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.
THE OFFICE OF ORTHROS (MATINS)
THE TENTH PRAYER
Lord our God, You have granted mortals remission of sins through repentance, and as an example of awareness and confession of our sins. You have given us the repentance through forgiveness of the Prophet David. Will You, Master, in Your great goodness show mercy to us, for we have fallen into many and grievous sins, and in Your great compassion wipe away our offenses. For it is You, Lord, we have offended, Who know what lies hidden in the secret hearts of men, and Who alone have authority to remit sins. A spotless heart creates in us, and a steadfast spirit to sustain us. (Psalm 50). Revealing to us the joy of Your salvation, do not turn us away from Your presence, but as a Good and Loving God, grant that to our last breath we may offer You a sacrifice of righteousness, and an oblation at Your Holy Altar. Through the mercies and love of Your Only-Begotten Son, with Whom You are blessed, together with Your All-Holy, Good and Life-Giving Spirit, now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
On June 20th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Prophets, Patriarchs, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers, and every righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Callistos 1st, Patriarch of Constantinople; Saints Inna, Pinna, and Rimma, disciples of the holy Apostle Andrew in Scythia; Saint Lucius the Confessor, Bishop of Brindisi; Saints Paul, Kyriakos, Paula, Felicilana, Thomas, Felix, Martyrios, Vitaly, Crispinos, and Emilius in Tomi; Saint Gleb Andreyevich of Vladimir; Saint Minas, Bishop of Polotsk; Saint Raphael of Lesvos; Directress holy Icon of the Theotokos.
SAINT LUCIUS THE CONFESSOR, BISHOP OF BRINDISI. Saint Lucius was born in Alexandria, and his pious parents called him Eftropios. When he was eleven, his mother died and his father, desiring to become a monk, took Eftropios to Saint Hermias Monastery. Eftropios was raised under the spiritual guidance of Abbot (Egoumenos) Nikita. He diligently studied Holy Scripture and became quiet, meek, and obedient. When Egoumenos Nikita died, the monks desired Eftropios to replace him even though he was not yet a monk. He refused, and for seven years the monastery would not select another Abbot. However, during this time, Eftropios reached a high degree of spirituality. Eftropios' father had a vision that his own end was near and that his son would become the Bishop of Brindisi with the new name Lucius, meaning "the Spirit of the Lord is upon him." The Bishop also heard a voice from heaven blessing Lucius for archpastoral service. When the monks of Saint Hermias asked the Bishop to install Lucius as their Egoumenos (Abbot), Lucius was first ordained a priest and then Egoumenos. Because of his ascetic efforts, Lucius was granted the gift of working miracles and casting out demons. When a demon became a huge serpent, killing villagers, Saint Lucius rid them of it and consequently baptized 3,000 pagans. Soon after, the Bishop of Alexandria died and St. Lucius replaced him, and again he converted many. The eparch decided to kill St. Lucius, so St. Lucius left by ship for Antioch, where the governor said that they would believe if St. Lucius prayer to end a two-year drought. When the rain poured, 27,000 people accepted Holy Baptism. Saint Lucius died in peace and many miracles occur at his graveside.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 25:13-19
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 16:23-33
THE HOLY MESSAGE FROM THE HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH
"It's easy to have more than enough to get by, says Saint Ambrose. But lust and greed always want more. Control them, and you'll find that you live in abundance." (Saint Ambrose)
VARIOUS ASPECTS OF COMMUNION WITH GOD
by Saint Theophan the Recluse (1802-1894)
To clear up such a perplexity, we must discriminate between the various aspects of communion with God. Communion begins at the moment of awakening. Man discovers it through searching and longing for God, and God reveals it through His Good Will, assistance, and protections. But God is still outside of man and man is outside of God, not commingling and not freely mutually accepted. In the Sacrament of Baptism or Confession the Lord enters many by His Grace, is in live communion with him, and allows him to taste all the sweetness of Divinity, so abundantly and perceptibly, as though it were essentially culminated in him. But then He again hides this manifestation of His Communion, only renewing it from time to time--and at that only lightly, as if in a reflection and not in His original state. He leaves man in ignorance of Himself and His dwelling in man until the man has reached a specific level of maturity or education, according to God's wise guidance. After this, the Lord perceptibly manifests His dwelling, in the man's spirit, which has by then become a temple of the tri-hypostatic divinity filling him.
Thus, there are three forms of communion with God: one is mental, which happens during the period of conversion; and the other two are actual, but one of them is hidden, invisible to others and unknown to us ourselves, while the other is obvious to us and to others.
The first from of communion, the most understandable and common, does not cease during the second or even third stages, because spiritual life is mental life. However, in these stages it differs characteristically from its firsts quality, which is something impossible to explain in words. All spiritual life consists in the movement from mental communion with God to actual, live, perceptible and manifest communion.
HOW GRACE SETTLES IN THE REPENTANT SOUL
In looking at a person who repented, we are looking at a person who has actually entered into communion with God, but this communion is still hidden, secret, unmanifest. His goal is to attain communion that is complete, tangible, and perceptible. We must precisely determine all of this for ourselves and be assured, because all the penitent's labor for salvation should be built upon this foundation, namely: that in the Mysterion (Sacrament) of Confession (or baptism) Grace descends perceptibly to the Spirit but then hides itself from the awareness, although it does not in fact go away. It remains perceptible until the heart is purified, at which time it dwells visibly and finally. It is obvious that our only instructor in this matter can be the Holy Fathers. None of them express it so well as Saint Diodochos, Bishop Photiki, and Saint Macarius of Egypt. We present witness to our suppositions.
"Grace settles in a person and stays with him from the moment he receives the Mysteries."
"From the instant we are baptized", says Saint Diodochus, "grace is hidden in the depths of the intellect." Also: "For when through Holy Baptism Divine grace in its infinite love permeates the lineaments of God's image--thereby renewing in the soul the capacity for attaining the Divine likeness--what place is there for the devil?" Saint Macarius says: "Grace is constantly present, and is rooted in us, and worked into us like leaven, from our earliest years, until the thing thus present becomes fixed in a man like a natural endowment, as if it were one substance with him."
"When grace first settles in a person through a Sacrament, it vouchsafes that person a complete taste of the blessedness of communion with God."
"If we fervently desire holiness," says Saint Diodochus, "the Holy Spirit at the outset gives the soul a full and conscious taste of God's sweetness, so that the intellect will know exactly of what the final reward of the spiritual life consists." Also: "at the start of the spiritual way, the soul usually has the conscious experience of being illumined with its own light the action of grace."
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God