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Second Epistle Of Saint Paul To Timothy 2:1-15, 19-26
You, who are my son, strengthen yourself with the grace of Christ Jesus. What you have heard of me, which is corraborated by numerous witnesses, confide to responsible men who will be capable of teaching others. Share my labors, like a good soldier of Jesus Christ. He who bears arms does not mingle in the affairs of civil life, so as to be able to meet the orders of the one who enrolled him. The athlete does not receive the prize if he does not fight in accord with the rules.

The worker that toils hard is the first one that has the right to reap the fruits. Think about what I tell you and the Lord, for his part, will help you to comprehend everything. Remember Jesus Christ, who resurrected among the dead and is the descendent of David. This is the Good News that I preach, for which I suffer and I am in chains like a criminal. Yet the word of God is not in chains. This is why I bear these trials for love of the elect, with the goal that they also reach the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, and they participate in the eternal glory.

This doctrine is worthy of faith: if we have died with Him, we will live with Him. If we are steadfast, we will reign with Him. If we deny Him, He will also deny us. If we are not faithful, He remains faithful, because He cannot deny himself. Do not stop teaching these things, nor stop imploring to God that useless discussions take place, which are only useful for the perdition of those who partake in them. Strive to be worthy of the aprobation of God, presenting yourself before Him like a laborer who has nothing to be ashamed of and like a loyal dispensor of the Word of Truth.

But the solid foundation that God has established remains unmovable, and the inscription of what serves Him as a seal says: The Lord knows His own and: he who invokes the name of the Lord, must distance himself from iniquity. In a large house not only are all the vessels of gold or silver; there are others made of wood and clay. Some are destined to noble uses, others, to common ones.

If someone maintains themselves free of those errors he or she will be like a noble and sanctified vessel, that offers usefulness to his or her owner for all types of good works. Do not cave in to the impulses of youth and seek instead justice, faith, love and peace, together with all who invoke the Lord with a pure heart.
Avoid stupid questions lacking in sense: you already know that they provoke serious altercations. He who serves the Lord must not take part in quarrels. On the contrary, they must be amiable with everyone, apt to teach and patient in trials. He must apprehend their adversaries with tenderness, taking into account that God is capable of granting them their conversion and taking them to the knowledge of the Truth, making them react and liberating them from the trap of the devil that holds them captive to the service of his will.
You have called me, Lord, to minister to your people
From The Statement of Faith by St. John Damascene, Priest
O Lord, you led me from my fatherís loins and formed me in my motherís womb. You brought me, a naked babe, into the light of day, for natureís laws always obey your commands.

By the blessing of the Holy Spirit, you prepared my creation and my existence, not because man willed it or flesh desired it, but by your ineffable grace. The birth you prepared for me was such that it surpassed the laws of our nature. You sent me forth into the light by adopting me as your son and you enrolled me among the children of your holy and spotless Church.

You nursed me with the spiritual milk of your divine utterances. You kept me alive with the solid food of the body of Jesus Christ, your only-begotten Son for our redemption. And he undertook the task willingly and did not shrink from it. Indeed, he applied himself to it as though destined for sacrifice, like an innocent lamb. Although he was God, he became man, and in his human will, became obedient to you, God his Father, unto death, even death on a cross.

In this way you have humbled yourself, Christ my God, so that you might carry me, your stray sheep, on your shoulders. You let me graze in green pastures, refreshing me with the waters of orthodox teaching at the hands of your shepherds. You pastured these shepherds, and now they in turn tend your chosen and special flock. Now you have called me, Lord, by the hand of your bishop to minister to your people. I do not know why you have done so, for you alone know that. Lord. Lighten the heavy burden of the sins through which I have seriously transgressed. Purify my mind and heart. Like a shining lamp, lead me along the straight path. When I open my mouth, tell me what I should say. By the fiery tongue of your Spirit make my own tongue ready. Stay with me always and keep me in your sight.

Lead me to pastures, Lord, and graze there with me. Do not let my heart lean either to the right or to the left, but let your good Spirit guide me along the straight path. Whatever I do, let it be in accordance with your will, now until the end.

And you, O Church, are a most excellent assembly, the noble summit of perfect purity, whose assistance comes from God. You in whom God lives, receive from us an exposition of the faith that is free from error, to strengthen the Church, just as our Fathers handed it down to us.
http://www.liturgies.net
SAINT JOHN DAMASCENE (676-749) is best known for his defence of Christian sacred art, particularly in the form of icons.

While the churches of Rome and Constantinople were still united during St. Johnís life, the Byzantine Emperor Leo III broke radically from the ancient tradition of the church, charging that the veneration of Christian icons was a form of idolatry.

John had grown up under Muslim rule in Damascus, as the child of strongly Christian parents.

His excellent education, particularly in theology, prepared him well to defend the tradition of sacred iconography, against the heresy of the "iconoclasts," so-called because they would enter churches and destroy the images therein.

During the 720s, the upstart theologian began publicly opposing the emperorís command against sacred images in a series of writings.

The heart of his argument was twofold: first, that Christians did not actually worship images, rather through them, they worshiped God, and honoured the memory of the saints.

Second, he asserted that by taking an incarnate physical form, Christ had given warrant to the Churchís depiction of him in images.

By 730, the young public officialís persistent defence of Christian artwork had made him a permanent enemy of the emperor, who had a letter forged in Johnís name offering to betray the Muslim government of Damascus.

The ruling caliph of the city, taken in by the forgery, is said to have cut off Johnís hand. The saintís sole surviving biography states that the Virgin Mary acted to restore it miraculously. John eventually managed to convince the Muslim ruler of his innocence, before making the decision to become a monk and later a priest.

Although a number of imperially-convened synods condemned Johnís advocacy of Christian iconography, Rome always regarded his position as a defence of apostolic tradition.

Years after the priest and monk died, the Seventh Ecumenical Council vindicated his orthodoxy, and ensured the permanent place of holy images in both Eastern and Western Christian piety.

Saint John of Damascusí other notable achievements include the "Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith," a work in which he systematized the earlier Greek Fathers.í thinking about theological truths in light of philosophy.

The work exerted a profound influence on Saint Thomas Aquinas and subsequent scholastic theologians. Centuries later, Saint Johnís sermons on the Virgin Maryís bodily assumption into heaven were cited in Pope Pius XIIís dogmatic definition on the subject. The Saint also contributed as an author and editor, to some of the liturgical hymns and poetry that Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics still use in their celebrations of the liturgy.
http://archbishopterry.blogspot.com/2010/12/om-st-john-of-damascus-priest-and.html
Grant, we pray, O Lord, that we may be helped by the prayers of the Priest Saint John Damascene, so that the true faith, which he excelled in teaching, may always be our light and our strength. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
An icon of the Theotokos, called of the three hands
Saint John of Damascene, also known as John of Damascus, icon from Damascus (Syria), 19th c., attributed to Iconographer Neímeh Naser Homsi; http://en.wikisource.org
March 27 (Traditional), December 4 (Novus Ordo) Feast of Saint John Damascene, Confessor and Doctor - Defender of Christian Truth, Art and Music
 
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