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A Saint Speaks to Europe from Dachau

Bishop Nicholas (Velimirovich) of Zhicha

From 15 September 1944 to 8 May 1945, the great Serbian Orthodox theologian and contemporary Church Father, Bishop Nicholas (Velimirovich) of Zhicha, was imprisoned by the Nazis in the notorious concentration camp of Dachau. There he kept a diary of seventy-six chapters, ‘Through a Prison Window’, in which he addressed himself to the Serbian people.

In it St Nicholas the Serb, as many now call him, never mentioned his own sufferings, but rather expressed his profound grief at the spiritual and moral decadence of contemporary mankind, which he called, ‘Life without aim and death without hope’. According to the Saint, it was this aimlessness and hopelessness which explained the European catastrophe of the twentieth century and its World Wars.

Here follows the translation of one of those chapters. May God grant us the time to translate other chapters of the unique and inspired work of this contemporary Saint, who is still calling Europe to repentance. 

 

“He thinks in prayer, he writes philosophy in prayer. You could feel that, through him, the light-bearing souls of the great Orthodox ascetics speak, and especially the wonderous soul of Simeon the New Theologian. He prayerfully feels God, prayerfully senses the whole creation. In his prayer, he relates to everything. This can be done in Orthodoxy alone. The whole soul is centered in prayer and walks through this unbearably difficult thing, called “the world,” led by prayer; because prayer is the only leader of mind, heart and will, gifted with the gift of sight”.

Archimandrite Justin Popovich about Saint Nicholas Velimirovich

 

 Prayers by the Lake: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mjh8Vm7AZ-c&NR=1

 

Through the Prison Window

 by St. Nicholas Velimirovich

47: Blessed is the Lord Who Awaits Correction

There was a man who had two daughters. The younger separated from her father and went off to distant lands, where she wasted all her substance in riotous living.

Christ the Saviour had two daughters – Asia and Europe. Asia was the elder, Europe the younger. Christ greatly loved the younger daughter and the younger daughter loved Him and lived in His presence, not separating from Him for a thousand years. But after a thousand years Europe began to hate Christ, Her Parent, and began to move away from Him, until she had altogether separated from Him, going away into a foreign land, a land that was not God’s, a pagan land, and returned to the rubbish tip, where Christ had once found her, found her, washed her and led her into the King’s palaces.

But without Christ Europe grew poor, falling into such poverty and squalor that no-one wanted to offer a helping hand, for fear that she would steal even that hand, for he who is without God is without honour, and he who is without God is without truth and mercy. As the prophet said: The Lord loves truth and mercy (Ps. 83, 12). And for those who lose the Lord it is impossible to keep mercy and truth. Thus, having separated from the Lord, Europe lost mercy and truth. The impenetrable darkness of paganism captivated her soul. And already she could no longer see anything, she was pitiable, hungry, beggarly, naked and blind. Europe became like this, having moved away from her spiritual Parent, Christ, against His will.

But even in her extreme poverty Europe was not humbled, because of her haughty pride. Scorned by all the continents, she continued to exalt herself over mankind and sing the praises of her wonders. The essence of her motto was this: Christ is not a Wonderworker, but I, Europe, I am a Wonderworker. I invented the compass, the microscope and the telescope, I have counted the stars, I have calculated the length and breadth of the Universe, I have discovered medicines, I have devised surgical instruments, I have made dynamite to destroy mountain-sides, I have created machines that fly, machines that go underwater, machines that float; I am the goddess of the invention of machines, steamships and railways, electrical instruments, radio and television. I, I, I and I! ‘I’ am the main wonderworker of this age. There is no longer a Wonderworking God, he is the comforting blanket of primitive, ancient times. There is only Europe the Wonderworker.

O, my brothers, can you hear the words of the prodigal daughter? Can you hear the boasting of this aristocrat, who has fallen into poverty, is ragged and hungry? She is already nothing, yet boasts as if she were everything. She is nothing, yet basks in vainglory, as if the whole world belonged to her. She exalts herself, so that she may be respected, but she is only despised. She paints and adorns herself, so as to look more beautiful. But they all scorn her and shun her, as the ugliest of monsters.

Christ’s elder daughter, Asia, cannot bear to look at Europe: she sees abomination, she hears disharmony; Europe gives off a revolting stench, she is covered in scabs and wounds. For Asia, Europe is unbearable.

This is what Christ’s Asia answers the anti-Christian Europe, who has fallen away: ‘What do you have of your own? What do you have to boast of? What are you proud of? Even if you have found something, whose soil have you found it on? Why do you boast of the compass, of electricity, of steamships and other inventions? Where did you find all this? Surely it was in the courts of the Lord, Who invited you there? If you do not remember your Master, you are a thief. Yes, indeed, you are a thief. And more than that, you rob, you plunder and you oppress. You have taken for yourself God’s wonders, those which you were the last to discover. Truly I say unto you: all your wonders are God’s wonders, they are not yours and never will be yours, even after a million years. You have only one thing – listen to it and memorize it – you have only one thing which is not from God, but from yourself: this is the misuse of His wonders. Wonders are from God, misuse is from you. For example, the flying-machine is a wonder, but yours is the destruction of humanity with the help of this machine. It is God’s to sail, yours to sink. It is God’s to heal, yours to poison. It is God’s to unite, yours to divide. Truth is God’s, yours is the lie. Mercy is God’s, yours is self-love. What do you have in common with Christ, Europe, with Christ, with the God of truth and mercy? Nothing. And you, Serbia? Why are you troubled and why do you blush? Because you have followed after Europe. You have made friends with the apostate. You have gone after the harlot. If you correct your ways, you will be blessed. And blessed is God Who awaits your correction’. Amen.

Translator’s Note: Although the Saint addresses himself here to his own Serbian land, we could substitute for it Old England, or any other once Orthodox land that has erred from its ancient ways and followed after the harlot spirit of the Europe of the last thousand years.

 

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42: The Lord has Risen up in Judgement


What could the Old Testament be called in contemporary language? It could be called the court records of the judgement of God and His people, at that time, the chosen people. The prophets literally say that God enters into judgement with His people (Isaiah 3, 13-14; Micah 6,2; Malachi 3,5). In our own times the so-called secret records or ‘Protocols’ of the Elders of Zion have been published. These are supposed to be a Jewish scheme to subjugate the world. In these ‘Protocols’ there is no God, no prophetic word, no testament, no heavenly holiness in its words, no heavenly imprint. This is because they are vain journalism. These contemporary Jewish court records contain about one hundred pages. But the records of the judgement of God with the Jewish people over thousands of years constitute about a thousand pages. Reading these ancient court records – the Old Testament – each of us has two sincere feelings. The first is amazement at Divine faithfulness and longsuffering, the second – shame at the perfidiousness of the chosen people in their relation to God their Benefactor, at their resistance to Him, that can only be explained as satanic malice, disobedience to Him, a disobedience which even a mule or some other beast does not show to its master and the one who feeds it.

But we, who live in the twentieth century, no longer belong to the Old Testament but to the New Testament. What is the difference? The difference is great. In the Old Testament God spoke to people through the mouths of prophets and angels, but in the New Testament, where He appeared as a man in the flesh, He speaks personally and directly. What can be said of those who flee the light of the Gospel for the darkness of Egypt and seek to enter into judgement with God with the same Jewish obstinacy of Old Testament times? We can only say that Christians who enter into judgement with God, who renounce Christ, show malice and disobedience to God Who is made manifest, and that they are foolish and sinful, worse than the Old Testament Jews, who did not wish to hear the angels of God, the prophets and the righteous, for they were insolent to the servants of the Master, but the former are insolent to the Master Himself.

If the history of the last three centuries – the 18th, 19th and 20th – were to be given its true name, then there could not be found a more fitting name than ‘The Records of the Judgement between Europe and Christ’, for all the significant events in Europe of the last three centuries are connected to our Lord Jesus Christ.

In reality, at the judgement between Europe and Christ the following is happening.

Christ reminds Europe that it is baptized in His Name and must be faithful to Him and His Gospel. The defendant Europe replies:

– All denominations are equal. The French Encyclopedists told us this and it is wrong to force anyone to believe in any one of them. Europe shows tolerance to all denominations as national customs, as it wishes to keep its imperialistic interests, but Europe itself is not attached to any of them. But when it has achieved its political goals, then it will swiftly settle accounts with these vain folk beliefs.

Then Christ asks with sorrow:

– How can you people live solely for imperialistic, that is, materialistic interests, for the animal desire solely for bodily food? I wanted to make you gods and sons of God and you wish to make yourselves equal to beasts of burden.

But Europe replies to this:

– You are obsolete. Instead of your Gospel, we have discovered zoology and biology. Now we know that we are descendants of orang-outangs and gorillas – monkeys, we are not yours and not of your Heavenly Father. Now we are perfecting ourselves in order to become gods, for we do not recognize any gods other than ourselves.

Christ replies:

– You are more obstinate than the ancient Jews. I raised you up from the darkness of barbarianism to heavenly light, but once more you rush headlong towards the darkness, just as pigs rush headlong towards the mud. I shed my blood for you, I gave you My blood, when all the angels had turned away from you, for they could not bear your hellish stench. When you turned into darkness and stench, I alone rose up for you in order to enlighten and cleanse you. Return to me, otherwise you will once more find yourself in an unbearable stench and darkness.

