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.
TO THE THEOTOKOS--ABOUT GOOD INTENTION AND HOW TO BE CLEANSED OF THE PASSIONS
Most Holy Mother of God, O only Lady who art utterly pure in both soul and body, look upon me, abominable and unclean, who have blackened soul and body with the stains of my passionate mind; set aright my blind and wandering thoughts and make them incorrupt; bring my senses to order and guide them; free me from my evil and repulsive addiction to unclean prejudices and passions which torment me; stop every sin that works in me; grant my clouded and wretched mind to sobriety and discernment to correct my intentions and failings that, freed from the darkness of sin, I might be worthy to boldly glorify and praise thee, O only True Mother of the True Light, Christ our God; for all creation, visible and invisible, blesses and glorifies thee, both with Him and in Him. Amen.
On June 13th 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 Martyr Akylina; Saint James the Ascetic.
THE HOLY MARTYR ACQUILINA. Born in the Palestinian town of Biblos of Christian parents, little Aquilina was already, at the age of seven, living as a true Christian, and by the age of ten was so filled with divine understanding and the grace of the Holy Spirit that she used to preach Christ with great power and zeal to her girl friends. When the pagan Roman emperor Diocletian's persecution began, St. Aquilina was handed over to the imperial governor, Volusianus, who was more like a beast than a man. He ordered that she first be flogged and then that a heated rod be passed through her ears and brain. Until the last moment, the virgin Aquilina freely and clearly confessed Christ the Lord; but when her brains started flowing with her blood from her head, she fell as if dead. Believing her to be indeed dead, the governor ordered that her body be taken outside the city and thrown onto a dung heap for the dogs to eat. But during the night, an Angel of God appeared to her and said: 'Arise and be healed!', and the maiden arose and was restored to health, and stood a long time expressing her gratitude and praise to God and begging Him not to deny her a martyr's death. A voice was heard from heaven: 'Go; and it shall be to thee as thou desirest', and St. Aquilina went into the city. The city gates opened of their own accord for her, and she passed through them and went to the governor's palace like a ghost, standing before his bed and showing herself to him. The governor was seized with unspeakable terror when he saw the maiden whom he had thought dead. On the following day, he ordered the executioner to take Saint Aquilina out and behead her with the sword. Before her execution, she knelt in prayer and surrendered her spirit unto God's hands, leaving her dead body to be beheaded by the executioner. Her holy relics gave healing to many of the sick. Saint Aquilina was twelve years old when she suffered for the Lord, she endured her Passion and was crowned with a wreath of martyrdom in the year 293 A.D.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Romans 4:13-25
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 7:21-23
Please note: The Holy Apostles Fast: Wednesdays and Fridays abstain from: meats, meat products, fish, dairy products, olive oil, and wine. For Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays abstain from meat, meat products and dairy products. Fish may be eaten on Saturdays and Sundays; Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
FOR YOUR PERSONA REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"I count all things but loss...that I may win Christ" [Phil. 3:8).
SAINT SYMEON THE NEW THEOLOGIAN: WHAT IS "THE WORLD"?
This we understand from Scripture and Tradition: A true withdrawal from the world and the things that are in the world consists in this, that when we have fled the world we hate and abhor what pertains to it. However we must discern, that is, come to understand with keen and accurate discrimination, what terms "the world" and "what pertains to it" mean.
What is the world? And what are the things that are in the world?
Listen carefully! "The world" is not gold, silver, trucks, automobiles, household appliances and the like. These things that serve our legitimate needs belong to us, and we own them lawfully. They are not "the world" we are speaking of here. Nor is "the world" meat, nor bread, nor wine, nor anything else we eat and drink in moderation for health and sustenance. Neither is "the world" our homes and the legitimate occupation we pursue, nor the fields or vineyards we may own and cultivate, nor suburban properties we may possess, for even great and small monasteries have always consisted of such as these.
So what, then, is "the world"? It is sin, plain and simple, brothers and sisters in Christ. "The world" is nothing more than our attachment to things and to the passions that possess us. "The world" and the Kingdom of Heaven, where they are found, are each found to be within us.
Let Saint John the Theologian speak of "the things that are in the world": "Do not love the world or the things in the world," he says, "for all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh and the pride of life--is not of the Father, but is of the world" (1 John 2:15). Saint John here equates "the world" with man's lust of flesh and pride of life, which contaminate and destroy the creation that came pure from the hand of God.
Whatever place we leave and whatever place we arrive at, we shall find the same neutral things. Whatever the place, people cannot live alone and without things which God has provided. Everywhere we make use of things that we need for sustaining our bodies and souls and those of our dependents. Everywhere there are parents and women and children--families that require our continuous love and support--and wine, and every kind of fruit; our physical sustenance consists in these and similar things.
But if we be dominated by "the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes" and the pride of our thoughts, how shall we be able in the midst of these good and inescapable things to escape from any kind of sin, without in any way being harmed by its sting? I know well that many of the Saints of old guarded themselves from submission to the world, and those of the present still do so. They spend their lives in the midst of the things of this life, its concerns and its cares, and yet complete their lives in perfect holiness, detached from all things.
Of them and their like Saint Paul bears witness when he says, "The form of this world is passing away, so those who buy should be as though they had need of no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it" (1 Cor. 7:29). From these examples we may learn how to live with things and not be corrupted by them.
Thus he who is given to anger should refrain from giving way to it. He who pleads in his defense should not add any qualification in his heart to what he speaks. He who seeks justice for himself should be dead to the world in the disposition of his heart. He who has once attained to that state should eagerly seek and desire not even to spare his body. Those who contend in the spiritual contest have attained this state, and in every generation will continue to do so.
Quotes from Saint Symeon the New Theologian:
"...God Who has made heaven and earth is the One Who, without being emptied, emptied Himself from the Father's bosom (St. John 1:18) and came down on earth from the Infinite Height of Godhead and His unutterable glory and became an insignificant and poor man for the sake of you, who are clay and ashes and dust. Are you not, then, willing to come down from your imaginary high throne and be humbled before your brother? ...If you disdain becoming like (Christ), do you not that you are making yourself greater and more glorious than Him?"
"When, therefore, a man is deep and rich in grace, there still remains inside of him a remnant of evil. But he has close at hand one Who can help him. Wherefore, if someone is overwhelmed by temptations, caught in the raging waves of passions, he ought not to lose hope. For if he acts in this way, sin builds up and takes over from within. If, however, one constantly puts his hope in God, like the mud and slime, evil to a certain degree diminishes and dries up..."
If there is a flowing spring, the places that lie in the vicinity become wet and swampy. But when sunny weather comes, both the spring and nearby areas dry up. So also it happens to God's servants who abound in grace. For grace not only dries up the concupiscence suggested by the evil one, but also those flowing out of nature. This is because now the children of God are greater than the first Adam."
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God