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.
PRAYERS OF ESPERINOS (VESPERS)
[Ninth Hour (5:00 p.m.)
+In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen. Glory to You, our God, glory to You. Come, let us bow and worship God our King. Come, let us bow down and worship Christ our God and King. Come, let us bow down and worship Christ, Himself, our King and our God.
Receive, O Lord, the doxologies and praises, the blessings, thanksgivings and petitions of Your sinful and unworthy servants, such as we are able to make at this time. And grant to us the remission of our transgressions. Overshadow us with the protection of Your wings. Expel from us every enemy and adversary. Bring peace to our life. Deliver us from the darkness of the destructive passions. Dispel from us the gloomy desire of mortal pleasures. You Who know the content of our heart, heal the latent wounds of our souls, which You alone observe, and strengthen the resolve of our mind to do Your Holy Will. Have mercy on us, help and protect us, O God, by Your grace, and make us worthy of Your Heavenly Kingdom, through the intercessions of Our All-Pure Lady, the Theotokos, and of all Your Saints, for You are Blessed unto the ages. Amen.
On November 5th 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: Saint Galacteon and his wife Episteme at Emesa; Holy Apostles Hermas, Patrovus, Linus, Gaius, and Philologos of the Seventy; Saint Gregory, Archbishop of Alexandria; Saints Domninos, Timothy, Theotimos, Theophilos, Doretheos, Carterius, Efpsychius, and the three virgins of Palestine; Saint Jonah, Archbishop of Novgorod; Saint Silvanos, Bishop of Gaza; Saint Odrada, Virgin of Balen; Holy Martyr Agathangelos; Saint Castor, Bishop.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Apostles, Holy Virgins, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
HOLY MARTYRS DOMNINUS, TIMOTHY, THEOTIMOS, THEOPHILOS, DOROTHEOS, CARTERIUS, EFPSYCHIUS, AND THE THREE VIRGINS OF PALESTINE. Within seconds, each of these Christian Martyrs was tried and sentenced to diverse inhuman punishments and deaths by the pagan Roman governor Urbanus in 3rd century Palestine. Domninos was a famed orator known throughout Palestine who confessed Jesus Christ openly. Urbanos had him severely punished and then burned alive. Timothy, Theotimos, and Theophilos were young men who were slaughtered by soldiers. Wild animals devoured the priest, Dorotheos. Carterius and Efpsychios were older men who were made eunuchs and then condemned to labor in the mines. The tree virgins were given to brothels.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Philippians 2:16-23
"...holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain labored in vain. Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoiced with you all. For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me. But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one likeminded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the Gospel. Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me."
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 12:42-48
FROM THE HOLY VOICE OF THE HOLY ASCETICS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"Homes and communities depend on concerns of daily life and society. These concerns are God-appointed obligations; fulfilling them is not a step toward the ungodly, but is a walking in the way of the Lord. All who cleave to these erroneous premises fall into the bad habit of thinking that once they accept worldly obligations, they no longer need to strive towards God." (Saint Theophan the Recluse)
THE CHRISTIAN WAY IN THE SECULAR WEST
The Orthodox Church endured several centuries of persecution from the First Century until the Church was lifted out of persecution in the 4th century during the reign of Saint Constantine the Great, whose mother, Saint Helena, was a devoted Christian. The Church gained legal status and eventually, during the reign of the Holy and Right-Believing Emperor Theodosius the Great, the Orthodox Christian Way became the Faith of the Roman Empire. As it has been said, "The Empire that killed the Martyrs was conquered by their Faith." From Jerusalem and Antioch in Asia to Rome and Britain in Europe, the Eastern and Western world held one Faith within one Church and walked according to the one way of the one True and Living God-the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Among the most significant dates in world history is AD 1054, the year of the Great Schism, when the Orthodox local church of Rome separated herself from the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Church is comprised of independently governed local churches in communion together. The Five Ancient local churches, called patriarchates, included Old Rome, Constantinople (called "New Rome"), Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. The chief bishop of the Roman church, and Patriarch of Rome, attempted to assert universal authority over his brother bishops who shepherded the other ancient local churches. This