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 DOXOLOGY TO GOD THE HEAVENLY FATHER AND CREATOR
You, Lord God, are the Father of Wisdom, the Creator and cause of all creation that has come into existence through Your Son; You are the Provider of good things of Divine Providence; You are the Giver of the Laws and the Commandments; You fulfill every deficiency and every need; You love the righteous and are Merciful and forgiving to the sinners; You are the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; You are the Lord God of the Christians, Who revere and worship the Savior Whose promises are never contradicted, Whose judicial judgment is incorruptible, and Whose will is steadfast and immovable. To Him is due unceasing worship in truth and in spirit and unending gratitude. And in His Name, every rational and holy nature is also obliged to offer to You, the God and Father and Creator of all, the appropriate veneration and worship unto the ages of ages. Amen.
On October 14th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and every righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Cosmas the Hymnographer, Bishop of Maiuma; Saint Silvanos of Gaza; Saints Nazarios, Gervase, Protase, and Celsus of Milan; Saint Ignatius, Metropolitan of Mithymna; Saint Cosmas, Egoumenos (Abbot) of Yakhroma; Saint Peter Apselamus of Eleftheropolis in Palestine; 40 Holy Martyrs of Egypt and Palestine; Saint Nicola Sviatosha, Prince of Chernigov; Saint Paraskeva the New of Serbia; Saint Parascevi of Rome; St. Protasius of Milan.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Bishops, St. Hymnographers, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
HIEROMARTYR SILVANOS OF GAZA. Saint Silvanos was a soldier as a young man and spent his life as an exemplary Christian in the city of Gaza. When he was an old man, he was ordained a priest and assigned to his church. On one occasion, Saint Silvanos and his parishioners stood before a crowd of pagans and railed at them for their impiety. Saint Silvanos was beaten and his sides torn. This old priest was then sent to work in the copper mines, and still he encouraged the faithful there. In this environment, his health quickly deteriorated. His captors beheaded Saint Silvanos along with forty other Holy Martyrs.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Ephesians 1:22-23, 2:1-3
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 9:18-22
FROM THE HOLY VOICE OF THE HOLY ASCETICS AND FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
Prayer is Answering the Word of God
St. Isidore said: 'Anyone who wants to be always united to God must pray often and read the Bible often. For in prayer it is we who are speaking to God, but in the readings it is God speaking to us. All spiritual progress is based on reading and meditation. What we do not know, we learn in the reading; what we have learned, we preserve by meditation. 'Reading the Bible provides us with a two-fold advantage. It instructs our minds, and introduces us to the love of God by taking our attention off vanities. 'None can understand the meaning of the Bible if they do not acquire familiarity with it through the habit of Bible reading.'
St. Augustine said: 'Nourish your soul with Bible reading. It will prepare a spiritual feast for you.'
St. Jerome said: 'Anyone who is assiduous in reading the Word of God becomes weary while reading, but afterwards is happy because the bitter seeds of the reading produce sweet fruits in the soul. Let us study while we are on earth that Reality which will stay in our minds also when we are in heaven'. (Defensor Grammaticus, The Book of Sparkling Sayings).
UNITY AND UNIQUENESS OF THE CHURCH
by Saint Justin Popovic
Just as the hypostasis of the Godman Christ is one and unique, so too the Church, through Him, in Him and founded upon Him, one and unique. The unity of the Church is necessarily the outcome of the unity of the person of the Godman Christ. The Church, being an overall and a uniquely God-human organism in all the worlds, cannot possibly be divided. Every division would have spelled her death. Being wholly founded on the Godman, the Church is primarily a God-human organism and a God-human organization. Because of this, whatever she has in her is God-human and indivisible: the faith, love, truth, Baptism, Eucharist and every Divine Mystery and every divine virtue and generally all her life and structure. Therefore, also indivisible in her are her teaching and her works and her sanctification and theosis (deification). Everything is by grace organically united in one God-human body, of which Christi is the only and unique head. All the members of the Church, namely the faithful-albeit as persons are integral and unjoined-when joined together by that one same grace of the Holy Spirit, through the sacraments and virtues into one organic unity, they comprise one body and one spirit and confess one faith (Ephesians 4:4-5), which unites them with Christ and with each other.
Along with the other Apostles, the Christ-bearing Apostle of the Nations (Saint Paul) most of all preaches through the Holy Spirit the unity and uniqueness of her founding person, the Godman Christ: "For no other foundation can anyone lay next to the one that is laid, who is Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 3:11).
Following the Holy Apostles, the Holy Fathers and Teachers of the Church, confess, preach, and defend with the same zeal the unity and uniqueness of the Church of the Orthodox. Their zeal for the preservation of the unity of the Church was expressed mainly in the cases of people or groups of people who severed themselves from the Church, namely, in cases of heresies and schisms. On the topic of unity, a special significance and importance was and is ascribed to the Ecumenical and Local Synods of the Church. According to the uniform stance of the Fathers and the synods, the Church is only one, but also unique, because the one and unique Godman, Her Head, cannot have many bodies. The Church is one and unique because, it is the body of the one and only Christ. The dividing of the Church is ontologically impossible, which is why there has never been a division per se of the Church, but only a departure from the Church. According to the word of the Lord, the vine cannot be divided; only the voluntarily unfruitful branches fall off from the ever-living vine and dry up (St. John 15:1-6). At various times, heretics and schismatics had severed themselves from the one indivisible Church of Christ, who consequently ceased to be members of the Church and embodied in Her Godman body. Such were firstly the Gnostics, then the Arians and the Pneumatomachs (Spirit-opponents), then the Monophysites and Uniates and all the other heretic and schismatic legion.
The aim of the Christian life, says Saint Seraphim of Sarov, "is to acquire the Grace of the Holy Spirit. We receive the seed of that Grace with us at our Baptism. And then, through our Sacramental life in the Church, through a life of prayer and virtue, practicing the Commandments of Christ, we are to cultivate and nurture this seed of inward baptismal grace so as to acquire a greater measure of grace. In being ever more filled with God's grace or energy, we grow more in the likeness of Christ. Then, after our death, Christ will recognize us as His own and will receive us into His Kingdom."
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God