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Devotional Readings for the Week of April 11th, 2010


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Thomas Sunday Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Antipas, Bishop of Pergamos 

Acts 5:12-16:  

      The shadow of Peter bears witness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, having healed the sick in the Name of Christ. (St. Cyril of Jerusalem) 

      Not even the grace of the Holy Spirit can actualize the gift of healing in the saints unless there is natural compassion, or any other gift of grace without the disposition and faculty capable of receiving it. On the other hand, a man cannot acquire a single gift with his natural faculties unless aided by the divine power that bestows them. All the saints show that God's grace does not suspend man's natural powers. (St. Maximos the Confessor) 

Revelation 1:9-19: 

      No relationship is closer than that between the man in grace and the Lord Who gives grace. This relationship can only achieve its fullness if the freedom of the word is answered by a corresponding readiness on the part of man to hear, to follow and to comply. It is not just a question of what we are accustomed to call the "moral life," but rather of that burning center, the focus and vindication of all moral conduct which divorced from that center so easily hardens and degenerates into pharisaism. What is at stake is that ever living contact with the God Who speaks to us in His Word, Whose "eyes like a flame of fire" transpierce and purify us, Whose command exacts renewed obedience and instructs us in such a way that we seem till now to have known nothing at all. (Hans Urs von Balthasar) 

      The entire prophecy of John's Revelation is structured as a worship service on the Lord's Day. Throughout the book we see a repeated pattern: first, the angels lead the saints in organized worship; second, God responds to His people's worship by bringing judgment leading to salvation. (David Chilton) 

John 20:19-31: 

      You are mistaken, holy Thomas, if you hope to see the Lord when you are apart from the company of the apostles. Truth has no love for corners. Roadside lodging places do not please Him. Truth stands in the open and delights in discipline, the common life and common undertakings. (St. Bernard of Clairvaux)

      Strive to increase from day to day your faith in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist, and never cease to wonder at the miraculous mystery of it, reflecting on how God manifests Himself to you in the guise of bread and wine, and becomes essentially present in you, to make you more holy, righteous and blessed. "Blessed are they who have not seen and yet believe." Try to set alight in yourself a warm desire for this sacrament and to make progress every day both in your fervent readiness to do only God's will, and in spiritual wisdom, making it the queen and ruler over all your actions of the spirit, soul and body. Every time you take communion, while partaking of this bloodless sacrifice, offer yourself as a sacrifice to God, that is, profess your complete readiness to endure every affliction, every sorrow and every wrong you may meet in the course of your life, for the sake of the love of God, Who sacrificed Himself for us. (Lorenzo Scupoli) 

      Christ's Body held within it the Fount of divine light, which shone forth spiritually to enlighten the mind of him who hesitated, so that Thomas cried out at once, with perfect theology, "My Lord and my God." The Lord said to him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed," showing that those who saw the Lord with their own eyes are not in greater glory than those who have been brought through them to faith in Him. He did not say "yet believe" but "yet have believed," because with the divine power of foreknowledge whereby He saw everything before it happened, future events were like present facts. (St. Gregory Palamas) 


 Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Basil the Confessor, Bishop of Parios 

Acts 4:23-31: 

      This prayer is the voice of the Church from which every Church had its origin. These are the voices of the metropolis of the citizens of the new covenant. These are the voices of the apostles. These are the voices of the disciples of the Lord, the truly perfect, who, after the assumption of the Lord, were perfected by the Spirit, and called upon the God Who made heaven, earth and the sea, - Who was announced by the prophets, - and Jesus Christ His Son, Whom God anointed, and who knew no other God. Wherefore God, the Maker of all things, heard them and it is said, "The place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness" to everyone who was willing to believe. (St. Irenaeus) 

