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 NINTH HOUR (5:00 P.M.)
+In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Glory to You, our God, glory to You. Come, let us bow and worship God our King. Come, let us bow down and worship Christ our God and King. Come, let us bow down and worship Christ Himself, our King and our God.
It was on the ninth hour, O Christ our God, that You Yourself tasted death in the flesh; put to death the sinful inclinations of our flesh, and save us.
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Lord, You were born of the Virgin, and endured the Crucifixion for Your sake; You destroyed death through Your death and manifested the Resurrection as God. Do not overlook those whom You have crated with Your own hands. Show Your loving kindness, O Merciful Lord, accept the Theotokos, who gave You birth, as she intercedes for us, O our Savior, and save us - a people in despair.
For the sake of Your Holy Name, O Lord, do not abandon us utterly. For the sake of Abraham Your beloved, and Isaac Your servant, and Israel Your holy one. Do not disregard Your promise of salvation and do not take away Your mercy from us.
Seeing the Lord of life hanging upon the Cross, the repentant thieve was saying: "If the One Crucified with us were not God Incarnate, the sun would not have hidden its rays, nor would the earth have been shaken from its foundations. O Lord, You Who endure all things, remember me in Your Kingdom. Amen.
On August 22nd Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions 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 Agathonikos of Nicomedia and his Companion Martyrs: Zotikos, Theoprepius, Acindynos, Severian, Zeno, and others; Holy Martyr Efthalia of Barcelona; Saint Athanasios, Bishop of Tarsus; Saint Anthousa of Syria and Holy Martyrs, Charesimos, and Neophytos; Saint Bogolep of Uglich Monastery; Saint Isaac I of Optina; Holy Martyrs, Irenaeus, Deakon, Or, and Oropsos; Saint Ephraim, Bishop of Selenginsk and Priest John (+1918); "Prusa" Holy Icon of the Mother of God.
+ By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
VENERABLE ANTHOUSA OF SYRIA. Saint Anthousa was born to affluent, pagan parents in 3rd century Seleucia in Syria. When she had grown to womanhood, she told her parents that she had secretly been a Christian and that she wanted to devote her life to Christ. They approved, and intent on being baptized, she took the road to Tarsus accompanied by two servants. Along the way, she was met by Bishop Athanasios of Tarsus and told him of her desire. Athanasios agreed, but since there was no water nearby, he prayed, and a spring of fresh water came out of the ground. Saint Anthousa and her servants were baptized. She entered a Monastery and gave the wealth that she inherited to her servants and the poor. She lived thereafter in the desert in asceticism for over twenty years. She endured many trials from the demons, and she was miraculously fed.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: I Corinthians 14:6-19
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 20:17-28
FROM THE HOLY VOICE OF THE HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"If you want to go straight before God, you need two walls. Not of brick or stone or earth, but two spiritual walls. Have fear of God on the right, because the Prophet Daniel says, 'With fear of God, man is diverted from all evil.' On the left have fear of death because the Son of Sirach says, 'Son, remember your end and you will not sin.' These two good deeds-fear of God and remembrance of death-deliver a man from all sin" (Geronda [Elder] Cleopa of Romania).
LIVING WITHOUT HYPOCRISY
by Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina
"One must unhypocritically live, and to all an example give; then will our work be sure, otherwise it will turn out poor". [Saint Ambrose]
"One must treat holy books and holy objects with reverence. Above all, one must have fear of God, for it teaches reverence, and it teaches everything good. Careless and irreverent treatment of holy things is a result of habit. This must not happen." [Saint Nikon)
"Perform every work attentively, no matter how unimportant it may seem, as if being done before the face of God. Remember that the Lord sees everything". [Saint Nikon]
"The action of grace never leads anyone to despair, but grants the gift of tenderness, joy, long-suffering and spiritual peace". (Saint Leo)
Giving Thanks to God
"Gratitude in a Christian is such a great thing that, along with love, it accompanies him into the future life, where he will celebrate with them the eternal Pascha". (Saint Ambrose)
"It is disastrous to endlessly grieve and unnecessarily castigate oneself, for we must in all ways thank the Lord for all things, for those punishments with which He may have chastised us in this world". [Saint Leo]
"We must give thanks for all things to the Lord, Who has rightly given us difficulties that we may learn patience, which is more beneficial than comforts, and ennobles the soul". (Saint Moses)
"That which is done with a blessing is greatly pleasing to God, so let us live that every small step of ours is blessed". (Saint Anthony)
"One should not do anything without a blessing. If lay people seek the advice of a more experienced person in matters that are more or less important, all the more must a monk remain in obedience".(Saint Barsanuphius)
