June 27, 2016
A meditation for the Sunday of All Saints by a monk of the Hermitage.
O saints, what is your secret? How have you so united yourselves to God? How did you ever add desire to desire, zeal to zeal, love to love, fire to fire? How did you make yourselves worthy instruments of God, living vessels over-flowing with His grace? How did you become friends and intimates of the Immaterial God and King of heaven Who dwells in unapproachable light?
O our first-parents, Adam and Eve; all you patriarchs, forefathers, prophets, righteous kings, Apostles, martyrs, holy teachers, monks and virgins, wise fool’s-for-Christ, unmercenary healers, O you merciful rich and long-suffering poor, and all you righteous ones made perfect by faith, together with the all-blessed Virgin Mary, the Most Holy Mother of God: come now, attend unto us, hearken to our poor pleas, lend us your help and do not cast us away, O saints!
You, O saints, do not detract from God’s glory, but rather magnify and multiply it—even as a prism gathers the sunlight and multiplies its beauty, putting forth the many-colored rainbow. For, you gave your whole selves unto God, co-operating with Him, and allowing Him to fulfill His most ardent desire: to unite and over-fill all creation with His pre-eternal beauty, immaterial grace, divine life and power for ever. You, O saints, effect wonder within the mind of the most wondrous angels—for they desire to peer into this special grace which has only come to man from God, Who became God-Man and not God-Angel!
You, O saints, are worthy of glory and praise; for God, Who alone is worthy of all glory and praise, was freely and consciously received by you into all your being: by your freely-chosen submission to the all-good will of God, you, O saints, with the All-Holy Virgin as your supreme Champion Leader, allowed God to perfectly fulfill in you and by you His good pleasure to deify mankind and all creation. O wonder: by the offering of your free-will you gave freedom to God to fulfill to the utmost His all-good will, His hidden purpose which has been enkindled from before the ages!
God the Three Persons united in One Nature, by the Person of the Son has descended incarnate into the one nature of our humanity which flourishes in many persons. And by Him, as by a door, we enter forever into the divine, pre-eternal, over-abounding, ever-existing life of the All-Holy Trinity.
Through Holy Baptism and a heavenly life of inner prayer and acquisition of the virtues, you, O saints, have entered into direct communion with God—finding His buried treasure, Christ the implanted and indwelling Word, within the deepest and most secret heart of our human nature. You have been perfected in all the virtues, which are none other than the very attributes of the Living and Personal Godhead! This boundless, personal and eternally-living Sea of Life, you, O saints, have entered into.
Forever you partake of Him; forever you glorify and hymn God, Whom you never cease to behold and partake of. Being nourished by Christ, Who has given Himself to us as the inexhaustible Feast and Banquet, you are forever filled with, over-filled by, and pouring out unto all without measure, the life and grace of the all-good God. Thus, you yourselves, O saints, have become a noetic and spiritual feast and banquet for all who praise you with faith and love, trusting in your most powerful intercessions and supplications.
O wonderful saints, many-colored living rainbow of incarnate virtue which shines forth from the all-radiant splendor of the glory of that Uncreated Light: your life is hidden with Christ in God, yet it manifestly shines forth unto the ends of the universe. You have become many steps of the ladder which takes us to heaven: noetic and intelligent, all-seeing and all-mercifully hearing, animate and living, merciful, good, humble, quick to hear, quicker to help—incarnate heavenly ladder which is set upon the firm foundation of the Rock of life, Christ, the God of gods and King of kings, the Summit of the ladder.O saints, what is your secret? Hide it not from us! Be not silent unto us! For, beholding your glorious life and words, we seek of you the truest comprehension, imitation, and partaking thereof; grant us, unworthy as we are, not to disdain and trample underfoot your many labors of love both in this world and in the other world, which you have wonderfully offered unto God in behalf of all mankind!
You have become radiant lights shining forth from highest heaven upon all the world, showing forth the manner of life which resides there and the way thereto. And as a most sweet maternal kiss filled with spiritual fragrance, you have left upon our deepest soul and heart the ever-memorable, deep noetic impression of your divine lives and words—and your eternally-living presence is our living Faith!
Because of your living testament, O saints, we are fully convinced that it is natural for our human nature to be united with God. Because of you, O saints, we know that it is false for us to be vessels of the devil’s God-hating passions, thoughts, words, impulses and vile deeds.