But Europe smiles mockingly:

– Leave us. We do not know you. Greek philosophy and Roman culture are closer to us. We want freedom. We have universities. Science is our guiding star. Our motto is freedom, equality, brotherhood. Our reason is the god of gods. You are Asian, we renounce you. You are a mere fairy-tale told by our grandfathers and grandmothers.

Christ says with tears in His eyes:

– So, I will go away, but you will see and understand that you fell away from the path of God and took the path of the devil. Blessing and joy are taken from you. Your life and your death are in My hands, for I gave Myself up to crucifixion for you. But it is not I Who will punish you, your sins and your falling away from Me, your Saviour, will punish you. I showed the love of the Father for all people and wanted to save you all through love.

But Europe replies to this:

– What love? Sobriety and courageous hatred for all, who do not agree with us, this is our programme. Your love is a mere fable. We prefer nationalism and internationalism, the worship of science and culture, aesthetics, evolution and progress to your love. Our salvation is in these, but as for you, go away!

Oh my brothers, nowadays progress is complete. Christ has left Europe, as once before Christ left Gadara at the insistence of the Gadarenes. But as soon as He left, there started wars, misfortunes, horrors, destruction, annihilation. Pre-Christian barbarianism has returned to Europe, that of the Avars, the Huns, the Lombards, the Vandals, only nightmarishly multiplied a hundredfold. Christ has taken up His Cross and His blessing and left. Darkness and stench have spilled forth. So decide who you want to be with: with the darkness and stench of Europe, or with Christ. Amen.

 Retrieved From: http://www.orthodoxengland.org.uk

 

TROPARION TO ST. NIKOLAI Velimirovich

Tone 4

Thy righteous acts have revealed thee to thy flock
As a model of frith, a reflection of humility
And a teacher of abstinence, O  Father Bishop Nikolai;
Therefore, through humility thou hast obtained exaltation and through poverty, riches;
Pray to Christ God to save our souls.

ANOTHER TROPARION TO ST. NIKOLAI [3]

Tone 8

Loving thy homeland thou didst sojourn as a patriot to secure aid for God’s suffering children,
And as a new Chrysostom thou didst preach to those in darkness
The rediscovery of the Foundational Rock, Christ the Lord,
In the Eternal Homeland of God’s Kingdom.
Thy pastoral love for all, O Confessor Nikolai, was purified in captivity by the godless,
Demonstrating thy commitment to the truth and thy people;
Therefore, O  venerable Bishop, thou hast attained the crown of eternal life.

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(By Fr. Gheorghe Calciu, Washington D.C., Nov. 9, 1885) 

It is by God’s will that I stand before you today. Three months ago I was a prisoner of the communist regime in Romania, persecuted and watched together with my family by agents of the secret police, though I did nothing other than preach Jesus Christ in the church where I served. Two years ago I was in the Romanian prisons and the same agents endeavored to destroy me. There were many of them; I was alone and defenseless. There was no law to prevent them from committing such a crime; there were no moral principles to stop them. I had faith, they had force; then again, they had nothing because they did not have God. I had the love and spiritual help of my fellow man, praying for me throughout the world; they had nothing but their hate. And because this conflict was a spiritual one, they were defeated, in spite of all the material power on their side.
Three months have passed since I was forced to leave my country. I left behind a life of 60 years with all that encompasses: good deeds and mistakes, times of falling and rising up again, friends and enemies, and an enormous treasury of suffering which I value above all else because it is a suffering for Christ.   

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The beatitudes: fericirile-gl-i-de-macarie-ieromonahul-byzantion

For the Christian youth in Romania, as well as for the non-Christian, I became a symbol of suffering for Jesus Christ and a symbol of nonviolent resistance against the brutal communist ideology which violates a young person’s soul. Had I remained there and perhaps suffered martyrdom, it may have had greater impact, but it was God’s will that I come here to fulfill His plan for me which is being gradually revealed.

Death holds a certain fascination. It is like a deep precipice that at once attracts and repels you. It frightens you with physical destruction, but when death becomes intimate with you, when for years death has been your companion, it is difficult to resist its call. In the spring of ’81 I had a deep longing for a martyr’s death, but God did not grant it to me. During my confinement I was visited spiritually by Christ, by many of the saints of the Church and some of my deceased relatives–my mother in particular. They talked to me in spirit…comforting me in my sufferings and loneliness.
When translated into words these sufferings acquire a blend of remoteness, even fabrication, But when experienced with every fiber of my being, when I was encompassed only by walls and by the depressing malice of the guards–the only human faces I could see –had not God’s Grace surrounded me more so than at any time in freedom, I should have come to think that the world was made only of executioners and victims. Everything was intensely “hot” then: pain and faith. I had such a keen sensibility that not only the blows and insults caused me pain, but even the evil thoughts of my torturers.
 
 

When Daniel the Prophet was cast into the den of lions, God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and they did not hurt him because he was found blameless before them (Dan. 6:22). But God did not shut the mouths of his denouncers. When I was cast into the lions’ den–the communist prisons-God did not shut the mouths of the lions nor the mouths of my denouncers, but He took me out of there and preserved me…

During a period of over one hundred days, the administration of Aiud prison tried to kill me by hunger, by cold and by terror. This was begun at a time when Nicolae Ceausescu, the chief of the communist party in Romania, was traveling all over Europe attending merry banquets offered him by presidents, kings and queens of Europe. But nothing from these banquets reached poor Lazarus.

The triumphant reception of their president convinced the guards that Ceausescu was esteemed in the Free World and precious to Romania, and therefore, anyone who didn’t accept his decisions had to be killed. And I was one of those people. Their course of extermination started on July 20 and ended after November l, 1980. For ten days I was isolated in a windowless cell without air, with a jacket and a pair of pants both torn to pieces, without buttons, without a belt, and with food only once every days. In the evening a wooden board was lowered from the wall and I was allowed to rest for six hours. The remaining l8 hours I had to spend on the concrete floor of the cell. After ten days they put me back in my regular cell for two days, then isolated me again for another ten days. This game of death lasted more than one hundred days.

The guard assigned to me was the party secretary of the prison. Poisoned by communist indoctrination, he insulted me with such dirty and humiliating words that I preferred to be beaten rather than listen to his insults. Nothing was holy for him, no one was spared his insults–neither I nor my parents, nor my wife, nor my son, not my priesthood, not even God.

 

Twice a day I was walked to the restroom to empty the “tineta” (a wooden or clay bowl which served as a latrine bucket). Those walks were the worst torture I experienced. I was insulted, hit and sometimes pushed; it happened that the contents of the “tineta” spilled onto the concrete and I was then forced to clean it up with my bare hands.
 

During my internment I served the Holy Liturgy every Sunday and Church holiday. At first the guards insulted me and beat me to make me give it up. I held fast and at last they left me alone. To their way of thinking I was crazy, but my craziness was the kind spoken of by Saint Paul: “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent” (l Cor. l:l8-19).

 

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It was Sunday and I was isolated. It was one of the days without food and I couldn’t serve the Divine Liturgy because I had no bread. The Orthodox Liturgy is celebrated with bread and wine, and the central moment is then when the Holy Spirit descends and transforms bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ in a real though invisible way· From that moment our attitude towards the Holy Chalice is humble, loving and fearful, as inspired by the presence of the Saviour. In prison we had no wine, but we had bread and through necessity admitted by these extreme circumstances, my service was complete.

and through necessity admitted by these extreme circumstances, my service was complete.

On that Sunday I asked the Lord to help me forget my sadness at the impossibility of serving the Holy Liturgy for lack of bread. Nevertheless, a thought came to me: to ask the guard for some bread. The evil guard was on duty and I knew that my request would make him angry; he would insult me and he would ruin the peace I had in my soul for that holy day. But the thought persisted and grew so strong that I knocked on the iron door of the cell. A few minutes later the door was violently opened and the furious guard asked me what was the matter. I asked him for a piece of bread, no more than an ounce, for serving the Holy Liturgy. My request seemed absurd to him; it was so unexpected that his mouth dropped open in amazement. He left slamming the door as violently a s he had opened it. Many other hungry prisoners asked him for bread, but I was the first to ask for bread in order to serve the Divine Liturgy.

I regretted my impulse.

Twenty minutes later the door of my cell opened half-way and quietly the guard gave me the ration for a whole day: four ounces of bread. He shut the door as quietly as he had opened it· And if I had not been holding the bread I would have thought that it was all an illusion.

This was the most profound and most sublime Holy Sacrament I have ever experienced. The service was two hours long and the guard did not disturb or insult me as at other times; the entire duration of the isolation section was peaceful.

Later, after I had finished the Liturgy and the fragrance of the prayer was still in my cell, the door opened quietly and the guard whispered: “Father, don’t tell anyone I gave you bread, or you’ll ruin me.” “How could I tell this to anybody, mister first sergeant? You acted as an angel of God · ..because the bread you gave me became the Body of Christ. In so doing you served by my side, and your deed is now recorded in eternity. ‘

Without answering, he quietly shut the door, looking at me until the last moment. After that he never insulted me and during his eight hours of duty I had the most peaceful time of isolation.

