The guarding of the heart
Watchfulness has been described by Elder Ephraim of Philotheou as “the axe which shatters the large trees, hitting their roots. When the root is struck, it doesn’t spring up again.” A conscientious attention to our thoughts is an important tactic in spiritual warfare, and is necessary if we are to have effective weapons that are stronger than those of the enemy.
Saint Paisios of the Holy Mountain tells us about some of the consequences of not being watchful. “When our soul lives carelessly without watching over its thoughts, it will consequently fill up with dirty and sly thoughts.
As a result, people start developing psychological problems which gradually pile up…. Some people, while they are found in this situation and come face to face with the problem itself, they do not realize it, and thus are unable to humbly confess to their spiritual father their fall. Instead, they look for a “secular” solution and consult a psychiatrist, who will inevitably prescribe medication… The only solution is to become aware of the problem and confess it to a spiritual father and then humbly follow his advice.”
Watchfulness and the Jesus Prayer are weapons that mutually reinforce each other, as constant prayer goes with watchfulness and attentiveness of the intellect. A Christian life without watchfulness, is doomed to failure.
With love in Christ,
Saturday April 13, 2019 / March 31, 2019
Fifth Saturday of the Great Lent: Laudation of the Mother of God. Tone four.
Great Lent. Food with Oil
Venerable Hypatius the Wonderworker, bishop of Gangra (ca. 360).
Repose of St. Jonah, metropolitan of Kiev, Moscow, and all Russia (1461).
St. Innocent of Moscow, enlightener of Alaska and Siberia (1879).
New Hieromartyr John priest (1938).
St. Hypatius the Healer of the Kiev Caves (14th c.).
Venerable Philaret Danilevsky (1841).
Venerable Apollonius, ascetic of the Thebaid (395).
Martyrs Abdas the Bishop and Benjamin the Deacon, of Persia (424).
Venerable Hypatius, abbot of Rufinus in Chalcedon (446).
Appearance of the “Iberian” (“Iveron”) Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Righteous Joseph the Fair, son of Jacob (ca. 1700 B.C.).
38 Martyrs, beheaded by the sword under Julian (361-363).
Saint Akakios the Confessor, Bishop of Meletinia (249-251).
Venerable Blaise of Amorium and Mt. Athos (908) (Greek).
Martyr Menander (Greek).
St. Stephen the Wonderworker, monk (Greek).
The Scripture Readings
24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— 26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
The Earthly Sanctuary
9 Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; 3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
Limitations of the Earthly Service
6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance;
Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ
27 Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?”
28 So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”
29 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.”
30 Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.
Jesus Predicts His Death and Resurrection
31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
Mary and Martha Worship and Serve
38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Keeping the Word
27 And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!”
28 But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”