All the while floating in a river of grace
The renowned 19th century Russian saint, Seraphim of Sarov (1759-1833), said of himself, “I don’t know anything”. These words were remarkable coming from a hermit who was the most sought after spiritual adviser of his age, with even the Tsar seeking out his counsel. Yet Saint Seraphim recognized that he was but a funnel from which anything good that came out of him, was from God.
As a priestmonk, I am often troubled by the knowledge that I am a poor example to others, and that I fall short, daily, of living out the image of Christ in me. Yet I am compelled to live out every day with joyfulness of heart, no matter what. I am also compelled to preach, teach, and write of the things of the Lord, and to try to trust God, no matter what. I try, as best I can, to remember the words, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice (Philippians 4:4)”.
I try to remember the words of Saint Basil the Fool for Christ, whose holy relics reside in Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square, who said, “winter is cold, but paradise is sweet”. (St. Basil is quoting the service to the holy martyrs of Sebastian when he says “Winter is cold, but paradise is sweet”. It’s from one of the Lord I have cried stichera.) Knowing that true validation comes only from God, I try not to be hurt when I do not receive validation from my peers, remembering that I am called upon to give to others, what I want to receive.
Like Saint Anthony the Great, I cry out to God, “where are You?”, all the while floating in a river of grace. I want to be a friend of God, yet often feel like the chick who has been pushed out of the nest by the mother eagle.
Yet I am comforted by the counsel of Saint Seraphim, who instructed his spiritual children with the words: “When despondency seizes us, let us not give in to it. Rather, fortified and protected by the light of faith, let us with great courage say to the spirit of evil: “What are you to us, you who are cut off from God, a fugitive of Heaven, and a slave of evil? You dare not do anything to us: Christ, the Son of God, has dominion over us and over all. Leave us, you thing of bane. We are made steadfast by the uprightness of His Cross. Serpent, we trample on your head.”
With love in Christ,
Photos: The Pastoral Conference concluded on Wednesday, with the celebration of the Presancified Liturgy. Nick and Nadine Buick hosted me during my time in San Francisco. Nick is the Warden of Holy Virgin Cathedral, and Nadine is the president of their sisterhood.
Thursday March 16, 2017 / March 3, 2017
Third Week of the Great Lent. Tone five.
Great Lent. By Monastic Charter: Food without Oil
Martyr Eutropius of Amasea, and with him Martyrs Cleonicusand Basiliscus (308).
Virgin-martyr Martha and martyr Michael (1938).
Venerable Piama, virgin (337).
Sts. Zeno and Zoilus.
“Volokolamsk” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (1572).
St. Alexandra, of Alexandria (4th c.).
St. Caluppan of Auvergne (576) (Gaul).
St. Non, mother of St. David of Wales (6th c.) (Celtic & British).
St. Winwaloe of Brittany (530) (Celtic & British).
St. John (Chrysostom) IV, the Catholicos of Georgia (1049) (Georgia).
Hieromartyr Theodoretus, Priest of Antioch (361-363) (Greek).
The Scripture Readings
10 “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse,
Who shall stand as a banner to the people;
For the Gentiles shall seek Him,
And His resting place shall be glorious.”
11 It shall come to pass in that day
That the Lord shall set His hand again the second time
To recover the remnant of His people who are left,
From Assyria and Egypt,
From Pathros and Cush,
From Elam and Shinar,
From Hamath and the islands of the sea.
12 He will set up a banner for the nations,
And will assemble the outcasts of Israel,
And gather together the dispersed of Judah
From the four corners of the earth.
13 Also the envy of Ephraim shall depart,
And the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off;
Ephraim shall not envy Judah,
And Judah shall not harass Ephraim.
14 But they shall fly down upon the shoulder of the Philistines toward the west;
Together they shall plunder the people of the East;
They shall lay their hand on Edom and Moab;
And the people of Ammon shall obey them.
15 The Lord will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt;
With His mighty wind He will shake His fist over the River,
And strike it in the seven streams,
And make men cross over dry-shod.
16 There will be a highway for the remnant of His people
Who will be left from Assyria,
As it was for Israel
In the day that he came up from the land of Egypt.
A Hymn of Praise
12 And in that day you will say:
“O Lord, I will praise You;
Though You were angry with me,
Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me.
2 Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song;
He also has become my salvation.’”
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. 12 And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights.
13 On the very same day Noah and Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark— 14 they and every beast after its kind, all cattle after their kind, every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, every bird of every sort. 15 And they went into the ark to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life. 16 So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lordshut him in.
17 Now the flood was on the earth forty days. The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. 18 The waters prevailed and greatly increased on the earth, and the ark moved about on the surface of the waters. 19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered. 20 The waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward, and the mountains were covered. 21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man. 22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit[a] of life, all that was on the dry land, died. 23 So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive. 24 And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days.
8 Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided. 2 The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained. 3 And the waters receded continually from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters decreased.
Wise Sayings of Solomon
10 The proverbs of Solomon:
A wise son makes a glad father,
But a foolish son is the grief of his mother.
2 Treasures of wickedness profit nothing,
But righteousness delivers from death.
3 The Lord will not allow the righteous soul to famish,
But He casts away the desire of the wicked.
4 He who has a slack hand becomes poor,
But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
5 He who gathers in summer is a wise son;
He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.
6 Blessings are on the head of the righteous,
But violence covers the mouth of the wicked.
7 The memory of the righteous is blessed,
But the name of the wicked will rot.
8 The wise in heart will receive commands,
But a prating fool will fall.
9 He who walks with integrity walks securely,
But he who perverts his ways will become known.
10 He who winks with the eye causes trouble,
But a prating fool will fall.
11 The mouth of the righteous is a well of life,
But violence covers the mouth of the wicked.
12 Hatred stirs up strife,
But love covers all sins.
13 Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding,
But a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.
14 Wise people store up knowledge,
But the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.
15 The rich man’s wealth is his strong city;
The destruction of the poor is their poverty.
16 The labor of the righteous leads to life,
The wages of the wicked to sin.
17 He who keeps instruction is in the way of life,
But he who refuses correction goes astray.
18 Whoever hides hatred has lying lips,
And whoever spreads slander is a fool.
19 In the multitude of words sin is not lacking,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.
20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver;
The heart of the wicked is worth little.
21 The lips of the righteous feed many,
But fools die for lack of wisdom.
22 The blessing of the Lord makes one rich,
And He adds no sorrow with it.