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 THIRD HOUR (11:00 A.M.)
+Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Give quick and steadfast consolation to Your servants, O Christ, for our spirits have become weary and discouraged. Do not abandon our souls in sorrows, do not distance Yourself from our thoughts and circumstances, but always overtake us in our need. You Who are everywhere, come near, come near to us, as with Your Apostles, promising to be always with them. O Compassionate Lord, unite Yourself also with those who love You, so that, united with You, we may praise and glorify Your All-Holy Spirit.
Lord God, Almighty Father, Lord God, Only-Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and Lord God, the Holy Spirit, One God, One Power and One Essence, have mercy on me a sinner. And through the judgments which You know best, save me Your unworthy servant, for You are Blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.
On September 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: Holy Apostles Mark, Aristarchos, and Zenas of the Seventy; Saint Callistratos and 49 Holy Martyrs of Carthage; Saint Sabbatius of Solovki; Holy Martyrs Philemon and Fortunatos; Saint Epicharis of Rome; Holy Martyr Gaiana; Saint Aquilina of Thessaloniki; Saint Rachel, schema-nun of Borodino Monastery; Saint Peter, Metropolitan of Krutitsa; Saint Igantius, Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Deep Stream; Saint Anthimos the Georgian of Wallachia; 15 holy Martyrs drowned at sea.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
VENERABLE IGNATIUS, EGOUMENOS (ABBOT) OF THE MONASTERY OF THE DEEP STREAM. Saint Ignatius was from 10th century Cappadocia and was dedicated to God. He went to live at a monastery called the Deep Mountain Stream, and there he learned the exactness of the ascetic discipline form their Geronda (Elder) and Egoumenos, Righteous Basil. As time passed, St. Ignatius became a reader, subdeacon, deacon, priest, and finally the Egoumenos (Abbot) of the monastery. Because Saint Ignatius was a good administrator, the monastery expanded, revenues increased, and improvements were made. Saint Ignatius also built several churches and had a wall constructed around the monastery. There had been long wars in Cappadocia, and the Armenians and Syrians settled in those sparsely populated areas. Then a series of revolts erupted, led by a tyrant named Skleros. Saint Ignatius bravely censored and shamed those rulers who backed Skleros, and when the tyrant rose up, St. Ignatius left for Constantinople, where he ordered a cross, a Gospel, and sacred vessels to be made and sent ahead to the monastery. However, on his return trip, Saint Ignatius became ill and died. After a year, the monastics went to reclaim the holy relics of Saint Ignatius, and when they opened his tomb, they found him incorrupt, and a wonderful fragrance filled the air. They returned the holy relics to the narthex of the church at their monastery.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Galatians 2:6-10
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 6:17-23
FROM THE HOLY VOICE OF THE HOLY ASCETICS AND FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"Be ever more obedient to God and He will save you" (St. Pachomius).
by Rev. Father Anthony Alevizopoulos, PhD. of Theology. PhD. of Philosophy
Through Holy Baptism all are incorporated into the "royal" and "priestly" nation which is the people of God (Exodus 19:5-6, Isaiah 61:6, 1 Peter 2:5, Rev. 6:5). They are summoned to offer to God their bodies as "a living sacrifice, pleasing unto God"; their entire selves and God's entire creation. In this way the faithful regain the royal priestly ministry which they possessed before the fall (Romans 12:1; Gen. 1:28-30).
The Christian also offers his love and the fruit of his labor to God through the brethren (Prov. 29:17; St. Matt. 25:40). Without this offering, no other offering is acceptable to God. When, however, man offers his labor to the Lord, through the brethren: "Then shall he call, and God shall hear him, and when he prays, he shall say to him, Behold, here I Am", I am present, I am near you" (Isaiah 58:7-9).
Whatever a Christian does, he does it with his heart, as the Lord's work (Col. 3:23-24). Everything in man's life, even the fruits of his labor, are God's gifts. This is why he must offer his works that they may be blessed, and he must never make egotistical use of them. He must always be mindful of, and exercise his "royal and priestly" ministry.
Within the framework of this ministry he is called to become a proclaimer of God's rule or Kingdom, not only through his words, but also by the manner of his life (St. Matt. 5:16; St. Luke 9:60). The fact that during the Baptismal Service the Evangelical lesson containing the phrase: "Go ye forth and teach all nations" (St. Matt. 28:19) is read, demonstrates that this mandate is addressed to every baptized Christian. Everyone must be ready "to give account"-when it shall be demanded of him-"for the hope that is within us", "with meekness and fear" (I Peter 3:15-16).