      When the Apostles, being full of the Holy Spirit, suffered the threats and cruelty of Christ's enemies, they said to God with one consent, "Truly in this city against Your holy servant Jesus, Whom You have anointed, Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do what Your hand and counsel ordained to come to pass." Did then the wickedness of Christ's persecutors spring from God's plan, and was that unsurpassable crime prepared and set in motion by the hand of God? Clearly we must not think this of the highest Justice: that which was foreknown in respect of the Jews' malice is far different, indeed quite contrary to what was ordained in respect of Christ's Passion. Their desire to slay Him did not proceed from the same source as His to die: nor were their atrocious crime and the Redeemer's endurance the offspring of one Spirit. The Lord did not incite but permit those madmen's evil hands: nor in His foreknowledge of what must be accomplished did He compel its accomplishment, even though it was in order to its accomplishment that He had taken flesh. (St. Leo the Great)  

John 3:1-8: 

      We all can only pray worthily and vivifyingly through the strengthening of the life-giving Holy Spirit. God's saints are the pure breathings of the Holy Spirit. "The wind [the Spirit] blows where it wills." That is, He breathes in any soul He pleases. (St. John of Kronstadt) 

      The manner of birth from God within us is two-fold: the one bestows the grace of adoption, which is entirely present in potency in those who are born of God; the other introduces, wholly by active exertion, that grace which deliberately reorients the entire free choice of the one being born of God toward the God Who gives birth. The first bears the grace, present in potency, through faith alone; but the second, beyond faith, also engenders in the knower the sublimely divine likeness of the One known, that likeness being effected precisely through knowledge. Therefore the first manner of birth is observed in some because their will, not yet fully detached from its propensity to the flesh, has yet to be wholly endowed with the Spirit by participation in the divine mysteries that are made known through active endeavor. The inclination to sin does not disappear as long as they will it; for the Spirit does not give birth to an unwilling will, but converts the willing will toward deification. With those undergoing the second mode of birth, the Holy Spirit takes the whole of their free choice and translates it completely from earth to heaven, and, through the true knowledge acquired by exertion, transfigures the mind with the blessed light-rays of our God and Father, such that the mind is deemed another "god," insofar as in its habitude it experiences, by grace, that which God Himself does not experience but "is" in His very essence. With those undergoing this second mode of baptism, their free choice clearly becomes sinless in virtue and knowledge, as they are unable to negate what they have actively discerned through experience. So even if we have the Spirit of adoption, Who is Himself the Seed for enduing those begotten through baptism with the likeness of the Sower, but do not present Him with a will cleansed of any inclination or disposition to something else, we therefore, even after being born out of water and Spirit, willingly sin. But were we to prepare our will with knowledge to receive the operation of these agents – water and Spirit, I mean – then the mystical water would, through our practical life, cleanse our conscience, and the life-giving Spirit would bring about unchanging perfection of the good in us through knowledge acquired in experience. Precisely for this reason God leaves, to each of us who are still able to sin, the sheer desire to surrender our whole selves willingly to the Spirit. (St. Maximos the Confessor) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Martin the Confessor, Pope of Rome 

Acts 4:32-37: 

        True Christianity brings felicity even upon the earth, for it looks upon Christians as one great body, whose members are honorable and dishonorable, not by birth, but by their calling and deeds, strong and weak, rich and poor, and the Spirit of God intercedes in the souls of the rich or strong on behalf of the poor and needy – through the community of spiritual and material blessings. "The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul." (St. John of Kronstadt) 

      God wishes the disciples to be kept in a state of unity by maintaining like-mindedness and an identity of will, being mingled together as it were in soul and spirit and in the law of peace and love for one another. He wishes them to be bound together tightly with an unbreakable bond of love, that they may advance to such a degree of unity that their freely chosen association might even become an image of the natural unity that is conceived to exist between the Father and the Son. That is to say, He wishes them to enjoy a unity which is inseparable and indestructible, which may not be enticed away into a dissimilarity of wills by anything at all that exists in the world or any pursuit of pleasure, but rather preserves the power of love in the unity of devotion and holiness, which is what actually happened; for as we read in Acts, "the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul," that is, in the unity of the Spirit. (St. Cyril of Alexandria) 

