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July 22, 2015 + On Grace: Part 2

A Homily by St. Luke, Archbishop of Crimea

Is it sufficient for us to receive grace once from God, which sanctifies us in the great Sacrament of Baptism? No, it is not sufficient, not at all, we need much, much more. Know that for a virtuous life, to gain Christian virtues, to follow the thorny path of Christ, one must constantly receive God's grace. Only sanctified by grace can we traverse the hard, thorny path, full of suffering, after Christ. We must learn to trust God, love Christ, and remember always His holy words: I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit ... Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing (Jn. 15:1-2; 4-5).

Remember these words well: without me ye can do nothing. If you do not abide in the love of Christ, if you are not fed by the juices from the root of the Divine Vine, then you cannot perform any good, and you shall remain alone in your feebleness, in your wretchedness. Everything that is done in you by the grace of God is done by the Father Himself through Jesus Christ: He alone will confirm you in all your good deeds, and without Him you can do nothing.

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Cor. 3:16). Do you not know that it is only when you become a pure temple of God that the Holy Spirit will dwell in you? If you do everything good and pure with all your might, then you shall bear fruit of righteousness, fruit of goodness and holiness. Pray to God every day: "Our Father ... lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One." Are we not delivered from the Evil One with the help of the Father? Must we not ask for God's help of grace to deliver us from all the snare of the Devil? And how often you hear at every divine service the holy words of the Litany: "Protect us, save us, have mercy upon us, and preserve us, O God, by Thy grace," "That we may spend the rest of our days in peace and repentance, we beseech Thee, O Lord." We repeat these petitions so often because we cannot take a single good step without God. And when we receive God's grace should we not thank Him for this with all our hearts? Should we not thank the Father Who sent the Holy Spirit and our Redeemer and Savior the Lord Jesus Christ, Who with His Blood opened the inexhaustible fountain of Divine Grace?

Oh, how grateful we should be! Oh, how thankful we must be for all and everything—for the good and the evil; for the joy and the sorrow; and for the suffering and trials we must be grateful to God Who leads us along the path of salvation, not only by way of happiness, but above all and most of all by way of suffering.

May the Lord give you the abundant grace of His Holy Spirit and may He fill your hearts with meekness and filial gratitude to Him for the Blood of our Savior. Amen.

From www.pravoslavie.ru/english/79715.htm, accessed July 10th, 2015.

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Myrrhbearer and Equal of the Apostles Mary Magdalene

Troparion, Tone 1

By keeping His commandments and laws, holy Mary Magdalene, you followed Christ, Who for our sake was born of the Virgin, and in celebrating your most holy memory today, we receive forgiveness of sins by your prayers.

Kontakion, Tone 4
Podoben: "Today the Virgin..."

Standing before the Cross of the Savior, suffering with the Mother of the Lord, the most glorious Mary Magdalene offered praise with tears. She cried out: "What is this strange wonder? He Who holds the whole creation in His hand chooses to suffer. Glory to Your power, O Lord."