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.
SAINT GREGORY, ARCHBISHOP OF THESSALONIKI:ON PRAYER
[Philokalia, vol. 5, p.107]
"All of us Christians, without exception, have an obligation to always be in a state of prayer...Every Christian simply must struggle always with the work of prayer and to pray without ceasing, as Saint Paul exhorts all Christians to 'pray unceasingly' (1 Thess. 5,17).
Not only must we all be always praying, but we must also teach all others--monastics and lay people, wise and ordinary people, men and women and children--and encourage them to pray at all times as well.
God did not command us to do something that is impossible, but rather all those things which we are able to do, these are the things He has commanded us to do. And this is why this is possible to be accomplished by everyone who seeks diligently the salvation of his or her soul...
Even when we are carrying out our daily work, or when we're walking, or sitting, or when we are eating and drinking, we can always be praying with our mind and be doing the prayer of the heart that is true and pleasing to God. We can be working with the body, while the soul we can be praying. The outer man can be carrying out every bodily activity and the inner man can be altogether dedicated to the worship of God, and never absent from the work of spiritual and mental prayer..."
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our transgressions, As we forgive those who transgress against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, Of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
On February 22nd Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Apostles, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and every righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox faith: Saints Thalassius, Limnaeus, and Baradates of Syria; Saint Telesphoros, Pope of Rome; Saint Athanasius the Confessor of Constantinople; Saint Titus, Bishop of Bostra in Arabia; Saint Maurice and his son Photinos, and holy Martyrs Theodore, Philip, and 70 soldiers; Saint Anthusa and 12 handmaindens; Nine holy children of Kola; holy Martyr Synetos; Blessed Theoktisti of Voronezh; Saint Peter the Stylite of Mt. Athos; New holy Martyr Priest Michael of Russia (1918); Uncovering of the holy relics of the Holy Martyrs of Evgenius (Eugenius).
UNCOVERING OF THE HOLY RELICS OF THE HOLY MARTYRS AT THE GATE OF EVGENIUS AT CONSTANTINOPLE. In the year 395 A.D., when Thomas was the Patriarch of Constantinople, holy relics from several holy Martyrs were discovered. With the help of many people, Thomas piously removed them from the ground. These holy relics cured many and various diseases. After many years, God revealed to a priest that on this same site the holy relics of Saints Andronicus and Junia also lay buried. Saint Paul refers to these two disciples in his Epistle to the Romans, saying, "Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the Apostles, who also were in Christ before me."
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy and Great Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 2 Peter 1:1-10
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Mark 13:1-8
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND EDIFICATION
"Do all the good you can; do not speak evil of anyone; do not steal from anyone; do not lie to anyone; do not be arrogant towards anyone; do not hate anyone; do not be absent from the divine services; be compassionate to the needy; do not offend anyone; do not wreck another man's domestic happiness, and be content with what your own wives can give you. If you behave in this way, you will not be far from the Kingdom of Heaven." [Saint John Climacus]
LOVE IN CHRIST
by Bishop Gerasimos (Papadopoulos) of Avidou of blessed memory. [source: Orthodoxy: Faith and Life]
The love of a Christian has its source in the love of God in Christ. It is love seeking to imitate the great love of Christ. This is why Saint Paul coined the phrase, "in Christ," to show that love, as every other virtue of a Christian, is a particular practice and experience of love as seen in the life of Christ. With the phrase, "in Christ," Saint Paul told us that a Christian lives a new life in Christ. Whatever he says and whatever he does in his life, he does it for the love of Christ, as Christ wants it and as Christ lived it in His life.
We love people for the love of Christ, for Christ is so connected with His people (Acts 9:4-5; Col. 3:18-25). We "love as Christ loved." Christ is the ideal prototype of love; He is the divine love Incarnate for us. In Christ the love of God is poured out upon us (Romans 5:1-11), and Christians must imitate Christ in His love: "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." "Love...just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her" (Ephesians 4:32; 5:25). We have "opened wide our hearts to you...open wide your hearts also" to receive us (2 Corinthians 6:11-13). We were gentle among you like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us" (1 Thess. 2:7-8). "Clothe yourselves with compassionate, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And above all these, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity" (Col. 3:12-14; cf. Phil. 1:8-9; Philem. 10.20). "Love one another earnestly, from the heart" (1 Peter 1:22).
LOVE AND THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST
Love for a Christian becomes His nature; it becomes a form of life and a mode of existence for man. When this life in love reaches its perfection, it transcends all worldly experience. With this perfect love in Christ everything in the world takes on another meaning. All things are understood and loved differently; they all are seen in the eternal love of God which has created them and directs them all toward their ultimate purpose. In that state of love man becomes, "perfect, son of God, merciful as our Heavenly Father." No greater honor can be given to man. Man does not live for himself; he lives for God and for the world of God. This life of perfect love is the life of God Himself in us. God is love. God loves us and He is loved by the people who love each other in Christ. In such a life of love even the love of enemies can have its place. If we take the Commandment by itself, it seems difficult, even impossible. But if we place it in the context of the great love of God, in the setting of the eternal prayer of Christ--"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing"--and if we realize that the Church is the continuation of this prayer of Christ, then, indeed, we no longer see enemies but weak brothers and sisters for whom Christ prayed and was crucified. When we grow in Christ and see everything in Christ then everything does change. The old ethics of Commandments is superseded by the ethics of the "new creation." A Christian draws strength from new sources, the Grace of God, and he or she can pray even for enemies. The First Christian holy Martyr Stefanos (Stephen) was the first person after Christ to pray for his enemies when he was being stoned to death (Acts 7). Saint Paul also prayed that, if possible, he might perish and his opponents be saved (Romans 9:1-3, 12:9-21; 1 Cor. 4:12-13).
This is Christian love at its highest level, and to be able to love like this, one has to first realize the love of God in Christ for us. The older brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son did not love his brother because he had not realized his Father's love, even though he had been with Him all the time.
Truly, Christian love is divine. It comes from God and it reaches up to God, its eternal. When man can pray for his enemy, he then becomes truly human, a personality, the image of God, divine.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God