Oración , Preghiera , Priére , Prayer , Gebet , Oratio, Oração de Jesus

2666. Mas o nome que tudo encerra é o que o Filho de Deus recebe na sua encarnação: JESUS. O nome divino é indizível para lábios humanos mas, ao assumir a nossa humanidade, o Verbo de Deus comunica-no-lo e nós podemos invocá-lo: «Jesus», « YHWH salva» . O nome de Jesus contém tudo: Deus e o homem e toda a economia da criação e da salvação. Rezar «Jesus» é invocá-Lo, chamá-Lo a nós. O seu nome é o único que contém a presença que significa. Jesus é o Ressuscitado, e todo aquele que invocar o seu nome, acolhe o Filho de Deus que o amou e por ele Se entregou.
2667. Esta invocação de fé tão simples foi desenvolvida na tradição da oração sob as mais variadas formas, tanto no Oriente como no Ocidente. A formulação mais habitual, transmitida pelos espirituais do Sinai, da Síria e de Athos, é a invocação: «Jesus, Cristo, Filho de Deus, Senhor, tende piedade de nós, pecadores!». Ela conjuga o hino cristológico de Fl 2, 6-11 com a invocação do publicano e dos mendigos da luz (14). Por ela, o coração sintoniza com a miséria dos homens e com a misericórdia do seu Salvador.
2668. A invocação do santo Nome de Jesus é o caminho mais simples da oração contínua. Muitas vezes repetida por um coração humildemente atento, não se dispersa num «mar de palavras», mas «guarda a Palavra e produz fruto pela constância». E é possível «em todo o tempo», porque não constitui uma ocupação a par de outra, mas é a ocupação única, a de amar a Deus, que anima e transfigura toda a acção em Cristo Jesus.

sexta-feira, 6 de dezembro de 2019

Excerpt from St. Theodore the Studite's Encomium on the Dormition of the Theotokos

St. Theodore the Studite, On Wednesday of the First Week

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On Wednesday of the First Week

