Beloved brothers and sisters 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.
THE DOXOLOGY DURING HOLY LENT
(to be recited only)
Glory befits You, O Lord Our God, and to You we send up the glory, to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Glory be to God in the Highest, and on earth, peace and good will toward men. We hymn You, we bless You, we worship You, we give thanks to You, for Your Great Glory.
Lord King, Heavenly God, Father Almighty, Lord, Only-Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit; Lord God, the Lamb of God, the Son of the Father, Who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on us, You Who take away the sin of the world.
Receive our prayer, You Who sit at the right hand of the Father, and have mercy on us.
For You alone are holy, You alone are Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Each day I will bless You, and I will praise Your Name unto the ages of ages.
Make us worthy, Lord, to be kept this without sin.
Blessed are You, O Lord, the God of our fathers, and praised and glorified is Your Name unto the ages of Ages. Amen.
May Your mercy be with us, O Lord, as we have placed our hope in You.
Blessed are You, O Lord, teach me Your Commandments. (3 times)
You have been for us, O Lord, a refuge from generation to generation.
O Lord, I said, have mercy on me; heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.
Lord, in You have I taken shelter; teach me to do Your Will, for You are my God.
For in You is the Source of Life, and in Your Light we shall see light.
Extend Your mercy on those who know and confess You.
Make us worthy, O Lord, to be kept this day without sin.
Blessed are You, Lord, the God of our fathers, and blessed and glorified is Your Name unto the ages. Amen.
May Your mercy be upon us, O Lord, as we have placed our hope in You.
Blessed are You, O Lord, teach me Your Commandments.
Blessed are You, O Holy One, enlighten me through Your Commandments.
Lord, Your mercy endures forever; do not overlook the works of Your hands.
To you belongs praise, to you belongs song, to you belongs glory, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
(Saint John Climacus (of the Ladder)
"In the second verse of our prayer, let us express, with compunction and pain of heart, the confession of our sins which we, as fools, commit against God on a daily basis.
In the third verse of our prayer, let us place before our Heavenly King our own particular issues, and entreat Him with much humility to be compassionate and merciful to us and to console us with His Loving Kindness, and to make us worthy ultimately of His Great Mercy, His Kingdom in Heaven.
Let us, therefore, first of all thank God for His Infinite Mercy, then let us confess to Him our sins, and, finally, let us entreat Him to forgive us."
(Saint Anatoly of Optina)
"Life is hard for you? Why, is there anyone for whom it is not hard? And do those in the world really have no troubles? Be patient, and a Comforter will come in time. The Lord said, "In your patience possess ye your souls" (St. Luke 21:19). If you are unable to do something and your health does not permit it, humble yourself and beg meekly [to be excused]-and above all, e patient! And if you lose patience in some situation, reproach yourself and ask God for help".
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (The Commemoration of the Saints) On February 12th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions (prayers) of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and every righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Our Father among the Saints Meletius, Archbishop of Antioch the Great; Saint Anthony II, Patriarch of Constantinople; Saint Alexis, Wonderworker of All Russia; Saint Meletius, Archbishop of Kharkov; Saint Mary, called Marinus, and her father Eugene, at Alexandria; New Holy Martyr Alexius, Bishop of Voronezh (+1930); Holy Martyrs Plotinus and Saturnius; Saint Bassian of Uglich; Saints Nicholas Dvali, Prochorus the Georgian, Luka of Jerusalem, and the Holy Fathers of the Georgian Monasteries in Jerusalem; New Holy Martyr Chrestos of Constantinople.
+By the Holy Intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Fathers, Holy Bishops, Holy Ascetics, Holy Mothers, Holy Patriarchs, Holy Archbishops, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
Our Father among the Saints Meletius, Archbishop of Antioch the Great. This Holy Father, who was from Melitene of Armenia, was a blameless man, just, reverent, sincere, and most gentle. Consecrated bishop of Sevastia in 357 A.D. he was later banished from his throne and departed for Beroea of Syria (this is the present-day Aleppo). After the Arian bishop of Antioch had been deposed, the Orthodox and the Arians each strove to have a man of like mind with themselves become the next Bishop of Antioch. Meletius was highly esteemed by all, and since the Arians (heretics) believed him to share their own opinion, they had him raised to the throne of Antioch. As soon as he had taken the helm of the Church of Antioch, however, he began preaching the Son's Consubsantiality (of one essence) with the Father. At this, the Archdeacon, an Arian (heretic), put his hands over the bishop's mouth; Saint Meletius then extended three fingers towards the people, closed them, and extended one only, showing by signs the equality and unity of the Holy Trinity. He took part in the Second Ecumenical Council in 381 A.D. (which was convoked against Macedonius, Patriarch of Constantinople, the enemy of the Holy Spirit) over which he presided, being held in great honor as a zealot of the Faith and a venerable Elder Hierarch. At that Council (Synod), God showed a mystery through His Archbishop. When Saint Meletius was propounding the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity to the Arians (heretics), he first raised three fingers, separated one by one, then brought them together; and at the moment lightning flashed from his hand before the gaze of all present. At that Synod, Saint Meletius established Gregory the Theologian in the Seat of Constantinople. While the Synod was still in session, Saint Meletius finished his earthly course in Constantinople. His holy relics were taken to Antioch and was buried beside Saint Vavylas the Holy Martyr in the church dedicated to the Martyr which Saint Meletius, in his zeal for the Martyr's glory, had helped build with his own hands.