 

 

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I have related this double aspect of my confinement–the suffering and the divine consolation-to make you understand that God secretly balances our lives. If we have God we shall never collapse from the pain of this world. During our most atrocious suffering we suddenly discover oases of light and sacred joy.

In his Diary, the Russian writer F.M. Dostoevsky wrote prophetically of what would happen in this century: “My people will descend to such depths that they will desecrate the holy altars with their bloody boots, with their blasphemous hands they will take the Holy Chalice with God’s Blood in it and will spit in it while they will kill the priest before the Holy Table and, dissatisfied with even this, they will crush the Chalice itself on the ground and fire shots into the Holy Blood, But then the triumphant Cross will rise and my people will return to God.” If the first part of this prophecy has been accomplished, why should the second part not be fulfilled? People that turned coat under the communist terror are coming back to faith, the youth are turning their eyes to Christ.

If the world oppresses us, then Jesus comforts us; if the earthly powers kill us, Jesus gives us the martyr’s crown; if the kings cast us into the lions’den, the Son of God shuts the mouths of the animals; if we are sad, our joy is Jesus. We are not alone and we are not deserted…

Suffering has many faces and it is very difficult to describe all of them here. I know an Orthodox priest, Fr. Gavrila Stefan, whose life is spent on Golgotha. He was defrocked in 197l. Ever since then he lives in poverty and terror along with his wife and eight children, the oldest of whom is 16. He was arrested and released several times and his only hope is Divine Pity. While I was in prison he visited my family several times, and after each visit the secret police arrested him because he was forbidden to enter Bucharest, On his last visit, shortly before I was released from prison, he told my wife a terrible thing: “Madam, three days ago I killed our last sheep.” This was in the summer of 1984 when his wife was in the eighth month of pregnancy. How are they living now? What is their new-born baby eating?

Where the pain is great, great also is the mercy of God, because God never gives a man more than he can carry.

In 1978, before the Feast of Pascha, I preached in the church to the youth. I delivered a series of sermons called “Seven Words to the Youth.” As a consequence my hierarchs, upon the order of the communist supreme authority–Nicolae Ceausescu–excluded me from the church and delivered me into the hands of the secret police. I was despondent and terrified at the very prospect of imprisonment and maybe death in prison. I went to my older sister who was then about 70 years old, a simple woman who has always been in contact with the wisdom of the Romanian soul. After I had finished complaining she said to me: “My dear, I’ll tell you a story from here. from the countryside. You are educated and you will understand its meaning.

“When God created the world He also created sorrow, suffering and trouble; and He laid them on a big stone and the stone broke; He laid them on a big tree and the tree withered; and finally He laid them on man and man carried them. And so will you, my brother, carry your sufferings.”

And so I did. The proof is that I’m here before you and told you this wise Romanian folktale.

 

 

Taken from a talk delivered by Fr. Gheorghe Calciu at a conference in Washington D.C. on Nov. 9, 1885 sponsored by CREED-the Christian

Relief Effort for the Emancipation of Dissidents-which was

instrumental in Fr. Gheorghe’s release. 

 

1.  Not of compulsion is the doctrine; of free-will is the word of life.  Whoso is willing to hear the doctrine, let him cleanse the field of his will that the good seed fall not among the thorns of vain enquirings.  If thou wouldst heed the word of life, cut thyself off from evil things; the hearing of the word profits nothing to the man that is busied with sins.  If thou willest to be good, love not dissolute customs.  First of all, trust in God, and then hearken thou to His law.

2.  Thou canst not hear His words, while thou dost not know thyself; and if thou keepest His judgments while thy understanding is aloof from Him, who will give thee thy reward?  Who will keep for thee thy recompense?  Thou wast baptised in His Name; confess His Name!  In the Persons and in the naming, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, three Names and Persons, these three shall be a wall to thee, against divisions and wranglings.  Doubt not thou of the truth, lest thou perish through the truth.  Thou wast baptised from the water; thou hast put on Christ in His naming; the seat of the Lord is on thy person and His stamp on thy forehead.  See that thou become not another’s, for other Lord hast thou none.  One is He Who formed us in His mercy; one is He Who redeemed us on His cross.  He it is Who guides our life; He it is Who has power over our feebleness; He it is Who brings to pass our Resurrection.  He rewards us according to our works.  Blessed is he that confesses Him, and hears and keeps His commandments!  Thou, O man, art a son of God Who is high over all.  See that thou vex not by thy works the Father Who is good and gracious.

3.  If thou art wroth against thy neighbour, thou art wroth against God; and if thou bearest anger in thy heart, against thy Lord is thy boldness uplifted.  If in envy thou rebukest, wicked is all thy reproof.  But if charity dwell in thee, thou hast on earth no enemy.  And if thou art a true son of peace, thou wilt stir up wrath in no man.  If thou art just and upright, thou wilt not do wrong to thy fellow.  And if thou lovest to be angry, be angry with the wicked and it will become thee; if to wage war thou seekest, lo! Satan is thy adversary; if thou desirest to revile, against the demons display thy curses.  If thou shouldst insult the King’s image, thou shalt pay the penalty of murder; and if thou revilest a man, thou revilest the image of God.  Do honour to thy neighbour, and lo! thou hast honoured God.  But if thou wouldst dishonour Him, in wrath assail thy neighbour!

4.  This is the first Commandment,—Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and thy soul, and with thy might according as thou art able.  The sign that thou lovest God, is this, that thou lovest thy fellow; and if thou hatest thy fellow, thy hatred is towards God.  For it is blasphemy if thou prayest prayest before God while thou art wroth.  For thy heart also convicts thee, that in vain thou multipliest words:  thy conscience rightly judges that in thy prayers thou profitest nought.  Christ as He hung on the height of the tree, interceded for His murderers; and thou (who art) dust, son of the clay, rage fills thee at its will.  Thou keepest anger against thy brother; and dost thou yet dare to pray?  Even he that stands on thy side, though he be not neighbour to thy sins, the taint of iniquity reaches unto him, and his petition is not heard.  Leave off rage and then pray; and unless thou wouldst further provoke, restrain anger and so shalt thou supplicate.  And if he (the other) is not to encounter thee in fury, banish rage from that body, because it is holden with lusts.

5.  Thou hast a spiritual nature; the soul is the image of the Creator; honour the image of God, by being in agreement with all men.  Remember death, and be not angry, that thy peace be not of constraint.  As long as thy life remains to thee, cleanse thy soul from wrath; for if it should go to Sheol with thee, thy road will be straight to Gehenna.  Keep not anger in thy heart; hold not fury in thy soul; thou hast not power over thy soul, save to do that which is good.  Thou art bought with the blood of God;  thou art redeemed by the passion of Christ; for thy sake He suffered death, that thou mightest die to thy sins.  His face endured spitting, that thou mightest not shrink from scorn.  Vinegar and gall did He drink, that thou mightest be set apart from wrath.  He received stripes on His body, that thou mightest not fear suffering.  If thou art in truth His servant, fear thy holy Lord; if thou art His true disciple, walk in thy Master’s footsteps.  Endure scorn from thy brother, that thou mayest be the companion of Christ.  Display not anger against man, that thou be not set apart from thy Redeemer.

6.  Thou art a man, the dust of the earth, clay, kinsman of the clod; thou art the son of the race of beasts.  If thou knowest not thy honour; separate thy soul from animals, by works and not by words.  If thou lovest derision, thou art altogether as Satan; and if thou mockest at thy fellow, thou art the mouth of the Devil; if against defects and flaws, in (injurious) names thou delightest, Satan is not in creation but his place thou hast seized by force.  Get thee far, O man, from this; for it is altogether hurtful; and if thou desirest to live well, sit not with the scorner, lest thou become the partner of his sin and of his punishment.  Hate mockery which is altogether (the cause of weeping), and mirth which is (the cause of) cleansing.  And if thou shouldst hear a mocker by chance, when thou art not desiring it, sign thyself with the cross of light, and hasten from thence like an antelope.  Where Satan lodges, Christ will in nowise dwell; a spacious dwelling for Satan is the man that mocks at his neighbour; a palace of the Enemy is the heart of the mocker.  Satan does not desire to add any other evil to it.  Mockery is sufficient for him to supply the place of all.  Neither his belly nor yet his purse can (the sinner) fill with that sin of his.  By his laughter is the wretch despoiled, and he knows not nor does he perceive it.  For his wound, there is no cure; for his sickness, there is no healing; his pain, admits no remedy; and his sore, endures no medicine.  I desire not with such a one to put forth my tongue to reprove him:  enough for him is his own shame; sufficient for him is his boldness.  Blessed is he that has not heard him; and blessed is he that has not known him.  Be it far from thee, O Church, that he should enter thee, that evil leaven of Satan!