Concerning Fasting, Dispassion, and Purity
Fathers and Brethren: The present days of the holy fast are, among the other periods of the year, a calm haven to which all gather and find spiritual serenity; not only monastics, but laymen as well, the small and the great, those in authority and those in submission, kings and priests; for this period is beneficial and salvific for every country and age of mankind. At this time every disruption and disorder comes to a halt, and doxology and hymnody are multiplied, charities and prayer by means of which our good God is moved to compassion and is propitiated to grant peace to our souls and forgiveness of sins; if only we shall sincerely turn to Him with all our heart, falling down before Him with fear and trembling, and promising to cease from every bad habit which we might have. But Christians living in the world have their teachers, that is, their bishops and pastors who guide and instruct them. For even as warriors and soldiers need stimulation, so do festers require the encouragement and consolation of teachers. And since I find myself desired among you in the place of leadership and abbacy, then it is my obligation to say unto you a few words concerning this soul-saving fast.
Brethren, fasting is the renewal of the soul, for the Apostle says insofar as the body weakens and withers from the podvig (ascetic labor) of fasting, then so much is the soul renewed day by day and is made beauteous and shines in the beauty which God originally bestowed upon it. And when it is purified and adorned with fasting and repentance, then God loves it and will live in it as the Lord has said: "I and the Father will come and make Our abode with him" (John 14.23). Thus if there is such value and grace in fasting that it makes us into habitations of God, then ought we to greet it with great rejoicing and gladness, and not despond because of the meagerness of the food, knowing that when our Lord Jesus Christ blessed the five loaves in the wilderness He fed five thousand people with bread and water. He could, if He so desired, command all sorts of manifestations to appear; but He gave us an example of restraint, so that we might be concerned only for that which is necessary. Now at the beginning the fast seems to us a difficult labor, but if we shall apply ourselves from day to day with ardor and discipline, then with the help of God it will be made easier. At the same time, if we desire that the fast be for us a true one and acceptable unto God, then together with abstaining from food, let us restrain ourselves from every sin of soul and body, as the sticheron instructs us in which it is said, "Let us keep the Fast not only by refraining from food, but by becoming strangers to all sinful passions" (First sticheron of the Aposticha, Tuesday Vespers of the First Week of Lent). Let us guard ourselves from sloth and carelessness concerning our cell rule and church services, and even more from vainglory and envious zeal, from malice out of spite, and from enmity, and secret passions such as these, which kill the soul; let us guard against ill temper and self-assertion, that is, let us not appropriate things for ourselves and indulge our self-will. For nothing is so loved of the devil as to find a person who has not forgiven another and has not taken advice from those able to instruct him in virtue; then the enemy easily deludes the self-assertive and traps him in all that he does and reckons as good.
Let us vigilantly attend to ourselves, especially in regard to the desires of the flesh; for it is just now, when we fast, that the chameleon serpent-devil fights us with bad thoughts. Beauteous in appearance and pleasant to the taste is the fruit of sin, but in reality it is not so. Thus sometimes the outside of the apple seems nice, but when it is cut open rot is found within; so the desires of the flesh seem to have within them delights, yet when a sin has been committed, it is bitter to the stomach like a two-edged sword. Our forefather Adam suffered this when he was deceived by the devil and tasted of the fruit of disobedience and hoped to receive life from it, but found death. Thus do all from that time to this suffer who are deceived by the ancient serpent with bad desires of the fleshly passions. For the devil is darkness that takes the semblance and appearance of an angel of light. So the inventor of evil, Satan, makes evil to appear as good; and bitter to appear as sweet; and dark, as light; and the ugly, beautiful; and he represents death as life, and thus deludes the world and tortures it. But let us, Brethren, pay special heed so that he will not trap us with his many and evil snares and we suffer like birds that fall from the bait into the nooses and nets. Let us be careful to scrutinize our mind for the craftiness of evil, and in eve~y instance be aware of evil, where it is concealed, and shun it. Above all, let us be ardent and careful in the chanting of the psalms and services of the Church; let us strive to keep our minds attentive to what is being read. For as the body, when nourished by bread, grows stronger, so also does the soul when fed by the word of God. Let us every hour of the day do prostrations, each according to his strength and as much as he is required; let us be occupied with our handiwork; for he that does nothing, according to the word of the Apostle, is not worthy even of food (II Thess. 3:10). Let us be helpful to one another, for one alone is weak, while another is strong; let us not be quarrelsome, but do only what is good; let us be gentle of speech, peaceful, gracious, kind, meek, subm~ssive, filled with mercy and good fruit. And may the peace of God preserve our hearts and minds, and may He vouchsafe us the heavenly kingdom of Christ Jesus our Lord, to Whom is due glory and dominion with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.


