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.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Praise the Lord, O my soul. I will praise the Lord in my life, I will chant unto my God for as long as I have my being. Trust ye not in princes, in the sons of men, in whom there is no salvation. His spirit shall go forth, and he shall return unto his earth. In that day all his thoughts shall perish. Blessed is he of whom God of Jacob is his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who hath made heaven and the earth, the seas and all that is therein, who keepeth truth unto eternity, who executeth judgment for the wronged, Who giveth food unto the hungry. The Lord looseth the fettered; the Lord maketh wise the blind; the Lord setteth aright the fallen; the Lord loveth the righteous; the Lord preserveth the proselytes. He shall adopt for His own the orphan and widow, and the way of sinners shall He destroy. The Lord shall be King unto eternity; thy God, O Sion, unto generation and generation. Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On November 10th 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 soul perfected in our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Apostles of the Seventy: Olympas, Rodion, Sosipater, Tertius, Erastus, and Quartus; Holy Martyr Orestes of Tyana in Cappadocia; our Righteous Father Theosterictos of Symbola, and our Righteous Father Nonnus the Bishop, who catechized Saint Pelagia; Holy Hieromartyr Milus the Bishop of Persia, who was slaughtered, and his two disciples, who were stoned to death; Holy Martyrs Calliopius, Nirus, and Orion; the commemoration and deliverance of the Holy and Great Martyr George from the torture-wheel, which in the land of Georgia is kept as the Saint's principal feast; Holy Martyr Constantine the Magnanimous, Prince of Georgia, who was perfected in martyrdom in the year 842; the translation of the holy relics of our Father among the Saints Gregory of Assos in Anatolia; Holy New Hieoromartyr Rodion, Archimandrite of the Spasov Hermitage in the Kharkov Province, who was slain by the atheists (communists) in the year 1917.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Righteous, Holy Fathers, Holy Mothers, Holy Bishops, Holy Archimandrites, Holy Princes, Holy Hieromartyrs, Holy Ascetics, Holy Disciples, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY APOSTLES OF THE SEVENTY: OLYMPAS, RODION, ERASTUS, SOSIPATER, AND QUARTUS. THE HOLY MARTYR ORESTES.
Of these Saints, Olympas and Rodion became disciples of St. Peter, the chief Apostle, and came to Rome, where they were beheaded by the pagan Roman emperor Nero. The others reposed in peace, having become bishops: Sosipater of Iconium, Quartus of Beirut, and Erastus of Paneas, or Paneias (which was also called Caesarea of Philippi); Saint Erastus had been chamberlain of the city of Corinth (Romans 16:23).
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Apostles. Third Tone
O Holy Apostles, intercede with the merciful God that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of offences.
Kontakion Hymn of the Apostles. Fourth Tone
The most solemn festival of the Apostles hath this day appeared to us and manifestly doth bestow divine forgiveness of trespasses on all that faithfully keep their memorial.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 1 Corinthians 4:9-16
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 12:13-15, 22-31
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH: Taken from "The Evergetinos"
"Abba [Father] Iakovos said that one of the Elders told him the following: 'When I was younger and lived in the desert, there was a young boy nearby who was struggling all alone. Once I visited him, to monitor him, and I saw him praying and persistently asking God to let him live at peace with the wild animals. After this fervent prayer--oh, the wonder!--the following event occurred. Next to where he was living, there also lived a hyena that was nursing her young. So, the young boy also began to nurse, without the wild beast becoming at all fierce."
Saint Nektarios as Seen Through his Letters
By Protopresbyter Theodoros Zisis
A Myrrh-streamer and a Wonderworker, but also a great theologian and writer.
Saint Nektarios, the boast of the Orthodox faithful of our age, was honored by God in the most telling of manners; his holy relics stream myrrh and he miraculously heals many suffering from illness. He is, then, both a Myrrh-streamer and a Wonderworker. Greece in particular is full of churches dedicated to his memory, of his icons, which hang in almost every church and in the homes of devout Orthodox Christians, of books recounting his life and works, of editions of his own writings which are continually reprinted, and above all, of countless narrations of his innumerable miracles. His fame and veneration have already taken on a pan-Orthodox character with the many faithful form countries other than Greece seeking his aid and protection. In addition, the Holy Trinity Women's Monastery on the island of Aegina has become a site of pan-Orthodox pilgrimage having been established by the Saint himself, having been sanctified both through the work of his hands and, indeed, by his very presence, for he passed the final years of his life there in humility and ascetical struggle.
The Letters of Saint Nektarios.
Within the context of his other writings, the Saint's epistles occupy a special place and regard this new Father of the Church as esteemed as the other Holy Fathers of antiquity. Most of these letters have already been published in large part thanks to the ever-memorable Metropolitan of Paramythia, who has also made significant contribution to the more general presentation of his character and works. Beyond the letters he has published a lengthy biography of the Saint.
Letters dating prior to his assuming the position of principal at the Rizareio School.
The letters belonging to this period mostly relate to the Saint's unjust exile from Alexandria, the result of the envy which both his holy life and the love which the faithful bore for him provoked in unworthy clergymen. In his letter to the Archbishop of Sinai, the Saint intervenes to settle a debt with a Muslim coachman who has not been paid in two years, despite the fact he had provided his coaches to be used in the funeral service of an Orthodox Christian of Italian descent. As the editor of this letter observes, "The sensitive soul of the then forty-year old Archimandrite Nektarios Kephalas could not abide such an injustice, especially, as he writes, when someone of another race or religion was the target. This minor event in 1884 is an indication of the great heart, of the holy life of this persecuted Saint."
