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.
Hear my prayer, O Lord Give ear to my supplications! In Your faithfulness answer me, And in Your righteousness, Do not enter into judgment with Your servant, For in Your sight no one living is righteous. For the enemy has persecuted my soul; He has crushed my life to the ground; He has made me dwell in darkness, Like those who have long been dead. Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; My heart within me is distressed.
I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I must on the work of Your hands. I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Answer me speedily, O Lord; My spirit fails! Do not hide Your face from me, Lest I be like those who go down into the pit. Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You.
Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies; In You I take shelter. Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.
Receive me, O Lord, for Your name's sake! For Your righteousness sake bring my soul out of trouble. In Your mercy cut off my enemies, And destroy all those who afflict For I am Your servant.
[This is the last of the Six Psalms of Orthros (Matins). It is the song of one afflicted, waiting in the darkness for the light. It is a prayer which awaits the light of dawn (v.8)--both physical and spiritual. Verse 10b is used at Pentecost with the rendering: "Let Your Good Spirit lead me on a level path."]
On August 7th 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 Righteous Martyr Dometius of Persia and his two disciples; Righteous Father Or of Egypt; our Righteous Fathers, the Ten Thousands (10.000) of Ascetics of the Thebaid; Righteous Mother Potamia the Wonderworker was perfected in martyrdom by the sword; Saint Narcissus, Archbishop of Jerusalme; Righteous Father Asterius the Wonderworker and St. Marinus the Soldier, who were perfected in martyrdom by the sword; Saint Sozon of Nicomedia, having been cast into fire and come forth unharmed, reposed in peace; Father Hyperechius; Father Theodosius the New, the Healer, of Peloponnesus; Father Dometius the Worker of Signs; Father Nicanor, who shone forth on Mt. Callistratus.
+By the holy intercessions of Thy Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
OUR HOLY FATHER OR. A solitary monk of the Thebaid, he achieved great perfection through very great asceticism. When he had become established in stability and dedicated to solitude, he founded several monasteries one after the other, and was an outstanding spiritual guide and the instructor of many monks. Rufinus, who visited him, writes thus of him: "In appearance, he is like an Angel of God; an old man of ninety with a long, show-white beard. The impression left by his presence is delightful. His gaze is imbued with a more than human radiance." He strove never to tell a lie, saw Angels of God many times and also underwent great temptations from demons, but soberly and courageously overcame them all. He received Holy Communion every day. Once, one of his disciples reminded him that Pascha had come, and that he must celebrate it. Hearing this, he went outside, raised his hands to heaven and spent three days in unbroken prayer. Then he explained to his disciples: "This is the monk's celebration of Pascha: the lifting up of the mind to unity with God." He entered into rest in great old age in about 390 A.D.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 1 Corinthians 7:12-24
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Mark 9:2-9
FROM THE HOLY VOICE OF THE HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"Even if you have only bread and water, with these you can still meet the dues of hospitality. Even if you have not these, but simply make the stranger welcome and offer him a word of encouragement, you will not be failing in hospitality". [Saint Theodore the Great]
PRAYERFUL PREPARATION FOR HOLY COMMUNION
Of all of the days in the life of an Orthodox Christian, the happiest is the day on which we receive Holy Communion worthily, with complete attentiveness and preparation. Through confession, we have washed ourselves of all sins, opened before the Lord our entire soul, and received into the house of our soul the Holy Heavenly Guest, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Who said: "He who eats of My Body and drinks of My Blood abides in Me and I in him" (St. John 6:56). On the day on which we receive Holy Communion, it is extremely important for us to recognize what we are doing, and in participating in the great Mystery, to understand what responsibility we are taking upon ourselves. To receive the Divine Guest carelessly, without the requisite attention, is to condemn ourselves. Saint Paul writes: "For often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. Therefore whoever eats this bread and drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the Body Blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's Body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep (die)" (1 Corinthians 11:26-30). There is such power in the Precious Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ communicated to us in the eating and drinking of His divine Gifts (St. John 6:54-56) that to do so in willful disregard of the Lord could result in sickness and even death.
May it not be so! Here is the minimum that is essential for us to do in or order to derive spiritual benefit:
1. Confess on the eve of the Divine Liturgy, in order to give yourself and your spiritual father time for a complete confession. Before coming to the Mystery (Sacrament) of Repentance and Confession, reflect on your life and try to recall the sins which you have committed, or bring it with you when you come to confession.
2. Read the Prayer Rule before Holy Communion. The Rule consists of a series of Psalms, a Canon, and Prayers before Holy Communion. The more zealous may add to this rule the Canon to Sweetest Jesus, the Canon and Akathist to the Most-Holy Theotokos and the Canon the Guardian Angel.
3. On the day of Holy Communion, it is essential to come to the church by the beginning of the Divine Liturgy (in other words from Orthros or Matins) not minutes before Holy Communion and on an empty stomach, i.e., having abstained since midnight from food and drink, as well as from smoking. Those who come to church late should not approach the Holy Chalice. Parents commit an offense when they bring their children for Holy Communion after they have eaten breakfast and five minutes before Holy Communion. This must be stopped! What are you teaching these young souls who rely on you the parent for proper guidance?
4. We ask female parishioners to ensure that when they commune, they not wear lipstick and if they have their monthly period not receive Holy Communion.
5. The Church instructs those who approach for Holy Communion to cross their arms over their breast, and to approach with lips confessing Christ, and hearts filled with a fervent love for Him and with thanksgiving. In 961 A.D. the Sixth Ecumenical Council established this Holy Canon: "Whosoever wishes to partake...let him form his hands into the shape of a cross, and thus approaching, let him receive the Communion of grace..." (Canon 101).