On Friday of the First Week

Concerning Now We Should Adorn Our Eternal Habitation with Virtue
Brethren and Fathers! If anyone who is a layman wishes to construct a large and magnificent home, then he gives himself no rest either day or night, but labors, worries, and endures deprivation until he finishes the building of the house. They have such zeal and diligence in this work that their minds and thoughts, day and night, are occupied with nothing else but only with how the roof might be finished more beautifully and excellently, and so that all below and all the rest might be adorned and done so that anyone who might see it would like to have such a home. And if anyone should desire to keep them from this work, then this would be for them so painful that it would be as if they suffered a great offense.
What is it that I wish to say to your love, respected Brethren? Since each of us builds and sets up for his soul not a house that is tangible and corruptible, which is made of stone and wood, but a heavenly dwelling that is incorrupt and eternal, which is composed of the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit, then tell me, shall we be actually less concerned and more slothful in constructing it than we would be in constructing a temporal house? Would not the loss of it be hard for us to bear? And the more so, since a house that is corruptible and temporal receives people of the flesh and thereafter when the house has had many owners, it itself grows old, goes to ruin and collapses, but our spiritual house, which is built of the virtues, receives the Holy Spirit, as the Apostle says, "Ye are the temple of the living God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you" (I Cor. 3:16). And when the time comes for us to leave this world, He also follows us into heaven, and we shall be there eternally.
The beginning of building the virtues is the fear of God, as the Divine Scriptures say, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Ps. 110:9). And thereafter the four great virtues, that is, wisdom, courage, chastity, and righteousness, and the others with them, each linked to another and forming a union of love, will grow into a holy temple of the Lord. Let us then, Brethren, build this habitation and adorn it with the virtues so that we might have within us the Holy Spirit, and so that we may bring joy to the holy angels and be of benefit to mankind through the accomplishment of the virtues. And since temperance is one of the greatest virtues which we struggle to attain, then let us render glory unto God for having vouchsafed us to complete the span of one holy week. Our faces have changed and become pale, but there shines in us the grace of temperance. From the gall that arises as a result of the fast, we feel in our mouths a bitterness, but our souls are sweetened by the hope and grace of salvation. For these two, that is, the soul and body, by nature battle against one another, and when one grows stronger, the other becomes weaker. And so we shall rejoice, Brethren, in that we have made the better aspect, that is, the soul, much stronger.
It may be that someone will say: Will not eating once a day ruin the perfection of temperance? No, we need not fear this, for if it were so, then Christ would not have commanded us in the prayer "Our Father" to ask for our daily bread; nor would the raven have brought to the Prophet Elias food each day, and likewise the divine Paul of Thebes; and Anthony the Great would not have considered it better to eat a little each day rather than to remain fasting for three, four, or seven days. And it seems to me that the cause for this is as follows: since our bodies are exhausted and weakened from daily work, that God, Who created us as He designed, might strengthen them by daily rations and we might fulfill the commandments of God, and would not be like a man paralyzed, as happens with those who fast for two or three days. They cannot accomplish prostrations, nor become experienced in readings and chanting, as they should, nor fulfill properly the other services; we will not mention what is supernatural. Thus the daily use of nourishment, according to the rule and order indicated, is not something imperfect, but something quite perfect, since all that has been instituted for us by the Holy Fathers is good and pleasing to God. O would that the Lord grant us still more health and strength of soul and body in order to serve the living and true God, and gain the reward that awaits us in the last day, in which may you, with all the saints from the ages, shine like the sun, having received an inheritance in the heavenly kingdom of Christ our Lord, to Whom is due glory and dominion with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages, Amen.
From Orthodox Life, vol. 38, no. 1 (Jan.-Feb., 1988), pp. 4-7.

Excerpt from an Encomium on St. John the Theologian, by St. Theodore the Studite

The Theotokos "Kataphygi" ("Refuge"), and St. John the Theologian (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9b/Avers_Poganovo_Icon.JPG)
Excerpt from an Encomium on St. John the Theologian, by St. Theodore the Studite (Amateur translation)
And do you wish to learn who was this great man? John, O men, the very early apostle, the pronounced of the evangelists, the great and golden-winged eagle of God, the one who studied the unapproachable depths of heaven, the man who was beyond the cherubim and unequalled in theoria, the presence of the beginningless Word, and angel among angels, the most greatly-worded preacher of truth, the most highly-seen nous, the fiery tongue, the godly-phrased mouth, the endless gulf of wisdom, the unapproachable in depth of dogmas, the great container of knowledge, the lightning of the Spirit that appears to the world, the thunder of grace of the universe, the firm pillar of the Church, the confirming foundation of God, the net capturing the wildness of the human nature, the fisher of souls with the heavenly-lengthed rod, the one who ever moves to saw apart heresies, the one who cuts the weeds of impiety with a sharp knife, the one who locks out the armies of atheism with a heavenly key, the one who removes the teeth of the noetic beasts that corrupt the mind, the one who sails the waves of the river of the wisdom of God, the most-pure temple of virginity, the very early beloved one and recliner-on-the-boosm of the [One Who] is desired, the great and beautiful-roaded sun on the Gospel, and what else could you say? For this dusky catalogue of a thousand [praises] cannot do justice even if the abyss were filled with encomiums. Bring them, bring all that can be said, for though this is poor, and I have no tongue to speak, a power from above will work the greatness of a miracle, for the height of heaven cannot be counted. And if we be granted to praise him, let us as a foundation take from the honey-like flowers of his evangelical words, and beholding this,  from this honey let us rationally make wax, and as those called to the apostolic feast as to a king, as an assistant where the word is received, approach himself and take courage.

Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

SUNDAY, MARCH 21, 2010

Sermon of St. Theodore the Studite for the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent

Christ Talking to Women from Jerusalem : "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves" (http://stage.srpskoblago.org/Archives/Decani/exhibits/Collections/PassionChrist/CX4K1903_l.html)

CATECHESIS 68: That We Must Be Renewed For What Is Ahead Through Endurance of the Trials That Fall Upon Us, Both Visible and Invisible.
by St. Theodore the Studite
Given On the 5th Sunday of Great Lent.
"Brethren and fathers, because winter has passed and spring has arrived, we see creation flourishing again; the plants are flowering, the earth is growing green, the birds are singing and everything else is being renewed; and we take pleasure in all this and we glorify God the master craftsman who transforms and changes creation year by year, and it is reasonable to do so. "Ever since the creation of the world His eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things He has made" [Rom. 1:20].

It is our duty not just to stay where we are, but to advance further and to examine carefully for ourselves the logic of creation. How? Because this renewal has winter as its cause. It would not have reached its prime had it not first undergone snows and rains and winds. And so it is with the soul; unless it is first snowed on by afflictions, troubles and difficulties, it will not flower, it will not fruit; but by enduring, it bears fruit and partakes in a blessing from God, as it is written: "Ground that drinks up the rain falling on it repeatedly, and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is cultivated, partakes in a blessing from God" [Heb. 6:7].

Therefore, brethren, let us also endure every affliction, every trouble, every trial which assails us both visibly and invisibly. The fast we are drawing out as we hunger and thirst and are otherwise made wretched, so that we may bear fruit and partake of God's blessing; and not only that, but that we may nourish and welcome Jesus as our guest. For just as we enjoy the sight of creation, so He too enjoys the ripe beauty[1] of our souls. What are the fruits? "Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-mastery" [Gal. 5:22]. By these He is nourished, by these He is entertained. And blest the one who nourishes Him, because he will be nourished by Him with eternal good things; and blest the one who receives Him as his guest, because he will be received by Him as his guest in the kingdom of heaven! Indeed! So if someone is to receive a king as his house guest, he rejoices and is extremely glad; how much more then someone who receives the King of kings and Lord of lords as his house guest. That he is received is clear from what He himself has said: "I and my Father will come and make our abode with him" [John 14:23]. And again: "One who has My commandments and keeps them, is the one who loves Me; the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I shall love him and manifest Myself to him" [John 14:21].

Therefore, since such are the promises, let us not only bear, but let us endure with joy all things, both those that are present, those that are whispered about, and those that are expected, as we listen to the Apostle when he says: "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of His body, that is the Church" [Col. 1:24]. And again Saint James who says: "My brethren, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" [James 1:2-4]. Do you see then that in trials there is joy, and in tribulations gladness? For these are the things that are exchanged where God is concerned; and this is how the saints led their lives; this too how we, by doing violence to ourselves and yet greater violence, and by living our life in their footsteps, shall inherit the kingdom of heaven, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and might, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and always and to the ages of ages. Amen.

1. The Greek has literally ‘the hour of our souls’, but the word can also connote ‘beauty‘, ‘ripeness’, ‘the bloom of youth’, ‘spring-time’. Hence, for example, the derivatives ‘beautiful’ and ‘ripe’."

St. Theodore the Studite - Commemorated on November 11th (http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?FSID=103281)

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!


St. Sabbas the Sanctified and his Holy Lavra

St. Sabbas the Sanctified - Commemorated on December 5 (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)

"Saint Sava the Sanctified was born in the fifth century at Cappadocia of pious Christian parents, John and Sophia. His father was a military commander. Journeying to Alexandria on military matters, his wife went with him, but they left their five-year-old son in the care of an uncle. When the boy reached eight years of age, he entered the monastery of St Flavian located nearby. The gifted child quickly learned to read and became an expert on the Holy Scriptures. In vain did his parents urge St Sava to return to the world and enter into marriage.

