Orthodox Daily Devotional December 31 – January 6
*Meditations this week from Catholic Bishop Challoneer
(For New Year’s/Feast of the Circumcision) that our infant Saviour, being now but eight
days old, began already to shed his sacred blood in obedience
to his Father’s will, and subjected himself on this day to that
most painful and most humbling ceremony of circumcision; as
if he, like the rest of sinful mortals, had wanted any expiation.
No, Christians! He came to discharge the immense debt contracted
by our sins to his Father’s justice, by shedding the last
drop of his blood in expiation for them; and, lo! he has here
given us an earnest of the payment, by submitting himself this
day to the painful knife of circumcision.
.Consider, thirdly, that it is the duty of all Christians to imitate
our Lord’s circumcision by a spiritual circumcising of the heart.
This God often calls for in holy scripture, and always preferred
before the carnal circumcision? It consists in cutting off or renouncing
all disorderly affections to the world and vanity; to
the vice of avarice, and the lusts of the flesh; that is, our sinful
passions and depraved inclinations. Do you heartily embrace
and “daily put in practice’ this circumcision of the heart?
‘ Conclude to give your heart “to your infant Saviour, who began on this day to shed his blood for you: but let it be a heart
purified from all such affections as are disagreeable to him.
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
CONSIDER, first, how many years of your life are now past
and gone; how long it is since you first came to the knowledge
of good and evil, and in what manner you have spent all this
precious time given you for no other end, hut that you might
employ it in the love and service of your God, and in securing
the salvation of your immortal soul. Alas! have any of these
past years been spent in such manner as to answer this great
end? Have they not all, one after another, flowed away unprofitably
into the gulf of eternity, and been utterly lost to
your soul? It is well if they have not.
Consider, secondly, the present state and condition of your
conscience. How stand accounts between your soul and God?
What if this very day you -were called to the bar of divine Justice?
Ah! do not deceive yourself, nor suffer yourself to be
imposed upon by the enemy. Your time in all appearance will
be much shorter than you are willing to imagine. Many thousands
who expect death as little as yourself, will close their life
with the present year. Set then your house in order: begin this
very day to rectify the whole state of your interior; and live,
henceforward, as you desire to die.
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.
CONSIDER, first, that in the epistle read on New Year’s Day,
(Titus ii. 11 15,) the apostle has, in few words, declared to
us the rules we are to follow in the conduct of our lives: what
we are to renounce; what we are to practise; what we are to
look for; and to what we are to tend. “The grace of God our
Saviour,” says he, “hath appeared to all men; instructing us, that
denying ungodliness and worldly desires, -we should live soberly,
and justly, and godly in this world, looking for that blessed
hope, and the coming of the glory of that great God, and our
Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us that he might redeem
us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to himself a people
acceptable, a pursuer of good works.”
Consider, secondly, therefore, the end for which our God and
Saviour came down amongst us, by the mystery of his incarnation.
It was to redeem us from all iniquity, by freeing us from
the slavery of Satan, Sin, and Hell; by breaking in sunder all
the chains of our vices and passions; and by purchasing for us
mercy, grace, and salvation. 0! let us seriously resolve to
lead lives a worthy our vocation.
Consider, thirdly, that having been purchased by the Son of
God at so great a price, we must esteem ourselves henceforward
as his property. This should bo our rule in all we do; absolutely
to renounce whatever we know to be displeasing to him,
and to pursue with all our strength what we know to be agreeable
to his divine pleasure. “You are not your own,” says the
apostle, (1 Cor. vi. 19, 20,) “you are bought
Prayer: Holy angel of the Lord by guardian, pray to God for me.
CONSIDER, first, that we are enjoined by the rule above mentioned,
to “deny all ungodliness and worldly desires,” and to
be clean “from all iniquity.’* We are all obliged to dedicate
ourselves to God from our first coming to the use of reason.
But the sinner, like the apostate angels, turns himself away
from God; he refuses him his heart, and gives it up to vanities.
This is ungodliness; this is a kind of idolatry, in preferring
“the creature before the Creator, who is blessed for ever and
Consider, secondly, that the tempter, in order to draw us
away from God, sets before us the deceitful appearances of
some worldly honor, profit, or pleasure; and with these he allures
deluded mortals to his service: These are the gilded pills
with which he poisons the soul. Hence the Christian’s rule requires
that, with ungodliness, he should also deny all worldly
desires. For when we thus despise and abhor the choicest allurements
of Satan, he stands confounded, and can do no more.
