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.
PRAYERS ACCORDING TO THE CYCLE OF THE TWENTY-FOUR HOURS OF DAY AND NIGHT
1. O Lord, deprive me not of Your heavenly and eternal blessings.
2. O Lord, deliver me from the eternal punishments.
3. O Lord, forgive me if I have sinned either in word or in mind or thought.
4. O Lord, deliver me from every need, ignorance, forgetfulness, indolence and hard insensitivity.
5. O Lord, deliver me from every temptation and abandonment.
6. O Lord, illumine my heart which has been darkened by evil desire.
7. O Lord, as a human I sin, but You, as God, have mercy on me.
8. O Lord, behold the weakness of my soul and send Your grace to my help so that Your Holy Name may be glorified in me.
9. O Lord Jesus Christ, enroll the name of Your servant in the book of life and grant to me also a good end.
10. O Lord, my God, I have done no good, but let me, by Your compassion, some day to begin.
11. O Lord, pour in my heart the dew of Your grace.
12. O Lord, God of heaven and earth, according to Your great mercy, remember me, the sinner, the shameful, the evil and profane one, when You come into Your Kingdom.
13. O Lord, receive me in repentance and forsake me not.
14. O Lord, lead me not into temptation.
15. O Lord give good thoughts.
16. O Lord, give me tears, remembrance of death and compunction.
17. O Lord, give me confession of my thoughts.
18. O Lord, give me humility, uprooting of my will and obedience.
19. O Lord, give me endurance, forbearance and meekness.
20. O Lord, plant in me the root of all virtues which is the fear of You.
21. O Lord, make me worthy to love You with all my soul, mind and heart, and to do Your will in all things.
22. O Lord, protect me from evil men, demons and passions, and from all improper things.
23. O Lord, as You command; O Lord, as You know; O Lord, as You wish, so let Your will be done in me.
24. O Lord, let Your will be done and not mine; through the intercessions and prayers of the All-Holy Theotokos and all Your Saints, for You are Blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.
On October 22nd 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: Saint Averkios Equal-to-the Apostles and Wonderworker Hierapolis; Seven Holy Martyred Youths of Ephesus.
SAINT AVERKIOS, EQUAL TO THE APOSTLES. In the time of the Emperor Antoninus (138-161 AD.), Saint Averkios was bishop in the city of Hierapolis in Phrygia. The great majority of the town's inhabitants were pagans, and Saint Averkios governed his little flock with a heart greatly saddened by the great number of pagans and idolaters, and with fervent prayer to God that He would bring them to the true Light. At the time of a rowdy idolatrous festival, Saint Averkios became inflamed with godly zeal and went into the temple, smashing all the idols. When the furious pagans tried to kill him, three young madmen fell down before the man of God, foaming at the mouth and bellowing. The man of God drove the demons out of them, and they were healed and became calm. Seeing this, the fury of the pagans turned to marveling at Christ's wonderworker, and five hundred of them were immediately baptized. Little by little, everyone in the city of Hierapolis came to believe in Christ and was baptized. The Proconsul of the region, Publius, had a blind mother whose sight Saint Averkios restored by prayer, and both Publius and his mother came to faith in Christ, along with many other people. In old age, Saint Averkios was summoned to Rome, where he healed the Emperor's mad daughter. The Lord Christ appeared to His faithful follower several times. People from far and near came to him for help in chronic sickness, and the demons not only feared him but were obedient to his commands. At the order of the Lord Himself, he preached the Gospel throughout Syria and Mesopotamia, and went to his beloved Lord in great old age, in the city of Hierapolis at the end of the 2nd century.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Philippians 4:10-23. "But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me. Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonian, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed, I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Holy Gospel Lesson: Saint Luke 10:22-24. "All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son will to reveal Him. Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, 'Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see: 'For I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what your hear, and have not heard it.'"
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION:
"The joyful news of Your resurrection was told to the women disciples of the Lord by the Angel. Having thrown off the ancestral curse, and boasting, they told the Apostles: death has been vanquished. Christ our God is risen." [The Resurrection Apolytikion]
THE PARTICULAR JUDGMENT :
THE FATE OF MAN AFTER DEATH UNTIL THE GENERAL JUDGMENT
[According the Holy Orthodox Christian Church]
[source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Father Michael Pomazansky]
Death is the common lot of men. But for man it is not an annihilation, but only the separation of the soul from the body. The truth of the immortality of the human soul is one of the fundamental truths of Christianity. "God is not a God of the dead, but of the living; for all live unto Him" (St. Matthew 22:32; Saint Luke 20:38). In the New Testament Sacred Scripture death is called "the decrease (departure) of the soul" ("I will endeavor that you may be able after my decrease to have these things always in remembrance"), II Peter 1:15). It is called the deliverance of the soul from prison (II Corinthians 5:1-4); the putting off of the body, ("Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle,") II Peter 1:14; a dissolving ("having a desire to depart" [be dissolved], "and to be with Christ, which is far better", Phil. 1:23); a departure ("the time of my departure is at hand", II Timotheos 4:6); a sleep, (David "fell asleep", Acts 13:36).
