Prayer Before Reading Holy Scripture
O Master Who loves mankind, illuminate our hearts with the pure light of Your divine knowledge and open the eyes of our mind to understand the teachings of Your Gospel. Instill in us also the fear of Your blessed commandments, that we may overcome all carnal desires, entering upon a spiritual life and understanding and acting in all things according to Your holy will. For You are the enlightenment of our souls and bodies, O Christ God, and to You we give glory together with Your eternal Father and Your all-holy, gracious and life-giving Spirit, now and ever and forever. Amen.
Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder),
that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior,
knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,
and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water,
by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.
But the heavens and the earth which now exist are kept in store by the same word, reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;
and account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you,
as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
You therefore, beloved, since you know these things beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;
but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light;
“the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in heaven will be shaken.
“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
“And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.
“So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near, at the very doors.
“Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
Afterfeast of the Presentation of Our Lord and Savior in the Temple; The Synaxis of the Holy and Righteous Symeon the God-Receiver and the Holy Prophetess Anna; Stamatios, John, & Nicholas, New Martyrs of Spetses; Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos ; Nicholas, Archbishop & Enlightener of Japan; Ansgar of Hamburg-Bremen
Sayings From The Church Fathers
Should we fall, we should not despair and so estrange ourselves from the Lord’s love. For if He so chooses, He can deal mercifully with our weakness. Only we should not cut ourselves off from Him or feel oppressed when constrained by His commandments, nor should we lose heart when we fall short of our goal…let us always be ready to make a new start. If you fall, rise up. If you fall again, rise up again. Only do not abandon your Physician, lest you be condemned as worse than a suicide because of your despair. Wait on Him, and He will be merciful, either reforming you, or sending you trials, or through some other provision of which you are ignorant.
– St. Peter of Damaskos, from Twenty-Four Discourses No. 9, The Philokalia Vol. 3 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber Pg. 233