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 FOR THE PEACE OF THE WORLD (FROM THE GREAT EUCHOLOGION)
O Lord Our God, Who can be compared with You? Who is even similar to You among the gods? What god is as great as our God, Who is abundant in mercy and benevolent in strength to bring consolation and salvation to all of us? This is why we pray to You, O God, this day, not to be silent at a time when we hear the sounds of war and threats from the mighty ones of the earth. Forgive, O Most Loving God, forgive and show mercy. You are a Most Compassionate and Merciful Lord and You will not chastise us in Your wrath nor instruct us in Your anger. Otherwise, we would revert back to the chaos at the beginning before we came into existence. During these difficult times be with us. Lord our God, make us strong for we have placed hour hope in You and are fortified in an encouraged by Your Name. May Your word be confirmed, Lord, which You spoke to us that You will be with us always even to the end of the age. May the hopes of the Christians be raised up high, and may those who threaten us be put to shame. May those who threaten us with wars and battles be terrified, shamed and scattered, and may be their power be destroyed and their dominion be no more. And they will all know indeed that Your Name is the Lord, that You alone are the Most High over all the earth..
...Hear the voice of our supplication, O Lord, and turn away from us the dangers which threaten the human race, dissolve the clouds of devastation from a possible new war, and solidify Your peace among us, so that Your All-Holy Name will be glorified, the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever
and to the ages of ages. Amen.
On October 29th 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 Christian faith: Saint Anastasia the Roman; Saint Abramius the Recluse and his niece Mary, of Mesopotamia; Saint Anna of Constantinople; Melitine of Marcianopolis; Saint Athanasius of Sparta; Saint Timothy of Esphigmenou Monastery; Saint Abramius, Archmandrite of Rostove; Saint Savvas the Commander; Saint Serapion of Zarsma, Georgia; Holy Martyrs Cyril, Menas, and Menaeus; Saint Abramius, Recluse of the Kiev Caves.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Ascetics, Holy Mothers, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
OUR HOLY MOTHER, THE MARTYR ANASTASIA THE ROMAN. Saint Anastasia was born in Rome of well-born parents and left an orphan at the age of three. As an orphan, she was taken into a women's monastery near Rome, where the Abbess (Egoumenissa) was one Sophia, a nun of a high level of perfection. After 17 years, Anastasia was known in the whole neighborhood, to the Christians as a great ascetic and to the pagans as a rare beauty. The pagan administrator of the city, Probus, heard of her and sent soldiers to bring her to him. The good Gerondissa counseled Anastasia for two hours on how to keep the Faith, how to resist flattering delusion and how to endure torture. Saint Anastasia said to her: 'My heart is ready to suffer for Christ; my soul is ready to die for my beloved Jesus.' Brought before the governor, Saint Anastasia openly proclaimed her faith in Christ the Lord and, when the governor tried to dissuade her from the Faith, first with promises and then with threats, the holy maiden said to him: 'I am ready to die for my Lord, not once but--Oh, if it were only possible!--a thousand times.' When they stripped her naked, to humiliate her, she cried to the judge: 'Whip me and cut at me and beat me; my naked body will be hidden by wounds, and my shame will be covered by my blood!' She was whipped and beaten and cut about. She twice felt a great thirst and asked for water, and a Christian, Cyril, gave her a drink, for which he was blessed by the Holy Martyr and beheaded by the pagans. Then her breasts and tongue were cut off, and an Angel of God appeared to her and upheld her. She was finally beheaded with the sword outsides the city. Blessed Sophia found her body and buried it, and Saint Anastasia was crowned with the wreath of Martyrdom under the pagan Roman emperor Decius (249-251 A.D.).
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Philippians 1:8-14
"For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear."
