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 ENLIGHTENMENT OF THE SOUL
Lord, give the command to my soul which You gave in the beginning: "Let there be light!" that I may see the Light of Your Spirit and avoid the darkness of ignorance and of sin; that I may see the way of virtue and of salvation and return to You and away from what is not a real way; that I may see the Truth and avoid the vanity of this temporal life; that I may see the spiritual life and avoid the death which is brought about by sin. Lord, shine Your spiritual Light abundantly upon me. You are my enlightenment and my Savior, Whom I will respect and fear. You are my Lord to Whom I will sing songs of praise. You are my God, Whose Name I will bless and glorify. You are my Father, Whom I will love. You are my Bridegroom, for Whom I will keep my soul faithful and devoted. Amen.
On November 1st Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Preachers, Apostles, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and every righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Unmercenaries (Anargyroi) Cosmas and Damianos of Mesopotamia, and their mother St. Theodoti; Saints Cyrenia and Juliana in Cilicia; New Holy Virgin-Martyr Helen of Sinope; Saint David of Evia; Saints John the Bishop and James the Presbyter of Persia; Saints Caesarius, Dacius, Savvas, Sabinian, Agrippa, Adrian, and Thomas at Damascus; Saint Herminigild the Goth of Spain; Saint James of Mt. Athos and his two disciples James and Dionysius; holy Martyrs Cyprian and Juliana.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Ascetics, Holy Unmercenaries, Holy Mothers, Holy Bishops, Holy Presbyters, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
SAINTS COSMAS AND DAMIANOS THE HOLY UNMERCENARIES. Unmercenaries and wonder-workers, they were brothers in the flesh and in the spirit, born somewhere in Asia of a pagan father and a Christian mother. After their father's death, their mother Theodoti devoted all her time and energy to the bringing up of her sons as true Christians. God helped her, and her sons grew as two choice fruits and as two holy lamps. They were skilled in medicine and ministered to the sick without payment, and so fulfilled Christ's command: "Freely have you received, freely give" (St. Matthew 10:8). They were so strict in their unpaid ministry to men that Saint Cosmas became greatly enraged with his brother Damianos when he took three eggs from a woman, Palladia, and gave orders that, after his death, he should not be buried with his brother. In fact, Holy Damianos had not taken those eggs as a reward for healing Palladia's sickness, but because she had sworn by the Most Holy Trinity that he should have them. However, after their death in Fereman, they were buried together in obedience to a revelation from God. These two holy brothers were great wonder-workers (miracle workers) both during their lifetime and after their death. A farm laborer, on lying down to sleep at one time, was attacked by a snake, which entwined itself around his mouth and stomach. This poor man would have breathed his last in the greatest torment had he not at the last moment invoked the help of Saints Cosmas and Damianos. Thus the Lord glorified forever by miracles those who glorified Him here on earth by their faith, purity and mercy.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 1 Corinthians 12:27-31, 13:1-8
"Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of Angels, but have no love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And through I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up, doe not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things; believes all things; hopes all things endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge it will vanish away.
Also the following:
"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love (agape) [v. 13].
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 10:1, 5-8
FROM THE HOLY VOICE OF THE HOLY ASCETICS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"The sea is surging and the waves are high: but we have nothing to fear because we stand on a rock--the rock of faith. Let the sea surge with all the power at its command, and let the waves rise as high as mountains; the rock of which we stand will remain firm and unshaken. Do I fear death? No! Because on the rock of faith I know that death is the gateway to Eternal life. Do I fear exile? No! Because on the rock of faith I know that I am never alone; Christ is always beside me, my friend and my brother. Do I fear slander and lies? No! Because on the rock of faith I know that I am always protected by the Truth--Christ Who is the truth, is my protector. Do I fear poverty? No! Because on the rock of faith God also provides for my needs. Do I fear ridicule? No! Because however low I may sink in the esteem of those without faith, on the rock of faith are treated with respect. Far from fearing the surge of the sea, I enjoy it, because it assures me that the rock on which I stand is immovable" (Saint John Chrysostom).