The Battle with Lust
"The passion of lust against everyone, and at the toll-houses the demons of lust will boast before all the princes of darkness that he provided hell with more spoils than all the rest. Be patient, and implore Divine help!" (Saint Anatoly)
"The essence of wealth is not in material things, but what we have within ourselves. No matter how much you give a person, you will not satisfy him". (Saint Anatoly)
"It is a mistake to think that wealth or abundance, or even sufficient means would be beneficial or reassuring. The rich worry even more than the poor and impoverished. Poverty and being in want are closer to humility and to salvation if only the one who is poor does not become fainthearted, but with faith and hope relies on the all-good Providence of God. Until this day the Lord has fed us, and He has the power to do so in the future". (Saint Ambrose)
Knowledge of God
"If we strive to cleanse our hearts from the passions, then according to the amount that we have purified our selves, Divine Grace will open the eyes of our hearts to the vision of the true Light; for as it is written, 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God' (St. Matthew 5:8), but only when we perfect ourselves through humility, for through humility the mysteries are revealed". (Saint Macarius)
"Without the visible Holy Church, there could not be the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) of Christ, without which man could not inherit eternal life. Prayers during church services have so much power and significance that just the words, "Lord, have mercy', surpass all the spiritual exercises performed in one's cell. For this reason the Holy Fathers, while standing in church during divine services, imagined themselves standing before the very Throne of God in heaven!" [Saint Anthony]
"One should go to the mourning services, because during the Divine Liturgy the Bloodless Sacrifice is offered to God on our behalf. By attending the morning services we in turn offer ourselves as a sacrifice to the Lord, we sacrifice our rest for Him". [Saint Moses]
"We are visited by sickness and sorrows. This is an indication of God's mercy towards us, for whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth (Heb. 12:6), and so it is proper for us to thank the Lord for His fatherly Providence for us. Sorrows instruct us and make us skillful in our work, and likewise they, along with sickness, cleanse us of sins". [Saint Macarius]
"What can you do? For the Lord already established that our temporary life will not pass without sorrows, and it is said, 'Always be mindful of your sickness and be sorrowful in your heart'. But what is more amazing is that not one holy man, no matter how holy and perfect he may have been, passed his life without having to endure something-and this so that man be not puffed up with pride. And if the Saints endured, how much more must we endure!" [Saint Anthony]
"Our life is a spiritual warfare with unseen evil spirits. They arouse us through our passions and urge us to disobey the Commandments of God. When we look and investigate carefully, we will find that for every passion there is a cure, a commandment opposing it; and therefore the enemies try to keep us from this saving cure". [Saint Macarius]
"Are you fighting against your passions? Fight, fight, and be good soldiers of Christ! Do not give in to evil and do not be carried away by the weakness of the flesh. During the time of temptation, flee to the Physician, crying out with Holy Church, our mother: "O God, number me with the thief, the harlot, and the publican (i.e., with the repentant) and save me!" [Saint Nikon]
"Guard the holy faith, that priceless treasure, and with it enter the Kingdom: it is not for something trivial that we labor, but for acquiring a Kingdom, and what a Kingdom-a Heavenly one! We want to be made its citizens". [Saint Barsanuphius]
"In the Holy Gospel, the Lord Himself says: 'Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves' (St. Matthew 10:16). According to commentaries, the wisdom of the serpent consists of the fact that when a serpent is attacked, it first of all protects its head; similarly, in times of misfortune and difficult circumstances, the Christian must first of all protect his faith. Secondly, the wisdom of the serpent consists of the fact that when it wants to shed its old skin, it slithers into a tight space, otherwise it will not be able to shed his skin. Likewise with the Christian, if he wishes to shed himself of the "old man," he must take the narrow path, according to the Gospel teaching. The harmlessness of the dove consists in gentleness and forgiveness of offenses, vexations, and similar things". (Saint Ambrose)
Please Note: The best way to understand our Holy Orthodox Christian faith is through the lives and writings of the Holy Fathers of the Church. Our Monastery bookstores have an abundance of spiritual books written by the Holy Fathers. It is my sincere advice for those of you that are seeking a personal spiritual life to visit our Monasteries as often as possible and meet either with the Geronda or Gerondissa (Abbot or Abbess) if possible or one of the monks or nuns. Make every effort to go to the Mysterion (Sacrament) of Confession and to have a spiritual father to guide you.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God