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.
PSALM 47 (48)
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. God is in her palaces; He is known as her refuge. For behold, the kings assembled, they passed by together. They saw it, and so they marveled; they were troubled, they were troubled, they hastened away. Fear took hold of them there, and pain, as of a woman in birth pangs, as when You break the ships of Tarshish with an east wind. As we have heard, so we have seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it forever.
We have thought, God, on Your lovingkindness, in the midst of Your temple. According to Your name, O God, so is Your praise to the ends of the earth; Your right hand is full of righteousness. Let Mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of Your judgments.
Walk about Zion, and go all around her. Count her towers; mark well her bulwarks; consider her palaces; that you may tell it to the generation following. For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.
(Please note: This is a city of God or temple of God Psalm. Note that Zion is referred to in the feminine, fulfilled both by the Virgin and by the bride, who is the Church. Specifically, vv. 12-14 are seen as a reference to the Church, the Zion of God.)
On August 10th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors, and entreats the holy intercessions (prayers) 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 archdeacon Laurence and Bishop Sixtus; Saint Felicissimos, and Agapitos, deacons, and others with them; Sts. Hippolytos of Rome and 18 holy Martyrs with him, including Concordia, Irenaeus, and Abundius; St. Romanos, soldier of Rome; Six Holy Martyrs of Bizin; St. Laurence, fool-for-Christ at Kaluga.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
BLESSED LAURENCE, FOOL-FOR-CHRIST AT KALUGA. St. Laurence lived very close to a church in the forest near Kaluga, his home being connected to the church with an underground passageway. He also lived at the home of Prince Symeon. It is said St. Laurence may have descended from royal lineage. Year round, he walked barefoot and wore a shirt and sheepskin coat. God granted him the gift to work miracles. One day the Tatars, enemies of Christianity, attacked the town of Kaluga. St. Laurence shouted for his sharp axe because Prince Symeon was under attack. He grabbed his axe and suddenly appeared next to Symeon, who was aboard his ship. St. Laurence inspired the troops to defeat the enemy in that hour. St. Laurence later died peacefully, and Symeon built a Monastery in his memory. The holy icon of St. Laurence shows him holding a long-handled axe. The first miracle attributed to St. Laurence was when a paralyzed noble became well after a church service to Saint Laurence requesting his intercessory prayers.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Romans 12:1-6
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 10:37-42, 11:1
FROM THE HOLY VOICE OF THE HOLY FATHERS OF OUR CHURCH:
"My children, whatever grievous thing the devil, the enemy of our souls, reminds you of, make an effort to drive it away immediately without delay, for every delay brings about unfavorable consequences. The devil is completely vanquished with prayer and vigilance. The essence of watchfulness consists of being sleeplessly vigilant with the nous, pitting it against the passionate thoughts and fantasies of the vile demons. On this depends life or death, degradation or improvement. In other words, a soul that prays noetically and loathes and scorns the various evil thoughts is purified and sanctified with time" (Geronda (Elder) Ephraim the Philotheiti).
HOW TO LIVE A HOLY LIFE?
By Metropolitan Gregory (Postnikov)
How Should we Spend Sundays?
Sundays should be spent differently from other days of the week. Because all of us constantly benefit from God's many and various blessings, and constantly feel the need for new blessings, all of us are obliged by the word of God and the demand of our own consciences to raise our minds and hearts to the Lord God in the deepest reverence toward Him, in complete devotion to Him, and in the most profound gratitude and prayer. The holy king David said: "Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord" (Psalm 24:15); "His praise shall continually be in my mouth" (Psalm 33:2); "and the meditation of my heart shall be before Thee forever" (Psalm 18:15). And the Holy Apostle Paul commands us: "Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks…" (I Thess. 5:17-18), and "always abounding in the work of the Lord" (I Cor. 15:58).
But just as the greater part of the human race still stands far below this perfection, the Lord God Himself, in order to raise it up little by little to this perfection, willed to set aside one day out of each week so that all of us would dedicate this day exclusively to the Lord God, putting aside on that day all activities that are more or less necessary to maintain our earthly life. In the Old Testament, this day was Saturday, and in the New, Sunday (The Lord's Day or Kyriaki).
