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 PRAYER OF A SINGLE PERSON
O Blessed Lord, Who has set up for us an example of ideal purity, strengthen me, I beseech Thee, when temptation besets me, and when strong passions seek to overwhelm me, that I may remain constant in virtue and innocent in thought, word, and deed, doing such things that are well-pleasing unto Thee. Grant me growth in wisdom and understanding, that I may serve Thee in holiness all the days of my life; through the intercessions of Thy All-Pure Mother and of all Thy Saints, especially my patron Saint (Name). Amen.
A PRAYER OF MARRIED PERSONS
O merciful God, we beseech Thee ever to remind us that the married state is holy, and that we must keep it so. Grant us Thy Grace, that we may continue in faithfulness and love. Increase in us the spirit of mutual understanding and trust, that no quarrel or strife may come between us. Grant us Thy blessings, that we may stand before the people and in Thy sight as an ideal family. And by Thy mercy, account us worthy of everlasting life: for Thou art our sanctification, and unto Thee we ascribe glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
On October 2nd Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Evangelist, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics and Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saints Cyprian and Justina of Nicomedia; Saint Cassian the Greek of Uglich; Saint Theophilos the Confessor; Blessed Andrew, Fool-For-Christ's Sake; Saint Anna of Kashin; Saint Theodore (Gavra) of Atran in Chaldea; Saints David and Constantine of Georgia; Saint Damaris of Athens; Saint Cyprian of Suzdal; New holy Martyr George of Mt. Athos.
BLESSED ANDREW, FOOL-FOR-CHRIST'S SAKE. Saint Andrew lived in 10th century Constantinople, and even as a young boy, he loved the Holy Scripture and the Church. He once dreamt that he saw two armies, the one with black menacing devils and the other with men who were radiantly dressed. Then an Angel of God showed Saint Andrew beautiful crowns and explained that these were a heavenly treasure that the Lord uses to reward his soldiers who are victorious over the demons. The Angel also told Saint Andrew, "Be a fool for My sake and you will receive much in the day of My Kingdom." (A fool-for-Christ assumes that role in the Church to atone for anyone who has ever mocked God, and they often feign insanity.) Then Saint Andrew understood that it was Jesus Who was asking him to do this work, and from that time Saint Andrew endured much throughout all of this with indifference. He was mocked, insulted, and beaten. He lived with cold and heat, hunger and thirst, and he begged alms, which he then gave to the poor. For all of these labors, God granted him the gift of prophecy and wisdom, and he saved many spiritually. He also once saw the Most Holy Mother of God (Theotokos) holding her veil over those praying for her protection.
+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: I Timothy 1:12-17
Holy Gospel Lesson: Saint Luke 6:37-45
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"Patience adorns the soul with diamonds which are not of the earth, but belong to the Jerusalem that is above. Patience is a sweet word. Patience is a sweet breath. Patience is an invincible weapon. Patience is a priceless adornment of man. Patience is a blessing of God. Patience is love and obedience. Patience increases when a person takes God into account. [Saint Raphael of Lesvos]
PRACTICAL TEACHING OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
By Abba (Father) Dorotheos
In the beginning when God created man He put him in Paradise and, as the Holy Scripture says (Genesis 2:25) having adorned him with every virtue commanded him not to eat from the tree in the middle of Paradise (Genesis 2:16-17). He was in the luxury of Paradise, in prayer, in the vision of God, in all glory and honor, having sound perception and being in his natural state just as he was created. For God created him after His own image (Genesis 1:27), that is to say, immortal, with free will and adorned with every virtue. However, when he disobeyed God and ate from the tree which God had forbidden him to eat from, he was then expelled from Paradise, he fell from his natural state into a state contrary to nature, that is to say into sin, into ambition and the love of the pleasures of this life and all the other passions and was dominated by them, and became subject to them because of his transgression. Thus, in turn, evil increased and "death reigned" (Romans 5:14). Godliness was no more, and ignorance of God was everywhere. Only a few, as the holy Fathers said, knew God, moved by natural law. Such were Abraham and the other Patriarchs, Noah and Job. Simply put, those who knew God were very few and very rare. The enemy (Satan) unfolded all his wickedness then and "sin reigned" (Romans 5:21) and it was from then that, idolatry, polytheism, magic, murders and the rest of evil started.
Then God Who had mercy on his creature and, gave him the written law, through Moses, where some things were forbidden and others were permitted, saying "You shall do this and you shall not do that". He gave Commandments and says directly "The Lord you God is one Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:4). He said that in order to avert a person's mind from polytheism (the worship of many pagan gods). He also said: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Deut. 6:5). Everywhere he proclaims that God is one and there is no other god but Him. For, when He said, "You shall love the Lord your God", He has shown that there is one God and one Lord. Again, in the Ten Commandments is says, "You shall fear the Lord your God, and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name" (Deut. 6:13). He then adds, "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath" (Deut. 5:7-8), because they worshipped all creatures.
