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 TO OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST
O Christ our God, Who at all times and in every hour, in heaven and on earth, are worshipped and glorified; Who are long-suffering, merciful and compassionate; Who loves the just and grants mercy upon the sinner; Who calls all to salvation through the promise of blessings to come; O Lord, in this hour receive our supplications, and direct our lives according to Your Commandments. Sanctify our souls, hallow our bodies, correct our thoughts, cleanse our minds; deliver us from all tribulation, evil and distress. Encompass us with Your holy Angels, that guided and guarded by them, we may attain to the unity of the faith and to the knowledge of Your approachable glory, for You are Blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.
On September 19th 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: Holy Martyrs Trophimos, Sabbbatios, and Dorymedon of Synnada; Saint Seguanos of Gaul; Saints Theodore, Yaroslav, David, and Constantine; Saint Alexis of Zosima Hermitage.
THE HOLY MARTYRS TROPHIMUS, SABBATIUS AND DORYMEDON. In the time of the pagan Roman Emperor Probus, in the third century, when Atticus was governing Antioch, two Christians, Trophimus and Sabbatius, both eminent and honored men, came to that city. Just at that time, there was a pagan festival and offerings to the idol of Apollo in Daphne near Antioch. Atticus made a special effort to ensure that all the citizens took part in the festivities. When someone saw Trophimus and Sabbatius, and told Atticus that these two old men were not taking part, Atticus summoned them for trial, and, when they refused to deny Christ, put them to torture one by one. After beating and torturing Trophimus, he sent him to Phrygia to Dionysius, a yet harsher torturer of Christians, himself taking Sabbatius from prison and trying him. When the torturer asked Sabbatius who he was and what was his rank, he replied: "My rank and dignity, my homeland, my glory and my riches are Christ the Son of God, Who is alive forever and by Whose providence the whole universe is held in being." He was therefore beaten and flogged with iron flails until his bones showed through his flesh, and he died under these tortures. The torturer put Trophimus to harsh torture, and held him in prison to inflict yet greater torture on him. Then a certain Senator, Dorymedon, a secret Christian, came to the prison and ministered to Trophimus. When the torturer discovered this, he put them both to torture and finally threw them to the wild beasts. But the animals would not touch them. Holy Dorymedon even shouted into the ear of a she-bear to eat him up, but the bear only became even more docile. The torturer ordered, in consequence of this, that Saints Trophimus and Dorymedon be beheaded. The souls of these holy martyrs now reign in heaven.
+By the holy intercessions of Your holy 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: Galatians 6:2-10
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 4:1-15
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"The great work of God, the creation of man, and then after his fall, his restoration by redemption, ought to be well known to every Christian. Without this knowledge one cannot know and fulfill the obligations of a Christian; but the knowledge of this great work of God cannot be acquired with distraction." [Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov].
THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION [INTRODUCTION OF APOCALYPSE]
by Rev. Father Athanasios Mitilinaios
According to our Holy Tradition, Saint John the Evangelist and Theologian was exiled to the island of Patmos, the cave of the Apocalypse (Revelation). The cave is still there today. Saint John used to pray there incessantly. According to our Holy Tradition, on a certain Sunday--as he will tell us in the beginning of the book--he was in the spirit and he saw these revelations and visions which he recorded following the command of Christ. "Now write what you see, what is and what is to take place hereafter" (1:11). From this we see that the book of Revelation is prophetic. We mentioned that prophecy in its broad sense is not limited to the future, but may contain or include the future, the present, and even the past. We will explain. When a prophecy pertains to the future, it comes to reveal something that will take place in the future and which is unknown to every created being. The future is not known to any man or Angel, or even to the devil in reality. The future is known to God and to no one else! Therefore prophecy is a privilege of the True God only, and if you will, it is a privilege of our true Orthodox Faith. The prophecy can also pertain to the present--to whatever thing or event escapes the attention of the people at that time. For example, when Saint John the Baptist prophesied the present only, and the nucleus of his prophecy was "here is the Messiah! Here is the Lamb of God!" The leaders of the people asked him, "Who are you? Are you the Messiah?" "No, I am not the Messiah! I am the voice of the one calling and crying out in the wilderness! I am here to witness for the Messiah. The One who has been before me time-wise, is now in front of me! The One Who is more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie!" (St. John 1:23). Saint John is prophesying about Christ, but Christ is already present! Saint John the Baptist is a great Prophet, but he is only prophesying the present. We must add that it is more difficult to prophesy the present than to prophesy the future.