The state of the soul after death, according to the clear testimony of the word of God, is not unconscious but conscious (for example, according to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, St. Luke 16:19-31). After death man is subjected to a judgment which is called "particular" to distinguish it from the General Last Judgment. It is easy in the sight of the Lord to reward a man "on the day of death according to his conduct", says the most wise son of Sirach (11:26). The same thought is expressed by the holy Apostle Paul: "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). The holy Apostle presents the judgment as something which follows immediately after death of a man, and evidently he understands this not as the General Judgment, but as the Particular Judgment, as the Holy Fathers of the Church have interpreted this passage. "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise" (St. Luke 23:43), the Lord uttered to the repentant thief.
In Sacred Scripture it is not given us to know how the Particular Judgment occurs after a man's death. We can judge of this only in part from separate expressions which are found in the word of God. Thus, it is natural to think that in the Particular Judgment also a large part in the fate of a man after death is taken both by good and evil angels: The former are implements of God's mercy, and the latter--by God's allowance--are implements of God's justice. In the Parable of the rich man and Lazarus, it is said that Lazarus "was carried by the Angels into Abraham's bosom" (St. Luke 16:22). In the Parable of the foolish rich man he is told: "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee" (lit.: "they shall take," (St. Luke 12:20); evidently it is evil powers who will "take it" (St. John Chrysostom). For, on the one hand, the Angels of these "little ones," in the Lord's own words, always behold the face of the Heavenly Father (St. Matt. 18:10), and likewise at the end of the world the Lord will send His Angels, who will "sever the wicked form among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire" (St. Matt. 13:49); and on the other hand, "our adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8), and the air, as it were, is filled with the spirits of evil under the heavens, and their prince is called the "prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 6:12, 2:2).
Based on these indications of Sacred Scripture, from antiquity the Holy Fathers of the Church have depicted the path of the soul after its separation from the body as a path through such spiritual expanses, where the dark powers seek to devour those who are weak spiritually, and where therefore one is in special need of being defended by the heavenly Angels and supported by prayer on the part of the living members of the Church. Among the ancient Fathers the following speak of this: Saint Ephraim the Syrian, Saint Athanasius the Great, Saint Macarius the Great, Saint Basil the Great and Saint John Chrysostom, and others.
The most detailed development of these ideas is made by Saint Cyril of Alexandria in his "Homily on the Departure of the Soul," which is usually printed it the Sequential Psalter (The Psalter with additions from the Divine services). A pictorial depiction of this path is presented in the life of Saint Basil the New (March 26), where the departed blessed Theodora, in a vision during sleep communicated to the disciple of Basil, tells what she has seen and experienced after the separation of her soul from the body and during the ascent of the soul into the heavenly mansions.
The path of the soul after its departure from the body is customarily called the "toll houses." With regard to the images in the accounts of the toll houses, Metropolitan Macarius in his "Orthodox Dogmatic Theology" remarks: "One must firmly remember the instruction which the Angel made to Saint Macarius of Alexandria when he had just begun telling him of the toll-houses: 'Accept earthly things here as the weakest kind of depiction of heavenly things.' One must picture the toll-houses as far as possible in a spiritual sense, which is hidden under the more or less sensuous and anthropomorphic features."
Concerning the state of the soul after the Particular Judgment, the Orthodox Church teaches thus: "We believe that the souls of the dead are in a state of blessedness or torment according to their deeds. After being separated from the body, they immediately pass over either to joy or into sorrow and grief; however, they do not feel either complete blessedness or complete torment; for complete blessedness or complete torment each one receives after the general Resurrection, when the soul is reunited with the body in which it lived in virtue or in vice" (The Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs on the Orthodox Faith, paragraph 18). Thus the Orthodox Church distinguishes two different conditions after the Particular Judgment, one for the righteous, another for sinners; in other words, paradise and hell. The Church does not recognize the Roman Catholic teaching of three conditions: 1) blessedness, 2) purgatory, and 3) Gehenna (hell).The very name "Gehenna" the Fathers of the Church usually refer to the condition after the Last Judgment, when both death and hell will be cast into the "lake of fire" (Apoc 20:15). The Holy Fathers of the Church, basing themselves on the Word of God, suppose that the torments of sinners before the Last Judgment have a preparatory character. These torments can be eased and even taken away by the prayers of the Church (Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs, paragraph 18). Likewise, the fallen spirits are "reserved in everlasting chains under darkness (in hell) until the Judgment of the great day" (II Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6).
With sincere agape In His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God