Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only 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.
by Saint Neilos the Ascetic
"Prayer is the conversation of the mind with God. Moses, who attempted to approach the burning bush on earth, was prevented until he had removed the sandals from his feet; how do you expect to see and to become conversant with the One Who is above every perception and every thought, if you do not remove from yourself every passionate thought?
First of all pray for the reception of tears; for through contrition and grief the wilderness which co-exist in your soul may be softened, and, having confessed to the Lord your transgressions, you may receive forgiveness from Him.
Your Lord rejoices greatly when you pray with tears..."
PRAYER TO THE GUARDIAN ANGEL
O my holy guardian Angel, Attendant of my wretched soul and afflicted life, Do not abandon me, a sinner, Do not depart from me because of my lack of self-control. Do not allow the evil demon to subdue me Through the oppression of this mortal body of mine. Take hold of my wretched and outstretched hand And guide me on the way to salvation. O holy Angel of God, Guardian and protector of my miserable soul and body, Forgive me for all those things with which I have grieved you Throughout all the days of my life; And for whatever I have sinned this day. During this present night shelter me and keep me safe From every attack of the adversary, That I may not through some sin bring anger to God. Intercede with the Lord in my behalf To give me strength to stand in awe of Him And to become a worthy servant of His goodness. Amen.
Under the protection of Your wings I shall be covered and go to sleep; For You, Lord, have given me a mansion to dwell in hope Into Your hand, O Lord, I place my soul and my body. Have mercy on me and grant me eternal life. Amen.
Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ, our God, Have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
On September 21st 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: Apodosis (Leavetaking) of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross; Saint Kodratos, holy Apostle of the Seventy Apostles; holy Prophet Jonah the Sabbaite; Saint Priscus of Phrygia; Sts. Isaacios and Meletios of Cyprus; St. Evsevius of Phoenicia; St. Theophan of Lipetsk and Belo-Russia (1937); St. Joseph of Zaonikiev Monastery; Six holy Martyrs slain by the sword.
THE HOLY APOSTLE KODRATOS. One of the Seventy secret Apostles. He preached the Gospel in Athens, and was at first bishop in Athens after Saint Publius, and then in the city of Magnesia. He was very educated in the secular disciplines and rich with the grace of the Holy Spirit. His biographer says of him: 'He was a morning star among clouds', the clouds being the darkness of Hellenic paganism, lacking the light of devotion, and the holy Apostle Kodratos shone to them--the Hellenes--as a great light, illuminating the darkness casting down the foul sacrifices and destroying demonic temples by his prayers. But darkness always hates the light, and the pagans hated holy Kodratos. They first stoned him, as the Jews had earlier stoned Saint Stefanos, and then imprisoned him, leaving him without bread until his holy soul left his body and entered into the Kingdom of Christ his God. Saint Kodratos wrote a defense of Christianity and gave it to the pagan Roman Emperor Hadrian. This defense acted so strongly upon the pagan Emperor that he decreed that Christians should not be persecuted without a special cause. Saint Kodratos suffered in about 130 AD. He was buried in Magnesia, the place of his passion.
+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: Ephesians 1:7-17
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 4:22-30
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"Those who wish to learn attentiveness must forbid themselves all vain occupations. The fulfilling of one's personal and social obligations does not enter into the formation of distraction. Distraction is always united with idleness or with occupations that are so empty that they can be undoubtedly ascribed to idleness. A beneficial occupation, especially an occupation which is one of service, and which is joined with responsibility, does not hinder one in preserving attentiveness to oneself. Rather it guides one to such attentiveness. All the more does monastic obedience lead one to attentiveness when they are fulfilled in the due manner." [St. Ignatius Brianchaninov]
THE MINISTRY OF THE HOLY ANGELS OF GOD
by Protopresbyter Michael Pamazansky [source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology]
What, finally, is the purpose of the beings of the spiritual world? It is evident that they were ordained by God to be the most perfect reflections of His grandeur and glory, with inseparable participation in His blessedness. If it has been said concerning the visible heavens that "the Heavens declare the glory of God," then all the more is this the aim of the spiritual Heavens. This is why Saint Gregory the Theologian calls them "reflections of the perfect light," or secondary lights.
The Angels in the ranks which are close to the human race are presented in Sacred Scripture as heralds of God's will, guides of men, and servants of their salvation. The holy Apostle Paul writes: "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation" (Heb. 1:14).