John 3:7-15: 

      The Lord's Cross discloses the entire dispensation of His Coming in the flesh, and contains within it the whole mystery of this dispensation. Extending in all directions, it embraces everything above, below, around and between. The heretics abhor the sign of the King of Glory, putting forward an excuse, in accordance with which, if they were reasonable, they ought to reverence the Cross along with us. The Lord Himself, when He was going to ascend the Cross, openly referred to it as His lifting up and His glory (Jn. 3:14-15). He announced that when He came again and manifested Himself, this sign of the Son of man would come with power and great glory (Mt. 24:30). (St. Gregory Palamas) 

      Godhead and flesh are different in their nature, yet the body was the Word's own; the Word Who was united to it was not separated from the body; for this is the only way in which we can conceive of the words "God with us." There is no other way. That is precisely why on one occasion, having made Himself manifest to us as man from the point of view of His self-emptying, He says, "No one takes My life from Me" (Jn. 10:18), while on another occasion, conceived of as God from a heavenly point of view and one with His own flesh, He says, "No one has ascended into heaven but He Who has descended from heaven, the Son of Man" (Jn. 3:13). (St. Cyril of Alexandria) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Aristarchus, Apostle of the Seventy Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Thomais, Martyr 

Acts 5:17-26: 

      The Lord's words, "If two of you shall agree on anything you ask" (Mt. 18:19-20) were spoken of the Church and addressed to its members. If they are agreed, if, as He commanded, even only two or three are gathered together and pray with one mind, then, although they are only two or three, they can obtain from the divine majesty what they ask. This means, of course, with the single-hearted and peaceable, with those who fear God and keep His commandments. With these He is present as He was with the apostles in prison, because they were single-hearted and of one mind, He opened the prison gates and set them again in the market-place to deliver to the crowds the word which they had been faithfully preaching. (St. Cyprian) 

      This is the purpose of their deliverance, that they employ themselves stoutly in preaching the gospel, and provoke their enemies courageously, until they die valiantly. The Lord opens the prison for them, that they may be at liberty to fulfill their function. (John Calvin) 

John 3:16-21: 

      We must always remember that man is the breathing of God's mouth and the image of God – of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit – while the sins and infirmities in him are not a part of his nature, coming from without, foul stains which can be easily cleansed by grace. We must remember that "God so loved the world," though it is adulterous and sinful, "that He gave His Only-Begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (St. John of Kronstadt) 

      The reasons why Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world are these: 1) The love of God for the human race: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son." 2) The restoration in fallen humanity of the image and likeness of God, as the holy Church celebrates it: "Man who, being made in the image of God, had become corrupt through sin, and was full of vileness, and had fallen away from the better life divine, the wise Creator restores anew (first Canon of the Matins for the Nativity of Christ, ode 1). 3) The salvation of men's souls: "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." So we, in conformance with the purpose of our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, should spend our life in accordance with this Divine teaching, so that through it we may obtain the salvation of our souls. (St. Seraphim of Sarov) 


 Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Leonides, Bishop of Athens, Martyr Your browser may not support display of this image. Sts. Basilissa and Anastasia of Rome, Martyrs 

Acts 5:27-33: 

      When Peter came to control excessive self-love and to love Christ as he ought with his whole heart and soul and strength, no threats or punishments could induce his will, however slightly, to yield its tongue as an instrument to sin, but rather, courageously responding to the truth, he said: "We must obey God rather than men." (St. Bernard of Clairvaux) 

      Laws may be unjust through being opposed to the Divine good: such are the laws of tyrants inducing to idolatry, or to anything else contrary to the Divine law: and laws of this kind must nowise be observed, because "we ought to obey God rather than men." (St. Thomas Aquinas) 

John 3:31-36: 

