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 PRAYER BEFORE FALLING ASLEEP
O Lord Jesus Christ, Our God, You Who have manifested Your Mother more Honorable than all the Heavenly Hosts, You, O All-Good One, through her intercessions and those of all Your Saints, be merciful and forgive me, Your unworthy servant, if somehow I have sinned this day as a human, or rather as an inhuman. Forgive my voluntary and involuntary transgressions, the ones that have been done out of evil influence and carelessness and my great indolence and negligence. Forgive me, O Lord, if I have taken an oath by Your Holy Name or if I have violated my oath; if I have sworn in my mind or if I have somehow irritated You; if I have stolen or if I have lied; if a friend came to me and I ignored him or if I have distressed and embittered my brother; if while standing in prayer and chanting, my evil mind wandered off to evil and worldly things; or if I have delighted more than I should or if I have said jokes, and have laughed too much or if I was vainglorious or proud; if I looked upon vain beauty and my mind was attracted by it; if I was overly talkative about improper things or if I examined curiously the faults of my brothers and condemned him while overlooking my own innumerable faults; if I have neglected my prayer or if I have brought to mind any other evil thing. Forgive me, O God, Your useless servant, all these and whatever other things I have done and do not remember. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for You are Good and You love mankind, so that I, the prodigal one, may go to bed and fall asleep glorifying You, together with the Father and Your All-Holy, Good, and Life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
On July 18th 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 Emilianos of Bulgaria; Saint Paul, Thea and Oulalentine; Wallentini the holy Martyr; St. John, bishop of Chalcedon; Saint Stephanos II and St. John IX, Patriarchs of Constantinople.
THE HOLY MARTYR EMILLIANOS OF BULGARIA. In the time of Julian the Apostate, in the town of Dorostolon in Thrace, there lived the young Emillianos, a servant of the governor. When the Emperor Julian began to persecute the Christians with fire and the sword throughout the Roman Empire, the imperial delegate arrived in Dorostolon to kill the Christians. But he did not find a single one there. Delighted by this, he gave a great feast for the citizens of Dorostolon and ordered the offering of sacrifices to the idols, and merrymaking day and night throughout the town. That night, holy Emillianos went round the temples, squares and streets of the town and, with a hammer, smashed all the idols. On the following day, the whole town was in uproar; everyone was searching for the destroyer of their gods. A villager, who was seen passing near the temples that morning, was arrested and Emillianos, seeing that an innocent man would suffer, said within himself: 'If I conceal my action, what sort of use has it been? Shall I not stand before God as the slayer of an innocent man?' He therefore presented himself before the imperial legate and confessed the whole. The legate, in a rage, questioned St. Emillianos, asking him on whose instructions he had done such a thing. Christ's martyr replied: 'God and my soul commanded me to destroy those dead pillars that you call gods.' Then the judge ordered that he be flogged, and, after flogging and other tortures, be burned. Thus Saint Emillianos finished his earthly course and moved to the heavenly life, on July 18, 362 AD.
+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: 1 Corinthians 7:12-24
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 14:35-36; 15:1-11
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"One cannot live as a Christian without inspiration. If an artist, a true one, lives night and day with the images of his art, then we Christians should be still more attentive. We must go further than artists in our efforts to live according the spirit of the Gospel" [Archimandrite Sophrony]
THE ERROR OF CHILIASM
by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky [source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology]
Very widespread at the present time is the teaching about a thousand-year Kingdom of Christ on earth before the universal or Last Judgment; this teaching is known by the name of "chiliasm" (from the Greek Chiliasmos, a thousand years). The essence of this teaching is as follows:
Long before the end of the world, Christ will come again to earth to overcome Antichrist and resurrect only the righteous, to establish a new kingdom on earth in which the righteous, as reward for their struggles and sufferings, will reign together with Him for the course of one thousand years, taking enjoyment of all the good things of temporal life. After this there will follow a second, universal resurrection of the dead, the universal judgment, and the universal and eternal giving of rewards. Such are the ideas of the chiliasts. The defenders of this teaching found themselves on the visions of the seer of mysteries (St. John the Theologian) in the twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse (Revelation). There it is said that an Angel descended from heaven and bound Satan for a thousand years, and that the souls of those "beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God" came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. "This is the first resurrection (Apoc. 20:4-5). "And when the thousand year are expired, Satan, shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations" (Apoc. 20:7-8). Soon there follows the judgment of the devil and of those who were deceived by him. The dead will be raised up and judged according to their deeds. "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire... This is the second death" (Apoc. 20:15, 14). Upon those who have been resurrected in the first resurrection, however, the second death will have no power.
