December 11

For beginners prayer is like a joyous fire kindled in the heart; for the perfect it is like a vigorous sweet-scented light. Or again, prayer is the preaching of the Apostles, an action of faith or, rather, faith itself, “that makes real for us the things for which we hope” (Hebrews 11:1), active love, angelic impulse, the power of the bodiless spirits, their work and delight, the Gospel of God, the heart’s assurance, hope of salvation, a sign of purity, a token of holiness, knowledge of God, baptism made manifest, purification in the water of regeneration, a pledge of the Holy Spirit, the exultation of Jesus, the soul’s delight, God’s mercy, a sign of reconciliation, the seal of Christ, a ray of the noetic sun, the heart’s dawn-star, the confirmation of the Christian faith, the disclosure of reconciliation with God, God’s grace, God’s wisdom or, rather, the origin of true and absolute Wisdom; the revelation of God, the work of monks, the life of hesychasts, the source of stillness, and expression of the angelic state. Why say more? Prayer is God, who accomplishes everything in everyone (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:6), for there is a single action of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, activating all things through Christ Jesus.

~St Gregory of Sinai

How Can We Help But Be Joyful?

How can I help but be joyful,

with the Son rising up in my heart?

How can I help but sing boldly,

with the sun casting out all that’s dark?

 

With peace welling up like a fountain,

and joy flowing forth as a river;

God’s Kingdom’s descending from heaven,

and my mind sees a glimpse of forever.

 

Could angels sing praises more fully,

than we who have suffered through pains,

who marched ever onward in sorrows,

finding victory and eternity’s gains?

 

Join me in praises forever,

to our King and Creator, Amen!

Join Him in all of His glory,

as He raises us free from our sin.

 

The Spirit empowers us to love Him,

to live with Him fully each day.

Please embrace this power you’ve been given,

don’t squander or give it away.

 

How can we help but be joyful,

as Christ wipes away all of our tears?

How can we help but sing boldly,

as He fills us more fully each year?

 

~FS

The Efficacy of The Jesus Prayer

The Jesus Prayer discovered me to be a liar, but is turning me into an honest man.

It is repetitious, but it isn’t vain, for by it I have observed my inner self transforming.

Yet at first, when I uttered the prayer, it amounted to something like this: “la de da-da, ya da-da, la de da-da-da, la de-da.”

Such was the superficiality of my inner life, and my lack of mental focus.

 

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me a sinner.”

 

Can there be anything more beneficial, for a Christian, than to keep our mind continually on Christ Jesus?

There isn’t a simpler or better tool, for a Christian to use, than the Jesus Prayer, as he works to forge the purity of his soul and follow the commands of his Lord.

Every master craftsman, or expert in any trade, has a particular tool they most love to use, the tool they turn to in all circumstances, the one they’ve come to trust, and can rely on as they accomplish their task.

The Jesus Prayer can be that special tool, which every master Christian holds dear and close to their heart, as they do their inner work.

Don’t ask me how, but the Prayer, when done with sincerity and with perseverance, begins to reveal ourselves as we truly are, and we discover that we aren’t what we thought we were.

For instance; I’m actually a sinner. I hadn’t realized this, but rather, believed I was basically a good person who happened to sin now and then. But that isn’t the same thing at all. Rather than sinning on occasion, I am steeped in it, and sadly, sin has come to define me. I am a sinner.

The prayer revealed this to me. As I repeated it throughout the day, the words sunk in and I began to hear them, then understand them, and finally the reality of them took hold of me.

“Lord Jesus Christ”…He is my Lord…Yet I do not live as His subject…Though I should…I live for myself…I live as a sinner. But the prayer is reminding me all the time to live as His subject. This is a blessing.

“Son of God”…this is not just any Lord…this is our Creator…this truth, obviously, demands our complete awe and obedience…but I have lived indifferently and apathetically…truly I am a sinner! I am beginning to see myself as I truly am…and the truth will set us free. I have hope!

“Have mercy on me, a sinner”…yes, truly I am one who needs mercy…my self-righteousness is not true righteousness…I am not God, but I am truly a creature…I am at God’s mercy in this life and in the life to come…in Him I have my being…I am not self-made but rather completely dependent for my existence…and I am a sinner, this is clearly evident to me now as I see how I live my life. Lord have mercy!

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

 

~FS

December 8

Stillness requires above all faith, patience, love with all one’s heart and strength and might (cf. Deuteronomy 6:5), and hope. For if you have faith, even though because of negligence or some other fault you fail to attain what you seek in this life, you will on leaving this life most certainly be vouchsafed the fruit of faith and spiritual struggle and will behold your liberation, which is Jesus Christ, the redemption and salvation of souls, the Logos who is both God and man. But if you lack faith, you will certainly be condemned on leaving this world. In fact, as the Lord says, you are condemned already (cf. John 3:18). For if you are a slave to sensual pleasure, and want to be honored by other people rather than by God (cf. John 5:44), you lack faith, even though you may profess faith verbally; and you deceive yourself without realizing it. And you will incur the rebuke: “Because you did not receive Me in your heart but cast Me out behind your back, I too will reject you” (cf. Ezekiel 5:11).

If you possess faith you should have hope, and believe in God’s truth to which the whole of Scripture bears witness, and confess your own weakness; otherwise you will inescapably receive double condemnation.

~St Gregory of Sinai

December 7

But the crucifixion of the mind by means of the commandments is an especially difficult task for man in our modern society, which breathes and cultivates a spirit of aggressive autonomy. To acknowledge the other and, what is more, to submit in obedience to the will of another, amounts to pure foolishness as far as the logic of independence is concerned. But the self-serving logic of our time is in fact a dead end both socially and in people’s personal lives. The crucifixion of the mind is especially relevant today, in that it has the power to heal the egocentrism of contemporary man.

~Archimandrite Zacharias

December 6

All men, both the weak and the strong, must crucify their mind if they are to fit in harmoniously and function properly in the Body of Christ. One should not forget that Christ, the Head of the Body, wears a crown of thorns and is in this world as one who suffers. It follows that a member of the Body who avoids pain, will fall away from the Body and be separated from the Head. But if he embraces the cross of loving obedience, his heart will be circumcised and bear the Name of the Lord within itself.

~Archimandrite Zacharias

December 5

We undergo a death at baptism, a real death. We actually die to sin, to our former way of life, to the lusts of the flesh, to the passions, to our fleshly outlook on life. We leave all this behind once and for all, and this is contained in the symbolic act of going down into the water. And because we have died a real death to sin, when we emerge from the water we receive the true life of resurrection. Indeed, we died to everything that is without value so that we might rise to everything that is precious and eternal. A covenant is made, and the whole of our Christian life consists of proving our fidelity to this covenant of holy baptism, and of living up to the honor God has bestowed on us.

~Archimandrite Zacharias