My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIS IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
"LORD, BLESS MY ENEMIES"
A Prayer of Saint Nicolai of Ochrid
Bless my enemies, O Lord, even I bless them and do not curse them. Enemies have driven me into Thy embrace more than friends have. Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world. Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world. Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath Thy tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.
Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them. They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world. They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself. They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments. They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself they have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance. Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish. Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf. Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background. Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand. Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep. Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out. Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to Thy garment.
Bless my enemies, O Lord. I bless them and do not curse them. Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me so that my fleeing to Thee may have no return; so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs; so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul; so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins; arrogance and anger; so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven; ah, so that I may for once be freed from self deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life. Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself. One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.
It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies. Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and my enemies. A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand. But a son blesses them, for he understands. For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life. Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.
Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On November 18th 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 of every righteous soul made perfect in Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Great Martyr Plato of Ancyra; Holy Martyr Romanus of Antioch; Holy Child was perfected in martyrdom with the sword, after being asked by the eparch, Which God ought we to worship, and answering, Christ; Holy Martyr Romanus the Deacon of Palestine; Holy Martyrs Zacchaeus, Deacon of the church in Gadeira, and Alphaeus the Reader (Anagnostis), who were beheaded at Caesarea in Palestine; Holy New Martyr Anastasius of Paramythia in Epirus.
+ By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy New Martyrs, Holy Children, Holy Deacons, Holy Readers, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY MARTYRS PLATO AND ROMANUS. Saint Plato contested in martyrdom in 266 AD, when Agrippinus was Proconsul. He was from the city of Ancyra in the province of Galatia.
Saint Romanus, who was from Antioch, lived during the reign of Maximian. He presented himself before Asclepiades the Eparch, and rebuked him, saying, "The idols are not gods; even a little child could tell you that." Then the Saint asked that a child be brought in from the market, that he might be the judge of the matter at hand. Therefore, when the child was asked, "Which God must we worship?" he replied, "Christ." The child was beaten mercilessly and then he was cast into prison, where he was strangled in the year 305 AD.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Fourth Tone
Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art Merciful.
Kontakion Hymn of Saint Plato. Third Tone
Thine all-holy memory doth cheer and gladden the whole world, calling all to come to thine august and venerable temple; wherein now, with jubilation we have all gathered, and with odes we hymn thy triumphs, O Martyr Plato, and with faith, we cry to thee: Rescue thy people, O Saint, from barbarous foes.
Kontakion Hymn of Saint Romanus. Fourth Tone
O All-Lauded Romanus, since the Church hath thee as a bright, majestic star, she is now guided by the light of thy great contests, and she doth praise and glorify thine all-luminous memory.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 1 Thessalonians 3:8-13
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 14:25-35
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
SELF-KNOWLEDGE By Saint Nektarios of Aegina
"He who does not know himself does not know God, either. And he who does not know God does not know the truth and the nature of things in general...He who does not know himself continually sins against God and continually moves farther away from Him. He who does not know the nature of things and what they truly are in themselves is powerless to evaluate them according to their worth and to discriminate between the mean and the precious, the worthless and the valuable. Wherefore, such a person wears himself out in the pursuit of vain and trivial things, and is unconcerned about and indifferent to the things that are eternal and most precious. Man ought to will to know himself, to know God, and to understand the nature of things as they are in themselves, and this becomes an image and likeness of God."
INSPIRED ORTHODOX POSITIONS (PART II)
by Saint Nicolas of Ochrid
There is something which remains unexplained till now and forms the basic difference between our Eastern Orthodox Church and the heretical of the West. However, before we proceed to its explanation, we must settle the fact that the new period for the heretics of the West did not start with the Reformation or with the French Revolution, but from the 10th Century when the Christian West fell away from the Christian East. From that point on, Western Christianity started with the adaptations and the homogenizations. This constitutes the essence of this new period for them, of the contemporary age of modernism about which they even brag. For the Eastern Church, from the time of Christ's appearance in the world, there is no old and new age but everything is exactly the same and real, independent of periods, situations and subjugations.
Dogmatics is an applied science. This is something that the heretic theologians either don't realize or neglected. From the beginning dogmatics was an applied science-something that the Apostles were aware of, as well as the Saints and the Ascetics of the Eastern Church and for this reason they struggled to personally to fulfill every dogma in their life.
The dogma of the Holy Trinity, for example concerning the One Triune God, seemed to many lay people and even to heretic theologians as the most abstract of all dogmas. However, in the Menaion of the Orthodox Church, it mentions many Saints who through asceticism made themselves "the abode of the Holy Trinity." They enlightened their mind, their heart and their will, these three, like connected receptacles which they filled with the Holy Spirit according to the Lord's Parable of the leaven bread (St. Luke 13:21).
The Apostle Paul expressed it beautifully by saying: "What? Don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have of God the Father and God the Son are: the Holy Trinity, indivisible, inseparable and Life-Giving. This is why in some stichera of the Saints we sing, "You became the abode of the Holy Trinity."
All the Mysteries of the Orthodox Church, but also of many of the Services, begin with the prayer to the Holy Spirit, "Heavenly King, the Spirit of Truth...come and dwell in us." We pray, therefore, for the Holy Spirit to come and dwell in us. This does not happen immediately but after much asceticism with prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and toil. And then after all these things, with frequent weeping and sighing, the heart is cleansed and the Holy Spirit dwells in it (the heart) to enlighten the heart and the mind and the will. Then the Most High God dwells in man and works everything through him.
Mind, heart and will comprise the triune man. In the sinful and passionate soul, these three do not exist in union and divine harmony but are divided and ill-sorted. In such a case man looks like a house that is split, cannot stand and falls. Such a dwelling of the soul cannot then be saved, except through repentance and faith in the Gospel.
(Source: From the book "Inspired Articles of Orthodox Spirituality" Published by "Orthodox Kypseli")
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