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.
PRAYER FOR SUPPER
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; Now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, our God Bless the gifts upon this table to be food and drink For the sustenance of our bodies. Bless also us, Your servants, Through the grace of Your Holy Spirit, And help us to preserve the faith, the hope, the love, And the holiness of our heavenly calling, For You, O Lord, are always Holy and Blessed, Now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Thanksgiving after Dinner
We thank You, O Christ our God, For You have satisfied us with Your earthly gifts. Do not deprive us, Lord, of Your Heavenly Kingdom; But as You, O Savior, Came and stood in the midst of Your disciples, And gave them Your peace, Come also to be with us and to save us. Amen.
On February 8th 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: Venerable Prophet Zachariah of the 12 Minor Prophets; Saint Theodore the Stratelates the Commander; Saint Savvas II, Archbishop of Serbia; holy Martyr Conitus of Alexandria; Saint Martha, Mary, and Lycarion of Egypt; holy Martyrs Nikephoros and Stephen; holy Martyrs Philadelphos and Polycarp; holy Martyr Pergetos; Saint Macarios, bishop of Paphos; Saint John and Basil of the Kiev Caves; Saint Lyubov of Ryazan, fool-for-Christ (1921).
VENERABLE PROPHET ZECHARIAH. Prophet Zechariah foretold the events of Holy Week five hundred years before it happened. He foretold the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on a colt on Palm Sunday, of the thirty pieces of silver that Judas accepted to betray Jesus, and of the Apostles leaving Jesus at the time of His Crucifixion. Prophet Zechariah was known as the eleventh of the Minor Prophets.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Prophets, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Ephesians 2:4-10
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 10:16-22
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND MEDITATION
"Prayers too, after reading find the soul fresher, and more vigorously stirred by love towards God. And that prayer is good which imparts a clear idea of God in the soul; and having God established in self by means of memory is God's indwelling. Thus we become God's Temple, when the continuity of our recollection is not severed by earthly cares; when the mind is harassed by no sudden sensations; when the worshipper flees from all things and retreats to God, drawing away from all the feelings that invite him to self-indulgence, and passes his time in the pursuits that lead to virtue." (Saint Basil the Great).
"Many believe that Orthodoxy is one of the many "churches" around. Namely one viewpoint of Christianity, or others believe that Orthodoxy is a religion. Both these viewpoints are absolutely false. Orthodoxy basically means true glory or true faith. She is not one of the "churches" because she is the only true Church of Christ. This naturally is not pride but the truth. Since the Lord instituted only one Church, how can we speak of many? Moreover, Orthodoxy cannot be called a religion because a religion is superstition; it (every religion) tries to cover the psychological needs of man. In contrast Orthodoxy heals the spiritually ailing man (mean every man) and renders him holy, this being the tangible and obvious proof of her truth."
UNITY AND UNIQUENESS OF THE CHURCH
by: Saint Justin Popovich
Just as the hypostasis of the Godman Christ is one and unique, so too is the Church, through Him, in Him and founded upon Him, one and unique. The unity of the Church is necessarily the outcome of the Unity of the Person of the Godman Christ. The Church, being an overall and a uniquely God-human organism in all the worlds, cannot possibly be divided. Every division would have spelled her death. Being wholly founded on the Godman, the Church is primarily a God-human organism and then a God-human organization. Because of this, whatever she has in her is God-human and indivisible: the faith, love, truth, baptism, Eucharist and every Divine Mystery and every divine virtue and generally all her life and structure. Therefore, also indivisible in her are her teachings and her works and her sanctification and theosis (deification). Everything is by grace organically united, in one God-human body, of which Christ is the only and unique head. all the members of the Church, namely the faithful--albeit as persons are integral and unjoined--when joined together by that one same grace of the Holy Spirit, through the Sacraments (Mysteria) and virtues into one organic unity, they comprise one body and one spirit and confess one faith (Ephesians 4:4-5), which unites them with Christ and with each other.
Along with the other Apostles, the Christ-bearing Apostle of the Nations most of all preaches through the Holy Spirit the unity and uniqueness of her founding person the Godman Christ: "for no other foundation can anyone lay next to the one that is laid, who is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11).
Following the holy Apostles, the holy Fathers and Teachers of the Church, confess, preach and defend with the same zeal the unity and uniqueness of the Church of the Orthodox. Their zeal for the preservation of the unity of the Church was expressed mainly in the cases of people or groups of people who severed themselves from the Church, namely, in cases of heresies and schisms. On the topic of unity, a special significance and importance was and is ascribed to the Ecumenical and Local Synods of the Church. According to the uniform stance of the holy Fathers and the Synods, the Church is one, but also unique because it is the body of the one and only Christ. The dividing of the Church is ontologically impossible, which is why there has never been a division per se of the Church, but only a departure from the Church. According to the word of the Lord, the vine cannot be divided; only the voluntarily unfruitful vine branches fall off from the ever-living vine and dry up (St. John 15:1-6). At various times, heretics and schismatics had severed themselves from the one indivisible Church of Christ, who consequently ceased to be members of the Church and embodied in Her Godman body. Such were firstly, the Gnostics, then the Arians and the Pneumatomachs (Spirit-opponents), then the Monophysites and Uniates and all the other heretic and schismatic legion.
