Daily Devotional for May 22-28
The yoke of Christ and his commandments seem difficult for immature minds. They imagine that it is not entirely necessary to follow what God and His Holy Church commands. It seems to them that they can serve both God and the world at the same time. They say, “We are already strong enough to withstand destructive temptations and attractions. We can, by ourselves, hold on to the truth and correct teachings. Allow us to improve our minds by many kinds of knowledge. Let us strengthen our wills amid temptations and pitfalls. Through experience our senses will be convinced of the foulness of vice!” Such desires are not better than the ill considered request of the younger Prodigal son.
What is the result of such parting from the Holy Church? It is the same as the result of the prodigal son’s parting from his parents’ house. Light minded youths waste their excellent energies and the talents of their soul and body very quickly, ruining for this life and eternity all the good they have done. Meanwhile there appears a mighty famine in that land — emptiness and dissatisfaction – a necessary result of wild pleasures.”
St John of San Francisco, homily
We adore Thee O Christ and we bless Thee for by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.
Some people misunderstand and confuse these words. They say,‘Since God has everything written down, we are ruled by fate and destiny. It was, for example, predestined for you to commit a murder; God had preordained you to do this.’And they ask,‘If I am destined to murder you, am I responsible or not responsible? Moreover, since “the things I have not yet done are already written”, why should we humans be regarded as responsible for our actions? And can you, who affirm that God is good, tell me why lie ordained this and didn’t avert me from doing it?’ Here is the secret: God in His omnipotence and omniscience knows everything including the things that will happen in the future,but He is not the cause use of evil. God has foreknowledge, but He does not pre-ordain… In His omniscience He knows both good and evil. He cooperates with good, being, as God, good by nature and alien to evil. But since He is alien to evil, how is it possible for Him to ordain us for evil? God created everything exceedingly good and and gave to everything a good and holy purpose.
– Elder St Porphyrios in Wounded by Love
Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord my strength and my redeemer
Our times, however, are so filled with what could be called “apocalyptic” events that we should be very aware of them. Our Lord says that, although we do not know the day and the hour, we should take example from the fig tree, which when its leaves become green we know that summer is close. Likewise, when all these things begin to happen—when it becomes possible for there to be one world government, when the Gospel is being preached to all peoples, when so many spiritual currents are coming into being which are obviously deceptive—they are clearly signs that something momentous is about to happen, and are very likely bound up with the end of the world. In order to be spiritually prepared for this, it is very instructive for us to be reading about what happens to people in prison camps. Such accounts show us that, no matter what might happen—even if we are under Antichrist himself and placed in a prison—we can survive because we have Christ.”
Fr Seraphim Rose+ ‘God’s Revelation’
O Lord come to my assistance, O Lord make haste to help me.
Brave people are rare in our times. People today are lukewarm. That’s why if, God forbid, a war breaks out, some will die out of fear, others will fall on the street from some minor hardship because they are so used to comforts. In the past, people were so brave! In the Monastery of the Flavians in Asia Minor, the Turks had captured a man and slaughtered him. Then they told his wife, “Either deny Christ or we will kill your children, too.” And she replied, “My husband is now with Christ, and my children I entrust to Christ, and I will not renounce Christ.” What bravery! If Christ is not in us, how can there be such bravery? Today, people without Christ are building their homes on rubble. In those years, the mothers and the children were brave and courageous souls.”
Elder St Paisios, ‘Spiritual Awakening’
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.
The ancient evil that always dwells within us will always haunt us, and will never quit trying to steal in upon us in order to accomplish the Devil’s main goal—to steal our soul. Only ceaseless courageous battle with evil, solely for the remarkable goal that is incomprehensible to many—the purity of our soul—will justify us before God. But if Christ does not see this struggle within us, He turns away from us, from that priest, monk, or layperson who has turned from Him, leaving him alone with what he has chosen for himself. And that choice is the same as it always was—insatiable pride and desire for the pleasures of this world. As time passes, sooner or later these passions will subvert or even pervert someone who has forgotten about God. Then these passions reveal their true horrible dangers Then the Sea of Galilee will rise up, and from its abyss the enrage swine who were drowned long ago will race ashore and hurl themselves on the unfortunate who thought there could be any compromise between them and God.”
Metropolitan Tikhon on ‘Everyday Saints’
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts, the whole earth is filled with Thy Glory.
I am not saying that we should not read so that we can plead ignorance and therefore be free of responsibility, for this is a cunning deception; I am saying that we should not read merely to pass our time pleasantly. The bad thing is that if someone reads a lot and has a strong memory, he may remember many things and may even talk a lot about what he has read, and thus deceive himself into thinking that he also personally observes the many things he reads. So he has created an illusion toward himself and others. So don’t be comforted by the thought that you read a lot. Instead, I turn your attention to applying what you have read. Much reading alone will only educate you encyclopaedically…The goal, however, is to be transformed in a God-centered manner. I am not aiming to be a university professor…”
Elder St Paisios in ‘Spiritual Awakening’
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.
(St. Patrick’s Breastplate prayer excerpt)
“Everything in this vain world will pass. The world and life are a fair, and each person can buy eternal life with the “money” of his life. How wise is the person who spends his money—his life—buying whatever he will need for the hour of death and the tribunal of God! Let us buy precious things that are pleasing to the great King: confession, humility, purity of soul and body from carnal sins, godly love, and keeping ourselves far from criticizing others, idle talk, lying, etc. When we master all this, we shall be wealthy in God’s blessed land. “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity” in this world, my child. This is what the wise Solomon cried out after he had tasted beyond satiety all the pleasures of the senses. He did not deprive his heart of any of the pleasures, and the end of all this was decay and destruction.”
– Elder Ephaim+ in ‘Counsels from the Holy Mountain’
O Come let us worship and fall down before Christ, O Son of God, Who didst rise from the dead, save us who chant unto Thee, Alleluia.