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 CHILDREN FOR THEIR PARENTS
Our Father, Who are in Heaven, bless my Father and Mother and those who are in authority over me, for their loves and tender care for me and the benefits I receive at their hands. Help me, I pray Thee, to be respectful and obedient to them in all things according to Thy will. Give me Thy grace to perform all my duties carefully and faithfully, to avoid undesirable company and influence, and to resist all temptations that my come my way. Abide in me always, that I may live a sober, righteous and godly life, ever praising Thee, and glorifying Thy Holy Name. Amen.
On October 6th 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 Thomas the Holy Apostle of the Twelve; Holy Martyr Eroteis; Saint Makarios of Chios; Holy Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos "O All-Hymned Mother".
THE HOLY APOSTLE THOMAS. He was one of the Twelve Holy Apostles. Through his doubt of the Resurrection of the Lord Christ, a new confirmation was given of that wonderful and saving event, for the Risen Lord appeared again to His disciples, to convince Thomas. The Lord said to Thomas: "Reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side; and be not faithless, but believing', and Saint Thomas cried: "My Lord and my God!" (St. John 20). After the descent of the Holy Spirit, when the Holy Apostles cast lots to see who would go where to preach the Gospel, it fell to Saint Thomas to go to India. He was somewhat saddened at having to go so far away, but the Lord appeared to him and comforted him. In India, Saint Thomas converted many, both rich and poor, to the Christian faith, and founded a Church there, making priests and bishops. Among others, Saint Thomas converted two sisters, Tertiana and Mygdonia, wives of Indian princes. Both sisters were ill-treated for their faith by their husbands, who would not live with them after their baptism, and divorced them. Being freed from their marriages, they lived godly lives till their deaths. Dionysius and Pelagia, a couple at first betrothed to each other, heard the Holy Apostle's teaching and did not live together, but devoted themselves to the ascetic life. Pelagia died a martyr for the Faith and Dionysius was made bishop by the Apostle. Prince Misdaeus, the husband of Tertiana, whose wife and son Luzanes Saint Thomas baptized, condemned the Apostle to death, and sent five soldiers who ran him through with their lances, and thus the holy Apostle Thomas gave his soul into the hands of his Christ. Before his death, he, with the other Apostles, was miraculously borne to Jerusalem for the funeral of the Most Holy Theotokos. Arriving late, he grieved bitterly and, at his request, the tomb of the Most Pure and Ever-Virgin Mary was opened, but the body was not there; the Lord had taken His Mother to His Heavenly Home. Thus Saint Thomas first, by his unbelief, confirmed the faith in the Resurrection of the Lord and then, by his late arrival, revealed to us the wondrous glorification of the Mother of God.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 1 Corinthians 4:9-16
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 20:19-31
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"The Holy Spirit dwells in the humble soul, bringing freedom, peace, love and blessedness." [Saint Silouan the Athonite]
CONCERNING FAITH AND GOOD WORKS
by Saint Symeon the New Theologian
If we desire the Kingdom of Heaven we must have great care and diligence and willingness in practicing the Commandments of God. In order to be saved, it is not sufficient to believe in the true God and to be Orthodox Christians. We must also fight the "good fight", "live worthily of the vocation we are called", that is to say, perform Christian acts since we are baptized Christians and we are honored with the name of Christ.
Let us not think that we shall be saved by faith alone. Faith without works does not benefit in anything. Of course the Lord said, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned", but He also said this: "Not everyone that says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven." If one would be saved by faith alone then everybody will easily secure salvation. Because "the devils also believe and tremble." As the body without the soul is motionless and lifeless, so faith without works is dead. Let us hear Saint James the brother of God, who very lucidly stresses "What does it profit, my brethren, though a man says he has faith and has no works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, depart in peace, be warmed and filled; not withstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit? Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone" [Saint James 2:14-17] After these it is obvious that we must have works together with faith.
For this reason whoever believes in God and His Providence, shares out his money to the poor, hoping that he will receive "a hundredfold wage" and will inherit everlasting life. Whoever believes, struggles to be humble, repents for his sins, he is meek and peaceful, hates injustice and loves justice, because he remembers the verse from the Psalms "he who loves injustice hates his own soul".
He, who believes, endures without grumbling every temptation in order to be crowned with the crown of the incorruptible glory. He is prudent and does not molest himself. He, who truly believes, is not lazy and negligent of prayer, does not condemn anybody and does not follow the "broad road", but the "narrow and sorrowful road". He does not love the world, neither parents, nor brothers and sisters nor wife and children, more than the Lord. Those who believe, love the Lord and hate evil acts. They do not bear a grudge against his brother and do not return evil for evil. They do good to those who treat them badly, they bless those who curse them and they bear patiently those that persecute them.
Those, who believe do not practice hypocrisy, flattering or person favoritism, because in all their activities they are straight, honest and sincere. They have no pride and are not magnanimous for the sake of praises and flattering that other give them. They detest the world of sin, following the exhortation of Apostle Paul "No man that war entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who has chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strives for mysteries, yet he is not crown, except he strives lawfully."
Those who believe never lie, they are not greedy, they do not have Holy Communion without having Confession, they do not condemn others. In brief, they follow carefully and steadfastly the way of the Commandments of Christ and they have faith in Him, not in words but "in deeds and truth." Do you now see how those who believe live? So how can we consider somebody as faithful if he is poor in works?
If we truly believe, let us fight sin and abandon every evil that we have been doing so far. Let us struggle with willingness in order to be ready to stand before the Lord on the fearful Day of Judgment. Let us wake up from the sleep of negligence. Let us correct our thoughts and let us drive away the evil thoughts. Let us try to fulfill the Commandments of God in order to be crowned by Him and inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God