[At a young age when he was in a garden and he thought to eat an apple, he took it in his hand and said: “Beautiful in sight and good for food, but this killed us [i.e. the forbidden fruit in Eden]” He then threw it down and stepped upon it and resolved to never eat an apple in his life. Thus the Fathers of St. Sabbas Monastery to this day do not eat apples as a tradition in honor of St. Sabbas. (Amateur translation from: http://www.monipetraki.gr/agsavvas.html and other sources)]

When he was seventeen years old he received monastic tonsure, and attained such perfection in fasting and prayer that he was given the gift of wonderworking. After spending ten years at the monastery of St Flavian, he went to Jerusalem, and from there to the monastery of St Euthymius the Great (January 20). But St Euthymius sent St Sava to Abba Theoctistus, the head of a nearby monastery with a strict cenobitic rule. St Sava lived in obedience at this monastery until the age of thirty.

Icon of St. Euthemios the Great (Icon courtesy of www.eikonografos.com used with permission)

After the death of the Elder Theoctistus, his successor blessed St Sava to seclude himself in a cave. On Saturdays, however, he left his hermitage and came to the monastery, where he participated in divine services and ate with the brethren. After a certain time St Sava received permission not to leave his hermitage at all, and he struggled in the cave for five years.

St Euthymius attentively directed the life of the young monk, and seeing his spiritual maturity, he began to take him to the Rouba wilderness with him. They set out on January 14, and remained there until Palm Sunday. St Euthymius called St Sava a child-elder, and encouraged him to grow in the monastic virtues.

When St Euthymius fell asleep in the Lord (+ 473), St Sava withdrew from the Lavra and moved to a cave near the monastery of St Gerasimus of Jordan (March 4). After several years, disciples began to gather around St Sava, seeking the monastic life. As the number of monks increased, a lavra sprang up. When a pillar of fire appeared before St Sava as he was walking, he found a spacious cave in the form of a church.

The miraculous welling-forth of Holy Water from the Panagia at St. Sabbas (taken from: http://www.rel.gr/photo/displayimage.php?album=67&pos=3)

St Sava founded several more monasteries. Many miracles took place through the prayers of St Sava: at the Lavra a spring of water welled up, during a time of drought there was abundant rain, and there were also healings of the sick and the demoniacs. St Sava composed the first monastic Rule of church services, the so-called "Jerusalem Typikon", accepted by all the Palestine monasteries. The saint surrendered his soul to God in the year 532."

Icon of the Theotokos communing the Fathers of St. Sabbas Monastery. See the full, moving story here. (taken from: http://www.rel.gr/photo/displayimage.php?album=67&pos=1)

The Tomb of St. Sabbas, with an icon of his dormition (taken from: http://www.impantokratoros.gr/Saintsabba-Pictures.el.aspx?splitter_Images_offset=12#; another closer picture here: http://www.rel.gr/photo/displayimage.php?album=67&pos=2)

Brief History of the Holy Laura of Saint Sabbas

1. From the foundation of the Holy Laura to the Arab occupation (483-638 A.D.)

The holy and respected Laura of our Holy Father Sabbas the Sanctified in the Judean desert is a uni­que phenomenon in ecclesiastic history because of its contribution in forming worship and the monastic order and hymnography as well as its multitude of Saints, austere anchorites, divinly inspired theologians and martyrs; Even more significant was the decisive role of the Laura in fighting the heresies which appeared in the Holy Land after its foundation, the defense of Orthodoxy and the rights of the only legitimate Patriarchate of Jerusalem, namely the Greek Orthodox.