Therefore, God Who is Good gave the Law, for help, for a return and for the correction of evil. However, evil was not corrected. He sent Prophets, but they were also unable to correct evil. For, evil prevailed as Isaiah says: "There is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores. They have not been closed, or bound up, or soothed with ointment" (Isaiah 1:6). We could say that evil is not in one part, nor in one place, but throughout the entire body, it contains the person's whole soul, it constrains all its powers; there is no ointment to put on it and so on, as if he wanted to say that "everything was under the dominion of sin; everything was ruled by it". Prophet Jeremiah also says: "We tried to heal Babylon, but she was not healed" (Jeremiah 28:9). That is to say, we have foretold the rebellions of Babylon's enemies, and, in spite of this, Babylon was not healed. In other words, it has not repented, it has not been afraid, it has not returned from its sinfulness. As he says elsewhere, "They received no correction" (Jer. 2:30), that is to say, advice and teaching. Likewise, the Psalms say, "Their soul abhorred all manner of food. And they drew near to the gates of death" (Psalm 107:18).
Then God, Who is good and loves mankind, sent His Only-begotten Son (St. John 3:16), because only God could heal Man and enable him to rise up from this kind of suffering. This was not unknown to the Prophets and it was hence as David clearly says, "You who dwell between the cherubim shine forth…Stir up your strength, and come and save us" (Psalm 80:12). Elsewhere, "Bow down your Heavens, O Lord, and come down" (Psalm 144:5). There are many other sayings in the same vein. The other Prophets proclaim the same message, each in his own way. Sometimes they entreated God to come down and at others they already had been informed of His coming.
Thus, Our Lord came down, becoming for our sakes, in order, as Saint Gregory the Theologian says, to heal like with like; the soul by the soul and the flesh by the flesh. He became a perfect man without sin. He has assumed our essence, the first fruit of our nature and He became a "new Adam" according to the image of Him who created Him (Col. 3:10).
He renews human nature and makes our senses perfect again, as they were at the beginning. He renewed fallen man by becoming man. He liberated him from the dominion of sin, which had compelled him by force. The enemy (Satan) guided man by force, then, and tyranny. Moreover, as the holy Apostle points out, those who did not want to sin were almost forced to do so: "For the good that I will to do, I do not do, but the evil I will not to do, that I practice" (Romans 7:19).
Therefore, having become Man for our sake, God freed man from the tyranny of the enemy. For He destroyed all the devil's power, He has broken all his strength and delivered us from under his control, from slavery to him, unless we want to sin voluntarily. For He gave us power, as He said, "to trample on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy" (St. Luke 10:19), since He has purified us form every sin through Holy Baptism. Through Holy Baptism every sin is forgiven and erased. However God Who is good, being aware of our sickness and knowing in advance that even after Holy Baptism, we are going to sin again, as it is written, that "the imagination of man is intently bent upon evil things form his youth" (Genesis 8:21), has given us in His goodness, holy Commandments which purify us, so that if we should wish it we can be purified again through observance of the Commandments. Not only from our sins but also from our other passions. Sins are one thing and passions another. The passions are anger, idleness, desire for pleasure, hate, evil desire, and others. Sins, on the other hand, are the acting out of passions, that is to say, someone puts them into practice when he uses his body to enact everything dictated by the passions. It is expected for someone to have passions, but not to carry them out.
Thus, as we have said, He gave us Commandments which purify us even from our passions, from the evil disposition which is contained "within us" (Romans 7:22; Ephesians 3:16). He has endowed man with the ability to distinguish between good and evil. He wakes him up. He shows him the causes of sin and He says to him: "The law said 'You shall not commit adultery', but I say to you that you must not lust" (St. Matt. 5:27; Ex. 20:13-14). If you have this lust, even if you do not commit adultery today, the desire inside you does not cease to tempt you until it makes you commit it. If you are angry and provocative towards your brother, you will soon fall into slander. Then, you will want something bad to happen to him, so gradually you come to the point of murder. At that time the purpose of the law was to teach us to not do those things which we don't want to suffer ourselves. It prevented us from doing evil because of fear of suffering the same. But now, as I said, what is asked of us is to expel this hatred, this desire for pleasure, this ambition and the other passions.
The aim of our Master Christ is simply to teach us how we came into all these sins, how we fell into those evil days. First, as I have already said, He freed us, through Holy Baptism, granting us forgiveness of sins. He gave us the power to do good if we wish and not to be forcibly drawn, so to speak, to evil…What is the cure and what is the cause of this disdain? Hear what the Lord says, "Learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for you souls" (St. Matthew 11:29). Here briefly, in one word, He shown us that arrogance defeated us, and that it is not possible to receive mercy, other than through its opposite, humility. As arrogance produces contempt and destructive disobedience, so humility produces obedience and the salvation of our souls. I have real humility in mind, not that of words and external forms, but of a true humble disposition that is cultivated in the heart itself and within this mind-set. This is what He means when He says, "For I am gentle and lowly in heart."
Therefore, whoever wants to find rest in his soul must learn humility and he will see that all joy, all glory and all true rest are to be there, whilest in pride it is just the opposite. How have we come into all this affliction? How have we fallen into all this misery? Is in not because of our pride?
[to be continued]
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God