Saint Gregory of Nyssa, among others, gave a moving oration at his funeral, bewailing the loss of him whom all loved as a father, he said, "Where is that sweet serenity of his eyes? Where that bright smile upon his lips? Where that kind right hand, with fingers outstretched to accompany the benediction of the mouth?" and he lamented, "Our Elias has been caught up, and no Elisseus is left behind in his place".
Apolytikion(Dismissal) Hymn. Fourth Tone
The truth of things hath revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, an icon of meekness, and a teacher of temperance; for this cause, thou hast achieved the heights by humility, riches by poverty. O Father and Hierarch Meletius, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.
Kontakion. Plagal of Second Tone
Fearing thy spiritual boldness, the apostate Macedonius doth flee; and as we accomplish the service wherein w seek thine intercessions, we, thy servants, hasten to thee with longing, O Meletius, thou equal of the Angels, thou fiery sword of Christ our God which doth utterly slay all the godless. We praise thee, the luminary which doth illumine all.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 2 Peter 3:1-18
Holy Gospel Lesson: Saint Mark 13:24-31
FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS AND HOLY MOTHERS AND FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"Always remember that we have renounced the world and are living here as guests and strangers in the meantime. Anticipate the day assigned to each of us for our homecoming. This day will snatch us up, set us free from the snares of the world, and return us to Paradise and the Kingdom. Who, in foreign lands, wouldn't hurry to return to their own country? Who, when rushing to return to his friends, wouldn't eagerly want the winds at his back so that he could embrace those dear to him sooner? We consider Paradise as our country". (Saint Cyprian of Carthage)
THE DIVINE SONSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST
by Dr. George Cronk [Source: The Message of the Bible: An Orthodox Christian Perspective]
The major purpose of St. John 1-11 is to define the identity of Jesus of Nazareth--to proclaim that Jesus was both the Messiah of Israel and the Incarnation of God the Son. In accordance with his purpose, St. John begins his gospel with his well-known "Prologue" (1:1-18), a dramatic and beautiful proclamation of the Deity of Christ: "In the beginning was the Logos (Word), and the Logos (Word) was with God, and the Logos (Word) was God."
The Gospel of Saint John, of course, like the other books of the New Testament, was written in Greek. And the English term "Word" is a translation of Logos, a Greek expression signifying "wisdom" (or "reason") as well as "Word". In presenting Jesus as the Incarnation (or "enfleshment"} of the Divine Logos, St. John is telling us that the Wisdom and Word of God has entered into union with human nature. In the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, the principle of wisdom is often personified and spoken of as a manifestation of God which has been with God from all Eternity (see Pr. 8:22-36; Ws 7:22-8:1). And the Old Testament Prophets thought of the Word of God as in some sense the presence of the Lord Himself, a revelation of the very being of God. The Old Testament also teaches that the cosmos was created by the power of God's Word and Wisdom (see Gn 1 and Ps 33:6, 9). Saint John speaks of the creative Wisdom and Word of God as a distinct Person within the Divine Nature, as "the Only Son from the Father" (1:14). And in the Incarnation, the Eternal and preexistent Logos, being Himself Divine and of One Essence with God the Father, "nevertheless condescended to assume human nature for the purpose of man's redemption and restoration."
As the Divine Word Incarnate, Christ is also the Source of Life and Enlightenment (St. John 1:4). Through the "True Light" of the Incarnate Lord, the darkness of spiritual blindness and of evil can be overcome (St. John 1:5, 9). But to be delivered from spiritual darkness--to enter into the grace, Truth and Eternal Life of the Divine Logos, to be reconciled with God--we must receive Christ into our hears and believe in Him. Speaking to those Jews of his time who believed to be a physical descendant of Abraham was to be a child of God, St. John asserts that Divine Sonship is not dependent upon ethnic identity but upon faith in Jesus (1:12-14). Christ alone, the Word made flesh, makes God the Father known to us (1:18); and only through faith in Christ may we receive "power to become children of God" (1:12). We are not born into the family of God by being born into a Jewish family--or into a Christian family, for that matter. We are not saved by the "faith of our fathers," but by our own faith.
