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 MORNING PRAYER TO GOD THE FATHER
[by Saint Basil the Great]
We thank you, O Lord, God of our salvation, for You do everything to the benefit of our lives, so that through everything we may look upon You as the Savior and Benefactor of our souls. For You gave rest to us during the length of the past night, You raised us from our beds and set us to worship Your Holy Name. Wherefore, we pray to You, O Lord, give us Your grace and strength, so that we may be worthy to sing to You in wisdom and to pray unceasingly, working out our salvation in fear and trembling. Hearken, O Master, have mercy on us and crush under our feet our unseen enemies and adversaries. For You alone are the Helper and Defender of our lives and we bless You unto the ages. Amen.
On October 5th 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 Charitina the holy Martyr; Saints Methodia, Evddokimos, of Athos; Saints Peter, Alexis, Jonah, Hermogenes and Tikhon, Metropolitan of Moscow.
THE HOLY MARTYR CHARITINA. Orphaned young, she was adopted by an eminent Christian man called Claudius, who brought her up as his own daughter. Saint Charitina was meek, humble, obedient and silent. She studied the law of God day and night and vowed to live in perpetual virginity as a true bride of Christ. But, St. Charitina having brought others to the Christian faith, the pagan Roman Emperor Diocletian's governor, Dometius, heard of her and sent soldiers to take her from her foster-father for trial. The judge asked her: "Is it true, little girl, that you are a Christian, and that you delude others by bringing them to this dishonorable faith?" Saint Charitina courageously replied: "It is true that I am a Christian, and a lie that I delude others. I lead those in error to the way of truth, bring them to my Christ." The wicked judge ordered that her hair be cut off and live coals put on her head, but the maiden was preserved by God's power. They threw her into the sea, but God delivered her from it. She was bound to a wheel which began to turn, but an Angel of God stopped the wheel and Saint Charitina remained unharmed. Then the wicked judge sent some dissolute youths to rape her. Fearing this dishonor, Saint Charitina prayed to God receive her soul before these dissolute men could foul her virginal body and so, while she was kneeling in prayer, her soul went out from her body to the immortal Kingdom of Christ.
+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 6:18-24
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 7:31-35
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
Dreams can be deceptive. "When you have a bad dream, never examine what you saw, how you saw it, or whether you're guilty or how much you may be at fault. The evil one, having failed to tempt you during the day time, comes to you at night. Sometimes God permits the devil to tempt us in our sleep, so that we may see that the old self has not entirely died. Other times, the enemy approaches a person in his sleep and presents various dreams in order to upset him when he awakes. This is why you shouldn't pay any attention to them. Cross yourself and the pillow, place a cross and an icon on your pillow and say the Jesus Prayer until you fall asleep…This is something that happens to children, too, even though they are little angels. The enemy (the devil) comes and scares them in their sleep, and they wake up frightened, running into their mother's arms. Other times, they are approached by angels, who make them smile in their sleep out of joy or they may wake up from their great joy. As such, dreams brought about by temptation are an external influence of the enemy upon man while he's asleep." [Geronda [Elder] Paisios of Mouth Athos]
MARRIAGE AND THE E KAT' OIKON EKKLESIA OR HOME CHURCH
In the first of Saint John Chrysostom's sermons on marriage, he takes as his text 1 Corinthians 7:1-4. His main theme is that marriage is intended to promote virtue. Saint Paul expresses this negatively in saying that people should marry "because of the temptation to immorality" (literally, "because of fornication").
Therefore, Saint John says, the more important reason for marriage is to give us chastity. The virtue of chastity must be understood positively. It is not merely avoidance of immorality, but integrity of the person, body and soul, and direction of oneself towards holiness. This is possible as much for the two who are made one in marriage as for the celibate person. So the primary reason for marriage is the unity in love and holiness of the couple themselves, not the good of society or the reproduction of the species. Finally, Saint John Chrysostom speaks of the equal responsibility of the Christian husband and wife to preserve nuptial chastity. Husbands must be just as faithful as they expect their wives to be.
From the beginning God in His providence has planned this union of man and woman, and has spoken of the two as one: "male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27) and "there is neither male nor female, for you all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). There is no relationship between human beings so close as that of husband and wife, if they are united as they ought to be.
The love of husband and wife is the force that welds society together. The example of harmoniousness of the household has been given for Christians by Saint John Chrysostom: "Consider Abraham and Sarah, and Isaac and the three hundred and eighteen born in his house" (Gen. 14:14). How the whole house was harmoniously knit together, how the whole household was full of piety and fulfilled the Apostolic injunction.
Orthodox Christianity is a way of life, not merely something we do on Sunday mornings and quickly forget when we leave Church. A way of life is a whole coming together of habits and attitudes, ideas and actions: a style of life, a way to life. For us Orthodox, Christianity is our daily bread. As followers of Christ our God and Savior, we take our whole direction from Christ, and His Church, and not from the standards of society or today's world.
Although it is very difficult for us Orthodox Christians to live an Orthodox Christian lifestyle from day to day and year to year because we are constantly exposed to and live within a gentile society that is not only not Christian but even at times, and increasingly, hostile to Orthodox Christian beliefs and morality. But this should not discourage us, for Christ Himself understood this situation when He said: "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; be wise as serpents and innocent as doves" (St. Matthew 10:16).
A tremendous bastion of strength for Orthodox Christian believers in our circumstances is Christian marriage and family life, a state that has been blessed by the Almighty God for the salvation of each individual member of the Christian family. In order fully to understand this, we must look at the doctrinal foundations of marriage found in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition--which are the on-going conscience of the Church.
[to be continued]
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God