Weekly Bulletin

December 17, 2017

Sunday of the Forefathers

Holy Prophet Daniel and the Three Holy Youths

NATIVITY FAST

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SERVICES FOR THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST

Friday, December 22 – Royal Hours of Christmas, 10:00 a.m.

Sunday, December 24 – Christmas Vigil Service, 6:00 p.m.

Monday, December 25 – Divine Liturgy of Christmas, 10:00 a.m.

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From the Teachings of St. Nectarios

Concerning Love: You ought to have much care in your relationships between each other and to respect one another as sacred persons, as icons of God. Do not ever look to the body or to its beauty, but to the soul. Be careful of the feeling of love, because when the heart is not warmed by pure prayer, love is in danger of becoming fleshly and unnatural. It is in danger of darkening the intellect and burning up the heart . . .

We ought to examine daily in case our love does not proceed from the association of our common love towards Christ; in case our love does not spring from our love towards the Lord. He who is watchful to keep love pure will be guarded from the traps of Satan, who tries to gradually alter Christian love to common and emotional love.

On Pride: Pride of the intellect is satanic pride, which denies God and blasphemes against the Holy Spirit. For this reason it is also very difficult to heal. It is a deep darkness, which prevents the eyes of the soul from seeing the light which exists within it and which leads to God, to humility, to the desire of the good.

Pride of the heart, on the other hand, is not an offspring of Satanic pride, but rather is created from the circumstances and events of our lives: wealth, glory, honors, spiritual or physical gifts (intelligence, beauty, strength, skillfulness, etc.). All these things lift up high the minds of foolish people and thus they become vain-thinking, without, however, also becoming atheists. Many times they receive mercy from God. They are tried by divine chastisement and are corrected. Their heart is crushed, ceases seeking glories and vanities, and thus they are cured.

Let your spiritual work be the examination of your heart. In case pride nestles in it like a poisonous snake, the passion which gives birth to many evils, which deadens every virtue, which poisons everything. All your care must turn toward this luciferian evil. Day and night its examination should become your ceaseless work.

I think that it will be true if I say that all our spiritual care is comprised of the seeking out and annihilation of pride and its children. If we are delivered from it and enthrone humble-mindedness in our heart, then we have everything. Because, where ever true humility in Christ exists, there will also exist all the other virtues which elevate us towards God, gathered together.

On Christian Courteousness: Christians have an obligation, according to the Lord’s command, to become holy and perfect. Perfection and holiness is carved first deep in the Christian’s soul, and from there it is also imprinted on his thoughts, his desires, in his words, in his deeds. Thus the grace of God which exists in the soul is poured out to all the external character.

The Christian ought to be courteous towards everyone. His words and his works should be imbued by the grace of the Holy Spirit which dwells in his soul, so that his Christian manner of life is witnessed and the name of God is glorified.

He who is measured in words is also measured in works. He who examines the words he is about to say also will examine the deeds he is about to perform, and will never exceed the limits of good and virtuous behavior.

The graceful words of a Christian are characterized by refinement and courteousness. These are words that give birth to love and which bring peace and joy. On the contrary, vain speech gives birth to hate, enmity, affliction, arguments, disturbances, and wars.

So let us always be courteous and never let an evil word come from our lips, a word which is not salted with the grace of God. But let our words always be graceful words, good words, words which witness courteousness in Christ and our soul’s cultivation.

– St. Nectarios of Aegina (+1921)

Don’t Postpone Repentance

One day an abbot, by God’s providence, watched a gathering of demons. The demons exchanged thoughts on how to lead people into sin.

One said, “Let’s tell the world there is no God.” Another said, “Let’s tell them there is no paradise and hell.” The third said, “Let’s tell them there is no life after death.” The fourth said, “Let’s make them curse.” The fifth demon said, “Let’s pull them into fornication, adultery, and all the other sins of the flesh.” All the demons expressed their opinion. At the end, they asked a demon who had not spoken at all, “What do you think? Tell us your opinion.”

He then said, “I think we can tell the world that God exists, that there is life after death, and that heaven and hell are real. But we must convince people that they still have plenty of time to repent.”

They all agreed. They decided to counsel the world that everyone will continue to live for many more years. Therefore there is plenty of time to repent.

The abbot was terrified of the devious technique of the demons. He begged God to enlighten people so that they would not fall into this trap of the demons.

– from the Evergetinos

St. John Chrysostom on the Feast of Christmas

What shall I say? How shall I describe this Birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of days has become an infant. He Who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger. And He Who cannot be touched, Who is simple, without complexity, and incorporeal, now lies subject to the hands of men. He Who has broken the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infants bands. But He has decreed that shame shall become honor, infamy be clothed with glory, and that total humiliation should now become the measure of His Goodness.

For this reason He assumed my body: that I may become able to receive His Word; taking my flesh, He gives me His spirit. He bestows, and I receive, and thus He prepares for me the treasure of Life. He takes my flesh, to sanctify me; He gives me His Spirit that He may save me.

Come, then, let us celebrate this Feast! Truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the Nativity. For on Christmas the ancient slavery is ended, the devil is confounded, the demons take to flight, the power of death is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back, the news of God’s goodness is goes out and is spread abroad in every direction, a heavenly way of life has been planted on the earth, angels speak with men, and men now hold conversation with the angels.

Why is this? Because God is now on earth, and man in heaven; on every side all things commingle. He became Flesh. He did not become God; He was God already. Wherefore He became flesh, so that He whom heaven could not contain, a manger would this day receive. He was placed in a manger, so that He, by whom all things are nourished, may receive an infant’s nourishment from His Virgin Mother. Thus the Father of all ages, as an infant at the breast, nestles in the virginal arms, that the Magi may more easily see Him. For this day the Magi too have come, and made a beginning of resisting tyranny; and the heavens give glory, as the Lord is revealed by a star.

So to Him who out of confusion has wrought a clear path, to Christ, to the Father, and to the Holy Spirit, we offer all praise, now and forever. Amen.