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.
PRAYER FOR MARRIED PERSONS
O Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for blessing our marriage through the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. When we stood together before Your Holy Altar, we invited You to come and bless us. We claim Your Holy Presence in our marriage this day and every day. You are the Source of Love. Keep pouring Your love into us through the Holy Spirit. Help us to stay close to You. Help us to prefer one another in love, To consider it a privilege to be able to serve one another 'Til we see You face to face. Help us to be kind to each other, tenderhearted, Forgiving one another as you have forgiven us. Never let the sun go down on our anger. Grant us always to see our own faults And not to judge each other. Open our eyes to the best in each other. Let patience reign supreme in our hearts. Give us hope to brighten life, And joy to lighten sorrow.
May our home be a haven where spiritual values are treasured and Holy principles are modeled. Gladden us with Your grace and peace that with one heart we may Praise and glorify You. Amen.
On October 9th 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 James the holy Apostle, son of Alphaeus; Abraham the Righteous and his nephew Lot; Saint Andronicus and Saint Athanasia of Egypt; Saint Poplia of Antioch.
THE HOLY APOSTLE JAMES. The son of Alphaeus and one of the Twelve Great and Holy Apostles, he was the brother of the holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew. He was a witness of the true words and miracles of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and a witness of His Passion, Resurrection and Ascension. After the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, it fell to the lot of the Apostle James to preach Christ's Gospel in Eleutheropolis and the surrounding area, and then in Egypt, where he suffered for his Savior. With great power both in word and act, Saint James spread abroad the saving news of the Incarnate Logos (Word) of God, rooting out idol worship, driving demons out of men, healing all manner of sickness and disease in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. His labors and his zeal were crowned with great success. Many pagans came to belief in Christ the Lord, churches were founded and set in order and priests and bishops were made. He suffered in Egypt in the town of Ostracina, being crucified by the pagans. Thus this great and wonderful holy Apostle of Christ went to the Heavenly Kingdom, to reign forever with the King of Glory.
OUR HOLY FATHER ANDRONICUS AND HIS WIFE ATHANASIA. A citizen of Antioch in the time of Theodosius the Great (379-95 AD), Andronicus was a goldsmith by profession. Both he and his wife were very devout, striving without ceasing to walk in the ways of the Lord. They gave a third of what they earned to the poor, another third to the Church and kept the last for their own use. When they had had two children, they agreed to live in future as brother and sister. Then, by God's unfathomable providence, both their children died on the same day. They grieved deeply until the martyr Julian appeared to Athanasia by their grave and comforted her with the tidings that their children were in the Kingdom of God, and that they were better off there than with their parents on earth. After this, they left everything and went to Egypt, there receiving the monastic habit: Andronicus with the elder, Daniel, at Scetis and Athanasia in a women's monastery in Tabennisi. Being pleasing to God by many years of asceticism, they entered into the eternal Kingdom of Christ: first St. Athanasia and then, eight days later, St. Andronicus.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Ascetics, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: I Corinthians 4:9-16
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 9:36-38; 10:1-8
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"This day the Lord your God commands you to observe these statutes and judgments; therefore you shall be careful to observe them with all your soul. Today you have proclaimed the Lord to be your God, and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His Commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice". [Deuteronomy 26:16-17].
MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIFE ACCORDING TO THE HOLY SCRIPTURE
When we look at the practice of marriage, family life, and multiplication of the human race as described in the Old Testament, we are immediately aware of the fact that great emphasis was placed on the continuation of the Hebrew race. We have endless family trees give to us in the Old Testament. But marriage was not the only way by which the race was continued at that time. Children were also begotten through the custom of concubinage and the practice of a man marrying the widow of his brother, even though he might already have a wife. According to Deuteronomy 25:5-6: "If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family; her husband's brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her. And it shall be that the firstborn son which she bears will succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel". Many of the great personages of the Old Testament had multiple wives and concubines. However, the primary reason for all of this mating was not the gratification of lust, but the desire for descendants. Sexual promiscuity was in no wise condoned by God in Old Testament times any more than He condones it in our own times. But during Old Testament times, God began to reveal to man what His expectations were. Gradually we see that God condemned polygamous marriages, concubines, and the practice of marrying one's brother's widow. He began to shift the focus of marriage from procreation to a higher, spiritual level. He made very plain that He was the ultimate source of life, not the physical union of a man and woman. And where God is, there can be only holiness and mystery. And holiness and mystery must be protected, guarded and preserved against blasphemy, transgressions and perversions. In the Old Testament it makes it very clear that marriage is an extremely wonderful and holy mystery-so holy and mysterious that any kind of sexual transgression is an abomination in God's sight and to be avoided at all costs.
