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.
A MORNING PRAYER OF SAINT BASIL THE GREAT
O Most Exalted God and Lord of mercy, we bless and glorify You, for You work with us great and unfathomable, glorious and extraordinary deeds beyond numbering. You provide us with the gift of sleep, which gives rest to our infirmities, and relaxation for the toils of our ever laboring and fatigued body. We thank You, Lord, for You have not destroyed us together with our transgressions. Rather, You have shown Your usual loving-kindness for mankind, and, while we were prone to despair, You raised us up to praise and glorify Your dominion. For this reason we beseech Your incomparable Goodness: Enlighten the eyes of our mind, and raise our mind from the heavy sleep of indolence. Open our mouth and fill it with praises for You, that we may confess to You, Who are the God Who is glorified by all and in all, the Father Who is without beginning, together with Your Only-Begotten Son, and Your All-Holy, Good and Life-Creating Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
On August 20th 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: Holy Prophet Samuel; Holy Martyr Lukios the Counselor.
+ By the holy intercessions of the Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY PROPHET SAMUEL. The fifteenth and last of the Judges of Israel, he lived eleven hundred years before Christ. He was of the tribe of Levi, born of Elkanah in a place called Ramatha or Arimathea, where noble Joseph was later born. The barren Hannah besought the Lord with tears to give her a child and she by the grace of God conceived a boy whom she named Samuel and dedicated him to God when he was three years old. Living in Shiloh near the Ark of the Covenant, Samuel, at the age of twelve, had a true revelation from God of the punishment which would come upon the house of the High Priest, Eli, because of the worthlessness of his sons Hophni and Phineas. This revelation was swiftly fulfilled: the Philistines routed the Israelites, slew both of Eli's sons and captured the Ark of the Covenant. When the messenger brought these bad tidings to Eli, he fell dead on the ground, breathing his last at the age of ninety-eight, and the same thing happened to his daughter-in-law, the wife of Phineas. Israel was under the Philistine yoke after this for twenty years. When this time had elapsed, God sent Samuel to the people to preach repentance to them as the one means of their salvation from their enemies. The people repented and cast out the foreign idols which they had served, accepting Samuel as prophet, priest and judge. Then Samuel set out with the army against the Philistines and, with God's help, put them to confusion and slew them, freeing the land and the people. After that, Samuel judged the people in peace to old age. Seeing him growing old, the people asked him to give them a king in his place. In vain, Samuel urged the people against this, saying that God was their only King, but the people remained adamant in their desire. Although this desire was not pleasing to God, He commanded Samuel to anoint Saul the son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, as king. Saul reigned a short time, and God rejected him for impudence and disobedience, and then commanded Samuel to anoint David the son of Jesse as king in Saul's place. At the time of his death, Samuel gathered all the people together and took leave of them, and when he died all Israel wept for him and buried him solemnly in his house at Ramah.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: I Corinthians 12:12-26
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 18:18-22; 19:12; 13-15
THE HOLY VOICE OF THE HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"Know, my brother, that he who does not completely deliver himself to be crucified with humility and contempt for himself, who does not debase himself so much that he is trampled upon, despised, wronged, laughed at, jeered by all, and who does not accept all this treatment with joy and patience for the Lord's sake, and who does not scorn all the desires of men, whether glory, or honor, or praise, or pleasant foods, or drinks, or clothes, cannot become a true believer." (Abba [Father] Mark)
RAISING A SAINT
By Saint Silouan of Mount Athos
Most of us would be satisfied to raise children who remain faithful believers. It is not always an easy thing and every parent who has such a child should rejoice constantly. There is no method to raise a child to be a Saint, for God alone gives the grace that results in the mystery of such wonderful lives. However that may be, I am often struck in reading the writings of Saint Silouan by his stories about his father. It would seem that the most fundamental spiritual lessons are not ones he gained from a Geronda (Elder), but from the simple peasant that was his father-but a simple peasant with the faith of a Saint. A small example:
"Let us not be distressed over the loss of worldly goods, such losses are a small matter. My own father taught me this early in life. When some misfortune happened at home, he would remain serene. When our house caught fire and the neighbors said, 'Ivan Petrovich, your house is burnt down!' he replied, 'With God's help I'll build it up again.' Once we were walking along the side of our field, and I said, 'Look, they're stealing our sheaves!' "Aye, son,' he answered me, 'the Lord has given us corn and to spare, so if anyone steals it, it means he's in want.' Another day I said to him, 'You give a lot away to charity, while some who are better off than we, give far less.' To which he replied, "Aye, son, the Lord will provide.' And the Lord did not confound his hope."From Saint Silouan of Mount Athos
There is no better way to teach a child Christianity than to actually live it--truly and from the heart. You cannot teach what you do not live.
CARVE YOUR BLESSINGS IN STONE
A story tells that two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey, they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face. The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, he wrote in the sand: Today my best friend slapped me in the face.
They kept on walking, until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but his friend saved him. After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone: Today my best friend saved my life.
The friend, who has slapped and saved his best friend, asked him, "After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand, and now, you write on a stone, why?"
The other friend replied: "When someone hurts us, we should write it down in sand, where the winds of forgiveness can erase it away, but when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone, where no wind can ever erase it.
Learn to write your hurts in the sand and to carve your blessings in stone.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God