The attributes of the Church are innumerable because her attributes are actually the attributes of the Lord Christ, the Godman, and, through Him, those of the Triune Godhead. However, the holy and divinely wise Fathers of the Second Ecumenical Council, guided and instructed by the Holy Spirit, reduced them in the ninth article of the Symbol of Faith (Creed) to four--I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. These attributes of the Church--unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity--are derived from the very nature of the Church and her purpose. They clearly and accurately define the character of the Orthodox Church of Christ whereby, as a theanthropic institution and community, she is distinguishable from any institution or community of the human sort.
By her theanthropic nature, the Church is undoubtedly a unique organization in the world. All her holiness resides in her nature. Actually, she is the theanthropic workshop of human sanctification and, through men, of the sanctification of the rest of creation. She is holy as the theanthropic Body of Christ, Whose Eternal Head is the Lord Christ Himself; and Whose immortal soul is the Holy Spirit. Wherefore everything in her is holy; her teaching, her grace, her mysteries, her virtues, all her powers, and all her instruments have been deposited in her for the sanctification of men and of all created things. Having become the Church by His Incarnation out of an unparalleled love for man, our God and Lord Jesus Christ sanctified the Church by His sufferings, Resurrection, Ascension, teaching, wonder-working, prayer, fasting, mysteries, and virtues; in a word, by His entire theanthropic life. Wherefore the divinely inspired pronouncements has been rendered: "...Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might presented it to Himself a glorious Church (singular), not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:25-27).
The flow of history confirms the reality of the Gospel: the Church is filled to overflowing with sinners. Does their presence in the Church reduce, violate or destroy her sanctity? Not in the least! For her Head--the Lord Christ, and her Soul--the Holy Spirit, and her divine teaching, her mysteries, and her virtues, are indissolubly and immutably holy. The church tolerates sinners, shelters them, and instructs them, that they may be awakened and roused to repentance and spiritual recovery and transfiguration; but they do not hinder the Church from being holy. Only unrepentant sinners, persistent in evil and godless malice, are cut off from the Church, either by the visible action of the theanthropic authority of the Church or by the invisible action of Divine Judgment, so that thus also the holiness of the Church may be preserved. "Put away from yourselves that wicked person" (I Corinthians 5:13).
Holy Tradition? It is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Godman Himself, with all the riches of his Divine Hypostasis and, through Him and for His sake, those of the Holy Trinity. That is most fully given and articulated in the Holy Eucharist, wherein, for our sake and for our salvation, the Savior's entire theanthropic economy of salvation is performed and repeated. Therein wholly resides the Godman with all His wondrous and miraculous gifts; He is there, and in the Church's life of prayer, and liturgy. Through all this, the Savior's philanthropic proclamation ceaselessly resounds: "And Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (St. Matthew 28:20): He is with the Apostles, and through the Apostles, with all the faithful, world without end. This is the whole of the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church of the Apostles: life in Christ=life in the Holy Trinity; growth in Christ=growth in the Trinity (cf. Mt. 28:19-20).
Of extraordinary importance is the following: in Christ's Orthodox Church, the Holy Tradition, ever living and life-giving, comprises: the Holy Liturgy, all the Divine Services, all the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments), all the holy virtues, the totality of eternal truth and eternal righteousness, all love, all eternal life, the whole of the Godman, the Lord Jesus Christ, the entire Holy Trinity, and the entire theanthropic life of the Church in its theanthropic fullness, with the All-Holy Theotokos, and all the Saints.
FROM THE HOLY SCRIPTURE
"And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church (singular), and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it". (St. Matthew 16:18)
Peter/rock is a play on the word for rock in Aramaic and Greek (Petros/petra). Rock refers not to Peter himself but to the confession of his faith ("You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" vs. 16).
The True Rock and foundation of the Church is, of course, Christ Himself. The Church rests upon this rock by her unchanging faith, her confession. With this faith as the foundation, "the gates of Hades," the powers of death, are powerless against her." (Orthodox Study Bible).
"For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the Church (singular)...Therefore, just as the Church (singular) is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church (singular) and gave Himself for her..." (Eph. 5:23-25).
THE ORTHODOX UNDERSTANDING OF THE CHURCH
"A fundamental teaching of the Holy Fathers is that the Church is a 'Hospital' which cures the wounded man. In many passages of Holy Scripture such language is used. One such passage is that of the Parable of the Good Samaritan:
'But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, "Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you" (St. Luke 10:3335).
In this Parable, the Samaritan represents Christ who cured the wounded man and led him to the inn, that is to the "hospital" which is the Church. It is evident here that Christ is presented as the Healer, the Physician who cures man's maladies; and the Church as a true hospital." (Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos).
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God