St Christopher of Palestine – Guarding our journey

20130912_princenevsky_sqIn the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, let us remember the Venerable Christopher of Palestine, and St Alexander Nevsky. St Christopher and St Alexei, pray for us!

In the history of Christianity, we remember that the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church – the Orthodox Church, has withstood the test of time, and will persist till the end (St Matthew 16:18). The Holy Prince Alexander Nevsky, and in monastic schema Alexei, defended Orthodoxy when Russia was attacked by the Swedes in 1210, and affirmed this, “God is not in might but in Truth. Some trust in princes and some in horses, but we call upon the Lord our God.” We remember the translation of the relics of the holy prince today.

St Christopher, a Roman, became a monk in Palestine, near Jerusalem. There was an event when St Christopher went to worship at the Holy Sepulchre of the Lord and saw a monk immobilized by 2 ravens, outside the gates of the Church. St Christopher immediately saw that the ravens were demons trying to prevent the monk from entering the sacred grounds. St Christopher asked the brother monk, “Brother, why are you not going into the Church?” The monk told St Christopher, “Father, forgive me. I am struggling with 2 thoughts. One is telling me to go in and venerate the Holy Cross, and another is telling me to finish my chores first and come back another day.” St Christopher took the monk by the hand and led the monk into the Church, and the ravens immediately vanished. Both monks venerated the Holy Cross in the Church. St Christopher reminded us to always tend to our spiritual matters before all else.

Today, more than ever, we as Christians are confronted by many battles. The Church remains the cornerstone and bastion of our faith, and we head to the Church for healing time and again, as we also tend to our daily mundane lives. Many of our beloved Orthodox brethren in troubled lands are battered and even killed for their steadfast faith. And yet, these remind us that spiritual battles are being fought, not just externally, but especially internally.

We need to tend to our own spiritual grounds every moment, as we confront our own demons, and seek healing and strength from the Mercy of our Lord. As we reflect upon St Mark 1:29-35, we find solace that our Lord has authority over all things and all creatures, and that we need to go to our own inner closets to pray just as our Lord and Christ showed us.

Holy Apostle Paul said to the Corinthians, in 2 Corinthians 7:1-10, that we are to remain faithful and joyous even during tribulation, for our Lord triumphs over all things and all creatures, and our complete lives are best cradled in His hands, and not through our own wills.

And God is our strength and our endurance, as we are reminded in 2 Samuel 22:29-36 and Psalm 73:23-26 (LXX 72). Psalm 73 (LXX 72) especially encourages us not to envy the mighty and the wealthy, but to lean on our Lord and God, and seek Him and His Ways, for we are seeking a journey for eternal life, and we are not seeking for distractions that litter our paths.

Let us not be disheartened when the mighty trample upon the weak, or the wealthy rob the impoverished, but be encouraged that God is our strength, our peace, our mercy, and our love, and His Church will persist to eternity. May all of us continue our humble prayers always, repent our ways, as we call upon our Lord and God, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”.

Let us close by praying the thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr Raphael+

2 Samuel 22:29-36
Psalm 73:23-26 (LXX 72)
St Mark 1:29-35
2 Corinthians 7:1-10