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Devotional Readings for the Week of May 23rd, 2010


Your browser may not support display of this image. The Feast of Pentecost Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Michael the Confessor  

Acts 2:1-11:  

      When you hear the Scripture saying of the Holy Spirit that He "rested upon each" of the Apostles, do not suppose that the Spirit is subject to some kind of division, variation or change; but be sure that He is unvarying, unchanging and all-powerful. Therefore in all His energies He remains what He is, and in a divine manner He gives to each person what is needful. On those who have been baptized He pours Himself out in His fullness like the sun. (St. Mark the Ascetic) 

      How can we overcome the sinfulness that is already firmly established within us? We must use force. A man labors and struggles, and so by the use of force he escapes from destruction, always striving to raise his thoughts to holiness. We are not forbidden to resist force with force. If in any ascetic task we exert force, however slight, then, "remaining in Jerusalem", we can wait for the "power from on high" which will come down upon us" (cf. Lk. 24:49). In other words, if we persevere in unceasing prayer and the other virtues, there will come upon us a mighty force, infinitely stronger than any we can exert. This force cannot be described in human language; in its great strength it overcomes our worst faults of character and the malice of the demons, conquering both the sinful inclinations of our soul and the disordered impulses of our body. "There came a sound from heaven as of a rushing violent wind"; and this force from heaven dries out the evil that is always pushing us to sin. (St. John of Karpathos) 

Romans 8:8-17: 

      Since we are but children as regards perfection in the virtue of prayer, we have need of the Spirit's aid so that all our thoughts may be concentrated and gladdened by His inexpressible sweetness, and so that with all our being we may aspire to the remembrance and love of our God and Father. As St. Paul says, it is in the Spirit that we pray when we are taught by Him to cry without ceasing to God the Father. (St. Diadochos of Photiki) 

      When a man thinks he is keeping the commandments perfectly, it is obvious that he is mistaken and that he is breaking one of them, since he judges himself and does not submit to the true judge. But when, as St. Paul says, the Spirit of God testifies along with our spirit, then indeed we are worthy of Christ and are children of God. This is not the case when we justify ourselves merely on the basis of what we ourselves think. It is not the man who commends himself that is to be trusted, but he whom Christ commends. (St. Makarios of Egypt)

John 20:19-23: 

      Through our Lord's words "Peace be with you" He bestows control of unruly passions on them, and breathing on them He grants participation in the Holy Spirit, giving them power to combat evil spirits. (St. Maximos the Confessor) 

      The love of the Church, which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, remits the sins of those who partake of it; but retains the sins of those who do not. This is why, when He has said, "Receive the Holy Spirit," He instantly makes mention of the remission and retaining of sins. (St. Augustine) 

      We must understand that those who first received the Holy Spirit, for innocence of life in themselves, and preaching to a few others, received it openly after the resurrection, that they might profit not a few only, but many. The disciples who were called to such works of humility, to what a height of glory are they led! Lo, not only have they salvation for themselves, but are admitted to the powers of the supreme Judgment-seat; so that, in the place of God, they retain some men's sins, and remit others. Their place in the Church, the Bishops now hold; who receive the authority to bind, when they are admitted to the rank of government. Great is the honor, but heavy the burden of the place. It is ill if one who knows not how to govern his own life, shall be judge of another's. (St. Gregory the Great) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Vincent of Lerins 

I Peter 1:3-9: 

      He who longs in hope for life in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, through the resurrection of the dead "to an inheritance which is incorruptible, pure and unfading, kept in heaven", will exult and feel unutterable joy in his soul, for he will be unceasingly full of gladness because of his hope for the blessings held in store; but in his flesh and senses he will experience distress, for both pleasure and suffering accompany every virtue. (St. Maximos the Confessor) 

      I have greatly rejoiced with you in our Lord Jesus Christ "In Whom, though you do not now see Him, yet you believe, and believing you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory;" into which joy many desire to enter. (St. Polycarp) 

Mark 10:17-27: 

