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 OF CONFIDENCE IN GOD
[Saint Symeon the New Theologian]
O Master, Lord of heaven and earth, I know that I have sinned before You, my fearful and unapproachable God, more than any human being, more than even the irrational animals and reptiles, and I am not worthy to ever receive any mercy from You. Therefore, I would not have dared to draw near or to fall down before you, O King, lover of man, had I not heard Your Holy voice saying: I do not at all desire the death of the sinner, but that he may return and live. And again: There is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents. I remember, also, the parable of the prodigal son, which You have said, O Master, that when he returned, before he had drawn near to You, You, O Compassionate One, came to him and fell upon his neck and kissed him affectionately. Hence, taking courage from the ocean of Your Goodness, I have come near to You with pain, sadness, and grief in my heart, even though I am still hardened and wounded sorely and lie in misery in the depths of the Hades of my transgressions. But, from now on, I give You my word, O Lord, that as long as You order me to remain alive and in this body, I will not forsake You, nor will I turn back, neither will I ever touch vain and evil things. But You, O my God, now my weakness, my wretchedness, my faintheartedness, and my old predispositions, which are going to torture and oppress me. Therefore, as I fall before You, help me and forsake me not; neither allow me to be ridiculed and mocked for long by the enemy, for from now on I am Your servant, O Good One. Amen.
On October 30th 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 of every righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Martyrs Zenovius and his Zenovia of Aegae in Cilicia, Holy Hieromartyr Marcian, Bishop of Syracuse and disciple of the Holy Apostle Peter; Holy Martyrs Alexander, Cronion, Julian, Macarius, and another thirteen Holy martyrs, of Alexandria; Holy Martyr Eftropia of Alexandria; Holy Apostle Cleopas; Righteous Father Joseph, Patriarch of Constantinople; Holy Martyrs Asterius, Claudius, Neon, and their sister Neonilla, of Cilicia; Holy Apostles of the Seventy: Tertius, Mark, nephew of the Holy Apostle Barnabas; Justus, who was also called Jesus; and Artemas; Holy Nine Martyrs were perfected in martyrdom by fire; Holy Martyr Manuel was perfected in martyrdom by the sword; Holy Martyr Dometius was perfected in martyrdom by the sword; oly Martyr Marcellus the Centurion of Tangiers; Holy Martyrs Claudius, Luprcus, and Victorius of Leon in Spain, who were beheaded under the pagan Roman emperor Diocletian; Saint Stephen Milutin, King of Serbia, and his brother Dragutin and mother Helen, Saint Zedginidze of Georgia.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HIEROMARTYR ZENOVIUS AND HIS SISTER ZENOVIA. From the town of Aegae in Cilicia, they inherited the True Faith and great material wealth from their parents. Inflamed with zeal for the Faith, they, with great love, gave away their riches to the poor. Because they were so open-handed, God shielded these hands from every evil intent by men or demons. The merciful hands of St. Zenovius, which gave to the poor, were endowed by God with the gift of wonder-working (miracle-working), so that Saint Zenovius was able to heal the sick of every sort of infirmity simply by the touch of his hand, and he was made bishop of Aegae. At a time of Christian persecution, the judge Licius seized him and said: 'I offer you the two: life and death--life if you bow down to the gods, and death if you do not.' Holy Zenovius replied: "Life without Christ is not life, but death; and death for Christ's sake is not death, but life." When Saint Zenovius was put to harsh torture, his sister Zenovia presented herself before the pagan judge and said: "I also want to drink this cup of suffering and be crowned with that wreath." After torture by fire and in boiling pitch, they were both beheaded with the sword in about 285 A.D., and thus brother and sister entered into the Immortal Kingdom of Christ the King.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Philippians 1:12-20
Holy Gospels Lesson: St. Luke 11:42-46
FROM THE HOLY VOICE OF THE HOLY ASCETICS AND FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
WEEP, AND FIND JOY
"Weeping for our sins is the route to joy," says Saint John Chrysostom. "Real remorse and confession cleanse the soul, and God rewards our tears with peace".
ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS LIVING IN A SECULAR WORLD
"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2)
"Unfortunately, many Christians succumb to worldly trappings and fall into a mixed world view; professing a belief in Jesus, but living secular lifestyles. 'Secular' means denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis." [Oxford American Dictionaries).
"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others" (Phil. 2:3-4).
