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 SAINT BASIL THE GREAT
Blessed are you, O Lord God Almighty, You have illumined the day with the light of the sun And the night You have brightened with the rays of the fiery moon; You have made us worthy to go through this day And to approach the beginning of the night. Hear our petitions and those of all Your people, And forgive us all our voluntary and involuntary sins. Receive our evening prayers, And sent down upon the people of Your inheritance The multitude of Your mercy and compassionate love. Encompass us with Your holy Angels. Arm us with the weapons of Your righteousness. Outline us with the mark of Your truth. Guard us by Your power. Deliver us from every circumstance and influence of the adversary. Grant us once again, O Lord, that this present evening together with the approaching night, and all the days of our life, Will be perfect, holy, peaceful, sinless and without any scandalous imaginations. We pray for this through the intercessions of the Holy Theotokos and all the Saints who have pleased You through the ages. Amen.
On November 29th 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: Paramonou and Philoumenou and 370 Holy Martyrs; Saint Nicholas, Archbishop of Thessaloniki; Saint Dionysios, Bishop of Corinth; Saint Tiridates, king of Armenia; Saint Habib, Bishop of Nekresi; Saint John of Persia; Saint Urban of Macedonia; Saints Valerian and Phaedrus of Ancyra; Saint Saturninos of Toulouse; Saint Pitirim of Egypt; Saint Radbound, bishop of Utrecht; Saint Nectarius of the Kiev Caves; Righteous Pankosimos; Six martyrs who entered a rock which wondrously opened and received them.
THE HOLY MARTYRS PARAMON AND PHILOUMENOS AND 370 OTHERS. In Asian Bithynia, the governor, Aquilinus, was ferociously persecuting Christians. He once seized three hundred and seventy Christians and took them with him in bonds to some place where there was a temple to the god Poseidon. Here, the evil governor tried to force them to offer sacrifice to idols. Although he threatened with death any who refused to obey his command, not a single one of the Christians submitted to it. At that time, there passed along the road running beside the temple a respected man called Paramon. He stopped beside the group of bound men and learned what was happening, then cried out: 'Oh, how many innocent and righteous men does this foul governor desire to slaughter because they will not bow down t his dumb and dead idols? St. Paramon then continued on his way, and the furious governor sent servants to kill him. They caught up with him and seized him, first piercing his tongue with a thorn and then stripping him and stabbing him all over. Holy Paramon, with prayer in his heart, gave his soul into God's hands. After that, these three hundred and seventy martyrs, great sons of God and innocent lambs, were beheaded with the sword and thus entered into the immortal Kingdom of Christ the Lord. They suffered in the year 250 A.D.
Saint Philoumenos was a monk at the shrine of Jacob's well. Every Friday, many Jewish people would go to Jacob's well to pray. Some would tell Philoumenos to take all of the Orthodox icons and leave or he would regret it bitterly. On November 29, 1979, it rained very hard all day, with lightning and thunder, and no one visited the shrine. While Father Philoumenos was serving Vespers, he was killed with a hatchet, with wounds to his face, hand, and foot, and they threw a hand grenade into the chapel. They took the icons, the candle holders, and the chalices. When the guard arrived the next morning, he found St. Philoumenos in a pool of blood. He also notified the police and the Patriarchate. Saint Philoumenos was taken to the morgue, an autopsy was done, and after five days in refrigeration, they gave his naked holy relics to the priests. When Hieromonk Sophronios was trying to dress St. Philoumenos on his own, he asked for the assistance of Philoumenos The Saint lowered both hands into the sweater and then he straightened out his own legs. Christians, Muslims, Hodjas, and others from various religions attended his funeral and mourned Father Philoumenos with great sadness.
