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 LENTEN PRAYER OF SAINT EPHRAIM THE SYRIAN
O Lord and Master of my life, do not permit the spirit of laziness and meddling, the lust for power and idle talk to come into me. (Prostration). Instead, grant me, Your servant, the spirit of prudence, humility, patience and love. (Prostration). Yes, Lord and King, give me the power to see my own faults and not to judge my brother. (Prostration).
Κύριε, και Δέσποτα της ζωής μου, πνεύμα αργίας, περιεργίασ, φιλαρχίας, και αργολογίας μή μοι δώς. Πνεύμα δέ σωφροσύνης, ταπεινοφροσύνης, υπομονής και αγάπης, χάρισαί μοι τώ σώ δούλω. Ναί, Κύριε Βασιλεύ, δώρησαί μοι τού οράν τα εμά πταίσματα, και μή κατακρίνειν τόν αδελφόν μου, ότι ευλογητός εί, είς τούς αιώνας τών αιώνων. Αμήν.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATIONS OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On March 5th 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 and Teachers and every righteous spirit made perfect in our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Righteous Martyr Conon of Isauria; Holy Martyr Nesius, companion of Saint Conon of Isauria; our Righteous Father Mark the Ascetic, the Wonderworker; Holy Martyr Evlogius of Palestine; Holy Martyr Evlampius of Palestine; Holy Martyr Archelaus and the 142 Holy Martyrs with him were perfected in martyrdom by the sword; our Righteous Father Mark of Athens; Holy New Martyr John of Bulgaria, who was beheaded in Constantinople in the year of our Lord 1784; Holy Virgin-Martyr Olive of Brescia, who suffered in the reign of Hadrian; our Righteous Father Kieran, Bishop and Egoumenos (Abbot) of Saighir, who is called the First-born of the Irish Saints; our Righteous Farther Adrian of Poshekhonye and his fellow ascetic, Leonidas.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Righteous, Holy Mothers and Holy Fathers, Holy Egoumenoi, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Orthros (Matins) Old Testament: Isaiah 2:3-11
Esperinos (Vespers) Old Testament 1: Genesis 2:4-19
Esperinos (Vespers) Old Testament 2: Proverbs 3:1-18
FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS AND HOLY MOTHERS AND FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
Our Holy Mother Syncletica said, "Do not let yourself be seduced by the delights of the riches of the world, as though they contained something useful on account of vain pleasure. Worldly people esteem the culinary art, but you, through fasting and thanks to cheap food, go beyond their abundance of food. It is written: 'He who is sated loathes honey.' (Proverbs 27:7). Do not fill yourself with bread and you will not desire wine."
HOLY AND GREAT LENT: THE HOLY SERVICES OF THE GREAT CANON AND GREAT COMPLINE
"But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth". (St. John 4:23-24)
Holy and Great Lent is a time for every Orthodox Christian to intensify his efforts to worship more frequently and to therefore strengthen his spiritual relationship and communion with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. According to our Holy Orthodox Christian Tradition, "worship has two basic elements, spirit and truth. The knowledge of Faith--the Self-truth--meets its equal, the worship of the Almighty God." Saint John writes, "The true worshippers will worship in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him."
The Truth evaluates Itself by unceasing dedication and prayer, which are the indispensable elements for the worship of God. The Truth being the content of faith, so also is worship the content of hope. Truth and Hope meet and embrace on their throne, which is grounded in the very being of the mortal believer. This Truth has built an altar within the heart of the believer, which is similar to the catacomb; the heart in which heaven and earth meet; in which a sacred service takes place; in which the Mystery of revival is celebrated. The heart of the true believer is a sanctuary of the Almighty God. Saint Paul reminds us, "to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." (Fr. George Mastrantonis).
The divine services of the Great Canon and the Great Compline are offered to us so that we may be inspired, comforted, reassured of God's love and strengthen our faith and commitment to Him Who is our very life. When we, as Orthodox Christians, speak about spirituality we do not and cannot ever exclude the divine services and sacraments of our Church from our spiritual life. There is no spiritual life without either the divine services or the Mysteria (Sacraments) of the Church.
Allow me to give you a taste of the depth of holiness of both the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete and of the Great Compline services that are conducted during Holy Lent:
GREAT CANON OF SAINT ANDREW OF CRETE (On Thursday of the First Week of Lent)
Song 1. Tone 6
Eirmos: He is my Helper and Protector, and has become my salvation. This is my God and I will glorify Him. My father's God and I will exalt Him. For gloriously has He been glorified. (Ex. 15:2,1; Ps. 117:14)
Refrain: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
Troparia: O Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of all, take from me the heavy yoke of sin, and in Thy compassion grant me tears of compunction. (Jn. 1:29) Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. I fall prostrate before Thee, O Jesus. I have sinned against Thee, be merciful to me. Take from me the heavy yoke of sin, and in Thy compassion grant me tears of compunction. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. Enter not into judgment with me, by recording my deeds, demanding an account of my words, and examining my motives and desires. But in Thy compassion disregard my terrible past and save me, O God All-Powerful. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.It is time for repentance. I draw near to Thee, my Creator. Take from me the heavy yoke of sin, and in Thy compassion grant me tears of compunction...
