and utterly demonic. It is emphatically not because any kind of food is bad in itself that we refrain from it. But by not eating too much or too richly we can to some extent keep in check the excitable parts of our body. In addition we can give to the poor what remains over, for this is the mark of sincere love.
(St Diadochos of Photiki)
Christ is in our midst – He is and always shall be
The Philokalia for Lent…
The uneducated and foolish regard instruction as ridiculous and do not want to receive it, because it would show up their uncouthness, and they want everyone to be like themselves. Likewise those who are dissipated in their life and habits are anxious to prove that everyone else is worse than themselves, seeking to present themselves as innocent in comparison with all the sinners around them. The lax soul is turbid and perishes through wickedness, since it contains within itself profligacy [lack or moral restraint], pride, insatiate desire, anger, impetuosity, frenzy, murderousness, querulousness [complaining], jealousy, greed, rapacity, self-pity, lying, sensual pleasure, sloth, dejection, cowardice, morbidity [gloominess], hatred, censoriousness [faultfinding], debility [weaknes], delusion, ignorance, deceit and forgetfulness of God. Through these and suchlike evils the wretched soul is punished when it is separated from God.
(St Anthony the Great)
Preserve O Lord while waking and guard us while sleeping that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep we may rest in peace.