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.
A CONFESSION OF THE GOD WHO BECAME MAN IN JESUS CHRIST THE LORD
He Who is from God, God the Word, the Only-begotten Son of the Father, of one essence with the Father, Being from Being, ineffably begotten of the Father without a mother before all ages--the very same is born in the last days to a daughter of men, to the Virgin Mary without a father. God is born incarnate, wearing flesh borrowed from her, having become man, which He was not, and remaining God, which He was, in order to save the world. And He is Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten of the Father and the Only-begotten of His Mother.
I confess One and the Same as both perfect God and perfect Man, in Two Natures, united in one hypostasis or person, recognizing as indivisibly, unconfused and unchangeably God Who was clothed in flesh, animated by an intelligent and rational soul, and came to resemble us in every way except sin.
One and the Same is earthly and heavenly, temporal and eternal, both with and without beginning, timeless and subject to time, created and uncreated, suffering and free of suffering, God and Man and perfect in both. One in Two Natures, in both Unitary.
On June 14th 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: Elisha the holy Prophet; Saint Methodios the Confessor and Patriarch of Constantinople; Julita of Tabina in Egypt.
THE HOLY PROPHET ELISHA. He lived nine hundred years before Christ. When the Lord willed to take the aged Prophet Elias to Himself. He revealed to him that He had set aside Elisha, the son of Shaphat, of the tribe of Reuben and from the city of Able-Menolah, to inherit his prophetic calling. Elias made the Lord's will known to Elisha and draped him in his mantle, asking God for a double portion of the grace of prophecy for him. Elisha at once left his home and his people and followed after Elias. When the Lord took Elias in the fiery chariot (II Kings 2:11), Elisha remained to carry on the work of prophecy with yet greater power than Elias. In his purity and zeal, he was equal to the greatest prophets, and surpassed all the others with the wondrous power given to him by God. He divided the waters of the Jordan river as Moses once divided the Red Sea; he made the bitter waters in Jericho drinkable; he brought water down into the trenches in the war against the Moabites; he caused the widow's jars to fill to the brim with oil; he raised the dead son of the Shunammite woman; he fed a hundred people with twenty small loaves; he healed Naaman, captain of the hosts of Syria, of leprosy; he blinded an entire Syrian army and put another to flight; he foretold many events for the nation and for individuals and went to his rest at a very great age.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Prophets, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: St. James 5:10-20
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 4:22-30
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"There is no need at all to make long discourses. It is enough to stretch out one's hands and say, 'Lord, as you will, and as you know, have mercy.' And if the conflict grows fiercer say, 'Lord, help!' He knows very well what we need and He shows us His mercy." [Saint Macarius the Great]
SEARCHING FOR THE TRUTH
by Father Anthony Alevizopoulos, PhD. of Theology, PhD. of Philosophy
The problem of where the truth lies has occupied mankind down through the ages; it is a problem that is always contemporary and of its very nature leads man to seek an answer. The Philosophers, especially the ancient Greeks, posed the question: "What is the truth?" and most men have searched for it rationally. Some said that truth is an idea, a "principle of all things", the "prime mover unmoved" and called it God.
But this "god", the god of the philosophers, cannot redeem. He touches only man's rational faculty, and not man as a whole; no one can come into personal communion with him since he is not a person, but something impersonal; a universal Mind that acts blindly, or is so distant and so transcendental that he has no interest in man or in the world.
There can be no doubt that anyone with a good disposition, upon observing creation and using his human potential, can discover evidence of God's existence. However, he will discover only the concept of God, but not God Himself, salvific truth.
Others, down through the ages, have created world idols and a multitude of deities. They established "divine" laws and rules and created systems of worship of human provenance. All these, however, are simply expressions of man himself; they do not transcend any created realm, created reality; they do not, in other words, reveal the one true God Who transcends the created world.
Again, still others believe that man is by nature God. It remains simply for him to understand "his true self; nothing need change save his stance vis-a-vis his God-self, rejecting any thought that might differentiate him from his own divinity and recognize the existence of a God outside and beyond him.
In the final analysis, such an approach to God cannot satisfy man. It leads to an infinite loneliness which is contrary to human nature. By nature, man seeks warmth, love, communion with others and not only with himself. Without these things, he cannot exist. That is why he continuously seeks them. He is not satisfied with man-made concepts concerning God. He desires to rise above created reality, above creation and seek the meaning of life in communion with the uncreated and eternal God.
This void which is created in man who seeks saving truth is filled by the Church. The Christian does not seek man-made truth, rational truth, an idea or some cosmic mind called god.
