Friday, January 17, 2020

Excerpt from St. Athanasios the Great's "On the Incarnation"

The Nativity of Christ (source)
  
"For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God entered our world. In one sense, indeed, He was not far from it before, for no part of creation had ever been without Him Who, while ever abiding in union with the Father, yet fills all things that are. But now He entered the world in a new way, stooping to our level in His love and Self-revealing to us. He saw the reasonable race, the race of men that, like Himself, expressed the Father's Mind, wasting out of existence, and death reigning over all in corruption. He saw that corruption held us all the closer, because it was the penalty for the Transgression; He saw, too, how unthinkable it would be for the law to be repealed before it was fulfilled. He saw how unseemly it was that the very things of which He Himself was the Artificer should be disappearing. He saw how the surpassing wickedness of men was mounting up against them; He saw also their universal liability to death.

"All this He saw and, pitying our race, moved with compassion for our limitation, unable to endure that death should have the mastery, rather than that His creatures should perish and the work of His Father for us men come to nought, He took to Himself a body, a human body even as our own. Nor did He will merely to become embodied or merely to appear; had that been so, He could have revealed His divine majesty in some other and better way. No, He took our body, and not only so, but He took it directly from a spotless, stainless virgin, without the agency of human father—a pure body, untainted by intercourse with man. He, the Mighty One, the Artificer of all, Himself prepared this body in the virgin as a temple for Himself, and took it for His very own, as the instrument through which He was known and in which He dwelt.

"Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death instead of all, and offered it to the Father. This He did out of sheer love for us, so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, having fulfilled in His body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men. This He did that He might turn again to incorruption men who had turned back to corruption, and make them alive through death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of His resurrection. Thus He would make death to disappear from them as utterly as straw from fire."
-St. Athanasios the Great, excerpt from "On the Incarnation"
(source)
  
The Resurrection of Christ (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

St. Sophrony of Essex on the Building of Churches

Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow (source)
  
"It is difficult to built a church today. It will rouse up all the demons," said St. Sophrony of Essex, as he proceeded to tell a parable that he had heard in Russia: "Once, someone went to Hell, but there, he wanted a church so he could pray. Despite his sinfulness, he loved God and wanted to pray. He began to measure the space to lay the foundations. A demon asked him what he was doing, and he replied: 'I want to build a holy church in order to pray.' The demon responded that it was impossible to build a church in Hell, and he tried to hinder him. He then called other demons, and they were unable as well. They mentioned it to their leader, and then they gathered many demons and threw him out of Hell so that he might not build the church." And St. Sophrony continued: "Thus, we as well build churches in order to transform Hell into Paradise, and even if we are unsuccessful with this, we will succeed in the devil not accepting us in Hell."
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

St. Theophan the Recluse on Humility, Fear of God, Repentance and Love

Jesus Christ the Son of God the Savior (source)
  
God is everywhere. And when He finds a heart that isn’t opposed to Him, a humble heart, He enters it and fills it with joy. The joy of the heart which has God within it is so great that it attaches itself to Him and never wants to separate from Him. The Lord doesn’t approach a heart puffed up with egotism. Such a heart is deeply sad, shrivels and slowly dissolves. It wallows in ignorance, sorrow and darkness.
 
No matter how sinful we are, as soon as we turn to the Lord in repentance and desire, the door of the heart opens to Him. Our inner uncleanness drains out and makes way for purity, virtue, the Savior Himself, the great Visitor of the soul, the Bringer of joy, light and mercy. This blessed state is a gift of God, not something we ourselves have achieved. And since it’s a gift, we ought, in humility, to thank the giver.
 
Humility! The basis of all the virtues and the fundamental requirement for spiritual fruition. Do you have humility? You have God, You have everything! You don’t have humility? You lose everything! So retain the feeling of humility in your heart. Our natural and normal relationship with God requires a heart which is impassioned, contrite and entirely devoted to Him, a heart which cries mystically at every moment: ‘Lord, You know all things; save me!’ If we surrender ourselves into His hands, He’ll do with and for us whatever’s best for our salvation, according to His wise and holy will.
 
The task of unceasing prayer is not only for hesychasts, but also for all Christians, whom the Lord enjoins, through His holy apostle, to ‘Pray without ceasing’. There are various stages of prayer before it becomes unceasing. They’re all the work of God, Who watches over the hearts of all of us to the same degree, be we monastics or lay people. And whenever a heart, whoever’s it may be, turns to Him, He approaches it with love and unites with it.
 
How fear of God is retained in the heart.
The fear of God is begotten from faith and is a requirement for spiritual progress. When it settles in the heart, then, like a good householder, it puts everything to rights. Do we have fear of God? If so, let us thank the Lord Who gave it to us and let us guard it as we would a valuable treasure. And if we don’t have it, let us do whatever we can to acquire it, in the knowledge that the reason for our lack is our own inattention and negligence.
 
