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.
OFFICE OF ORTHROS (MATINS)
The Sixth Prayer
W thank You, Lord God of our salvation, that You do everything to benefit our life, so that in everything we may look to You, the Savior and Benefactor of our souls. For in the course of the night You gave us rest, and now raised us up to stand in worship Your Precious Name. Wherefore we pray You, Lord, give us both grace and strength that we may be found worthy to praise You with full understanding, and pray without ceasing, in fear and trembling working out our own salvation through the grace of Your Christ. Lord, remember also those who cry out to You in the night; hear them and show them mercy, and let invisible and warring enemies be crushed under their feet. For You are the Prince of Peace and Savior of our souls, and to You we offer glory: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto age of ages. Amen.
On August 27th 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 Poemen the Great of Egypt; Saint Savvas of Benephali; St. Hosius (Osia) the Confessor; Hholy Martyr Anthusa; St. Liberius, Bishop of Rome; St. Caesarius, Bishop of Arles; Sts. Kuksha, Pimen, and Nicon of the Kiev Caves; St. Phanourios the "New Revealed" Holy Martyr; holy Martyrs Michael and Stefanos, and those with them of Nizhni-Novgorod; St. Chrysostom, Metropolitan of Smyrna; St. Djan Darada, the Ethiopian eunuch of Queen Candace.
HOLY MARTYR PHANOURIOS. Who he was and when he lived is not known, but he is much venerated in the Greek isles of Rhodes and Crete. In 1500, he appeared to some people on the island of Rhodes, where he also showed wonders of healing. There is found there an old icon of him, in which he is depicted as a young soldier holding a cross in his right hand and a burning candle in his left. Saint Phanourios is also much venerated in Egypt. There is a tradition that his mother was a great sinner, whom not even he could convert. But his filial love for his mother was great beyond measure, and he prayed more for his mother's salvation than his own. When the pagans stoned him to death for Christ, St. Phanourios prayed to God: "For the sake of these my sufferings, Lord, help all those who will pray to Thee for the salvation of Phanourios's sinful mother." In Egypt, many Christians pray thus: "O Lord, save Phanourios's mother and help me, a sinner"--and many receive help through this prayer.
+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: I Corinthians 15:29-38
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 21:23-27
FROM THE HOLY VOICE OF THE HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"We must show perseverance for whatever temptation comes along whether they wish to pluck our eyes out or to cut out right hand. However, if someone wishes to distance us from our faith then let's become indignant" (St. Poemen the Great).
by Father Anthony Alevizopoulos, PhD. of Theology, PhD. of Philosophy
After the fall, man, we are told by Holy Scripture, was cast out of Paradise (Gen. 3:24). God, however, through this expulsion, did not lead man to despair, for He simultaneously sowed within Him the hope of salvation.
The final outcome of his vicissitude would be accomplished with the coming of the offspring of the "woman", who would crush the "head" of the "serpent" (Gen. 3:15). Man had to prepare himself systematically for this advent, for his restoration was not the result of force but the fruit of God's love which man accepted. Man had to accept once again in freedom the saving action of God.
The Orthodox Church believes that God wanted to prepare mankind for His saving intervention through the election of the people of Israel and the preaching of the Old Testament Prophets. The prophetical message had as its center the awaited offspring of the "woman".
This Savior of mankind was Jesus Christ in Whom God united Himself with man and in this way becomes a partaker of God's life. Christ is not two persons, a human and a divine, but one: a theandric person. He was one Christ, not two.
God's union with man in the person of Christ did not shatter the human nature, because the union of the divine and the human nature in the One Christ took place "without confusion, without separation, without change, without division". The two natures are not confused between themselves in a mixture, nor does the one separate itself from the other. Moreover, the human nature does not change into the divine nature nor does the Divine change into the human. In this way the Son and Logos (Word) of God took on human nature and in His unique Person He led him to communion with God. One of the hymns of the Church states:
"You assumed my corrupt and mortal nature, You clothed me in corruption, and You raised me up to eternal and blessed life, where, O compassionate Lord, do Thou give rest to those whom You assumed".
The Orthodox Christian does not attempt to approach the God-manhood of Christ rationally; he accepts it with humility as revelation from God, as a "great mystery" (I Timothy 3:16), which identified with man's very salvation.
Salvation through Christ, then, is not to be found in the showing of some "way" outside His person or in the keeping of certain commandments on man's part. No effort whatsoever on the part of the created could ever lead to the Uncreated, i.e., to freedom from this bondage of corruption and death. The Uncreated and Eternal God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, transcends the ontological abyss separating the created from the Uncreated. This is accomplished, not that God might live the life of the created but that He might raise created man to divine life beyond corruption and death. This Communion of mortal man with Immortal and Eternal God is communion "according to energy" and not "according to essence"' this means that man does not partake of God's essence, that he is touched by God's energy, i.e., His Grace. And because the Divine energy is from the essence of God, the communion between God and man is a real communion with grants life to man without doing away with him, it does not constitute a confusion or mixture of human nature in God's. God saves man while respecting his person; he attributes to it an inestimable value.
All that we have mentioned shows that faith in Christ's God-manhood constitutes man's only hope, because he finds in this faith a deeper meaning in life even beyond the grave. Saint Paul calls salvation in Christ a great mystery of piety: "Truly great is the mystery of our piety: God was revealed in the flesh, vindicated through spirit, appeared to the Angels, proclaimed to the nations, believed in throughout the world, ascended in glory" (I Timothy 3:16).
Man's salvation therefore is identified with the events of God's Incarnation. God through the manner assumes man and saves him. Belief that we will make this fact, this event, of our salvation our own possession is the great mystery of piety.
Christ is now the new head of the human race. Holy Scripture underlines the fact that He is the Savior of God's new people: the Church, which constitutes "His Body", having Him as its very head (St. Matthew 1:21; Ephes. 5:23). In speaking about the Church He describes her as the "Kingdom of God". For in the Body of Christ the heavenly and the earthly, i.e., Angels and men, are to be "recapitulated" (Ephes. 1:10), so as to be under one head and to be ruled by Christ.
This is what Christ meant when He said that with His coming, the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand (St. Matthew 4:17, 10:7). Indeed with the re-formation of the Church the Mystery of the Kingdom is now "within you" (St. Luke 17:21); all of mankind is touched by the grace of God, is sanctified in its totality and ruled by the Head, which is Christ.
(to be continued)
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God