In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, let us remember St Justin the Philosopher and other martyrs with him in Rome, and also father among the saints, St John of Kronstadt. Saints Justin, Chariton, Charita, Euelpistus, Hierax, Peon, Valerian and Justus, and St John of Kronstadt, pray for us!

St Justin of Rome wrote this famously, “Whosoever is able to proclaim Truth and does not proclaim, that one will be condemned by God.” Let us remember this holy father among the saints and his admonition, that when we face people with ears to hear and hearts that are tender, that we are to share the Truth with them, so that they too, will be able to be illumined by the Light and Love of God.

Today also marks the glorification of St John of Kronstadt in 1990, a saint of the Russian Church.

The righteous saint reminded us that the world will pass away (1 John 2:17), “You follow the events of the external world, reading secular compositions, magazines and newspapers. Do not lose sight of your internal world, your soul; it is both nearer and dearer to you. From henceforth, read the Holy Gospels and the writings of the Holy Fathers ever more often; it is sinful for a Christian not to read Divinely-inspired works.”

The world is transient, and we are often reminded to be conscious of the internal world. Prayer is to be conscious of our internal world. And yet, what is prayer?

Prayers can be what we joyously sing in unison during the Divine Liturgy and other Church services. Prayers can be what we humbly submit to God. Prayers can also be actions for the sake of others without any selfish agenda.

The evil one hates prayers, especially those who are faithful to God. The more we pray to God, the more the evil one will attempt to tempt and seduce us away from God. The evil one has little care for those who do not believe in God, or for those with little faith. And yet, when we begin to step ever closer and closer to our God out of penitence and prayer, then the evil one will get more ferocious in his efforts to kick us off the orbit we attempt to center around God. As we reflect on St Matthew 8:23-27, we saw how the disciples of Christ could also be tempted with despair when faith disappears.

St John of Kronstadt mentioned in his homilies, that we will face moments of deadly darkness and spiritual anguish when we pray. We are not to falter or become disheartened during such times, even if we face darkness and a feeling of being cut off from God, because such darkness is from the evil one and our passions.

Remember that God’s Light will always be constant towards us, and through His Church, and His entire creation. The Truth of God will never fail, even if we become blind to His Truth when we face darkness.

When we face such darkness, make the Sign of the Cross, invoking the Holy Name of Christ our Lord, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Pray the Holy Name of Christ our Lord asking for mercy. Remember that simple prayers with wholeheartedness is better than uttering thousands of words without belief.

When we read the Old Testament, such as 2 Chronicles 14:11-12, we see that King Asa pleaded with God for victory, and God granted that victory.

Does that mean that we are to pray only for selfish results, or that God can be swayed by mere words? No.

God in the Old Testament seemed to grant many miracles and positive results, simply because of His love for His children. He knows all things past to the future, and He is in complete control. God grants what would appear to us, with terrible shortsightedness, to be our wishes sometimes. But it is truly His Will when specific things happen, or other things happen, or nothing happens. God so love us that Jesus Christ our Lord came for our salvation, and the Holy Spirit our comforter as well. Therefore, it would please God when we begin to pray simply, pray from the heart, and pray for the love of others. In Proverbs 30:7-9, we are reminded that we can pray to God for a simple life that will enable us to have our mind and hearts encircle around God and our lifelong pursuit of Him.

Therefore, pray simply, for a simple prayer can reach God when we are sincere, such as when we call, “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+

Readings
2 Chronicles 14:11-12
Proverbs 30:7-9
St Matthew 8:23-27
Romans 5:10-16