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 THIRD PRAYER BEFORE RECEIVING HOLY COMMUNION
My heart is wounded, O Master; my zeal for you has melted me away; my love for you has changed me; my utter devotion has bound me to You. Let me be filled with Your Flesh; let me be satiated with Your Living and Deifying Blood; let me enjoy whatever is good; let me delight in Your Divinity; let me become worthy to meet You as You come in Glory, and let me be caught up by the clouds, in the air, together with all Your chosen ones, that I may praise, worship, and glorify You in thanksgiving and doxology, together with Your Father Who is without beginning, and Your All-Holy, Good and Life-Creating Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
On September 4th 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 Hieromartyr Vavylas, Bishop of Antioch the Great; The Three Children who were with him, Urban, Prilidian, and Epolonius; and their mother, Christodula; who were perfected in martyrdom by the sword; Holy Prophet and God-seer Moses and his brother Aaron the Priest; St. Vavylas, a teacher of Nicomedia with the Eighty-four Children who were his disciples; Saint Hermione, of the daughters of Saint Philip the Apostle; Saints Theotimos and Theodulos who were perfected in martyrdom by fire; the Holy 3,628 Martyrs of Nicomedia; our Righteous and God-bearing Father Anthimos of Cephalonia, the New Ascetic; Saint Symeon the Clairvoyant and Wonderworker, Egoumenos (Abbot) of Garedja in Georgia; Holy Icon of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary that is called "The Burning Bush".
HOLY PROPHET MOSES, WHO BEHELD GOD. A great leader and lawgiver of Israel, he was born in Egypt in about 1550 B.C. He spent forty years in Egypt at Pharaoh's court, forty years as a shepherd in meditation on God and the world, and his last forty years he led the people through the wilderness to the Promised Land, which he saw but did not enter, having at one time sinned against God (Numbers 2:12). He entered into rest at the age of a hundred and twenty. He appeared from the other world on Tabor at the Lord's Transfiguration, and, according to the testimony of Saint John of the Ladder (Climacus), appeared to the monks of Saint Catherine's Monastery of Sinai.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Prophets, O Christ Our God have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 2 Corinthians 3:4-11
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 23:29-39
FROM THE HOLY VOICE OF THE HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
From the Life of St. Pachomios
"When St. Pachomios the Great was still a young man and a disciple of St. Palamon, he did obedience to his teacher eagerly and without contradicting him, followed him with humility of heart in all of his incomparable and admirable acts of austerity. Apart from other hardships (to which he willingly submitted), he was often sent to a hill to gather wood. Since he used to walk barefoot, the thorns would pierce his feet like nails; but he endured this ordeal with joy, remembering the nails with which they affixed our Savior's hands and feet to the Cross."
"I ANTICIPATE THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD..." (Creed or Symbol of Faith)
By His Eminence, the Late Archbishop of Athens and All of Greece Christodoulos
PART II (continued)
The second characteristic of immortality indicates that we no longer die, and that we shall be eternal. Our model will be the Divine Body of the Resurrected Christ. A third characteristic of our immortality will be the transformation of our body. The new body will far better and superior to the previous one. It will not consist of matter, it will be weightless, it will mass-less and will not take up space, in the manner that our Lord had a body which His Disciples had seen after the Resurrection, yet without that Body hindering Him from entering the room where His Disciples were "sequestered", nor hindering Him from being simultaneously in different places--as verified by His various post-Resurrection appearances.
The qualities that our new body will have will be new qualities. That body will partake of the Glory of the Resurrected and Ascended Jesus Christ. The Lord was not resurrected only as the Firstborn of all Creation; He also brought His Resurrected Body into the Heavens, on the day of His Ascension. And it is for this reason that the Feast of the Ascension is of such importance to us, because it signifies the Eternal Glorification of our body, next to the Divine Body of the Resurrected Christ, in the Glory of Heaven. Our body will be beautiful, with its former characteristics. Our physical remembrances will become spiritual ones. That is why yet another characteristic will be spirituality. We will no longer be preoccupied with material or sensual matters. Being spiritual, our body will no longer have any need for maintenance or sustenance.
On the basis of all that we said regarding our resurrected body, we must reach the conclusion that our "just reward"--that is, the inheritance of Paradise or our exclusion from it (aka Hell), will be of a spiritual, not material character. There will be conditions that will fill us with joy, if we are together with God and savor His presence, otherwise, they will fill our souls with sorrow and sadness. We will be "justly rewarded" accordingly, if we are far away from God; we will not enjoy His presence within us. That would be the worst kind of torture, because our conscience-according to the dogmatic theologians of our Church-"then being extremely refined and sensitized, will check us in a torturous and painful manner"; our conscience will have then be rid of the laziness with which it was burdened during the present lifetime. People-say the Fathers of the Church-will shine, according to the measure of their virtue. That is why the Lord had said "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (Saint John 14:2-3). This indicates that Paradise will also have certain gradations. Saints who have pleased God will be in a different state than certain other Christians. Nevertheless, everyone who will be in Paradise will feel the utmost joy. In fact, the Holy Fathers use a charming parallel, in order to describe that everyone will feel satisfied: each person will be holding a vessel in his hands. In some, the vessel will be a small one, while others, the vessel will be larger. However, everyone's vessel will be full to the brim.
Following the resurrection, a General Judgment will take place. It will be the Final Judgment. We shall appear with our resurrected bodies and souls united, as they are now, before the Throne of the Unyielding God.
"When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy Angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one form another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world". (St. Matthew 25:31-34).
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God