Saturday, the Sabbath day, was a day that was very sacred and strictly observed in the Old Testament. From Mount Sinai, amidst lightning, a thick-cloud, and the deafening sound of a trumpet, the Lord God said to the whole throng of the sons of Israel: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. In it thou shall not do any work (Exod. 20:8-10). For whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people (Exod. 31:14). "Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death" (Exod. 31:15).
The reason for the establishment of the Sabbath is shown in the Word of God to be a twofold one. "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it (Exod. 20:11). That is, the Sabbath day was hallowed by God in memory of the creation, as related in the book of Genesis: "And on the sixth day God ended his work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made" (Gen. 2:2-3).
The other reason for the establishment of the Sabbath was the remembrance of the liberation of the people of Israel from Egyptian bondage: "Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee. Six days thou shalt labor, and do all thy work..." (Deut. 5:12-15). This commandment obliged the children of Israel alone to the observance of the Sabbath. But in the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage the Holy Apostles saw the deliverance of the human race from bondage to sin and by the death of Jesus Christ (Gal. 4:31; 5:1), and therefore they also prescribed for us to consecrate or celebrate instead of the day of the Old Testament Sabbath, to celebrate the day of the Resurrection--Lord's day, which immediately follows it, because the death of Lord ended and our deliverance began with His Resurrection on the day immediately following the Sabbath day. And so, this day was called, and still is called, the Day of Resurrection (in Russian, Voskreseniye), that is, the day on which we should not engage in activities necessary to maintain our earthly, physical life.
Now, it is in itself obvious how we should spend, or rather dedicate or celebrate, Sunday or Lord's Day. Saint John Chrysostom says, "It was the Lord's good will to prescribe that we dedicate one day in the weekly cycle to spiritual matters." And in the book of the Acts of the Apostles we see the original member of Christ's Church gathered on Sundays for the breaking of bread, and listened to Christ's teachings (Acts 20:7).
Thus, the first obligation that Lord's Day imposes on each of us is to set aside all the business that we need to engage in during the six days of the week to support our earthly lives. Fulfillment of this obligation is made the easier because the Lord God gave us six days out of every week to obtain what is necessary to maintain our earthly, physical lives.
The second obligation, which the Lord's Day imposes even more strictly on all of us, is to turn away from all impious acts that drive from our souls remembrance of the Lord God, reverence towards Him, devotion to Him, gratitude and prayerful disposition of soul toward Him, to wit: all iniquitous works, and also all unedifying reading, all unedifying conversations, unedifying idleness and various games during which our souls often not only lose remembrance of the Lord God, but forget even themselves, give themselves up to a spirit of impiety and are carried away by delights, of which the undoubted end after death is bitter weeping and wailing (St. Luke 6:25).
The third obligation that the day of Resurrection places on us is, as is apparent from the example of the first Christians, attendance at the Lord's Day Divine services, especially the Divine Liturgy. For among us there is not a single person on whom the Lord God has not bestowed His blessings at every moment and who could live even one minute without His blessings. For all our Divine services consist in nothing else but remembrance of God's various blessings and in the expression of our reverence before the Lord God, our devotion to the Lord God, our grateful feelings toward Him, and our fervent prayer that His blessings upon us will continue. Only people with the most hardened, spiritually frozen, and dead hearts cannot deeply and zealously fulfill the obligations for us to attend the Divine services, especially the Divine Liturgy, on the Lord's Day. May the Lord God deliver all of us from this vile condition of the soul.
The most reliable way to assure that our reverence towards the Lord God, our devotion, our gratitude, and our prayers to Him may become more alive, more sincere, more continuous, and stronger is to examine the cause of the Lord God's establishing the Sabbath in the Old Testament and the Lord's Day (Sunday) in the New Testament. We must examine God's creation, and in it God's Almightiness, His Wisdom, and His Goodness, and even more, God's ineffable love (agape), shown to the human race by the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, whereby He freed the human race from sin and death. And is the fourth obligation that the Day of Resurrection (The little Pascha), Sunday, imposes on us.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God