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 THANKSGIVING AFTER HOLY COMMUNION
Glory to Thee, O God; Glory to Thee, O God, Glory to Thee, O God.
I thank Thee, O Lord my God, that Thou has not rejected me, a sinner, but has accounted me worthy to become a communicant of Thy Holy Mysteries. I thank Thee that Thou has accounted me, the unworthy, worthy to partake of Thine immaculate and heavenly gifts. But, O Master Who loves mankind, Who did both die for us and rise again, and did bestow upon us these Thy terrible and Life-Giving Mysteries for the benefiting and sanctification of our souls and bodies: grant that they may be for me also unto the healing of soul and body, unto the averting of everything contrary thereto; unto the enlightenment of the eyes of my heart; unto the peace of my spiritual powers; unto faith invincible; unto love un-feigned; unto fulfilling of wisdom; unto the keeping of Thy Commandments; unto growth in Thy Divine grace, and the attainment of Thy Kingdom: that by them preserved in Thy Holiness, I may ever remember Thy grace, and henceforth live not unto myself, but unto Thee, our Master, and Benefactor. And thus, when this life is ended in the hope of eternal life, I may attain unto everlasting rest, where the voice of those who keep festival is un-ceasing, and the delight of those who behold the ineffable beauty of thy countenance is boundless: for Thou art the True desire and unutterable joy of those who love Thee, O Christ our God, and all creation hymned Thee forever. Amen.
On December 21st 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: Holy Martyr Juliana of Nicomedia and with her 500 men and 130 women; Saint Peter, Metropolitan of All Russia; Saint Themistocles of Myra; Saint Mark the Faster of Khakhuli Monastery; Saint Juliana, Princes of Vyzama; Blessed Procopius of Vyatka, fool-for-Christ.
MARTYR JULIANA OF NICOMEDIA AND WITH HER 500 MEN AND 130 WOMEN. Saint Juliana was an 18 year old maiden of 4th century Nicomedia in Turkey. Her father was a pagan and her mother agnostic. Saint Juliana, however, perceived the world about her and sought its Creator. She found copies of the epistles of the holy Apostle Paul and became as it were his student. The governor of Nicomedia, who worshipped the idols, was her betrothed. After failing at a play to dissuade him from marrying her, she questioned how their bodies could be united while their souls were at war. Saint Juliana's father beat her and gave her to the governor. The governor confessed that he would become a Christian for her, but feared the emperor would kill him. She replied that it was more important to fear the One who could kill the soul. And so the governor cruelly tortured her. The devil appeared to her as an angel of light, telling her that God wanted her to sacrifice to idols because of her bodily weakness. She prayed to God and He enlightened her; her chains suddenly bound the devil, and God then healed all her wounds. When she returned to the governor, he accused her of witchcraft and had her thrown into a furnace. Her tears put out the fire. Witnessing this, 630 men and women were converted to Christianity and were quickly beheaded. The governor again tortured Saint Juliana, but God preserved her from harm. Perceiving the powerlessness of his own gods and the convincing power of Jesus Christ, the governor had Saint Juliana beheaded to his own detriment. A few days later, wild beasts ate the governor.
+ 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: Hebrews 7:18-25
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Mark 10:24-32
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"Our heart is like the darkened earth, the Gospel is like the sun, enlightening and giving life to our hearts. May the True Sun of Your Righteousness shine in our hearts, O Lord!" [St. John of Kronstadt]
FREQUENT RECEPTION OF THE HOLY MYSTERIES IS BENEFICIAL AND SALVIFIC
by Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite [Part II, Chapter 2 from Concerning Frequent Communion]
Both the soul and the body of the Christian receive great benefit from the divine Mysteries-before he communes, when he communes, and after he communes. Before one communes, he must perform the necessary preparation, namely, confess to his Spiritual Father, have contrition, amend his ways, have compunction, learn to watch over himself carefully, and keep himself from passionate thoughts (as much as possible) and from every evil. The more the Christian practices self-control, prays, and keeps vigil, the more pious he becomes and the more he performs every other good work, contemplating what a fearful King he will receive inside of himself. This is even more true when he considers that he will receive grace from Holy Communion in proportion to his preparation. The more often someone prepares himself, the more benefit he receives.
When a Christian partakes of Communion, who can comprehend the gifts and the charismata he receives? Or how can our inept tongue enumerate them? For this reason, let us again bring forward one by one the sacred teachers of the Church to tell us about these gifts, with their eloquent and God-inspired mouths.
