The Nativity according to the Flesh of Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ


Thoughts for Each Day of the Year
According to the Daily Church Readings from the Word of God
By St. Theophan the Recluse

The Nativity of the Lord. [Gal. 4:4–7; Mt. 2:1–12] 


 

Glory to Thee, O Lord! Once again we greet the awaited bright days of Christ’s Nativity. Let us be glad and rejoice. In order to raise our festivities to a higher level in these days, the Holy Church has intentionally instituted a preceding fast—a certain amount of difficulty, so that when we enter the festive period we might feel as though liberated. Nevertheless, the Church in no way desires that we should give ourselves over to purely sensual delights and fleshly pleasures.

Come to your senses, my soul


[L]

In the sluggish carriage of the body my Soul journeys through this world of illusions, which are trying to prove their existence by means of their sluggishness and massiveness.

O Light-bearing Lord, how dreadfully and drunkenly stuck to this sluggish carriage my soul has become! In her blindness she thinks that, if she were to fall from this carriage, she would be able to fall down lower still--as though she were not standing on the same ashes whether on the wood or beneath the wood!

Conceal my soul from evil eyes, O God


Conceal my soul from evil eyes, O God, when she gives birth to Your wisdom. Isolate me from people, in a shepherd's cave. Let no one among mortals accompany me except the shadow of one righteous man. In the grotto of Bethlehem, in the cave of stone that has never blasphemed Your name, let my pregnant soul seclude herself here.

Let the innocent lambs and calves keep her company, for from birth they are intended to be food for those who are less pure than they themselves are.

Be a virgin, my soul!



All the prophets have from the beginning cried out to my soul, imploring her to make herself a virgin and prepare her­self to receive the Divine Son into her immaculate womb;

Imploring her to become a ladder, down which God will descend into the world, and up which man will ascend to God;1

Imploring her to drain the red sea of sanguinary passions within herself, so that man the slave can cross over to the promised land, the land of freedom.2

Come closer to me, closer still, O majestic Spirit of Truth!

Come closer to me, closer still, O majestic Spirit of Truth!




Come closer to me, closer still, O majestic Spirit of Truth. Draw near, and enter into me, more deeply than light and air enter me. Indeed, I can spend an entire night without light, but without You I cannot even lie down on my bed. I can take ten steps without air, but without You I cannot even take one.

Take up your abode in my soul more deeply than my thought can follow. The entire universe is insufficient to encourage my soul to persevere in virginity, if You do not encourage her.

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"As the Prophets saw, as the Apostles taught, as the Church has received, as the Teachers express in dogma, as the inhabited world understands together with them, as grace illumines, as the truth makes clear, as error has been banished, as wisdom makes bold to declare, as Christ has assured, so we think, so we speak, so we preach, honoring Christ our true God, and his Saints, in words, in writings, in thoughts, in sacrifices, in churches, in icons, worshiping and revering the One as God and Lord, and honoring them because of their common Lord as those who are close to him and serve him, and making to them relative veneration. This is the faith of the Apostles; this is the faith of the Fathers; this is the faith of the Orthodox; this faith makes fast the inhabited world."
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