Holiness comes only to those who keep watch
Not an hour should pass without taking time to examine our heart, for the hour of judgement can come at any time, and we must be ready to give account to God for our life. In the Gospel of Matthew (5:8), we read “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”. It is clear that without a humble and contrite heart we shall not see God.
Saint Isaac of Syria tells us, “No one has understanding if he is not humble, and he who lacks humility lacks understanding.” The prescription given to us by all the Holy Fathers point that discrimination and watchfulness are the path to achieve purity of heart, for someone who is proud, and who has not rooted out the sickness that is within his heart, will be unable to please God, for only holiness of life opens the doors to the Paradise that awaits us.
No spiritual improvement can be made if we do not seek to please God with holiness of life, yet any good in our deeds must be attributed to God. “There is none that doeth good, no not one (Romans 3:12)”, and “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not (Ecclesiastes 7:20)”.
If we find we’ve neglected our spiritual struggle, and acted with foolish abandon, we, in our weakness, must turn to God in repentance, and this can happen only with an hourly examination of the heart. We must resolve to turn ourselves around, with God’s help, and fight against the enemy of our souls, for holiness comes only to those who struggle.
With love in Christ,
Photo: The holy relics of Saint John the Wonderworker, enshrined in Holy Virgin Russian Orthodox Cathedral in San Francisco.
Monday February 12, 2018 / January 30, 2018
Week of the Last Judgment. Tone three.
Maslenitsa. Meat is excluded
Maslenitsa, entire week.
Synaxis of the Three Hierarchs: St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian, and St. John Chrysostom.
Hieromartyr Hippolytus, pope of Rome, and with him Martyrs Censorinus, Sabinus, Ares, the Virgin Chryse, Martyrs Felix, Maximus, Herculianus, Venerius, Styracius, Mennas, Commodus, Hermes, Maurus, Eusebius, Rusticus, Monagrius, Amandinus, Olympius, Cyprus, Theodore the Tribune, Maximus the Presbyter, Archelaus the Deacon, and Cyriacus the Bishop, at Ostia (269).
Righteous Pelagia of Diveyevo (1884).
New Hieromartyr Vladimir priest (1933).
Martyr Stephen (1945).
Venerable Zeno the Faster of the Kiev Caves (14th c.).
Venerable Zeno, hermit of Antioch and disciple of St. Basil the Great (414).
Martyr Theophilus the New in Cyprus (784).
St. Peter, king of Bulgaria (969).
New Martyr Theodore of Mitylene (Mt. Athos) (1784) (Greek).
New Hieromartyrs Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich and Grand Duke Dmitry Konstantinovich, Eugene Poselianin (Pogozhev).
St. Adelgonda, foundress of Maubeuge (Neth.) (680).
St. Bathild, queen of France (680).
New Martyr Demetrius of Sliven (1841).
The Scripture Readings
9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep,and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
3 John 1-13
Greeting to Gaius
1 The Elder,
To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth:
2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
Gaius Commended for Generosity
5 Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and[b] for strangers, 6 who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, 7 because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. 8 We therefore ought to receive[c] such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.
Diotrephes and Demetrius
9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. 10 Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.
11 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.
12 Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. And we also bear witness, and you know that our testimony is true.
13 I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink; 14 but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face.
Peace to you. Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.
29 And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage[a] and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here. 31 And if anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’”
32 So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them. 33 But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, “Why are you loosing the colt?”
34 And they said, “The Lord has need of him.” 35 Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. 36 And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road.
37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying:
“ ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”
40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”
Jesus and His Disciples Prepare the Passover
7 Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. 8 And He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.”
9 So they said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare?”
10 And He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. 11 Then you shall say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ 12 Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready.”
13 So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover.
Jesus Institutes the Lord’s Supper
14 When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve[a] apostles with Him. 15 Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
17 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. 21 But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table. 22 And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”
23 Then they began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing.
The Disciples Argue About Greatness
24 Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. 25 And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ 26 But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. 27 For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.
28 “But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. 29 And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed oneupon Me, 30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial
31 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
33 But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”
34 Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”
Supplies for the Road
35 And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?”
So they said, “Nothing.”
36 Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. 37 For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.”
38 So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.”
And He said to them, “It is enough.”
The Prayer in the Garden
39 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him.