"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Greatest Mystery of All

The Greatest Mystery of All – God is Love and we His Beloved

here is but a single real mystery left to the true atheist:  "The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random between the profusion of matter and of the stars, but that within this prison we can draw from ourselves images powerful enough to deny our nothingness," André Malraux (+1976).

And then a man comes along with an observation on mankind—in all his humility—with no need of God’s assistance: "Man: An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is as to overlook what he indubitably ought to be," Ambrose Bierce (+c. 1914).

And, perhaps without even knowing it, some men have stated the sad truth about the depth of mankind’s general commitment to his Creator: “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another,” Jonathan Swift (+1745). While others stated very succinctly the Creator’s view on such things: "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another," John 13:35.

Great and Holy Tuesday

Matins, Tone 6
Come, ye faithful, and let us serve the Master eagerly, for He gives riches to His servants. Each of us according to the measure we have received, let us increase the talent of grace. Let one gain wisdom through good deeds; let another celebrate the Liturgy with beauty; let another share his faith by preaching to the uninstructed; let another give his wealth to the poor. So shall we increase what is entrusted to us, and as faithful stewards of His grace we shall be counted worthy of the Master’s joy. Bestow this joy upon us, Christ our God, in Thy love for mankind.

When Thou shalt come, O Jesus, in glory with the angelic hosts and shalt sit upon the throne of judgment, do not send me from Thy presence, O good Shepherd. Thou dost accept those who stand upon the right, but those upon the left have turned away from Thee. Destroy me not with the goats, though I am hardened in sin, but number me with the sheep on Thy right hand, and save me in Thy love for mankind.

O Bridegroom, surpassing all beauty, Thou hast called us to the spiritual feast of Thy bridal chamber. Strip from me the disfigurement of sin, through participation in Thy Sufferings; clothe me in the glorious robe of Thy beauty, and in Thy compassion make me feast with joy at Thy Kingdom.

Tone 7
Behold, my soul, the Master entrusts thee with a talent. Receive His gift with fear; make it gain interest for Him; distribute to the needy, and make the Lord thy friend. So shalt thou stand on His right hand when He comes in glory, and thou shalt hear His blessed words: ‘Enter, servant, into the joy of thy Lord.’ I have gone astray, O Saviour, but in Thy great mercy count me worthy of this  joy.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Great and Holy Monday

Matins, Tone 5
O Lord, the mother of the sons of Zebedee, not understanding the hidden mystery of Thy dispensation, asked Thee to give the honours of a temporal kingdom to her sons. But instead of this Thou hast promised to Thy friends that they should drink the cup of death; and Thou hast said that Thou wouldst drink this cup before them, to cleanse men from their sins. Therefore we cry aloud to Thee: O salvation of our souls, glory to Thee.

O Lord, teaching Thy disciples to think perfect thoughts, Thou hast said to them: ’Be not like the Gentiles, who exercise dominion over those who are less strong. But it shall not be so among you, My disciples, for I of mine own will are poor. Let him, then, who is first among you be the minister of all. Let the ruler be as the ruled, and let the first be as the last. For I Myself have come to minister to Adam in his poverty, and to give my life as a ransom for the many who cry aloud to me: Glory to Thee.’

Tone 8
O brethren, let us fear the punishment of the fig tree, withered because it was unfruitful; and let us bring worthy fruits of repentance unto Christ, who grants us His great mercy.

The serpent found a second Eve in the Egyptian woman, and with words of flattery he sought to make Joseph fall. But, leaving his garment behind him, Joseph fled from sin; and like the first man before his disobedience, though naked he was not ashamed. At his prayers, O Christ, have mercy upon us.