St Gregory of Sinai spoke of the effort involved in prayer, when he wrote, “No bodily or spiritual activity without pain or toil ever brings fruit to him who practices it, because ‘the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.’ (Matthew 11:12)". Here, the word pain means remorse and contrition of spirit. For those who are weak physically, weeping and mourning for our sinfulness take the place of physical effort.
It takes physical discipline for the heart to acquire the peace needed for prayer: “to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak.” (1 Cor 9:22). Those who are experienced in prayer must concentrate on the heart, “If your heart has opened”, and this should be done with great fear of God, because the union of the mind and heart (which precedes our union with God) is granted by divine grace.
“The great gift of prayer is usually preceded by some special sufferings and upheavals of the soul, which lead our spirit to realize the extent of our poverty and nothingness, according to Saint Isaac the Syrian. In order to be worthy of this gift of Grace we need to be faithful in our humility and purity, and must reject every sinful thought at their first appearance. It is to the faithful, pure and humble that the gifts of the Spirit are given.” (Luke 16:10-12).
Archimandrite Sophrony said that, "of all ascetic practices the striving for prayer is the most arduous. Our spirit will be in constant flux. At times prayer flows like a strong current; at other times our heart will feel withered and dry. But the spells when we lose fervor should get briefer."
With love in Christ,
Photo: Daniel Marker and Nathan Roose, of Corvallis, Oregon, pruned the wisteria for us.
Saturday August 17, 2013 / August 4, 2013
8th Week after Pentecost. Tone six.
Dormition (Theotokos) Fast. Food with Oil
Holy Seven Youths (the "Seven Sleepers") of Ephesus: Maximilian, Jamblicus, Martinian, John, Dionysius, Exacustodian (Constantine) and Antoninus (250 & 5th c.).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas (Prozgrov) (1930).
New Hieromartyr Michael, Martyrs Simeon and Demetrius (1937)
Martyr Eudocia of Persia (362).
Martyr Eleutherius of Constantinople (4th c.).
New Hieromartyr Cosmas of Aitolia, Equal to the Apostles (1779) (Greek).
"Kazan-Penza" Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Martyr Ia and 9,000 with her in Persia (Greek).
Martyr Thathuil (Greek). You can read the life of the saint in red, by clicking on the name.
THANKS to all of you who have been able to contribute towards the support of the monastery. These difficult times of economic hardship have impacted the monastery, and those of you who have been able to donate, have been our lifeline. May God bless you for your generosity, and kindness.
With love in Christ,
Donations can be made directly to the monastery through PayPal, or you may send donations to:
All-Merciful Saviour Monastery
PO Box 2420
Vashon Island, WA 98070-2420 USA
The Scripture Readings for the Day
Submit to Government13 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
Love Your Neighbor8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
The Unpardonable Sin31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
A Tree Known by Its Fruit33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
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