Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS AND IS AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ. ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
PRAYER FOR THOSE WHO ARE UNDER PENANCE
(Prayers Of Forgiveness in the Sacrament of Holy Confession)
O Master, Lord our God, the Only-Begotten Son and Word of the Father, Who through Your Passion have rent asunder every bond of our sins, and breathed into the faces of Your Apostles, saying, "Receive the Holy Spirit; whosoever sins You retain, they are retained"; You, O Master, have granted, through Your holy Apostles, to those who minister in Your Holy Church the power to forgive sins on earth, and to bind and loose every bond of unrighteousness. We beseech You now for our brother (sister) (Name) who stands before You. Pour out Your mercy on him (her), rending asunder the bond of his (her) sins, whether spoke in ignorance or by heedlessness, or had done so through lack of courage, for You know human weakness, and, O Good Master, as a Lover of mankind, do You forgive him (her) all his (her) sins, voluntary or involuntary; for it is You Who looses those who are cast down, You, the Help of the despairing, the Resurrection of the fallen. For Your All-Holy Name is magnified, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
SACRAMENT (MYSTERION) OF HOLY REPENTANCE AND CONFESSION
(OUR SECOND BAPTISM)
As Orthodox Christians, our spiritual journey in the life of the Holy Church begins with the Mysterion (Sacrament) of Holy Baptism. It is during this 'Mysterion' that we are cleansed of the ancestral sin of man and made pure through the sanctifying and purifying waters of the Baptismal Font. It is during the divine service that we also receive the Mysterion of Holy Chrismation, 'the Seal of the Gift of the Holy Spirit.' and the Holy Eucharist. We begin our personal spiritual journey clothed in a garment of righteousness whose whiteness reflects the purity of our soul.
"The Ancestral sin is the disobedience of Adam to God's command regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam willingly disobeyed this Commandment and diverted himself, or fell, from God's path to perfection, thus separating himself from His Creator, the Source of life."
The Prayer of Chrismation
Blessed are You, Lord God Almighty, Fountain of Blessings, Sun of Righteousness, Who made to shine forth for those in darkness a light of salvation through the manifestation of Your Only-Begotten Son and our God, granting unto us, thought we are unworthy, blessed cleansing in Holy Water, and Divine sanctification in the Life-effecting Anointing; Who now also has been well-pleased to regenerate this Your servant newly illuminated through Water and Spirit, giving him (her) forgiveness of his (her) voluntary and involuntary sins: do You Your-self, Sovereign Master, Compassionate King of All, bestow upon him (her) also the Seal of Your Omnipotent and Adorable Holy Spirit, and the Communion of the Holy Body and Most Precious Blood of Your Christ; keep him (her) in Your Sanctification; confirm him (her) in the Orthodox Faith; deliver him (her) from the Evil One and all his devices; preserve his (her) soul, through Your saving fear, in purity and righteousness, that in every work and word, being acceptable before You, he (she) may become a child and heir of Your Heavenly Kingdom. For You are our God, the God of Mercy and Salvation, and to You do we send up Glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Through our lives, we strive to follow the Divine Teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and our Holy Orthodox Church. We are called to be 'God-like,' to follow the example that Our Master Jesus set before us, and live a holy and sinless life. Yet, tragically, we fall short. Quite frequently we find ourselves giving into temptation and falling into sin (amartia). It is this 'missing the mark (which the Gk. word for sin, 'amartia' signifies) that threatens to cause a separation between us and God.
It is through repentance that we are reconciled to God. "Repentance is indeed the cause and consequence of prayer, being the highest and fullest foundation for and form of prayer. "True prayer," according to Saint Anthony the Great, "is that in which one forgets that one is praying," and genuine repentance enables one to forget oneself and simply long for God, Who is present in the very depth of repentance. For it is "before Him alone that one sins" (Psalm 50:3-4) -that is the personal or relational aspect of both sin and repentance."
The Holy Church Fathers liken this Mysterion (Sacrament) with a second baptism in which we are given the opportunity to re-establish the bond of union between God and man, between man and man. It is extremely important that as Orthodox Christians we make certain that our relationship with God continues to grow and evolve. A strong personal prayer life and participation in the sacramental life of the Church are vital to keeping our spiritual battery completely charged. Our Holy Orthodox in her divine wisdom provides us with a spiritual guide--a Spiritual Father, who will serve as our οδηγό (guide) along the way.
Through the forgiveness of sins in Holy Confession, the past is no longer an intolerable burden but rather an encouragement for what lies ahead. "Life acquires an attitude of expectation, not of despondency; and Confession becomes the way of the impasse caused by sin. In this respect, repentance is also an eschatological act, realizing in our very midst, here and now, the promises of the age to come. Looking backwards would seem to imply the fate of Lot's wife (Genesis 19:26). "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God" (St. Luke 9:62). The Almighty God Himself is revealed before us and walks in front of us. "One thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).
For Saint Paul it is that we be engaged in the struggle of faith, confident that Christ has made us His own, but knowing we are not yet "perfected." Thus we are zealous to "press on" (v. 12) toward the completion of our salvation, "the prize of the upward call of God" (v. 14)--the Resurrection to Eternal Life.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
ABOUT MEMORIAL SERVICES
Please note: Memorial services according to our Holy Tradition cannot be conducted between the Saturday of Lazarus and the Sunday of St. Thomas (First Sunday following the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord, Holy Pascha).
I would like to wish my Presvytera Elaine a Happy and a blessed birthday today. As we say in Greek Na ta katostisi in other words may she live to be one hundred. I have truly been blessed for having a wonderful, devout and beautiful inside and out wife and presvytera for forty-four years. God bless you Presvytera and may God bless our children and grandchildren always. ΧΡΟΝΙΑ ΠΟΛΛΑ!