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 FOR THE ENLIGHTENMENT OF THE SOUL
O Lord Jesus Christ, Word of God, O God the Logos, You are the light that created the perceptible light. You are the way and the truth and the life. In You there is no darkness, no deception or lie, no vanity and no death. You are indeed the Light, and apart from You there is spiritual darkness. You are the way of truth and virtue, and without You mankind wanders in error. You are the truth, without which there is only vanity. You are the life and without You there is death.
Lord, give the command to my soul which You gave in the beginning: "Let there be light!" that I may see the Light of Your Spirit and avoid the darkness of ignorance and of sin; that I may see the way of virtue and of salvation and return to You and away from what is not a real way; that I may see the truth and avoid the vanity of this temporal life; that I may see the spiritual life and avoid the death which is brought about by sin. Lord, shine Your spiritual Light abundantly upon me. You are my enlightenment and my Savior, Whom I will respect and fear. You are my Lord to Whom I will sing songs of praise. You are my God, Whose Name I will bless and glorify. You are my Father, Whom I will love. You are my Bridegroom, for Whom I will keep my soul faithful and devoted.
O Lord, the light of my soul, shine Your enlightenment upon me. As I stand now before You in prayer, shine Your Light upon me who am blind of soul, sitting in spiritual darkness and under the influence and power of death. Guide my works on the way of virtue, which brings peace, so that I may worthily approach the wondrous tabernacle, Your Holy Temple, the House of God, and there offer to You, with joyous voice, words of thanksgiving and doxology. For this doxology, when truly coming from the heart, is a sway and means by which I will first be able to turn away from the path of sin, and then directly return to You. For You are truly the Way that leads to Life. Amen.
On December 12th 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: Saint Spyridon the Wonderworker of Trimythus; Saint Herman of Alaska, Enlightener of the Aleuts; Saint Peter the Aleut; Saint Alexander, Archbishop of Jerusalem; Saints Anatole of Irkutsk and Seraphim of Uglich, and priests John of Chicago and Alexander of New York; Saint John, Metropolitan of Zichne; Saint Therapon of Monza; Saint John of Zedazeni in Georgia; Saint Anthus of Palestine; Saint Amonathas of Pelusium.
SAINT SPYRIDON THE WONDERWORKER, BISHOP OF TREMITHUS. The island of Cyprus was both the birthplace of this famous Saint, and the place in which he spent his life in the service of the Church. He was of simple farming stock, and remained simple and humble to the end of his days. He married young and had children, but, when his wife died, he devoted himself entirely to the service of God. He was chosen for his devotion as Bishop of Tremithus, and even as a bishop did not change his simple style of life, taking charge of his cattle himself and tilling his own land. He consumed very little of his own produce, giving the greater part to the poor. He performed great wonders (miracles) by God's power, making rain fall in a drought, stopping the course of a river, raising several of the dead, healing the Emperor Constantine of a grave sickness, seeing and hearing Angels, foreseeing future events and penetrating the secrets of the human heart. He turned many to the true Faith, and did much else. He was present at the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 325 A.D., during one of his many disputes with the Arians concerning the Divinity, our holy Father Saint Spyridon demonstrated the Trinity's unity in the following manner. Taking a brick in his hand, he squeezed it. Flame shot upward, water fell to the ground, and in his fist only dust remained. "The brick was a single object," explained the Saint, "but consisted of three elements: fire, water and earth. Similarly, there are three hypostases in the Holy Trinity, but only a single, Divine Nature.",and by his simple and clear expositions of the Faith, as well as by convincing miracles, brought back many heretics to Orthodoxy. He dressed so simply that once, when he was invited by the Emperor to the imperial court, a soldier took him for a beggar and struck him a blow. The meek and guileless Spyridon turned him the other cheek. He glorified God with many miracles, and was of great aid both to individuals and to the whole Church of God. He entered into rest in the Lord in 348 A.D., and his wonderworking holy relics now lie on the island of Corfu (Kerkyra) and continue to glorify God with many wonders.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Fathers, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Ephesians 5:8-19
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 10:9-16
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND SANCTIFICATION
"Set aside half an hour out of the twenty-four to say the Prayer. Whenever you are able; but the evening is best. Say it without using the prayer rope-in supplication, pleading, and with tears. 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.' Cultivate this, and you'll see what fruit it brings. From half an hour, it will become an hour. And guard this hour. Whether the phone is ringing, or you have this task you need to do now, or you're sleepy, or some blasphemy is confronting you. Nothing. Turn off the phone. Finish your tasks. Do this half hour and you'll see. You've planted a little tree, and tomorrow or the day after it will bear fruit. Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Basil the Great both began like this and became luminaries for the whole world. Saint Simeon the New Theologian had experiences of the Uncreated Light while still a layman. He was a layman. How many laymen appear as such exteriorly, but deep down are monastics! [Geronda [Elder] Ephraim of Katunakia]