Finally, a prophecy also pertains to the past if it prophesies those things that human eye has not seen. When Moses, for instance, records in the book of Genesis the creation of man and the world, how does he know these things? He is writing prophetically! Therefore, he is a Prophet referring to the past. To add another dimension to the meaning of prophecy which we set forth above, prophecy has the element of teaching. It comes to advise--to move people towards straight paths and repentance, to bring consolation and encouragement to those who are fighting the hard fight of the spiritual life and so on. Many times the Prophets come to strengthen and help people and move them towards repentance, and to elevate those who listen to them. So prophecy does not limit itself to what happened and what will happen, but also comes to teach God's people how they must walk. For this reason--I underline this--please make mental not of this: we must look not at the book of Revelation in the narrow sense of prophecy, as a book that will reveal the future to us! Not so, my friends! The book of Revelation will take us back into the past and the present as well. Our Lord said, What is now--those things that exist now--not necessarily the symbolic images that Saint John was seeing in the vision. No, when Saint John writes about Babylon the great prostitute (the great harlot), meaning Rome, Rome is not limited to that period of two thousand years ago. "What is now" is also valid for today, so we must not limit our interpretation to the historical facts only. Thus, "what is now" is for today and for tomorrow--it refers to the present.
We need to understand that the book of the Revelation transcends the past, present and future. It comes to comfort, to uplift, to restore, to warn, to call out, to point out the Antichrist, and this is at all times, at all seasons, but especially at times when spiritual awareness is very low. The book of Revelation is a very graphic book, with much inexpressible grace and freshness despite some of these horrific images. This book has a freshness about it--a certain tenderness, it is a true masterpiece of the Holy Spirit, and it becomes truly delightful for the person who can catch on and see some of its wonders.
We need to follow the straight line of our Church. This path, my friends, was mapped out by three God-inspired holy Fathers: Saint Andrew of Caesarea of the 6th century, who wrote a commentary; Saint Arethas, Archbishop of Caesarea, of the 9th century and Saint Ecumenios, Archbishop of Tryki of the 6th century.
Specifically, let us talk about the presence of the Antichrist. When he comes, he will mesmerize the masses. He will be wise, thoughtful, a philanthropist, extremely civilized. He will be an amazing personality! He will enchant the entire world! This is what the Fathers say: People will boast about his governing abilities, about his wisdom. He will be a universal king. The unions that are taking place geographically one day will solidify to a great union, and then the Antichrist will come forth. It may sound strange, but it is true! This is the warning that we have from the word of God. In those days, Prophets Elijah and Enoch will appear. These two Prophets did not taste death. They will serve as Prophets of the present, not the future! They will call out that this is the Antichrist, and people will be amazed. "What? He is the greatest governor this world has ever known!" "No, he is the Antichrist!" They prophesy the present. Those who are vigilant, with a pure heart, who live a spiritual life, will recognize this instantly! The rest of the masses will seize the Prophets and hang them in the center of Jerusalem from the tallest tree! Now, when will all these things happen? When they happen! When will we know? When they are happening!
So, by now you may begin to understand that the book of Revelation is a tremendously deep and unfathomable book, and we need to approach it with a great deal of respect. Now at the closing of this brief introduction, I will ask you not to get discouraged if we were somewhat difficult. An introduction is always difficult. The introduction was meant to shine some light on this subject, and I hope that I did not manage to get you all confused. However, I urge you to have a little patience. Let us never forget that we have in our midst the living word of God, the word of God Himself, since this book is God-inspired, like all the other books of Holy Scriptures.
This word of God is deep and difficult to interpret. To gain understanding, one needs to have humility, prayer, attention, tears and persistence. Let us use the example of Saint John the Evangelist, where he says, "I heard a voice, 'No one can open the scroll.' And I started to cry because no one could learn about the contents of this book" (Rev. 5:1-4). The Angel who was guiding him came and told him, Do not weep the book was opened by the morning star, the Son of God, the Incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ. So don't weep. Why did He open the book?--Because Saint John was weeping!
A third point, and something we need to be careful of; every conclusion which we will draw from this book-whether ethical, moral, or spiritual--we should not use only to instruct others. Let us apply these points to ourselves first! When Christ will say, "You are not cold or hot, you are lukewarm1 This is why I will spit you out of my mouth!" Let us not say that He will spit out or throw up the others! No, we need to analyze and criticize our souls, ourselves first. I must question, "Am I also lukewarm? Maybe I am!" And then I will discover, if I have any sincerity, that yes, I am lukewarm and Christ is talking directly to me!
My friends, this is how we will be able to gain some understanding from the book of the Revelation so its truth can be revealed to us, at least as much as is humanly possible! In this way, we can walk this golden and bright journey of our Church in the face of the blood-shedding and life-killing swords of the godless powers all throughout history.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God