Eirmos: Him Whom the heavenly hosts glorify and before Whom Cherubim and Seraphim tremble, let every breath and all creation praise, bless and exalt throughout all ages.
Refrain: Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
Troparia: The alabaster jar of my tears, O Savior, I pour out on Thy head as the perfume, and like the harlot I cry to Thee, seeking Thy mercy. I offer prayer and ask to receive forgiveness. (Matt. 26:7; Lk. 7:38) Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. Though no one has sinned against Thee as I, yet accept even me, O compassionate Savior, repenting with fear and crying with love: Against Thee only have I sinned. I have done wrong, have mercy on me. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me. Spare, O Savior, Thy own creation, and seek as Shepherd Thy lost sheep; snatch the stray from the wolf, and make me a pet lamb in Thy sheep pasture. (Ps. 118: 176; Jn. 10:11-16)
FROM THE GREAT COMPLINE (APODEIPNOS)
(We chant loudly and melodiously the following verses):
God is with us, know it you nations and be submissive, For God is with us. Hear it to the ends of the earth. For God is with us. You mighty shall be defeated. For God is with us. Even if you should prevail, again you will be defeated, For God is with us... The Lord, our God, Him shall we bless, and only Him do we fear. For God is with us. And if I trust in Him, it shall be a blessing to me, For God is with us. And I shall trust in Him, and shall be saved by Him, For God is with us....
Troparia. Tone Plagal IV
O Lord, You know the wakefulness of my enemies, and the weakness of my miserable flesh, for you made man. Wherefore, into Your hands I shall entrust my spirit. Cover me with the wings of Your Goodness, lest I sleep unto death; illumine my inner eyes with the delight of Your Divine words; and awaken me at the right time, that I may sing Your Glory, as the Only Good one and True Friend of man. Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; Give me tears, O Lord, as You did once to the sinful woman; make me worthy to wet Your feet, which freed me from the way of error and to offer You as a fragrant ointment, a pure life built in me through repentance; so that I may also hear Your cherished words: "Your faith has saved you, go in peace."
PRAYER OF MANASSEHES, KING OF JUDA
Priest: O Lord, Almighty, the God of our Fathers, of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and of their righteous seed; Who created the heaven and the earth with all their adornment; Who bound the sea by the word of Your Command; Who shut up the abyss and sealed it with Your awesome and glorious name; Whom all things dread and before Whose power they tremble, because the Majesty of Your glory is unbearable and the threat of You anger against the sinners unendurable; yet the mercy of Your promise is both, immeasurable and unfathomable, for You are the Lord Most High, compassionate, long-suffering and All-Merciful, and relent on the wickedness of man.
You, Lord, in the multitude of Your Goodness promised repentance and forgiveness to those who have sinned against You, and in Your infinite compassion appointed repentance for sinners that they may be saved. Therefore, Lord, the God of the powers, You have not appointed repentance for the righteous, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who have not sinned against You, but You appointed repentance for me the sinner, for I have committed more sins than the grains of sand of the sea. My transgressions have multiplied, Lord; my transgressions have multiplied, and I am not worthy to look up and see the height of the sky from the multitude of my iniquities, being weighted down by many iron chains, so that I cannot raise my head; there is no respite left for me because I provoked Your anger and committed evil before You not having done Your Will and not having kept Your Commandments. And now I bend the knee of my heart, beseeching Your Goodness. I have sinned, Lord, I have sinned and I acknowledge my transgressions; but I beg and ask You: Forgive me, Lord, forgive me and do not destroy me with my transgressions; do not be angry with me forever and keep my evils in me, and do not condemn me to the depths of the earth; for You are God, the God of those who repent, and in me You shall show all Your Goodness; for even though I am unworthy, You shall save me according to the multitude of Your mercy, and I shall praise You without ceasing all the days of my life. For every heavenly power sings Your praises, and Yours is the Glory unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Please note: The above excerpts from the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete and Great Compline are just a small glimpse of these divine services of our Church. Without the holy services and Sacraments of the Church our life and especially our spiritual life is simply hollow and empty of any meaning, purpose and virtue. It is therefore necessary that we spend as much time in worship and prayer if we truly seek salvation and eternal life.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God