Feast of St Innocent, Enlightener of Siberia & Alaska
AS MANY OF us as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ and have become members of Christ; for we have learnt from the divine Paul's teaching that our bodies are members of Christ. What then of us? Have we preserved our bridal condition unsoiled, not letting it be polluted by any evil? Have we maintained our earnest of the future blessedness free from trafficking, not enticed by the allurements of harlot Pleasure, nay, have we repelled and spat upon the procuress Negligence by means of a temperate mind and a diligent life? Have we, mindful of the covenant which before angels and men we have pledged to God, kept it inviolate, showing ourselves by the fulfillment of our promises faithful to the commandments of which we have been deemed worthy? Have we barred all entry to the Evil one, and have we made our souls a temple of the most-holy Ghost, or rather the temple built for the most-holy Ghost—as the blessed Paul cries out, “Know ye not that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?” (1 Cor 6.19; cf. 3.16)—have we kept it undefiled that we may not be destroyed? For he testifies again, “if any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy.” (1 Cor 3.17) Has not the gift of Grace been stolen from us, has not our liberty been enslaved, our purity soiled, our brightness darkened? Have we not betrayed our security through negligence? Is our watchman still keeping his sleepless and slumberless watch? Are we still carolled by the angels, ministers of the mysteries, who joined in rejoicing at our rebirth and stood by as unexceptionable witnesses to our covenant with God? Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven and whose sins are covered. Do we still speak boldly to our enemies and say menacingly, “The Lord is my light and my Savior; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defender of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 26.1) Do we still have the courage to sing to the Lord, “I have done judgment and justice; deliver me not to them that injure me,” (Ps 128.121) and, “I will not be afraid of evils: for Thou art with me?” (Ps 22.4) If we still do these things, and are held worthy of these mysteries, and regulate our life with virtues, turning away from the seat of pestilent men and avoiding their path and loathing the designs of the impious, then verily are our feats against the Evil one good and noble, but our hopes greater by far: an endless blessedness, the kingdom of heaven, rejoicing with the angels, and joy unspeakable, where the patriarchs have their choirs, the fathers their assemblies, the martyrs their ranks, and all who have pleased God they gay and spacious abode.
—St Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, "The Beginning of Lent"