Beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord and Only Savior Jesus Christ,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
Jesus Christ, My Lord and God, I give You thanks for Your loving kindness an all the blessings You have richly bestowed upon me. I fall down in worship and adoration before You, the King of Glory. I praise You, I glorify You, I bless You and I give thanks to Your for Your great goodness and tender mercy. To You I come, my sweet Lord and loving Master. Amen.
Shine in my heart the light of Your grace. Enlighten my mind, that I may walk uprightly all of my life by keeping Your Commandments. Glorified and exalted is Your Holy Name, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
On April 27th 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: Saint Evlogius the Hospitable; Saint Floribert, Bishop of Luik; Saint John, Abbot of Cathares Monastery of Constantinople; Saint Elias (Ardunis) of Mt. Athos; Saint Seraphim, Bishop of Phanar; Saint Stephen, Abbot of the Kiev Caves; Saint Lillion the Younger; Holy Martyr Poplion; Holy Martyr Symeon, Bishop of Jerusalem, Kinsman of the Lord.
HOLY MARTYR SYMEON, BISHOP OF JERUSALEM, KINSMAN OF THE LORD. St. Symeon was the nephew of St. Joseph the Betrothed of the Theotokos. He was one of the Seventy Apostles and preached in Judea. St. James, the Lord's brother and first Bishop of Jerusalem, was martyred when he was thrown from the top of the temple. St. Symeon succeeded him as bishop and preached in Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople. His message was that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was the Divinity responsible for the universe, as opposed to Jesus the carpenter being proclaimed the Son of God. When Jerusalem was under siege by the Emperor, St. Symeon fled the city. When he returned and attempted to regroup the Christians, he was brought to trial. He was asked to deny Jesus Christ or be condemned to death. Saint Symeon expressed appreciation for being crucified like Jesus. He was one hundred twenty years of age.
+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: Acts 5:1-11
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 5:30-47, 6:1-2
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"Take heed often to come together to give thanks to God and show forth His praise. For when you assemble frequently in the same place, the powers of Satan are destroyed, and the destruction at which he aims is prevented by the unity of your faith. Nothing is more precious than peace, by which all war, in heaven and earth, is brought to an end". [Saint Ignatius of Antioch]
by Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev
All religions contain an eschatological dimension since they are directed not only towards the reality of the material world, but also to the spiritual world, not only to the present age, but also towards the future.. In Christianity, however, eschatology (study of last things) plays such an essential role that, without the echatological dimension, Christianity loses its meaning. Eschatology permeates the entire life of the Church: Its services, sacraments and rites, its theological and moral doctrine, its asceticism and mysticism. The entire history of the Church is filled with eschatological expectations, beginning with the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ and continuing until the present day. Indeed, it is because the Resurrection has taken place - because we live in the time of the Resurrection - that eschatology is so fundamental to the Church. As Fr. George Florovsky notes, the Western liberal theological tradition beginning with the Age of Enlightenment ignored eschatology; to many, it seemed to be a remnant of the long-forgotten past. But modern theological thought - both Catholic and Protestant - has once again discovered eschatology, returning to the realization that all dogmas of faith are directly related to it. As for Orthodox theology, it never lost its eschatological dimension. Yet the 'pseudomorphosis' of Orthodox theology in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries could not leave its mark on eschatology. The exposition of eschatology in Greek and Russian textbooks on dogmatic theology from this period mostly follow Catholic schemes. In this sense the twentieth century became also for the Orthodox Church a time for re-thinking eschatology, for returning to its Patristic foundations. +++
THE END OF THE WORLD
[II Peter, chapter 3]
ORTHODOX DOGMATIC THEOLOGY
As a result of the fall of man, the whole creation has been unwillingly subjected to the bondage of corruption and groaneth and travaileth in pain together with us (Romans 8:21-22). Saint Symeon the New Theologian teaches: "Do you see that this whole creation in the beginning was incorrupt and was created by God in the manner of Paradise? But later it was subjected by God to corruption, and submitted to the vanity of men". The time will come when the whole material and human world must be purified from human sin and renewed, just as the spiritual world must be purified from the sin in the Angelic world. This renewal of the material world must be accomplished on the "last day," the day when the last judgment of the world will be accomplished, and it will occur by means of fire. Mankind before the Flood perished by being drowned in water, but the Apostle Peter instructs us that "the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men" (II Peter 3:7). "The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up...Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (II Peter 3:10, 13).
That the present world is not eternal was prophesied even by the Psalmist when he cried out to God: "In the beginning, O Lord, Thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thy hands. They shall perish, but Thou abidest; and all like a garment shall grow old, and as a vesture shalt Thou fold them, and they shall be changed" (Psalm 101:25-27). And the Lord Jesus Christ said: "heaven and earth shall pass away" (St. Matthew 24:35).
The end of the world will consist not in its total destruction and annihilation, but in a complete change and renewal of it. Saint Symeon the New Theologian describes this transformation and renewal of creation as follows: "You should know likewise what is to be the glory and the brightly shining state of the creation in the future age. For when it will be renewed, it will not again be the same as it was when it was created in the beginning. But it will be such as, according to the word of the divine Paul, our body will also be. Concerning our body the Apostle says: "It is sown a natural body, but is raised... a spiritual body" (I Corinthians 15:44) and unchanging, such as was the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, after the Resurrection... In the same way also the whole creation, according to the Commandment of God, is to be, after the General Resurrection, not such as it was created, material and sensuous, but it is to be re-created and to become a certain immaterial and spiritual dwelling, surpassing every sense, and as the apostle says of us, "We shall not sleep, but we shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye" ( I Corinthians 15:51). Thus also the whole creation, after it shall burn up in the divine fire, is to be changed…
The heaven will become incomparably more brilliant and bright than it appears now; it will become completely new. The earth will receive a new, unutterable beauty, being clothed in many-formed, unfading flowers, bright and spiritual... The whole world will become more perfect than any word can describe. Having become spiritual and divine, it will become united with the noetic world; it will be a certain mental paradise, a heavenly Jerusalem, the inalienable inheritance of the sons of God. Such an earth has not been inherited as yet by a single man, we are all strangers and foreigners. But when the earthly will be united with the heavenly, then also the righteous will inherit that already renewed earth whose inheritors are to be those meek ones who are blessed by the Lord" (First-Created Man, pp. 103-5).
As for those men whom the coming of the Lord will find alive on earth, according to the word of the Apostle they will be instantly changed, exactly in the same way that the resurrected dead will be changed: "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (I Corinthians 15:51-53).
[Next: The Universal Judgment]
With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God