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.
ALL OUR HOPE IS CHRIST, CRY UNTO HIM
[Saint Ephraim the Syrian]
Thou, O Lord of all, according to Thy mercy, be for me a harbor of salvation, a refuge of charity, and save me. I beseech Thy kindness, O my Savior. From henceforth pour out upon me Thy mercies at that hour and set me far away from those who are to be tormented. O Christ, Who didst will to become a sacrifice for us, destroy the sin which has stricken all my members. Descend and dwell in my members. When he hears of this, the teeth of the evil one will be broken and the fire of Gehenna will be extinguished by Thy radiance. Evil Satan has spewed out his venom on me, he has corrupted me and debased me with sin. But because I follow Thy way, and Thou art omnipotent, in my infirmity I nurture the hope that Thou wilt scorn him and help me by pardoning sins--and then will my corrupter be ashamed. The princes of evil have blinded me with their passions, and by their cunning have they robbed me of the beauty of my youth. What can I do, now that I have lost my purity? I will cry out to Christ, that He might return my beauty to me--and then will the evil ones be ashamed. My Savior cries out to me, to His disciple: do not despair of thy salvation; I will restore thee and forgive thee thy sins. I have found thee and I will not leave thee; for I have redeemed thee with My very Own Blood. Cry out, O sinner, with all your might, and spare not your throat; for your Lord is merciful and loves those who repent. As soon as you return, your Father will come out aforehand to meet you. He will slaughter the fatted calf, clothe you in a fine robe and rejoice in you.
On November 20th 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 Holy Orthodox Christian faith: [The Forefeast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple]; Saint Gregory of Decapolis; Saint Proklos, Patriarch of Constantinople; Saint Dasios of Dorostolum; Saint Azades the Eunuch; Holy Martyrs Savonios, Thecla, and Anna; Saints John, Saverios, Saint Isaac, and Hypatios, bishops of Persia; Saints Efstathios, Thespesios, and Anatolios of Galatia; Saints Bautha, Denchis, and Geithazet of Persia; Saint Isaac, bishop of Armenia; Saint Theoctistus the Confessor; Saint Diodoros of George Hill; Saint Nirsas, bishop of Sahgerd; Saint Joseph of Persia; Holy Martyr Edmund, king of East Anglia[England].
MARTYR EDMUND, KING OF EAST ANGLIA (England). Saint Edmund was known for his piety and virtues and was crowned as the English king on the Nativity in the 9th century. He also had the practice of reciting the Psalms by heart (all 150 of them). When Saint Edmund led his army against the Danes, who were pagans, he would shout affirmations of the Christian faith while swinging his sword in battle. Saint Edmund was captured and tortured, but he would not deny Christ or swear allegiance to them. He was tied to a tree and shot through with arrows, and his head was thrown into the woods. Later, friends of Saint Edmund heard his voice in the woods and the followed the sounds, and saw Saint Edmund's head, which was held in the paws of wolf. A thousand years after Saint Edmund's martyrdom, the tree where he was bound was cut down and an arrowhead was found embedded deep within the trunk. Years, later, the son of the Danish king who had fought against St. Edmund traveled to his graveside to atone for his father's actions and he left his own crown at the grave. He also converted to Christianity and rebuilt the abbey there. King Edmund was the first Patron Saint of England.
+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: 2 Thessalonians 1:10-12, 2:1-2
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 17:26-37, 18:8
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND EDIFICATION
"Blessed is the one who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." [Saint Theodore the Studite]
THOUGH OURS ARE DIFFICULT AND DANGEROUS TIMES, CHRIST WILL TRIUMPH IN THE END
by Geronda[Elder] Paisios of the Mount Athos (Spiritual Counsels) [source: With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man]
(We begin where we left off)
...Some folks came to see me in my Kalyvi and said, "There is no other way, the monks must come into the world like missionaries." These are hard times! If only you could see clearly our condition, where we are, and what is yet to come!