From fear of God are begotten repentance, contrition, and lamentation over our sins. May this feeling, the precursor of salvation, never be absent from our heart. If we’re to retain the fear of God within us, we must keep in mind the whole time the remembrance of death and of the judgment, along with a sense of the presence of the Lord: God is always with us and in us, seeing, listening and knowing everything, even our most hidden thoughts.
 
When this triad- fear of God, remembrance of death and a sense of the divine presence- settles within us, then prayer surges from the heart spontaneously- then the hope of salvation becomes firm. It’s not so much the fear of God that preserves it; more the memory of the dread judgment. This remembrance, however, mustn’t produce dejection, but should rather inspire combativeness and repentance.
 
Let us try to remain unsullied by the filth of sin. And if, on occasion, we do sin, let us purify ourselves through confession. Trusting in God’s mercy in this way, we won’t lose heart. In any case, our Judge is merciful and loves us. He won’t be looking for something to condemn us for. On the contrary, he’ll try to find even the slightest reason to exonerate us.
 
God and the conscience.
If you decide, with all your heart, to always submit to the Lord and to please Him alone through the whole of your way of life, and if, in every predicament and need you turn to Him alone, in faith and devotion, then you can be sure that everything in your life, things spiritual and secular, will turn out successfully. It’s a great thing to realize that, without God, there’s nothing you can do about anything and, having come to understand this, to then have recourse to His assistance in full confidence. The conscience must direct the soul properly and inform it infallibly as to what is the right thing in every situation. It can’t do this, however, if it’s not pure and illumined.
 
So let’s clean it through ascetic efforts and observation of the Lord’s commandments, which liberate the heart from the passions, and let’s illumine it with the divine light by studying the Gospel. From there we’ll draw wise rules by which we will guide our conscience in the holy will of God.
  
St. Theophan the Recluse (source)
 
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Forty-Day Memorial of Elder Ephraim of Arizona

Elder Ephraim of Arizona (source)
 
The Forty-Day Memorial of Blessed Elder Ephraim of Arizona will be celebrated in conjunction with the patronal feast of the Monastery he founded and where he is buried (in honor of St. Anthony the Great). The services will be broadcast live on Youtube:
 
 
 
May the Lord grant the Elder a blessed Paradise, and may we have his blessing!
 
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

St. Innocent of Moscow: "Do not follow other sinners, how they live..."

Lot fleeing the destruction of Sodom (source)
  
"Do not follow other sinners, how they live. Their condemnation will not save you."
-St. Innocent of Moscow

(source)

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

St. Anthony the Great: "Our life and our death is with our neighbor..."

St. Anthony the Great (source)
  
"Our life and our death is with our neighbor. If we gain our brother, we have gained God, but if we scandalize our brother, we have sinned against Christ."
-St. Anthony the Great

(source)

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Paraklesis to St. Ephraim of Nea Makri

St. Ephraim of Nea Makri (source)
 
Paraklesis to St. Ephraim of Nea Makri, the Newly-revealed Hieromartyr and Wonderworker
translated from the Greek text written by Elder Gerasimos of Little St. Anne's Skete, the Hymnographer of the Great Church of Christ

The Priest says the "Blessed is our God...", followed by the Psalm "Lord hear my prayer, give ear to my supplication..."

God is the Lord and He revealed Himself to us, blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord. (x 4 with verses)

Fourth Tone.
Ever grant deliverance to those who approach your sacred Relics, and who entreat your fervent intercessions, delivering them from temptations and dangers, and all trials and terrible afflictions, O Hieromartyr Saint Ephraim, as a most-fervent healer of the Savior.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Same Tone.
The finding of your sacred Relics has filled the hearts of the faithful, and has multiplied gladness for your Monastery, in which we take refuge, crying out to your grace: You are my refuge, and my fervent deliverer, O Venerable Martyr Saint Ephraim, therefore deliver me from terrible circumstances.

Both now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
O Theotokos we shall never be silent...
  
Sts. Nektarios and Ephraim the New Wonderworkers of Christ (source)
   Then Psalm 50 "Have mercy on me O God according to Your great mercy...", followed by the Canon in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone. The Greek acrostic reads: "Gladden us, our Father, with your glory. Gerasimos."
   
Ode I. Crossing the waters.
O Saint of God, intercede on our behalf.
Like a lily of springtime, your sacred Relics have appeared from the earth, granting heavenly fragrance, and driving away the stench of the passions, O Ephraim.

O Saint of God, intercede on our behalf.
From on high you oversee your Monastery, and below you are honored in reverence. Do grant us the blessing of your incorrupt grace, O all-blessed Ephraim.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
With the light of your holy intercessions, dissolve the multitudes of my passions, and the night of temptations, O Father, for we have taken refuge in your divine Relics in faith.

