The Most Holy Virgin—the God-chosen Maiden, by her entrance into the Temple, heralds Christ to all, thereby loudly crying out to all: Behold, the promised and awaited Deliverer of all—the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God is nigh!
Along with lost paradise, the heavens were shut closed by God’s righteous judgment. But as a strong gate cannot hold back a powerful surge of water, so did the fortress of righteous judgment finally melt from the fire of Divine love—and now the heavens are opened. Brethren, let us also open the forces of our nature, let us insatiably receive the revealed God, and delight in Him. Let us soak all our senses with Him, all our thoughts and desires.
The presence of prayer in one’s life means that the person is spiritually alive; without a prayer he is dead.Standing in front of icons and bowing is not yet prayer itself—those are only attributes of prayer. The same can be said about reading a prayer: whether recited by memory or read from a book, it would be not prayer itself, but merely a way to begin.
What is the holy Church? It is a society of believers, united among themselves by a unity of confession of divinely revealed truths, by a unity of sanctification by divinely established Mysteries, and by a unity of government and guidance by God-given shepherds. The oneness of confession, sanctification, and administration constitutes the rule of this society, which is obligatory for anyone who joins it. Membership in this society is contingent upon accepting this rule and agreeing with it; remaining in this society is contingent upon fulfilling it. Let us see how the holy Church grew and how it continues to grow.
What a tender scene the Meeting of the Lord shows us! The venerable elder Simeon, holding the infant God in his hands, on either side of him are the righteous Joseph and the Most Holy Mother of God. Not far away is the Prophetess Anna, an eighty-year-old faster and woman of prayer. Their eyes are all directed toward the Savior. Their attention is absorbed by Him and they drink in spiritual sweetness from Him, which feeds their souls. You can judge for yourself how blessed was the state of these souls!
The Exaltation of the Lord’s Cross has arrived. Then the Cross was erected on a high place, so that the people could see it and render honor to it. Now, the cross is raised in the churches and monasteries. But this is all external. There is a spiritual exaltation of the cross in the heart.
The Holy Spirit is an immaterial fire: the light of faith, the warmth of love, the tongues of fire that speak in the heart of God’s Law. He awakens us from the world’s charms, leads us to hope in God, and encourages us toward repentance. If we do not prevent His action, He directs us along the narrow path of self-denial. Grace transforms everything it touches into a priceless treasure.
He Himself said, If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me (Rev. 3:20). So—do you meet with the Lord, and the Lord with you? I pose this question to you because there is perhaps no one here among you who has not already taken Communion of Christ’s Mysteries. Well then, has what should be the obvious fruit of this most glorious Mystery begun in you? The Lord has come, and He brought the Supper with Him. He brings all spiritual goods unto salvation, of which He is the only source, and gives them to the soul to taste. Enter within, and look.
Glory to Thee, O Lord! Once again we greet the awaited bright days of Christ's Nativity. Let us be glad and rejoice. In order to raise our festivities to a higher level in these days, the Holy Church has intentionally instituted a fast before them—a certain amount of constraint, so that as we enter the festive period we might feel as though we were coming out into freedom.
“Happy New Year,” we greet each other now. But has anyone given any thought as to how new this coming year is? And where would we get anything new from it? In what way does the present day differ from yesterday, or from the first day of the past year? And in the future, will there not be same interchange of days and nights, the same turn of months and seasons as there was before?