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 THE IMMACULATE AND EVER-VIRGIN MARY THE THEOTOKOS
Take away from me, O Virgin, the fetters of sin, of my lusts and the other transgressions: the evil curiosity and the talkativeness, the useless incontinence and the haughtiness, the negligence, the drunkenness and the lack of mercy, the bad desires, the terrible impurity, the extravagance, the darkness, the great insensitivity. Take away the tendency to say jokes, the enjoyment, the prodigality, the laughter of immorality and every evil. Give me, O maiden, chastity, give me continence, fasting, carefulness, vigilance and perfect obedience. Give me carefulness in all
and acute discernment, silence, order and holy patience. Grant to me, O Lady, eagerness to work and attain my perfection, and zeal for virtues and exercise. Keep, O Most-Holy One, my soul, my heart and my mind in holiness and guard it in virginity. Amen.
On September 27th 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 Kallistratos and the holy 49 holy Martyrs; Saints Aristarchos, and Zenon, holy Apostles of the secret 70; Saint Akylina the New holy Martyr of Thessaloniki.
THE HOLY MARTYR KALLISTRATOS. Born in Carthage, he was a Christian from his birth, as his father and grandfather were. One of his forbears, Neochorus, served as a soldier in Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate at the time of the Passion of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Seeing the many miracles that were wrought at the time of Christ's death, Neochorus came to believe in Him, and was taught the Faith and baptized by the holy Apostles. Returning home, Neochoros took his Christian faith to his own people, like a precious pearl. So, in time, Saint Kallistratos was born, baptized and brought up a Christian. When he went into the army, there was no other Christian in his regiment. One of his companions, seeing holy Kallistratos get up at night and pray to God, reported him to the Commander, Persentinus, as a Christian--and Persentinus was a harsh torturer of Christians. When he was convinced that St. Kallistratos was indeed a Christian, the Commander ordered him to offer sacrifice to idols, which St. Kallistratos immediately refused to do. Then St. Kallistratos was harshly beaten and thrown into the sea, but God's power preserved him, and he emerged from the sea unharmed. Seeing Kallistratos's endurance and his miracles, forty-nine soldiers came to believe in Christ the Lord, and they were beaten and thrown into prison along with him. In prison, Saint Kallistratos instructed his companions in the Faith and encouraged them. They showed great courage in suffering, and the Lord showed great power through them. The wicked torturer sent soldiers to the prison at night, and they slew Saint Kallistratos and the other forty-nine. They suffered for the truth in 304 AD, and a church was later erected over their holy relics.
+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 4:14-17
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 6:12-19
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"Do not love the world of the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of this world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever" (I John 1:15-17).
ALL CHRISTIANS ARE OBLIGATED TO KEEP ALL OF THE COMMANDMENTS OF CHRIST
by Saint Nicodemos the Hagiorite [source: Christian Morality]
Firstly, therefore, all Christians are bound to keep and carry out all of Christ's commandments--that is, all Christians, both clergy and laity, both men and women, both young and old, both monastics and seculars, both unimportant and important, both poor and rich, both private citizens and rulers, both kings and Patriarchs, and, quite simply, all people of every station and rank, without any exceptions. For the Lord said to His sacred Apostles: "Whatever teaching I utter and whatever commandments I give to you I give and teach to Christians in general: And what I say unto you I say unto all" (St. Mark 13:37). Christians are obligated to fulfill all of Christ's commandments, that is, both Ten Commandments contained in the Decalogue of the Old Law--such as that everyone should honor his father and his mother, that he should not kill, that he should not steal, that he should not bear false witness, that he should not covet his brother's wife or anything belonging to him, etc--and likewise all of the commandments and ordinances contained in the Holy Gospel, such as that a Christian should not resist and evil man, but that if anyone wishes to smite him on the one cheek, he should turn the other cheek to him also for him to smite; (St. Matthew 5:39) that a Christian should not desire to take a brother Christian to court (St. Matthew 5:25); but that if anyone should wish to take his outer garment (cloak), he should let him take his inner garment (coat) also (St. Luke 6:29); that if anyone should compel a Christian to go one mile, he should go with him two miles (St. Matthew 5:41); that a Christian should give alms in general to all who ask, and that he should lend to all who have need (St. Matthew 5:42); that a Christian should love his enemies and all who hate him (St. Matthew 5:44); that he should bless those who curse him, that he should pray to God and beseech Him for those who vex, hound and persecute him (St. Matthew 5:44). to put it concisely, all Christians are duty bound to keep all of Christ's commandments, without a single exception.
