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Lessons and Fathers week of 18 Apr

Devotional Readings for the Week of April 18th, 2010


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. John of Decapolis 

Acts 5:27-41:  

      The apostles, after being beaten, departed from the presence of the council rejoicing, even though this is not the natural effect of a beating. Scourges normally cause, not pleasure and joy, but pain and suffering. Yet if, because of Christ, they resulted in joy, what wonder is it if other forms of bodily hardship and ill-treatment have, because of Him, the same effect? (St. Theodoros the Great Ascetic) 

      The righteous welcome joyfully what seems to us painful, and they embrace trials and temptations as an opportunity for profit, while remaining invulnerable to them. If a man is hit by an arrow but not wounded he will not die. It is the man who receives a mortal wound who perishes from it. In what way did calamity perturb the apostles? Rather they rejoiced in it, because "they were found worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of His name." (St. Peter of Damaskos) 

Revelation 5:11-14: 

      The Bible shows angels as models for us. The Bible shows the angels praising God, ascribing holiness to Him around His throne. The new song which is begun is taken up by the angelic host and finally by humanity and all creation. These praises constitute the hymnic throne of God just as the cherubim form His throne in the Tabernacle, as He sits on their outstretched wings. (James Jordan) 

      "Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" When was He worthy to receive these? He received these after He was slain and resurrected. Or to put it simply, the body of the Lord became through the resurrection an appropriate vehicle to demonstrate in it and through it the divine attributes, to the extent, of course, that it was receptive of them, including divinity itself and its glory. These could not have been revealed before the resurrection through His body, being susceptible to corruption because of the economy, even though it was from the time of conception deified because of the hypostatic union. (St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain) 

John 21:1-19: 

      It may be asked, why after His resurrection He stood on the shore to receive the disciples, whereas before He walked on the sea? The sea signifies the world, which is tossed about with various causes of tumults, and the waves of this corruptible life; the shore by its solidity figures the rest eternal. The disciples then, inasmuch as they were still upon the waves of this mortal life, were laboring on the sea; but the Redeemer having by His resurrection thrown off the corruption of the flesh, stood upon the shore. (St. Gregory the Great) 

      While our Lord was being condemned to death, he feared and denied Him. But by His resurrection Christ implanted love in his heart, and drove away fear. Peter denied, because he feared to die: but when our Lord was risen from the dead, and by His death destroyed death, what should he fear? He says to Him, "Yea, Lord; you know that I love You." On this confession of his love, our Lord commends His sheep to him: He says to him, "Feed My lambs;" as if there were no way of Peter's showing his love for Him, but by being a faithful shepherd under the chief Shepherd. (St. Augustine) 

      The individuals who make up the Church must pass through death and darkness to imitate Christ and so to know Him: "Follow Me," He says. (Hans Urs von Balthasar) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Paphnutios of Egypt Your browser may not support display of this image. St. George the Confessor 

Acts 6:8-15: 

      If it is not easy to find anyone conforming to God's will who has not been put to the test, we ought to thank God for everything that happens to us. If Stephen had not been slandered as a blasphemer, he would not have seen the heavens opened and have looked on God. (St. Mark the Ascetic) 

      You will find that the earnest of perfection of those who live according to Christ is openly given here and now to God's saints. Stephen's face was like the face of an angel. (St. Gregory Palamas) 

John 6:22-29: 

      Our Lord proceeds to teach them: "Labor not for the meat which perishes, but for that meat which endures to everlasting life;" meaning, you seek for temporal food, whereas I only fed your bodies, that you might seek the more diligently for that food which is not temporary, but contains eternal life. (St. John Chrysostom) 

      In the descent of the Son and His return to the Father, we come to know the relation, now become manifest, between the Son and the Father. We know it as the way we have to follow to reach the Father through the Son. It is the way of renunciation of our own willing and thinking, surrendering them to loving obedience in faith, not, indeed, as our own work but the "work" of the Father in us. (Hans Urs von Balthasar) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Zacchaeus the Former Publican, Apostle 

Acts 7:51-8:1: 

      A man who has been assiduous in acquiring the fruits of love will not cease loving even if he suffers a thousand calamities. Let Stephen, the disciple of Christ, and others like him persuade you of the truth of this. (St. Maximos the Confessor) 

      A martyr is one who beholds "the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God." A martyr is one for whom God is not another – and the last – chance to stop pain; God is his very life, and thus, everything in his life comes to God, and ascends to the fullness of Love. (Fr. Alexander Schmemann)  

John 6:30-35: 

      If we live in the way we have promised, we will receive, as daily and life-giving bread for the nourishment of our souls and the maintenance of the good state with which we have been blessed, the Logos Himself; for it was He Who said: "I am the bread that came down from heaven and gives life to the world." In proportion to our capacity the Logos will become everything for us who are nourished through virtue and wisdom; and in accordance with His own judgment He will be embodied differently in each recipient of salvation while we are still living in this age. This is indicated in the phrase of the prayer which says, "Give us this day our daily bread" (Mt. 6:11). (St. Maximos the Confessor) 

      The Eucharist is accomplished from beginning to end over the bread and wine. Bread and wine are the food that God created from the beginning as life: "you shall have them for food" (Gen. 1:29). But the meaning, essence and joy of life is not in food, but in God, in communion with Him. Man, and in him "this world," fell away from this food of immortality in paradise. Food came to reign in him, but this reign is not unto life, but unto death, disintegration and separation. And that is why Christ, when He had come into the world, called Himself "the bread of God… which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst." Christ is the "bread of heaven," for this definition contains the entire content, the entire reality of our faith in Him as Savior and Lord. He is life, and therefore food. He offered this life in sacrifice "on behalf of all and for all," in order that we might become communicants of His own life, the new life of the new creation, and that we might manifest Him as His body. (Fr. Alexander Schmemann) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Januarios, Martyr Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Anselm 

