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March 11, 2015 + Grace and Works

"No good works are accomplished by our efforts alone but by the power and will of God. Nevertheless, God demands effort on our part in conforming to His will." These are the words of Saints Barsanuphius and John. Few words but much said. We are obliged to labor, to cultivate and to prepare every good thing, and if some good will take root, grow and bring forth fruit, that is up to the power and will of God. We plow the furrows and God sows, if He wills it. We cleanse the vessels of the Spirit and God pours the Spirit into these vessels, if He wills it. He can do anything if He wills it. And He will do everything that responds to the highest wisdom and suitability, that is, to His plan of man's salvation. In interpreting the words of our Lord, "So be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves" (St. Matthew 10:16), St. John Chrysostom writes that our Lord gave this commandment to His disciples that "they themselves should cooperate in some way, so that it will not to appear that all effort is of Grace alone and for them not to think that they received the wreaths of glory for nothing." And so, both of them are indispensable for our salvation: our effort and the power of God's Grace.

St. Nikolai Velimirovich, The Prologue of Ohrid: Lives of the Saints, March 11th

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St. Sophronius the Patriarch of Jerusalem

Troparion, Tone 5

Patriarch Sophronius, you were glorious in the splendor of sobriety and through the radiance of your words you revealed ineffable enlightenment from heaven. For by your life you attained wisdom and now you confirm the Church as an illustrious hierarch and intercessor for us with the Lord.

Kontakion, Tone 8

You were most wise among patriarchs, Sophronius of Jerusalem. You struggled with divine zeal, spreading the commandments of truth with your lips. You set right the foundations of the Church and firmly established the monastic order. You brought to light wise sermons, and instructed by them, therefore we cry out to you: "Rejoice, splendid boast of the Orthodox."