Scripture Readings

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Today’s commemorated feasts and saints

St. Nicholas, Equal-to-the-Apostles, Archbishop of Japan (1912). Martyrs Pamphilius—Presbyter, Valens—Deacon, Paul, Seleucus, Porphyrius, Julian, Theodulus, Elias, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Samuel, and Daniel, at Cæsarea in Palestine (307-309). St. Maruthas, Bishop of Martyropolis in Mesopotamia (422). Persian Martyrs in Martyropolis in Mesopotamia (4th c.).

Before Reading the Holy Scripture

Illumine our hearts, O Master Who lovest mankind, with the pure light of Thy divine knowledge. Open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of Thy gospel teachings. Implant also in us the fear of Thy blessed commandments, that trampling down all carnal desires, we may enter upon a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing such things as are well-pleasing unto Thee. For Thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thy Father, Who is from everlasting, and Thine all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

1 John 4:20-5:21

20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. 1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. 10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. 16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. 17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. 18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. 19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. 20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

Mark 15:1-15

1 And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto them, Thou sayest it. 3 And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing. 4 And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee. 5 But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled. 6 Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired. 7 And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. 8 And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. 9 But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? 10 For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. 11 But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. 12 And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? 13 And they cried out again, Crucify him. 14 Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. 15 And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.

SEASON OF REPENTANCE, by St. John of Kronstadt

The Season of Repentance

On the Parable of the Prodigal Son  [Lk 15:11-32]

[Part 5 of 7]


Is it not fair to wonder how we can know and love anything else besides [God]?  How can we move far away from Him   the Source of life and blessings?  How can we rise up against His law and His statutes?  How can we do anything that is not pleasing to Him?  Unfortunately, we love many other things instead of Him; and we do not do that which is pleasing  to Him, and move away from Him.  Take a look at what happens when we do this, look at who we sometimes resemble.   Look at yourself You are constantly immersed in sensual pleasures.  Meanwhile, the Heavenly Father tolerates you on His earth.  He shines His sun on  you, and He doesn’t take away from you the goods that are completely His.  Like  the barren fig tree, you should have been cut down and thrown into the fire a long time ago.  Meanwhile you are still standing.   The Lord now calls everyone through the voice of His Church   to come to His Fatherly embrace, wanting to save all.  Soon will  come the days of fasting and  repentance.  Let us rush to cleanse  ourselves from our sins and passions, in  order to become new and spiritual  people.  Almost all of us  live dissolutely – in a far away country, in a sinful land – completely forgetful of our true and desired native land in heaven.

Orthodox Agape by papademetrios

The Three Disciplines

February 16, 2023 Abbot Tryphon

Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving

Jesus Christ called for a thorough conversion of our heart and mind,
and a complete turning away from the old man (our fallen nature).
The main act that begins this conversion is metanoia, which means thorough change of mind.  This happens when we become aware that we have sinned, and that we are in need of God’s forgiveness, and resolve, with His help, to submit to Him.

Sometimes we see a synonymous use of two words, penance and
confession. When going to confession, a priest sometimes gives a
penance, which is a spiritual discipline that can aid in our journey
to God. We are given guidelines that can lead to spiritual growth, and change of heart.

These penances are often in the form disciplines that are meant to
help increase the time spent in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These three disciplines help us deepen our relationship with Christ, and aidin the Acquisition of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we are asked to do akathist hymns, where we seek the aid of saints, or the Holy Virgin, as we struggle to go deeper in our spiritual quest. We might be given extra periods of fasting, that in depriving ourselves of food, we are able to see deeper into our hearts, and, with God’s help, be ridden of the dirt and grime that resides within us. Other times we might be asked to perform acts of charity, or increase our almsgiving, as a way of moving beyond ourselves, and focusing on the needs of others.

Disciplines that focus on increased prayer, fasting and almsgiving,
along with immersing ourselves in the Holy Scriptures, help us in our continued quest  to live a life in total submission to Christ. These
three categories of discipline aid us in the Acquisition of the Holy
Spirit, and help us to live our life for Christ.

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving, are not ends in themselves, but are
exercises which help in spiritual warfare against the demons who would bring us down. These disciplines are aids that help us in our attempt to repent, and to have a thorough change of mind (metanoia). And this repentance does not mean that we must feel sad, but that we strive to put off all pride and selfishness, and replace the ego with love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, kindness, meekness and  self control.

With love in Christ,

In Christ,
Sdn. Daniel Rudder

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