Do we think ourselves wiser than the Church?
In an age of unbelief it can be a struggle to submit to the laws of the Church. When the society around us regards the Church’s laws and traditions unfavorably, we can easily give in to thinking the same thing, and disregard the canons and statutes of the Church of Christ. If our work associates and friends, or even family members, think our adherence to the periods of fasting is extreme, we can find ourselves giving in to peer pressure, just as children are known to do. If our taking time out from work to attend special feast day services is criticized by co-workers as being excessive, do we decline to ask for the day off for the next feast day?
If we allow ourselves to choose the traditions and societal structures of those around us, in preference to the Church’s traditions, canons and laws, we will soon find ourselves betraying our Christian faith. Christianity was not meant to be easy, but is by nature compared to doing battle. If we desire the easy comforts and pleasures of this world, we will eventually lose the battle, and we will perish. If we prefer the laws of this world over the laws of the Church, in the end we will have lost that which is most essential and eternal in value.
In times of turmoil and earthly hardship will will find we have not built up the spiritual strength and fortitude to stand strong against the winds of destruction that lay hold our lives, and we will have lost the battle. Submitting to mere human traditions and authority, we will find that a thief will have taken the very treasure that is the Kingdom of God, and we will be left by the wayside, the Gates of Heaven having been closed to us.
If we revile the laws of the Church we will have reviled Christ Himself, Who is the Head of the Church. This is true because the laws of the Church were given by the Holy Spirit through the Apostles, and are therefore not simply the traditions of man. Let us not think we are great teachers of our own souls, but let us humbly call out together with the wise thief, Remember me, O Lord, in Thy kingdom!
With love in Christ,
Friday March 20, 2020 / March 7, 2020
Third Week of the Great Lent. Tone six.
Great Lent. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
The Holy Hieromartyrs of Cherson: Basil, Ephraim, Capito, Eugene, Aetherius, Elpidius, and Agathodorus (4th c.).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas priest (1930).
New Hieromartyr Nilus, Virgin-martyrs Matrona, Mary, Eudocia, Ecaterina, Antonina, Nadezhda, Xenia, and Anna (1938).
Venerable Paul the Simple of Egypt, disciple of St. Anthony the Great (4th c.).
St. Paul the Confessor, bishop of Prusias in Bithynia (850).
Venerable Emilian of Rome.
Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Surety of Sinners” in Korets (1622), Odrin (1843) and Moscow (1848).
Sts. Nestor and Arcadius, bishops of Tremithus (Greek).
Venerable Laurence, founder of the monastery of the Mother of God on Salamis (1707) (Greek).
St. Ephraim, Patriarch of Antioch (546).
St. Dandus and all Saints of Thrace.
St. Eosterwine, abbot of Wearmount.
The Scripture Readings
2 “Lift up a banner on the high mountain,
Raise your voice to them;
Wave your hand, that they may enter the gates of the nobles.
3 I have commanded My sanctified ones;
I have also called My mighty ones for My anger—
Those who rejoice in My exaltation.”
4 The noise of a multitude in the mountains,
Like that of many people!
A tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together!
The Lord of hosts musters
The army for battle.
5 They come from a far country,
From the end of heaven—
The Lord and His weapons of indignation,
To destroy the whole land.
6 Wail, for the day of the Lord is at hand!
It will come as destruction from the Almighty.
7 Therefore all hands will be limp,
Every man’s heart will melt,
8 And they will be afraid.
Pangs and sorrows will take hold of them;
They will be in pain as a woman in childbirth;
They will be amazed at one another;
Their faces will be like flames.
9 Behold, the day of the Lord comes,
Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger,
To lay the land desolate;
And He will destroy its sinners from it.
10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations
Will not give their light;
The sun will be darkened in its going forth,
And the moon will not cause its light to shine.
11 “I will punish the world for its evil,
And the wicked for their iniquity;
I will halt the arrogance of the proud,
And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
12 I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold,
A man more than the golden wedge of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will shake the heavens,
And the earth will move out of her place,
In the wrath of the Lord of hosts
And in the day of His fierce anger.
4 Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat. 5 And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month. In the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen.
6 So it came to pass, at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made. 7 Then he sent out a raven, which kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth. 8 He also sent out from himself a dove, to see if the waters had receded from the face of the ground. 9 But the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, and she returned into the ark to him, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her, and drew her into the ark to himself. 10 And he waited yet another seven days, and again he sent the dove out from the ark. 11 Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth; and Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth. 12 So he waited yet another seven days and sent out the dove, which did not return again to him anymore.
13 And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and indeed the surface of the ground was dry. 14 And in the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dried.
15 Then God spoke to Noah, saying, 16 “Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17 Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” 18 So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. 19 Every animal, every creeping thing, every bird, and whatever creeps on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark.
God’s Covenant with Creation
20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.
31 The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom,
But the perverse tongue will be cut out.
32 The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable,
But the mouth of the wicked what is perverse.
The Folly of Wickedness
11 Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight.
2 When pride comes, then comes shame;
But with the humble is wisdom.
3 The integrity of the upright will guide them,
But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.
4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
But righteousness delivers from death.
5 The righteousness of the blameless will direct his way aright,
But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.
6 The righteousness of the upright will deliver them,
But the unfaithful will be caught by their lust.
7 When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish,
And the hope of the unjust perishes.
8 The righteous is delivered from trouble,
And it comes to the wicked instead.
9 The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor,
But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.
10 When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices;
And when the wicked perish, there is jubilation.
11 By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted,
But it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.
12 He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor,
But a man of understanding holds his peace.