Both now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Theotokion.
Deliver me from every assault of the bodiless enemy through your sacred intercessions, and strengthen me, O only Theotokos, that I might hymn your unspeakable glory.

Ode III. Of the vault of the heavens.
O Saint of God, intercede on our behalf...
You have shown forth in these latter days like an all-radiant star throughout the revealing of your divine Relics, O Father, which wondrously shine and illumine the hearts of those who entreat your help, O Saint.

Cease the burning of all kinds of afflictions and terrible trials with the dew of your divine intercessions. Therefore we entreat you: quench our pains through the rain of the Divine Spirit, O Saint.

O Father, grant healing for those who speedily hasten to your divine Body, and deliverance from every evil, for you grant grace and mercy to all as one compassionate.

Theotokion.
You have appeared as a noetic Throne and a golden dwelling-place for the King of glory and Pantocrator, O Spotless Virgin, therefore, show me to be a house of pure deeds of divine grace.

Deliver those who hasten to your divine protection from every danger and illness and trial, O Great Martyr of the Lord, and godly-minded Ephraim.

Look down on me...
   
St. Ephraim of Nea Makri (source)
  
The Priest says the entreaty, followed by the Kathisma.

Tone II. A fervent prayer.
You have lately shown forth as a fervent protector, O Saint, revealing to us your holy Relics, to which we take refuge with fervor along with your intercessions, O Ephraim, blessed by God. Therefore, we cry out to you in faith: intercede with Christ for all of us.

Ode IV. I have hearkened and heard O Lord.
In a multitude of ways, O blessed one, you appear to those who call upon your divine help, and you grant our requests unto salvation, O Venerable Ephraim.

Grant healing from Heaven for those afflicted, and greater joy for those in sorrows, for those who hasten to your protection, O Saint Ephraim.

Preserve your Monastery unharmed from the assaults of the enemy, O Saint Ephraim, for she boasts in your Relics.

Theotokion.
From your womb has dawned the Sun of Righteousness, O Pure One, and with your light, illumine my darkened mind.

Ode V. Illumine us.
With the mighty staff of your intercessions, drive away the unseen enemy from us, O Ephraim, for he prowls around us like a lion.

Your struggled well and were lately revealed to us through the shining forth of your Holy Relics, sanctifying our souls, O blessed one.

You have appeared as a great defender of your Monastery, O Saint, that is enriched with your fragrant and holy Relics as with a divine treasure.

Theotokion.
O Spotless and Pure Theotokos and Ever-virgin, grant healing to my soul, sick from the passions, making me worthy of your grace.

Ode VI. My entreaty do I pour out.
You have appeared to us as a physician of bodies and souls through the grace of the Spirit in these latter days, O all blessed one, as your divine Relics have been uncovered from the depths of the earth.

You strengthened the members of the paralytic, and showed him forth to be healthy, O Father, having taken refuge in your Holy Relic, and having acquired the fear of the Lord. Therefore, he departed in joy, magnifying your wonderworking power.

You appeared to the Abbess [Makaria], revealing to her where you were buried, but you also often appear to those who desire you, O Father, revealing your holy and radiant face. Do fill us with heavenly joy, O Ephraim, glorified by God.

Theotokion.
You were seen to be a radiant Vessel of the Most-high, and a luminous Temple, for from your pure blood, O Virgin, He came to earth as a Man, out of His great mercy, and because of this, you are glorified.

Deliver those who hasten to your divine protection from every danger and illness and trial, O Great Martyr of the Lord, and godly-minded Ephraim.

Spotless One, who by a word did bring to us the Word eternal...
  
St. Ephraim of Nea Makri (source)
  
Then the Priest says the entreaty, followed by the Kontakion.

Kontakion in the Second Tone.
Through the revealing of your divine Relics, you were made known to all with radiance, and you ever pour forth healings, and deliver from dangerous circumstances, those who call upon your help, O Ephraim.

Prokeimenon.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His Holy One. (2)
Verse: To His Saints that are on the earth, the Lord has been shown wondrous.

The Gospel according to St. Matthew (11:27-30)
The Lord said to his disciples, "All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
At the intercessions of the Venerable One, O Lord of mercy, wash away my many personal offenses.

Both now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
At the intercessions of the Theotokos, O Lord of mercy, wash away my many personal offenses.

Verse: Have mercy on me, O Merciful One, according to Your great mercy, and according to the multitude of Your compassions, blot out my transgressions.
  
