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 PRAYER OF SUPPLICATION AND THANKSGIVING FOR ALL THINGS THAT HAVE HAPPENED
[Saint Symeon the New Theologian]
+In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
O Lord, give me prudence; O Lord, give me knowledge; O Lord, teach me how to do Your Commandments. And if I have sinned as a man, more than any man, You know this; but You, O my God, in Your compassion, have had mercy on me, the poor, the orphan in the world, and have done for me, O Master, that which only You know. From my father and brothers, relatives and friends, from the land of my birth, from the home of my parents, like out of a dark Egypt, like out of the deepest parts of Hades-for thus You have given me, Your worthless servant to understand and speak prudently about them--You have taken away, O Compassionate One, but You have received me, and holding me with Your dread hand, You led me to him whom You were pleased to have as my father on earth (Here he speaks about his spiritual father, Saint Symeon the Pious), and You threw me at his feet and into his bosom. And he has led me to Your Father, O my Christ, and to You through the Spirit, O Trinity, my God, weeping as the prodigal son and falling before You, O Word, as You Yourself know that you taught me and You have not considered me unworthy to call me Your son. O mouth unworthy and lips unclean, O word of a poor tongue not knowing how to praise You, to thank You, and proclaim Your beneficial works, which you have done unto me, the orphan and stranger, a stranger on this earth. For those who are Yours are strangers to the world; Your things and those of Your people, eyes cannot see, nor can a tongue express, neither can the world contain. This is why, O Master, the world hates us, persecutes, rails, resents, rages, kills us and does everything against us, being involved in all these things. But we, as You have been pleased, Your humble servants, in weakness are strong, in poverty are rich, in all affliction we rejoice, being out of the world. We, O Master, are with You, although the world may possess our body. Therefore, the blind world wonders in error possessing only clay, but, even that it is not finally going to gain; for as You have promised, it will render the body in a spiritual form at the final trumpet call, and then, together with those who are of the same mind and blind devotees of the world, it will gain only its own evils.
On September 9th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Father, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers, and every righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: The Synaxis (Assembly) of the Righteous Joachim and Anna; Holy Martyr Severian of Sevastia who was perfected in martyrdom when he was hanged in the air from a wall with a stone tied to his feet; Righteous Father Theophanes the Confessor; Saint Chariton who was perfected in martyrdom by the sword; holy Two Hundred Fathers who gathered at the holy Third Ecumenical Council in Ephesus; Righteous Father Kieran, Egoumenos (Abbot) of Clonmacnois; Righteous Father Joseph the Wonderworker of Volokolamsk; Righteous Father Joachim of Opochka; holy New Hieromartyr (Priest-Monk) Joachim, Archbishop of Nizhny Novgorod. and Joachim, priest of Mikahilov, who were slain be the atheists in the year 1921; holy New Hieromartyr Philip, Archbishop of Zvenigorod, and those with him.
COMMEMORATION OF THE THIRD ECUMENICAL COUNCIL OF THE CHURCH. This Council met in 431 A.D. in Ephesus, in the time of the emperor Theodosius the Younger. Two hundred holy Fathers gathered at it. The Council condemned Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, for his heretical teaching on the Most Holy Ever-Virgin Mary and the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nestorius would not call the Holy Virgin the Mother of God (Theotokos), but only the Mother of Christ. The holy Fathers, in condemning Nestorius's teaching, confirmed that the Holy Virgin Mary be called the Mother of God or Theotokos. Besides this, it confirmed the decisions of the First and Second Ecumenical Councils, especially the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, laying down that no one may add anything to or take anything from this Creed.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Fathers, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Galatians 4:22-27
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 8:16-21
FROM THE HOLY VOICES OF THE HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"The quality and the grace of prayer which is done, as it should, with fervent love and desire for God, has so much great power, that it unites human beings with their Creator and raises their mind to be inseparably bonded with Him. The energy of such prayer, moreover, can hold the world together and keep it from being annihilated by the many sins done each day". (Saint John of the Ladder)
SORROW AND JOY: A HOMILY ON THE DAY OF THE NATIVITY OF THE MOST HOLY MOTHER OF GOD
by Saint John of Kronstadt
"Thy Nativity, O Theotokos Virgin, Has brought joy to all the inhabited earth: For from Thee has sprung forth the Son of Righteous, Christ our God."
