The Church as the Hospital of the Soul
Our Orthodox Faith defines sin as an illness that is in need of healing, not as a crime that requires punishment. The Church is a hospital for the soul whose therapists (priests) first sought therapy and then became the therapists. As a healing institution the Church is the place for broken souls.
We come before Christ as tarnished images, far from that which God intended. Yet this very Creator God is patient and loving, quick to forgive. Our God invites us to holiness, to be made whole. His grace is sufficient to lift us up out of our mire and into the heights of a joy and gladness that is meant to be eternal. We need only to humble ourselves and ask for help and the Kingdom is ours.
Heaven and hell are not about location, but about relationship. All that is needed is our responsive word, followed by action. We say yes to God’s invitation while seeking out the therapy that is ours within the life of the Church.
Wholeness (holiness) is ours through this relationship with Christ, Who’s redemptive act upon the Cross, together with His having conquered death by death, delivers us from the depths of estrangement. We are lifted up to God, having been made whole, and eternal communion with God is our destiny.
With love in Christ,
Thursday April 11, 2019 / March 29, 2019
Fifth Week of the Great Lent. Tone four.
Great Lent. Food with Oil
Martyr Mark, bishop of Arethusa (364), and with him Hieromartyr Cyrilthe Deacon of Heliopolis, and others, who suffered under Julian the Apostate (362).
New Martyrs Priest Paul (Voinarsky), and brothers Paul and Alexis Kiryan, of the Crimea (1919).
New Hieromartyr Michael priest(1933).
Venerable John, Anchorite of Egypt (4th c.).
St. Eustathius (Eustace) the Confessor, bishop of Kios in Bithynia(9thc.).
Venerables Jonah (1480) and Mark of the Pskov Caves.
St. Diadochus, bishop of Photike in Epirus (ca. 486).
St. Eustasius, abbot of Luxeuil (7th c.).
Sts. Gwynllw and Gwladys, parents of St. Cadoc.
The Scripture Readings
5 Thus says God the Lord,
Who created the heavens and stretched them out,
Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it,
Who gives breath to the people on it,
And spirit to those who walk on it:
6 “I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness,
And will hold Your hand;
I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the Gentiles,
7 To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the prison,
Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.
8 I am the Lord, that is My name;
And My glory I will not give to another,
Nor My praise to carved images.
9 Behold, the former things have come to pass,
And new things I declare;
Before they spring forth I tell you of them.”
Praise to the Lord
10 Sing to the Lord a new song,
And His praise from the ends of the earth,
You who go down to the sea, and all that is in it,
You coastlands and you inhabitants of them!
11 Let the wilderness and its cities lift up their voice,
The villages that Kedar inhabits.
Let the inhabitants of Sela sing,
Let them shout from the top of the mountains.
12 Let them give glory to the Lord,
And declare His praise in the coastlands.
13 The Lord shall go forth like a mighty man;
He shall stir up His zeal like a man of war.
He shall cry out, yes, shout aloud;
He shall prevail against His enemies.
Promise of the Lord’s Help
14 “I have held My peace a long time,
I have been still and restrained Myself.
Now I will cry like a woman in [b]labor,
I will pant and gasp at once.
15 I will lay waste the mountains and hills,
And dry up all their vegetation;
I will make the rivers coastlands,
And I will dry up the pools.
16 I will bring the blind by a way they did not know;
I will lead them in paths they have not known.
I will make darkness light before them,
And crooked places straight.
These things I will do for them,
And not forsake them.
20 And the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”
22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. 23 And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? 25 Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
26 So the Lord said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.”
27 Then Abraham answered and said, “Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: 28 Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?”
So He said, “If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it.”
29 And he spoke to Him yet again and said, “Suppose there should be forty found there?”
So He said, “I will not do it for the sake of forty.”
30 Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose thirty should be found there?”
So He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
31 And he said, “Indeed now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose twenty should be found there?”
So He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty.”
32 Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?”
And He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.” 33 So the Lord went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.
17 The highway of the upright is to depart from evil;
He who keeps his way preserves his soul.
18 Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly,
Than to divide the spoil with the proud.
20 He who heeds the word wisely will find good,
And whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.
21 The wise in heart will be called prudent,
And sweetness of the lips increases learning.
22 Understanding is a wellspring of life to him who has it.
But the correction of fools is folly.
23 The heart of the wise teaches his mouth,
And adds learning to his lips.
24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.
25 There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
26 The person who labors, labors for himself,
For his hungry mouth drives him on.
27 An ungodly man digs up evil,
And it is on his lips like a burning fire.
28 A perverse man sows strife,
And a whisperer separates the best of friends.
29 A violent man entices his neighbor,
And leads him in a way that is not good.
30 He winks his eye to devise perverse things;
He purses his lips and brings about evil.
31 The silver-haired head is a crown of glory,
If it is found in the way of righteousness.
32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
33 The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the Lord.
The Lord Tests Hearts
17 Better is a dry morsel with quietness,
Than a house full of feasting with strife.
2 A wise servant will rule over a son who causes shame,
And will share an inheritance among the brothers.
3 The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
But the Lord tests the hearts.
4 An evildoer gives heed to false lips;
A liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue.
5 He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker;
He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
6 Children’s children are the crown of old men,
And the glory of children is their father.
7 Excellent speech is not becoming to a fool,
Much less lying lips to a prince.
8 A present is a precious stone in the eyes of its possessor;
Wherever he turns, he prospers.
9 He who covers a transgression seeks love,
But he who repeats a matter separates friends.
10 Rebuke is more effective for a wise man
Than a hundred blows on a fool.
11 An evil man seeks only rebellion;
Therefore a cruel messenger will be sent against him.
12 Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs,
Rather than a fool in his folly.
13 Whoever rewards evil for good,
Evil will not depart from his house.
14 The beginning of strife is like releasing water;
Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.
15 He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just,
Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.
16 Why is there in the hand of a fool the purchase price of wisdom,
Since he has no heart for it?
17 A friend loves at all times,
And a brother is born for adversity.