May 31, 2011 / May 18, 2011
Sixth Week of Pascha. Tone five.
Commemoration of the Holy Fathers of Seven Ecumenical Councils. Martyr Theodotus of Ancyra and seven virgin-martyrs: Alexandra, Tecusa, Claudia, Phaine, Euphraisa, Matrona, and Julia (303). Martyrs Peter of Lampsacus, and Andrew, Paul, and Dionysia, at Euridinos (249-251). St. Macarius (Glukharev) of Altai, Siberia (1847). St. John (Gashkevich), archpriest of Korma (1917).
New Hieromartyr Michael, priest (1932).
New Hieromartyr Damjan (Damian) Strbac, Jr. of Grahovo, Serbia (1940s).
New Hieromartyr Basil priest (1942).
Martyrs Symeon, Isaac, and Bachtisius of Persia (339). Martyrs Heraclius, Paulinus, Benedimus of Athenas (250). Martyrs David and Tarechan of Georgia (693) (Georgia). Martyr Euphrasia of Nicaea (Greek).
St. Stephen the New, patriarch of Constantinople (Greek).
Hieromartyr Theodore, pope of Rome (Greek).
St. Anastaso of Lukada (Greek).
Venerable Martinian of Areovinthus, monk (Greek).
Martyr Julian (Greek).
Hieromartyr Potamon, bishop of Heraclea (341) (Greek).
St. Elgiva, quenn of England.
Words from the Abbot:
I was a psychotherapist, in private practice, and teaching in a small college, many years ago. It became increasingly difficult for me, facing, as I did, the "cut throat" behavior of fellow professors, ever trying to be on the top of the pile. I also came to believe that most of my patients were not mentally ill, but spiritually ill, and my profession seemed to be contributing to the problem. Many of my colleagues, in my opinion, were nurturing codependency in their clients, their income dependent on keeping people returning for "therapy."
As I was becoming increasingly disillusioned about "my profession," I was feeling increasingly guilty that I'd "sold out" to the mindless acquisition of "things." The spiritual void in my heart was increasingly becoming desperate for a meaningful spiritual life, but I had not a clue as to where to look for such fulfillment. That is, until I discovered Orthodoxy. (I now consider myself a "recovering" psychologist!) That said, I would like to share with my readers, some of the important "therapeutic" medicine that is found within the Holy Orthodox Church.
One medicine for the heart, is the use of a "Prayer Rule." This "Rule" is of the utmost importance, for the prayer rule helps develop the discipline we all need to progress, spiritually. It is one of the great tools the Orthodox Way has to offer, and has been handed down, from the earliest of times, through the Fathers of the Church. The "art of prayer," comes from the experience of the Early Church.
Along with keeping the fasting rules of the Church, including the Wednesday and Friday fasts, the Prayer Rule, given to you by your Spiritual Father, Spiritual Mother, or, your Confessor, is the medicine that will help you progress, spiritually, on your journey to God.
If you do not already own a Jordanville Prayer Book (they can be purchased directly from Holy Trinity Monastery, in Jordanville, New York,) I would strongly suggest you purchase one. The language used, is the best of English "liturgical language," and better serves, I believe, the inner life. Common pedestrian language is fine for everyday communication, but formal English liturgical language, when spoken to God, creates the sacred space, one reserves for the Lord.
The Morning and Evening Prayers should be said as though one's life depended on it, for, in a profound way, our spiritual life DOES depend on it. The Precommunion Prayers, as well as the Postcommunion Prayers, together with abstinence from all food and drink from midnight on, prior to receiving the Holy Mysteries, is also a discipline that, not only is commanded by the Church, but properly prepares us for the reception of Our Lord's Body and Blood. It is in the reception of His very Body and Blood, where we receive healing of both body and soul.
The use of the Jesus Prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner," throughout the day, aids us in a most powerful way, to live out our life, focused on Christ. There is power in the Holy Name of Jesus, and this prayer fulfills Saint Paul's injunction that we "should pray always." The Jesus Prayer, also known as the Prayer of the Heart, gives us the strength to walk with Jesus, throughout the day, even when driving through heavy traffic, weeding in the garden, waiting for the bus, or sitting in a long board meeting.
Finally, it is important to remember that the Church, as defined by the Early Church Fathers, is not a religious institution, but, rather, a living organism, that is the Hospital for the Soul. Her priests, who first sought therapy, became the therapists. Therefore, the frequent use of the "tools" given to us by Christ, through His Church, are of the utmost importance to our spiritual progress. Weekly confession, and weekly reception of the Holy Eucharist, give us spiritual strength, and enable us to live "in the world," without being "of the world."
Lastly, whenever we meet a priest, we should ask for a blessing, remembering that it is not his blessing we are seeking, but the blessing of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who's priesthood the clergyman participates in. When addressing a priest, or bishop, in a written form, whether by letter, or email, it is a good and pious practice to always ask for a blessing. This can be done, if it be a bishop, by writing, "Master, bless." If a priest, "Father, bless." Just before signing your name, "Kissing your right hand, and asking your prayers." Again, this is NOT about the bishop, or the priest, but ALL about Christ, Who's blessing we seek. It is much the same with the veneration of icons, for when we kiss the icon of a saint, we not only show our love and respect to the saint, and seek their prayers, but we are kissing Jesus Christ, Who dwells in His saints.
Because Orthodoxy is "wholistic," in nature, our living out this Faith should not be confined to Sunday morning. If we were a pianist, and made our living playing with a orchestra, we wouldn't think of going through a week without daily practice, for we'd not be in the orchestra for long. As well, a marriage that is not worked at, on a daily basis, is doomed to ultimate failure, for a relationship between two people, requires work. If we expect to have a relationship with God, and have Him dwell in our hearts, and commune with Him, we have to treat our spiritual life as something important, and something that we are committed to. An occasional Liturgy, does not suffice, if we expect to grow in Faith and Wisdom.
With love in Christ,
Photos of the Day:
Photos of various scenes around the monastery, taken on May 30th.
Scripture Readings for the Day:
19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” 21 For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.
Addressing the Areopagus22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:
TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.
Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’
19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!”
The Fruitful Grain of Wheat20 Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. 21 Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
22 Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus.
23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.
Jesus Predicts His Death on the Cross27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.”
Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”
29 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.”
30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” 33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die.
34 The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?”
35 Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.
.Click photo to enlarge.