6. In the instruction for the Order of Service it is stated that upon receiving the Precious Body and Blood of Christ, open your mouth wide open and once the communion spoon is in your mouth close your lips upon the spoon remove the Holy Eucharist gently, swallow them with reverence, and after wiping your lips with the communion napkin and hand over the napkin to the person behind you. Take an antidoron and do not turn your back to the Holy Chalice. The Chalice symbolically stands for the actual rib of Christ from which flowed blood and water. Return to your pew standing.
7. After Holy Communion the Orthodox Christian should read the thanksgiving prayers.
The Food of the Mystical Supper is the Heavenly Food of our restoration, of the New Testament between God and mankind.
A BRIEF CONFESSION BEFORE FATHER CONFESSORS:
(From the Full Confession of Saint Demetius of Rostove)
I confess to the Lord my God and before thee, venerable father, all my countless sins, committed by me unto this very day and hour, in deed, word and thought. I sin daily and hourly by my ingratitude toward God for His great and countless blessings and benevolent providence over me, a sinner.
I have sinned through: idle talking, judging others, stubbornness, pride, hard-heartedness, envy, anger, slander, inattention, negligence concerning my salvation, carelessness, indifference, impertinence, irritability, despondency, rendering evil for evil, bitterness, disobedience, complaining, self-justification, contradicting others, self-will, being reproachful, gossiping, lying, light-mindedness, tempting others, self-love, ambition, gormandizing, eating and drinking to excess, vanity, laziness, entertaining unclean thoughts, acquisitiveness, impure glances, absence from divine services because of laziness and carelessness, absent-mindedness at prayer both in church and at home; I have sinned in deed, word, thought; in sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch and the rest of my mental physical senses; of all my sins I repent and beg forgiveness.
(Here one should mention specifically any other sins which may be burdening of the soul.)
I also repent and ask forgiveness for all those sins that I have not confessed because of their multitude and my forgetfulness.
Forgive and absolve me, venerable father, and bless me to commune of the Holy and Life-Giving Mysteries of Christ unto the remission of sins and life everlasting.
PRAYERS OF THANKSGIVING AFTER HOLY COMMUNION
Glory to Thee, O God; Glory to Thee, O God; Glory to Thee, O God.
A Prayer of Saint Basil the Great
O Master, Christ our God, King of the ages, and maker of all things; I thank Thee for all the good things which thou has bestowed upon me, and for this partaking of Thine Immaculate and Life-Giving Mysteries. Wherefore I pray Thee, Who art good and lovest mankind: Keep me under Thy protection, and in the shadow of Thy wings; and grant unto me with a pure conscience and even unto my last breath, to partake of Thy holy Mysteries, unto remission of sins and unto life everlasting. For Thou art the Bread of Life, the Fountain of Holiness, the Giver of good things, and unto Thee we ascribe glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
A Prayer of Saint Simeon Metaphrastes
O Thou Who willingly dost give Thy flesh to me as food, Thou Who art a Fire, consuming the unworthy, Consume me not, O my Creator; But rather pass through all my body parts, into all my joints, my reins, my heart. Burn Thou the thorns of all my transgressions, cleanse my soul, and hallow thou my thoughts. Make firm my knees, and my bones likewise; Enlighten as one my five senses, establish me wholly in Thy fear; Ever shelter me, and guard and keep me from every soul-corrupting deed and word, chasten me, purify me, and enlighten me. Show me to be a Tabernacle of Thy Spirit only, and in no wise the dwelling-place of sin, that from me, Thy habitation, through the entrance of Thy Communion. Every evil deed and every passion may flee as from fire. As intercessors I bring to Thee all the Saints, both the Angelic Leaders of the Bodiless Powers, Thy Forerunner, and Thy wise Apostles; and beside these, Thine Immaculate and chaste Mother; do Thou accept their prayers, my Christ, Who are Compassionate, and make Thy servant to be a child of the Light: For Thou alone, Good Lord, are the sanctification and splendor of our souls, and to Thee as God and Master, day by day, duly we all ascribe glory. Amen.
May Thy Holy Body, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, be unto me for life eternal, and Thy Precious Blood unto remission of my sins. May this Eucharist be unto me for joy, health, and gladness; and at Thy dread Second Coming make me, a sinner, worthy to stand at the Right Hand of Thy Glory: through the intercessions of Thine All-Immaculate Mother and of all Thy Saints. Amen.
A PRAYER TO THE ALL-HOLY THEOTOKOS
O All-Holy Lady Theotokos, light of my darkened soul, my hope, my shelter, my refuge, my consolation and my joy: I thank thee that thou hast accounted me worthy, although unworthy, to be a partaker of the Immaculate Body and Precious Blood of Thy Son. But do thou, who gavest birth to the True Light, enlighten the mental eyes of my heart; O thou who didst bear the Fountain of Immortality, quicken thou me who lie dead in sin. O compassion-loving Mother of the Merciful God, have mercy upon me, and grant me humility and contrition of heart, and meekness in my thoughts, and deliverance from the bondage of my vain imagining. And account me worthy, even unto my last breath, to receive without condemnation the sanctification of the Immaculate Mysteries, unto the healing of both soul and body. And grant unto me tears of repentance and confession, that I may hymn thee and glorify thee all the days of my life: for Blessed and Glorified art thou unto all ages. Amen.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God