7.  Narrow is the way of life, and broad the way of torment; prayer is able to bring a man to the house of the kingdom.  This is the perfect work; prayer that is pure from iniquity.  The righteousness of man is as nothing accounted.  The work of men, what is it?  His labour is altogether vanity. Of Thee, O Lord, of Thy grace it is that in our nature we should become good.  Of Thee is righteousness, that we from men should become righteous.  Of Thee is the mercy and favour, that we from the dust should become Thy image.  Give power to our will, that we be not sunk in sin!  Pour into our heart memory, that at every hour we may know Thy honour!  Plant Thou truth in our minds, that we perish not among doubts!  Occupy our understanding with Thy law, that it wander not in vain thoughts!  Order the motions of our members, that they bring no hurt upon us!  Draw thou near to God, that Satan may flee from thee.  Cast out passions from thy heart, and lo! thou hast put to flight the enemy.  Hate thou sins and wickedness, and Satan at once will have fled.  Whatsoever sins thou servest, thou art worshipping secret idols.  Whatsoever transgressions thou lovest, thou art serving demons in thy soul.  Whensoever thou strivest with thy brother, Satan abides in peace.  Whensoever thou enviest thy fellow, thou givest rest to Devils.  Whensoever thou tellest the shortcoming of others who are not present, thy tongue has made a harp for the music of the devil.  Whensoever hatred is in thy soul, great is the peace of the Deceiver.  Whensoever thou lovest incantations, thy labour is altogether of the left hand.  (I.e., such as fits for a place on Christ’s left hand, at the Judgment). If thou lovest unseemly discourse, thou preparest a feast for demons.  For this is the worship of idols, the working of the lusts (of the flesh).

8.  If so be thou givest a gift in pride, this is not of God.  If thou art lifted up by reason of thy knowledge, thou hast denied the grace of God.  If thou art poor and proud, lo! thy end is in thy torment.  If thou art haughty and needy, lo! thy need is toward thy destruction.  If thou art sick and criest out, lo! thy trouble is full of harm.  If thou art in need of food, yet thy mind longs for riches; thy distress is with the poor, but thy torment with the rich.  If thou shalt look unchastely, and shalt desire thy neighbour’s wife, lo! thy portion shall be with the adulterers, and thy hell with the fornicators.  Let thine own fountain be for thyself, and drink waters from thy well.  Let thy fountains be for thyself alone, and let not another drink with thee. Require purity of thy body as thou requirest of thy yoke-fellow.  Thou wouldst not have her commit lewdness, the wife of thy youth, with another man; commit not thou lewdness with another woman, the wife of a different husband.  Let the defilement of her be hateful in thine eyes; keep aloof from it altogether.  Chastity beseems the wife; purity is as her adornment; law becomes the husband; justice is the crown for his head.  Desire not thou the bed of thy neighbour lest another desire thy bed.  Preserve purity in thy marriage, that thy marriage may be holy.  His conscience reproves the man, who corrupts the wife of his neighbour.  He fears, and deceives through terror, whoso has engaged in fornication.  Darkness is dearer to him than light, whose manner of life is not pure.  Every hour he stands in dread, who commits adultery secretly.  The adulterer is also a thief who breaks into houses in darkness.  The very place reproves him, where he does the evil and wickedness.  He enters the chamber and sins; in the darkness he does his will.  The time will come when it shall be disclosed, when his secret deeds shall be manifested.  With what eyes dost thou look towards God in prayer?  What hands dost thou raise when thou askest pardon?  Be ashamed and dismayed for thyself, that thou art void of understanding.  If when thy neighbour see thee, thou art ashamed and dismayed, how much more shouldst thou be ashamed before God Who sees all?  Thou art like the sow, thy companion, that wallows altogether in mire.  Even in seeing, thou mayest sin, if thy mind is not watchful; and in hearing thou mayest transgress, if thou dost not guard thy hearing.  The fornicator’s heart waxes wanton through speech that is full of uncleanness. The passion hidden in the mind, sight and hearing awaken it.

ephrem_the_syrian

9.  He puts on garments of shame who desires to commit fornication, that from the lust of raiment, lewdness may enter and dwell in his heart.  Make thou not snares of thy garments for that which is openly wanton.  Speak not a word in craftiness, nor dig thy neighbour’s well.  Look not after the harlot; be not snared by the beauty of her face.  She is even as the dog that is mad, yea, much more bold than it.  Modesty is removed from her face, she knows not what shame is.  With spitting accept her person; with reviling meet herself; with a rod pursue her like a dog, for she is like one, and to be compared with such.  Reject the sweetness of her words lest thou fall into her net.  She empties purses and wallets, and her gains are without number.  Flee from her, for she is the daughter of vipers, that she tear not in pieces thy whole body.

10.  Thou shalt not slander any man, lest they call thee Satan.  If thou hatest the name, go not near to the act; but if thou lovest the act, be not angry at the name.  Count thyself rebuked first of all by the beasts and birds, how that every kind cleaves to its kind; and so agree thou with thy yokefellow.  Rejoice not in men’s dishonour, that thou become not a Satan thyself.  If evil should happen to him that hates thee, see thou rejoice not, lest thou sin.  If thine adversary should fall, be thou in pain and mourning.  Keep thy heart with all diligence, that it sin not in secret; for there is to be a laying bare of thoughts and of actions.  Employ thy hands in labour, and let thy heart meditate in prayer.  Love not vain discourse, for discourse that shall be profitable alike to the soul and the body lightens the burden of thy labour.

11.  Does the poor man cry at thy door?  Arise and open for him gladly:  refresh him when he is wearied; sustain his heart, for it is sad.  Thou knowest by experience the affliction of poverty:  receive not others in thy house, and drive not out the beggar.  Have thou also a law, a comely law for thy household.  Establish an order that is wise, that the abjects laugh not at thee.  Be careful in all thy doings, that thou be not a sport for fools; be upright and prudent, and both simple and wise. Let thy body be quiet and cheerful, thy greeting seemly and simple; thy discourse without fault, thy speech brief and savoury; thy words few and sound, full of savour and understanding.  Speak not overmuch, not even words that are wise; for all things that are over many, though they be wise are wearisome.—To them of thy household be as a father.  Amongst thy brethren esteem thyself least, and inferior amongst thy fellows, and of little account with all men.  With thy friend keep a secret; to those that love thee be true.  See that there be no wrangling; the secrets of thy friends reveal not, lest all that hear thee hate thee and esteem thee a mischiefmaker.  With those that hate thee wrangle not, neither face to face nor yet in thy heart.  No enemy shalt thou have but Satan his very self.  Give counsel to the wife thou hast wedded; give heed to her doings; as stronger thou art answerable that thou shouldst sustain her weakness.  For weak is womankind, and very ready to fall.  Be thou as a hawk, when kindled (to anger), but when wrath departs from thee, be gladsome and also firm, in the blending of diverse qualities.  Keep silence among the aged; to the elders give due honour. Honour the priests with diligence, as good stewards of the household.  Give due honour to their degree, and search not out their doings.  In his degree the priest is an angel, but in his doings a man.  By mercy he is made a mediator, between God and mankind.

12.  Search not out the faults of men; reveal not the sin of thy fellow; the shortcomings of thy neighbours, in speech of the mouth repeat not.  Thou art not judge in creation, thou hast not dominion over the earth.  If thou lovest righteousness, reprove thy soul and thyself.  Be thou judge unto thine own sins, and chastener of thy own transgressions.  Make thou not inquiry maliciously, into the misdeeds of men.  For if thou doest this, injuries will not be lacking to thee.  Trust not the hearing of the ear, for many are the deceivers.  Vain reports believe thou not, for false rumours are not few.

13.  Regard not spells and divinations, for that is communion with Satan.  Love not idle prating, not even in behalf of righteousness.  Discourse concerning thyself begin thou not, even in behalf of what is becoming.  Flee and hide thyself from wrangling, as from a violent robber.  See that thou be not a surety in a loan, lest thou sin.  According as thou hast, assist him, (even) the man that is poorer than thou.  Mock not the foolish man; pray that thou be not even as he.  Him that sins blame not, lest thou also be put to confusion.  To him that repents of his sins be a helper and counsellor, and encourage him that is able to rise.  Let him hold fast hope in God, and his sin shall be burned as stubble.  Visit the sick and be not wearied, that thou mayest be beloved of men.  Be familiar with the house of mourning, but a stranger to the house of feasting.  Be not constant in drinking wine, lest thy shortcomings multiply.  Cast a wall round thy lips, and set a guard upon thy mouth; endure suffering with thy neighbour and share also in his tribulation.  A good friend in tribulation is made known to him that loves him.  In charity follow the deceased, with sorrow and with offerings, and pray that he may have rest in the hidden place whither he is going.

14.  When thou standest in prayer, cry in thy soul:  Have mercy on me, I am a sinner and weak; be gracious, O God, to my weakness, and grant strength to me to pray a prayer that shall be pleasing to Thy Will.  “Punish Thou not mine enemies, take not vengeance on them that hate me; but grant them in Thy grace that they may become doers of Thy Will.”  At the time of prayer and petition, in contemplations such as these continue thou.  Bow thy head before the Mighty One.

