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 MORNING PRAYER TO GOD THE FATHER
You Who are praised in the highest by the holy Hosts with unceasing hymns and uninterrupted doxologies, fill our mouth with Your praise that we may magnify Your Holy Name. Give joy to our mind and heart with Your grace and grant us to keep Your Commandments in truth, so that we may become worthy to be partakers of the inheritance of Your elect ones in Your Kingdom. In Your goodness, make us worthy of Your compassion, which You have already given to us abundantly at the present time and which You have saved for the future for those who love You; through the intercessions of our All-Pure Lady the Theotokos and all Your Saints, for You are Blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.
[From Saint John of the Ladder (Climacus) on Prayer: "When you go to present yourself before God in order to pray, may your soul be adorned with the garment of shame and piety and meekness...and with a full forgiveness and a perfect love for your enemies...
We, above all, should in the first verse, at the beginning of our prayer, express to God our pure gratitude with our whole soul for the great benefactions and the daily graces we receive from our Lord and King. In the second verse of our prayer, let us express, with compunction and pain of heart, the confession of our sins which we, as fools, commit against God on a daily basis. In the third verse of our prayer, let us place before our Heavenly King our own particular issues, and entreat Him with much humility to be compassionate and merciful to us and to console us with His loving kindness, and to make us worthy ultimately of His great mercy, His Kingdom in heaven.
Let us, therefore first of all thank God for His infinite mercy, then let us confess to Him our sins, and, finally, let us entreat Him to forgive us. For a few, well spoken, pious and contrite words are best suited to serve God, Our Heavenly Father."]
On June 26th 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 David the Righteous of Thessaloniki, New Holy Martyr of the Turkish Yoke; Holy icon of Theotokos of Tikhvin; Righteous Martyr David, who struggled in asceticism in the Skete of Saint Anna on Mt. Athos, and contested for Christ, being hanged in Thessaloniki in the year our Lord 1823; Hieromartyr Vigilius; bishop of Trent; Saint Dionysius, Archbishop of Suzdal.
OUR HOLY FATHER DAVID. Born in Thessaloniki, where he at first lived the ascetic life in a shelter he had built in an almond tree, he later continued his asceticism in Thessalia. He purified himself so greatly by fasting, prayer and vigils that he was made worthy to receive great grace from God. Once he took a live coal in his hand, placed incense on it and censed the Emperor, when he saw this, bowed down to the ground before David, who amazed the people by his countless miracles. He entered peacefully into rest in the blessedness of eternity in the year of our Lord 540 AD.
FEAST OF THE TIKHVIN ICON OF THE MOTHER OF GOD. This holy icon was in Constantinople in 1383, but, seventy years before the fall of that city, it suddenly appeared in the sky near the village of Tikhvin in Northern Russia. A church and Monastery were built where it came to rest. Countless miracles were wrought through his wonder working icon; many of the sick, especially, receiving healing from it.
+By the holy intercessions of Thy 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: Romans 10: 11-21; 11:1-2
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 11:16-20
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"For someone to find peace, he must discard the rubbish from within. This will happen through Confession. By opening his heart to this Spiritual Father and confessing his transgressions, a person is humbled. This opens the gate to Heaven, bringing abundantly the Grace of God and setting man free" [Geronda [Elder] Paisios of Mt. Athos].
WHAT "ORTHODOXY" IS
By Father John Romanides of blessed memory [Orthodox theologian and Professor at the University of Thessaloniki]
In Orthodoxy, there are of course the presuppositions for the creation of a civilization. But Orthodoxy is not a civilization. Furthermore, Orthodoxy is not a religion either. Orthodoxy is not a religion, like all other religions. Orthodoxy is distinguished by one, unique phenomenon, which is not found in any of the other religions-it is the anthropological and therapeutic element. That is where Orthodoxy differs. Orthodoxy is a therapeutic regimen, which heals the human personality.
A proper doctor will tend to the healing of every single patient without exception and without any discrimination. He will not single out only a certain number of people to heal. He will not be interested in their social status or their level of education or their moral standing. A proper doctor will examine if the person consulting him is sick or not. And if that person is sick, he will show his concern and will strive to heal that person's ailment. He is obliged to heal him. In Orthodox tradition, we in fact have something more than this. And this is precisely what our "counter-offensive" consists of.
