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Victory Requires Combat

From the Prologue of Ochrid, by Nikolai Velomirovic, for April 1st; Reflection

"Why is it that much is said and written about the sufferings of holy men and holy women? Because the saints alone are considered victors. Can anyone be a victor without conflict, pain and suffering? In ordinary earthly combat, no one can be considered victorious or heroic who has not been in combat, endured much or suffered greatly. The more so in spiritual combat, where the truth is known, and where self-boasting not only does not help at all but, indeed, hinders it. He who does not engage in combat for the sake of Christ, either with the world, with the devil or with one’s self, how can he be counted among the soldiers of Christ? How then is it with Christ’s fellow victors? St. Mary (of Egypt) spoke about her savage spiritual combat to Elder Zosimas: “For the first seventeen years in this wilderness, I struggled with my deranged lusts as though with fierce beasts. I desired to eat meat and fish, which I had in abundance in Egypt. I also desired to drink wine, and here I did not have even water to drink. I desired to hear lustful songs. I cried and beat my breast. I prayed to the All-pure Mother of God to banish such thoughts from me. When I had sufficiently wept and beat my breast, it was then that I saw a light encompassing me on all sides, and a certain miraculous peace filled me.

So many people want to simply say they are Christians without being one. They expect that their good intent alone, their respect for the Church and their general kindness towards everyone will count as being followers of Christ and thus gain them the Eternal Kingdom. Throughout the New Testament alone we are reminded that life is an arena of spiritual combat. If we do not fight for what is Good and Holy, we have done nothing and we will receive no reward. May God grant us the strength to fight the good fight with His help. -Fr. Photios

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