Five of the Saint's letters to Patriarch Sophronios of Alexandria have dating between August 1893 and April 1894, opening this period of his life to us. In the first of these, he asks the Patriarch to be accepting of his good disposition, and to forgive him his many sins, and whatever in particular he did to embitter him, while at the same he extends his forgiveness to those who had embittered him. "Since it is required that we first forgive the sins of others, I have already forgiven all, and pray for those who sinned against me."
The sixth and final letter which Saint Nektarios sends to Patriarch Sophronios, he neither protests the accusations, nor makes threats, nor even reviles. He does not complain about the unfounded accusations which lead to his being exiled from Egypt for being some sort of immoral revolutionary. Instead, he asks: "What ecclesiastical court has tried and condemned me? Where are their records? Where are the witnesses? Where is corpus delicti? Upon what grounds are the accusations against me, on account of which I have already been sentenced to moral death, supported? What great evil have I done either to You, Your All-Holiness, or to those of the Patriarchal court, that warrant being put to death? Why are you so enraged with me that your wrath has followed me such a distance seeking my complete destruction?" Then, calling on God as his witness, he says that he had never taken in mind to do anything to another human being, describing himself as a lover and worker of the good alone: "I have sought to do solely what is good all my life, and of this good I was both a lover and a worker."
Other series of letters dating to this period are connected either with his sending copies of his books to the monasteries of the Holy Mountain or individual monks. Eleven letters were addressed to Vatopedi Monastery. One particularly impressive letter has been preserved from his correspondence with Elder (Geronda) Joseph Agionnitis of the Saint John Chrysostom Skete in which he seeks to put ecclesiastical offices in perspective. Highlighting the significance of the monastic life, he writes: "Truly, what is more honorable, more radiant, than the monastic way of life? I must confess in all sincerity my conviction, according to which I consider the ascetic to be greater than the hierarch."
Also worthy of mention is Saint Nektarios' letter to Metropolitan Spyridon of Kephalonia, in which he argues strongly that the Risen Lord appeared first to the Most-Holy Theotokos, and not to Mary Magdalene who, he also notes, ought not to be numbered among the sinful women.
By far the largest division in the corpus of Saint Nektarios' letters, however, are the 136 which are addressed to the nuns of the Holy Trinity Monastery.
It is not possible for us to present here the vast field of virtues, the holy avarice of this meek, innocent, humble and discerning Saint, this Saint of our century, nor all the creases and folds of his holy life.
THE HOLY ANGELS (Part I)
By Mother Alexandra
"Angels we have heard on high." Most of us, I suspect, have sung that popular carol at one time or another. But how many of us have ever actually heard an Angel? Or even taken them seriously? They are part of the Christmas decorations. A couple fit into the Pascha (Easter) scene. In our younger days we might have been fortunate enough to get acquainted with our Guardian Angels, but they were left behind with childhood's fantasies. No one is perhaps so neglected as these constant caring companions.
But the Angels are realities, very active presences in the unfolding of the drama of creation and the working out of the daily life of our world. In ignoring them, their presence, their help, their care, we deprive ourselves of a great source of consolation, strengthening and hope.
Monastic tradition has always been very much alive to the Angelic hosts. A rich theology based solidly on the revelation found in the Holy Scripture was elaborated by that fifth century Syrian monk who is known to us as the Pseudo-Dionysius (because he adopted as his pen name the name of Saint Paul's famous convert, Dionysius, the Areopagite). Bernard of Clairvaux, the great Cistercian mystic, so elaborated on Dionysius' teaching bringing it into the Western tradition, that he has been called the "Doctor of the Angels." The Angelic Doctor--note the title--St. Thomas Aquinas, the greatest of the scholastics, fully incorporated Dionysius' teaching in his masterly Summa Theologica.
Rich as the tradition is, and though the greatest masters and mystics have dedicated pages and treatises to the Angels, I do not know of many contemporary works comparable to this magnificent and most ample anthology prepared by Mother Alexandra. A woman who has lived fully in the tradition, Mother has garnered up for us its most precious nuggets.
What Are Angels?
The Holy Angels
Like the existence of God, the existence of the Holy Angels is presumed, not asserted. Angels in the Holy Bible are referred to simply as accepted fact. Although they are mentioned over two hundred times, we learn nothing about their creation or when it took place, nor do we find many physical descriptions. This is not as strange as it might at first appear. The Holy Bibles does not deal with all mankind, even in the first few chapters, but is concerned primarily with the history of God's action toward man...
For a more complete knowledge of Angels and their nature, we have first to examine the Holy Bible as a whole, both the Old and the New Testaments, in order to know that has been revealed to us about spiritual beings; only then can we pick up the threads chronologically, according to the books of the Holy Bible. But, first of all, when referring to these celestial beings we should understand that the term "Angel" is loosely and inaccurately used, for in Greek it simply means "messenger" and, properly speaking, this would apply only to the two orders of Angels in direct communication with man.
Angels and archangels, although spirit, are not supernatural. God alone is supernatural, for He alone is uncreated. Like us, the Holy Angels are created, natural beings, as much a part of our world as we ourselves. "Yes, in him all created things took their being, heavenly and earthly, visible and invisible..." (Col. 1:16).
An Angel has character, individuality, and a will of his own, much as we have; but in other ways Angels do not resemble us. When, to make himself manifest to us, an Angel takes on human semblance, he never is physically like a human being, but only a mental image of one. If we are so little aware of them, it is because we do not as a rule see them with our mortal eyes, and our spiritual perception is either dulled or undeveloped.
(To be continued)
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