Chiliastic views were spread in antiquity chiefly among heretics. However, they are also to be encountered in certain ancient Christian writers of the universal Church (for example Papias of Hierapolis, St. Justin the Martyr, St. Irenaeus of Lyons). In more recent times these views were resurrected in the protestant sects; and finally, we see attempts in certain modernist theologians of our times to introduce chiliastic ideas also into Orthodox theological thought.
As has been indicated, in this teachings there are supposed to be two future judgments, one for the resurrected righteous ones, and then a second, universal one; there are two future resurrections, first one of the righteous, and then another of sinners; there are two future comings of the Savior in glory; there is a future, purely earthly--even though blessed--reign of Christ with the righteous ones as a definite historical epoch. Formally, this teaching on an incorrect understanding of the expression "the first resurrection"; while inwardly, its cause is rooted in the loss, among the masses of contemporary sectarianism, of faith in life after death, in the blessedness of the righteous in heaven (with whom they have no communion in prayer); and another cause, in certain sects, is to be found in utopian dreams for society hidden behind religious ideas and inserted into the mysterious images of the Apocalypse.
It is not difficult to see the error of the chiliastic interpretation of the twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse. Parallel passages in Sacred Scripture clearly indicate that the "first resurrection" signifies spiritual rebirth into eternal life in Christ through baptism, a resurrection through faith in Christ, according to the words, "awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light" (Ephesians 5:14). "Ye are risen with Christ," we read many times in the Epistles (Col. 3:1 and 2:12; Eph. 2:5-6). Proceeding from this, by the thousand-year reign one must understand the period of time from the very beginning of the Kingdom of grace of the Church of Christ, and in particular of the triumphant Church of Heaven, until the end of the world. The Church which is militant upon earth in essence also is triumphant in the victory performed by the Savior, but it is still undergoing battle with the "prince of this world," a battle which will end with the defeat of Satan and the final casting of him into the lake of fire.
The "second death" is the judgment of sinners at the Last Judgment. It will not touch those who "have part in the first resurrection" (Apoc. 20:6); this means that those who are spiritually reborn in Christ and purified by the grace of God in the Church will not be subjected to judgment, but will enter into the blessed life of the Kingdom of Christ.
If it was at one time possible to express chiliastic ideas as private opinions, this was only until the Ecumenical Church expressed its judgment about this. But when the Second Ecumenical Council (381) expressed its judgment about this, in condemning all the errors of the heretic Apollinarius, condemned also his teaching of the thousand-year reign of Christ and introduced into the very symbol of faith the words concerning Christ: "and His Kingdom will have no end"--it become no longer permissible at all for an Orthodox Christian to hold these opinions.
Orthodox Christians who have experienced the life of Grace in the Church can well understand what Protestants cannot: that the "thousand years" (the whole period) of Christ's reign with His Saints and the limited power of the devil is now. T
A related error, widespread among contemporary Protestants, is that of the "rapture." Unheard of before the 19th century, this belief has it that during the "great tribulation" near the end of the world (either before or after the "millennium," according to various versions), true Christians will be "raptured" into the air to escape the sufferings of those who remain on earth. It is based on a misinterpretation of 1 Thessalonians 4:17, which teaches that "at the very end of the world" believers will be "caught up in the clouds", together with the resurrected dead, "to meet the Lord" Who is coming for judgment and the opening of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. The Holy Scripture is quite clear that even the elect will suffer on earth during the "tribulation" period, and that for their sake this period will be shortened (St. Matthew 24:21-22).
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God