      The Lamb of God testified that He was the Most High Who had come down from heaven and was infinitely powerful, for He had not received the Spirit by measure from the Father. To those who believed in Him He promised eternal life and those who did not believe He threatened with God's inescapable wrath. (St. Gregory Palamas) 

      Let us keep God's commandments with all eagerness, in order that we may obtain the eternal life and kingdom. May we never hear in this life these words addressed to us: "He who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him." (St. Symeon the New Theologian) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. Sts. Agape, Irene and Chionia of Dalmatia, Martyrs 

Acts 5:34-42: 

      Just as Moses' serpent swallowed up all the magicians' serpents (Ex. 7:12), so the Holy Spirit, when He comes, will devour all fleshly consolations. Then will we have rest from labor, gladness from tribulation and glory after abuse, just as those whom the Spirit filled "went out from the council's presence rejoicing that they were considered worthy to suffer abuse for the sake of Jesus' Name." (St. Bernard of Clairvaux) 

      What should he, who when strengthened by the virtue of patience conquers even those who cause evils, fear concerning the adversities of this world? (Richard of St. Victor) 

John 6:1-15: 

      I do truly fear one thing: that words of salvation heard many times may begin to lose their value to us as words. A cheap and changeable thing is a human word, of no space in time, no weight, no value, no solidity. It reverberates in the air and, like a leaf caught by the wind, it floats, and there is no one who considers it. Let not one of you, brothers, so comprehend, rather let no one so reprehend the word of God. God's words are the fruits of life. They are golden. Accordingly, let them not be slighted, slide away nor slip by. "Gather up the fragments lest they be lost." (St. Bernard of Clairvaux) 

      Five loaves are then set before the multitude, and broken. The broken portions pass through into the hands of those who break, that from which they are broken all the time not at all diminishing. And yet there they are, the bits taken from it, in the hands of the persons breaking. There is no catching by eye or touch the miraculous operation: that is, which was not, that is seen, which is not understood. It only remains for us to believe that God can do all things. (St. Hilary of Poitiers) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Simeon, Bishop of Persia, Martyr Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Donnan, Martyr 

Acts 6:1-7: 

      Those who serve in various offices bear the dignity of the seven deacons recorded in Acts. They are like ministering spirits sent forth to serve, and if they serve without guile and faithfully, and without greed, they will deserve a great reward both here below and on high. But those who persevere in prayer and silence and the ministry of the word, in patient practice of the best works, bear with the one who leads the dignity of the chief apostles themselves. He has them as fellow workers in the Gospel of his spiritual teaching, as they take up the burdens of the brethren and ease his labors. (St. Symeon the New Theologian) 

      The apostles, when they were oppressed by serving at table, singled out prayer and understanding as the higher form of work. They put the first things before the secondary, although they recognized that both spring from the same blessed root. (St. Makarios of Egypt) 

John 6:16-21: 

      The Lord appeared to them in this way, to show His power; for He immediately calmed the tempest: Then they wished to receive Him into the ship; and immediately the ship was at the land, whither they went. So great was the calm, He did not even enter the ship, in order to work a greater miracle, and to show his Divinity more clearly. (St. John Chrysostom) 

      We do not confine our definition of Jesus to the human domain; for He is not simply a man, nor would he be transcendent if he were only a man. Out of His very great love for humanity, he became quite truly a human, both more than human and among humans; and, although Himself beyond being, He took upon Himself the being of humans. Yet He is not less overflowing with transcendence. He is the ever-transcendent, and superabundantly so. He takes on being, and is Himself a being beyond being. Superior Himself to the human condition He does the work of a man. A proof of this is flowing water, bearing the weight of His corporeal, earthly feet, did not yield, but, rather, held Him up with supernatural power. (St. Dionysius)

Via Ordo Acquilifer Christopher
Released by Primus Pilus
Legio Christi-Ecclesia Militans
"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" [St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 14:19]


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