Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ the 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 TO CHRIST OUR GOD
O Christ our God, At all times and at every hour, in heaven and on earth, You are worshipped and glorified; You are long-suffering, most merciful, most compassionate, You love the righteous and have mercy upon the sinners; You call everyone to salvation through the promise of future blessings; Receive, O Lord, our prayers at this hour and direct our life toward Your Commandments. Sanctify our souls; make our bodies chaste; Correct our thoughts; purify our intentions; And deliver us from every grief and pain that comes from evil. Encompass us by Your holy Angels, so that guarded and guided by them we may attain to the unity of the faith and to the knowledge of Your inapproachable glory, For You are Blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.
On March 1st (Kalo Mena or may we be blessed with a good Month) 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: Saint Evdokia (Eudocia) of Heliopolis; Saint Antonina of Nicaea; Saints Nestor, Triblimius, Marcellos, and Anthony of Perge; holy Martyrs Charisius, Nikephoros, and Agapius; Saint Agapius of Vatopedi Monastery (Mt. Athos) and his four companions; Saint Domina the New of Kyros; holy Martyrs Sylvester and Sophronius; New holy Martyrs Abbess (Egoumenissa or Gerondissa) Antonina of Kizliar (1924) and Hieromartyr Methodios (+1920), and Anastasia Andreyevna, fool-for-Christ; Saint Martyrios of Zelenets; Saint David of Wales.
HOLY MARTYR EVDOKIA OF HELIOPOLIS. EVDOKIA (EUDOCIA) was a beautiful woman from second-century Heliopolis in Phoenicia. She was a pagan and a harlot, gaining much wealth from her many lovers. The reversal of her life was brought about, through the Providence of God, by an elderly monk, Germanos, and that unintentionally. Coming to Heliopolis in the course of his work, he stayed at the house of a Christian woman whose home abutted onto Evdocia's. When at night he began, as was his monastic practice, to read the Psalter and a book on the Dreadful Judgment, Evdokia heard him and stood listening attentively to his every word until the end. Fear and dread took such hold on her that she remained awake until daybreak. As soon as it was dawn, she sent a servant to beg that monk to come to her. Germanos came, and they began a long conversation on that which the old monk had been reading the previous night, and especially on faith and salvation. The result of these discussions was that Evdokia asked the local bishop to baptize her. Then Evdokia experienced a vision. She saw herself rising to Heaven and the Holy Angels rejoicing for her return. Then she saw a black and most ugly one gnashing his teeth and wailing that he would be wronged if she were taken from his grasp. When Evdokia came to herself, she gave away all that she had sinfully gained to the poor and went to a women's monastery to become a nun. There she labored well in the ascetic arena. She lived fifty-six years in the monastery and was worthy in the eyes of God to be given the gift of raising the dead. After some time, her former lovers accused her of now being a Christian and reported her to the king. When she raised the king's son from the dead by her prayers, he too became a Christian. Later, she was taken before Diogenes, the pagan governor of Heliopolis, and there she caused a miracle and was set free. However, later when Saint Evdokia was taken before the new pagan governor Vicentus, she was beheaded. Here is a wonderful example of how a vessel of uncleanness can be purified, sanctified and filled with a precious, heavenly fragrance by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: I John 2:7-17
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Mark 14:3-9
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND EDIFICATION
"If you see someone greedy for many things, you should consider him the poorest of all, even if he has acquired everyone's money. If, on the other hand, you see someone with few needs, you should count him the richest of all, even if he has acquired nothing." (Saint John Chrysostom)
THE SPIRITUAL FATHER AND THE EVIL OF THE PRESENT AGE
by Saint Philotheos Zervakos [source: Excerpts from Paternal Counsels, Vol. I and II]
Truly the evil of the present age has exceeded the evils and sins of all other ages, and every spiritual father with the fear of God and a conscience is in a difficult position when it comes to applying oikonomia to sinners who confess. In the present wicked generation the spiritual father ought to use oikonomia, for if he uses strictness, either none of those who confess, or few and far between, will be found worthy of receiving Holy Communion. The greatest attention and discernment is demanded of the spiritual father, as well as zealous prayer to the Heavenly God and Father to enlighten him as to how he is to exercise oikonomia. According to the divine Gregory, he must "use oikonomia but not transgress." If he is going to transgress, it is preferable that he not hear confessions, so that he may not hear people saying, "Physician, heal thyself" (St. Luke 4:23)...
