Once again the merciful God has brought us to the blessed month in which we fast and prepare for, and then celebrate joyously the Pascha of the Mother of God, her Holy Dormition. Just as any upright and honorable man desires to please and to honor his own mother on earth, so every pious Orthodox Christian desires to honor supremely her who is supremely our Mother reigning in Heaven over all created things, the Queen who stands at the right hand of her divine Son.
How can we fittingly honor Panagia (the All-Holy One), who is truly above all capacity of man’s tongue to praise adequately?
We owe the Holy Virgin our sacrifice of praise. In our daily prayers, we glorify her by chanting the hymn Axion Estin (It is Meet), and we gladden her heart once again by repeating the Angelic Salutation, Theotoke Parthene (Theotokos and Virgin, Rejoice!). We also honor her by showing our trust in her all-powerful intercession at the throne of her Son by supplicating her daily in our morning and evening prayers, in the Paraklisis (Supplicatory Canon) and Hairetismoi (Salutations/Akathist Hymn), as well as frequently crying out to her throughout the day. Interspersed with the ceaseless repetition of the Jesus Prayer – "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner!" – should also be our cry to the Mother of God, "Most Holy Theotokos, save us!"
We also attend Divine Services in honor of the Holy Virgin in God’s House, the Church. We perform Vespers and Matins services on her holy feast days, and above all we prepare for and receive Holy Communion at the Divine Liturgy performed on these days.
The preparation for Holy Communion links our worship of God with moral life in obedience to the commandments of God. Without the latter, the former is hypocritical and brings only condemnation, not salvation. Thus, fittingly to praise God and His saints, including the greatest saint, the saint above all the saints, God’s Holy Mother, we must strive to cleanse our lives of sin, which drives out grace and separates us from salvation.
The Holy Virgin is especially offended by thoughts, acts, and habits of immodesty and impurity, and at the same time she is also our pre-eminent intercessor to help us fight these sins. We must turn to her daily, unceasingly, with tears, to beg her to rid us of these terrible sins which today fill the very atmosphere we breathe, and to rescue our children from the deadly influences which persuade them that such sins are normal, even admirable, behavior.
In combination with these fervent prayers, we must take concrete actions, to cleanse our homes of impure images imparted by TV, movies, and the Internet, as well as the savage music whose jungle rhythms and indescribably filthy words have possessed the minds of most young people, destroying their rational mind and moral will.
With Panagia’s help, we can and must overcome these things!
Most Holy Theotokos, save us!
Your Body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit
Man consists of soul and body together and only together do they make up the actual person of man. Many ancient religions and philosophical teachings spoke of man’s soul being created by God, while the body supposedly came from the evil principle – from the devil. Orthodoxy teaches otherwise. Both the soul and body of man are created by God, and only the two together make the whole person. According to Apostolic teaching, after the mystery of baptism, man’s body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and the members of the body – through union with Christ in the mystery of Holy Communion – are members of Christ. Therefore, man will pass over into the future eternal blessedness (or into eternal torment) with his entire being – both the soul, and the body which will be resurrected and reunited with the soul before Christ’s judgment. This means that, while caring about one’s soul, an Orthodox Christian must not leave the body without attention. One must guard it – guard it in an Orthodox way – not only from illnesses, but also from sins which corrupt, defile, and weaken it. Among such sins, the most dangerous and harmful is licentiousness – the loss of chastity and bodily purity. All such sins begin in the mind and are carried out through the body…How is one who wishes to preserve oneself pure and chaste to struggle with the temptation of this sin? The answer is simple: first of all, by purity of thought and imagination. It is often claimed that sexual need acts with such insurmountable strength that man is powerless to withstand it. This is a falsehood! This is not a matter of “need” but of depravity and lechery, and it results from a person’s unrestrained provoking of himself with thoughts and desires…Blessed is the one who from youth to the end of one’s days has remained pure in body and soul.
--from On the Law of God by St. Philaret of New York
On the Struggle Against the Passions
You ask: how does one fight against passionate thoughts? According to the testimony of experienced ascetics, great relief is obtained in this warfare through earnest prayer to the Most Holy Virgin Theotokos, and likewise to those saints who themselves went through a powerful struggle against lust or suffered martyrdom for the sake of chastity. Prayer to them, like heavenly dew, extinguishes the fiery arrows of the evil one. Also essential for the preservation of purity of soul and body is frequent Confession and Communion of the Holy Mysteries of Christ's Body and Blood. In general, in the midst of the struggle with any kind of passion, you must do your utmost to try to divert your attention away from the thoughts that are overwhelming you and direct them toward love for God. Not one unclean thought can draw near to a soul that is enveloped in love for God, just as not one fly can sit on a hot dish, even if the tastiest food is in it.
-- from the correspondence of the Elder Gabriel of Seven Lakes Monastery (+1915)