He seeks truth which transcends human limits and all of creation. Moreover, he seeks God Who can enter into personal communion with him, into a communion of love, i.e., he seeks God Who is a person.
For the Christian, the knowledge of God has a different significance. It is not simply an object of rational approaching or impersonal delving into a Principle of the Universe which excludes every personal relationship. Christian knowledge of God is an event of personal communion between God and man, a communion related to man's entire existence and not relegated simply to his rational faculty.
"Knowledge" therefore, according to the Christian concept, is not the product of rational activity, separated from love; indeed in the Holy Scripture the term is used to express the consummation of interpersonal communion within marriage (Genesis 4:1). Such a communion does not abrogate man's person within some sort of "cosmic" principle; rather it protects it. Through this communion mortal man transcends the condition of creatureliness, that is, his createdness, and participates in the life of the Uncreated and Eternal God.
Man, however, cannot realize this transcendence through his own abilities and potential, which out of necessity are limited to the realm of created reality Man's very nature is an insurmountable hindrance which makes his passing over or "ascent" to, and approaching God impossible. An ontological abyss, i.e., an impassible chasm related to God's and man's essence, separates man from God. Man cannot transcend this abyss.
But that which man cannot do, God does out of love for His creature: He "descends" or rather "condescends" i.e., He adapts to man's condition, transcends the abyss, reveals Himself to His creature and offers him the possibility of a real communion of love and life.
Christian knowledge of truth, i.e., eternal life, is and remains the great gift of our affectionate Heavenly Father. It is not of our human endeavors. That which God offers us is not conditioned by our strivings. It is the fruit of God's freedom and love. This gift is offered freely and ought to be accepted always with gratitude. No one can force the donor to offer his gifts.
Moreover, God does not violate man's will. He lets him make his own free choice. He allows him to respond with his love to God's love or to reject that love. Such a choice does not belong to man's rational domain, i.e., a rational turning towards God on man's part is not enough. Man must participate in totality. What is needed is tangible proof of man's holistic turning toward God that includes his struggle for spiritual catharsis, the carrying out of God's commandment. Without this basic presupposition it is impossible to find God:
"For perverse thoughts separate men from God, and when his power is tested, it convicts the foolish; because wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul, nor dwell in a body enslaved to sin. For a holy and disciplined spirit will flee from deceit, and will rise and depart from foolish thoughts, and will be ashamed at the approach of unrighteousness." (Wisdom of Solomon 1:3-5).
The free exercise of the divine virtues leads man away from autonomy. It functions within the realm of God's love. Man, through his obedience and through the carrying out of God's commandments humbles his body and his mind, recognizing that by himself he can neither embark nor continue on the path of the true knowledge of God. His entire life becomes a cry unto God. God then condescends and offers to man the grace of the knowledge of Himself. Man becomes a partaker in this grace, which is God's gift, and which is called uncreated divine energy. Of course grace is not identical with God's essence. God's essence remains unapproachable and incomprehensible for man. Grace however, springs from God's essence which is its source. Hence it is not created (As the Latin church believes) but uncreated. This is why God's condescension signifies for man true knowledge of God, eternal life and salvation. This is the Christian concept concerning the knowledge of God.
For the faithful to reach this saving knowledge it is necessary that he "bow his head", that he submit in love to the merciful Lord. It is for this reason that the priests-celebrant of the divine services, after the command "bow your heads unto the Lord", prays:
"O Lord our God, Who did bow the heavens and come down for the salvation of the race of men, look upon Thy servants and upon Thine inheritance. For unto Thee, the fearful and man-befriending Judge, have Thy servants inclined their heads and bowed their necks, looking for succor not from men, but abiding Thy mercy and awaiting Thy salvation..."
With the Christian concept of truth and its "knowledge", man's life acquires a deeper, a true meaning and eternal destiny. It suffices that man consider the "knowledge" of God as the msot precious treasure in his life, and that he seek it out properly. Then will God's grace touch him and desire for God will become so great that nothing can stand between him and God or separate him from God's love.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...For Thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us" (Romans 8:35-39).
This is the path that the holy Martyrs of our Church followed: Thus the hymn of the Church states:
"Neither tribulation, nor distress, nor famine, nor persecution, nor whip, nor anger of beasts, nor sword, nor fire, can threaten you, all-laudable Martyrs, with separation from God; for you have escaped nature in disdaining death by your yearning for Him and struggling as if in bodies foreign to you..."
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God