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 SUPPLICATION AND COMPUNCTION TO OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
by Saint Gregory the Theologian
O God, my God, before Whom tremble the cherubim and every abyss, the inexplorable ocean of goodness, Who ever harkens unto those who call upon You with a broken heart; Who created the night for the rest and salvation of Your creature; Who has made me, the wretched one, worthy to arrive at the end of the day; Who said, before you call upon me, even as you speak, I am present; come down to us even now, O Master, with Your invisible presence, from the bosom of Your Begetter, from Whom You are ever inseparable, and incline Your ear to our weakness. O Lord God, Who pours out mercy and kindness, Who ever invites me, the one who ever turns away from You and yet is benefited by You, send compunction upon me, the wretched one, and, as You did in the past with the rock in the desert, make my stony and petrified heart gush forth fountains of tears. For behold, O Master, with fear and trembling I fall down before You and entreat You: O Lord, Lord, forgive me my transgressions both of the whole day and of my entire life, those committed in ignorance, in knowledge and in thought; for I know how great is the multitude of Your kindness, O Lord and Creator, Who loves souls, and thus, I dare this supplication. Never, even for an hour, have I done Your will, neither have I done one good thing, O Lord. The will and thoughts of every man are all evil, loathsome and worldly...O Lord, my God remember Your sinful and useless servant, as I call upon Your Holy and venerable Name, and put me not to shame from my fervent hope. Make me worthy to love and fear you with all my heart and to do Your will in all things...By the intercessions of Your Mother and All-Pure Theotokos, who after You, is my hope, and by all Your Most divine Angels and Archangels and by the prayers of all Your Saints. Amen.
On October 24th 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 Arethas the Great and holy Martyr and Syncletiki and her two daughters, Saint Sevastiane the holy Martyr; Saint Elesbaan, Emperor of Ethiopia; The holy Icon 'Joy of all who Sorrow'; Our holy Father Arethas of the Kiev Caves.
THE HOLY MARTYR ARETHAS. This holy martyr suffered for the Christian faith with more than 4,000 other Christians: priests, monks and nuns, townsmen and women and children. Saint Arethas was the local governor of the town of Negran, in the land of Omir in Southern Arabia, and was 95 years old when he suffered. The land of Omir was governed by a Jew called Dunaan, a vicious persecutor of Christians. Resolving to exterminate Christianity completely in his land, he laid siege to the Christian town of Negran and told the citizens that, if they did not deny Christ, he would put them all the death. The citizens closed the gates, and Dunaan attacked the city wall for a long time without success. Then the iniquitous governor swore to the citizens that he would do nothing to them if they opened the gate for him to enter and take the tribute owing to him, saying that he would then go away at once. The Christians believed him, and opened the gates. Then the bloodthirsty Jew summoned the aged Saint Arethas to him, along with his clergy and other eminent citizens, and slew them all with the sword, and then indulged in a riot of butchery through the town. Hearing of this, the Byzantine Emperor, Justin, was greatly distressed and wrote a letter to the Ethiopian Emperor Elesbaan, urging him to set out with an army against Dunaan and avenge the Christian blood that had been spilled. Elesbaan obeyed Justin, attacked the governor of Omir, overcame him, slaughtered his entire army and put him to the sword. A devout man called Abramius was installed as ruler of Omir by God's revelation and, as archbishop, also by God's revelation, Saint Gregory (Dec. 19th). In Negran, the Christians rebuilt the Church of the Holy Trinity that Dunaan had burned, and built a church to the holy Martyr Arethas and the other martyrs of that city. They suffered and received wreaths of martyrdom from the Lord in 523 AD.
+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: Colossians 1:18-23. "And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the Church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of the Cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight--if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to very creature under heaven, of which I, Paul became a minister."
HOLY GOSPEL LESSON: St. Luke 11:9-13. The Lord said: "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Of if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Of if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION:
"I beseech you with tears, listen to these words of God and the Saints, my dear brethren, and do not grieve the Holy Spirit or His Angels, and do not give joy to the Devil and the demons, his minions, by such pagan and unchristian misconduct." [Saint Nicodemos the Hagiorite]
THE FOUR TYPES OF COMMUNION WITH GOD IN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH
by Saint Cleopa of Romania
Our union and communion with God in general terms come about in two ways: through the Mystical Communion of the body and blood of the Lord and through spiritual communion. The second way is likewise divided, into three ways. Thus, in the present talk I will speak to you about the ways by which we can commune with and be united to God, presenting testimony from the Holy Scriptures and teach of the Holy Fathers.
1. The first and most important communion with Christ takes place through the partaking of His Body and Blood. A Christian who does not believe that what appears to be bread and wine is truly the Body and Blood of our Lord is a heretic and a stranger to the True Faith in Christ, who says in the Gospel according to Saint John: "For My flesh is meat indeed and My Blood is drink indeed" (St. John 6:55). Moreover, the holy Apostle Paul tells us the following: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the Communion of the Blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the Communion of the Body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16). Whoever communes unworthily is found guilty, as the Holy Apostle himself says: "Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord" (1 Cor. 11:27). The Christian, however, who communes with fear, piety, and preparation, is counted worthy of the innumerable gifts, of which the most important are the following:
- He is united to Christ by grace, as is said in the passage: "He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him." (St. John 6:56).
- He participates in Eternal Life, as it is written: "Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath Eternal Life" (St. John 6:54).
- He will be raised on the Day of Judgment, as it is written: "and I will raise him up at the last day" (St. John 6:54).
- Christ creates a place of habitation within our hearts, as is written in the passages: "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith" (Ephesians 3:17), and "At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you" (St. John 14:20), and others.
- Whoever communes with Christ has Him living within him: "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in Me" (Galatians 2:20), and "My children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you" (Galatians 4:19).
- He progresses and increases in spiritual works, according to the passage: "That we...speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ" (Ephesians 4:14-15).
- He is cleansed of sins, is sanctified, enlightened, and granted eternal life (cf. the Prayer before Holy Communion of our Holy Father Saint John of Damascus).
- The sanctification of body and soul is effected, fantasies are expelled, he is cleansed of the passions, and has boldness before God and enlightenment and support for the increase of the virtues and perfection (cf. the sixth Prayer before Holy Communion, of our holy Father Basil the Great).
- Spiritual joy is brought about, as well as health of body and soul, according to our Holy Father St. Cyril of Alexandria. These and many more are the fruits that the believer who communes frequently and with good preparation acquires of the Divine Eucharist. He who does not draw near to this Mystery (Sacrament) will never be able to make progress in the working out of the virtues, since he does not remain in Christ, and with Christ in him, as the Lord Himself has said: "For without Me you can do nothing" (St. John 15:4).
[to be continued]
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God