Not only do Angels hymn the Glory of God, but they also serve Him in the works of His Providence for the material and sensible world. Of this service the holy Fathers frequently speak: "Some of them stand before the great God; others by their cooperation, uphold the whole world" (Saint Gregory the Theologian, "Mystical Hymns," Homily 6). The Angels "are appointed for the governance of the elements and the Heavens, the world and everything that is in it" (St. Athenagoras). "Different individuals of them embrace different districts of the universe, as he knoweth who ordered and distributed it all; combining all things in one, solely with a view to the consent of the Creator of all things" (Saint Gregory the Theologian, Homily 28).
In some Church writers there is to be found the opinion that special Angels are placed over separate aspects of the kingdom of nature--the inorganic, the organic, and the animal (Origen, Blessed Augustine). The latter opinion has its source in the Apocalypse (Revelation), where mention is made of Angels who, in accordance with God's will, are in charge of certain earthly elements. The Seer of mysteries (Saint John) writes, in the 16th chapter, verse 5, of the Apocalypse: "And I heard the Angel of the waters say"; (Apocalypse 7:1 he says: "I saw four Angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree"; and in Apocalypse 14:18: "And another Angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire; and he cried out." In the vision of the Prophet Daniel there are Angels to whom God has entrusted the care of the fate of the peoples and kingdoms which exist upon the earth (Daniel chaps. 10, 11, and 12).
The Orthodox Church believes that every man has his own Guardian Angel, if he has not put him away from himself by an impious life. The Lord Jesus Christ has said: "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones, for I say unto you, that their Angels do always behold the face of My Father's which is in Heaven" (St. Matthew 18:10).
The truth that Christ Himself is the head of the Church has always in lively fashion run through, and continues to run through, the self-awareness of the Church. In our daily prayers also we read, "O Jesus, good shepherd of Thy sheep" (The Prayer of Saint Antioch in the Prayers Before Sleep of the Orthodox Prayer Book).
Saint John Chrysostom teaches in his Homilies on the Epistle to the Ephesians as follows: "In Christ, in the flesh, God placed a single head for everyone, for angels and men; that is, He gave one principle both to Angels and men: to the one Christ according to the flesh; and to the other, God the Word (Logos). Just as if someone should say about a house, that one part of it is rotten and the other part strong, and he should restore the house, that is, make stronger, placing a stronger foundation under it; so also here, he has brought all under a single head. Only then is union possible; only then will there be that perfect bond, when everything, having a certain indispensable bond with what is above, will be brought under a single head" (Works of Saint John Chrysostom in Russian, vol. 11, p. 14).
The Orthodox Church of Christ refuses to recognize yet another head of Church in the form of a "Vicar of Christ on earth," a title given in the Roman Catholic Church to the bishop of Rome. Such a title does not correspond either to the word of God or to the Universal Church consciousness and tradition; it tears away the Church on earth from immediate unity with the Heavenly Church. A vicar is assigned during the absence of the one replaced: but Christ is invisibly present in His Church always.
The Lord Himself described to His disciples the manner of His Coming in the following characteristics:
It will be sudden and obvious to everyone: "For as the lightning cometh out of the east and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be" (St. Matthew 24:27).
First of all, there "shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven; and then all the tribes of the earth mourn" (St. Matthew 30). This, according to the universal interpretation of the holy Fathers of the Church, will be the sign of the Life-Giving Cross of the Lord.
The Lord will come surrounded by innumerable choirs of Angels, in all His glory: "And they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory" (St. Matthew 24:30), "with the Holy Angels" (St. Mark 8:38). "He shall sit on the throne of His glory" (St. Matthew 25:31). Thus the Second Coming will be different from the first when the Lord "humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross" (Phil. 2:8).
The holy Fathers are very explicit: Thus, Saint Basil the Great writes: "We believe that each (of the Heavenly powers) is in a definite place. For the Angel who stood before Cornelius was not at the same time with Philip (Acts 10:3; 8:26); and the Angel who spoke to Zachariah near the altar of incense (St. Luke 1:11) did not at the same time occupy his own place in Heaven."
"Orthodoxy, therefore, takes the existence and intervention of the Angels of God with utter seriousness. It does not understand them to be mere symbols of something else, or mythological anachronisms. It accepts the substantial testimony of the Scriptures about their involvement with God's plan for the salvation of the earth. As it does with the existence of evil in the world, it sees the communion of goodness around it (admittedly dimly at times as it tries to see with the eyes of the spirit instead of the eyes of the flesh or the mind) as a living web of influence. The members of the Church sense the presence of living Saints among them, and on the same principle can sense the presence of Angels gathered to 'watch over' men and women who are themselves rising into the presence of the holy. The Russian Theologian Bulgakov expressed this eloquently when he said: "The spiritual world, and the existence of good and evil spirits are evident to all those who live the spiritual life. And the belief in the Holy Angels is a great joy and consolation for the Christians."
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God