With the coming of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, marriage no longer had as its primary goal the reproduction of human beings and the perpetuation of a family line, although procreation was still regarded as an important part of marriage. But Our Lord came to the world and brought with Him the proof and guarantee of the resurrection of the dead, therefore giving to Christian marriage a new primary goal--the attainment of eternal life by husband, wife, and children.
The Mysterion (Sacrament) of marriage in Our Holy Orthodox Church begins with the words: "Blessed is the Kingdom, of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen." This exclamation emphasizes the seriousness of marriage, and also the goal of marriage. According to the Church Holy Canons, those Orthodox Christians who marry outside the Church are deprived of the Mysteries (Sacraments) of the Church. Some people find this shocking: they feel the Church is being too harsh. But the question is: What gives validity to marriage? From a spiritual standpoint, what gives meaning to a marriage? Unlike the wedding ceremonies in most non-Orthodox churches, marriages in the Orthodox Church is not a contract--legal agreement with the exchange of vows or promises--between two people, rather, marriage is the setting up, by two Christians, of a little Church, a family Church, wherein people may worship the True God and struggle to save their souls. It is also a family Church that is in obedience to Christ's Church. As Saint Basil the Great writes, it is natural to marry, but it must be more than natural; it must be a yoke (ζυγός), born by two people (συζυγία) under the Church.
Thus we see that in New Testament times the focus of marriage was switched form a primary purpose of producing children to a primary purpose of providing a way for human beings to save their souls. The wedding ceremony itself is filled with rich symbolism that makes the whole aspect of marriage very clear.
First and foremost, Christian marriage is an embodiment, an icon of the relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:20-33). The bond formed by sacramental marriage is by nature timeless, one which admits of no conditions in either time or behavior.
From the Mysterion (Sacrament) of marriage: "O God Most Pure, Author of all creation, Who through Your man befriending love transformed a rib of Adam the forefather into a woman, and blessed them and said, "Increase and multiply, and have dominion over the earth;" and, by the conjoining, declared them both to "be one member, for because of this a man shall forsake his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and the two shall be one flesh--and whom god has joined together let not man put asunder…Who out of the root of Jesse, according to the flesh, produced the Ever-Virgin Mary, and from her were Incarnate--born for the salvation of the human race; who through Your unspeakable grace, and plentiful goodness were present in Cana of Galilee, and blessed the marriage there, that you might show a lawful union, and a generation there from, is according to Your will; do You Yourself, O Most Holy Master, accept the prayer of us, Your servants; and as You were present there, be present also here with Your invisible protection. Bless this marriage and grant unto these Thy servants a peaceful life, length of days, chastity, love for one another in a bond of peace, offspring long-lived, faint fame by reason of their children, and a crown of glory that does not fade away…"
The Reading from the holy Epistle of the holy Apostle Paul to the Ephesians (5:20-33):
Brethren, give thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the Church, His Body, and is Himself the Savior. As the Church is subject to Christ, so let wives be also subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present the Church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherish it, as Christ does the Church. 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.' This is a great mystery, and I take it to mean Christ and the Church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."
Another Prayer: O God our God, Who was present in Cana of Galilee, and blessed the marriage there, do You also bless these Your servants, who, by your providence, are joined in the community of marriage. Bless their comings-in and goings-out. Replenish their life with all good things. Accept their crowns in Your Kingdom unsoiled and undefiled; and preserve them without offense to the ages of ages. Amen.
A final blessing: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; the All-Holy, Consubstantial and Life-creating Trinity; One Godhead and Kingdom; bless you; grant to you long life, well-favored children, progress in life and in faith, replenish you with all the good things of the earth, and count you worthy of the promised blessings, through the intercessions of the Holy Theotokos and of all the Saints. Amen.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God