Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS ON OUR MIDST! HE WAS AND IS AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ. ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
GRANT GRACE TO SATISFY ALL NEEDS
Make me whole, O Lord, and I will become whole! O Only wise and merciful Physician, I beseech Thy benevolence: heal the wounds of my soul and enlighten the eyes of my mind that I may understand my place in Thine eternal design! And inasmuch as my heart and mind have been disfigured, may Thy grace repair them, for it is as true salt.
What shall I say to Thee, O Knower of the heart Who searches the heart and the inner workings of men? Indeed, Thou knowest that, like a waterless land, my soul thirsts after Thee and my heart longs for Thee. And Thy grace has always sated those that love Thee.
Thus, as Thou hast always heard me, so now do not scorn my prayer. For Thou sees that my mind, like a prisoner, seeks Thee, the Only True Savior.
Send Thy grace, that it may satisfy my hunger and quench my thirst. For insatiably do I desire Thee, O my Master! And who can have enough of Thee if he truly loves Thee and thirsts for Thy Truth?
O Giver of light! Fulfill my supplications and grant me Thy gift according to my prayer; impart to my heart just one drop of Thy grace, that the flame of Thy love may begin to burn in my heart; and, like a fire, may it consume evil thoughts like thorns and thistles!
Give me all this in abundance; grant it to me as God unto man, as the King of His subjects, and
increase it as a kind Father. Amen.
[A Spiritual Psalter or Reflections on God by St. Ephraim the Syrian]
On July 11th 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 Euphemia the All-Famed and Great Martyr; Saint Olga, Equal-to-the-Apostles, Princess of Kiev; Cindeos of Pamphylia; Saint Januarius and Pelagia of Nicopolis; Saint Nicodemos of Vatopedi, Mt. Athos; St. Nektrarios of Saint Anne's Skete, Mt. Athos.
GREAT MARTYR EUPHEMIA THE ALL-FAMED. Little is known of the life of St. Euphemia but her martyrdom and the miracles that followed. One that ended a heresy at the Fourth Ecumenical Council is especially well recorded. Saint Euphemia was tortured by the wheel and by fire, and gave up her spirit when she was thrown to a wild bear. Her holy relics were encased in the wall of a chapel, where many were healed. A century and a half later, a great heresy arose. An archimandrite in Constantinople named Eutyches, supported by Dioscorus, Patriarch of Alexandria, who had disseminated the false teaching (heresy) that there were in Christ not two natures, divine and human, but only one, a divine nature. At the Council, the chief role was played by Anatolius, Patriarch of Constantinople and Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem. Because, through the quarrels and evidence on both sides, no decision could be reached, Patriarch Anatolius suggested that the Orthodox and the heretics each write down their confession of faith, and that they be put into the coffin that contained the holy relics of Saint Euphemia. All agreed to this. The confessions of faith, then, were written and place in the hands of the great martyr. The coffin was closed and sealed with the imperial seal, a watch then being set over it. They then all spent three days in fasting and prayer. On the fourth day, when the tomb was opened they saw the Orthodox confession of faith in the Saint's right hand and the heretical one beneath her feet. Thus was the conflict resolved by God's power, on the side of Orthodoxy. In the time of the Emperor Heraclius, the holy relics of Saint Euphemia were translated from Chalcedon to Constantinople, to the church dedicated to her near the Hippodrome. The iconoclast Emperor Leo the Isaurian ordered that her holy relics be thrown into the sea; but, by a wonderful act, the coffin was brought to the island of Lemnos and placed in the church of the holy martyr Glykeria. Then, in the time of the Empress Irene, the coffin with its holy relics was again taken to Constantinople, to its place. Blood has flawed from these holy relics from time to time, to the succor of the sick and the feeble.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Great Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 2 Corinthians 6:1-10
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 7:36-50
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"How much time we waste in idleness and empty activities! We roam hither and thither without knowing why. We do things again and again, without being able to give a sensible account of them. We take up one enterprise after another, and all that comes of it is fuss and bustle." [Saint Theophan the Recluse]
ON THE LAW OF GOD
by Metropolitan Philaret
For many years now, during the era of our "youth cult," it has been popular to use the expression, "the future of our Church is our youth".
