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.
A CONTRITE PRAYER TO THE ALL-HOLY THEOTOKOS AND EVER-VIRGIN MARY
O spotless, immaculate, chaste, undefiled, O pure Virgin, our Lady and bride of God, You have united God the Word with mankind Through your wondrous conception, And the outcast nature of our race You have joined to heaven. You are the only hope of the hopeless, The help of those in trouble, The ever ready assistance to those who turn to you, And the refuge of all pious Christians. Abhor me not, the sinner, the accursed, Who, through sinful thoughts, and words and acts, Have altogether turned myself into an unworthy servant-A slave to the lazy will inclined to the pleasures of the world. But as the Mother of God who loves mankind, Have compassion on me the sinner and prodigal, And accept my supplication being offered to you with unclean lips. Using your boldness as a mother, Entreat your Son, our Lord and Master, That He may open even to me the compassion of His Loving-Kindness, And, overlooking my innumerable faults, May return me to repentance, And make me into an approved does of His Commandments. Stand by me always as one who is merciful, compassionate and a lover of the good, Be for me, in this life, a fervent protectress and a helper, To defend me from the assaults of adversaries And to guide me toward salvation; And, at the time of my departure from this life, Take care of my wretched soul And drive far away from it the dark countenance of evil demons. And at the fearful day of judgment Deliver me from the eternal torment (of being separated from God) And lead me forth as an of the ineffable glory Of your Son and our God. May this indeed be my fate, O my Lady, Most Holy Theotokos, Through your mediation and your protection, And by the grace and love for mankind of your Only-begotten Son, Our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, To Whom is due all glory, honor and worship, Together with His Father who is without beginning, And His All-Holy, Good and Life-creating Spirit, Now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
On October 19th 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 Christian faith: Holy Joel the Prophet; Felix the Hieromartyr and Efsevius the Deacon; Saint John the Wonder-worker of Kronstadt.
THE HOLY PROPHET JOEL. The second in order of the Minor Prophets, Prophet Joel was the son of Phanuel, of the tribe of Reuben. He lived 800 years before Christ, and foretold the misfortunes of the Israelites and their captivity in Babylon for the sins that they had committed against God. He called the people to fasting and the priests to penitent and tearful prayer that God would have mercy on them: 'Sanctify ye a fast and cry unto the Lord' (1:140; 'Let the priests weep between the porch and the altar' (2:17). Prophet Joel also prophesied the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, and the outpouring of His grace on all the faithful (2:28). He fore told and described the Dreadful Judgment of God, and also the glory of God's holy Church.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Prophets, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 2:14-21. "But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, 'Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved."
Holy Gospel Lesson: Saint Luke 10:1-15. "After these things the Lord appointed Seventy Others (Apostles) also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, 'The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house.' And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick there, and say to them, 'The Kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, the very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the Kingdom of God has come near you.' But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city. Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades."
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION:
"Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His Angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light! Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, And you waters above the heavens!..." [Psalm 148:1-4]
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE CHURCH AND THE ARK
by Saint Nicodemos the Hagiorite
Consider, my brothers and sisters, what a difference there is between the Church of Christ and that ancient Ark of Noah. That Ark took in animals and again sent animals forth. In other words, the raven that entered the Ark emerged from it still a raven; the wolf entered a wolf and emerged a wolf; the horse entered a horse and emerged a horse, and so on with all of the other animals. However, the Church of Christ, if it has accepted a raven, that is, a man blackened and impure from sins, transforms his outlook and sends him forth a white and pure dove. If it has accepted a wolf, that is, one who is violent, rapacious, greedy, and a malefactor, it transforms him by its teaching, and in particular by holy Confession and Communion of the Divine Mysteries, and makes of him a tame sheep, charitable, and a benefactor of men. If it has accepted a fox, that is, a crafty and wicked man, it turns him into a simple and guileless lamb, as the Divine Chrysostomos says:
"The Ark received irrational animals and preserved them irrational. The Church receives irrational men, and not only preserves them but also transforms them. The Ark received a raven and sent it forth a raven. The Church receives a raven and sends it forth a dove; it receives a wolf and sends it forth a sheep. For when a rapacious and covetous man enters herein and hears the Divine words of its teaching, he changes his outlook and becomes a sheep instead of a wolf. For the wolf seizes what belongs to others, whereas the sheep gives away its own wool."
Beware, therefore, you Christians who, from being wolves, have become sheep in the Church, lest you become wolves again when you depart from the Church; and you who have become doves, beware lest you become ravens again. You who have confessed and communed in the Church have, from being impure, become pure; from being proud, humble; from being wild, tame; from being rapacious, charitable; and, quite simply, from being evil, good; hence, be on your guard, brothers and sisters, and beware lest, on leaving Church, you revert to your former vices and return like the pig to its former mire and like the dog to its former vomit. Rather, keep safe and whole as the apple of your eye the purity that you have received in the Church, saying with the Bridegroom in the Song of Songs: We have put off the garment of sin through the teaching of Christ's Church, through Confession, and through Communion of the Divine Mysteries, and so how can we put it on again? We have washed and cleansed our feet, that is, our evil deeds and movements, through the Divine Hymns and sacred canticles that are chanted in Church, and so how can we sully them again? "I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?"
How Christians can safeguard the purity that they have received in the Church outside the Church
In what way can you preserve unsullied outside the Church that purity which your received in the Church? Let me tell you: by keeping always in remembrance what you have heard and learned in Church; by being mindful of what you have seen in Church, and by praying and chanting in your hearts the spiritual songs of the Church, in your homes, in the marketplace, in the workshop, and where your work, where you walk, inside, outside, and everywhere. For it is not impossible for you to do this, if only you are willing and put forth zeal and diligence. Neither can any place or time prevent you from praying and keeping silence in the mind and in the heart...
Above all and especially, you will safeguard all of the purity and piety that you have received from the Church if you hasten to go to Church frequently and renew your eagerness for what is good through fresh instructions, illumining your minds with the light of Divine knowledge and warming your wills and hearts through your love for carrying out the Lord's Commandments. For just as a garment, when it is frequently washed, does not become dirty, and just as when a plant is frequently watered, it does not wither, but is kept tender and bears fruit; so also, as often as the Christian goes to the Church of Christ, and is washed and watered by the streams of Divine teaching, he is preserved in purity, and the fruit of his virtue and piety is neither defiled nor withered. Rather, it increases day by day and produces immortal fruits fit for the storehouse of the Kingdom of Heaven, and he becomes worthy of that beatitude of the Divine David which says:
"Blessed is the man that...shall meditate in the law of the Lord day and night. And he shall be like the tree planted by the streams of waters, that shall bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." (Psalm 1:1-3).
With sincere agape In His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God