Tag Archives: Help from God

St. Nikolai: On the Prayer of the Publican (II)

Icon Publican and the Pharisee 5Here is what the Pharisee says: “God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are.” He is not, in fact, thanking God for this, acknowledging that it is God’s doing that he is not as other men. No; the words: “God, I thank Thee … ” are nothing more than an exclamation, a flattering approach to God so that God will listen to his boast. For, from all that he says, he is not thanking God for anything; on the contrary, he is blaspheming against God by blaspheming against the rest of God’s creation. He is thanking God for nothing; everything that he says about himself is expressed as his own doing, achieved without God’s help. He will not say that he is not an extortioner, an unjust man, an adulterer or a tax-collector because God has preserved him from this by His power and His mercy. In no way; but only because he is what he is in his own assessment: a man of such exceptional type and worth that he has no peer in the whole world.Book St Nikolai Homilies

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, “Sunday of the Pharisee and the Publican: The Gospel on True and False Prayer,” Homilies Volume 1: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year

St. Philaret of Moscow: Some people by the word freedom understand the ability to do whatever one wants . . .

Icon of St. Philaret of Moscow“Some people by the word freedom understand the ability to do whatever one wants … People who have the more allowed themselves to come into slavery to sins, passions, and defilements more often than others appear as zealots of external freedom, wanting to broaden the laws as much as possible. But such a man uses external freedom only to more severely burden himself with inner slavery. True freedom is the active ability of a man who is not enslaved to sin, who is not pricked by a condemning conscience, to choose the better in the light of God’s truth, and to bring it into actuality with the help of the gracious power of God. This is the freedom of which neither heaven nor earth are restrict.”

+ St. Philaret of Moscow, Sermon on the Birthday of Emperor Nicholas I, 1851

St. Theophan the Recluse: Everyone knows that a church calls for reverence . . .

Icon of St. Theophan the Recluse“My House shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

Everyone knows that a church calls for reverence, for a collecting of thoughts, for deep thinking about God, and for standing in the presence of God, but who fulfills this? People go to church with a desire to pray, to stand in it for a while with warm fervour; but then thoughts begin to wander, and bargaining begins in one’s head even louder than that which the Lord found in the Jerusalem temple.

Why is this so?

Because the way one stands in church is a reflection of one’s entire life. As people live, so do they behave in church. A church influences and somewhat supports spiritual movements; but then the usual course of one’s spiritual constitution takes over.

Therefore if you want your time in church to consist of worthily standing in the face of the Lord, prepare for this in your ordinary life; walk, as much as you can, in a prayerful frame of mind.

This labour will bring you to the point that in church also you will stand reverently all the time. This reverence will inspire you to be reverent in your ordinary life as well. Thus you will walk ever higher and higher. Say, ‘O Lord, help’ —and begin!Book Thoughts for Each Day of the Year

+ St. Theophan the Recluse, Thoughts for Each Day of the Year: According to the Daily Church Readings from the Word of God

St. John Maximovitch: God’s grace always assists those who struggle, but this does not mean that a struggler is always . . .

Icon of St. John the WonderworkerGod’s grace always assists those who struggle, but this does not mean that a struggler is always in the position of a victor. Sometimes in the arena the wild animals did not touch the righteous ones, but by no means were they all preserved untouched.

What is important is not victory or the position of a victor, but rather the labor of striving towards God and devotion to Him.

Though a man may be found in a weak state, that does not at all mean that he has been abandoned by God. On the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ was in trouble, as the world sees things. But when the sinful world considered Him to be completely destroyed, in fact He was victorious over death and hades. The Lord did not promise us positions as victors as a reward for righteousness, but told us, “In the world you will have tribulation — but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).

The power of God is effective when a person asks for the help from God, acknowledging his own weakness and sinfulness. This is why humility and the striving towards God are the fundamental virtues of a Christian.

+ St. John Maximovitch

Holy Unction: . . . As often as thou fallest arise, and thou shalt be saved . . .