So Many Are Searching
It was winter when eighty people, from students to stage directors, turned out in my Kalyvi. They were weeping and asking if they could study Theology! Outrageous things are happening in the world. Everybody is looking for something, but most do not know what they are looking for. Some are seeking the truth in entertainment! Others are looking for Christ in outrageous music!
--Geronda[Elder], so many people are searching these days; they come and stand in line to see you, waiting for hours!
--It's one of the signs of our times, that people are seeking help from a poor man like me. I am not any good and I wonder what they find in me and why they come to see me. I am only a pumpkin that looks like a watermelon. Today people eat pumpkin and think it is watermelon, because the skin looks the same. They travel from afar without even being sure whether they will find me or not. With myself I am disgusted; for them, I feel so much pain. Look what has happened to our world and what is becoming of us! The Prophet Isaiah says that a time will come when people will find a man who is wearing a piece of clothing, and they wills say to him, "Come, let us make you our King" (Isaiah 3:6). May God have mercy on us.
When I read the 29th Psalm "for those in danger at sea," I say to myself, "My God, even the land and the whole world has become a more dangerous sea that threatens people with spiritual drowning." And when discouraged people come to see me, I read the 94th and the 37th Psalms for them. "O Lord, thou God of vengeance, shine forth. Rise up, O Judge of the earth; render to the proud their deserts...They crush Thy people, O Lord, and afflict Thy heritage...But the Lord has become my stronghold and my God the rock of my refuge." They offer such consolation. If people would only turn to Heaven, things would be so different. But you see, today, people are not thinking of God. That's why communication has become so difficult and it's hard to find common ground for understanding.
I constantly pray to God to make known to us real people, real Christians, and to give them a long life in order to help the people of this world. We should all pray that God brings forth new, young and pure people, like the Maccabees, because the present leaders are now destroying the world. Younger people may lack experience but they do not have guile and dishonesty. Let us pray that God will enlighten all human beings, not only those in the Church but also those in power to have the fear of God and the courage to speak out. One or two enlightened words will say, and just like that, things will take a turn for the better. But say something foolish and it can harm an entire nation. A right decision is a blessing for the world while a wrong one is a disaster. It's not only material misery that plagues people with hunger and unhappiness; it is also spiritual misery and that is far more devastating. The Jesus Prayer will help them to receive a little of Christ's Light. It's that easy! Christ will take a "screwdriver", and with a turn here and a turn there, all will be fixed! Gradually, as God sheds His Light, evil will lose face. For evil, by nature, is destroyed by itself; it's not God that destroys it. In the end, everything will fall into place. When I see understanding, compassion and a fighting spirit in many who have an important position in society, I am so filled with joy!
Today, if someone wishes to live honestly and spiritually, he will have a hard time fitting in this world. And if he is not careful, he'll be swept by the secular stream downhill. In the old days, there was plenty of good around, plenty of virtue, many good examples, and evil was drowned by the goods; so, the little disorder that existed in the world or in the Monasteries was neither visible nor harmful. What's going on now? Bad examples abound, and the little good that exists is scorned. Thus, the opposite occurs; the little good that exists is drowned by an excess of evil, and evil reigns.
It helps so much when a person or a group of people has a fighting spirit. When even one person grows spiritually, he does not only benefit himself, but helps those who see him. Likewise, one who is laid back and lazy has the same effect on the others. When one gives in, others follow until in the end there's nothing left. This is why it's so important to have a fighting spirit in these lax times. We must pay great attention to this matter, because people today have reached the point where they make lax laws and impose them on those who want to live strict and disciplined lives. For this reason, it is important for those who are struggling spiritually, not only to resist being influenced by the secular spirit, but also to resist comparing themselves to the world and concluding that they are Saints. For when this happens, they end up being worse than those who live in the world. If we take one virtue at a time, find the Saint who exemplified it and study his or her life, we will soon realize that we have achieved nothing and will carry on with humility.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God