      But by this one God, Who is good, we must not only understand the Father, but also the Son, who says, "I am the good Shepherd;" (Jn. 10:11)  and also the Holy Spirit, because it is said, "The Father which is in heaven will give the good Spirit to them that ask him." (Lk. 11:13); for the One and Undivided Trinity itself, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is the Only and One good God. The Lord, therefore, does not deny Himself to be good, but implies that He is God; He does not deny that He is good Master, but He declares that no master is good but God. (Bede the Venerable) 

      It is worthy of enquiry how our Lord loved a man who He knew, would not follow Him? But this is so much as to say, that since he was worthy of love in the first instance, because he observed the things of the law from his youth, so in the end, though he did not take upon himself perfection, he did not suffer a lessening of his former love; for although he did not pass the bounds of humanity, nor follow the perfection of Christ, still he was not guilty of any sin, since he kept the law according to the capability of a man, and in this mode of keeping it, Christ loved him. (St. John Chrysostom) 


I Peter 1:10-16: 

      Christ is by nature both God and man. In an ineffable and supranatural manner we participate by grace in Him as God, while He in His incomprehensible love for men shares as man in our lot for our sake by making Himself one with us with a form like ours. The saints foresaw Him mystically in the Spirit and were taught that the glory to be revealed in Christ in the future because of His virtue must be preceded by the sufferings which He would endure for the sake of virtue. (St. Maximos the Confessor) 

      God created us in His image and likeness. We are in His likeness if we possess virtue and understanding. "You must be holy, for I am holy" (Lev. 11:44; I Pet. 1:16). (Nikitas Stithatos) 

Mark 10:28-31: 

      He who suffers wrong and does not demand any reparation from the man who wronged him, trusts in Christ to make good the loss; and he is rewarded a hundredfold in this world and inherits eternal life. (St. Mark the Ascetic) 

      You should secretly give from what you have to those in need, so that you receive from God, who sees in secret, a hundred times more, as well as life eternal in the age to come. (St. Gregory Palamas) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Carpos, Apostle of the Seventy Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Philip Neri 

I Peter 1:18-25: 

      Serve the Lord in fear and truth, as those who have forsaken the vain, empty talk and error of the multitude, and have "believed in Him Who raised up our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and gave Him glory," and a throne at His right hand. To Him all things in heaven and on earth are subject. Him every spirit serves. (St. Polycarp) 

      Do not trust in riches; for all such things are left here, faith alone will accompany you. Indeed, righteousness will go with you if faith has led the way. Why do riches entice you? "You were not redeemed with gold and silver," with possessions or silk garments, "from your vain way of life; but with the precious Blood of Christ." He then is rich who is an heir of God, a joint heir with Christ. (St. Ambrose) 

Mark 10:32-45: 

      The disciples hearing Christ often speaking of His kingdom, thought that this kingdom was to be before His death, and therefore now that His death was foretold to them, they came to Him, that they might immediately be made worthy of the honors of the kingdom. (St. John Chrysostom) 

      The Lord teaches that he is the greater who is the less, and that he becomes the lord, who is servant of all. Vain, therefore, was it both for the one party to seek for immoderate things, and the other to be annoyed at their desiring greater things, since we are to arrive at the height of virtue not by power but by humility. (Bede the Venerable) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Bede the Venerable Your browser may not support display of this image. St. John the Russian  

I Peter 2:2-12: 

      Let the young men be blameless in all things, being especially careful to preserve purity, and keeping themselves in, as with a bridle, from every kind of evil. It is well that they should be cut off from the lusts that are in the world, since "every lust wars against the spirit;" and those who act on such lusts shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Therefore, it is needful to abstain from these things, being subject to the presbyters and deacons, as unto God and Christ. (St. Polycarp) 

      If you want the commandments to flourish in your actions, you must zealously desire the pure spiritual milk of maternal grace; for it is on this milk of grace that you must suckle yourself if you wish to increase your stature in Christ. (St. Gregory of Sinai) 

