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.
PRAYER FOR ONE WHO IS SUFFERING
+In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Lord, how inscrutable are Your ways. We confess that our thoughts are not Your thoughts. And our ways are not Your ways. You love us far more than we love You, and Your wisdom is far superior to ours. Help us to yield our will to Yours, and our puny knowledge to Your Grand Wisdom. Help us to see Your love behind everything that happens to us. For You are at work for good in our lives when we place our complete trust in You. You know, Lord, how confused our minds are, and what great distress afflicts our hearts. In our utter weakness we cry to You, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken us?" Have mercy, Lord, have mercy on us. Relieve the pain of (name) who is a victim of so much senseless suffering and pain. Do not prolong his/her agony. We confess that You are never nearer to us than when our hearts are broken. Come to us in our weakness, Lord, increase our faith. Help us to pray as You did in Your agony, "Shall I not drink the cup which You, the Father has given me?" You are our only hope, dear Lord, we seek refuge under the shelter of Your wings. We bow down before You, the God of mercies and bounties. Full of love for Your children. You alone are the Physician of our souls and bodies, and to You we give glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On November 12th Our Holy Orthodox Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Confessors, Martyrs, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul made perfect in our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint John the Almsgiver, Archbishop of Alexandria; Saint Nilus of Sinai, the Ascetic; Saint Martin the Wonderworker, Bishop of Tours; Holy Prophet Achia, who prophesied in the days of Jeroboam the king; Holy Martyrs Anthony and those with him: Zebinas, Germanos, Nicephoros, and Maratho of Palestine; Holy Martyr Arsacius was perfected in martyrdom by the sword; Saint Nilus of Cynuria the myrrh-sreamer and Wonderworker; Saint Leo Styppes, Patriarch of Constantinople; Holy New Martyr Savvas of Nigdele and Samolada was beheaded in Constantinople in the year 1726; Holy New Martyr Nicholas was beheaded in Constantinople in the year 1732; Saint Emilian of Aberdeen; Saint John of Rostov, the Fool-for-Christ's sake; the Synaxis of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Optina: Anatolius the Younger, Barnabas, Dositheos, Nektarios, Nicon, Panteleimon, Vincent, and Isaacius the Second.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Bishops, Holy Confessors, Holy Ascetics, Holy Prophets, Holy Ascetics, Holy Mothers and Holy Fathers, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
OUR FATHER AMONG THE SAINTS JOHN THE ALMSGIVER, ARCHBISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA. Saint John was born in 555 AD on the island of Cyprus in the city of Amathus; his father Epiphanius, was a ruler of Cyprus. The Saint was consecrated Archbishop of Alexandria in 608 AD. A man of exemplary uprightness, in his zeal for Orthodoxy he strove mightily to fight the many heresies among the Christians in Egypt; but above all, he was famous for his singular generosity, humility, and sympathy towards all, especially the poor. His mercy was so great that the report of it reached the Persian invaders of Jerusalem, who desired to see him because of it. Saint John reposed in 619 AD, at the age of sixty-four.
SAINT NILUS. Saint Nilus, who had Constantinople as his homeland, was a disciple of Saint John Chrysostom. He had formerly been an eparch of the city then became an ascetic on Mount Sinai. He wrote epistles and various ascetical works, and reposed about 451 AD.
Apolytkion(Dismissal) Hymn of Saint John. Plagal of Fourth Tone
In thy patience thou has won thy reward, O righteous Father. Thou didst persevere unceasingly in prayer; thou didst love the poor, and didst provide for them in all things. Wherefore, intercede with Christ our God, O blessed John the Almsgiver, that our souls be saved.
Kontakion Hymn of Saint John. Second Tone
Thy riches and wealth didst thou disperse unto the poor; thou now hast received the Heavens' riches in return. For this cause, O all-wise John, we all honor thee with our songs of praise as we keep they memorial, O namesake of almsgiving and of mercy.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 2 Corinthians 9:6-11
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 5:14-19
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"When Grace does not abide in the depths of the heart of man, as I said, then the evil spirits fully come to lurk in the heart, like snakes in a hole, and do not in any way permit the soul to see clearly or to conceive a desire for the good. When, on the other hand, Grace is concealed within the mind, then the evil spirits, like black clouds, spread to all the different parts of the heart and are transformed into various passions of sin and into various seductive and fantastic images, so as to captivate thereby the recollection of the mind and to separate it from its mystical communion with Grace." (St. Diadochos)
By Saint Dionysius the Areopagite
"And He summoneth all the Hosts of Heaven, and all the Holy Ones above--the Seraphim, the Cherubim, the Ophanim, all the Spirits of Power, the Blessed Ones, and all the Spirits of Priincipalities, the Angels, and the Powers on earth and over the water: with one voice shall they bless and glorify and exalt the Lord, in the virtue of faith, and in the virtue of wisdom, in the virtue of patience, and in the virtue of mercy, in the virtue of justice, and in the virtue of peace, in the virtue of goodness, and shall sing with one voice: "Blessed is He: may the Holy Name of the Lord of Hosts be blessed forever." (Book of Enoch)
TO MY FELLOW-PRESBYTER TIMOTHY. DIONYSIUS THE PRESBYTER
"That every Divine Illumination, whilst going forth with love in various ways to the objects of its forethought, remain one. Nor is this all: it also unifies the things illuminated."
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of Lights."
