My beloved spiritual children 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 fool has said in his heart, 'there is no God.' They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; there is none who does good. God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. Every one of them has turned aside; they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one. Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon God? There they are in great fear where no fear was, for God has scattered the bones of him who encamps against you; you have put them to shame, because God has despised them. Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion! When God brings back the captivity of His people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.
[Psalm 52(53). Without any explanation, this psalm is almost identical to Ps. 14. It refers to the incidents which would come to pass before the coming of the Lord, so that He could show the benefits of His Coming.]
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On October 25th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Preachers, Apostles, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul made perfect in our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Tabitha (Dorcas) of Joppa, the widow raised from the dead by the Holy Apostle Peter; Saint Anastasius the Fuller of Salona in Dalmatia; Saint George of Amastris; Saints Marcian and Martyrius the Notaries; Saint Macarius, Bishop of Paphos in Cyprus; 2 Holy Martyrs of Thrace; Saint Martyrius the Deacon and Martylius the Recluse of the Kiev Caves; Holy Martyrs Wallerios and Chrysaphus; Holy Martyr Savinos; Saints Philadelphus and Polycarp; Holy Martyrs Nikephoros and Stefanos; Holy Martyrs Faustus, Basil, and Lucian; Holy Martyrs Pappias, Diodorus, and Claudianus; Holy Martyr Waros; Holy Martyr Wallerinos; Saint Front, bishop of Perigueux; Saint Miniatus of Florence.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Mothers, Holy Fathers, Holy Bishops, Holy Notaries, Holy Deacons, Holy Ascetics, Holy Confessors, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
OUR VENERABLE MOTHER TABITHA. Saint Tabitha (which means 'doe') was a disciple of the Holy Apostles and lived in Joppa, the present Jaffa. She was "full of good works and almsgiving" (Acts 9:36). She suddenly weakened and died at the time that the Holy Apostle Peter was in the city of Lydda. The women washed her, prepared her for burial, and laid her in an upper room. The Holy Disciples sent two men to Saint Peter asking him to come quickly. When Saint Peter arrived, the widows met him and showed him the clothes that St. Tabitha had made them. The Holy Apostle Peter told everyone to leave the room where the corpse lay, then knelt in prayer. When he had done praying, he called to the dead body: "Tabitha, arise!", and Tabitha opened her eyes and arose. Drawn by this wonder (miracle), many came to faith in Christ the Lord.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 2 Corinthians 1:8-11
Gospel Lesson: Saint Luke 7:1-10
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY MOTHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"He who has humility has no tongue with which to reprove one who is negligent or one who disdains him; nor does he have eyes to observe another's failings, nor ears to hear what does not benefit his soul; nor does he have any relation to anything other than his own sins. But he is peaceable towards all men, on account of God's Commandment, and not on account of friendship. For if one fasts for six days and gives himself over to mighty labors, all of his labors are in vain, if he does not traverse the way of humility." (Saint Isaac the Syrian)
AN INTRODUCTION TO ORTHODOX SPIRITUALITY (Part II)
By George C. Papademetriou (Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America)
We are saved by Christ and in Christ. Yet we are still subject to temptation and to sin. Therefore, it is important to mention the fact that to acquire spirituality or moral perfection, we must wage war against the "enemy," that is, sin and the devil. Saint Makarios said: "I have not yet seen a perfect Christian man, one completely free (from the devil and sin)." And "although one is at rest in grace and enters into mysteries and revelations and into the sweetness of grace, still sin is yet present within." Consequently, as long as we live, we must be ready to fight against the dark powers of the devil. And "Satan is never quiet from warring. As long as ever a man lives in this world and wears flesh, he has to war." The Holy Bible is the most necessary means of spiritual warfare against the devil; it is also the chief means of acquiring knowledge of the Divine Will.