Mark 10:46-52: 

      He who, like the blind man, casts away his garment and draws near to the Lord, becomes His disciple and a preacher of true doctrine. (St. Mark the Ascetic) 

      Could the Lord who was able to restore sight be ignorant of what the blind man wanted? His reason then for asking is that prayer may be made to Him. He puts the question to stir up the blind man's heart to pray. (Bede the Venerable) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Eutyches of Melitena, Martyr  

I Peter 4:7-13: 

      Whoever does not confess the testimony of the Cross is of the devil; and whoever perverts the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts, and says that there is neither a resurrection nor a judgment, he is the first-born of Satan. Forsake the vanity of many and their false doctrines. Return to the word handed down to us from the beginning, "watching with prayer," persevering and beseeching the all-seeing God to keep us strong until the end. (St. Polycarp) 

      If anyone, the more he is injured, displays the more patience, blessed is he. If anyone is defrauded, if anyone is despised for the name of the Lord, he truly is a servant of Christ. Take heed that no plant of the devil be found among you, for such a plant is bitter and salt. "Watch and be sober," in Jesus Christ. (St. Ignatius of Antioch) 

Mark 11:11-26: 

      The soul must be free from all evil, especially rancor, at the time of prayer. (St. Peter of Damaskos) 

      The devil is often on account of his pride called by the name of a mountain, this mountain, at the command of those who are strong in the faith, is taken up from the earth and cast into the sea, whenever, at the preaching of the word of God by the holy doctors, the unclean spirit is expelled from the hearts of those who are fore-ordained to life, and is allowed to exert the tyranny of his power over the troubled and embittered souls of the faithless. At which time, he rages the more fiercely, the more he grieves at being turned away from hurting the faithful. (Bede the Venerable) 


Your browser may not support display of this image. St. Theodosia, Virgin-Martyr  

Jude vss. 17-25: 

      A life stained with many faults arising from disorderly passions of the flesh is a soiled garment. The mode of life of a man, as if from some garment, declares him to be either righteous or wicked. The righteous man has a holy life as a clean garment. The wicked man has life soiled with evil actions. Thus a "garment stained by the flesh" is the inner state and disposition of a soul when its conscience is deformed by the recollection of evil impulses and actions arising from the flesh. When this state or disposition constantly envelops the soul like a garment, it is filled with the stink of disorderly passions. But when the virtues, through the power of the Spirit, are interwoven in accordance with the heart, they form a garment of incorruption for the soul. Dressed in this the soul becomes beautiful and resplendent. Conversely, when the passions are interwoven under the primary influence of the flesh, they form a filthy, soiled garment, which reveals the character of the soul, imposing on it a form and image contrary to the divine. (St. Maximos the Confessor) 

      To try to discover the meaning of the commandments through study and reading without actually living in accordance with them is like mistaking the shadow of something for its reality. It is only by participating in the truth that you can share in the meaning of the truth. If you search for the meaning without participating in the truth and without having been initiated into it, you will only find a besotted kind of wisdom. You will be among those whom St. Jude categorized as "sensual" or worldly because they lack the Spirit, boast as they may of their knowledge of the truth. (St. Gregory of Sinai) 

Mark 11:27-33: 

      The Jewish leaders said this, thinking to bring our Lord to judgment, so that if He said, by mine own power, they might lay hold upon Him; but if He said, by the power of another, they might make the people leave Him, for they believed Him to be God. But the Lord asks them concerning John, not without a reason, nor in a sophistical way, but because John had borne witness of Him. (Blessed Theophylact) 

      Since they could not object to His miracles, they bring forward against the Lord the correction of those who sold in the temple. Since they were being crafty and indirect in their attack, He answers them indirectly. Since they would not say John's baptism was of men their perverse heart is exposed. In every case they despise God and do all things for the sake of men: neither reverencing St. John nor believing in Christ for this reason. All their evils were engendered from this. (St. John Chrysostom) 

via Ordo Aquilifer

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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