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Friday, January 30, 2015

The Acquisition of Grace

Acquire the Holy Spirit, and a thousand around you will be saved. 
 -St. Seraphim of Sarov

"Yes, father, but what about other good deeds done for Christ's sake in order to acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit? You have only been speaking of prayer."

"Acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit also by practicing all the other virtues for Christ's sake. Trade spiritually with them; trade with those which give you the greatest profit. Accumulate capital from the superabundance of God's grace, deposit it in God's eternal bank which will bring you immaterial interest, not four or six per cent, but one hundred per cent for one spiritual ruble, and even infinitely more than that. For example, if prayer and watching gives you more of God's grace, watch and pray; if fasting gives you much of the spirit of God, fast; if almsgiving gives you more, give alms. Weigh every virtue done for Christ's sake in this manner.

"Now I will tell you about myself, poor Seraphim. I come of a merchant family in Kursk. So when I was not yet in the monastery we used to trade with the goods which brought us the greatest profit. Act like that, my son. And just as in business the main point is not merely to trade, but to get as much profit as possible, so in the business of the Christian life the main point is not merely to pray or to do some other good deed. Though the apostle says: "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17), yet, as you remember, he adds: "I would rather speak five words with my understanding than ten thousand words with a tongue" (1 Cor. 14:19). And the Lord says: "Not everyone who says to Me: Lord, Lord, shall be saved, but he who does the will of My Father" (Mt. 7:21), that is he who does the work of God and, moreover, does it with reverence, for "cursed is he who does the work of God negligently" (Jer. 48:10). And the work of God is: believe in God and in Him Whom He has sent, Jesus Christ (John 14:1; 6:29). If we understand the commandments of Christ and of the Apostles aright, our business as Christians consists not in increasing the number of our good deeds which are only the means of furthering the purpose of our Christian life, but in deriving from them the utmost profit, that is in acquiring the most abundant gifts of the Holy Spirit.

"How I wish, your Godliness, that you yourself may acquire this inexhaustible source of divine grace, and may always ask yourself: Am I in the Spirit of God, or not? there is nothing to grieve about. You are ready to appear before the awful judgment of Christ immediately. For "In whatsoever I find you, in that will I judge you." But if we are not in the Spirit, we must discover why not and what reason our Lord God the Holy Spirit has willed to abandon us. We must seek Him again and must go on searching until our Lord God the Holy Spirit has been found and is with us again, through His goodness. We must attack the enemies that drive us away from Him until even their dust is no more, as the Prophet David has said, "I will pursue my enemies and overtake them; and I will not turn back till they are destroyed. I will crush them and they will be unable to stand; they will fall under my feet" (Ps. 17[18]:38-39)."

"That's it, my son. That is how you must spiritually trade in virtue. Distribute the Holy Spirit's gifts of grace to those in need of them, just as a lighted candle burning with earthly fire shines itself and lights other candles for the illumining of all in other places, without diminishing its own light. If it is so, with regard to the earthly fire, what shall we say about the fire of the grace of the All-Holy Spirit of God? For earthly riches decrease with distribution, but the more the heavenly riches of God's grace are distributed, the more they increase in the one who distributes them. Thus the Lord Himself was pleased to say to the Samaritan woman: All who drink this water will be thirsty again. "But whoever drinks the water that I shall give him will never be thirsty any more; but the water that I shall give him will be in him a spring of water leaping up to eternal life" (John 4:13-14)."

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Menologion:

ST MAXIM OF TOTMA, FOOL FOR CHRIST
ST FURSEY OF BURGH CASTLE, ENLIGHTENER OF EAST ANGLIA



Troparion of St Maxim of Totma    Tone 4
Thou didst please God by thy blameless priesthood/ and choose to be a Fool for Christ in the midst of worldly tumult;/ thou didst take up the Cross and follow Christ,/ drawing near to Him in unswerving thought and love./ Disdaining all things earthly thou didst receive the things of heaven./ Pray to Christ our God to keep thy flock unharmed/ and to save our souls, O holy Father Maxim.

Troparion of St Fursey of Burgh Castle    Tone 5
Establishing thy monastery in a Roman fortress/ thou didst teach men that the Orthodox Faith is a true bastion/ against the onslaughts of every evil force, O Father Fursey./ Wherefore pray to God for us/ that we may all be bastions of the Faith/ standing firm against the rising tide of falsehood,/ that our souls may be saved.

Kontakion of St Maxim of Totma    Tone 4
Thou didst hear the divine voice of the Gospel/ and joyfully follow it into the haven of dispassion./ Thou didst cleanse thy soul and body by prayer, fasting and streams of tears,/ extremes of weather, humbled thoughts and being reviled of men;/ thou didst pray for those who assailed thee/ and say: O Lord, lay not this sin to their charge./ Even after thy death God glorifies thee with miracles/ and teaches all to cry to thee:/ Rejoice, holy Maxim, our Father.

Kontakion of St Fursey    Tone 4
Thou didst need the walls of stone/ to defend the Faith against its pagan enemies, O Father Fursey,/ but pray for us that we may have a spiritual wall around us/ to defend the Faith against its enemies./ Following thee and praising thy eternal memory,/ we stand firm against every error, ever singing:/ Rejoice, beloved of God, our Father Fursey.

Synaxarion:



VENERATION OF THE VENERABLE CHAINS OF THE APOSTLE PETER.
MARTYRS SPEUSIPPOS, ELEUSIPPOS, MELEUSIPPOS AND THEIR GRANDMOTHER LEONILLA, TOGETHER WITH NEONOS, TURBONOS AND JOVILLA (161-180).
RIGHTEOUS MAXIM, PRIEST OF TOT'MA (+ 1650).
MARTYR DANAKTOS THE READER (II).
PRIESTMARTYR DAMASKIN THE NEW (+ 1771).

The Veneration of the Venerable Shackles of the Holy and All-Praiseworthy Apostle Peter: On the orders of Herod Agrippa, in about the year 42 the Apostle Peter was thrown into prison for preaching about Christ the Saviour. In prison he was held secure by two iron chains. By night, on the eve of his trial, an Angel of the Lord removed these chains from the Apostle Peter and miraculously led him out from the prison (Acts 12: 1-11). Christians who learned of the miracle took the chains and kept them as precious keepsakes. Those afflicted with illness and approaching them with faith received healing. The Chains of the holy Apostle Peter were kept at Jerusalem until the time of Patriarch Juvenalios, who presented them to Eudocia, spouse of the emperor Theodosius the Younger, and she in turn transferred them from Jerusalem to Constantinople in either the year 437 or 439. Eudocia sent one Chain to Rome to her daughter Eudoxia, who built a church in the name of the Apostle Peter and put within it the Chain. At Rome were also other Chains, in which the Apostle Peter found himself before his death under the emperor Nero.

On 16 January the Chains of the Apostle Peter are brought out for veneration by the people.