For when the Lord sent out His Holy Disciples to preach the Holy Gospel in the world, He told them to teach Christians to observe all that He commanded them, saying: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Saint Matthew 28:19-20). Commenting on this verse, Saint Basil the Great points out that the Lord did not say that Christians should keep some commandments and neglect others. No; He said, rather, that they should keep all of them, without neglecting a single one of them: "Teaching them not to observe some while disregarding others, but 'keep all that I have commanded you.'" Elsewhere, Christ Himself, wishing to show that Christians ought to keep all of His decrees, said: "[W]hen ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, "We are unprofitable servants: We have done that which was our duty to do" (St. Luke 17:10). Do you hear? He says, "When you shall have done all those things which are commanded you," and not, "When you shall have done some, but left others aside." For this reason, the holy Apostle Paul commended himself for his observance of all the Master's commandments as a servant of God, and did not give any scandal in any manner. Hence, he said: "Giving no occasion of stumbling in anything, that our ministration be not blamed; but in everything commending ourselves, as ministers of God" (II Corinthians 6:3-4).
THAT THERE ARE THREE ORDERS OF CHRISTIANS
There are three orders and estates of Christians, according to Saint Basil the Great. Some are as slaves, who out of fear of punishment do not do what is evil; others are as hirelings, who do what is good for the sake of the reward and enjoyment of the Kingdom of Heaven; and others are sons, who joyfully do what is good for its own sake and solely out of love for their Master.
We have seen now that these three estates are obligated to keep all of the Lord's commandments. For if a particular Christian is in the rank of the slaves and fears lest he be chastised and punished, he is compelled to carry out all of his master's injunctions and not to neglect even the least of his commandments, if he wishes to escape punishment. If he is in the rank of the hirelings, he is likewise bound to fulfill all that he is commanded by him who has hired him for his vineyard, because if he fails to do so, he cannot receive all of his wages. If he is in the rank of the sons, it is his duty to show himself obedient and well-pleasing to His Father in all things, and not to cause Him even the slightest distress.
"It is not possible for those who fear to omit anything that they have been enjoined to do or to perform it carelessly. But even the hireling will not want to transgress anything that he is ordered to do; for how will he earn the wages for his work in the vineyard if he does not fulfill all that has been agreed upon?...What son, whose goal it is to please his father, will wish to gladden him in more important matters while grieving him over the most insignificant ones?"
And if God ordered the people of the old Israel to keep all of His Commandments, how much more does He now order Christians, who are His chosen people, a beloved people that has been redeemed by His Precious Blood, to keep His Commandments. For we read in Deuteronomy that God commands every ruler and governor to make for himself a copy of the Book of Deuteronomy and to observe all of the decrees therein: "And when he shall be established in his government, then shall he write for himself this repetition of the law into a book...that he may learn to fear the Lord thy God, and to keep all these commandments" (Deuteronomy 17:18-19). Again, He enjoins the entire people in common as follows: "Keep all these commandments, all that I command you this day" (Deuteronomy 27:1). It was from this that the Prophet David learned to hate all unrighteousness and to walk aright in all of the Lord's commandments: "Therefore have I directed myself according to all Thy commandments; I have hated every unrighteous way" (Psalm 118:128).
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God