Daily Devotional for December 27 – January 2
Elder Cleopa+ on the Need for Tradition and not the ‘Bible alone’… “We must uphold Holy Tradition with great reverence and godliness, for not all that is needful to effect our salvation is found within Holy Scripture. Holy Scripture instructs us to do many things; however, it does not manifest the light to us. For example, it instructs us to be baptized, but it doesn’t explain to us the method. Likewise, it guides us to confess our sins, to receive Communion, to be sacramentally wed; but nowhere does it specify the rite enabling us to fulfill thesesacraments. Furthermore, it instructs us to pray, but doesn’t tell us how, where, and when. It tells us to make the sign of the Holy Cross in front of our chest according to the psalmist: Lord, lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us; but it doesn’t show us how. Who teaches us in writing to worship facing east? Where in Scripture are we told the words of the epiclesis (invocation) of the Holy Spirit for the sanctification of the all-holy Mysteries? Which teaching from Holy Scripture instructs us to bless the water of Baptism and the oil of Holy Chrismation? Which passage in Scripture teaches us about the threefold denunciation and the renunciations of Satan before Holy Baptism? The prayer of glorification toward the Holy Trinity—“Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit”—from which passage did it come to us… Therefore, the order by which the Church upholds the unwritten is as follows: Whatever is of Apostolic origin and is practiced by the Fathers becomes valid as tradition, and has the power of law in the Church of Christ.”
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
Elder St Epiphanios on the Proofs of Christ’s Divinity… “Has anyone ever dared to proclaim his absolute sinlessness? Has anyone ever dared to utter the words: “I am the truth”? (John, 14: 6) No-one, and nowhere! Only a God can do that. Can you imagine your Marx uttering things like that? They would take him for a lunatic and nobody would be willing to follow him! Now, just consider, how many people sacrificed everything for Christ’s sake, even their very life, having believed in the veracity of His words regarding Himself! If His proclamations about Himself were false, Jesus would have been the most despicable character in history, for having led so many people to such a huge sacrifice! What ordinary man – no matter how great, how important, how wise he may be – would deserve such a tremendous offer and sacrifice? Well? No-one! Not unless he were God! In other words: Any ordinary man that would demand such a sacrifice from his followers would have been the most loathsome person in history. Christ, however, both demanded it, and achieved it. Yet, despite this ‘achievement’, He was proclaimed by the very deniers of His divinity as the noblest and holiest figure in history.
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.
Archpriest Victor Potapov on Anger: If anger enters into your heart, remember Christ, Who was nailed to the Cross, and Who yet prayed for those torturing Him. Remember how the Saints, who in their lives experienced things utterly and incomparably more horrible, more tragic, than anything happening to us, nonetheless endured it with humility and love. Remember St. John Chrysostom, who was removed from his Episcopal throne, exiled, beaten by his guards, and starved to the point of utter exhaustion. As he, abandoned and betrayed by everyone, was dying, he said, “Glory to God for all things.” Many similar examples could be cited. We should bring them to mind whenever we are about to burst out in anger over some minor provocation –e.g. when we are served soup that is not hot enough, when someone is late for an appointment with us, or when a poorly worded document is presented for our signature. One other point: It often happens that while you are irritated by one source, you pour out [our anger] upon someone else, for an entirely different reason.
Prayer: Holy angel of the Lord by guardian, pray to God for me.
Elder St. Paisios on Shutting out the World’s Noise through ardent prayer… “A person must attain a kind of divine absence of mind in order to experience inner tranquillity and not be distracted by outside noises while praying. One can actually reach such a state of divine absentmindedness that he no longer hears any noise, or hears it only when he wants to, or probably, when his mind is ready to come back from Heaven. And we will reach this point if we work spiritually, if we strive. Then we will hear only what we want to hear. When I was in the army, I told a fellow soldier who was very pious, “We will meet at such and such a place.” “But there is a loudspeaker there,” he replied. “If one wants to hear it,” I said, “he will hear it; and if he does not, he will not.” When our minds are absorbed in something, do we hear other things? In the forest across from my Kalyvi, they have stripped the mountain with chain saws. When I was absorbed in reading or praying, I did not hear a thing. When I stopped, I heard every single sound.”
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.
Elder St. Porphyrios on True Humility… “The humble person believes that all things depend on Christ and that Christ gives His grace and in that way he makes progress. The person who possesses holy humility lives even now in the earthly uncreated Church. He always has the joy of Christ, even in the most displeasing circumstances. We see this in the lives of the saints. What was Saint Paul? He was a man like us. But what happened? He became an instrument of God, a chosen vessel. His words bear witness to this: ‘It is no longer I who live; Christ lives in me.. .for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’ He was consumed by burning love for Christ. His humility raised him up to that state. To burn for God — that is everything! If you have love for your neighbor and for God, God will give you humility and He will bestow on you sanctification. If you do not have love for God and for your neighbor, and if you are indolent, Satan will tyrannize you, your old self will take revenge on you, and you will find fault with everyone and everything and be forever complaining. You’ will think that your work and responsibilities or your exhaustion are to blame. You will say,‘How on earth did I end up in this state, why am I behaving in this way?’ without being aware of what induced this state. This state, however, is the revenge of your instincts.”
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.
“… we are neither alone in this world nor destined for it. Whether I wander in the streets of London or stand in the green fields outside, I have always the same feeling of human loneliness and helplessness on one side, and the company of some overwhelming and invisible powers on the other. I say the feeling and not thought, because I feel they touch me and I am unhappy because I cannot touch them. They seem to be like shadows, and still I am sure they are greater realities than I am. My life is dependent on theirs and their lives are connected with, but not dependent on, my life. My being is quite transparent to these higher intelligences, while their beings I can feel only in the most lucid moments of my life. The dreamy nature around me is pervaded by them, and my own life, I feel, is pervaded by them also. In some way they dis-individualize me, but on the other hand they give me strength, light and inspiration.”
Prayer: Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. (3X)
Elder St Paisios on Christ’s Suffering… “If Christ had that worldly logic that many spiritual people have today, He would not have left His Throne in Heaven to descend to earth, to suffer and be crucified for us miserable human beings. But hidden within His apparently human failure … is the salvation of us all. And what He endured to bring about our salvation! He humbled Himself utterly, to the point of being slapped and mocked… The Jews were playing a cruel game with Jesus. You know how saddened I was when as a little boy I would see the children playing the game hot cock – imagine now playing this game with Christ, striking Him from behind and telling Him to guess who it was that struck Him! What a terrible thing!”
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.