We solemnly celebrate, dear brothers and sisters, the Nativity of the Most Holy Virgin Mary from her barren parents, pious Joachim and Anna. The Holy Church established this feast during the first centuries of the Christian Faith. The event that we celebrate--the birth of the God-Chosen maiden--brought joy to all the world, for the God-man, Jesus Christ, Who shone forth from Her, destroyed God's curse which weighed heavily upon the transgressing and accursed human race, and brought God's blessing upon it; having trampled down inherent death, He gave people Eternal life. Thus the Holy Church explains the cause of the present joy.
The parents of the Ever-Virgin Mary sorrowed long over their barrenness; they prayed long and fervently to the Lord that He loose this barrenness, which was considered a punishment from God for sins. They gave much alms in order to incline the mercy of the All-Merciful, endured the reproach of their countrymen, and through this sorrow and ceaseless prayer and good works, they gradually purified their spirits, and burned ever greater with love and dedication to God, thus being prepared by God's Providence to give blessed birth to the Most Blessed Daughter, chosen out of all people to be the Mother of the Incarnate Word (Logos).
The Lord leads His chosen ones to glory by a narrow and sorrowful path; for even She, the Mother of God according to the flesh, received the prophecy of Simeon that a sword shall pierce Her soul, and She will experience heavy sorrows in her soul during Her Son's suffering life, "that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (St. Luke 2:34-35). The path of all God's chosen is thus sorrowful and narrow, for the world and the prince of this world--that is the enemy (Satan) of God and people, extremely presses the people of God. The Lord Himself allows them to go by the narrow way, inasmuch as He enables them to strive for God and put all their hope in Him.
But let us turn our gaze from the sorrow to the joy. What joy does the Nativity of the Mother of God bring us? Let us explain in more detail the Church hymn which explains the meaning of this feast's joy. Through the birth of the Ever-Virgin Mary, through Her Only-begotten Son and God, cursed and outcast mankind makes peace with God Who is immeasurable offended by man's sins, for Christ became the Mediator of this peace (cf. Romans 5:10-11). Man is freed from the curse and eternal death, made worthy of the blessing of the Heavenly Father, he is united and co-mingled with the Divine Nature; he is raised to his first inheritance by this co-mingling, according to the Church hymn. Mankind, once an outcast, has been made worthy of sonship to the Heavenly Father, received the promise of the glorious Resurrection and eternal life in the Heavens together with the Angels.
This has all been and is being wrought by the Son of God Incarnate from the Most Pure Virgin from the Holy Spirit, and by the intercessions of His Most Pure Mother. How honored and magnified is mankind through the Holy Virgin Mother of God, for it has been made worthy of renewal and sonship by God; She Herself was made worthy by Her immeasurable humility and exceedingly great purity and holiness to be the Mother of the God-man! She is ever the Most Powerful Intercessor for the Christian race before Her Son and God! She is our Hope unashamed; She turns away from us the dark cloud of God's righteous wrath, opens to us the ancient Paradise by Her powerful intercessions; She upholds the thrones of kings, and preserves them unshakeable to the ages. She has saved Russia thousands of times and continues to save her; She has made her strong, glorified her, established her, and continues to do so; She is the Surety of Sinners for salvation. To Her do Christians direct their numberless prayers, requests, and praises, doxologies and thanksgiving; She has worked and continues to work miracles without number in the Church, to the ends of the world.
Let us brightly celebrate the feast of the Nativity of the Most Pure Virgin Mary, adorning ourselves with all the Christian virtues.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God