The lamentable condition of people today is due on the one hand to the lack of virtuous, wise, discerning, God-fearing, pious, and experienced spiritual fathers, and on the other hand to the existence of spiritual fathers lacking fear of God and every virtue, ignorant, inexperienced, and in some cases impious, unbelieving and corrupt. One should not expect anything other than the mercy of the All-Good God to send out capable and chosen men into His Mystical Vineyard or the coming sword to cleanse the earth from her iniquities...
The spiritual father must be knowledgeable, wise, discerning, experienced and prudent. He should have the Holy Spirit to give him guidance on how he is to tend and heal the souls of sinners. Above all, he should have love and loving care for those who confess. Such spiritual fathers, although rare today, nonetheless do exist. Whoever strives to find them is able to. What this is, God's wrath or abandonment of us, I do not know...Preaching is good and necessary, but virtuous spiritual fathers are more necessary. The spiritual father is the one who will wash us from the mire of sin, cleanse our wounds, give us medicines for the safeguard, cure and health of the soul, and reconcile and unite us with God...If we wish not to sin, we should remember death and reflect that God is before us. The spiritual father must not only be clean and free from sin, but he should also have the gift of discernment, because spiritual knowledge differs from medicine as the soul differs from the body...
Most people will not only not accept such counsel, but they even get mad, angry, and are hostile towards the doctor. For these reasons, the people of today's generation, aside from the other sins which they have, they also have pride, and being prideful they neither receive counsel, nor correction nor repentance. The teacher whether he is a priest and spiritual father must be careful to invent medicines and appropriate ways, to correct them. Neither should he be silent, nor should he censure them harshly and abruptly, because strict censures are bruises to prideful and impious ones, and if he abruptly censures them, he will lose them completely.
The teacher must become wise and very discerning, and because no one is wise in this world of himself, he must through fervent prayer ask God, the granter of true wisdom, to give him the gift of wisdom and prudence, like Solomon, to govern souls. Many times with the same medicine one person is healed and the other is harmed--the teacher and the priest must have the gift of discernment. Nevertheless a good, sweet, mild, humble manner benefits more...
Do not cease seeking the counsel of holy spiritual fathers and brothers...Thus you shall be kept whole from the many crafty traps of the enemy, and will become a good soldier of Jesus Christ and a genuine servant, and will be useful to yourself, to your own people, to the Church and to the Homeland...
You do well, my child, to study religious books. Always study, for the reading of the Holy Scriptures is not only the consolation but also the salvation of our souls. Saint John Chrysostom says: "reading the divine Scriptures opens up Heaven." And our Lord Jesus Christ instructs us: "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is they that bear witness to Me." (St. John 5:39).
Completely improper and against the Apostolic and Patristic traditions is the immodest dress of women. Most women have completely lost their minds. They cast away modesty and became naked to attract men. They enter fearlessly even into the sacred churches not in order to pray, but in order to defile and scandalize those who are going to church...
The divine Chrysostom also bears witness to this in his 8th homily on 1 Timothy. "Those are not the garments of a lady making petitions how can you pray when you are wearing such garments?" These belong to mimes and musicians. None of them is proper for a woman, so do not imitate the harlots."
Slander is false accusation. The slanderer is called a devil and is a devil, because just as the Devil falsely slandered God to the first-formed people and deceived them, so also the envious man, the slanderer, falsely accuses his brothers and convinces many to believe him. The slanderer harms himself, the one who is slandered and those listening as well...All those who are slandered, however, and have patience, and welcome and forgive the slanderers, are worthy of blessing. "Blessed are you when men shall hate you...and say all manner of evil against you falsely..." However, slanderers harm many of those who are slandered, because slander has sundered lawful marriages and beloved couples, cause enmity towards beloved friends, relatives and brothers, thrown innocent people into jails, and sent some into exile and other to death. For this reason slander is the greatest sin and the spiritual father should canonize (give a penance to) slanderers as murderers…
As regards censure the God-bearing Maximos the Confessor says in one of his homilies. The Father (i.e., God) judges no one. He has given all judgment to the Son. While the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ commands: "Do not judge, so that you not be judged...and His divinely preaching disciple St. Paul, the mouth of Christ, says: Do not prior to the time judge any man until the day comes, during which the Judge of All, the Most Righteous, the Only One Who has authority to judge all, shall judge and give unto each one according to his works.
So neither I, nor you, nor anyone else has the right to judge kings, hierarchs, clergymen, lay people, young, old, men, women. If they go astray we should censure them, not with curses, with anger or agitation, but with meekness, love, and a gentle manner, let us show them the correct, the righteous, the good, and let us pray that God gives them enlightenment and repentance. This is not censuring, but it is advice, counsel, it is interest and love to benefit them...
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God