15.  Do not thou resist evil, for he is evil from the Evil One, whoso resists evil Keep not back aught from any man, that if he perishes thou mayest not be blamed.  Change not thy respect for a man’s person, according to goods and possessions.  Make all things as though they were not and God alone were in being.  If thou shalt ask of thy neighbour and he shall not give thee according to thy wish, see that thou say not in anger a word that is full of bitterness.  Oppose not thou [fit] seasons, for many are the changes.  Put sorrow far from thy flesh, and sadness from thy thoughts; save only that for thy sins thou shouldst be constant in sadness.  Cease not from labour, not even though thou be rich, for the slothful man gains manifold guilt by his idleness.

16.  Be thou a lover of poverty, and be desirous of neediness.  If thou hast them both for thy portion, thou art an inheritor on high.  Despise not the voice of the poor and give him not cause to curse thee.  For if he curse whose palate is bitter, the Lord will hear his petition.  If his garments are foul, wash them in water, which freely is bought.  Has a poor man entered into thy house?  God has entered into thy house; God dwells within thy abode.  He, whom thou hast refreshed from his troubles, from troubles will deliver thee.  Hast thou washed the feet of the stranger?  Thou hast washed away the filth of thy sins.  Hast thou prepared a table before him?  Behold God eating at it], and Christ likewise drinking [at it], and the Holy Spirit resting [on it]:  Is the poor satisfied at thy table and refreshed?  Thou hast satisfied Christ thy Lord.  He is ready to be thy rewarder; in presence of angels and men He will confess thou hast fed His hunger; He will give thanks unto thee that thou didst give Him drink, and quench His thirst. O how gracious is the Lord!  O how measureless are His mercies!  Happy the race of mortals when God confesses it!  Woe to the soul which He denies!  Fire is stored up for its punishment.  Be of good cheer, my son, in hope; sow good [seedand faint not.  The husbandman sows in hope, and the merchant journeys in hope, thou also lovest good [seed]; in the hope look for the reward.  Do not thou aught at all without the beginning of prayer.  With the sign of the living cross, seal all thy doings, my son.  Go not forth from the door of thy house till thou hast signed the cross.  Whether in eating or in drinking, whether in sleeping or in waking, whether in thy house or on the road, or again in the season of leisure, neglect not this sign; for there is no guardian like it.  It shall be unto thee as a wall, in the forefront of all thy doings.  And teach this to thy children, that heedfully they be conformed to it.

18.  Yoke thyself under the law, that thou mayest be a freeman in very truth.  Work not the desire of thy soul apart from the law of God.  How many commandments must I write, and how many laws must I engrave; which, if thou desirest thy freedom, thou canst learn all from thyself?  And if thou lovest purity, thou wilt teach it to others also.  Let nature be thy book, and all creation thy tables; and learn from them the laws, and meditate things unwritten.  The sun in his course teaches thee that thou rest from labour.  The night in her silence cries to thee that a limit is set to thy works.  The earth and the fruit of the tree cry that there is a season for all things.  The seed thou sowest in the winter, in the summer thou gatherest its harvest.  Thus in the world sow seeds of righteousness, and in the Resurrection gather them in.  The bird in its daily gleaning reproves the covetous and his greed, and rebukes the extortion that grasps the store of others.  Death, the limit of all things, is itself the reprover of all things.

19.  Take thou refuge in God Who passes not away nor is changed.  Restrain laughter by suffering, and mirthfulness by sorrow.  Console suffering by hope, and sadness by expectation.  Believe and trust, thou that art wise, for God is He Who guides thee; and if His care leaves thee not, there is nothing that can harm thee.  If one man by another man, the lowly by the great, can be saved, how much more shall the refuge of God preserve the man that believes?  Fear not because of adversaries who with violence come upon thee.  He will watchfully guard thy soul, and hurtful things become profitable.  No one shall lead thee by compulsion, save only where there is freedom.  No one falls into temptation, that passes the measure of his strength.  There is no evil in chastisement, if so be that freedom is willing.  The doings are not perverse of freedom, its will is perverted.

20.  To men that are just and upright, temptations become helps.  Job, a man of discernment, was victorious in temptations.  Sickness came upon him, and he complained not; disease afflicted him and he murmured not; his body failed and his strength departed, but his will was not weakened.  He proved perfect in all by sufferings, for as much as temptations crushed him not.  Abraham was a stranger, from his place, his race [and his kindred].  But by this he was not harmed; nay rather he triumphed greatly.  So Joseph from the house of bondage was made to rule as king of Egypt.  They of the company of Ananias and Daniel delivered others from bondage.  See then, O thou that art wise, the power that freedom possesses; that nothing can injure it unless the will is weakened.  Israel with sumptuous living waxed fat, and kicked, and forgot his covenant.  He worshipped vain gods, and forgot the nature of his creation.  The bondage that was in Egypt he forgat in the repose of the desert. As often as he was afflicted, he acknowledged the Lord alone; but when he was dwelling in repose, he forgot God his Redeemer.  Seek thou not here repose, for this is a world of toil.  And if thou canst wisely discern, change thou not time for time; that which abides for that which abides not; that which ceases not for that which ceases; nor truth for lying; nor body for shadow; nor watching for slumber; nor that which is in season for that which is out of season; nor the Time for the times.  Collect thy mind, let it not wander among varieties which profit not.

21.  No one in creation is rich but he that fears God; no one is truly poor but he that lacks the truth.  How needy is he, and not rich, whose need witnesses against him that even from the abject and the beggars he needs to receive a gift.  He is truly a bondman, and many are his masters:  he renders service to money, to riches, and possessions.  His lords are void of mercy, for they grant him no repose.  Flee, and live in poverty; (as) a mother she pities her beloved.  Seek thou refuge in indigence, who nourishes her children with choice things; her yoke is light and pleasant, and sweet to the palate her memory.  The sick in conscience alone abhors the draught of poverty; the fainthearted dreads the yoke of indigence that is honourable.  Who has granted to Thee, Son of man, in the world to find repose?  Who has granted to thee, thing of dust, to be rich amidst poverty?  Be not thou through desires needy and looking to others.  Sufficient for thee is thy daily bread, that comes of the sweat of thy face.  Let this be (the measure of thy need, that which the day gives thee; and if thou findest for thyself a feast, take of it that which thou needest.  Thou shalt not take in a day (the provision) of days, for the belly keeps no treasure.  Praise and give thanks when thou art satisfied, that therein thou provoke not the Giver to anger.  In purity strengthen thyself, that thou mayest gain from it profit.  In everything give thanks and praise unto God as the Redeemer, that He may grant thee by His grace, that we may hear and do His Will.

Thou to whom I have given the counsel of life, be not thou negligent in it.  From that which is other men’s (doctrine) have I written to thee; see thou despise not their words.  And if I depart before thee, in thy prayer make mention of me.  In every season pray and beseech that our love may continue true.  But as for us, on behalf of these things let us offer up praise and honour to Father, to Son, and to Holy Spirit, now and for ever.  Amen.

 

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despondency, lust for power and idle talk.
(Prostration)

But grant unto me, Thy servant, a spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love.
(Prostration)

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see mine own faults and not to judge my brothers and sisters. For blessed art Thou unto ages of ages. Amen.
(Prostration)

O God, cleanse Thou me a sinner (12 times, with as many bows, and then again the whole prayer from the beginning throughout, and after that one great Prostration)

stephraimofsyria

St Life at: http://www.bishopantony.org/saints/StEphraimOfSyria.htm

  

St Ephraim the Syrian

 Spiritual Psalter, 120:     

“How Many Times Have I Promised,

Yet Every Time I Failed to Keep My Word.

But Disregard This According to Thy Grace.”

 

Grant forgiveness, O Lord, send also strength. Convert me, that I might live in sanctity, according to Thy holy will. Sanctify my heart that has become a den and dwelling-place of demons.

I am unworthy to ask forgiveness for myself, O Lord, for many times have I promised to repent and proved myself a liar by not fulfilling my promise. Thou hast picked me up many times already, but every time I freely chose to fall again.

Therefore I condemn myself and admit that I deserve all manner of punishment and torture. How many times hast Thou enlightened my darkened mind; yet every time I return again to base thoughts! My whole body trembles when I contemplate this; yet every time sinful sensuality reconquers me.

How shall I recount all the gifts of Thy grace, O Lord, that I the pitiful one have received? Yet I have reduced them all to nothing by my apathy — and I continue on in this manner. Thou has bestowed upon me thousands of gifts, yet miserable me, I offer in return things repulsive to Thee.

Yet Thou, O Lord, inasmuch as Thou containest a sea of longsuffering and an abyss of kindness, do not allow me to be felled as a fruitless fig tree; and do not let me be burned without having ripened on the field of life. Snatch me not away unprepared; seize not me who have not yet lit my lamp; take not away me who have no wedding garment; but, because Thou art good and the lover of mankind, have mercy on me. Give me time to repent, and place not my soul stripped naked before Thy terrible and unwavering throne as a pitiful spectacle of infamy.

If a righteous man can barely be saved, then where will I end up, I who am lawless and sinful? If the path that leads to life is strait and narrow, then how can I be vouchsafed such good things, I who live a life of luxury, indulging in my own pleasures and dissipation? But Thou, O Lord, my Saviour, Son of the true God, as Thou knowest and desirest it, by Thy grace alone, freely turn me away from the sin that abides in me and save me from ruin.

