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“What can I do for God? Nothing. In fact, I can’t even seek Him; I can’t even repent. But what I can do is to struggle. This means that I can commit myself to a life of asceticism, to the practice of spiritual exercises. And I will undertake such a commitment in a manner appropriate to my way of life, that is, depending on my situation, character, physical strength, psychological disposition, my history, my heredity, in terms of my gifts and so on. Whatever role these factors play, there will be a commitment to asceticism.

Earlier we said that pain begins with the experience of pleasure. Of course, we wanted only the pleasure, not the pain. But now I must embrace pain in order to regain true pleasure. Why? Because we were created for pleasure. God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the garden of “delights”, for this is what the word “Eden” means.

… asceticism is a way in which I as a human being, set about attracting the attention of God. … Does God have need of such activity? I will say only this: it is something I can do, and God wants me to do what I can. …It’s my preparation in order to seek, want, actively desire, love and finally, receive God. What we’re attending to now are the preparations, just as we would sweep the house in preparation for a visit by our spiritual father. Thus I give expression to my inner disposition by enduring the coldness, and filth that is within me, and accepting my nakedness and acknowledging it before God. Asceticism is the way I cry out to Him.”

– Elder Aimilianos, The Way of the Spirit p. 18-19

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Someone sent this to me, and I thought it was worth sharing. It is the faces of a few holy men and women after their repose. I am not sure about the others, but the first of these (Elder Joseph of Vatopedi) reportedly did not start to smile until 45 minutes after his death! May God grant us all to strive to share in the same blessed experience.

This hymn to the Holy Hierarch Ansgar (February 3) occurs in the ancient liturgical books used in the Swedish Church at Uppsala.

 

Ansgari, pater optime,
Errantes nos in devio,
Reduc tuo juvamine
Servans sub Christi gremio.

Danis et Suecis gratiae
Donum fidemque praedicas
Pugil fortis in acie
Gentes Deo sanctificas.

Notam facis incredulis,
Doctrinan evangelicam,
Lucem ministrans populis
Ducis in viam coelicam.

Bonus pastor viriliter
Gregern pascis dominicum,
Informans, quod veraciter
Christuin colat magnificum.

Prudens talenta gratiae
Cum lucri magnitudine
Adduces regi gloriae
In pacis pulchritudine.

Deo patri sit gloria
Ejusque soli Filio,
Cum spiritu Paraclito
In sempiterna saecula.

 

The following represents an attempt to reproduce the original metro in English.

 

Most noble father, Anskar,
Restore us by thy grace,
And those who wander now afar
In Christ’s own bosom place.

In holy strife contending
Thou didst the faith proclaim
To Danes and Swedes declaring
The honour of His name.

An unbelieving nation
From thee the light receives,
The teachings of salvation,
It now with joy believes.

Thou to God’s sheep hast given
The food they fain would claim,
And earnestly hast striven
To glorify His name.

To the great King thou bringest
When earthly strife doth cease,
The talents thou receivest,
With manifold increase.

To Father, and His only Son
Be laud and honour given
To Holy Spirit, Three in One
In earth and highest heaven.

 

St. Ansgar, Enlightener of Scandinavia

“Why does humility lead up to the heights of righteousness, whereas self-conceit leads down to the depths of sin? Because anyone who thinks he is something great, even before God, is rightly abandoned by God, as one who does not need His help. On the other hand, anyone who despises himself, and relies on mercy from above, wins God’s sympathy, help and grace. As it says, ‘The Lord resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the lowly'” (Proverbs 3:34, LXX).

– St. Gregory Palamas

“Understand me. It is so simple. People who do not know God, or who go against Him, are to be pitied: the heart sorrows for them and the eye weeps….where there is pride there cannot be grace, and if we lose grace we also lose both love of God and assurance in prayer. The soul is then tormented by evil thoughts and does not understand that he must humble himself and love his enemies, for there is no other way to please God.”

– St. Silouan the Athonite

“There is a knowledge about God and His doctrines. (…) The use and activity of the natural powers of the soul and of the body do shape the rational image of man, but that is not the same as the perfect beauty of the noble state which comes from above; that is by no means the supernatural union with the more than resplendent light, which is the sole source of sure theology.”

– Gregory Palamas, Triads, I.3.15

Repost from: byztex.blogspot.com

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Archangel Michael’s Skete, NM

I entreat you to please prayerfully read the appeal below, and offer both your prayers and assistance to this precious Monastic community. If you can only send a few dollars, that is fine. There are over 1200 of you beautiful souls on my general list, so even an average of $2 per person would raise more than enough to cover the utility bill; and a $5 average would give them some very needed “breathing room!” Thanks so much, and God bless the remainder of your Great Lenten Journey to the awesome Passion and glorious Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Please help and please spread the word!

Received last night from Fr. Martin at St. John’s Monastery in Manton, CA:

The Monastery of the Archangel Michael in Cañones, NM is in dire straits. With their superior having been ill (ulcerative colitis) so long and now out of commission, they are in a financial crisis.

I learned tonight that they need $1400 in the next two days or they will lose power. No power means no ability to make candles, which is their major source of income (like us).

Please if you can help, write to Fr. Silouan at frsilouan@juno.com. Or call the monastery there in New Mexico (575) 638-5690. You can also send checks to PO Box 38 Canones NM 87516-0038.

May God reward your Lenten charity.

If you would like to make a Paypal donation, go here. Use the donation link and put in a note that this is intended for the The Monastery of the Archangel Michael. Every dollar helps.

“Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.

Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.

Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy.

Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy.

Guard me, O Holy Spirit, that I myself may always be holy.”

– Blessed Augustine of Hippo

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