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 Χριστός έν τώ μέσω ημών. Και ήν και έστι και έσται.
O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk (prostration). But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to Thy servant (prostration). Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother and sister, for Thou are Blessed from all ages to all ages. Amen (prostration). Lord have mercy (twelve times). [Note: This prayer is said daily throughout Holy and Great Lent, and on Wednesday and Friday of the week preceding Lent.
On March 12th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics and Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Theophanes the Confessor; Saint Symeon the New Theologian; Saint Gregory Dialogos, Bishop of Rome.
SAINT SYMEON THE NEW THEOLOGIAN (949-1022 A.D.) St. Symeon was born in Galatia into an aristocratic family in Asia Minor (Turkey) and was given the name George. This was when the region was still of the Christian Byzantine Empire. From boyhood George was groomed for a life in politics. At the age eleven, he was sent to the capital Constantinople to live with his uncle who guided him in his early education. When he was 14, George met a monk at the Monastery of Studios names Symeon the Pious. George accepted Symeon the Pious as his spiritual father while continuing to prepare for a life in politics. Despite this radically transformative experience, he spent several more years attempting to fulfill his family's expectations, eventually becoming an imperial senator. However, his continuing mystical experience were not compatible with such a public life and, at the age 27, he renounced his previous life and became a monk, entering the Monastery of Studios to continue under the spiritual guidance of his Spiritual Father Symeon, even taking on the same monastic name --Symeon. Saint Symeon the Pious recommended to the young man the writings of Saint Mark the Ascetic and other spiritual writers. He read these books attentively and tried to put into practice what he read. Three points made by Saint Mark in his work "On the Spiritual Law" particularly impressed him. First, you should listen to your conscience and do what it tells you if you wish your soul to be saved.
"When a person walks in the fear of God he knows no fear, even if he were to be surrounded by wicked men. He has the fear of God within him and wears the invincible armor of faith. This makes him strong and able to take on anything, even things which seem difficult or impossible to most people. Such a man is like a giant surrounded by monkeys, or a roaring lion among dogs and foxes. He goes forward trusting in the Lord and constancy of his will to strike and paralyze his foes. He wields the blazing club of the Word (Logos) in wisdom."
"The roof of any house stands upon the foundations and the rest of the structure. The foundations themselves are laid in order to carry the roof. This is both useful and necessary, for the roof cannot stand without the foundations and the foundations are absolutely useless without the roof--no help to any living creature. In the same way the grace of God is preserved by the practice of the Commandments, and the observance of these Commandments is laid down like foundations through the gift of God. The grace of the Commandments is of no help or advantage to us without the GRACE OF GOD."
"Our holy Fathers have renounced all other spiritual work and concentrated wholly on this one doing, that is, on guarding the heart, convinced that, through this practice, they would easily attain every other virtue, whereas without it not a single virtue can be firmly established."
"For those who believe in Him, Christ will become all this and even more, beyond enumeration, not only in the age to come but first in this life, and then in the world to come. You in an obscure way here below and in a perfect manner in the Kingdom, those who believe see clearly nonetheless and receives as of now the first-fruits of everything they will have in the future life. Indeed, if they do not receive on earth everything that was promised to them, they do not have any part of foretaste of the blessings to come, their higher hope being set on the hereafter. However, it is through death and the resurrection that God in His foresight has given us the Kingdom, incorruptibility, the totality of life eternal. Given these conditions, we unquestionably become partakers of the good things to come, that is, incorruptible, immortal, sons of God, sons of the Light and of the day, inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven, since we carry the kingdom within."
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saint and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Orthors (Matins) Old Testament: Isaiah 9:9-10:4
Esperinos (Vespers) Old Testament 1: Genesis 7:1`-5
Esperinos (Vespers) Old Testament 2: Proverbs 8:32-9:1
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"Everything that we do in the spiritual life is like the seed and the crop. We offer our free will, and we receive from grace. It is like the farmer who sows a little, but with God's pleasure reaps a great deal for his labor." (Elder Zosimas)
SAINT GREGORY PALAMAS, ARCHBISHOP OF THESSALONIKI
This divine Father, who was from Asia Minor, was from childhood reared in the royal court of Constantinople, where he was instructed in both religious and secular wisdom. Later, while still a youth, he left the imperial court and struggled in asceticism on Mount Athos, and in the Skete at Veroea. He spent some time in Thessaloniki being treated from an illness that came from his harsh manner of life. He was present in Constantinople at the Council that was convened in 1341 A.D. against Barlaam of Calabria, Italy and at the Council of 1374 against Acindynos, who was of like mind with Barlaam; Barlaam claimed that the grace of God is created. At both these Councils, the Saint contended courageously for the true dogmas of the Church of Christ, teaching in particular that Divine grace is not created, but is the uncreated energies of God which are poured forth throughout creation: otherwise it would be impossible, if grace were created, for man to have genuine communion with the Uncreated God. In 1347 A.D. he was appointed Metropolitan of Thessaloniki. He tended his flock in an Apostolic manner for some twelve years, and wrote many books and treatises on the most exalted doctrines of our Faith; and having lived for a total of sixty-three years, he reposed in the Lord in 1359 A.D. His holy relics are kept in the Cathedral of Thessaloniki. A full service was composed for his feast day by the Patriarch Philotheos in 1368 A.D., when it was established that his feast be celebrated on this day. Since works without right faith avail nothing, we set Orthodoxy of faith as the foundation of all that we accomplish during the Great and Holy Fast, by celebrating the triumph of Orthodoxy the Sunday before, and the great defender of the teachings of the Holy Fathers on the Second Sunday of Lent.
Dismissal (Apolytikion) Hymn. Plagal of Fourth Tone
Light of Orhtodoxy, pillar and teacher of the Church, adornment of Monastics, invincible champion of theologians, O Gregory thou wonder-worker, boast of Thessanolinikl, herald of grace: ever pray that our souls be saved.
Kontakion of Saint Gregory. Plagal of Fourth Tone
Wit one accord, we praise thee as the sacred and divine vessel of wisdom and clear trumpet of theology, O our righteous Father Gregory of divine speech. As a mind that standeth now before the Primal Mind, do thou ever guide aright and lead our mind to Him, that we all may cry: Rejoice, O herald of grace divine.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God