From A Spiritual Psalter by our Holy Father St Ephraim of Edessa, the Syrian; excerpted and arranged by Bishop Theophan the Recluse according to the manner of the psalter of the Old Testament. (The text presented here is of the 120th ‘Psalm’ in St Ephraim’s Spiritual Psalter).

 

 

 

 

 

   This day the Holy Church commemorates the victory of Orthodoxy over heresies and is why this day is also called the “Sunday of Orthodoxy”. The Synaxarion explains that the day celebrates “the restoration of the holy and venerable icons”, which happened in first half of the 9th century (in 842) “by the Emperor Michael (the Byzantine Emperor), the holy and blessed Empress Theodora (see page 80) and the Holy Methodius (see page 206), Patriarch of Constantinople”. This commemoration was established to celebrate the final victory of the Holy Church over the iconoclastic heresy. In the hymns for this day the Holy Church, glorifying the holy icons, and also its iconodule adherents and inspiring in us the obligation of venerating icons, sings: “A feast of joy and gladness is revealed to us today. For the teachings of the true Faith shines in all their glory, and the Church of Christ is bright with splendor, adorned with the holy icons which now have been restored; and God has granted to the faithful unity of mind.” “Now a pious brightness stretches over all, dispersing the flattery of the impious like a cloud, enlightening the hearts of the pious: come let us fall down with pious wisdom before the honorable icons of Christ worshipping in the Orthodox way”, “and with due honor let us venerate the holy icons of Christ, of the all pure Virgin and the saints, whether depicted on walls, on wooden panels or on holy vessels, rejecting the impious teaching of the heretics”. But in this way the Holy Church at the time of victory over the iconoclasts in the struggle against various heresies finally explained and defined in the canons of the Seventh Ecumenical Council the Orthodox Christian teaching that is now a celebrated event and is not called the celebration of iconolatry but the Triumph of Orthodoxy. It does not mean that after the 10th Century heresies would or could not appear any more; but it means that all following heresies, even though they were numerous and various, find their accusation and refutation in the definitions of the Seven Ecumenical Councils.

The victory of Orthodoxy in the Greek Church itself was first celebrated on the first Sunday of Great Lent, and thus the basis of the present Triumph of Orthodoxy is historical. Together with these things the Holy Church through the celebration of the present day means to grant great comfort to those who attend. This intention agrees with the rules of faith and piety and the ascetic effort of the fast. It sees in this action the proof of their living communion according to their faith and life, and finds in this the foundation for prayerful petition to God for them. After the end of the liturgy on this day it is necessary to serve the special Rite of Orthodoxy (see below), composed by St. Methodius. Again the restoration of honoring and venerating the holy and venerable icons was annually prescribed “from that time these holy confessors appointed the annual commemoration of this solemnity, so that we might never again fall into a similar ignominy” (see the Synaxarion).

 

Troparion, tone 2

 

We venerate Your immaculate image, gracious Lord,

As we beg You to forgive our transgressions.

For, in the flesh, Christ our God,

You voluntarily ascended the cross

In order to release Your creatures from enslavement by their Enemy.

Gratefully, then, we cry out to You, our Savior:

‘You filled all things with joy when You came to save the world!’

(tr.: Monk James Silver)

 

Kontakion, tone 8

 

 

 

See Also a video with Orthodox vespers:

 

Pan-Orthodox Vespers/Sunday of Orthodoxy

 

 

 

The indefinable Word of the Father was defined

when He became incarnate of you, O Theotokos.

And he reformed the image which had been stained at the beginning

when He joined it to His divine beauty.

And we profess this means of our salvation

As we portray it in our words and deeds.

(tr.: Monk James Silver)

 

 

S. V. Bulgakov, Handbook for Church Servers, 2nd ed., 1274 pp.

(Kharkov, 1900) pp. 511-515.Translated by Archpriest Eugene D. Tarry)

 

 

PROCLAMATION OF THE SYNODICON OF ORTHODOXY:

 

As the Prophets beheld, as the Apostles have taught, as the Church has received, as the Teachers have dogmatized, as the Universe has agreed, as Grace has shown forth, as Truth has revealed, as falsehood has been dissolved, as Wisdom has presented, as Christ has awarded, let us declare, let us assert, let us preach in like manner Christ our true God and honor His Saints in words, in writings, in thoughts, in deeds, in churches, in holy icons — worshiping Him as God and Lord and honoring them as His true servants of the master of all, and offering to them due veneration.

This is the Faith of the Apostles! This is the Faith of the Fathers! This is the Faith of the Orthodox! This is the Faith, which has established the Universe!

 

 

    st_20john20maximovich20serving20in20tunis20195220surrounded20by20the20uncreated20light                                                      

(By Archbishop John, the Pascha of Christ, 1956, Paris)

The doors of repentance are opening, Great Lent is beginning. Every year Great Lent is repeated, and each time it brings us great benefit if we spend it as we should. It is a preparation for the life to come and, more immediately, a preparation for the Bright Resurrection.

Just as a stairway is built into a tall building in order to enable one, by climbing the steps, to easily reach the top, so too, the various days in the year serve as steps for our spiritual ascent. This is especially true of the days of Great Lent and Holy Pascha.

        By means of Great Lent we cleanse ourselves of the filth of sin, and at Holy Pascha we experience the blessedness of Christ’s Kingdom that is to come. In climbing a high mountain, one tries to eliminate all unnecessary weight. The less a person carries, the easier it is for him to climb and the higher he is able to climb. So, too, in order to ascend spiritually, it is necessary first of all to free oneself from the weight of sin. This weight is lifted from us through repentance, provided that we banish from ourselves all enmity and forgive each person whom we consider to be at fault before us. Once cleansed and forgiven by God, we then greet the Bright Resurrection of Christ.

        And what a priceless gift of God we receive, at the culmination of our lenten struggle. We already hear about this in the first hymns of the daily lenten stichera: “Our food shall be the Lamb of God, on the holy and radiant night of His Awakening: the Victim offered for us, given in communion to the disciples on the evening of the Mystery.” (Aposticha sticheron, Sunday of the Last Judgment).

        Communing of the Body and Blood of the Risen Christ, unto life eternal — this is the aim of the holy Quadragesima [Forty Days]. Not only on Pascha do we commune, but during Lent also. On Pascha those people should commune who have fasted, confessed and received the Holy Mysteries during Great Lent. Just before Pascha itself there is little opportunity for a proper and thorough confession; the priests are very busy and most of the time occupied with the Passion services. Rather one must prepare ahead of time.

        Each time one receives the Mysteries of Christ, one is united with Christ Himself; each time it is a soul‑saving act. Why, then, is such significance attached to receiving Holy Communion on the night of Holy Pascha, and why are we all called to do so?

        Then, especially, we are given to experience the Kingdom of Christ. Then, especially, we are illumined with the Eternal Light and strengthened for the spiritual ascent.

        This is an irreplaceable gift of Christ, an incomparable good. Let no one deprive himself of this joy and, instead of receiving Holy Communion on Pascha night, hasten to eat meat and other foods. Communing of the Holy Mysteries on that night prepares us for the banquet in the eternal Kingdom of God.

(Translated into English by G. Spruksts from the Russian text appearing in Pravoslavnaya Rus‘” (Orthodox Rus’”), No. 7, 1996, p.5. English-language translations copyright (c) 1998 by The St. Stefan Of Perm’ Guild; The Russian Cultural Heritage Society). Retrieved from The Holy Protection Russian Orthodox Church web site, 2049 Argyle Ave. LA, CA). 
 

Day 4: Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians
Day 5: St. Ignatius of Antioch: Letter to the Ephesians

ignatius

LentFathers

(By Father George Calciu) 

 

pcalciu2

My will for you is to never cease praying. My hope of you is to understand that, if there is a protection extending over human society, over our country, this is the power of prayer. Do not execute a prayer of routine, but put your heart in motion, fill yourself with the shiver of prayer. I am convinced that many of you are praying; I too was praying, and believed – before they placed me in prison (see note) – that I knew how to pray. There, (in gulag), I discovered that I do not know how to pray. (…). If the shiver of faith does not penetrate you from the head to the soles of your feet, you are not in true prayer. It is not easy. But if you persist, the Lord will help you and grant you the grace of prayer. And this grace is only given as you ask it. The grace of prayer is gained through great effort and persistence. Our Savior had said: “From John the Baptist on, the Kingdom of Heaven is taken by force (conquest)!”  And this is “our conquest” – to ask with persistence for the grace that only the Lord can grant.

Now, Iwould like to address a word to the theologians and advise them: learn how to pray, so then you may teach others! As long as you do not know how to pray, it is in vain to say to your spiritual children “Pray!” When the priest will know how to pray, he will transmit this flow of  power to his spiritual child.

 

 

(Fragments from a speech given in Bucharest, 1998,  to ASCOR – Association of Christian Orthodox College Students of  Romania and  translated from Romanian by EC)    

 

Note: Fr. George Calciu reposed in 2006 at the age of 81, having spent unjustly more than a quarter of his life in the diabolic prisons of Communist Romania, only because he confessed the Christian faith. From these experiences in prison, he emerged as a witness to God’s love, forgiveness, and ability to resurrect man from the death of his soul.