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 11:34-41
FROM THE HOLY VOICE OF THE HOLY ASCETICS AND FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"The root and beginning of love for neighbor is love of God. Whoever truly loves God without fail also loves his neighbor. Without doubt God loves every man. If, then, anyone truly loves the loving God, he must also love man, His beloved. Let us, therefore, love one another as God has loved us" (Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk).
by Rev. Thomas Fitzgerald
The interior church is most importantly, both the background and the setting for Orthodox worship. The art and architecture are designed to contribute to the total experience of worship, which involves one's intellect, feelings, and senses. The Holy Eucharist and the other Sacramental Mysteries take place in God's midst, and they bear witness to His presence and actions. Therefore, in the Orthodox Tradition there is a very strong feeling that the church is the house of God and the place where His glory dwells. For this reason, all Orthodox churches are blessed, consecrated and set aside as sacred space. The whole Church bears witness to God's indwelling among His people. As one old admonition says:
"Let the Christian consider well when he enters the church that he is entering another heaven. That same majesty of God which is in heaven is also in His Church, and on this account the Christian must enter with reverence and awe."
Personal observation: More and more I see that Orthodox Christian men, women and children have lost sight of 'church order' and simply do not know anymore how to act while entering the church, how they should be dressed, how they should participate in the Holy Services of the church, and how to behave while in church and church services.
Permit me to remind you.
An Orthodox Christian should stand in church with faith, fear of God, and attentiveness. Orthodox Christians should strongly attempt and make every possible effort to pray without distraction and with feeling of heart. Orthodox Christians should wear modest clothes (nothing provocative) and women should avoid scandalizing men with unsuitable clothing, i.e., revealing, miniskirts, etc. Everyone in church is there to pray and worship and not to distract the other. It is absolutely wrong to talk or to carry on a conversation in church at any time. At all times in church one should stand as still and quietly as possible and vigorously train children to do the same.
It is best to arrive at least 10 minutes before any Holy Service begins. Arriving early allows you to prepare yourself physically, mentally and spiritually for the upcoming Divine Service. Arriving late is distracting to those already prepared to follow the service and concentrate on the solemn hymns and prayers of the Divine Liturgy or other Sacraments. Also, it is an affront to God Whose grace and blessing you are there to receive. As Orthodox Christian parents we are responsible to teach our children the importance of being in worship on time and to respect God and God's House.
To marginalize our Holy Faith and Holy Tradition is a serious sin and totally unorthodox. If you can make sure that your son or daughter is on time for soccer, for basketball, for swimming, for language, for dancing, for piano lessons or other, for a friend's birthday party etc. you can be on time also for the Divine Liturgy and not to bring your children few minutes before Holy Communion! By doing so you (the parent) disrespect God knowingly and deliberately.
When you enter the church Narthex light your candle quietly, venerate the Holy Icons and take your place in the Nave as quickly as possible. In our Holy Orthodox Christian Tradition, lighting candles for the living and the reposed, for devotion to a particular Saint or feast-day, and as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, is part of our regular liturgical practice.
Please keep gentle but firm control over your children at all times. As all of us have either been former children, or are parents and grandparents, we understand that it is not always possible to keep total control over children for long periods of time. Orthodox services can be a challenge for children who are not used to standing or sitting for a long period of time, and we recognize that with babies and toddlers, it can be an increased challenge. If you are having problems keeping your children from behaving or crying, do not feel embarrassed. Just excuse yourself to the cry-room at the Narthex which was built to accommodate the parents for just such a situation.
At the time of Holy Communion when you approach to partake of the Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord make sure that you give the priest your baptismal Christian name and if there is no one there to hold the communion napkin (maktron) for you, take it, place it under your chin and after you have received to wipe off your lips with the napkin and pass it to the Christian behind you.
If you have brought a guest with you who is not an Orthodox Christian you must inform him/her that she cannot receive Holy Communion. Holy Communion is offered only to Orthodox Christians who are spiritually in good standing. Much of this information is the Weekly Bulletin that you receive when you enter the church.
When, at the end of the Divine Liturgy, you walk up to receive the blessed bread 'the antidoron' please cup your hands don't just reach out and grab it because the crumbs of the blessed bread end up on the floor and it stepped on by the others behind you.
If it happens that you visit the church office and there is a Divine Service taking place i.e., Divine Liturgy, Orthros (Matins), Esperinos (Vespers) or any other service take a minute walk in the church light a candle or simply venerate the Holy Icons whether at the Chapel of St. Nektarios or the main church and leave. At least you as an Orthodox Christian acknowledge that there is a Holy Service taking place and you show the proper respect. By doing so you also receive God's blessing!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God