Consider, thirdly, what are these worldly lusts and desires.
“Love not the world,” says the beloved disciple…
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.
CONSIDER, first, that the Christian’s duty has three branches:
one of them relates to the regulating of himself; another regards
his neighbor; but the third and chief of all relates to his
God. All these we fulfill, if we live “soberly, and justly, and
godly.” By living soberly, we keep ourselves in perfect order:
by living justly, we behave towards our neighbours in all things
as we ought; and by living godly, we dedicate our whole lives
Consider, secondly, that Christian sobriety excludes not only
intemperance in eating and drinking, but also all other excesses
and disorders which any way carry us beyond the bounds of
strict regularity: it restrains pride by humility, anger by meekness,
lust by purity. Christian justice regulates our whole conduct
to our neighbors, by that golden rule of doing as we would
be done by, and thus excludes every thought, every word, action,
or dealing, which may tend to his prejudice or disadvantage.
And true godliness makes us seek God, in all things and above
Consider, thirdly, that in endeavoring to comply with these
rules, we must not confine our views to the narrow limits -of
this mortal life: we must be ever looking forward to the great
objects of the Christian’s hope, the glorious coming of our God
and Saviour Jesus Christ…
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.
Friday – Eve of Epiphany
CONSIDER, first, that on this day our infant Saviour was first
made known to the Gentiles in the persons of the wise men of
the east, who were conducted to him hy an apparition of an extraordinary
star; and on this account it is called the Epiphany.
It is just we should all celebrate with gratitude this day of our
first calling to the knowledge and faith of Christ, this Christmas
day of the Gentiles! How great, Christians, is this benefit
of your vocation to the true faith! If this alone had been
wanting, all others would have been lost upon you; and you
must have been eternally miserable. Bless then your God who
has brought you, in preference to millions of others, to his admirable
light, and has not suffered you to “sit in darkness and
in the shadow of death.”
Consider, secondly, the wonderful ways of divine providence,
as well as in preparing beforehand both the Jews and
the Gentiles to expect about that time the coming of the Messiah,
as in giving early notice of his birth, to the Jews by the
apparition of angels to the shepherds; and to the Gentiles by
the star. But alas! how few either of the one or the other
duly corresponded with this great call! and is it not the case of
millions to this day, who though many ways called and invited
by, and to that “light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh
into this world,” (John 1.) choose rather to remain in the
darkness of infidelity, error, or vice, than to follow its unerring
Prayer: Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. (3X)
Consider, thirdly, how the wise men set out without delay
under the guidance of this star, in quest of their new-born king,
and were thus happily brought to Christ and to his admirable
light; while their senseless countrymen neglected their summons,
and died in their infidelity. See the difference between
a ready compliance with the grace ,of God, and the neglect of
his heavenly calls, a difference which produces here the distinction
of the saint and the sinner…For by an ancient tradition, and by the
prophecy of Balaam, (Numbers xxiv. 17,) they understood that
was the place of his nativity. Wherefore, going to Jerusalem,
where it was most likely they should hear news concerning
him, they inquire, “Where is he that is born king of the Jews?
For we have seen his star in the east, and we are come to adore
him,” (Matthew ii. 2. ) But as the kingdom of Christ was not
of this world, and was to be established upon the ruins of
worldly pride, and of all the pomps of Satan, he chose for his
birth the humble stable of Bethlehem, before all the stately
palaces of Jerusalem, as more agreeable to his kingdom, the
kingdom of humility and of truth. IJappy those souls whose
eyes are ever open to this heavenly truth, and shut to the vanities
of the world. For thus do they become themselves the
kingdom of Christ, even that kingdom in which he shall reign
…upon leaving Jerusalem, the star
again appeared to the wise men, and conducted them to Bethlehem,
and to the place where our Saviour lay. They were
filled with exceeding great joy; and, going in, they found him
whom their souls desired, and humbly adored their infant Lord.
OhJ how precious, how lovely, how consoling is that light,
which conducts the soul to Christ, her sovereign good! But
then, generally speaking, it gheds its beams upon those only,
who resolutely conquer every difficulty and opposition in their
search after truth, and are quite in earnest to find Christ.
Conclude to imitate the wise men in their ready obedience to
the divine call, in their diligence in seeking Christ, and in
their faithful perseverance; and you will undoubtedly arrive at
the object of your pious inquiries, your sovereign and eternal
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.