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.
A PRAYER FOR THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST
(Saint Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain)
Jesus, Son of the Father without a mother in Your Divinity, I glorify You, ever existing beyond cause and reason in the beginning.
Jesus, Son of the Mother without a father in Your humanity, I glorify You, who became in time a human person for us.
Jesus, Immanuel unchangeable, Angel of the great will of God, I thank You for Your boundless love for us.
Jesus, innocent Lamb of God, I confess to You For I have sinned against You far more than all other men.
Jesus, my Good Shepherd, I always confess to You, and admit that I am the lost sheep.
Jesus, most compassionate Paraclete, make the grace of Your Spirit active in me.
Jesus, the New Adam, remove from me the old man and put on me the new one, that is, You.
Jesus, You condescended and came to earth, make me worthy to live not as if on earth but as if in heaven.
Jesus, by nature You became a human person, make me by grace to be a participant of Your Divinity.
O Jesus, my life and my breath, come to visit me and remain with me. Amen.
Orthodox Christians pray first of all in a private and personal manner, and in this way they prepare themselves to gather later as the people of God and to pray all together during the Divine Liturgy, which thus becomes that unique realization of the Body of Christ and the manifestation of the Kingdom of God upon this earth.
"Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come, and worship Him Who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water" (Revelation 14:7). This is the universal summons to worship the One True God in the face of His approaching judgment. It is in the spirit of faith and humility that the Orthodox Christian believer worships His Creator and Great Benefactor.
Without prayer, without worship, without communion, there is no spirituality but simply an empty existence that has no substance, no purpose, no value.
"When the Son of God assumed our humanity (Incarnation) in the womb of the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary, the process of our being renewed in God's image and likeness was begun. Thus, those who are joined to Christ through faith in Holy Baptism begin a re-creation process, being renewed in God's image and likeness. We become, as Saint Peter writes, "partakers of the Divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4).
Because of the Incarnation of the Son of God, because the fullness of God has inhabited human flesh, being joined to Christ means that is again possible to experience theosis (Deification), the fulfillment of our human destiny. That is, through union with Christ, we become by grace what God is by nature--we "become children of God" (St. John 1:12). His Deity interpenetrates our humanity."
"The Divine Liturgy is found at the very center of life, experience and understanding of the Orthodox Church of God and consequently at the center of Orthodox Christian Theology. For the being and life itself of the Orthodox Church consists of the Divine Liturgy, because the very being of the Church of Christ is liturgical and Her very life eucharistic."
The genuine Orthodox Christian understands that worshiping God is not an option but necessary for his salvation. He understands that the Divine Liturgy is not only worship but direct communion with Christ God. In the Divine Liturgy the Holy Gifts of the bread and wine, which are offered by the Church of God, are truly changed into the very Body and Blood of Christ, but it is performed through the "invocation and descent of the Holy Spirit" (διά τής επικλήσεως και επιφοιτήσεως), as it is said by the Saint John of Damascus.
"The total experience of the Orthodox Church throughout the centuries testifies namely that all the rest of the Church's life through all her members, as members of Christ, is also spiritual (πνευματική), because it is nothing less than life from the Holy Spirit and in the Holy Spirit. When we call that life, as we commonly do, the "spiritual life", then, for the Orthodox experience throughout the centuries, in no way does this mean only the "moral", "ethical", "ideal", or "spiritual" life, for in that case, such a life would be only physical, bodily (σαρκική), or in the best cases, it would be only "sensual" (ψυχική), psychological. Even carrying the name of "spiritual" life, it would be the life "without the Spirit", without the Spirit of Christ, without the Holy Spirit. The Orthodox understanding of the spiritual life, and consequently of spirituality, has always meant and means--the life from the Holy Spirit and in the Holy Spirit or the life in Christ through the Holy Spirit.
This spiritual life among the faithful, the life of Christ through the grace of the Holy Spirit, is entirely liturgical in its origin and character. As the whole Divine Liturgy of the Church consists of the "proclamation of the death and Resurrection of Christ until He comes", so also the life of the faithful in Christ consists of the co-crucifixion and dying with Christ, and in resurrecting with Him (see Romans 6:4-14)."
Saint Basil the Great says, "There is no sanctification (and holiness) without the Holy Spirit." Saint John of Damascus testifies: "There is union of God with men without the Holy Spirit." And finally, Saint Symeon the New Theologian says: "Nobody could be perfectly called a believer if he does not receive the Holy Spirit...for only the fellowship in the Holy Spirit makes us communicants and partakers of the Divine Nature" (see II Peter 1:4). All these quotations and testimonies of the Church Holy Fathers confirm and reveal this other foundation of Christianity: that the Holy Spirit is, namely, sent from God and given by Christ in the Church to be in Her for all the faithful the Animator, and Inspirer and Comforter and Consecrator and Deifier, "that good agent of holiness (αγιοποιός) of the Church, Her helper, and defender, and great protector, and great teacher, steward of souls, solace of those in temptations, illuminator of those led astray, and giver of crowns to the victors."
In view of this, spirituality, in the Orthodox Church completely originates from the Divine Liturgy; it is completely liturgical, and therefore is totally Christological and pneumatological, totally pneumatic, hence making those who experience it spiritual (πνευματικούς)...The spiritual man, thus, in Orthodoxy, i.e. the man who possess and experiences spirituality does not mean simply a moral, virtuous man, but rather the man who has the Holy Spirit and the fruits of grace of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5)."
Out of all the things said, it becomes obvious that the closest relation between true Orthodox theology and true spirituality which is in Orthodoxy is always liturgical and full of grace.
You see now, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, how necessary and important it is for all to participate in the Divine Liturgy and to receive Holy Communion as often as possible. For one to cut himself/herself from the Divine Liturgy and the Holy Eucharist is spiritual death. The Holy Nativity Fast is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to strength their prayer and sacramental life. Renew your commitment to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and make every effort to live a virtues life according to His Divine Commandments.
Worship is in Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church is a family affair. The family must worship together every Sunday. A family who worships together, stays together.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God