The struggle against the passions
and our victory in Christ
As we struggle with anger, gluttony, with judging others, sexual impurity and a myriad of others passions, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless. We find ourselves feeling defeated and tempted to give up the battle. Sometimes we even tell ourselves that we have no choice, for we were born this way or our temperament is the result of an abusive household.
There is certainly a kernel of truth in all this for we were born into a fallen world and are therefore influenced by the results of our firstborn parents rejection of God’s love. Death is all around us because of Ancestral Sin and our commitment to struggle with the passions is meant to return us to the Father. Yet this struggle is not about our power or strength, but simply surrendering to the Lord of Mercy, Who would save us.
This same Merciful God knows how difficult a struggle we have and has given us the strength we need to progress towards purity and holiness. He furthermore rewards us each according to our abilities and our reward is based on our willingness to commit to the struggle, a struggle that is empowered by the grace that abounds when we call upon His Holy Name.
What do we do when we seem to succumb to the same old sins over and over? Do we simply surrender in defeat because we’ve failed to curb our anger, blaming the family members or coworkers who know how to push our buttons? Do we give in to sexual passions because we’ve always done so and curbing our appetite for pleasure would be too difficult? Do we gossip about others or judge them because everyone does so?
Or, do we ask God to help us with our anger and confess before a priest when we have fallen, and ask the person who “pushed our buttons” to forgive us for getting angry? Do we ask for God’s forgiveness when we’ve given in to lust and promise to better guard our heart and our eyes, lest we fall again? Do we choose to remain silent when others around us are gossiping and perhaps even avoid those social settings where we know this will be happening?
The good news is that in our struggle with the passions, we do not have to struggle alone. Our Lord Jesus Christ has promised to help us in our quest for purity and holiness. Like the Holy Apostle Paul we can say it is not me, but Christ in me, that we are able to do good. Transformation of the heart is the direct result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, from Whom we are given the power to change. All we have to do is approach God with a humble and contrite heart and victory will be ours.
With love in Christ,
Tuesday February 23, 2021 / February 10, 2021
Week of the Publican and the Pharisee. Tone four.
Fast-free Week. Fast-free
Hieromartyr Charalampus, bishop of Magnesia in Thessaly, and Martyrs Porphyrius and Baptus (202).
New Hieromartyrs Peter and Valerian priests (1930).
New Martyr Anatole (Greesiuk), metropolitan of Odessa (1938).
St. Anna of Novgorod, wife of Yaroslav I (1050).
Venerable Prochorus of the Kiev Caves (1107).
Venerable Longinus, monk, of Koryazhemka (Vologda) (1540).
St. Galina (III).
Martyrs Ennatha, Valentina, and Paula of Palestine (308).
Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos of Areovindus (“Fiery Vision”).
Synaxis of Novgorod Hierarchs: Sts. Joachim (1030), Luke the Jew (1058), Germanus (1095), Arcadius (1162), Gregory (1193), Martyrius (1199), Anthony (1232), Basil (1352), Moses (1362), Symeon (1421), Gennadius (1504), Pimen (1571), and Athonius (1648).
St. Anastasius II, archbishop of Jerusalem (706) (Greek).
Martyr Charalampus (another) and three women companions (Greek).
St. Scholastica of Italy, sister of St. Benedict (543).
St. John Chimchimeli of Bachkovo and Gremi (13th c.) (Georgia).
St. Merwinna, abbess of Romsey.
The Scripture Readings
2 Peter 2:9-22
9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, 11 whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord.
Depravity of False Teachers
12 But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, 13 and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. 15 They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet.
17 These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
Deceptions of False Teachers
18 For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. 20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
The Great Tribulation
14 “So when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not” (let the reader understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let him who is on the housetop not go down into the house, nor enter to take anything out of his house. 16 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 17 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 18 And pray that your flight may not be in winter. 19 For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. 20 And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.
21 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, He is there!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand.