Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS AND IS AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ. ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
The Joy of Going to the House of the Lord
I was glad when they said to me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. Our feet have been standing Within your gates, of Jerusalem!
Jerusalem is built As a city that is compact together, Where the tribes go up, The tribes of the Lord, To the Testimony of Israel, To give thanks to the name of the Lord. For thrones are set there for judgment, The thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, Prosperity within your palaces. For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, "peace be within you." Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek your good.
On October 16th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, and Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox faith: Saint Longinos the Centurion; Holy Martyrs, Demetrios, Loentios, Terence, and Domninos; Saint Malos the Hermit; Saint Longinus of Yaranga; Saint Eupraxia of Pskov; Saint Gall, enlightener of Switzerland.
THE HOLY MARTYR LONGINOS. Saint Matthew the Evangelist, describing the Passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, says: 'Now when the centurion and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that were done, they feared greatly, saying: "Truly this was the Son of God" (St. Matthew 27:54) That centurion was this blessed Longinus, who, with two other of his soldiers, came to believe in Jesus as the Son of God. He was the officer in command both at the Lord's crucifixion on Golgotha and in the watch that guarded the tomb. When the Jewish elders learned of Christ's Resurrection, they bribed the soldiers to spread the falsehood that Christ had not risen, but that His disciples had stolen His body. The Jews tried to bribe St. Longinos also, but without success. Then the Jews resorted to their usual practice: they conspired to kill Saint Longinos. Discovering this, Saint Longinos took off his army belt, received baptism from the Apostles together with his two friends, and with them secretly left Jerusalem and went to Cappadocia. There he gave himself to fasting and prayer and, as a living witness of the Resurrection of Christ, turned many pagans to the True Faith by his testimony. He then went off to a village where his father had property, but the wicked Jews would not even there leave him in peace. In response to slander on their part, Pilate sent soldiers to behead St. Longinos. Holy Longinos foresaw in his spirit approach of his executioners and, going out to meet them, took them to his home without telling them who he was. The soldiers lay down to sleep, and Saint Longinos spent the whole night preparing for death. In the morning, he went and brought his two friends, dressed himself in white grave-clothes, told the others in the house what was happening and showed them a place on a hillock to bury him. He then revealed himself to the soldiers as the Longinos whom they were seeking. The soldiers were embarrassed and ashamed, and would not think of beheading St. Longinus, but he laid it on them to carry out their superior's command, and he and his two friends were beheaded. Saint Longinus's head was taken by the soldiers to Pilate; Pilate gave it to the Jews and they flung it onto a dung-heap outside the city.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Philippians 2:16-23
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 27:33-54
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth. Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth. A stranger, and not your own lips." [Proverbs 27:1-2]
FEASTS AND HOLIDAYS
by Geronda [Elder] Paisios of Mount Athos
"Let us, the Faithful, Celebrate a Spiritual Feast"
[source: With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man]
Our Lord Jesus Christ, with His great love and joy which fills the souls of the faithful during His holy feast days, exalts us spiritually and truly resurrects us. All we need to do is participate in these feasts and celebrate them with a spiritual appetite; for once we taste the heavenly wine to which the Saints will treat us, we will become drunk in spirit.
Question. "Geronda, what must we do to live a spiritual life during these feasts?
Answer. To live through Christ's feasts in a spiritual way, we must keep our minds focused on the holy days themselves and not on the work that we have to do to prepare for them. We should think about the events of each holy day (Christmas, Pascha and so on) and say the Jesus Prayer glorifying God in our heart. This way we will celebrate with reverence every feast day of the Church. For most people, who live in the world, Christmas is the time to eat pork, Pascha to eat lamb and Carnival at the beginning of Lent, the time to throw confetti. But for the true monks, every week is Holy Week. Every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday they experience Holy and Great Wednesday, Holy and Great Thursday, and Holy and Great Friday, that is, the days of the Passion of Christ, and every Sunday is for them Pascha, the Day of the Resurrection. Why must we wait until Holy Week to remember the Passion of Christ? Why should we be like people who live in the world? Can't we realize what Christ is Risen means, without eating lamb? You see, Christ said, "Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh." (St. Matthew 24:44). From the moment Christ said, "Be ready!" we must all, but especially monks and nuns, be constantly vigilant and ready.
We must study and live through these divine events all the time. When someone studies the events of each feast day, he will be naturally moved to pray with particular reverence. Then, during liturgical services, our mind will be absorbed by the events we are celebrating and we will follow with great reverence the chanting of hymns. When our mind thinks divine thoughts, we get to live through these holy events, and in this manner we are transformed. We think of a Saint for whom we have a special devotion, or of the Saint whose feast day we are celebrating, and our mind rises higher toward Heaven. And when we keep the Saints in mind, they keep us in mind too, and they come to our assistance. This is how we start a friendship with them, one that well last forever. And so, even though we may live alone, we will actually share our lives with everybody: with Saints, the Angels, the whole world. Imagine, being alone, and feeling their company! This is the living presence of the Saints who are God's children and will reach out to help us, their poor brothers and sisters.
Our Saints have shed blood, sweat and tears for the love of Christ. We should always celebrate them with reverence, and they will be there to help us. Every time we hear their Synaxarion "On this same day, we commemorate Saint...," we must rise to our feet, like soldiers standing at attention when the names of their fallen comrades who died heroically are being read. "On this day of the month...soldier so and so ...fell in action heroically defending the country in such and such a front."
If we want to really feel the significance of a feast day, we must abstain from all work. On Holy and Great Friday, for instance, the only thing we should be doing is praying. For people who live in the world, Holy Week is full of chores and obligations. On Holy and Great Friday, they will exchange good wishes...When a good thought crosses our mind, when we examine ourselves, or say the Jesus Prayer, we will really come to feel something of the divine event celebrated on that day.
Normally, we must cease all work the Vespers of Sunday or of a feast day. If arrangements can be made, it is better to work more on the previous day, and avoid any work after Vespers of a feast celebration. It is a different matter, if, in the event of an emergency, some light tasks need to be taken care of in the afternoon of a Sunday or a feast day...
I always tell people that if they want to avoid calamities in their life, they should stop working on Sundays and feast days. Work schedules could be arranged to keep these days free. Where there is spiritual sensitivity, everything is possible; solutions will be found. That's really the issue here. Even if a particular solution is to our disadvantage, and we suffer a loss, in the end we'll be twice blessed. But so many people fail to understand this. They do not even attend the Divine Liturgy. The Divine Liturgy sanctifies. If a Christian will not go to Church on Sunday, how will he be sanctified?
It's unfortunate, but, the way things are going, people will do away with feast days, and with everything else. You see, they are even changing their names, and are forgetting their Saints whose name they bear. If they are named Vasiliki, they change it to Vicky; Zoe (Life) to Zozo-which sound like saying zo (animal) twice! They have come up with new feasts, Mother's Day, May Day, April Fool's Day... Pretty soon they'll say, "Today is Artichoke Day, tomorrow Cypress Day, later the birthday of the inventor of the atom bomb, or of soccer and so on..." But God will not abandon us...
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia
The sinner and unworthy servant of God