Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, 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
Lord Jesus Christ, You accepted the children to come to You, Accept also from the lips of Your child this evening prayer. Cover me under the protection of Your wings That I may lay down to sleep in peace; Raise me up at the appropriate time to glorify You, As the only Good and Loving God. Amen.
On January 26th 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, Teachers and every righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox faith: Saint Xenophon and his Synodia; Saints Mary, John and Arcadios of Constantinople; Saint Symeon the Ancient of Mt. Sinai; Saint Ammon of Egypt; Saint Ananias the presbyter, Saint Peter, and the 7 soldiers of Phoenicia; Saint Joseph, Bishop of Thessaloniki; Saint Clement of Mt. Stirion; Saint David the Restorer of Georgia; Saint Gabriel, Abbot at Jerusalem; Saint Paula of Palestine; Saint Xenophon of Novgorod; Saint Joseph Naniescu of Romania; New holy Martyrs Cyril of Kazan, Saint Arcadios, and Matushka (Presbytera) Maria of Gatchina.
OUR HOLY MOTHER PAULA OF PALESTINE. Saint Paula was born in 4th century Rome to a noble family and at age 16 she married a pagan nobleman named Toxotius. He was devoted to Paula and allowed her to create a Christian home for herself and their five children. When he died at the age of 32, she turned their large house in Rome into a monastery. Later she traveled to the Holy Land with her spiritual father Saint Jerome and she established two monasteries in Bethlehem, one for men and one for women, where she also lived. Every day the nuns in her monastery chanted all the Psalms, which they were required to learn by heart. She was very strict in her fasting and gave generously to the poor, even to the point of depriving her own monastery. She encouraged Saint Jerome, who was hot headed, to confront his enemies with humility and patience. At the age of 56, Saint Paula heard Christ tell her a passage from the Song of Songs. He said, "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away; for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone." She replied, "The time of harvest has come. I shall truly see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living," and she happily gave up her soul. Great crowds of nuns, monks, and the pious attended her funeral.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Romans 5:1-10
Holy Gospel Lesson: Saint Mark 1:1-8
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND MEDITATION
"It is for the love of our neighbor that we scorn wealth, least by fighting over it and stimulating our disposition to anger, we fall away from love." (Abba (Father) Moses of Scetis)
MODERN SECULARISM: A FALSE ALTERNATIVE
By Archimandrite George Capsanis, Abbot of the Monastery of Osiou Gregoriou [source: The Eros of Repentance]
When human dynamism is not oriented in its proper direction, toward our Maker and Father, then it reveals itself negatively. The faculties of the soul are torn apart. The intellect is darkened. Fed by the passions, the mind hardens, becomes bestial and demonic. According to Saint Gregory Palamas: "A mind removed from God becomes like either a dumb beast or a demon. Once having transgressed the bounds of nature, it lusts for what is alien. Yet it finds no satisfaction for its greed and, giving itself the more fiercely to fleshly desires, it knows no bounds in its search for earthly pleasures."
Without God, the soul tumbles into the abyss of non-being--which finally devours it. The human person, dissolving, falls to pieces. Life becomes a hell, freedom a burden, and other people a curse. The state of fallen human existence is tragic. It has "no exit'. The mistake of secular humanism in all its shades is that it tries to make us forget our divine origin and purpose; our iconic character. In the name of progress, of civilization, of justice, it confuses us as to what is corruptible, temporary, vain and passing. It cuts off our wings. It strives to confine our divinely-instilled dynamism and erotic thirst to worldly activities which are not so much evil in themselves as insufficient; too limited to fulfill the desires of living beings who are made by God and for God. It also tries to persuade us that humanity is itself God; its own law; self-sufficient and self-fulfilling.
Here we arrive at the very sin of Adam; self-deification, egoism. Here we find the essence of secularist philosophy, ethics, and politics. This same philosophy is the organization of life outside the Church. Secularism is the product of Western Atheism, an illness which is now beginning to devour our own Orthodox people.
TRADITIONAL ORTHODOXY, OUR ANSWER AND RESPONSIBILITY
We must admit, however, that sometimes there is also an error from outside. Under the influence of Western Christian (Roman Catholicism and Protestantism), the Orthodox way of deification (theosis) is often replaced by the "way of ethical improvements."
The latter, a vision of natural and ethical deification (theosis), is man centered. Even when it has a religious flavor, it still does not differ in essence from the ethical beliefs of atheistic humanism. It is neither churchly nor liturgical. It does not reveal to the world human beings who are deified. Instead it produces, (in Greece at least), "small-town Christians": people limited to the bounds of propriety as they understand it. It is based on human ethical activity, and not on the action of God's Uncreated Grace. It does not lead men out of their eccentricity, nor provide them with the experience of Divine Grace, nor help them advance in true prayer and fellowship with God.
This approach made its first appearance in the Orthodox world some six hundred years ago. It was represented by the Western theologian Barlaam the Calabrian, and it was opposed by the latter individual that Saint Gregory Palamas made himself the defender of the theology of Uncreated Grace. Barlaam was defeated. However, he has since returned in the form of the strong intellectual currents out of the West which have been 'flooding' into our Eastern European countries over the past two centuries.
Today we must become aware of the significant difference and opposition which exists between these two anthropologies and ways of life: that which is represented by Barlaam, and that which we find in Saint Gregory Palamas and the Philokalia. When our young people wake up from the lethargy of hedonism and humanistic self-deception, they begin to wander in search of a place to rest. A merely conventional Christianity cannot offer them such a place. Their souls thirst for a personal encounter and an experience of God, for a life which embodies a genuine mysticism, a redeemed and sanctified eroticism. If they cannot find true Orthodoxy, cannot come to know our mystical theology, our real tradition and our genuine piety, then they will seek their resting places elsewhere--in the mysticisms of the far east, for example, or in the much advertised self-transcendence provided by the artificial--and lethal--paradise of drugs…or in the fogs and bogs of the occult.
It is our responsibility to see that they do not do this.
With sincere agape In His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God