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.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
(Please note: This Psalm serves as an introduction to the entire Psalter with its depiction of the "two ways": the way of the righteous and the way of the ungodly (v.6). The psalmist dedicates the beginning of His prophecy to Christ the Lord (vv. 2, 6). For this reason, he pronounces those who have trusted in Him happy and blessed (v. 1). He sets forth three acts which must be guarded against: (1) walking in the counsel of the ungodly, or taking the advice of unbelievers; (2) standing in the path of sinners, or associating with those who refuse to do God's will; (3) sitting on the seat of the scornful, or adopting the attitude of those who blaspheme God.)
On August 12th 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: St. Photios and Saint Aniketos the Holy Martyrs of Nicomedia; St. Sergios and Saint Stefanos the holy Monks; Soldier-Martyrs of Crete.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY MARTYRS ANIKETOS AND PHOTIOS. The pagan Roman emperor Diocletian at one time visited the city of Nicomedia with the evil intention of utterly exterminating the Christians there. But, when he began his merciless torture of the Christians, Saint Aniketos, one of the governors of the city, presented himself before him and courageously confessed before the emperor his faith in Christ the Lord, God Incarnate in the flesh for our salvation. Saint Anikitos also denounced the worship of idols as that of deaf and dumb stones, unworthily worshiped by ignorant men. The furious emperor commanded that his tongue be cut out, but Saint Aniketos, by the power of God, continued to speak. Then a lion was let loose on him, which fawned about him. At that moment, the temple of Hercules fell down. Saint Photios, a kinsman of St. Anikitos' , seeing the wonders and his kinsman's endurance, embraced him, confessed that he himself was a Christian and cried out to the emperor: 'You should be ashamed, you idolater; your gods are nothing!' The emperor ordered that he be beheaded immediately, but the executioner, lifting up his hand against Saint Photios, gave himself a blow with his sword and died. After harsh torture, the two of them were thrown into prison, where they remained for three years. They were then taken out and thrown into an enormous burning furnace. Many other Christians, men, and women and children, went into the flames voluntarily after them, and the prayers of the Christians were heard rising from the flames, thanking God for their death by martyrdom. They all suffered in about 305 A.D. Saint Anikitos and Saint Photios are invoked in the prayers at the blessing of oil and water.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 1 Corinthians 9:3-18
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 16:1-6
FROM THE HOLY VOICES OF THE HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"In general, all the Saints gained the Divine promises through ungrudging waiting; wait, then, patiently on the Lord, and He will exalt you, when the right opportunity comes, and will present your virtue as light, and the judgment will shine for you as the sun shines at midday." (Saint Ephraim)
Four candles slowly burned. The ambiance was so soft, one could almost hear them talking...
The first candle said: "I am PEACE!" "The world is full of anger and fighting. Nobody can keep me lit." Then the flame of Peace went out completely.
The second candle said: "I am FAITH!" "I am no longer indispensable. It doesn't make sense that I stay lit another moment." Just then a breeze softly blew Faith's flame.
Sadly the third candle began to speak: "I am LOVE!" "People don't understand my importance so they simply put me aside. They even forget to love those who are nearest to them." And waiting no longer Love's flame went out.
Suddenly...a child entered the room and saw the three unlit candles. "Why aren't you burning? You're supposed to stay lit till the end." Saying this, the child began to cry.
Then the fourth candle answered: "Don't be afraid. I am HOPE! While I am still burning we can re-light the other candles."
With shining eyes the child took the candle of hope and lit the other candles. The Greatest Of These Is LOVE...but the flame of Hope should never go out of your life! With hope each of us can live with Peace, Faith, and Love.
"Dear God, You are my light and my salvation. You are my hope. Please come into my heart, forgive all my wrongs and give me Your wonderful gift of eternal Life. Help me be an instrument of Your love and cause Your Light to shine on others through me. Amen."
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God