THE COMPLETION OF REDEMPTION
by Athanasios S. Frangopoulos
1. Death and the End of the World.
All things that had to be done for the salvation of man who fell from grace and the honor in which God had placed him, all that had to be done for the salvation of us sinners, who are guilty before God, have been accomplished. Now our eternal salvation is assured, the road which leads to paradise has been opened us to all of us and the Kingdom of Heaven has become our inheritance. What are we waiting for to happen so that all these things will be realized and we will thus be glorious citizens of paradise and blessed heirs of the Kingdom of heaven, which is the Kingdom of God our Heavenly Father? We await two things: our own personal death and the Second Coming of our Lord.
Our course, since, as the God-inspired Apostle states, "it is appointed unto me once to die" (Hebrews 9:27), this life shall pass and leave, like a dream and a fantasy, and before we can well realize it, we shall find ourselves facing death and standing before the grave. Death, this harsh and relentless visitor, shall come uninvited; with the reaper that he holds in his hands, he shall harvest us all, each one in turn. Thus, we shall depart from this life and shall find ourselves in the next life. We shall be transported from this life to the future and eternal life. We shall leave in order to appear before God. And this shall occur with all men up to the end of time and the end of the world....Just as the Evangelists announce so shall it occur at the end of the world, and at the Lord's Second Coming (Matt. 24:29-35; Mark 13: 24-27; Luke 21:25-27). All shall perish, all shall change. They shall change and receive a new, a higher form and structure. The Earth shall change and man shall no longer exist on Earth. Then we shall have the completion of all things, animate and inanimate, material and spiritual; then shall we have the completion of the work of man's redemption. Whatever occurred and occurs for man's salvation will occur until then, and only until then. From that moment on, all things end and are completed. Whosoever accepted salvation with faith and dedication to Christ, accepted it and was saved. And whosoever rejected and refused to recognize Christ as his Savior and his God has rejected salvation and has been condemned. The believer shall be in Paradise. The unbelieving and unrepentant sinner shall be in hell. Change and repentance cannot take place in the next world. This is the end and completion of all things.
2. Partial Judgment.
"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Heb. 9:27). Death is followed by Judgment. Just as it is the universal law that everyman who is born into this world shall die--save those who shall be alive at the Second Coming of Christ--similarly the future judgment is the universal law for all men. This is teaching of our holy Faith, since we say that our Lord shall come to judge both the living and the dead, and since Saint Paul emphasizes as we have said: "we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed" (I Cor. 15:51). And then, in whatever state death shall find us, he shall take us, and thus shall each remain forever. If he finds one faithless, sinful and unrepentant, he shall remain in that state. After death there is no repentance or salvation, as we have already said and emphasized. And if death finds one in faith and repentance, in virtue and sanctity, he shall remain virtuous and holy. After death neither does the Saint becomes a sinner nor the sinner a Saint. And then a type of judgment takes place: that which we call here Partial Judgment. That is, the righteous separate in a definite manner from the sinners, and the living soul with all its senses and powers, presences and foretastes, to a certain degree, that which it shall experience in the final degree after the Second Coming of Christ and the Final Judgment. The soul of the righteous foretastes and experiences the beneficences of heaven and Paradise, as we have said. The soul of the sinner foretastes and experiences the fearful sufferings of hell. Saint Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews says the following which characterizes the enjoyment of the blessings of Paradise by the righteous: "And these all (i.e. the righteous), having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect" (Heb. 11:39-40). And this is the Partial Judgment: temporary--though it may last possibly for thousands of years---separation of the righteous from the unrighteous, and the foretaste of Paradise by the faithful or Hell by the unbelieving and unrepentant sinners. And this, in accord with whatever man did upon the earth. Did he do good? Then in goodness does he go towards God and enjoys and rejoices and exalts immediately after his death. Did he do evil? He is separated from God and punished, and experiences suffering and sadness even before the Second Coming and the Final and General Judgment takes place.
Saints John Chrysostom and Blessed Augustine say the following: "After death no unrepentant person can escape the consequences of his sins, but just as prisoners are led out of their cells bound in chains and brought before the court, so are all souls when they depart hence, they bring with themselves their chains of sins before dread judgment seats."
As concerning the righteous' foretasting of the benevolences of the Kingdom of God, Saint Gregory the Theologian says: "Every good and God-beloved soul...when it has been released by death from the body with which it was united...immediately experiences the joy and the pleasure which it shall enjoy in full measure in the future... And though now immediately after death the enjoyment is small, after, when it shall again receive its body with the resurrection of the dead, it shall enjoy blessings in perfect measure.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God