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.
THE PRAYERS BEFORE COMMUNION
I believe, Lord, and confess, that You are truly the Christ, Son of the Living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the greatest. I also believe that this is truly Your Spotless Body, and that this is truly Your Precious Blood. Wherefore I pray You: Have mercy on me and forgive my offenses, whether or not intended, whether committed in word or deed, knowingly or unwittingly; and count me worthy to share without judgment in Your pure Mysteries, for remission of sins and for everlasting life.
You have beguiled me with yearning, O Christ, and by love divine transformed me. Consume my sins in ethereal flame, and let me be filled with the sheer delight of You, O Gracious Lord, that leaping for joy, I may magnify both Your Advents.
How shall I, so unworthy, come into the splendor of Your Saints? If I dare to enter the bridal feast, my clothing will disgrace me, since it is not a wedding garment. Then I shall be bound and cast out by the Angels. In Your love, Lord, purge my soul and save me.
Loving Master, Lord Jesus Christ my God, let not these Holy Gifts become a judgment against me because of my unworthiness, but for the cleansing and sanctification of both soul and body, and as an earnest of the future life and Kingdom. It is good for me to cling to God, to place in Him the hope of my salvation.
Receive me today, Son of God, as a partaker of Your Mystical Supper; for I will not reveal the Mystery to Your enemies, nor give You a kiss as did Judas. But as the thief I confess You: Lord, remember me in Your Kingdom.
On March 15th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, and Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Agapios and the holy Martyrs and Companions; Saint Manuel the New Holy Martyr of Crete.
THE HOLY MARTYR AGAPIUS AND THE SEVEN COMPANIONS AND MARTYRS WITH HIM: Publius, Timolaus, Romulus, Alexander, Alexander, Dionysius and Dionysius. They all suffered in Palestinian Caesarea at the hand of Urban, the governor, in the time of the pagan Emperor Dioclestian. All of them, apart from St. Agapius, were very young men and were not yet Christians. They had never been baptized with water, but their baptism was of blood. One day these seven were watching how the Christians were being tortured: one in fire, another on the gallows, a third before wild beasts, and when they saw with what patience the Christians endured all these tortures, they were inflamed with zeal for Christ, bound their own hands behind their backs and, thus bound, came before Urban saying: 'We too are Christians!' Urban's flattery and threats were in vain. Saint Agapius, a prominent inhabitant of that city, who had previously suffered somewhat for Christ, joined them, and they were inspired with an even greater faith in the love for the Lord. They were all beheaded in 303 A.D., and went to the courts of the King of Heaven.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on me and save me. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Orthros (Matins) Old Testament: Isaiah 11:10-12:2
Esperinos (Vespers) Old Testament 1: Genesis 7:11-8:3
Esperinos (Vespers) Old Testament 2: Proverbs 10:1-22
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, And people should seek the law from his mouth; For he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts." (Malachi 2:7)
THE CRUCIFIXION, RESURRECTION AND REDEMPTION
by Father Georges Florovsky, Russian Orthodox Theologian
In the death of the Savior the powerlessness of death over Him was revealed. In the fullness of His human nature Our Lord was mortal, since even in the original and spotless human nature a "potentia mortis" was inherent. The Lord was killed and died. But death did not hold Him. "It was not possible for Him to be held by it." [Acts 2:24]. Saint John Chrysostom commented: "He Himself permitted it...Death itself in holding Him had pangs as in travail, and was sore bested...and He so rose as never to die." He is Life Everlasting, and by the very fact of His death He destroys death. His very descent into Hell, into the realm of death, is the mighty manifestation of Life. By the descent into Hell He quickens death itself. By the Resurrection the powerlessness of death is manifested. The soul of Christ, separated in death, filled with Divine power, is again united with its body, which remained incorruptible throughout the mortal separation, in which it did not suffer any physical decomposition. In the death of the Lord it is manifest that His most pure Body was not susceptible to corruption, that it was free from that mortality into which the original human nature had been involved through sin and Fall.
In the first Adam the inherent potentiality of death by disobedience was disclosed and actualized. In the Second Adam (Christ) the potentiality of immortality by purity and obedience was sublimated and actualized into the impossibility of death. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" [1 Corinthians 15:22]. The whole fabric of human nature in Christ proved to be stable and strong. The disembodiment of the soul was not consummated into a rupture. Even in the common death of man, as Saint Gregory of Nyssa pointed out, the separation of soul and body is never absolute; a certain connection is still there. In the death of Christ this connection proved to be not only a "connection of knowledge"; His soul never ceased to be the "vital power" of the body. Thus His death in all its reality, as a true separation and disembodiment, was like a sleep. "Then was man's death shown to be but a sleep," as Saint John Damascene says. The reality of death is not yet abolished, but its powerlessness is revealed. The Lord really and truly died. But in His death an eminent measure the "dynamis of the resurrection" was manifest, which is latent but inherent in every death. To His death the glorious simile of the kernel of wheat can be applied to its full extent. [St. John 12:24]. And in His death the glory of God is manifest. "I have both glorified it and will glorify again" [v.28]. In the body of the Incarnate One this interim between death and resurrection is fore-shortened. "It is sown in dishonor: it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness: it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body: it is raised a spiritual body" [1 Cor. 15:43-44]. In the death of the Incarnate One this mysterious growth of the seed was accomplished in three days--"triduum mortis."
The Resurrection of Christ was a victory, not over His death only, but over death in general. "We celebrate the death of Death, the downfall of Hell, and the beginning of a life new and everlasting." In His Resurrection the whole of humanity, all human nature, is co-resurrected with Christ, "the human race is clothed in incorruption." Co-resurrected not indeed in the sense that all are raised from the grave. Men do still die; but the hopelessness of dying is abolished. Death is rendered powerless, and to all human nature is given the power or "potentia" of resurrection. Saint Paul made this quite clear: "But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen...For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised" [1 Cor. 15:13, 16]. Saint Paul meant to say that the Resurrection of Christ would become meaningless if it were not a universal accomplishment, if the whole Body were not implicitly "pre-resurrected" with the Head. And faith in Christ itself would lose any sense and become empty and vain; there would be nothing to believe in. "And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain" [v. 17]. Apart from the hope of the General Resurrection, belief in Christ would be in vain and to no purpose; it would only be vainglory. "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept" [1 Cor. 15:20]. And in this lies the victory of life. "It is true, we still died as before," says Saint John Chrysostom, "but we do not remain in death; and this is not to die... The power and very reality of death is just this, that a dead man has no possibility of returning to life... But if after death he is to be quickened and moreover to be given a better life, then this is no longer death, but a falling asleep." The same conception is found in Saint Athanasius. The "condemnation of death" is abolished. "Corruption ceasing and being put away by the grace of Resurrection, we are henceforth dissolved for a time only, according to our bodies' mortal nature; like seeds cast into the earth, we do not perish, but sown in the earth we shall rise again, death being brought to naught by the grace of the Savior." This was a healing and a renewing of nature, and therefore there is here a certain compulsion; all will rise, and all will be restored to the fullness of their natural being, yet transformed. From henceforth every disembodiment is but temporary. The dark vale of Hades is abolished by the power of the Life-Giving Cross.
Please note: I truly feel that every Orthodox Christian should understand the Crucifixion, Resurrection and Redemption for otherwise what we are about the experience during Holy and Great Week would have absolutely no meaning and purpose. Without understanding everything is reduced to simply a custom which we have inherited and is unnecessary. Authentic knowledge of our Christian faith is necessary not only for ourselves but for our children and future generations of Orthodox Christians.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God