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 ΧΡΙΣΤΟ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ. ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
A PRAYER FOR PARENTS FOR THEIR CHILDREN AND FOR RELATIVES AND FRIENDS
O God, Our Heavenly Father, Who loves mankind, and are most merciful and compassionate, have mercy upon Thy servants (N) for whom I humbly pray Thee, and whom I commend to Thy gracious care and protection. Be Thou, O God, their guide and guardian in all their endeavors. Lead them in the path of Thy Truth, and draw them nearer to Thee, that they may lead a godly and righteous life in thy love and fear, doing Thy Will in all things. Give them grace that they may be temperate, industrious, diligent, devout, and charitable. Defend them against the assaults of the enemy, and grant them wisdom and strength to resist all temptations and corruption of this life. Direct them in the way of salvation, through the mercy of Thy Son, Our Savior Jesus Christ, and the intercessions of the Theotokos and Thy Blessed Saints. Amen.
On October 4th 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 Hierotheos, bishop of Athens; Saint Peter of Capitolia; Saint Domnina of Syria with daughters Bernice and Prosdoce; St. Ammon of Nitria; Saints Avdaktos and Kallisthene of Ephesus; Saint Gaius, Faustus, Eusebius, and Chaeremon of Alexandria; St. John of Lambdistos; Sts. Helladius, Onesimus, and Ammon of the Kiev Caves; Saint Peter, youth Serbia; Saint Vladimir Yaroslavich, Prince of Novgorod and his mother Saint Anna; Saint Stephen Stiljnovich of Serbia; Saint Elena, wife of Saint Stephen of Serbia; Saint Barsanuphius, Bishop of Tver; Saint Guria, Archbishop of Kazan; Saint Johah and St. Nektarios of Kazan.
THE HIEROMARTYR HIEROTHEOS. He was a friend of Saint Dionysius the Aeropagite, and received the Christian faith from the holy Apostle Paul a little after Saint Dionysius. This holy Apostle later made him bishop of Athens. At the time of the Holy Dormition of the Theotokos, Saint Hierotheos arrived in Jerusalem and took part in the funeral. With his divine singing, he brought heartfelt joy to many and showed himself to be greatly inspired. He labored greatly for the sake of the Gospel, brought many pagans to the truth, governed his flock will and finally ended a martyr for Christ, Who gave him a twofold wreath in His Heavenly Kingdom: of the hierarch and of the martyr.
SAINT STEPHEN STILJANOVIC. A Serbian despot, born of the Pastrovic family, he governed the Serbian people during a most difficult period, struggling courageously against the Turks and the Latins (Roman Catholics). A righteous and godly man and a patriot, this great prince can be compared with Saint Alexander Nevsky or with the holy king John Vladimir. He entered into rest at the beginning of the 16th century (according to some, 1515 AD). A light appeared at his grave at night, by means of which his holy relics were found, being kept for a long time in the Monastery of Sisatovac in the Fruska Gora and then, during the Second World War, taken to Belgrade and placed in the Cathedral beside the body of Prince Lazar. His wife Helena, seeing St. Stephen's uncorrupt holy relics and the miracles wrought by them, became a nun and gave herself to asceticism till her death.
+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: Ephesians 5:33, 6:1-9
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 7:17-30
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"Be zealous within your soul, but do not give the slightest sign, word or hint of it outwardly; and you will manage this as soon as you stop looking down on your neighbor, something you may be inclined to do. And if this is so, then become like your brethren in order not to differ from them solely by the measure of your conceit. I once saw an inexperienced disciple who used to boast in certain quarters about the achievement of his teacher. He imagined that in this way he would win glory for himself from another's harvest. But he only got a bad name for himself, for everyone put this question concerning him, "How then could a good tree grown such a dead branch!" [Saint John Climacus]
PRACTICAL TEACHING ON THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
By Saint Dorotheos
Oh, Brethren, what is the result of pride? Oh, see what humility can do? What was the need for all these sufferings? For, if from the beginning man had humbled himself, obeyed God, and kept the Commandments he would not have fallen. Again, after his fall, God gave him an occasion to repent and to receive mercy but he kept his stiff-neck high. He came to him and said, "Adam, Where are you?" instead of saying "What glory you have left and what dishonor you have arrived at?" After that, He asked him, "Why did you sin?" Why did you transgress the Commandment?" By asking these questions, He wanted to give him the opportunity to say, "Forgive me". However, he did not ask forgiveness. There was no humility, there was no repentance, but indeed the opposite. He answered, "The woman whom you gave to be with me" (Genesis 3:9-12), he did not say, "The woman deceived me," but "the woman whom you gave to me", as if he wanted to say: "This catastrophe has come upon me because of you". So it is, brethren, l since man is not accustomed to blame himself. He does not hesitate to consider even God as the cause of evil. Then God came to the woman and said to her, "Why did you not keep the commandment?" as if he wanted to say, "at least you, say forgive, so as to humble your soul and to receive mercy". Again, there was no request for forgiveness. She also answered, "The serpent deceived me" (Genesis 3:13), as if she wanted to say, "If the serpent sinned, where is my mistake?" Why did you act in this way, you pitiable ones? Make a bow of repentance, recognize your fault, be sorry for your nakedness. Neither one of them could blame himself, neither of them had the least bit of humility.
Thus, you can see, clearly, how we arrived at this situation. You can see how many evils we have arrived at, and of what sort through justifying ourselves, following our own opinion and insisting on our own will. All of which are children of that enemy of God, pride. In contrast, the products of humility are self-criticism, mistrust of our own wisdom and hatred of our own will, because from these one can rediscover one's own self and return to the natural state through purification which is the gift given to you by keeping Christ's Holy Commandments. For without humility one cannot obey the Commandments neither can one do good, as Abba (Father) Mark says, "Without the heart being broken, it is impossible to be freed from evils and to obtain virtue." Therefore it is through breaking the heart that one accepts the virtues and is liberated from evils, practices the virtues and returns to one's rest.
All the saints have understood this and have tried to unite themselves with God through a humble way of life. Some of them, loving God, after Holy Baptism, not only removed the effect of the passions, but they also wanted to overcome the passions themselves and so to teach apathy: as was the case with Saint Anthony and Saint Pachomius and the other God-bearing Fathers. Their goal was purification, as the Holy Apostle says, "From all filthiness of the flesh and spirit" (2 Corinthians 7:1). Moreover, they knew that, as we have already said, the soul is purified and it could be said that the nous is also purified and by the keeping of the commandments it can see and arrive at its natural state. This is because "the Commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes" (Psalm 19:8). They have realized that by living in this world they could not attain virtue easily. So they decided to seek a strange life, a strange way. This is the monastic life. So they started to leave the world and life in the deserts; fasting, sleeping on the ground, keeping vigil, and other hardships, renouncing their native land, money and possessions, they crucified the world in themselves.
As we have said, our Fathers having crucified the world to themselves, took care to crucify themselves to the world through struggle.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God