LIVING A LIFE IN CHRIST IN A HOSTILE AND SECULAR WORLD

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

LIVING A LIFE IN CHRIST IN A HOSTILE AND SECULAR WORLD

In his second Epistle to Timothy Saint Paul writes, "But you have carefully followed
my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance,
persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra–
what persecutions I endured. And out of them, all the Lord delivered me.
Yes, AND ALL WHO DESIRE TO LIVE GODLY IN CHRIST JESUS WILL SUFFER
PERSECUTIONS" (3:10-12).

The message to the followers of Christ is that in this world, godliness elicits persecution. Our Savior Himself says to us, "Rember the world that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ IF THEY PERSECUTED ME, THEY WILL PERSECUTE YOU… They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming THAT WHOEVER KILLS YOU WILL THINK THAT HE OFFERS GOD SERVICE. AND THESE THINGS THEY WILL DO TO YOU BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN THE FATHER NOR ME" (John 15:20-21; 16:2-3).

We understand that while union with Christ brings love, joy, and peace, it also brings the world’s hatred and persecution. Christian history bears witness to this fact. Not thousands but millions of Christians have been persecuted and killed over two thousand years. But even when the world hates true Christians, they must not become despondent, but take comfort from God the Holy Spirit. Saint John Chrysostom writes, "Great is the tyranny of despondency." The struggle of the Christian is one of the ongoing struggles between Light and darkness, between Jesus and the prince of this world.

We learn from the lives of the Saints that are manifold trials and temptations that we must be willing to endure for Christ’s sake. Jesus speaking to His Disciples says, "If anyone desires to come after Me, LET HIM DENY HIMSELF, AND TAKE UP HIS CROSS, AND FOLLOW Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but WHOEVER LOSES HIS LIFE FOR MY SAKE WILL FIND IT" (Matthew 16:24-25). The cross is indeed a symbol of suffering by Christians in imitation of Christ. Self-denial is for the sake of Christ and the Gospel, for a better life; it is not a punitive end in itself. The Cross of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the means through which all of mankind is saved because it is the Cross of Christ that saves and not our own.

Spiritual strength comes through faith, prayer, and fasting. Saint Maximos the Kafsokalyvetes states: "When the grace of the Holy Spirit enters one at the time of prayer, then the prayer ceases, since the mind is entirely dominated by the Holy Spirit and cannot energize its powers. It is still laboring,
subordinating itself to the Holy Spirit. It is directed as the Holy Spirit wills, either to the realm of the immaterial Divine Light, or to some other ineffable contemplation, or oftentimes to divine converse. And is short, even as the Holy Spirit wills, in that manner He consoles and comforts His servants, granting grace even as is appropriate for one."

"Therefore, when this grace of the Holy Spirit comes to one, it does not reveal to him the customary things, nor those things of this world which are apprehended by the senses, but it shows him those which he has never seen before nor imagined. And the mind of that man is taught by the Holy Spirit mysteries–lofty, hidden, and unknown–which, according to the holy Apostle Paul, are those which "eye hath not seen, and ear not heard, for those who love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:9); that is, such things cannot be seen by the bodily eye nor can the mind of man understand on his own."

"The signs of grace, however, are as follows. When the grace of the Holy Spirit comes and overshadows one, it collects for itself the mind and causes it to be attentive and humble. It brings about in one the remembrance of death and one’s sins, and the future judgment and everlasting punishment. It makes the soul easily come to compunction that it might weep and mourn. It produces eyes full of tears in the sober-minded. As much as it draws near to a man, such a one perceives calm in his soul. He receives consolation by means of our Lord Jesus Christ’s boundless love for man and His holy Passion. This acts as an agent to the mind, conferring upon it lofty and true contemplation. First, he medicates upon the incomprehensible power of God, regarding how He created all things out of nothing. Second, he meditates upon God’s infinite power, by which He holds together and governs all things in His Providence, Third, he meditates upon the incomprehensibility of the Holy Trinity, the unsearchable and inscrutable gulf of the Divine Light and is illumined with the Divine Illumination of knowledge, his heart becomes serene, still, and meek, gushing forth the fruits of the Holy Spirit–that is, JOY, PEACE, LONG-SUFFERING, KINDNESS, SYMPATHY, LOVE, HUMILITY, and the rest [Galatians 5:22], thus the soul os such a one PARTAKES OF ONE INEXPRESSALBE JOY. This is why I have sought the wilderness, and this is hy I have always longed for quietness, in order to enjoy more the fruits of prayer." [Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church]

+In the name of the Father and of the Son and
of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Lord God, Almighty Father,
Lord God, Only-Begotten Son, Jesus Christ,
And Lord God, the Holy Spirit,
One God, one power, and one essence,
Have mercy on me a sinner
And through the judgments which You know best,
Save me Your unworthy servant,
For You are Blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.

_________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +



With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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