+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: 1 Timothy 3:1-13
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 20:9-18
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND EDIFICATION
"Vigils and fasts and acts of mercy are the methods advocated by the Saints to attain the spiritual life...But they must not stand alone, nor must the Christian put his trust in them. Humility must have faith for its principle, and fasting be combined with charity, that is, feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked". [St. Basil the Great]
THE CURE OF THE SOUL
by His Eminence, Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos [source: The illness and cure of the soul in the Orthodox Tradition]
Firstly, I must underline that the Church is a spiritual hospital which heals man. The Church is not an association of good and pious people, but the Blessed Body of Christ within which people are cured. It receives ill men and heals them of their spiritual ulcers. We can say that there are three categories of Christians within the Church: Firstly the uncured in soul, those who are neither cured, nor do they know what cure is; Secondly those who are being cured; those Christians who struggle to be cured by means of the ways of Orthodox tradition. They steadily advance in therapy. Finally, the Saints of the Church are those already cured spiritually and belongs to the third category
---Do you say that the Saints have been completely cured? asked Father Philip. There have been cases in which the Saints have also made various mistakes in their lives. God alone is perfect and for this reason we cannot claim that the Saints are perfect.
---Certainly, God is holy and perfect in the absolute sense. Yet, those united with Him attain perfection in the relative sense. The holiness of the members of the Church is neither individual nor more, but it is the holiness of the Head of the Church, that is of Christ. When we say that the Saints are those who have been cured, we mean that they have been united with God. And they feel this union as an unceasing memory o God through noetic prayer. Unceasing memory of God, according to the teaching of Saint Basil the Great, is a clear indication that God dwells within them and noetic prayer shows that their nous is illumined. The illumination of the nous is therefore man's cure. And, to be precise, we can say that it is the beginning of cure, which is continued. Thus the Saints might have made some mistakes in their lives also, but their nous has been illumined; has been orientated to God; it has been appropriately regulated.
And if they happen to fall into a sin, then great repentance is activated. I mention an example. The Apostle Peter reached to the vision of the uncreated Light on Mount Tabor. This vision of God in His glory was accomplished through the Apostle's divinization. The Apostle was transformed and through his transformation saw the uncreated Light. He saw the glory of Christ's divinity, which poured forth from His deified flesh. However forty days later he fell into the sin of denying Christ. And we know from the narration of the Gospels that the Apostle Peter cried bitterly. Can we understand this crying of the Apostle? Unfortunately we cannot understand it in its fullness, because we do not have the same experience as the Apostle. Due to his previous experience the Apostle's repentance was expressed with great pain and bitterness. His nous--having acquired the experience of God--immediately realized his fall and his repentance was unrestrained. And we believe that he would remember this repentance, this bitter crying throughout his life. Thus we say that the Saints are cured in the sense that they are immediately aware of their mistakes and are in a position to express profound repentance, which we cannot even suspect, and thus to reach greater heights of holiness. Whereas those uncured in soul can commit the greatest sins and not only are they not bothered, but also consider them as the most natural thing.
First of all Orthodox faith is absolutely necessary for man's cure. Indeed, firmness of faith is required, because if faith is changed, cure is automatically altered. Faith preserves the therapeutic method. In other words, if we reject the teaching that Christ is God, then we cannot be saved, because how is it possible for a man to save another man? This is one of the basic arguments of Saint Athanasios the Great against Arios, who claimed that Christ is not uncreated, but created. If we deny that the Holy Spirit is God, then again we deny salvation. Denying the dogma of the Ever-Virginity of the Theotokos and the necessity of calling her thus is denying the teaching that God assumed man's flesh and thus saved him; for "what is not assumed remains unhealed."
We acknowledge therefore that Christ is the only true God; that the Church is a hospital, which really heals man; that the Holy Fathers are the true therapists, who heal by the power of Christ; that the Commandments are therapeutic, and we attempt to live according to them. For, just as the doctor's precepts are not legal formulas, but presuppose man's illness and aim at this cure, so the Commandments of Christ also presuppose man's malady and aim at his cure. Therefore we keep all the Commandments of Christ and the heart begins to be cured.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God