My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
Christ is in our midst! He was, is, and shall ever be.
LIFE IS SACRED AND MUST BE RESPECTED, PROTECTED,
"Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, according
to Our likeness…So God made man; in the image of God He made them;
Male and female He made them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them,
‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill all the earth and subdue it, and have
dominion…" (Genesis 1:26-28).
"Then God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed in his
face THE BREATH OF LIFE; MAN BECAME A LIVING SOUL" (Genesis 2:7)
God the Creator of the universe, formed Adam’s body "out of dust from the ground". We believe that the "breath of life" mentioned here is the grace of God the Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life (Symbol of Faith). God, the Author of Life, breathed the BREATH OF LIFE into man’s body and he became a LIVING SOUL. It is clear that Adam, the first human being, was a living soul because he possessed a body, a soul, and the grace of God the Holy Spirit.
The following is a most solemn prayer dedicated to the Holy Spirit:
O Heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit
of Truth, who art in all places and fillest all
things; Treasury of good things and Giver
of Life: Come and dwell in us and cleanse
us from every stain, and save our souls,
O Gracious Lord.
God is LIFE and the "life of all free beings." He is the salvation of all, of believers or unbelievers, of the just or the unjust, of the pious or the impious, of those freed from the passions or caught up in them, of monks or those living in the world, of educated or the illiterate, of the healthy or the sick, of the young or the very old. He is like the outpouring of light, the glimpse of the sun, or the changes of the weather, which are the same for everyone without exception. "For God is no respecter of persons" (Romans 2:11). In other words, there is no partiality with God. As impious man is a rational being, one that must die, who willingly runs away from life and refuses to believe in the existence of his own Everlasting Creator. A transgressor is someone who observes the Divine Law only in his own depraved fashion and holds on to a heretical belief in opposition to God. A Christian is AN IMITATOR OF CHRIST IN THOUGHT, WORD, AND DEED, as far as this is humanly possible, and he believes rightly and blamelessly in the Holy Trinity. A friend of God IS THE ONE WHO LIVES IN COMMUNION WITH ALL THAT IS NATURAL AND FREE FROM SIN AND WHO DOES NOT NEGLECT TO DO WHAT GOOD HE CAN." (Saint John Climacus)
On the other hand, pride IS A DENIAL OF GOD, an invention of the devil, contempt for men. It is the mother of condemnation, the offspring of praise, a sign of barrenness. It is a flight FROM GOD’S HELP, the harbinger of madness, the author of downfall. It is the cause of diabolical possession, the source of anger, the gateway of hypocrisy. It is the fortress of demons, the custodian of sins, the source of hardheartedness. It is the denial of compassion, a bitter pharisee, a cruel judge. IT IS THE FOE OF GOD. IT IS THE ROOT OF BLASPHEMY." (Saint John Climacus)
Saint John Climacus adds, "Pride takes up residence wherever we have LAPSED, for A LAPSE is in fact AN INDICATION OF PRIDE. And an admirable man said once to me, "Think of a dozen shameful passions. Love one of them, I mean pride, and it will take up the space of all the other eleven." "God RESISTS THE PROUD but GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Therefore SUBMIT TO GOD. RESIST THE DEVIL AND HE WILL FLEE FROM YOU. DRAW NEAR TO GOD, AND HE WILL DRAW NEAR TO YOU… HUMBLE YOURSELVES IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD, AND HE WILL LIFT YOU UP" (Saint James 4:6-10). Saint Maximos the Confessor writes: "The rewards for the toils of virtue are DISPASSION AND SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE. For those are the MEDIATORS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, just as passions and ignorance are the mediators of ETERNAL PUNISHMENT." (The Philokalia, Vol. 2, p. 71).
Saint John Climacus, the author of ‘The ladder of Divine Ascent" writes that "obedience is a total RENUNCIATION OF OUR LIFE and it shows up clearly in the way we act. Obedience is the mortification of the members, while the mind remains alive." What we all witness in today’s world is disobedience to our Creator and Savior. Mankind prefers to rebel against God’s will and wisdom. Saint John says, "the sea is the source of the fountain, and HUMILITY IS THE SOURCE OF DISCERNMENT."
Furthermore, humanity has lost the ability to discern and to make prudent judgments. Discernment is necessary and useful virtue to possess. It takes discernment to distinguish between good and evil. "Discernment," says Saint John Climacus, "is and is recognized to be a solid understanding of the will of God in all times, in all places, in all things, and it is found only among those who are PURE IN HEART, IN BODY, AND IN SPEECH."
Is it possible that we are stupefied and we can no longer think for ourselves? Can we no longer decide what is right and what is wrong? Are we to believe the unbelievers that there is no such thing as good or evil, that there is no such as right or wrong, that there is no God or devil, that there is no such a thing as sin or virtue, that there is no such thing as heaven or hell, that there is no such thing as righteousness or evil thoughts and passions? What we must admit is that the secular society has embraced violence, unbelief, and corruption, which leads to destruction.
Humanity is spiritually ill. "Illness," according to Saint John, "Can occur sometimes to cleanse us from our sins and sometimes to humble our thinking. When our Ever-Gracious Master and Lord discovers people getting lazy in their religious lives, He may humble their bodies by illness, as if by a lighter form of asceticism. Illness too can sometimes purify the soul from evil thoughts and passions."
Contemporary Man is a proud man. "Pride IS A DENIAL OF GOD," writes Saint John Climacus. Pride "Is an invention of the devil and the contempt for men. It is the Mother of condemnation, the offspring of praise, a sign of barrenness. It is a flight from God’s help, the harbinger of madness, the author of downfall. It is the cause of diabolical possession, the source of anger, the gateway of hypocrisy. It is the fortress of demons, the custodian of sins, the source of hardheartedness. It is the denial of compassion, a bitter pharisee, a cruel judge. It is the foe of God. It is the root of blasphemy."
What we are witnessing today is the effort for the strong to dominate, control, and enslave the weak. This attitude is derived from arrogance and lack of respect for one’s fellow man. Imposing harsh and painful measures so as to terrorize one into submission. Our Almighty God did not create us to inflict suffering upon each other. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God, teaches us to "love one another." He says, "A new commandment I give to you, THAT YOU LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU, THAT YOU LOVE ONE ANOTHER. By this, all will know that you are My disciples if you love one another. (Saint John 13:34). What we must not allow anyone to replace LOVE with hatred, unity with division, compassion with cruelty, mercy with malice, life with death, good with evil, and what is right with what is wrong.
When there is an absence of love, God is no longer present. We must not drive Our All-Loving Redeemer and Savior from us. He sacrificed His life to save us from evil and death. Why would we, His creatures and disciples, desire to drive Him away? If we created a vacuum, an empty space where there is no love, then it will surely be filled with evil. Therefore, instead of our world be flooded and filled with Divine Light, it will be overcome by darkness and death.
There is no more urgent time than now that all should pray and entreat our Lord and God to forgive us and protect us from the evil one. "Thy will be done on earth as it in heaven," O Lord. "Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our transpasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us NOT into temptation, but deliver us FROM THE EVIL ONE."
O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us, sinners.
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George