attempt, and other noteworthy action by Rome, caused the other Orthodox local churches to officially recognize that the Roman jurisdiction had separated herself from the Orthodox Church. Since Rome and the Western European territory within its jurisdiction had been torn from the Orthodox Church, Rome offered a new answer to the question, "Where is the true Church?" Rome, headed by the Pope, redefined the Church in terms of submission to Papal authority. This is the beginning of Papism or, as it is commonly called, Roman Catholicism, though the Roman Catholic Church was neither Roman , nor Catholic, nor the Church. Over time Roman Catholicism continued to drift farther away from the Life and Faith of the Orthodox Church. An event in AD 1204, 150 years after the causing the Great Schism, confirmed the reality that the church in Rome had separated itself from the Holy Orthodox Church. In that year, the Roman Catholic Crusaders on the Fourth Crusade viciously attacked and terrorized the Orthodox Christian citizens of the Imperial City of Constantinople. The Crusaders looted Constantinople and weakened its defenses, contributing to the fall of the Imperial City to the Mohammedan Ottoman Turks in AD 1453, the tragic event that brought an end to the long-enduring Roman Empire, which has persevered as an Orthodox Christian Empire for nearly 1,000 years.
In the 16th century, about 500 years after the Great Schism that separated Rome from the Orthodox Church, the Protestant movement began in Western Europe as a reaction against what Roman Catholicism had become. Rather than returning to the One Church founded by Christ, Protestants created a new kind of Christianity. Protestantism showed the influence of Roman Catholicism, while also providing fertile soil for the development of new doctrines, such as the teaching that the Scripture alone is the sole source of spiritual authority. Although rightly rejecting Roman Catholic traditions that contradicted Apostolic teaching, Protestants made their own traditions based on the opinions of strong leaders as Henry VIII, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and others. Just as the local church of Rome realized the need to invent a new answer to the question, "Where is the true Church?" to claim legitimacy when it had separated itself from the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, so the many, many various Protestant communions and independent congregations that have been founded over the past 500 years have also recognized the need to yet again redefine what the Church is and where the Church is. New, innovative answers to the question, "Where is the Church?" that fit neatly within the framework of Protestant doctrine have been developed. The answers to that critical question offered by Protestant groups vary considerably. How ever a particular Protestant denomination, association, congregation, or individual answers the question, "Where is the Church?", the answer proposed proves far different from the answer provided by the ancient Orthodox Church down through the centuries from Apostolic times to today. There are 41,000 Protestant denominations worldwide today.
After the rise of Protestantism, religious wars erupted in Western Europe between Roman Catholic and Protestant sides as well as among Protestant sects themselves. Whereas the Western Christian world gave faith and reason complimentary roles, the bloodshed caused many to question whether faith served as a necessary component at all. The idea that one could discover truth with the rational mind through the process of reason alone become popular in the west along with the idea that truth can be found by experiencing reality with the five senses, especially by using the scientific method. The process of reasoning is dependent on some assumed truths, such as whether God exists, that cannot be proven or disproven by reason alone. When the application of reason alone failed to lead the world toward lasting peace and freedom, but instead brought war and death with the rise of atheistic political revolutions, some rightly determined that cold, hard reason utterly fails to lead human beings to truth by itself. Like reason, the scientific method proves useful for understanding how the created universe operates, but the realm of science is limited. Certain questions, such as "Does the Uncreated God exist outside of the material creation?," "Why does the universe exist?," or "What does it mean to be human?", lie outside the proper boundary of science. No inherent conflict exists between science and theology, properly understood. Those who place faith in a Secular philosophy of science that affirms the scientific method, but rejects the reality of the existence and operation of God in the universe, presume to claim that God does not exist with certainty, while they with certainty are far from exhausting the quest for knowledge of those things in our vast universe present within the scope of science.
(To be continued)
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God