Throughout the Gospel of Saint John, there is an insistent emphasis upon what might be called the physical or material dimension of God's work of salvation. Salvation is not deliverance from, but deliverance in and through, the material world. The true Deity of God the Son is embodied in the true humanity of Jesus Christ. In Christ, the Word "became flesh and dwelt among us" (St. John 1:14). And in Him, the spiritual glory of God has been made visible (1:14, 18). As we shall see, the Public Ministry of Christ was itself a physically real manifestation of the spiritual power of God. The discourses recorded by Saint John were spoken by Jesus; they were physically audible and full of references to such material realities as water, bread, light, darkness, the human body, flesh and blood. The miracles of Christ described in the Fourth Gospel are also physical acts filled with spiritual significance: water is transformed into wine (2:1-11); bodily infirmities are healed (4:43-54, 5:19, 9:1-41); the hungry are miraculously fed (6:1-14); Jesus walks upon the sea (6:15-21); and Lazarus is literally raised from the dead (11:1-57). The teachings and miracles of the Lord, moreover, were presented and performed in specific places at specific times in the region of ancient Palestine. It was, furthermore, the genuinely human and fully Divine Christ Who suffered and died upon the Cross and Who was Resurrected bodily from the dead. And it is through his broken Body and shed Blood that mankind may be delivered from the powers of sin and death.
Saint John's theology, then, is a "sacramental" theology. A Sacrament (Mysterion), in the broad sense, is a "visible means of grace," and event or act in the world which makes the grace of God present and available to mankind. Sacramentum is a Latin word meaning "pledge." A sacrament, in this sense, is a "pledge of salvation" made by God to all who live in a spirit of faith and obedience. In Orthodox theology, the sacraments are called "Mysteries" (from the Greek, Mysterion) to emphasize the Mystical and Supernatural significance of the saving acts of God. Writing late in the first century A.D., at a time when the liturgical life of the Church had reached a rather high level of development, St. John stresses the mysterious but very real and physical presence and activity of God in the world, the ultimate Sacrament (Mysterion) linking the saving work of Christ to the sacramental works of the Church (Baptism, Chrismation, the Eucharist and so on). The salvation of God was made "really present" in Christ, and through the power of the Holy Spirit that salvation remains "really present" in the Church, the sacramental and mystical Body of Christ.
Please note: Christians of other Christian confessions are very confused of Who Jesus Christ is but not the Christians of the Orthodox Christian faith. Through the Holy Apostles, the Seven Ecumenical and Local Councils, Holy Fathers, the Entire Church of Christ has spoken and formulated the Doctrine of the Church and today we recite in every Divine Liturgy what we call the Creed (Symbol of Faith) which is a summary of what we believe as Orthodox Christians. That cannot ever be changed by anyone or any group of people or clergy. Those who attempted it ended up as heretics whether they were Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops, Presbyters, Deacons, Monks or lay Christians and were excommunicated from the Body of Christ, the Church.
Believe it or not, there are even some today, both clergy and lay "Orthodox Christians" that lean towards making changes within our Church so as to conform to the various trends of other heterodox denominations and sects. The feelings I have heard expressed by both fellow priests and lay Orthodox Christians are that our Church is outdated, it needs to be modernized, it needs to be more "tolerant", more "politically correct"...And they say we cannot adhere to the Holy Canons of the Church any longer because they are obsolete and cannot be implemented in today's world. Then why does the Orthodox Church upon the consecration of a bishop require the candidate to that high office of the Church to pledge openly, in the presence of all, that he will adhere to the Holy Canons of the Church? Even upon "the affirmation of office" taken by the new parish council it requires among other things, "I (name), do solemnly affirm that I will uphold the Dogmas, Teachings, Traditions, Holy Canons..."etc.
The Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church are based on the Holy Scriptures and Synods of the Church. "The Holy Orthodox Eastern Church of Christ resembles a large ship. Just as a ship has its captain, crew, and helm by which it is directed and guided safely to its destination, so in like manner the Holy Church of Christ has her captain, crew and helm by which she is guided to the desired spiritual harbor of eternal salvation. The Church can no more do without these than a ship at sea. She is likely to meet her eternal destruction without them in the same way that a ship runs the danger of disaster deprived of them." (The Rudder)
Her Captain is Jesus Christ and her crew the Clergy and the laity; but what is her helm or rudder? It is the Sacred Canons of the Holy Glorious Apostles, of the Seven Holy Ecumenical and Local Councils, and of the God-bearing Fathers, as well as the invaluable interpretation and commentary of the most Holy Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain. "This book," he states, "comes after the Sacred Scriptures, the Old and New Testaments. It is a book of inspired sayings second to the first inspired sayings. It is the book of the eternal limits set by our Fathers and of the laws existing unto eternity and above all laws." And yet this is what some of us believe to be obsolete? In my humble opinion without the Holy Canons the Church would be totally unprotected and anarchy and confusion would reign.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God