Orthodox Daily Devotional for Palm Sunday – Holy Week
Matthew 21 At that time: When Jesus drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and was – come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent he two disciples, saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, and brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strowed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord.
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
The purification of the soul is release from the passions, and release from the passions gives birth to love. A pure soul is one that loves God, and a pure intellect is one divorced from ignorance. Struggle until death to fulfill the commandments: purified through them, you will enter into life. Make the body serve the commandments, keeping it so far as possible free from sickness and sensual pleasure. The flesh revolts when prayer, frugality and blessed stillness are neglected. Blessed stillness gives birth to blessed children: self-control, love and pure prayer. Spiritual reading and prayer purify the intellect, while love and self-control purify the soul’s passible aspect. Always keep the same measure of self-control; otherwise through irregularity you will go from one extreme to another. If you lay down rules for yourself, do not disobey yourself; for he who cheats himself is self-deluded. The soul filled with passion lies in noetic darkness, for in such a soul the sun of righteousness has set. A son of God is a person who through wisdom, power and righteousness has become like God.
(St Thalassios the Libyan)
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.
When you have done something good, remember the words ‘without Me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5). Afflictions bring blessing to man; self-esteem and sensual pleasure, evil. He who suffers injustice escapes sin, finding help in proportion to his affliction. The greater a man’s faith that Christ will reward him, the greater his readiness to endure every injustice. By praying for those who wrong us we overthrow the devil; opposing them we are wounded by him.
(St Mark the Ascetic)
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.
As long as you have bad habits do not reject hardship, so that through it you may be humbled and eject your pride. Sometimes men are tested by pleasure, sometimes by distress or by physical suffering. By means of His prescriptions the Physician of souls administers the remedy according to the cause of the passions lying hidden in the soul. Trials are sent to some so as to take away past sins, to others so as to eradicate sins now being committed, and to yet others so as to forestall sins which may be committed in the future. These are distinct from the trials that arise in order to test men in the way that Job was tested.
(St Maximos the Confessor)
Prayer: Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed by Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
For someone who desires spiritual rebirth, the first step towards the light is to curtail the passions, that is to say, to guard the heart; for it is impossible otherwise to curtail the passions. The next stage is to devote oneself to psalmody; for when the passions have been curtailed and laid to rest through the heart’s resistance against them, longing for intimate union with God inflames the intellect. Strengthened by this longing the intellect repulses all distinctive thoughts that encircle the heart, attempting to get in, and it rebuffs them through attentiveness. So it applies itself assiduously to the second stage, that of attentiveness and prayer. This then stirs up the evil spirits, and the blasts of passion violently agitate the depths of the heart. But through the invocation of the Lord Jesus Christ they are utterly routed and all the tumult melts like wax in the fire. But though they have been driven out of the heart the demons continue to disturb the intellect externally through the senses. However, because they can only trouble it superficially, the intellect soon regains its serenity; none the less, it can never be completely free from the attacks of the demons. Such freedom is to be found only among those who have attained full manhood – who are totally detached from everything visible and who devote themselves unceasingly to giving attention to the heart. After that, those who have achieved attentiveness are raised little by little to the wisdom of old age, that is to say, they ascend to contemplation; and this is the stage of the perfect.
(St Symeon the New Theologian)
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.
When you see yourself, therefore, growing sluggish in prayer, take up a book and by paying careful attention to what you read absorb its meaning. Do not read through the words in a cursory fashion, but examine them with depth of understanding and treasure their meaning. Then meditate on what you have read, so that your mind in comprehending it is mellowed and it remains unforgotten. Thus will your ardor for reflection on things divine be kindled, for ‘a fire shall be kindled during my meditation’ (Ps. 39:3. LXX). just as you have to chew food before you can savor its taste, so you have to ruminate in your soul on holy texts before they enrich and gladden the mind: as the Psalmist says, ‘How sweet Thy words are in my throat’ (Ps. 119:103). Learn by heart the words of the Gospels and me sayings of the blessed fathers, and study their lives diligently, so that you may meditate on these things during the night. In this way when your mind grows listless in prayer you can refresh it by reading and meditating on sacred texts and rekindle its appetite for prayer.
(Metropolitan Theoliptos of Philadelphia)
Prayer: Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. (3X)
Regard as free not those whose status makes them outwardly free, but those who are free in their character and conduct. For we should not call men in authority truly free when they are wicked or dissolute, since they are slaves to worldly passions. Freedom and happiness of soul consist in genuine purity and detachment from transitory things. Keep in mind that you must always be setting an example through your moral life and your actions. For the sick find and recognize good doctors, not just through their words, but through their actions.
Holiness and intelligence of soul are to be recognized from a man’s eye, walk, voice, laugh, the way he spends his time and the company he keeps. Everything is transformed and reflects an inner beauty. For the intellect which enjoys the love of God is a watchful gate-keeper and bars entry to evil and defiling thoughts.
(St Anthony the Great)
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.