God loves not only the Saints but all people, without exception; all the sinners, all the damned, and even the devil himself. And He also desires to save everyone, to heal everyone. He desires this, but He cannot heal everyone, because not everyone wants to be healed. This fact-that God is love, that He wants to heal everyone and that He loves everyone equally-was discerned and continues to be discerned during the experiences of the "theumens"; in other words, of those who have reached the sate of theosis (deification), or 'theopty', which means they have 'seen' God.
God cannot heal everyone, because He never violates the free will of man. God respects man and loves him, but He cannot heal someone forcefully. He only heals those who desire to be healed and who ask Him to heal them. Normally, when someone has a physical or spiritual ailment, he goes to the doctor of his own free will to get well as is not forced to do it (provided that person still has his senses). The same applies with the Orthodox therapeutic regimen. One has to go on his own to the Church, without any coercion, without any oppression and of his own free will, to seek out the most suitable persons therein (who must have the necessary enlightenment and experience and who must be familiarized with the therapeutic method of the Orthodox tradition) and show obedience to them, in order to find therapy.
The social scope of Orthodoxy
So, we now ask, "What is the social scope of the matter?"
We have the person-any person who is living inside a society-who has to act as a healthy social unit. The therapy that we mentioned previously, regarding the noetic energy of man's soul, when completed, will automatically produce a social person; in other words, a person with a robust soul, who will become active socially, in every area. And he who is thus automatically healed, is tacitly ordained a physician for the others-the still unhealed. This is because the medical science called "Orthodoxy" differs from all the other sciences, inasmuch as the one who is healed automatically becomes a healer. The implementation itself of the therapeutic regimen on oneself becomes the means for healing others. This is why it is inconceivable for a person who has been healed to not have any spiritual children, i.e., those who are in a spiritual dependence with him, whom he will counsel and guide towards their subsequent healing.
In the ancient Church, there was no official or specific 'therapist', given that every Christian was a healer. That was the mission of the ancient Church. The Missionary task of the ancient Church was not the same as today's Orthodox Church, which at times consists of an advertising of our wonderful dogmas or our tradition of worship, as though these are some kind of products being displayed for sale. We say for example: "Look here, children! We have the finest dogmas, the best form of worship, the best-sounding cantors, the most beautiful attire... see how lovely the Bishop's cape is! etc., and we strive to impress others with our pastoral staffs, our cassocks, our stoles, when attempting to do missionary work. Of course there might be a certain degree of sense and success in a mission performed in such a manner, but that is not the genuine form of missionary work, the way that the ancient Church saw it.
Nowadays, we are looking at changing man's mentality, at changing the dogma, at changing the way we look at life, and thus construe this as repentance. Nowadays in Orthodoxy, repentance is linked only to the acceptance of Christ. In other words, we accept Christ, and, because we have accepted Him, we go to church, light a candle every now and then, and we even become "good guys"; and, if we are youngsters, we go to Sunday School or, if we are adults, we might go to an occasional religious event and-supposedly-this proves we are living in repentance; that is, we are supposedly penitents. Or, if we have done something bad in our life and have felt some degree of contrition and have asked for forgiveness, we also call this 'repentance'. But this is not repentance. This is simply remorse or regret. Regret is just the beginning of repentance. Man's soul is not cleansed through mere regret. For the soul of man to be cleansed of its passions, it must be preceded by a fear of God and repentance, which continues during the stage of catharsis and is completed upon divine enlightenment, i.e., the enlightenment of man's 'nous' by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
So, if the Orthodox no longer preoccupy themselves with this therapeutic regimen, in what do they differ from the non-Orthodox? In the dogma? What do they need the Orthodox dogma for if they don't use it for the healing of the soul? The dogma will be of no use to them in this way.
Note: "The healing of man's soul is the Orthodox Church's main provision. The Church has always focused on healing the realm of the heart. She had come to discern-from within Jewish tradition and from Christ Himself and His Apostles-that within the space of the biological heart there functions something that the Fathers had named "nous". In other words, they took the traditional "nous", which generally signified intellect and reason, and applied a differentiation to it. They gave the name "nous" to that mental energy which functions inside the heart of a spiritually healthy person."
"Make firm, Lord our God, the holy and pure faith of the pious Orthodox Christians, together with the Holy Church, this parish and this city unto the ages of ages. Amen." [Vespers]
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God