Icon of JesusO God great and supreme, Who art adored by all created beings, Fountain of Wisdom, Abyss of Goodness in very truth unfathomable, and Sea illimitable of loving-kindness: do Thou, the same Master who lovest mankind, the God of things eternal and of wonders, to the understanding of Whom none among men by taking thought can attain, look down and hear us, Thine unworthy servants, and wheresoever in Thy great Name we shall bring this Oil, send Thou down the gift of thy healing, and remission of sins: and heal him (her) , in the multitude of Thy mercies. Yea, O Lord Who art easy to be entreated; Who alone art merciful and lovest mankind; Who repentest Thee of our evil deeds; Who knowest how that the mind of man is applied unto wickedness, even from his youth up; Who desirest not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn again and live; Who for the salvation of sinners didst become incarnate, yet still remain in God, and didst Thyself become a created being for the sake of thy creatures; Thou hast said: I am not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; Thou didst seek the wandering sheep; Thou didst diligently seek out the lost piece of silver, and having found it, Thou didst say: He that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out; Thou didst not abhor the sinful woman who washed Thy precious feet with her tears; Thou didst say: As often as thou fallest arise, and thou shalt be saved; Thou art He who didst say: There is joy in heaven over one sinner who repenteth. Do Thou, O tender-hearted Master, look down from the height of Thy sanctuary, overshadowing us sinners, Who are also Thine unworthy servants, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, at this hour, and take up Thine abode in thy servant, N., who acknowledgeth his (her) iniquities, and draweth near unto Thee in faith; and accepting him (her), cleanse him (her) make him (her) pure from every sin; and abiding ever present with him (her), preserve him (her) all the remaining years of his (her) life; that, walking ever in Thy statues, he (she) may in no wise again become an object of malignant joy to the Devil; and Thy Holy Name may be glorified in him (her).

For Thy property it is to show mercy and to save us, O Christ-God; and unto Thee do we ascribe glory, together with they Father who is from every lasting, and Thine all-holy, and good, and life-giving Spirit, now, and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

+ Second Priest’s Prayer in the Office of Holy Unction

St. Isaac the Syrian: A Prayer of Repentance

Icon of St. Isaac the Syrian“At the door of Your compassion do I knock, Lord; send aid to my scattered impulses which are intoxicated with the multitude of the passions and the power of darkness. You can see my sores hidden within me: stir up contrition—though not corresponding to the weight of my sins, for if I receive full awareness of the extent of my sins, Lord, my soul would be consumed by the bitter pain from them. Assist my feeble stirrings on the path to true repentance, and may I find alleviation from the vehemence of sins through the contrition that comes of Your gift, for without the power of Your grace I am quite unable to enter within myself, become aware of my stains, and so, at the sight of them be able to be still from great distraction.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, from The Prayers of St. Isaac the Syrian

St. Silouan the Athonite: . . . Induce your heart to love your enemies . . .

Icon of St. Silouan the Athonite“I ask you to try something. If someone grieves you, or dishonors you, or takes something of yours, then pray like this: “Lord, we are all your creatures. Pity your servants, and turn them to repentance,” and then you will perceptibly bear grace in your soul. Induce your heart to love your enemies, and the Lord, seeing your good will, shall help you in all things, and will Himself show you experience. But whoever thinks evil of his enemies does not have love for God and has not known God.”

+ St. Silouan the Athonite, Wisdom from Mount Athos: The Writings of Staretz Silouan, 1866-1938, IX.21

St. Maximos the Confessor: . . . five reasons why God allows us to be assailed by demons

Icon of St. Maximos the Confessor“There are said to be five reasons why God allows us to be assailed by demons. The first is so that, by attacking and counterattacking, we should learn to discriminate between virtue and vice. The second is so that, having acquired virtue through conflict and toil, we should keep it secure and immutable. The third is so that, when making progress in virtue, we should not become haughty but learn humility. The fourth is so that, having gained some experience of evil, we should ‘hate it with perfect hatred’ (cf. Ps. 139:22). The fifth and most important is so that, having achieved dispassion, we should forget neither our own weakness nor the power of Him who has helped us.”

+ St. Maximos the Confessor, Four Hundred Texts on Love 2.67, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. John Cassian: . . . The Lord must be there to help us and guide . .

Icon of St. John Cassian“However, of this much we must be sure. Never by our sole diligence or zeal nor by our most tireless efforts can we reach perfection. Human zeal is not enough to win the sublime rewards of blessedness. The Lord must be there to help us and to guide our hearts toward what is good. Every moment we must join in the prayer of David: ‘Direct my footsteps along Thy paths so that my feet do not move astray’ (Ps. 16:5) and ‘He has settled my feet on a rock and guided my footsteps’ (Ps. 39:3) – all this so that the invisible guide of the human spirit may direct back towards love of virtue our free will, which in its ignorance of the good and its obsession with passion is carried headlong into sin.”

— St. John Cassian

St. Cyril of Jerusalem: Your accumulated offenses do not surpass . . .

Confession 4God is loving to man, and loving in no small measure. For say not, I have committed fornication and adultery: I have done dreadful things, and not once only, but often: will He forgive? Will He grant pardon? Hear what the Psalmist says: How great is the multitude of Your goodness, O Lord!

Your accumulated offenses surpass not the multitude of God’s mercies: your wounds surpass not the great Physician’s skill. Only give yourself up in faith: tell the Physician your ailment: say thou also, like David: I said, I will confess me my sin unto the Lord: and the same shall be done in your case, which he says immediately: And you forgave the wickedness of my heart. Book Catechetical Lectures of St. Cyril of Jerusalem

+ St. Cyril of Jerusalem, 2.6, Catechetical Lectures

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