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 FOR THE ENLIGHTENMENT OF THE SOUL
O Lord Jesus Christ, Word of God, O God the Logos, You are the Light that created the perceptible light. You are the Way and the Truth and the Life. In You there is no darkness, no deception or lie, no vanity and no death. You are indeed the Light, and apart from You there is spiritual darkness. You are the Way of Truth and virtue, and without You mankind wanders in error. You are the Truth, without which there is only vanity. You are the Life and without You there is death.
Lord, give the command to my soul which You gave in the beginning: "Let there be light!" that I may see the Light of Your Spirit and avoid the darkness of ignorance and of sin; that I may see the way of virtue and of salvation and return to You and away from what is not a real way; that I may see the Truth and avoid the vanity of this temporal life; that I may see the spiritual life and avoid the death which is brought about by sin. Lord, shine your spiritual Light abundantly upon me. You are my enlightenment and by Savior, Whom I will respect and fear. You are my Lord to Whom I will sing songs of praise. You are my God, Whose Name I will bless and glorify. You are my Father, Whom I will love. You are my Bridegroom, for Whom I will keep my soul faithful and devoted.
O Lord, the Light of my soul, shine Your enlightenment upon me. As I stand now before You in prayer, shine Your Light upon me who am blind of soul, sitting in spiritual darkness and under the influence and power of death. Guide my works on the way of virtue, which brings peace, so that I may worthily approach the wondrous tabernacle, Your Holy temple, the house of God, and there offer to You, with joyous voice, words of thanksgiving and doxology. For this doxology, when truly coming from the heart, is a way and a means by which I will first be able to turn away from the path of sin, and then directly return to You. For You are truly the Way that leads to Life. Amen.
On August 16th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarch, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics and Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Diomedes of Tarsus; St. Anthony the Hermit of Georgia; St. Nikodemos of Mateora; 33 holy Martyrs of Palestine, St. Gerasimo the New of Caphalonia; Saint Efstathius II, Archbishop of Serbia, holy Neomartyr Stamatios of Thessaly, holy Martyr Alciviades.
THE HOLY MARTYR DIOMEDES. A doctor from Tarsus of eminent parents, he taught the people the Christian faith as he healed them. The Emperor Diocletian ordered that he be beheaded in Nicaea in 298 A.D. Those who beheaded him and took his head to the Emperor were blinded, and when they restored the head to his body, with prayer, they were healed.
THE HOLY MARTYR STAMATIUS. He was a villager, born in Volos in Thessaly, Greece. When some inhuman Aga collected the imperial tax from the people and left them in a terrible plight, St. Stamatios went to Constantinople with several companions, to complain the Turkish Vizier. The Sultan's nobles bore St. Stamatios a grudge for his stern accusation, and they arrested him. They first tried to convert him to Islam by flattery, promising him riches, glory and honor. Then the Turks tortured him and finally beheaded him in front of Saint Sophia's, in 1680 A.D. Thus this soldier of Christ was crowned with the wreath of martyrdom.
+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 Timothy 3:13-16, 4:1-5
Holy Gospel Lesson: 9:51-57, 10:22-24, 13:22
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"Love is the most powerful means of defense there is. There are no weapons and no power that can measure themselves against love. Everything is defeated before love (agape)". [Geronda [Elder] Thaddeus of Vitovnica]
WITHOUT DIVINE ILLUMINATION KNOWLEDGE ENDS IN DISASTER
by Geronda Paisios of Mount Athos [source: With Pain and Love for the Contemporary Man]
If people would only put the brakes on their speeding minds, not only would their mind find rest, but it would be more receptive to divine Grace. Without divine illumination, knowledge ends in disaster. Those who strive and labor for their spiritual life, have their mind illumined by God; they receive divine illumination, divine experiences, and these give them foresight, so that they don't see things only through their own understanding. A short-sighted person sees clearly the things that are close, but not what is far away. As for a person with normal vision, well, he may be able to see a bit farther, but that too is not an accomplishment. We cannot have more than two physical eyes; but we can have many spiritual eyes.
Those who distance themselves from Christ are deprived of divine illumination, because they foolishly exchange a sunny place for a sunless one. This is why they suffer from spiritual colds and other such ailments. If man is not purified, if divine illumination does not come to him, no matter how sound his human knowledge might be, it will remain, as I see it, nothing more than rationalism. If there is no divine illumination, whatever they may write or say will not help others. Consider, for example, the Psalter, written with divine inspiration, what profound meanings it contains! Gather together, if you want, all the theologians and all the philologists of the world, and you will see that they are not able to compose one Psalm with such spiritual depth. David was illiterate, but you can see clearly how he was guided by the spirit of God.
The Church is suffering today because divine illumination is missing and each person understands things as he wishes. The human element gets involved, passions are aroused and the devil comes in and roams all over. This is why people who are governed by their passions should not the govern.
---In other words Geronda [Elder], should people constantly seek guidance and illumination from God?
--Yes, because otherwise, the solutions that they will give to their problems, will be nothing else than the work of their mind. And this will only end up in confusion. Conferences, symbosia...take place all the time. And the sad thing is that most of these people have no idea who they really are. You see, nothing can compare to our knowledge of our true self; knowledge of all other kinds is useless when we do not know who we are. To recognize our true self, and do so with humility, will bring recognition by others. If some people could realize who they really are, the sorry state of their soul, they would have no words to speak to anyone, nothing to say…
The person, who constantly sharpens his mind with knowledge, but lives a life apart from God, will eventually turn his mind into a double-edged sword. With the one side of the sword, he will be slowly putting himself to the slaughter, while with the other, he will be slicing people to pieces with all kinds of absolute human views, sharpened by his unyielding mind. When human knowledge becomes sanctified, it can help others. But if it lacks holiness, then it's only a human construct, it is the work of a mind ruled by secular reason. When the mind is not holy, it resembles an iron rod that has no magnetic power. Even though it strikes other metals to weld them together, it can only bend them out of shape; it has no welding power whatsoever.
This is the sad state of today's world. People see everything through the prism of cold logic. This kind of logic is really destructive. Doesn't the Apostle Peter write, "knowledge puffs up"? If we lack divine illumination, all the knowledge in the world will be useless to us, and will end in disaster.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God