That which is natural to a particular nature is surely lighter and easier to perform than that which is not according to that particular nature! Therefore, why have we fallen away from the light and easy yoke of Christ and the righteous life of the saints? For it is natural now for our human nature to be divine, because of the incarnate dispensation of Christ our Savior: the God-Man Who makes gods of us mortal men, and Who transforms us unthankful sinners into the very Body of God, the Church of Christ!
O saints, what is your secret? How have you come to dwell so fully, so consciously, so sensibly and so actively in God? O saints, what is your secret? Hide it not from us, and be not silent!
How did that Word sink down so deeply into your ears and enter into your hearts? How did that Word mix with living faith in you, producing the spirit of salvation, the fear of God, a broken and contrite heart, a constant life of repentance, an ever-struggling contest to keep the commandments which are inscribed with ink upon books, with voice upon ears, but much more deeply upon the tablets of your hearts with the ink of your receptive and active faith in Christ?
How, O saints, did you acquire so fully and so perfectly the very personal attributes of God? How, O saints, did you constantly hearken with utmost attention, conscientiousness, sensitivity, firm resolve and unhesitating submission to Christ’s voice? How have you acquired all the virtues?
Christ-like self-crucifying self-denial, total sacrifice to God and men, superhuman fasting, endurance of all torments and afflictions of body and soul, watchfulness, unceasing prayer and unbroken mindfulness and vision of God, forgiveness, soul-possessing patience, liberating non-possessiveness, supreme humility, sublime sanctity, child-like purity, angelic dispassion, passionate thirst and zeal and desire for God alone, God-like love, goodness, meekness, sympathy and prayer for all men and all things, a life fully alive in God which embraces all creation with boundless and transcendent love.How, O saints, were you so united to the luminous, life-giving energies of the grace of that Uncreated Light which flows forth from the utmost depths of the un-measureable and inexhaustible Wellspring of life: the inaccessible Essence of the One Uncreated Nature Who is above all natures, and Creator of all natures: the Three Persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
O saints, what is your secret? Hide it not from us? How were your hearts so perfectly and unceasingly sensitive, pure, holy, active in virtue, alive to God, broken, contrite, humble, compunctionate, welling forth constant tears from your eyes from the inexhaustible depths of your hearts which are indwelt by, watered by, and nourished by that Living Water, the Holy Spirit?
O saints, how have you so united the all of the activity, life, movement, sensibility, consciousness and freedom of your body and spirit with Christ, the Bodily Fullness of the Godhead, and the One Spirit of God, in a pure, beautiful, eternal dance of supremely-divine order, together with all the hierarchies of angels, around God the Center and Life of all, the Source of all, the Beginning and End of all, the Ground and Height of all, the Meaning and Purpose of all?
Whose Son is ever mystically enthroned upon His Holy Virgin-Mother in whom all creation rejoices: His living glory and crown, the greatest manifestation of His creative power, the fullest expression of- and the living and intelligent embodiment of- our Orthodox Faith, the saint above all saints, the absolute summit of perfect co-dynamic union between the Creator and His creation.
O saints, what is your secret? Disdain us not! But, by your most effectual and holy prayers unto the all-accomplishing and life-giving God, the inexhaustible and depthless Treasury of all riches, visible and invisible; by your prayers unto Him, O saints, may we—who are always slothful, coarse, proud, light-minded, unfruitful, inactive, apathetic, useless and most sinful—find the gracious glance of your good favor and that of your God in heaven.
For, He loves everyone who is aware of their poverty, un-skillfulness and weakness; and He helps everyone who confesses to Him, and begs His help. He is our All-Good God, without Whom we are, and can do, nothing: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Who is forever worshipped, hymned, glorified and honored by all the saints—together with whom may we also find eternal life in God unto the ages of ages. Amen.
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April 09, 2017
April 03, 2017
Given at Christ the Savior Orthodox Church in Wayne, WV after Pan-Orthodox Vespers.
What was it that made St. Mary different from us? What made her into such a wondrous saint? And as we look back on our Lenten struggle, and as we look forward to Holy Week and Pascha, what is there left for us to do?
What did St. Mary say herself about her life of repentance in the desert?
April 02, 2017
Given at the Hermitage of the Holy Cross during the Sunday Liturgy.
On this Fifth Sunday of Lent, we commemorate St. Mary of Egypt. We have become acquainted with her throughout the whole of Lent. We first chanted about her works in the first week of Lent during Compline when we chanted the Great Canon. We next heard of her life only a few days ago when the Great Canon was chanted in its entirety during Matins this past Wednesday. Today, as we come toward the end of this time of Lent and repentance, we reach the summit of our awareness of St. Mary on this Sunday dedicated to her commemoration.
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