Part of the Great Canon of St. Andrew, sang in Romanian language by Radu-Voda Monastery choir:

01_cantarea_i-protos_teofil
02_cantarea_a_ii-a-protos_nectarie
03_cantarea_a_iii-a-pc_aurel_mihai
04_cantarea_a_iv-a-ierom_policarp1
05_cantarea_a_v-a-protos_teofil
06_cantarea_a_vi-a-protos_nectarie
08_cantarea_a_vii-a-pc_aurel_mihai
09_cantarea_a_viii-a-ierom_policarp
10_cantarea_a_ix-a-protos_teofil

English text version:

On Tuesday of the First Week of Lent, during Great Compline, after Psalm 69, the Canon is sung. The Eirmosi are sung twice, at the beginning and end of each Song. Before each Troparion we make the sign of the Cross and bow three times.

Song 1. Tone 6.

Eirmos: He is my Helper and Protector, and has become my salvation. This is my God and I will glorify Him My father’s God and I will exalt Him. For gloriously has He been glorified. (Exodus 15:2, 1; Psalm 117:14)

Refrain: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

Troparia:

I have willfully incurred the guilt of Cain’s murder, since by invigorating my flesh I am the murderer of my soul’s awareness, and have warred against it by my evil deeds. (Genesis 4:8)

I have not resembled Abel’s righteousness, O Jesus. I have never offered Thee acceptable gifts, nor divine actions, nor a pure sacrifice, nor an unblemished life. (Genesis 4:4)

Like Cain, we too, O wretched soul, have likewise offered to the Creator of all foul deeds, defective sacrifice and a useless life. Therefore we too are condemned. (Genesis 4:5; Hebrews 11:4)

In molding my clay into life, O Potter, Thou didst put in me flesh and bones, breath and vitality. But, O my Creator, my Redeemer and Judge, accept me who repent. (Genesis 2:7; Jeremiah 18:1-10; Rom. 9:21)

I confess to Thee, O Savior, the sins I have committed, and the wounds of my body and soul which murderous thoughts like robbers within have inflicted upon me. (Luke 10:30)

I have sinned, O Savior, yet I know that Thou art the Lover of men. Thou strikest compassionately and pitiest warmly. Thou seest me weeping and runnest towards me as the Father recalling the Prodigal. (Luke 15:20)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: Superessential Trinity, adored in Unity, take from me the heavy yoke of sin, and in Thy compassion grant me tears of compunction.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokion: Mother of God, hope and intercessor of those who sing of thee, take from me the heavy yoke of sin, and as thou art our pure Lady, accept me who repent.

Song 2.

Eirmos: Attend, O heaven, and I will speak, and will sing of Christ who came to dwell among us in flesh which He took from the Virgin.

Refrain: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

Troparia:

Sin which stripped me of my former God-woven clothing has also sewn on me coats of skin. (Genesis 3:21)

I am wrapped in a garment of shame as with fig leaves, in reproof of my selfish passions.

I am clad in a coat that is spotted and shamefully blood-stained by the flow of my passionate and pleasure-loving life.

I fell under the burden of passions and corruption of matter, and from then until now I am oppressed by the enemy.

Having preferred a possessive and pleasure-loving life to spiritual poverty, O Savior, I am now harnessed with a heavy yoke. (Matthew 5:3)

I have adorned the idol of my flesh with the many-colored clothing of shameful thoughts, and I am condemned. (1 John 5:21)

I have been anxiously concerned only about outward adornment, and have neglected the inner temple made in the image of God. (I Peter 3:3-4)

I have buried with passions the beauty of the original image, O Savior. But seek and find it, like the lost coin. (Luke 15:8)

Like the harlot I cry to Thee: I have sinned, I alone have sinned against Thee. Accept my tears also, O Savior, as perfume. (Luke 7:37-50)

Like the publican I cry to Thee: Be merciful, O Savior, be merciful to me; for no child of Adam has sinned as I against Thee. (Luke 18:13)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: One in three Persons I praise Thee, O God of all, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokion: Spotless Mother of God, only all-hymned Virgin, pray intensely that we may be saved.

Song 3.

Eirmos: Establish, O Lord, my unstable heart on the rock of Thy commandments, for Thou only art Holy and Lord.

Refrain: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

Troparia:

In Thee the Conqueror of death, I have found the Source of Life, and from my heart I cry to Thee before my end: I have sinned, be merciful, save me.

I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned against Thee. Be merciful to me. For there is no one who has sinned among men whom I have not surpassed by my sins.

I have imitated those who were licentious in Noah’s time, and I have earned a share in their condemnation of drowning in the flood. (Genesis 6)

You have imitated Ham, that spurner of his father, my soul. You have not concealed your neighbor’s shame by returning to him looking backwards. (Genesis 9:20 27)

Run, my soul, like Lot from the fire of sin; run from Sodom and Gomorrah; run from the flame of every irrational desire. (Genesis 19)

Have mercy, O Lord, have mercy on me, I implore Thee, when Thou comest with Thy Angels to requite us all as our actions deserve.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: Simple, uncreated Unity, unoriginate Nature praised in a Trinity of Persons, save us who with faith worship Thy power.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokion: O Mother of God, unwedded thou gavest birth in time to the timeless Son of the Father. And – O strange wonder! – thou remainest a Virgin while suckling Him.

Song 4.

Eirmos: The Prophet heard of Thy coming, O Lord, and was afraid that Thou wast to be born of a Virgin and appear to men, and he said, “I have heard the report of Thee and am afraid.” Glory to Thy power, O Lord. (Habbakuk 3:2)

Refrain: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

Troparia:

Watch, my soul! Be courageous like the great Patriarchs, that you may acquire activity and awareness, and be a mind that sees God, and may reach in contemplation the innermost darkness, and be a great trader. (Genesis 32:28; Luke 19:13-15)

The great Patriarch, by begetting the twelve Patriarchs, mystically set up for you, my soul, a ladder of active ascent, having wisely offered his children as rungs, and his steps as ascents.

You have emulated the hated Esau, my soul, and have given up your birthright of pristine beauty to your supplanter, and you have lost your father’s blessing, and have been tripped up twice in action and knowledge. Therefore, O wretch, repent now. (Genesis 25:31; 27:37)

Esau was called Edom for his extreme passion of madness for women. For ever burning with incontinence and stained with pleasures, he was named Edom which means a red-hot sin-loving soul. (Genesis 25:30)

Have you heard of Job who was made holy on a dunghill, O my soul? You have not emulated his courage, nor had his firmness of purpose in all you have learned or known, or in your temptations, but you have proved unpersevering. (Job 1)

He who was formerly on a throne is now naked on a dunghill and covered with sores. He who had many children and was much admired is suddenly childless and homeless. Yet he regarded the dunghill as a palace and his sores as pearls. (Job 2:7-8)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: I confess Thee to be undivided in essence, unconfused in persons, One Triune Divinity, co-enthroned and co-reigning. I sing Thee the great song thrice sung on high.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokion: Thou givest birth and livest a virgin life, and in both remainest a virgin by nature. He Who is born of thee renews the laws of nature, and a womb gives birth without travail. Where God wills, the order of nature is overruled; for He does whatever He wishes.

Song 5.

Eirmos: Out of the night watching early for Thee, enlighten me, I pray, O Lover of men, and guide even me in Thy commandments, and teach me, O Savior, to do Thy will.

Refrain: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

Troparia:

You have heard, my soul, of Moses’ ark of old, borne on the waters and waves of the river as in a shrine, which escaped the bitter tragedy of Pharaoh’s edict. (Exodus 1:22 – 2:3)

If you have heard of the midwives, wretched soul, who of old killed in infancy the manly issue and practice of chastity, then like the great Moses, suck wisdom. (Exodus 1:16 – 2:9; Acts 7:22)

You, wretched soul, have not struck and killed your Egyptian mind, like great Moses. Say, then, how will you dwell in that desert solitude where the passions desert you through repentance? (Exodus 2:12)

Great Moses dwelt in the wilds, my soul. So go and imitate his life, that you too may attain by contemplation to the vision of God in the bush. (Exodus 3:1)

Imagine Moses’ staff striking the sea and fixing the deep as a type of the divine Cross, by which you too, my soul, can accomplish great things. (Exodus 14:16)

Aaron offered to God the fire pure and undefiled; but Hophni and Phinehas, like you, my soul, offered to God a foul and rebellious life. (Leviticus 9:21-24; I Kings 2:12-34)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: Thee, O Trinity, we glorify, the one God: Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou, Father, Son and Spirit, simple Being, Unity ever adored.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokion: From thee, O pure maiden Mother and Virgin, God Who created the worlds and ages was clad in my clay and united to Himself human nature.

Song 6.

Eirmos: I cried with my whole heart to the merciful God, and He heard me from the lowest hell and raised my life out of corruption.

