All Saints for February 9


St Peter Damascene writes thus of the general and the particular gifts of God: `The general gifts are the four elements, and all that come from them, all the wonderful and terrible works of God revealed in the Holy Scriptures. But the particular gifts are those which God gives to a man individually; be it wealth for acts of mercy, or poverty for patience with thanksgiving; be it power for right judgement and the strengthening of virtue, or subjugation and slavery for the swift salvation of the soul; be it health for the helping of the infirm or weakness for the crown of patience; be it under-standing and skill in gathering wealth for the sake of the virtues, or feebleness and clumsiness for submissive humility. All these; and though they may seem in contrast to one another they are all, as they are apportioned, very good.' He says in conclusion that we owe God gratitude for all His gifts, and must bear all infirmities and tribula-tions with patience and hope. For all that God gives us or brings upon us is for our salvation.

Let me ponder on the Lord Jesus as the source of joy: 1. In the troubles of life, which only He can relieve with joy. 2. In bondage to the passions, which only He can relieve with joy in freedom. 3. In death, from which only He can raise us.


- on the words of God, that are stronger than death.

`If a man keep My words, he shall never taste of death' (In 8:52).

If a candle is burning in a room, it will not be dark while the candle gives its light. If food is salted, it is preserved from going bad. If a man keeps the words of Christ in his soul, that man keeps salt and light and life abiding in himself. Such a soul will not become darkened in this life nor taste the corruption of death. He who keeps the word of Christ in himself, him the word of Christ upholds inwardly, feeding, enlightening and reviving him. Be he in the body or out of the body, he feels himself alive with the words of Christ. Death can separate his soul from his body, but not from Christ, from deathless and eternal life. The death of his body will simply give his life-bear-ing soul a freer flight to the embrace of Christ the Beloved, the Life-Giver.

And what, my brethren, does it mean to keep the word of Christ in oneself? It means, first, to keep it in one's mind, thinking of it; then to keep it in one's heart, loving it; thirdly, to keep it in one's will, fulfilling it in action; and fourthly, to keep it on one's ton-gue, freely witnessing to it when necessity arises. In brief, to keep the word of Christ means to be filled with it and to fulfil it. He who thus keeps the word of Christ will indeed never taste of death.

O Lord, our mighty Lord who art stronger than death, give us strength and understanding, that we may keep Thy holy word unto the end. May we not taste death, nor death taste us; may our souls not be touched by corruption. Be merciful to us, O most merciful Lord. To Thee be glory and praise for ever. Amen.

* From "The Prologue from Ochrid", by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic - Lazarica Press - Birmingham 1985
Four Book Edition - Translated by Mother Maria - Dates based on old church calendar.
Please see our calendar for conversion between old and new calendar dates.


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