The Shepherd, June 2009
FROM THE FATHERS
“IF YOU have pious faith in Him, O lover of Christ, rejoice and be of good hope, because the fruit of faith in Him and of piety is immortality and the kingdom of heaven, but only if your soul is disposed according to His precepts. For as those who live in obedience to Him have eternal life as reward, so those who travel the opposite way, and not the path of virtue, will incur great shame and merciless danger on the day of judgment, because, although they knew the road of truth, they did the opposite to what they knew.”
Saint Athanasius the Great of Alexandria, + 373 A.D.
“HE (Christ) will strengthen you and will guard you safe from evil and keep your faith in Him firm and immovable, if you continue in unity with each other and in perfect love until you draw your last breath. May He give you grace to serve Him blamelessly and to be one body and one spirit, continuing in humility and obedience. Do not neglect hospitality. Never separate yourselves from your holy mother, the Church. Turn away from all causes of offence and the tares of heretics, who are the enemies of Christ, in order that ye may become perfect even as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”
From the Farewell Oration of the Venerable Daniel the Stylite
to his disciples, + 493 A.D.
“THE WAY which we journey is the Apostolic way. Such is the piety and reverence the Apostles possessed toward our Lord and God Jesus Christ; and each of us must practice this reverence toward our own spiritual father, rejecting at once our entire will, as the Lord Himself taught: For I came down from Heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me (Jn 6:38). Learning this from Him, the Apostles did not answer back, nor say otherwise; they did not desire their own will or thoughts, but rather they persevered in the commandments of their Teacher, and thus in truth heard from Him these words: Where I am, there shall My servant be (Jn 12:26). And truly, they did not turn back from this hope. Therefore, I can say to you with assurance that each of us who rightly forsakes the desires of his will, and bears with humility, forbearance and unfailingness the commands and directives of his spiritual father, not disrespecting him in the least, will live eternally with the Holy Apostles and will rejoice in, and with, Christ in the eternal age.”
Ven. Romilus of Ravanitsa to a monastic disciple, + 1376 A.D.
FROM THE WRITINGS OF ST PHILARET,
THE NEW CONFESSOR, OF NEW YORK
LET US be watchful, beloved; now comes the time of apostasy - the world more and more departs from the Gospel sources of our confession and from the moral principles of human life. Never have such things gone on in the world as happen now, before our very eyes. Observing all this, we must bear in mind that the Lord expects faithfulness of us. These are the wondrous words in the Apocalypse which the Lord addresses to one of the representatives of the Churches; He says: “I know thee, thou hast a little strength, but thou hast stood and wast faithful, and didst keep the word of My patience. I also will keep thee from that which befalleth the world, from temptation and from the dread punishments which will come upon it” (cf Rev. 3:8, 10). We only need to concern ourselves about being faithful to the Lord, especially now, during these dreadful times. The Holy Fathers loved to say, and often said, that the Christian who remains faithful to his Lord in these dreadful last days, will prove to be higher according to the righteous judgment of God than the ascetics of old! This the Holy Fathers said many times; only one must not fear, only bear in mind that the Lord will not give His own over to grief. Be faithful to God, and the Lord will keep you in every calamity that is coming upon the world. Of course, we must not tremble, observing what humanity is preparing itself for, but must remember that the Lord can protect His own. Only be faithful to Him, and He Himself will always be faithful and will ever be our Defender, Saviour and Protection. Amen.
From a Homily on the Sunday of All Saints,
which falls this year in the month of June