The Role of the Sacraments
We must further emphasize the role and purpose of the Holy Mysteria (Sacraments) in attaining spirituality. In the Sacraments, we receive Divine Grace, and in the case of the Holy Eucharist, Christ Himself, Who aids us in waging war successfully against the satanic powers. As Father Sergius Bulgakov says: "The heart of Orthodoxy lies in its rites." All the Orthodox rites and Mysteries (Sacraments) are meant to combat the power of evil. The sacramental life of the Church is the chief means toward the attainment of spirituality and of ultimate salvation.
The Holy Eucharist as Expression of Spirituality
The question is asked: Is it possible without the Holy Eucharist to reach the spiritual state of perfection? The answer is no, because Christ says: "Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you." Frequent participation in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is the preeminent means for our salvation and spiritual perfection. Jesus said: "for My Flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed." Thus, Christ's statement makes clear that the "Body and Blood" of our Lord is necessary for our spiritual perfection and salvation. The Eucharist, therefore, is not received merely as an act of obedience to the Command of God or of the Church, it is especially an antidote to sin and death. It is a necessary prerequisite for our perfection in our life in Christ. An important interpretation by Saint John Chrysostom makes this clear.
Saint Paul does not say participation, but communion, because he wishes to express a closer union. For, in receiving Holy Communion, we not only participate in Christ, we unite in Him. In fact, as this body is united with Christ, so by bread we are united with Christ. But why do I speak of Communion? Saint Paul says that we are identical with this body. For what is this bread? That is, the Body of Christ. And what do we become by receiving this bread? The Body of Christ: not many bodies, but only one.
The Holy Eucharist serves as the bond of unity in love. The Holy Eucharist unites us to Christ and to one another. This is the makeup of the Mystical Body of Christ: the Church. This concept of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ is very dear to our Orthodox Holy Tradition because it expresses the reality of Christ in the world and the unity of the Church, which is real only when Christ is the central figure. The Orthodox Church rejects the misconception, of sectarian origin, that Christianity is only a system of morals. It strongly emphasizes the fact that Mystical Union with Christ is a reality in His Church. The whole life of Saint Paul was "a perpetual system of morals in action." Only because of his personal commitment to Christ and his mystical encounter with the Divine Lord, did Saint Paul attain spiritual perfection.
Father and Saint John of Kronstadt on Teaching Young People the Spiritual Way
In this brief exposition of the vast topic of Orthodox Christian spirituality an introduction was provided only as a beginning to your own investigation of the great truths of our faith. For some this may be regarded as a spiritual discourse not profitable to the ordinary layman. I am convinced, however, that all Orthodox Christians must acquire knowledge of the Orthodox Christian Tradition of spirituality, especially those who teach young people as well as the parents. Saint John of Kronstadt addressed the teaching priests, the Christian teachers, and leaders in the following penetrating words:
Do not neglect to uproot from the hearts of children the tares of sins, impure, evil and blasphemous thoughts, sinful habits, inclinations and passions, the enemy and sinful flesh to not spare even children, the seeds of all sins are to be found in the children, too; show them all the danger of sin on the path of life, do not hide sin from them lest through ignorance and want of comprehension, they should be confirmed in sinful habits and attachments, which grow stronger and stronger and bring forth corresponding fruits when children grow up.
These words set forth the mission and goal of the Christian priest, teacher and leader.
In concluding this presentation, the following suggestion can be made to those responsible for the development of spirituality in the Church:
- In order to transmit Orthodox Christian spirituality to young people, the teacher first must learn it through personal experience and through study of the spiritual writings of the Holy Fathers of the Church.
- Each Christian must acquire Orthodox Christian spirituality in his or her own life by living the Sacramental life of the Church and by participation frequently in Holy Confession and Holy Communion.
- Responsible Christians ought to communicate to young people the great spiritual riches of Orthodox Christianity and the importance of adhering to the Orthodox Holy Tradition of spirituality.
All of us, priests, Church School teachers, leaders, faithful Christians young and old, and especially parents, have a responsibility to emphasize to young people the importance of their personal commitment to Christ and of their Sacramental communion with Him. You need to continue you spiritual reading for your spiritual growth. (Contact any Orthodox bookstore.)
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God