Saint Gregory the Theologian says:
"When the Most Sacred Body of Christ is received and eaten in a proper manner, it becomes a weapon against those who war against us, it returns to God those who had left Him, it strengthens the weak, it causes the healthy to be glad, it heals the sicknesses, and it preserves health. Through it we become meek and more willing to accept correction, more long suffering in our pains, more fervent in our love, more detailed in our knowledge, more willing to do obedience, and keener in the workings of the charismata of the Spirit. But all the opposite happens to those who do not receive Communion in a proper manner. Those who do not receive Communion frequently suffer totally opposite things, because they are not sealed with the Precious Blood of Our Lord, as the same Saint Gregory the Theologian says: "Then the Lamb is slain, and with the Precious Blood are sealed action and reason, that is, habit and mental activity, the side posts of our doors. I mean, of course, by 'doors,' the movements and notions of the intellect, which are opened and closed correctly through spiritual vision."
Saint Ephraim the Syrian writes:
"Brothers, let us practice stillness, fasting, prayer, and tears; together in the Church; work with our hands, speak about the Holy Fathers; be obedient to the truth; and listen to the divine Scriptures; so that our minds do not become barren (and sprout the thorns of evil thoughts). And let us certainly make ourselves worthy of partaking of the divine and immaculate Mysteries, so that our soul may be purified from thoughts of unbelief and impurity, and so that the Lord will dwell within us and deliver us from the evil one."
The divine Cyril of Alexandria says that, because of divine Communion, those noetic thieves the demons find no opportunity to enter into our souls through the senses:
"You must consider your senses as the door of a house. Through the senses all images of things enter into the heart, and, through the senses, the innumerable multitude of lusts pour into it. The Prophet Joel calls the senses windows, saying: "They shall enter in at our windows like a thief" (Joel 2:9), because these windows have not been marked with the Precious Blood of Christ. Moreover, the Law commanded that, after the slaughter (of the lamb), the Israelites were to smear the doorposts and the lintels of their houses with its blood, showing by this that the Precious Blood of Christ protects our own earthly dwelling-place, which is to say, our body, and that the death brought about by the transgression is repelled through our enjoyment of the partaking of life (that is, of Life-Giving Communion). Further, through our sealing (with the Blood of Christ) we distance from ourselves the destroyer."
The same divine Cyril says in another place that, through Communion, we are cleansed from every impurity of soul and receive eagerness and fervor to do good: "The Precious Blood of Christ not only frees us from every corruption, but it also cleanses us from every impurity lying hidden within us, and it does not allow us to grow old on account of sloth, but rather make us fervent in the Spirit."
So, my brothers and sisters, if we practice what the divine Fathers have ordered and frequent Communion, we not only will have the support and help of divine grace in this short life, but also will have the Angels of God as helpers, and the very Master of the Angels Himself. Furthermore, the inimical demons will be greatly distanced from us, as the divine Chrysostom says:
"Let us then return from that Table like lions breathing fire, having become fearsome to the devil, thinking about our Head (Christ) and the love He has shown for us...This Blood causes the image of our King to be fresh within us, it produces unspeakable beauty, and, watering and nourishing our soul frequently, it does not permit its nobility to waste away...This Blood, worthily received, drives away demons and keeps them far from us, while it calls to us the Angels and the Master of Angels. For wherever they see the Master's Blood, devils, flee and Angels run to gather together...This Blood is the salvation of our souls. By it the soul is washed, is made beautiful, and is inflamed; and it causes our intellect to be brighter than fire and makes the soul gleam more than gold…Those who partake of this Blood stand with the Angels and the powers that are above, clothed in the kingly robe itself, armed with spiritual weapons. But I have not yet said anything great by this: for they are closed even with the King Himself."
Do you see, my beloved brother and sister, how many wonderful charismata you receive if you frequently commune? Do you see that with frequent Communion the intellect is illumined, the mind is made to shine, and all of the powers of the soul are purified? If you also desire to kill the passions of the flesh, go to Communion frequently and you will succeed. Saint Cyril of Alexandria confirms this for us: "Receive Holy Communion believing that it liberates us not only from death, but also from every illness. And this is because, when Christ dwells within us through frequent Communion, He pacifies and calms the fierce war of the flesh, ignites piety toward God, and deadens the passions."
Thus, without frequent Communion we cannot be freed from the passions and ascend to the heights of dispassion: just as the Israelites, if they had not eaten the Passover in Egypt, would not have been able to be freed. For "Egypt" means an impassioned life, and if we do not frequently receive the precious Body and Blood of our Lord (every day if possible), we will not be able to be freed from the noetic pharaonians (that is, the passions and the demons).
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God