Refrain: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

Troparia:

The waves of my sins, O Savior, as in the Red Sea recoiled and covered me unawares, like the Egyptians of old and their charioteers. (Exodus 14:7-31)

Like Israel of old, my soul, you have had a foolish affection. For like a brute you have preferred to divine manna the pleasure-loving gluttony of the passions. (Numbers 21; 5: I Corinthians 10: 9)

The wells of Canaanite thoughts, my soul, you have prized above the Rock with the cleft from which the river of wisdom like a chalice pours forth streams of theology. (Genesis 21:25; Exodus 17:6)

Swine’s flesh and hotpots and Egyptian food you, my soul, have preferred to heavenly manna, as of old the senseless people in the wilderness. (Exodus 16:3; Numbers 11:4-7)

When Thy servant Moses struck the rock with his staff, he mystically typified Thy life-giving side, O Savior, from which we all draw the water of life. (Numbers 20:11; I Corinthians 10:4)

Explore and spy out the Land of Promise like Joshua the Son of Nun, my soul, and see what it is like, and settle in it by observing the laws. (Josh. 2)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: I am the Trinity, simple and undivided, divided Personally, and I am the Unity, united in nature, says the Father, the Son, and the Divine Spirit.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokion: Thy womb bore God for us Who took our form. Implore Him as the Creator of all, O Mother of God that through thy intercessions we may be justified.

Kontakion, tone 6:

My soul, my soul, arise! Why are you sleeping? The end is drawing near, and you will be confounded. Awake, then, and, be watchful, that Christ our God may spare you, Who is everywhere present and fills all things.

Song 7.

Eirmos: We have sinned, transgressed, done wrong before Thee, we have not watched or done as Thou hast commanded us. But do not give us up utterly, O God of our Fathers.

Refrain: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

Troparia:

When the Ark was being carried on a wagon, and when one of the oxen slipped, Uzzah only touched it and experienced the wrath of God. But avoid, my soul, his presumption and truly reverence divine things. (II Kings 6:6)

You have heard of Absalom, how he rose against nature. You know his accursed deeds and how he insulted the bed of his father David. But you have imitated his passionate and pleasure-loving cravings. (II Kings 15; 16:21)

You have enslaved your free dignity to your body, my soul, for you have found in satan another Ahitophel and have consented to his counsels. But Christ Himself scattered them, that you may at all events be saved. (II Kings 16:20)

Wonderful Solomon, who was full of the grace of wisdom, at one time did evil in God’s sight and fell away from Him. And you, my soul, have resembled him by your accursed life. (III Kings 11; Ecclus. 47:12-20)

Carried away by the pleasure of his passions, he defiled himself. Alas, the lover of wisdom is a lover of loose women and estranged from God! And you, my soul, have in mind imitated him by your shameful pleasures. (III Kings 3:12; 11:4-12)

You, my soul, have rivaled Rehoboam who would not listen to his father’s advisors, and that vicious slave Jeroboam the apostate of old. But shun such mimicry and cry to God: I have sinned, have compassion on me. (III Kings 12:13-20)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: O Trinity simple and undivided, of one essence and one nature, Lights and Light, three Holies and one Holy, God the Trinity is hymned. But sing, my soul, and glorify the Life and Lives, the God of all.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokion: We sing of thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, O Mother of God, for thou gavest birth to one of the inseparable Trinity, the one Son and God, and to us on earth thou hast opened the heavenly realms.

Song 8.

Eirmos: Him Whom the heavenly hosts glorify and before Whom Cherubim and Seraphim tremble, let every breath, and all creation praise, bless and exalt throughout all ages.

Refrain: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

Troparia:

Having emulated Uzziah, my soul, you have his leprosy in you doubled. For you think disgusting thoughts and do outrageous things. Let go of what you are holding and run to repentance. (IV Kings 15:5; II Chronicles 26:19)

Have you heard, my soul, of the Ninevites, who repented before God in sackcloth and ashes? You have not imitated them, but appear to be more crooked than all who have sinned before and after the law. (Jonah 3:5)

You have heard of Jeremiah in the mud pit, my soul, how he cried out with lamentations against the City of Zion, and was seeking tears. Imitate his life of lamentation and you will be saved. (Jeremiah 38:6)

Jonah fled to Tarshish, foreseeing the conversion of the Ninevites; for, being a Prophet, he was aware of God’s compassion, and was anxious that his prophecy should not prove false. (Jonah 1:3)

You have heard, my soul, of Daniel in the lion’s den. and how he shut the beasts’ mouths. You know how the Children who were with Azariah extinguished the flames of the burning furnace by faith. (Dan. 6:16-22; 3:23)

I have reviewed all the people of the Old Testament as examples for you, my soul. Imitate the God-loving deeds of the righteous and shun the sins of the wicked.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: Eternal Father, co-eternal Son, gracious Comforter, Spirit of Truth; Father of the Divine Word, Word of the Eternal Father, living and creative Spirit, Trinity Unity, have mercy on us.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokion: As from scarlet silk, O spotless Virgin, within thy womb the spiritual purple was woven, the flesh Of Emmanuel. Therefore we honor thee as in truth Mother of God.

Song 9.

Eirmos: Ineffable is the childbearing of a seedless conception, unsullied the pregnancy of a Virgin Mother, for the birth of God renews natures. So in all generations we magnify thee in orthodox fashion as the Mother and Bride of God.

Refrain: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.

Troparia:

Christ was tempted, the devil was tempting Him, showing Him stones to be turned into bread; and he led Him up a mountain to see all the kingdoms of the world in a flash. Dread, my soul, the scene; watch and pray at every hour to God. (Matthew 4:3-9; 26:41)

The desert-loving dove, the lamp of Christ, the Voice crying in the wilderness sounded, preaching repentance; while Herod sinned with Herodias. See, my soul, that you are not caught in the toils of sin, but embrace repentance. (Mark 1:3; Matthew 14:3)

The Forerunner of grace dwelt in the desert and all Judea and Samaria ran to hear him; and they confessed their sins, and eagerly received baptism. But you, my soul, have not imitated them. (Matthew 3:5-6)

Marriage is honourable and the bed undefiled, for Christ earlier blessed both, eating in His flesh at the marriage in Cana and changing water into wine, and showing His first miracle so that you, my soul, might be changed. (Hebrews 13:4; John 2:1-11)

Christ braced the paralytic and he carried his bed; He raised up the dead young man, the son of the widow, and the Centurion’s servant; and by revealing Himself to the Samaritan woman, He traced in advance for you, my soul, how to worship in spirit. (Matthew 9:2-7; Luke 7:14; Matthew 8:6-13; John 4:26; Josh. 4:24)

The Lord healed the woman with hemorrhage by the touch of His hem, cleansed lepers, gave sight to the blind, and cured cripples; the deaf and the dumb and the woman bent earthward he healed with His word, that you, wretched soul, might be saved. (Matthew 9:20-22; 10:8; 11:5; Luke 13:11-13)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

To The Trinity: Let us glorify the Father, exalt the Son, and faithfully worship the Divine Spirit, inseparable Trinity, Unity in essence, as the Light and Lights, the Life and Lives, giving life and light to the ends of the earth.

Now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokion: Protect thy city, spotless Mother of God, for in thee it faithfully reigns, and in thee is made strong, and through thee it conquers and routs every trial and temptation, and spoils its foes and rules its subjects.

Refrain: Holy father Andrew, pray for us.

To St. Andrew of Crete: Venerable Andrew, thrice-blessed father, shepherd of Crete, cease not to pray to God for those who sing of thee, that He may deliver from anger, oppression, corruption and our countless sins, all of us who faithfully honor thy memory .

And again the Eirmos:

Ineffable is the childbearing of a seedless conception, unsullied the pregnancy of a Virgin Mother, for the birth of God renews natures. So in all generations we magnify thee in orthodox fashion as Mother and Bride of God.

This kind can come out by nothing, but prayer and fasting” (St. Mark 9:29).

thumbThis is the saving prescription of the greatest Physician of human souls. This is the remedy tried and proved. Another remedy for lunacy, there is not. What kind of sickness is that? That is the presence and dominance of an evil spirit in a man, a dangerous evil spirit who labors to eventually destroy the body and soul of man. The boy whom our Lord freed from an evil spirit; this evil spirit that had hurled him at times in the fire, at times in the water just in order to destroy him.

As long as a man only philosophizes about God he is weak and completely helpless against the evil spirit. The evil spirit ridicules the feeble sophistry of the world. But, as soon as a man begins to fast and to pray to God, the evil spirit becomes filled with indescribable fear. In no way can the evil spirit tolerate the aroma of prayer and fasting. The sweet-smelling aroma chokes him and weakens him to utter exhaustion. In a man who only philosophizes about faith, there is spacious room in him for the demons. But in a man who sincerely begins to pray to God and to fast with patience and hope, for the demon it becomes narrow and constricted and he must flee from such a man. Against certain bodily ills there exists only one remedy. Against the greatest ill of the soul, demonism, there exists two remedies, which must be utilized at one and the same time:

St. Nikolai Velimirovich – Prayers By the Lake

The  video bellow  contains text from Prayers by the Lake by St. Nikolai of Zicha,  a contemporary Serbian saint. May God grant our hearts to hear them.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QF5qeVfdavY&eurl=http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/st-nikolai-velimirovich-prayers-by-the-lake/

 The complete Prayers by the Lake at: http://www.sv-luka.org/praylake/index.htm

 

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