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 VESPERS OF HOLY FEAST OF PENTECOST
Lord, pure and undefiled, existing before all Eternity, invisible, incomprehensible, unsearchable, unchanging, surpassed by none, not to be calculated, long-suffering, the Only Immortal One, You abide in the unapproachable Light. You created heaven and earth, and all the creatures that inhabit them, supplying all their needs even before they ask. To You we pray and You we entreat, Loving Master, the Father of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven to be Incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, the glorious Theotokos. At first You taught in words, but then showed us by deeds, when in enduring the saving Passion You gave to us Your humble, sinful and unworthy servants an example of how to offer our prayers in the bending of our heads and knees for our own transgressions and for the failings of the people.
All-Merciful and Loving Lord, hear us whenever we call upon You, but especially on this day of Pentecost, on which, after Our Lord Jesus Christ had ascended into the heavens, to be seated at Your Right Hand, God and Father, He sent the Holy Spirit on His holy Disciples and Apostles. As He came to rest upon each of them, and all were filled with His overflowing grace, they spoke in strange tongues of Your Mighty works and prophesied.
As we now pray to You, hear us, and be mindful that we are lowly and deserving of judgment; recall our souls from the bondage of sin...Amen.
The Troparion of Pentecost
Blessed are You, O Christ Our god, Who made fishermen all-wise, sending upon them the Holy Spirit and, through them, drawing the world. O Loving One, glory to You.
May Christ our True God, Who emptied Himself, leaving the bosom of the Father to assume our mortal nature and deify it, then Ascended into Heaven to sit at the Right Hand of Our God and Father; Who sent the Holy Spirit, Co-Eternal Divine and of equal power and glory, upon His holy Disciples and Apostles, thus illuminating them, and through them the whole universe, through the prayers of His All-Holy and blameless Holy Mother, the holy, glorious, illustrious, divine heralds and Spirit-bearing Apostles, and of all the Saints, have mercy on us and save us in His Goodness. Amen.
On June 26th (Wednesday of the Holy Spirit) 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 David of Thessaloniki; Saint John, Bishop of the Goths; Saint Dionysius, Archbishop of Suzdal; New holy Martyr David of Saint Anne's Skete; Saint Anthion, monk; Appearance of the Tikhvin holy Icon of the Mother of God.
APPEARANCE OF THE TIKHVIN HOLY ICON OF THE THEOTOKOS. This holy icon at first was in Constantinople; however, seventy years before that city and the civilization it represented fell, this holy icon appeared in the sky near the Russian village of Tikhvin. A monastery and a church were built at this site, and many sick people received healing at this holy icon. During the iconoclast persecution, Patriarch Gennadios placed this holy icon have taken it. It returned to Constantinople in this same manner when the persecutions ended. This same phenomenon has happened with other holy icons of the Theotokos. Two such holy icons that were painted by the holy Apostle Luke are now at Philotheou and Iveron Monasteries on Mt. Athos, in Northern Greece, where they floated to the shore.
+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: Romans 1:18-27
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 5:20-26
THE HOLY MESSAGE FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS OF OUR CHURCH:
"A person should not do anything with a view to being praised by other people, but should seek God's reward only. Always rejecting the thoughts of self-praise that enters his heart, and always regarding himself as nothing before God. In this way he will be freed, with God's help, from the demon of self-esteem". (Abba (Father) Moses of Scetis)
THE BEGINNING OF ASCENT TOWARDS LIVING COMMUNION WITH GOD
by Saint Theophan the Recluse [source: The Path to Salvation: A Manual of Spiritual Transformation]
Having confirmed himself inwardly, the convert directs all the strength of his zeal towards the business of correcting himself from impurity and passions, to the freeing of his powers and strengthening them in God-pleasing activities. This work swallows all of his attention, labors and time. According to the extent to which he has accustomed himself to this activity, as well as the ordering and organization of his inward state, he will naturally go more and more within himself, concentrating within and placing a beginning of unceasing inner concentration. This is the goal of primary asceticism: entering within oneself.
At the same time that the person begins to become firm n himself, little by little is revealed to him the main goal that he should be seeking and which had been previously hidden behind a multitude of activities. But according to our measure of estrangement from the realm of the passions, that goal naturally appears as the main striving and longing of our spirit, and all labor is undertaken in order to widen its circle. This goal and striving is: longing for God as the highest good. It is only possible under the condition that the sweetness of life in God is sensed, or there has been experienced a taste of how good God is--and that is why it does not come all at once. At first man is covered with fear; he serves like a slave, out of a duty and obligation he became aware of at the moment of his awakening. Then the fear subsides and, without disappearing, gives way to the sweetness of labor for the Lord and a pleasant feeling connected with it. This is the beginning of the soul's coming alive to God, the ripening of its bright goal. Once this yearning appears, it begins to grow by itself within that structure in which it was born. Nevertheless, one should not wait for it to come in order to begin working. No, the person himself should work in the way set forth previously in order to more speedily unfold this longing. Most of the inner-applied activity is prescribed to this end. However, all such labor, to the extent that it is done without breaking inner concentration, is capable of aiding the ascetic in this yearning, of speeding his growth and strengthening him in the longing for everything from God and for directing everything to the glory of God. This activity should all be revealed in the spirit, otherwise it will remain fruitless; this is especially important because man cannot bear this burden without the inner strength that has been planted in him. Thus the foregoing ascetic labors can cultivate a yearning for God, but they need to be directed to that particular inner disposition that should be preserved during the labors themselves.
ASCENT TO GOD
The mind's ascent to God, or its longing for Him, unfolds according to the degree the inner work is strengthened. It is germinated in this work like a seed, and ripens in it as in good soil. Therefore, in preserving this inner state in order to awaken a longing for God, one should:
1) Accustom the mind to living in the presence of God. Let him force himself to ceaselessly behold God, for He is near; and let him ascend to the feeling that he is seen by God. This practice is the doorway to God, the opening of Heaven to the mind.
2) Do everything for the glory of God, and in no thing--either outwardly nor inwardly--intend anything other than this glory. It should be the measuring stick of every endeavor and place its seal on each one.
3) Do everything in an awareness of its being God's will; proceed in this will and submit to it in everything with the whole soul. Acting according to God's will embrace everything that happens to a man. Whatever you do, force yourself to see that God wants this work from you; receive whatever you come across as from the hand of the Lord. An individual, a thing, an incident, joy, sorrow--everything should be received with joy, submitting yourself eagerly, peacefully, delightfully, regardless of its distastefulness.
By these spiritual activities the mind will see God more and more clearly, and confirm itself in the vision of God. You will become accustomed to mentally standing in the vision of God with His infinite perfections. This vision is given for the most part during prayerful times of times of standing in God's presence. It is the very beginning of ascent to living communion with God.
WHAT IS HERESY?
"Heresy: Following one's own choice or opinion instead of Divine Truth preserved by the Church, so as to cause division among Christians. Heresy is a system of thought which contradicts true doctrine. It is false teaching, which all true Christians must reject" (St. Matthew 7:15; 2 Peter 2:1). (Orthodox Study Bible: Glossary, page 800)
The Lord said: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves". (St. Matthew 7:15)
"But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed..." (2 Peter 2:1-2).
Personal comment: Based on the Orthodox definition of "heresy" everyone who "contradicts true doctrine" is a heretic and preaches heresy and "causes division among Christians". See the condition of contemporary "Christianity" as is taught and preached outside the Holy Orthodox Church and come to your own conclusions. Study the Holy Scriptures that warn us about how "destructive heresy" is to the individual Christian and how it attempts to undermine the true Christian faith and unity of the Christians throughout the world.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God