But the existence of a general priesthood within the Orthodox Church does not exclude the simultaneous existence of a special priesthood. We see this in the Old Testament: (Exodus 28:1, 37-38, 9. 30,30. 40:11-13; Lev. 8:1-13), which was indeed inviolate; those who usurped it were severely punished (Num. 16:31-32; II Chron. 26:16-21).
Christ was not a priest according to the Order of Aaron; it was not necessary that He offer up each time new sacrifices; His priesthood and His sacrifice were unique (Hebrews 7: 23-27). It is for this reason that the priesthood of the bishops and the other clergy of the Church is considered a ministry of the Mysteries (Sacraments) which Christ performs and is not independent of Christ's priesthood but in this sense, however, it is a real priesthood, just as the Divine Eucharist is a real sacrifice.
The priesthood in the Church, in the New Israel, was already prophesied in the Old Testament (Isaiah 66:21). In the New Testament the Holy Eucharist, which is characterized as a sacrifice, is contrasted with the Jewish and Idolatrous sacrifices, and it is underlined that the Christian possess an altar from which "those who worship the tent [of witness]" do not have the right to eat (1 Cor. 10:16-21; Hebrews 13:10). It is at this altar that the Christian priests serve.
Only the bishop, who is "in the image" of Christ and who holds "the place" of Christ, has the fullness of the priesthood. Just as Christ was sent by the Father, in like manner He Himself sent forth His disciples; whoever listens to them listens to Christ Himself, and whoever receives them, receives Christ (St. John 20:21; 13, 20; St. Matt. 10:40; St. Luke 10:16). The Apostles were shepherds, yet they were at the same time "sheep", who had Christ as their Shepherd. A hymn of the Church states:
"Apostles who saw God, true reason-endowed shepherds, our Redeemer and God, unceasingly intercede that I be redeemed from the noetic wolf [Satan] and from the painful lot of the goats [the damned]."
The work of the Apostles is today carried on by the bishops of the Church. They are in continuous and direct apostolic succession and are surrounded by the presbyters and deacons. The bishop ordains the deacons and the presbyters and he instates them into the Church's Ministry. However, he has the feeling that he acts as God's servant and not his own authority. This is why when he lays his hand on the head of the candidate who is to be ordained to the diaconate he says: "...For it is not in the laying on of my hands that grace is given to those who are worthy of You, but in the visitation of your rich mercies."
The task of the presbyter is thus defined by the prayer read at his ordination: "Fill with the gift of Thy Holy Spirit this man whom it has pleased Thee to advance to the degree of priest; that he may be worthy to stand in innocency before Thine altar; to proclaim the Gospel of Thy Kingdom; to minister the word of Thy truth; to offer unto Thee spiritual gifts and sacrifices; to renew thy people through the laver of regeneration…"
During the bishop's ordination, his responsibility to preserve "the unity of the faith in the bond of peace" is underlined. This is why he who is to be ordained a bishop confesses belief in the dogmas of the Church and promises neither to add nor subtract from them in any way "adding nothing, subtracting nothing, changing nothing, neither dogmas, nor the Traditions but remaining steadfast in these, and with fear of God and a good conscience teaching and proclaiming them; and all that She [the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church] has condemned and rejected as foreign teachings, these do I also condemn and reject once and for all."
The ordaining bishop prays for the ordinand; "...Do Thou, O Christ, make this man to be an imitator of Thee, the True Shepherd, Who did lay down Thy life for Thy sheep; to be a leader of the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a reprover of the unwise, a teacher of the young, a lamp to the world; that having perfected the souls entrusted unto him in this present life he may stand unashamed before Thy throne…"
This position of responsibility which the bishop holds helps to understand the words of Saint Ignatius of Antioch: "look to the bishop, the presbyterate and the deacons…become imitators of Jesus Christ as He was imitator of His Father." The bishop, Saint Ignatius adds, possess the "mind of Christ", i.e., his teaching and his actions must reveal the mind of Jesus Christ. And Saint Ignatius continues, "Wherever the bishop appears, let the multitude be there, just as wherever Christ is, there too is the Catholic Church". And of course the Holy Eucharist performed by the bishop or by him whom the bishop has authorized, i.e., a presbyter from the "presbyterate" is genuine.
The priests therefore in the Church are stewards of Christ's Holy Mysteries, and in this sense participate in the unique and "inviolate" priesthood of the one "priest" Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:27). The Holy Eucharist performed in Church by the Christian priest is a sacrifice "according to participation" in the sacrifice of Golgotha. Thus all Orthodox Christians throughout the ages become partakers of the body and blood of Christ and partake of His life. This is the work of the Christian priests.
[source: The Orthodox Church Its Faith, Worship and Life]
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God