February 19-25, 2018
Isaiah 6:1-8 - In the year that King Uzzi'ah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory."
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"
Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven." And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." (RSV – Part of the Reading for the Sixth Hour on Thursday)
St. John of Damascus – With eyes, lips and faces turned toward it, let us receive the divine burning coal, so that the fire of the coal may be added to the desire within us to consume our sins and enlighten our hearts, and so that by this communion with the divine fire we may be set afire and deified. (On the Orthodox Faith)
The icon is of St. Gregory Palamas, who is commemorated in the Byzantine Church especially on the Second Sunday of the Fast. Saint Gregory Palamas (1296-1359) was a monk, archbishop and eminent theologian. He was also a major figure in fourteenth-century Byzantium. His greatest work, In Defense of Holy Hesychasts [commonly known as the Triads], was written between 1338 and 1341 as a response to the charges of Barlaam. Barlaam denied the legitimacy of the spiritual methods of Byzantine monastic groups known as hesychasts and discredited their claims to experience the divine presence. Hesychasm, a movement dating back to the Fathers of the desert, believed that since the body itself receives the grace of sacraments and the pledge of final resurrection it would properly have a share in "pure prayer". They believed that God is accessible to personal experience because He shared His own life with humanity. It is from this tradition that we have the famous "Jesus Prayer": “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”