Moreover, every divine procession of radiance from the Father, while constantly and bounteously flowing unto us, fills us anew, as though with a unifying power, by recalling us to things above, and leads us again to the unity of the Shepherding Father and to the Divine One. For from Him and into Him are all things, as saith the holy Word.
Calling, then, upon Jesus, the Light of the Father, the Real, the True, "Which lighteth every man that cometh into the world, by Whom we have access to the Father," the Origin of Light, let us raise our thought, according to our power, to the illuminations of the most sacred doctrines handed down by the Fathers, and also, as far as we may, let us contemplate the Hierarchies of the Celestial Intelligences revealed to us by them in symbols for our upliftment: and admitting through the spiritual and unwavering eyes of the mind the original and super-original gift of Light of the Father Who is the Source of Divinity, which shows to us images of the All-Blessed Hierarchies of the Angels in figurative symbols, let us through them again strive upwards towards Its Primal Ray. For this Light can never be deprived of Its own intrinsic unity, and although in goodness, as is fitting, It becomes a manyness and proceeds into manifestation for the upliftment and unification of those creatures which are governed by Its Providence, yet It abides eternally within itself changeless sameness, firmly established within Its own unity, and elevates to Itself, according to their capacity, those who turn towards It, as is meet, uniting them in accordance with Its own unity..."
ANGELS AND THE PROPHETS
By Mother Alexandra
The prophets of the Old Testament, from Amos to Zechariah, cover a span of some six hundred years. They were no glorified soothsayers, but seers, men of vision who could clearly envisage God ruling over the universe. "God is in His Heaven and His Kingdom must and will prevail," was the gist of their message.
Great and yet humble men, the prophets heard and obeyed the word of God when He spoke to them directly or used the medium of dreams or of His Angels. They questioned not the ways of the Lord of Hosts, but hearkened willingly to His messengers.
Frequently, when embarking upon some difficult enterprise in which we honestly mean to fulfill God's Will, we find ourselves bargaining with Him and trying to do His will according to our own prescription. We may then find ourselves unsuccessful, and indeed, hampered at every turn. We do not always stop to consider the reason for our difficulties--or whether possibly they are blessings in disguise. It is often God's way of indicating to us that we have taken the wrong turn, for He has occasionally to shut the door in our face before He opens another.
In Numbers (22:23-35), we have the example of Balaam, a minor prophet, who, when called upon by the king of Moab to come to curse the Israelites, at first refused to obey the king's command. Balaam was not an Israelite. He knew but little of the Lord, the One God, yet he believed in Him. Hence, he would not curse God's people. Later, tempted by the rich rewards being offering him, he started out on his journey in the hope of satisfying both God and the king. He wanted to believe that his was indeed God's Will. How often we do the very same thing, and thus give into the will of Satan. These verses from the Holy Bible clearly illustrate one of the instances in which God deals with man through His Angels.
In reading chapter 6:1-8 of Isaiah, we participate imaginatively in Isaiah's vision and feel the same pang of conscience in the presence of the unutterable and sovereign glory of the Goodness of God. It was brought home to the prophet with startling clarity that, however well he might have purified himself according to cultic requirements, however well he might have kept the customary rules of morality, in the presence of a holiness exalted in righteousness, he and all men were unclean. But with this recognition of creatureliness and unworthiness there came also a cleansing by a Sovereign act of grace, and a commission to speak a word which was not his but God's.
Isaiah alone of all Scripture writers speaks of having seen the Seraphim--which literally means the "burning ones"--in the transitive sense. They, of all beings, are the closest to God. Isaiah witnessed the Seraphim give voice to the joy and wonder of being close to God, so great a joy that even they had to cover their faces in humble adoration as they chanted the Thrice Holy Song--a song we poor mortals to this day echo in our Divine Liturgy in the Sanctus and the Deacon crosses his stole during the Lord's Prayer to remind us that the Angels ever bow before the Lord.
It is little wonder that Isaiah, beholding so great a glory, should have fallen to the ground. The searing, purifying grace came to him by the ministering hand of a Seraph of the Lord. This is the only record we have, that one of the highest choir came into direct contact with man. Yet we know not if such a one may not always be present at every divine act of forgiveness toward us. So profound had been the vision of Isaiah's, so true his consciousness of human guilt and unworthiness and the need to be cleansed, that his words are paraphrased during the most solemn moment of the Divine Liturgy when the priest, upon partaking of Holy Communion and wiping his lips, prays: "Lo, this has touched my lips; my iniquity shall be taken away, and my sin forgiven." Only then is the remission of sin made possible, when we, like Isaiah, become aware of our dreadful moral uncleanness before the King, and the Lord of hosts. But God desires not humble uselessness: no, He needs men and women of action to send out upon His mission. How many of us would be humble enough to trust God's appreciation of us, and go forth and do whatever His will for us might be, responding with Isaiah: "Here I am, send me!"
What we must not forget in reading over this vision, is that Isaiah is describing not the Angelic host, but is rather portraying God's glory, much as we would describe the coronation of the kings of England, mentioning the different attendant nobility, not for their own sake, but because their splendor enhances that of the whole scene, while the event itself gives purpose to their splendor and presence. So Isaiah depicts the magnificence of the Court of Heaven. What he saw was beyond speech, yet he struggled with inadequate words so that we too might have a glorious glimpse of his ineffable vision. He is trying to throw a ray of light our way to illumine us in the midst of our darkness.
(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