My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
"AND DO NOT BE CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD, BUT
BE TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWING OF YOUR
MIND" [Romans 12:2]
The divine words of the holy Apostle Paul to the Romans are most profound and true. There is no doubt indeed that a faithful relationship to God alters our current relationship with the world. First, we need to renounce the false claims of the world and to be identified and/or be "conformed to this world." We should resist to its influence and be shaped by the world’s secular values and pleasures. As believing and practicing Christians we are "transformed," beginning with the inner man, the "mind" by virtue, adhering to God’s Commandments. The word "mind" here is more than the rational faculty; it is the highest faculty of human nature: "the eyes of your heart" [Ephesians 7:18] by which one sees and comprehends God. As Orthodox Christians, we live out this genuine and faithful relationship to God in the Holy Church, the Body of Christ with faith and humility.
The holy Apostle Paul [Saul] was a Jew and a zealot who at one time was a persecutor of Christians. "I", he says, "persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women" [Acts 22:4]. But on his way to the city of Damascus to capture more Christians and bring them in chains to Jerusalem to be punished he says, "suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Soul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord? And He said to me, "I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting’" [Acts 22:6-8].
By his exhortation, the holy Apostle Paul instructs Christians not to emulate the materialistic people who are attached and/or absorbed by vain thoughts, and concerns of the present life, but to be transformed through the acquisition of Christian virtues so that you may discern what is the will of God and that which is good and pleasing to Him, and at the same time that which is perfect. The Orthodox Christian receives the appropriate and necessary guidance within the Church. He or she is taught humility, purity of soul and body, and to "think soberly," especially control over sinful passions. To be a person who loves his fellow man and is compassionate and kind "for none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s" [Romans 14:7-8].
The Orthodox Christian. like everyone else struggles daily, to strengthen his/her relationship to God. And he or she knows to accomplish it one must have faith in Him and commune with Him unceasingly. We learn from our Monastic community the importance and power of prayer in our lives. Speaking with someone recently about prayer he revealed that he did not know how to pray. In the Gospel of Saint Matthew 6:8-13 Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ tells us: "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do, For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father KNOWS THE THINGS YOU HAVE NEED OF BEFORE YOU ASK HIM. In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your Kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into
But deliver us from the evil
For Your is the Kingdom and
the power and the glory
The Lord’s Prayer is the greatest of all prayers and when said with faith, humility, and love it is heard by Him. If there is anyone who needs guidance on how to pray, turn to Our Lord Himself and ask Him, Lord, teach me to pray. We approach our God with a humble and contrite heart and speak to Him from our hearts, not our lips or mind. Prayer must not be said mechanically and without a convicted heart.
Having a spiritual life requires having spiritual discipline. True piety is not displaying openly certain attitudes and signs for the sake of others. True piety is not visible to others around us. As Orthodox Christians, we witness it in the lives of our Saints and godly men and women throughout the centuries. There is always a sense of unworthiness, meekness, and humility, and always hidden. True Orthodox Christian piety is connected with a Sacramental life, worship, conduct, fasting, repentance, and living an honorable, moral, and virtuous life. A peaceable life, a life governed by the Holy Spirit. Our Holy Orthodox Church, since the early days, has provided a specific prayer to Him: "O Heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who are in all places and fill all things, the Treasure of good things, and Giver of life, come and abide in us, cleanse us from every stain and save our souls, O Good One." Amen.
"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