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July 8, 2015 + Earthly and Heavenly Beatitude

by St. John of Kronstadt

... There is no other path to beatitude, as Christ says Himself: I am the way the truth and the life: no one comes unto the Father, but by Me (Jn. 14:6). I am the door: by me if any one enter in, he shall be saved (Jn. 10:9).

How each of us thirsts for beatitude! How everyone fears and fleas sorrows and sicknesses! Unfortunately, however, we want and seek beatitude on earth, where it cannot be found, and not in heaven, where it abides unto the ages. We fear and flee sorrows and sicknesses, but they are, if not actually necessary, then at least useful for us, because they heal the immortal soul which is ailing from many various passions. What beatitude can there be in exile or in prison? After all, this is our state. All of us have been exiled from paradise for our sins into this world as if into a prison.

... Yes, God did leave us some innocent comforts in this world to relieve our wanderer's path and our sorrows. But we must use these consolations in great moderation and not cleave unto them in any way. Instead, we must strive all the harder to attain the beatitude promised us through the narrow path of toil, vigil, prayers, restraint, purity, and every virtue, which is impossible to pursue successfully without great sorrows and temptations. Our true, full, and everlasting beatitude is in Heaven, where the all-blessed God dwells in unapproachable lights, where dwells Hierarchs, Martyrs, Monastics, Righteous, and all the Saints, where the Queen of Heaven and Earth, the Most Holy Mother of God, rules together with Her Son. The beatitude we can find here is earthly, fleshly, ephemeral, fleeting as a dream; it is often coarse and impure as well. Only true virtue can be a foretaste of heavenly beatitude here on earth.

Matthew 5: 3-11 : 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

Ten Homilies on the Beatitudes, translated by N. Kizenko-Frgier. Cornerstone Editions, Albany, 2003. pp. 19-22.

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Icon of the Mother of God "Our Lady of Sitka"

Troparion, Tone 4

Today, like the morning sun rising over us, your all-honored icon enlightens the world with rays of mercy and our land reverently receives it as a divine gift from on high, glorifying you, O Birthgiver of God, Our Lady of Sitka, with joy magnifying Christ our God Who was born of you. Pray to Him O Lady Mary, Queen and Theotokos that all cities and lands be protected from our enemies, and that they will be saved who in faith venerate your most pure icon that has come to dwell with us, O Virgin Mother, who shows us the way to Christ.

Kontakion, Tone 8

O Mother of God, chosen from all generations to be the protectress of the Christian people; we offer you songs of thanksgiving for your wonderworking Icon that has come to Alaska. You are a fountain of mercy and help all who seek refuge in you. Defend us in all afflictions, necessities and tribulations that we may cry to you: Rejoice, zealous defender of the Orthodox faithful in America.