My beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ,
CHRIS IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!
THE PURPOSE OF ILLNESS AND ITS
POTENTIAL TO PERFECT US (Part II)
This particular Mystery (Sacrament) OF HEALING explores many aspects of sin, suffering, suffering, and healing. While we implore God TO REMOVE THE SICKNESS DURING THE DIVINE SERVICE, YET, IN PLACE OF ILLNESS, WE ASK HIM TO GRANT ‘THE JOY OF GLADNESS’ (anointing itself is spoken of as ‘THE OIL OF GLADNESS’ in the book of Psalms), so that the formerly sick person might now ‘GLORIFY THY DIVINE MIGHT.’ Therefore,, one of the purposes of healing is to ENABLE THE SUFFERER TO RESUME HIS HEALTHY AND ACTIVE SERVICE TO GOD. In token of this, we bring to mind the Savior’s healing of Peter’s mother-in-law who is spoken of as ministering to Christ upon the departure of her fever. Therefore, when we are delivered from bodily torment, WE ARE EXPECTED TO FILL OUR MOUTHS WITH PRAISE OF GOD AND SERVE HIM BY AMENDING OUR SINFUL WAYS AND LIVING FROM HENCEFORTH ONLY FOR GOD AND THE WORLD TO COME, COUNTING THIS WORLD AS NOTHING" (The Teachings of the Holy Fathers on Illness).
It is a pity that many do not discover prayer until they are on a sickbed. We speak even of those who regularly PARTICIPATE IN CORPORATE PRAYER AT THE CHURCH. It is during illness that they perceived how they have neglected THE TREASURES OF PRIVATE OR INTERIOR PRAYER. Saint Gregory the Theologian, A MAN OF PRAYER even when his health was robust, exclaimed during his last illness: "The time is swift, the struggle is great, and my sickness severe, reducing me nearly to immovability. What then is left but to pray to God?"
Appealing to the Holy Martyrs for Healing
Saint John Chrysostom says that "the tombs of the martyrs are nothing other THAN SAFE HARBORS, FOUNTAINS OF SPIRITUAL WATERS, TREASURES OF WEALTH WHICH CANNOT BE TAKEN AWAY, WHICH CAN NEVER BE TESTED AND FOUND WANTING." The Saint then asks, "Art thou tempted to live a life of luxury? Remain beside the martyr’s tomb, pour forth there thy streams of tears, berate thy mind, take up the blessing from the tomb. Having taken this blessing as thine advocate in thy prayers, spend thy time reading the accounts of the martyr’s contests. Embrace the coffer, clasp the dust, and fasten thyself to his casket; for not only the martyr’s bones but also their tombs and reliquaries are rich with ABUNDANT BLESSING. Take THE HOLY OIL AND ANOINT THY WHOLE BODY, THY TONGUE, THY LIPS, THY NECK, AND THINE EYES, AND THOU WILL NEVER FALL INTO THE SHIPWRECK OF DRUNKENNESS; FOR THE FRAGRANCE OF THE OIL RECALLS TO THY MIND THE MARTYR’S CONTESTS, IT CURBS THY LACK OF TEMPERANCE, IT HOLDS THEE IN PERSEVERANCE, AND IT OVERTHROWS THE AILMENTS OF THY SOUL.
Saint John Chrysostom speaks of the blessing, which comes from the tombs of the martyrs. Oftentimes, healing is wrought through the holy oil which was kept burning before the shrine. The martyrs ARE SPIRITUAL PHYSICIANS WHO CURE THE ILLS OF SOUL AND BODY. "So let us," says Saint Chrysostom, "have continuous recourse to them… It is for this that the Goo Master Christ has left their HOLY RELICS WITH US, that we might stand beside their tombs and clasp them with the whole strength of our soul, and in this way get from them the greatest healing for our illnesses of soul and body. For if we stand beside them WITH FAITH, whether our sickness is of the body or the soul, we will not leave their tombs without the healing of which we stood in need.
But what if you do not have access to a martyr’s holy relics? Then bring to mind the centurion, "Christ," observes Saint John Chrysostom, "because of HIs concern and loving-kindness, promised of His own free will that He would go to the centurion’s house. He did this so as to give the centurion a reason and an opportunity to show his virtuous character. Christ knew what the centurion was going to say but still, He promised that He would come. Why? So that you might learn how pious and godly a man the centurion was.
"What did the centurion say? ‘Lord I AM NOT FIT (WORTHY) THAT THOU SHOULDEST COME UNDER MY ROOF’ (Matthew 8:8). The pain of his servant’s sickness and the demands made by illness n his own house did not make the centurion forget his godly disposition. Even in the midst of disaster, he recognized the SUPERIORITY OF THE Master. This is why he said: ‘SPEAK WITH A WORD ONLY, AND MY SERVANT SHALL BE HEALED. FOR I ALSO AM A MAN UNDER AUTHORITY, HAVING SOLDIERS UNDER ME. AND I SAY TO THIS ONE, ‘GO,’ AND HE GOETH; AND HE GOETH; AND TO ANOTHER ‘COME,’ AND HE COMETH, AND TO MY SLAVE, ‘DO THIS,’ AND HE DOETH’ (Matthew 8:8-9). So we see that the words ‘DO THIS’ are the words of command spoken by a master of his servant." [Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church]
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy and Glorious Resurrection,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George