Daily Devotional for December 13 – 18
**Wisdom from the Elders this week
Elder Ephraim of Arizona on Guarding the Conscience…
“We must guard our conscience on three points—with respect to God, with respect to our neighbor, and with respect to things. One guards his conscience with respect to God when he avoids the various sins. He guards his conscience with respect to his neighbor when he does not grieve him, judge him, slander him, scandalize him, or push him towards evil deeds. He guards his conscience with respect to things when he does not cause destruction or damage to material things through carelessness, negligence, or unscrupulousness. The greatest wealth is obtained when one strives to preserve his conscience unburdened. But in the event that he senses that something has wounded him, he should correct it immediately, and thus he will return to his prior state.”
– ‘Counsels from the Holy Mountain’
Prayer: O Lord, our God, in Thy goodness and love for men forgive me all the sins I have committed today in word, deed or thought. Grant me peaceful and undisturbed sleep. Send Thy Guardian Angel to guard and protect me from all evil. For Thou art the guardian of our souls and bodies, and to Thee we ascribe glory, to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
*(Evening Prayer and Confession of Sins)
Elder St. Paisios on God’s Action in our Lives…
“Christ from high above sees how each one of us acts, and knows how and when to act for our benefit. He knows how and where to guide us, as long as we ask for His help, tell Him our desires and allow Him to put things in order. When I was in the Monastery of Philotheou, I wanted to go to the wilderness; I was thinking of going to a deserted island. I had made arrangements with a boatman to take me there, but finally he never came. This was the dispensation of God, for I was still inexperienced, and would have come to great harm on the deserted island; the demons would have annihilated me.”
– ‘Spiritual Awakening’
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.
Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi+ on Grace and Repentance…
“”Christ is the living truth. “I am the way, and the truth and the life” (John 14, 6). Therefore, He is life without beginning, unlimited , unbound, co-eternal with the Father, inseparable and undivided from him. “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For, he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding”. After this revelation follows the infinite blessing of the divine promises, which is initiated by the first calling made by Lord: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4,17). Through our repentance the essence and power of life is being revived inside us and the honor and value of our lost humanity is being restored through faith. Our ability to come into contact with and receive the grace of the Holy Spirit and in general of divine enlightenment is being renewed through the lament of repentance. This ability had initially been weakened by our transgressions.”
– ‘Practical Repentance and its Fruits’
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.
Elder St Paisios on Divine Providence…
“We must examine ourselves to see if we are at fault. If we are not at fault, the obstacle is most likely from God for our benefit. For this reason, no one should worry if the work was not done, or if it was delayed. Once I was coming down from the Monastery of Stomion and going to Konitsa for an urgent matter. At a difficult turn in the road – I called it Golgotha – I met uncle Anastasi, who was known to us in the Monastery, with three loaded animals. The steep terrain and the heavy load had caused their saddles to slip and one animal was in danger of falling off the edge of the road into the ravine. Uncle Anastasi said to me, “God sent you, Father.” I helped him unload and reload the animals and put them back on the road and I left him. After continuing on my way for a considerable distance, I reached a point where a mudslide had just taken place, covering about three hundred meters of the road. Trees and rocks had fallen down into the river. If I had not delayed my journey, I would have been there precisely at the time the mudslide took place. So I said to myself, “Uncle Anastasi, you saved me. God sent you.”
– ‘Spiritual Awakening’
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.
Elder St. Porphyrios on our Freedom…
“The explanation which our faith gives is as follows: evil exists and comes from the devil. Within us we have both the evil spirit and the good spirit and they battle with each other. ‘Either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will cling to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. ‘That is, within us a struggle between good and evil takes place. But in this struggle a person is free to decide and to choose. Consequently it is not God who pre-ordains and decides, but man’s free will. God in His omniscience knows in all precision not simply beforehand, but before the creation of the world, that this person, for example, will commit a murder when he is thirty years old. But the person in his freedom of will (a gift which God gave the person and which he perverted) acts of his own volition. God is not the cause, nor does he pre-ordain us for that end. His omniscience does not constrain us. He respects our freedom He does not abolish it. He loves us; he does not make us slaves; He gives us worth.
– ‘Wounded by Love’
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.
Elder St. Paisios on Venerating Icons…
“The devout person will especially venerate the holy Icons. And when we say, “He will venerate the holy Icons” we mean he venerates the person depicted on the Icon. When someone has a picture of his father, his mother, his grandfather or grandmother, his brother, he cannot possibly tear it or step on it. How much more must we venerate the Icons of the Saints. Jehovah’s Witnesses have no icons. The honor we show to the Icons they consider to be idolatry. I asked one of them once, “Don’t you have photographs in your homes?” “Yes, we do,” he said. “Well then, does a mother kiss the photograph of her child, when that child is far away?” “Yes, she does,” he said. “Does she kiss the paper of the photograph or her child?” I asked and he replied, “She kisses her child.” “Well then, just as she kisses her child when she kisses his photograph, we kiss Christ when we kiss His Icon; we don’t kiss the paper or the wood.””
– ‘Spiritual Awakening’
Prayer: With the Saints, give rest, O Christ, to the souls of Thy servants, where there is no pain, no sorrow, no sighing, but life everlasting.
*Kontakion of the Departed
Father Seraphim Rose+ on the ‘End’…
“We should not be counting the years or calculating who is the “King of the South,” the “King of the North,” [in the book of Revelation] and so on, but going more deeply. All the early Apostles, in their epistles, write about the necessity of thinking Christ is near, for preparing oneself, being first of all spiritually prepared. If we’re in this state of expectation of Christ coming in a spiritual sense to us, whether to our own souls through grace or at the time of our own death, then the question of when He is going to come physically to this earth at the end of the world will not upset us to such an extent that we will join some new sect that goes to the top of a mountain and waits for the day to come. The day and the hour we do not know; the main priority is spiritual preparation.”
– ‘God’s Revelation’
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)