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.
+In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
God and Lord of the heavenly powers of Angels and Creator of the whole universe, out of the depths of Your unimaginable loving kindness, You sent Your Only-Begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the salvation of our human race. Through His Precious Cross, Christ tore up the written accusation against our sins, and He triumphed upon the Cross against the principalities and authorities of darkness. Receive now, O Loving Lord, also from us sinners, these prayers of petitions and thanksgiving, and redeem us from every destructive and evil transgression, and from all visible and invisible enemies (demons) who seek to harm us. Through the salutary fear of You, O God, transfix our flesh upon the Cross and do not incline our hearts to words of thoughts of evil. Uphold our souls with the desire for You, so that looking intently toward You always, being guided by Your Light, and seeing You, the Uncreated and Unapproachable Light, we may send up to You an unceasing confession and thanksgiving, to You the Unbegotten Father without beginning, together with Your Only-Begotten Son, and Your All-Holy, Good and Life-Creating Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS:
On November 1st 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 Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damianos (Damian) of Mesopotamia, and their holy mother Theodota; Saint Cyrenia and Saint Juliana in Cilicia; New virgin-martyr Helen of Sinope; Saint David of Evoia; Saint John the Bishop and Saint James the Presbyter of Persia; Saints Caesarius, Dacius, Savvas, Savinian, Agrippa, Adrian, and Thomas at Damascus; Saint Herminigild the Goth of Spain; Saint James of Mt. Athos and his two disciples James and Dionysius; Holy Martyrs Cyprian and Juliana.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Unmercenaries, Holy Mothers, Holy Virgins, Holy Bishops, Holy Presbyters, Holy Disciples, Holy Fathers, Holy Nuns, Holy Monks, Holy Confessors, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
HOLY UNMERCENARIES COSMAS AND DAMIANOS (DAMIAN). The Holy Unmercenaries and Wonderworkers, were brothers in the flesh and in the spirit, born somewhere in Asia of a pagan father and a Christian mother. After their father's death, their mother Saint Theodota devoted all her time and energy to the bringing-up of her sons as true Christians. God helped her, and her sons grew as two choice fruits and as two holy lamps. They were skilled in medicine and ministered to the sick without payment, and so fulfilled Christ's command: "Freely have you received; freely give" (St. Matthew 10:8). They were so strict in their unpaid ministry to men that St. Cosmas became greatly enraged with his brother St. Damianos when he took three eggs from a woman, Palladia, and gave orders that, after his death, he should not be buried with his brother. In fact, Saint Damianos had not taken those eggs as a reward for healing Palladia's sickness, but because she had sworn by the Most Holy Trinity that he should have them. However, after their death in Fereman, they were buried together in obedience to a revelation from God. These two holy brothers were great wonderworkers (miracleworkers) both during their lifetime and after their death. A farm laborer, on lying down to sleep at one time, was attacked by a snake, which entwined itself around his mouth and stomach. This poor man would have breathed his last in the greatest torment had he not at the last moment invoked the help of Saints Cosmas and Damianos. Thus the Lord glorified forever by miracles those who glorified Him here on earth by their faith, purity, and mercy. Their feast-day is on November 1st.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 1 Corinthians 12:27-3:8
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 10:1, 5-8
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"Our own will is like a wall of brass between us and God, preventing us from coming near to Him or contemplating His mercy" (Saint Poemen the Great).
On the many desires and tendencies existing in man and on their struggle with one another:
"Know, that in this unseen warfare, two wills existing in us fight against one another: one belongs to the intelligent part of our soul and is therefore called the intelligent will, which is the higher; the other belongs to the sensory part and is therefore called the sensory will, which is the lower. The latter is more frequently called the dumb, carnal, passionate will. The higher will is always desiring nothing but good, the lower--nothing but evil. Each equally happens by itself; so that neither is a good desire in itself reckoned as good, nor an evil desire as evil. The reckoning depends upon the inclination of our own free will. Therefore, when our will inclines towards a good desire, it is reckoned in our favor; but when we incline towards an evil desire, it is reckoned against us...Our will is free to follow the one and the other, and whatever desire our will inclines towards, it becomes victorious on this particular occasion. It is in this that all our unseen spiritual warface consists."
(Source: Unseen Warfare was written by Lorenzo Scupoli, a 16th century Venetian priest. Edited by Saint Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain and revised by Saint Theophan the Recluse.)
CHRIST'S COMING WEAKENS THE POWER OF THE EVIL ONE
(Source: Concerning Evil Spirits and "Internal Demons" by Archbishop Lazar Puhalo)
Our holy and God bearing Father, Athanasios the Great says:
"Whence it is quite fitting that the Lord suffered this death. For thus being lifted up He cleared the air of the malignity both of the devil and of demons of all kinds..." (The Incarnation of the Word of God, para. 25).
And the Holy Apostle says: "For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). Moreover, "Since the children have flesh and blood. He too shared in their humanity so that by His death might destroy him who holds the power of death that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death" (Hebrews 2:14-15).
Yet, clearly, Satan still operates among us and gains lesser or greater influence over many. As Saint Gregory the Theologian says: "Christ did not destroy the devil by the movement of will alone, but left the enemy a certain freedom to move among both the good and the evil, and raised between them a mutual warfare, so that just as the enemy is subjected to shame, being defeated by those who are weaker than he, so also those who struggle in virtue always receive their glory, being purified like gold in a furnace" (Works, pt. 4, p. 195).
Christ did not totally destroy the influence of Satan all at once, but destroyed his power to enslave man through fear of death, and gave us the means to turn the evil one's snares to nothing, as Holy Apostle James says: "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (4:7). We cannot consider ourselves to be free from attacks of the evil one. We have been given the weapons to defeat him: our prayers, fasting, moral struggles, and, above all, Holy Communion. Let us remember that salvation consists in our union with God, effected by Christ through His Holy Church, in which the power of the evil one is being steadily and progressively destroyed by the life of mutual love and moral struggle which is fulfilled in and by the Church.
We are still subject to influences of Satan so that we may continue to exercise free will. For, where there is no free will, there is no love, only bondage. Yet, we must always take hope in the words of the Holy Apostle: "God is faithful and will not permit us to be tempted beyond our strength, but with every temptation, will give us an escape so that we may endure" (1 Corinthians 10:13). Saint John Chrysostom further instructs us as to why we are yet tempted by the evil one:
"God does not prevent the devil from visiting us with temptations; first, so that we will realize that we have become stronger than the devil when we sign ourselves with the Life-Giving Cross in the name of Christ; second, so that we abide in humility and do not exalt in the grandeur of the Gifts; third, so that the evil one, witnessing your patience, becomes convinced that you have renounced him; fourth, so that through this, you become firmer and stronger and; fifth, so that you do not forget your weakness and the power of the One Who "delivers you from the evil one" (v. 31, p. 205).
(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