Prosomoion in the Plagal of the Second Tone. Having placed all their hopes in Heaven.
You endured steadfastly the attacks of barbarians, and you shown forth as an invincible Martyr of the King of All, O Saint Ephraim, and you grant greater joy to the faithful through the finding of your Relics, through which you drive out every assault of Belial, and heal afflictions and the traumas of the soul. Therefore, we cry out to you: do not cease to entreat Christ, that we all be granted forgiveness and a peaceful life.
  
St. Ephraim of Nea Makri, bearing the flame of Christ burning in his heart (source)
     
Then the Priest says the "Save, O God, Your people, and bless Your inheritance...", followed by the remainder of the Canon.

Ode VII. Once from out of Judea.
From Heaven, O godly-minded one, you ever look down upon your divine Monastery, and paradoxically you appear to many people, granting their requests, O Venerable Martyr Ephraim, for those who hymn you.

In a strange manner, you appear asleep and awake, O blessed one, granting joy and gladness, and every other gift, O Saint Ephraim, for those who praise your holy life.

Your holy Monastery is enriched with your divine Relics as a spring of holiness and a holy gift, O Ephraim, and she is sanctified through your grace, and people from all places approach her with faith.

Theotokion.
Through the uncreated sowing of your sacred intercessions, O you who are graced by God, make to sprout for me soul the fruits of repentance, O Theotokos, and make me worthy of the life on high after my end.

Ode VIII. The King of Heaven.
Gladden, O Father, through your joyous protection, those who are groaning with sorrows and needs, and deliver them from every bitterness, O Ephraim.

Rain down with your divine intercessions, O godly-minded one, on those who are aflame with pains in soul, and quench all of their burning, granting them divine rest.

As you joined the pastures of the Saints, O Father, entreat together with them, O God-bearer, on behalf of those who honor your divine Relics.

Theotokion.
Save me, O Lady, from the schemes of the enemy, and cleanse my nous that has been darkened by sinful thoughts and deeds.

Ode IX. Saved through you, O Theotokos.
Heal, O all-blessed one, every weakness of those who hasten to your divine Relics, O Venerable Martyr of the Lord and blessed Ephraim.

Ceaselessly protect your holy Monastery through your wondrous intercessions, O Saint, keeping it from the assaults of Belial and every trial.

The new one among the Saints, who has appeared lately, O wonderworker Ephraim worthy of praise, deliver me from the mania of him who wars against us.

Theotokion.
Show my nous, O Theotokos, to overcome base thoughts of the enemy, and fill my heart with divine radiance.
  
St. Ephraim of Nea Makri (source)
  
Then, "Truly it is right to call you blest...", followed by the Megalynaria of the Saint.

Rejoice, you who formerly struggled with steadfastness, and lately were made known to the Church of Christ through the revealing of your divine Relics, O Hieromartyr Ephraim worthy to be praised.

You appeared, relating your calling and your sacred end, O Father. Therefore, those who venerate your sacred Relics, O Venerable Martyr Ephraim, receive grace.

Though you lain unknown for many years, through the revealing of your sacred Relics, you have shown the world the richness of your grace, and the energy of wonders, O blessed Ephraim.

Rejoice, communicant with the Venerable Saints, rejoice, you who were zealous for the virtues of the Martyrs, rejoice, you who lived on Mount Amomon, O Great Martyr Ephraim, and were granted dual rewards.

You pour forth grace in divine streams for those sick, healing them through your Relic. Therefore, for those who hasten to your Monastery, grant the fruit of health of soul and body.

As one having boldness before Christ, O God-bearer Ephraim, ceaselessly entreat on behalf of your Monastery in which you lie, and grant your help to all those who ask of you.

All the ranks of Angels...

Then, the Trisagion, followed by the Apolytikion of the Saint.

Apolytikion of St. Ephraim the Great-martyr of Nea Makri in the First Tone.
On Amomon Mountain, you shown forth like the sun, and O God-bearer, you left for God by martyrdom, you endured barbarians’ attacks, Ephraim O Great-martyr of Christ, because of this you ever pour forth grace, to those who piously cry out to you, glory to Him who gave you strength, glory to Him you made you wondrous, glory to Him who grants through you, healings for all!

Then the Priest says the entreaty, followed by the Apolysis. And as the Faithful venerate the Icon of the Saint, the chanters finish the following hymns:

Prosomoion in the Second Tone. When from the tree.
All those who fall down before your fragrant Relics with faith, O blessed Ephraim, protect and save from every trial, and grant them remission of offenses, and healing from all kinds of afflictions, through your intercessions to Christ God. Grant them your blessing, and to your sacred Monastery, O godly-minded one, for we have taken refuge in your intercessions.

Lady, do you receive...

My numerous hopes are placed...
  

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers...
(source)
  
  
A flyer for the Fellowship of St. Ephraim. May the Lord bless their endeavors, and may St. Ephraim help all those who are sick and suffering in body and soul! (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!