Few people seem to have paused to reflect on the meaninglessness of such a statement. For, the future of the Church, just as Her past and Her present, is Christ. The Holy Church is totally fulfilled and she offers this fullness to us. We, on the other hand, have absolutely nothing to bring to the Church except our sins.
It is really correct to say that the future of our youth is the Church. With this in mind, and with a deep sincere and unhypocritical love, Metropolitan Philaret has written the book, The Law of God primarily as a church-school text for intermediate students.
CONSCIENCE and Moral Responsibility
Of all the creatures on earth, only man has an understanding or morality. Every person is aware that his or her actions are either good or bad, kind or evil, morally positive or morally negative (immoral). By these concepts of morality, man differs immeasurably from all animals. Animals behave according to their natural characteristics or else, if they have been trained, in the way they have been taught. They have, however, no concept of morality-immorality, and so their behavior cannot be examined from the point of view of moral awareness.
By what means does one distinguish between the morally good and the morally bad? This differentiation is made by means of a special moral law give to man by God. This moral law, this voice of God in man's soul is felt in the depth of our consciousness: it is called conscience. This conscience is the basis of the morality common to man. A person who does not listen to his conscience but stifles it, suppresses its voice with falseness and the darkness of stubborn sin, is often called "unconscionable". The Holy Scripture refers to such stubborn sinners as people with a "seared" conscience. Their spiritual condition is extremely dangerous and ruinous for the soul.
When one listens to the voice of one's conscience, one sees that this conscience speaks in him first of all as a judge-strict and incorruptible, evaluating all one's actions and experiences. Often, it happens that some given action appears advantageous to a person, or has drawn approval from others, but in the depths of the soul this person hears the voice of conscience, "this is not good, this is a sin."
In a tight bond with this action of judging, the conscience also acts in one's soul as a legislator. All those moral demands which confront a person's soul in all his conscious actions (for example, be just, do not steal, etc.), are norms, demands, prescriptions of this very conscience. Its voice teaches us how one must and must not behave. Finally, the conscience also acts in man as rewarder. This happens when we, having acted well, experience peace and calm in the soul or, on the other hand, when we experience reproaches of the conscience after having sinned. These reproaches of the conscience sometimes pass over into terrible mental pain and torment. They can lead a person to despair or a loss of mental balance if one does not restore peace and calmness in the soul through deep and sincere repentance.
It is self-evident that man bears a moral responsibility only for those actions which he commits, in a conscious condition, being free in the carrying out of the actions. Only then can moral imputation be applied to these actions, and then they impute to the person either guilt, praise or judgment.
People who, on the other hand, are incapable of recognizing the character of their actions (babies, those deprived of reason, etc.) or those who are forced against their will to commit such actions, do not bear responsibility for them. In the first epoch of persecution against Christianity, the pagan tormentors often placed incense in the hands of martyrs and then held their hands over the flame burning on their altar. The torturers supposed that the martyrs would jerk their hands back, dropping the incense into the fire. In fact, these confessors of the faith were usually so firm in spirit that they preferred to burn their hands and not drop the incense; but even had they dropped it, who would charge that they had brought sacrifice to the idols?
That the moral law must be acknowledged as innate to mankind, that is, fixed in the very nature of man, is indisputable. This is clearly seen from the fact that a concept of morality is universal in mankind. Of course, only the most basic moral requirements are innate-a sort of moral instinct-but not so with revealed and clear moral understandings and concepts. For, clear moral understandings and concepts developed in man in part through upbringing and influence from preceding generations, most of all on the basis of religious awareness. Therefore, coarse groups of people have moral norms lower, coarser, more malformed than Orthodox Christians who know and believe in the True God Who placed the moral law into man's soul and Who, through this law, guides all of his life and activities.
An Orthodox blessing:
May the Lord God strengthen the holy and pure faith of devout Orthodox Christians, and of His Holy Church, this city and parish, from all ages to all ages. Amen.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God