For Christians in general, the goal is to decrease our sense of self-importance and measure ourselves against Jesus Christ and not against worldly standards of personal importance; fame, wealth. Christian view is based on the Biblical principle that we are to deem others more important than ourselves and to be vessels through which the Holy Spirit can do the work of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
On the other hand, 'secular view' is based on the premise that we are in a position to judge whether or not we are adequate. Also, it is based on the idea that if we make some change we then become worthy. The goal is to increase our sense of self-worth and consequently, our standing in the world.
Dr. Helen Theodoropoulos gave a talk entitled, "The Church Fathers Speak to us Today." She explained how Christians in every era have had to ask themselves how to live in a non-Christian world, because the forces of evil have been at work in every age.
Professor Theodoropoulos said that there are three main issues for us in the United States today: 1) excessive affluence and materialism; 2) crises of choice; and 3) the breakdown of social and family relationships. She explained that the Church Fathers tell us that we must detach ourselves from material things and redirect our lives to the practice of philanthropy. We must move away from the things of the world and move toward God. She further explained that we must recognize that our attachment to material things can be spiritually lethal and that, in the world, we are able to express our love for God primarily through philanthropy. Professor Theodoropoulos concluded her talk by stressing that the vest way a Christian can live in society is through receiving the Holy Eucharist. If we make the Eucharistic experience permanent in our own lives, then this in turn can become the goal of the community, and thereby become a means for healing personal and social relationships."
The first three centuries of the Church have come to be known as the age of persecution. Christ Himself foretold this would happen when He said to His Apostles: "Keep on remembering the word which I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his lord,' if they persecute Me, they will also persecute you..." (St. John 16:20). The Age of persecution began in Rome in 64 A.D. with the arrests, torture and execution of Christians by the Emperor Nero, and ended in 313 A.D. when the soon to be sainted Emperor Constantine the Great issued the Edict of Milan. The type of persecution undergone by the Christians of the first centuries has been described, in a term used by Father Alexander Schmemann (1977), as permeated by The Blood of Martyrs. While similar bodily persecution is undergone by Christians today in some places in the world, today in the West we are undergoing another type of persecution.
Interestingly, Fr. Schmemann alludes to another type of persecution undergone by the early Christians. He termed as type of persecution the "...contact with the ideas and beliefs of surrounding Hellenism," pointing out that even in Saint Paul's (1 Corinthians 1:23) comment in this regard the full text reads "...but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks".
In the late 20th and early 21st centuries Godless secularism has replaced Hellenism in the cultural and political persecution of Christians in the West. Consider the New Your Times account of a high school girl, Jessica Ahiquist, whom the newspaper described as an outspoken atheist, who won a lawsuit in early 2012 to get a prayer taken down that had hung from the wall of her high school auditorium for 49 years. It was originally written by a student in 1963 to serve a moral guide to other students.
"There was a time when the formidable walls of Western Christianity (Roman Catholicism and Protestantism) cast its long shadow of influence broadly over the Western world. Things are different now. Today, we live in a society shaped by the decay and collapse of Western Christianity. The wreckage of a weakened religion breaks and crumbles around us. Western Christianity has not only been replaced, but the origin and significance of that once-high tower drifts into the forgotten past. As a society, we are much more interested in the new shiny, cutting edge 'what's next' than the old obsolete model it replaced. The formerly mighty fortress has been superseded by a new religion, a popular secularism, an innovative ideology and worldview seeping deeply into our society. As secularism permeates the society, it alters people's even most basic understanding of humanness, shapes their views or reality, and changes their behavior as they accept its teachings and give obedience to its precepts."
Personal Comment: As far as I am concerned secularism is the new form of idolatry and paganism and even more dangerous and destructive then the original idolatry when the early Christians were persecuted. We all witness the blatant and insidious manner Christianity is persecuted in Western Europe and in the United States in recent years. Most of our institutions are anti-Christian and every attempt is being made to indoctrinate our Christian children to accept the new pagan doctrine which openly seeks the destruction of all morality, human dignity, Christian values, precepts, spirituality and ethics. This Secular society is promoting every vice and immorality that seeks to undermine every parental guidance and that of their Christian faith.
It is extremely urgent that all Christians and Christian parents see the situation realistically and continue to teach their children their Christian faith at home and to protect them from the secular paganistic, atheistic, materialistic, immoral, secular world and society that they live in. Stay close to our Church and pray unceasingly for the Almighty God to protect them.
(To be continued)
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God