Acts 8:1-8: 

      Paul, who once hauled Christ's servants in chains before the council of the Jews, lives afterwards to glory in the bonds of Christ. (St. Jerome) 

      When Christ had healed our human nature through His Incarnation, taught us and nourished us, He departed from us physically, ascended to heaven, and sent His disciples into the whole world. He did not just send them: He made them go. Anyone who knows the story of Stephen's suffering and the resulting persecution will understand my words. The Apostles did not want to leave Jerusalem, but when they had to because of persecutions, they were scattered throughout the world, and so fulfilled their mission. (St. Gregory Palamas) 

John 6:36-40: 

      We have to make strenuous efforts when we first try to return to where we fell from; for we resent abandoning our own desires, and we think we can carry out both God's wishes and our own – which is impossible. Our Lord Himself said, "I have come to do, not My own will, but the will of the Father Who sent Me." (St. Peter of Damaskos) 

      The expression, "whom the Father gives to Me," shows that it is no accident whether a man believes or not, and that belief is not the work of human cogitation, but requires a revelation from on high, and a mind devout enough to receive the revelation. Not that they are free from blame, whom the Father does not give, for they are deficient even in that which lies in their own power, the will to believe. This is a virtual rebuke to their unbelief, as it shows that whoever does not believe in Him, transgresses the Father's will. (St. John Chrysostom) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Nathaniel, Apostle 

Acts 8:26-40: 

      The eunuch was not ashamed to confess his ignorance, and implored to be taught. This is why the grace of the Spirit was given to Philip to teach him. (St. Athanasius) 

      Philip was called by the Angel of the Lord for the sake of that most godly Ethiopian, and heard distinctly the Spirit Himself, saying, "Go near, and join yourself to this chariot." He instructed the Eunuch, and baptized him, and so having sent into Ethiopia a herald of Christ, as it was written, "Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hand to God" (Ps. 68:31), he was caught away by the Angel, and preached the Gospel in the cities in succession. (St. Cyril of Jerusalem) 

John 6:44-51: 

      Seeing the Son is all that is needed to see the Father, Whom no man can see, to hear Him, indeed, to be of Him and in Him. (Hans Urs von Balthasar) 

      Anyone who thinks himself intelligent because of his scholarly or scientific learning will never be granted insight into divine mysteries unless he first humbles himself and becomes a fool, discarding both his presumption and the knowledge that he has acquired. But if he does this and with unhesitating faith allows himself to be led by those wise in divine matters, he will enter with them into the city of the living God. Guided and illumined by the divine Spirit, he will see and learn what others cannot ever see or learn. He will then be taught by God. (St. Symeon the New Theologian) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. George, Great-Martyr  

Acts 9:1-20: 

      When our intellect has shaken off its many opinions about created things, then the inner principle of truth appears clearly to it, providing it with a foundation of real knowledge and removing its former preconceptions as though removing scales from the eyes, as happened in the case of St. Paul. An understanding of Scripture that does not go beyond the literal meaning, and a view of the sensible world that relies exclusively on sense perception, are scales indeed, blinding the soul's visionary faculty and preventing access to the pure Logos of truth. (St. Maximos the Confessor) 

      The light that illuminated St. Paul on the road to Damaskos was not merely the enlightenment of conceptual images or of spiritual knowledge. It was the effulgence of the power of the Holy Spirit shining in His own person in the soul. Such was its brilliance that corporeal eyes were not able to bear it and were blinded; and through it all spiritual knowledge is revealed and God is truly known by the worthy and loving soul. (St. Makarios of Egypt) 

John 6:52-59: 

      The temporal life men may have without the Lord, the eternal they cannot. This is not true of material food. If we do not take that indeed, we shall not live, neither do we live, if we take it: for either disease, or old age, or some accident kills us after all. Whereas this meat and drink, i.e. the Body and Blood of Christ, is such that he that takes it not has not life, and he that takes it has life, even life eternal. (St. Augustine) 

      Our constant movement in the direction of God, our union with Him, is what grants us true and genuine life. That life is God. It is not possible, however, for us to live in God without tasting God, without God living in us, without receiving God within us. "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you." Consequently, after Baptism and Repentance, it is the mystery of the holy Eucharist which unites us with God and produces our divinization. This mystery is a concrete realization of the unity of human nature with Christ, and concurrently, of unity with all the members of the Church. (Archimandrite Stavropoulos) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Sabbas the Goth, Martyr Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Elizabeth the Wonderworker 

Acts 9:31-42: 

      A witness to the resurrection of Jesus is Tabitha, who was in His name raised from the dead; for how shall we disbelieve that Christ is risen, when even His Name raised the dead? (St. Cyril of Jerusalem) 

      Peter, when he healed Aeneas, said: "In the Name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise and walk." Not in his own name, but in the Name of Christ. But "rise" is a command; on the other hand, it is an instance of confidence in one's right, not an arrogant claim to power, and the authority of the command stood in the effective influence of the Name, not in its own might. (St. Ambrose)

John 6:60-69: 

      The holy apostle Peter was filled with love towards his Master. He was not concerned about miracles, as unbelievers are, but said to the Lord: "Your words are the words of eternal life. We believe and are assured that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (St. Peter of Damaskos) 

      "It is the Spirit that gives life," the Spirit that makes the words, works, prayers and sufferings transcend the limits of what is humanly possible and, breathing where He will, scatters their seed abroad. (Hans Urs von Balthasar)

Via Ordo Aquilifrer 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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