The Great Laura of St. Sabbas, now celebrating 1500 years (483-2002) of unceasing monasticism, owes its foundation and development to the God-endowed and Spirit-bearing monk Saint Sabbas (439-532 A.D), who was the lamp4 shining from on high for those wishing to live the life of an anchorite and fervent intercessor before the Lord for all future "Sabbaite" monks. The first nucleus of the Laura was created by seventy hermits who had gathered around St. Sabbas in 483 A.D. Subsequently, the Laura was relocated from the eastern side of the Kidron valley, where the hermitage of St. Sabbas was located, to the western side, where the Theoktistos Church was built (486, consecration 491 A.D). The increased number of the brotherhood members made it necessary to build the main church of the Theotokos (502 A.D) and to organize the Laura buildings and facilities so as to serve the ever increasing needs. St. Sabbas' reputation and holiness, which resulted in his elevation to head and instructor of all the anchorites of the Jerusalem area (493 A.D), influenced even the Great Laura which became the model of monastic life and liturgical order -the Typikon- not only for the other three lauras and six coenobiums which St. Sabbas founded before his death (532 A.D), but also for the other monasteries in Palestine and, during the Middle Ages, the worldwide Church.

Under the leadership of Saint Sabbas, the Great Laura initially undertook the fight against the heresy of Monophysitism from 512 to 516 A.D, confronting emperor Anastasios and the other three Patriarchates of the East, which were in the hands of the Monophysites. The courageous stand and confession of the anchorites saved the Patriarchate of Jerusalem from heresy. St. Sabbas' successors in the abbacy made the Laura a stronghold against the heresy of Origenism; Under the guidance of the Sabbaite St. John the Hesychast, former bishop of Colonia (454-558), the Laura abbots Gelasios (537-546), Kassianos (547-548) and Κοnοn (548-568) overwhelmed the wiles of Origenists and their intrigues before the emperor Justinian, yet not without cost. The monks of the Laura, which was the only monastery supporting Orthodoxy, suffered persecution and acts of violence and eνen the enforced enthronement of the Origenist Abbot Georgios (547 A,D). Neνertheless, God saνed the Laura, and Konon's actions contributed greatly to the summoning of the Fifth Ecumenical Synod (Council) (553 Α.D), which condemned the errors of Origen once and for all and favored the entire Church for eνer. The appearance of the Persians in the Holy Land (614 Α.D) was the prelude of the inνasion of the Arabs of Islam (638 Α.D). The first holy martyrs of the Laura were the forty-four Sabbaite fathers slain by the Persians on 16th May, 614 Α, D.

Catechesis 32 from St. Theodore the Studite, titled: "On the Nativity of the Saviour and the vigorous pursuit of our ascetic life"

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Christ is born! Glorify Him!
The following is the Catechesis 32 from St. Theodore the Studite, titled: "On the Nativity of the Saviour and the vigorous pursuit of our ascetic life", as translated by Fr. Ephraim and taken from: http://www.anastasis.org.uk/ths32.htm . It is traditionally read after the First of the Royal Hours for Christmas.
Detail of the Infant Christ and the Theotokos from a fresco of the Holy Nativity of Christ from Decani Monastery (taken from: http://www.srpskoblago.org/Archives/Decani/exhibits/Collections/GreatFeasts/CX4K1562.html)
St. Theodore the Studite - CATECHESIS 32: "On the Nativity of the Saviour and the vigorous pursuit of our ascetic life.
Brethren and Fathers, already the Manifestation of God is near and the day of joy is at the doors; for it is a great joy, such as has not been since time began, that the Son of God has come to us, not through riddles and symbols, as he appeared of old to the fathers, but by coming to live with us and manifesting himself in his own person through his birth from a Virgin. There has been nothing more blest than this in generations of generations, nothing more wonderful among all the wonders that God has done since time began. For this reason Angels are proclaiming the good tidings of the mystery and a star revealing that the heavenly has been brought to birth on earth; for this reason Shepherds are running to see the salvation that has been proclaimed, and Magi are bringing gifts fit for a king; for this reason a new song is being sung for new events, because God, who is glorified in the highest, has appeared as peace on earth. And the Apostle bears witness when he says, For he is our peace, who has made both one, breaking down the middle wall of partition, the hostility between us, in his flesh. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both to God in one body through the Cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. This is what the prophets and the just since time began desired to see, but did not see except through faith; while we have both seen and our hands have touched, as it is written, concerning the Word of life, and this life has been revealed, and we have received sonship. But what shall we give in return for all that the Lord has given to us? Already holy David anticipated and cried out the answer. I shall take the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. So then let us rejoice, brethren, because we have been granted to give the Lord a return for all that he has given us. And what is this return? The cross-bearing way of life that we have taken on, and the confession in which we stand and we boast in our hope of the glory of God. And this is confessedly a witness. Meanwhile it is not for us to feast for just one day, but throughout our life; just as those who are governed by the flesh and in thrall to the passions are unable to feast, even if they seem to feast, nor are they at liberty, for they are slaves of the passions sold under sin. Indeed it is written, Everyone who sins is a slave of sin; but the slave does not abide in the house for ever. The son abides for ever. Since then we too have been granted to have been called sons according to grace, we remain in the house for ever, if we hold firm the beginning of our undertaking to the end. And so, empowered by the Holy Spirit, let us still hold to our monastic state, and let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, to obedience, to humility, to meekness, and let us be eager for everything which is of the best, not weakening in our resolve, but straining ever more and more, and the more so as we see the day drawing near. For the great and manifest day of the Lord is drawing near, on which the judge of all will be revealed and will appear in the glory in which he appeared to the Apostles at his divine Transfiguration, as he brings and judges every creature and rewards each according to its work. But may it be given to us too, with all the saints, to see him looking upon us with a kindly face and taking us into the kingdom of heaven, by the grace and pity and love for mankind of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom are due glory, honour and worship with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and always and to the ages of ages. Amen."
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!


