TUESDAY THE TWENTY-FIFTH OF SEPTEMBER, 2018
* Sergius of Radonezh *
O Christ, you came so that we might have life, and have it more abundantly, grant us, throughout this day, power in our love, strength in our humility, purity in our zeal, kindness in our laughter and your peace in our hearts at all times. Amen.
( J. L. Cowie )
You that have spent the silent night in sleep and quiet rest,
and joy to see the cheerful light that rises in the east,
now clear your voice, now cheer your heart, come, help me now to sing;
each willing spirit, come bear a part, to praise the heavenly King.
And you who care in prison keeps or sickness does suppress,
or secret sorrow breaks your sleeps or dolours to distress:
yet bear a part in humble wise, yes, think it good accord,
and full and fitting sacrifice each soul to praise the Lord.
Unto his joys for to attain God grant us all his grace,
and send us after worldly pain in Heaven to have a place;
where we may still enjoy that light which never shall decay:
Lord, for your mercy, lend us might to see that joyful day.
( George Gascoigne c.1525–1577 )
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Sergius of Radonezh: hermit, monk, and patriot
Today Saint Laika’s remembers Sergius, a national hero and patron saint of Russia. Sergius was born around 1314, the son of a farmer. When he was twenty, he and his brother began to live as hermits in a forest near Moscow. Others joined them in what became the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, a centre for the renewal of Russian Christianity. Pilgrims came from all Russia to worship and to receive spiritual instruction, advice, and encouragement.
After years of civil strife, Russians were at the time largely subservient to the neighbouring (non-Christian) Tatar (or Tartar) people. Prince Dmitri Donskoi could not decide whether to advance against them or not. Sergius encouraged him, prayed for him, and blessed him. Dmitri set off and conquered the Tartar people, setting Russia free. No historical picture or sculpture in Russia is more frequent than that which represents the youthful warrior receiving the benediction of the aged hermit.
Sergius was a gentle man, of winning personality. Stories told of him resemble those of Francis of Assisi, including some that show that animals tended to trust him. He had the ability to inspire in men an intense awareness of the love of God, and a readiness to respond in love and obedience. He remained close to his peasant roots.
One contemporary said of him, "He has about him the smell of fir forests."
To this day, the effect of his personality on Russian devotion remains considerable.
He died on this day in 1392.
Scripture. In the second chapter of "The First Epistle of John," verses fifteen and seventeen, we read:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. The world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.
... for peace in the world.
... for Christian monks, nuns and solitaries.
... for the Christians of Russia.
... for the people of Russia, that they may become free from tyranny.
... for those who have died recently and for those who mourn their passing.
... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.
... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
... for ourselves.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
From "On Forgiveness" by C. S. Lewis:
I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality (unless I watch myself very carefully) asking him to do something quite different. I am asking him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing.
Forgiveness says “Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology; I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.”
But excusing says “I see that you couldn’t help it or didn’t mean it; you weren’t really to blame.”
If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive. In that sense forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites. Of course, in dozens of cases, either between God and man or between one man and another, there may be a mixture of the two. Part of what seemed at first to be the sins turns out to be really nobody’s fault and is excused; the bit that is left over is forgiven. But the trouble is that what we call “asking God’s forgiveness” very often really consists in asking God to accept our excuses. What leads us into this mistake is the fact that there usually is some amount of excuse, some “extenuating circumstances.” We are so very anxious to point these out to God (and to ourselves) that we are apt to forget the really important thing; that is, the bit left over, the bit which the excuses don’t cover, the bit which is inexcusable but not, thank God, unforgivable. And if we forget this, we shall go away imagining that we have repented and been forgiven when all that has really happened is that we have satisfied ourselves with our own excuses. They may be very bad excuses; we are all too easily satisfied about ourselves.
There are two remedies for this danger. One is to remember that God knows all the real excuses very much better than we do. If there are real “extenuating circumstances” there is no fear that he will overlook them. Often he must know many excuses that we have never thought of and therefore humble souls will, after death, have the delightful surprise of discovering that on certain occasions they sinned much less than they had thought. All the real excusing he will do. What we have got to take to him is the inexcusable bit, the sin. We are only wasting time by talking about all the parts which can (we think) be excused. When you go to a doctor you show him the bit of you that is wrong, say, a broken arm. It would be a mere waste of time to keep on explaining that your legs and eyes and throat are all right. You may be mistaken in thinking so, and anyway, if they are really all right, the doctor will know that.
The second remedy is really and truly to believe in the forgiveness of sins. A great deal of our anxiety to make excuses comes from not really believing in it, from thinking that God will not take us to himself again unless he is satisfied that some sort of case can be made out in our favour. But that would not be forgiveness at all. Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it. That, and only that, is forgiveness, and that we can always have from God if we ask for it.
Almighty God, deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion of your servant Sergius of Moscow, may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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