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 LITURGY OF THE PRESANCTIFIED GIFTS
The Second Prayer of the Faithful
Holy Master, infinitely good, we entreat You, rich in mercy, to be gracious to us sinners, and to make us worthy to receive Your Only Son and Our God, the King of Glory. For behold, His Spotless Body and Life-Giving Blood are about to make entrance at this hour, to be laid on this Mystical Table, invisibly attended by a multitude of the Heavenly Host. Grant that we may receive them in blameless communion, so that as the eyes of our understanding see the light, we may become children of Light and of Day.
Through the gift of Your Christ with Whom You are Blessed, together with Your All-Holy, Good and Life-Creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
On March 19th 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, and Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Martyrs Chrysanthos and Daria, Claudios, Hilaria, Jason, Mauros, and others; St. Mary, wife of Vsevelod III; Saint Innocent of Komel and Vologda; Saint Bassa, nun of Pskov; St. Sophia of Slursk; New Holy Martyr Nicholas of Karamanos in Smyrna; Holy Neomartyr Demetrios at Constantinople; Holy Martyr Pancharius of Rome.
HOLY MARTYR PANCHARIUS OF ROME. Saint Pancharius was born a Christian and left home to become a Roman soldier during the reign of the pagan Roman Emperor Diocletian in the 3rd century. He soon became captain of the royal guard and developed a strong friendship with Diocletian. He received a letter from his family, from what is now Germany. They quoted the words of Jesus Christ, "Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven." Filled with compunction, St. Pancharius repented aloud of his lost faith, and other soldiers overheard this. He was brought before Diocletian and asked to deny his Christian faith. When he would not, he was taken to a judge, jailed, tortured, and martyred.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Old Testament: Isaiah 14:24-32
Old Testament: Genesis 8:21-9:7
Old Testament: Proverbs 11:19-12:6
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"Repentance is the renewal of life. This means we must free ourselves of all our negative traits and turn toward absolute good. No sin is unforgivable except the sin of unrepentance...There are also tears of repentance, when a person's conscience tells him that he has committed many sins. When he realizes his sinfulness, he weeps. That is an act of God's Grace-a soul repents, and the sin is washed away by tears...When a person realizes his sinfulness, he gradually frees himself from the cares of this world and from his own egoism and when this occurs, it is in a state of Grace". +Elder (Geronda) Thaddeus of Vitovnica)
"FAITH AS SMALL AS A MUSTARD SEED"
Saint Nektarios writes: "It is evident that unbelief is an evil offspring of an evil heart; for the guileless and pure heart everywhere discovers God, everywhere discerns Him, and always unhesitatingly believes in His existence. When the man of pure heart looks at the World of Nature, that is, at the sky, the earth, and the sea and at all things in them, and observes the systems constituting multitudes of birds and quadrupeds and every kind of animal of the earth, the variety of plants on it, the abundance of fish in the sea, he is immediately amazed and exclaims with the Prophet David: 'How great are Thy works, O Lord! In wisdom thou made them all.' Such a man, impelled by his pure heart, discovers God also in the World of Grace of the Church, from which the evil man is far removed. The man of pure heart believes in the Church, admires her spiritual system, discovers God in the Mysteria, in the heights of the theology, in the light of the Divine revelations, in the truths of the teachings, in the commandments of the Law, in the achievements of the Saints, in the very good deed, in every perfect gift, and in general in the whole of creation. Justly then did the Lord say in His Beatitudes of those possessing purity of the heart: 'Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God."
Saint Herman of Alaska: "A true Christian is made by faith and love toward Christ. Our sins do not in the least hinder our Christianity, according to the word of the Savior Himself. He deigned to say: not the righteous have I come to call, but sinners to salvation; there is more joy in heaven over one who repents then over ninety righteous ones. Likewise concerning the sinful woman who touched His feet, He deigned to say to the Pharisee Simon: to one who has love, a great debt is forgiven, but from one who has no love, even a small debt will be demanded. From these judgments a Christian should bring himself to hope and joy, and not in the least accept an inflicted despair. Here one needs the shield of faith.
Saint Raphael of Lesvos writes: "Have faith that is as unshakable as a rock, so that nothing frightens you...The person who has deep faith within himself, and fixes his attention on the good path, and seeks to improve the condition of his soul and to adapt his thought to the good is happy...The happiness of man consists in faith in God and in good act acts which are done with love".
Saint Basil the Great: "When we contemplate the blessing of faith even now, as if gazing at a reflection in a mirror, it is as if we already possessed the wonderful things which our faith assures us we shall one day enjoy".
Saint James the Apostle writes: "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, 'You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?... You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only...For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also". (2:14-26).
Saint Paul in his Letter to the Hebrews defines faith: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (11:1). And also the following: "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain...By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death...But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently see Him...By faith Noah, being divinely warned with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household...By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance...By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country...By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age...These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth..." (Hebrews 11:1-13)
IN CONCLUSION THE DIVINE WORDS OF OUR LORD GOD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST
Jesus says, "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the over, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" (St. Matthew 6:28-30).
A Paralyzed Servant Healed (St. Luke 7:1-10) "When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel" (v.10).
A Healing and a Resurrection (St. Mark 5:21-43; St. Luke 8:40-56) "But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, 'Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well" (v.22).
Two Blind Men Healed (St. Matthew 9:27-30) "When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, 'Son of David, have mercy on us!' And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, 'Do you believe that I am able to do this?' They said to Him, 'Yes Lord.' Then He touched their eyes saying, 'According to your faith let it be to you.' And their eyes were opened."
"Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father Who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father Who is in heaven" (St. Matthew 10:31-33).
"Then Jesus answered and said, 'O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me...So Jesus said to them, 'Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard see, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you" (St. Matthew 17:20).
"But because I tell you the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God" (St. John 8:45-47).
THE DIVINE LITURGY OF SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
A Prayer Offered by the Priest: "With these blessed Powers, O Merciful Master, we also cry and say: Holy art Thou and All-Holy, Thou and Thy Only-begotten son and Thy Holy Spirit. Holy art Thou and All-Holy and magnificent is Thy Glory, Who hast so loved that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Who when He for us, in the night in which He was betrayed,--or rather, surrendered Himself for the life of the world, --He took bread in His Holy and Immaculate and blameless hands; and when He had given thanks and blessed it, and hallowed it and broken it, He gave it to His holy Disciples and Apostles".
"With the fear of God, with faith and love, draw near."
It takes a sincere faith to receive Holy Communion and to be united with Christ "Then Jesus said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him… This is the bread which came down from Heaven--not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever." (St. John 6:53-58).