Excerpt from the Homily on the Nativity of the Theotokos by St. Theodore the Studite

The Nativity of the Theotokos - Commemorated September 8th (http://iconreader.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/0ikonarozhdestbogomatmrub.jpg)

Excerpt from the Homily on the Nativity of the Theotokos by St. Theodore the Studite (amateur translation)
Creation celebrates radiantly today, receiving the Virgin as a new heaven. A girl is born upon the earth, who holds the King of the heavens in her palm. A youth comes into the light of the rays of the sun and shines brighter than lightning. A child shines from a barren womb, who is the most-sacred treasury of virginity. Who would not come out for this festival? Who would not come out for the feast, and speak lovingly of the Virgin? A beautiful gift of virgins is incorruption, bodily chastity, the giving of riches to the poor in thanksgiving, the meekness of rulers, the righteousness of kings, the holiness of priests, and the lawfulness of all in all things. And with gifts like these follow the bearing of lamps; come let us skip joyously. Let us sing characteristically with David: “Come let us rejoice in the Lord, let us cry to God our Savior.” The temple that receives the Creator of all is given refuge, that the Creator and Word might be prepared a strange dwelling, that the Sun of righteousness might be covered with a cloud of light, that He Who clothes the heaven with clouds might be clothed in the God-woven robe and raised to stand, that He Who orders times and seasons and years might be shown a bridal chamber.

Dance, O youths, for it is the nativity of the Virgin. Skip, O mothers, for the motherly fruit is the Virgin. Barren ones, have hope, for she who was formerly barren later gave birth to a godly child beyond her hopes. Let no lady be absent from this choir, which crowns the crown of the Queen to celebrate her nativity.

Most-holy Theotokos, save us!
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!


Excerpt from St. Theodore the Studite's Encomium on the Dormition of the Theotokos

Icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos (http://www.icon-art.info/hires.php?lng=en&type=1&id=633)

Excerpt from St. Theodore the Studite's Encomium on the Dormition of the Theotokos
“Now the Mother of God shuts her material eyes, and opens her spiritual eyes towards us like great shining stars that will never set, to watch over us and to intercede before the face of God for the World’s protection. Now those lips, moved by God’s grace to articulate sounds, grow silent, but she opens her [spiritual] mouth to intercede eternally for all of her race. Now she lowers those bodily hands that once bore God, only to raise them, in incorruptible form, in prayer to the Lord on behalf of all creation. At this moment her natural form, radiant as the sun, is hidden; yet her light shines through her painted image, and she offers it to the people for the life-giving kiss of relative veneration, even if the heretics are unwilling. The holy dove has flown to her home above, yet she does not cease to protect those below; departing from her body, she is with us in spirit; gathered up to heaven, she banishes demons by her intercession to the Lord.”