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 OF SAINT BASIL THE GREAT
God and Lord of the Heavenly powers of Angels And Creator of the whole universe, Out of the depths of Your unimaginable loving kindness, You sent Your Only-begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, For the salvation of our human race. Through His precious Cross, Christ tore up the written accusation against our sins, And He triumphed upon the Cross Against the principalities and authorities of darkness. Receive now, O Loving Lord, also from us sinners, These prayers of petition and thanksgiving, And redeem us from every destructive and evil transgression, And from all visible and invisible enemies who seek to harm us. Through the salutary fear of You, O God, Transfix our flesh upon the Cross And do not incline our hearts to words or thoughts of evil. Uphold our souls with the desire for You, So that looking intently toward You always, Being guided by Your Light, And seeing You, the uncreated and unapproachable Light, We may send up to You an increasing confession and thanksgiving, To You the Unbegotten Father without beginning, Together with Your Only-begotten Son, And Your All-Holy, Good and Life-creating Spirit, Now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
On November 15th (HOLY NATIVITY FAST BEGINS TODAY: ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, MEAT PRODUCTS, AND DAIRY PRODUCTS) 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, Teachers and every righteous spirit made perfect in Our in Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Martyrs Gourias, Samonas, and Avivos of Edessa; Saint Herman of Alaska; Holy Martyrs Elpidios, Markellos, and Efstochios; Saints Justinian and Theodora of Constantinople; Saint Paisius Velichkovsky of Moldavia and Mt. Athos; Saint Thomas the New; Saint Demetrios of Thrace; Saint Quintian, Bishop of Seleucia.
THE HOLY MARTYRS GURIAS, SAMONAS AND AVIVOS. Saints Gurias and Samonas were eminent citizens of Edessa. At the time of a persecution of Christians, they hid outside the city and lived in fasting and prayer, giving courage to the faithful who came to them for counsel. They were seized and taken before the judge, who threatened them with death if they refused to observe the imperial decree on the worship of idols. Christ's holy Martyrs replied: "If we observe the imperial decree, we shall be lost even if you do not kill us." They were thrown into prison after harsh torture, and were there confined from August 1st to November 10th, enduring hunger, darkness and great hardship. They were then brought out again and tortured afresh, and, as they remained steadfast in the Christian faith, were condemned to death and beheaded with the sword in the year of Our Lord 322, under the evil pagan Roman Emperor Licinius (who ruled the Eastern half of the Roman Empire until 324). Later Saint Avivos, a deacon in Edessa, was tortured for Christ his Lord and, in the flames, gave his spirit into God's hands. His mother took his unharmed body from the fire and buried it together with those of Saints Gurias and Samonas. When the persecution had ended, Christians built a church in honor of these three holy Martyrs, and placed their wonder working relics in one coffin. Of the manifold miracles of these wonderful Saints of God, one is specially remembered: A widow in Edessa had a young daughter, who was to marry a Goth serving in the Greek army. As the mother was concerned at the thought of sending her daughter to a distant land, the Goth swore over the grave of the Martyrs that he would do no ill to the girl, but take her as his legal wife. He was, though, in fact, already married. When he took the girl back to his own land, he treated her, not as his wife, but as a slave, until his lawful wife died. He then agreed with his kinsman that he should bury his living slave along with his dead wife. The slave implored the holy Martyrs with tears to save her, and they appeared to her in the grave, took hold of her and, in an instant, carried her from the land of the Goths to Edessa, to their church. On the following day, when the church was opened, the girl was found by the tomb of the Saints, and the story of her miraculous deliverance was heard.
+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: I Thessalonians 4:18-5:10
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 16:1-9
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND EDIFICATION
"Struggle mightily. Do not fear, for we have before us our big brothers--the Angels--who fight together with us. They are incomparably stronger than the demons. Therefore, take courage. Strengthen yourselves with true self-knowledge, for the truth protects a struggler like an almighty weapon." [Geronda[Elder] Ephraim of Saint Anthony's Monastery in Arizona]
THE ORTHODOX TRADITION
By Geronda[Elder] Paisios Of Mount Athos [source: With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man]
"Jesus Christ Is the Same, Yesterday and Today and Forever" (Hebrews 13:8)
Geronda[Elder], people often talk about "Church renewal" as if the Church is getting old and needs to be rejuvenated!
---The Church...getting old? Not quite. If you have a bit of piety and some good sense, you will not find satisfaction in novelties; this is why we see some people return to antiquity. They cannot, for example, be touched by modern icons, because they realize the value that an old icon has. And this only takes a bit of good sense. Now imagine if in addition to that, one has real piety! This should tell you how wrong they are who are calling for "renewal" all for all kinds of changes!
Today, even those who try to remain faithful to Tradition, who fast, abstain from work on Sundays and feast days, and are generally pious, are subjected to ridicule, "This fellow is out of touch! He lives in the past!" And if you dare say something, they will go on, "You are totally out of it! We don't do things this way anymore!" And soon enough Tradition and fasting and piety are turned into myths and fairy tales. But do you remember what the Gospel says? "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." There are those who cannot be faithful to Tradition; the least they can do is to say, "Forgive me Lord, I have sinned!" And God will be merciful. But that's not what happens. The piety and devotion of others make them aware of their own weaknesses and they try to impose their way to make up for that. It's like taking a possessed person and putting him in a spiritual environment. He will not be able to sit still or find rest, because he will be under pressure. Something similar happens in this case. These people are checked by their conscience; they know something is wrong and try to suppress it. And so they come up with all these remarks. They take old values and call them "status quo" and try to replace moral order with disorder. People act in perverse ways! When they see spiritual beauty, they take it as ugliness. Take, for example, a monk and cut his hair and beard short; you'll see how ugly he will look! Well, those who have a secular mind will not see that; they will find him beautiful.
Just turn around and see how they fight the Church and try to destroy Her. Let's say that they don't believe in God, and what they preach is atheism. But why do they refuse to recognize the many good things that the Church has to offer and are always against Her? This is really malicious. Why don't they acknowledge that the Church actually protects children, keeps them from turning into little hooligans and teaches them to become good human beings? What these people do is exactly the opposite. They push people on an evil path; they give them free license to destroy themselves. And what does the Church teach them. It teaches them "to be prudent, to show respect to other people and be chase, and grow up to be good and wholesome human beings." But this will not last; things will come around. In Russia, in a Church, an old lady was praying on her knees, next to a pillar. A young woman, a great scientist, goes up to her and says, "All these are old fashioned." And the old woman turns to her and replies, "Right here, at this very pillar where you now see me weeping, you too will weep one day. The things of your world will come and go, and one day it too will come to pass, but Christianity will never go away, it shall never come to pass."
When the holy Martyrs did not know how to explain the doctrines of the Church, they would often say, "What I believe is what the Fathers have taught." That was enough to lead them to martyrdom. You see, they could not defend their faith with arguments and persuade those that persecuted them, but they trusted the Holy Fathers. He would reason for himself, "How can I not trust the Holy Fathers? They were far more experienced and virtuous and holy than we are. How can I accept this nonsense and not protest when people insult the Holy Fathers?" We must trust Holy Tradition.
Please note: It is absolutely necessary to trust the Holy Fathers of the Church and to emulate their holy and virtuous life. Unfortunately some feel they know better and attempt to give their own person interpretation of the faith as though we are Protestants. Remember, "little knowledge is a dangerous thing". A genuine Orthodox Christian trusts and is obedient only to Our Holy Orthodox Church of 2,000 years. And know that others that have attempted to ignore the Church and its doctrine and Holy Tradition have fallen into heresy and found themselves outside the Church without any hope of salvation.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God