CHRISTIANS LIVING IN A SECULAR SOCIETY AND WORLD
"Since Secularism may be regarded, at least in part, as a reaction against Western Christianity. Christianity seems to top the 'hit list' as a prime target against which Secularists aim their propaganda. (Strangely, Secularists seem to extend more tolerance to atheists, on the one hand, and to Islamic practitioners on the other, than to traditional Christians.) What passes for Biblical, theological, and Church history scholarship in our society often largely ignores the history and Tradition of the authentic, ancient Orthodox Christian Church that uniquely possesses an unbroken continuity from the time of Christ and the Apostles until now. Some teach that no one true Christianity existed in the early Church, but rather a number of equally legitimate 'Christianities' in competition over doctrine. Eventually, as Secularists tell the story, through the influence of power-driven politics, a so-called 'orthodox' Christianity emerged that suppressed all others. The Western teachers who perpetuate these relatively new ideas, many of which seem to be rooted in 19th century German academic pursuits, lack personal knowledge of the Orthodox Church within which the Old Testament was preserved, within which the Gospel was preached and practiced before the writing of the New Testament, within which the New Testament was written down and compiled into a fixed collection of Scripture, and within which the interpretation of Holy Scripture has been passed down alongside the Biblical writings themselves. Sadly, besides those who openly remain largely ignorant of the history of the Christian Church from the death of the Holy Apostle John about the end of the first century until the rise of Medieval Roman Catholicism from which the Protestant movement arose in the 16th century. Over a thousand years of Christian history has been lost in the west. Under the influence of Secularism, the flourishing of such ignorance is spreading.
In addition to the dogmas of religious pluralism and tolerance, many of the dogmas of Secularism are defined in terms of rights, particularly 'Human Rights'. Same-sex marriage is justified as 'marriage equality' or 'freedom to marry'. Abortion, the abhorrent and violent execution of an innocent child in the womb of his mother, which blandly labeled, 'the termination of pregnancy', is justified as a reproductive right and considered a key aspect of women's rights. Secular morality is reduced to preserving rights, preventing discrimination, and empowering human beings who are subjugated by those possessing power.
Honestly, as human beings, we really don't have any rights. All that we have that is good has been undeservedly delivered into our mortal hands as gifts from the Good God Who loves mankind. As the Holy Scripture reminds us, the true God brings sunshine and rain on good people and bad people because He loves us all. He actively invites us all to use our free will to turn from evil and toward Him that He might embrace us and grant us our spiritual inheritance so that we can fulfill our whole potential. As Orthodox Christians, we do not help others because we think they possess certain rights nor because we egotistically fancy ourselves the enlightened heroic saviors of the disadvantaged. Christ, our Master, has commanded us, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" and "love your neighbor as yourself." "If you love me," Christ instructed, "you will keep My commandments." So, we strive to follow the Way of our Master to His glory, for the benefit of others, Whom God loves, and as the path of healing for our souls. Only when we purify our hearts through prayer and repentance can Divine Love operate within us so that we really love others as we should. Orthodox Christians do not believe in 'social justice.' Instead, we endeavor to bring philanthropia, 'love of mankind' into the lives of the people around us. God loves us. In response to the Divine Love we receive, we help the poor because God loves them and we, though we may possess money, suffer from more destructive kinds of inner poverty. We care for the sick, because God calls us to comfort the hurting and, until we are perfect, we, too, suffer in this world from sickness in the body and in the soul.
(To be continued)
Personal Comment: The above article that I am sharing with you is taken from Orthodox Christian Medicine: The Christian Way in the Secular West is on the mark. As you can see how very dangerous Secularism is and the great damage that it has done in recent years in our society. It is imperative that we, as Orthodox Christians, be aware what is happening around us and how our families and children are impacted by the drastic changes that Secularists are imposing on all of us.
It is clear to me, as a Greek Orthodox priest for over four decades, that the Secularists have declared war on Christ and our Christian Church. Persecutions of Christians have increased dramatically throughout the world. However, there are different kinds of persecution but they all have the same objective which is to render Christianity impotent and useless.
It is therefore important that we know our Christian faith very well and be able to convey it to our children and to defend it as millions of Orthodox Christians have done with their lives, i.e., 300 hundred years of early Christianity by the pagans, 500 years of Ottoman Turkish enslavement, 74 years of Communism and Atheistic violent Christian persecution in Eastern Europe. During these persecutions millions upon millions of Orthodox Christians (men, women and children) were killed by the enemies of Christ. We refer to them as the neo-martyrs of our Christian Church.
Secularism is the mother of materialism, hedonism, atheism, capitalism, socialism and extremism. The two main modern day idols are: materialism and hedonism or wealth (money) and pleasure. Secularism is facilitating the upcoming great apostasy of Christians from Christ and the Christian Church. We witness this already and especially in western Europe where in some, what used to be Christian countries, now less than 10% consider themselves Christians or practice their Christian faith. And let us not forget that socialism was and is defined as euro-communism.
Be alert! Be aware! Be prepared! Be spiritually ready!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God