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.
A PRAYER TO OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
by Antiochus, a monk of Pandectis
Office of the Small Compline (Μικρός Απόδειπνος)
And grant us, O Master, when we go to sleep, repose of body and soul; and keep us from the murky slumbering of sin and every dark voluptuousness of night. Calm the violence of the passions, quench the fiery darts of the Evil One, which are treacherously hurled against us. Subdue the rebellions of our flesh, and quell our every earthly and material thought. And grant unto us, O God, a watchful mind, a chaste thought, a sober heart, and sleep light and free from all satanic phantasies. And raise us up at the hour of prayer, established in Thy Commandments and holding the remembrance of Thy judgments unshakeable within us. Grant us to hymn Thy glory all the night long, that we may praise and bless and glorify Thine All-Honored and Majestic Name, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF THE TODAY'S SAINTS):
On April 10th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preacher, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers, and of every righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Martyrs of Carthage: Terence, Africanus, Maximus, Pompey, and another 36 Martyrs; and also with Saint Macarius, Zeno, Alexander, and Theodore; Holy Prophetess Olda, who prophesied in the days of Josias, King of Judah; Holy Martyrs James the Presbyter and Azas the Deacon of Persia; Holy New Martyr Demus who was beheaded in Smyrna in the year of our Lord 1763; Saints Gregory Fifth, the New Hieromartyr, Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch, suffered martyrdom by the Muslim Turks by hanging in the city of Constantinlople in the year of our Lord 1821, on the Feast of Pascha; Holy Righteous Martyrs of the Kvabtakhevi Women's Monastery in Georgia who were slain during the invasion of Tamerlane in the year of our Lord 1386.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Hieromartyrs, Holy Patriarchs, Holy Archbishops, Holy Mothers, Holy Fathers, Holy Presbyters, Holy Deacons, Holy Ascetics, Holy Prophets, Holy Monastics, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
OUR FATHER AMONG THE SAINTS GREGORY V OF CONSTANTINOPLE. Saint Gregory was the 234th Patriarch of Constantinople. He served as Patriarch for three separate periods at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries: from 1797 to 1798, from 1806 to 1808, and from 1818 to 1821. He was martyred in 1821 during the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Turks. He was glorified as a Saint by the Church of Greece in 1921 and is commemorated as an Ethnomartyr (Greek: Εθνομάρτυρας). He is remembered on April 10th.
Georgios Aggelopoulos was born in Dimitsana, Arcadia prefecture in 1746 to poor parents. A studious child, Georgios attended school at Dimitsana before continuing his education in Athens for two years. With the help of his uncle he continued his education in the theological school at Smyrna for another five years. Having been raised in the hesychastic environment around the Monastery of Philosophou he turned to a monastic life and was tonsured a monk in Strophades with the name Gregory. He continued his education in theology and philosophy at the School of Patmos.
After completing his education at Patmos, St. Gregory returned to Smyrna where he was ordained a deacon in 1775 by Metropolitan Procopius of Smyrna and subsequently became an archdeacon. Over the following years he was ordained a priest and a protosyncelos (chancellor). In 1785, he was elected by the Patriarch of Constantinople to the office of Bishop of the Metropolis of Smyrna succeeding Procopius who had become Patriarch of Constantinople. In what was becoming a volatile political atmosphere, St. Gregory was elected to the Patriarchal Throne of Constantinople in May 1797...On December 15, 1818, for the third time St. Gregory was called to the Patriarchal See, this time at a crucial and tense time in the Greek struggle for independence.
In 1818, St. Gregory became a member of the Filiki Eteria (Friendly Society) that was preparing for a revolt against the Turkish Islamic rule. Saint Gregory did everything possible to protect the Hellenes (Greeks) from reprisals by the Ottoman Turks. The reprisals did come during Holy Week in April 1821 after the Hellenes revolted in the Peloponnesus. During celebration of the Divine Liturgy, with eight hierarchs, on the night of Pascha (Easter) of April 10th, St. Gregory was arrested and, by order of Sultan Mahmud II, hanged on the front gate of the Patriarchate compound in his full Patriarchal vestments. The gate has been closed, locked, and not used since. After hanging for three days and being mocked by the passing Muslim crowds, his body was taken down and given to a group of Jews who dragged it through the streets of Constantinople before throwing it into the Bosphorus.
St. Gregory's body was recovered from the sea by a Greek seaman, Nicholas Sklavos, and secretly taken to Odessa, then in Southern Russia, where it was buried with honors at the church of the Holy Trinity. Later his holy relics were enshrined in the Metropolitan Cathedral in Athens. His statue, along with that of Rigas Feraios, (another hero of the Greek Revolution) stands outside the University of Athens as great Martyr of the Greek Revolution.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE TAKEN FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT:
Orthros[Matins] OT: Isaiah 66:10-24
Esperinos[Vespers] OT 1: Genesis 46:1-7
Esperinos[Vespers] OT 2: Proverbs 23:15-24:5
SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"My brother and sister, wisdom is not found in much knowledge and learning; rather, as Holy Scripture says, 'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the counsel of Saints is understanding: for to know the law is the character of a sound mind" (Proverbs 9:10). This is true because faith in God engenders a sound mind, and a sound mind is a river of living water; moreover, the acquirer thereof will be filled with its beneficial and Life-Giving waters." [Saint Eprhaim from Evergetinos]
ENTERING INTO A COVENANT WITH GOD
By Archimandrite Zacharias [Source: Remember Thy First Love (Rev. 2:4-5)]
The Three Stages of the Spiritual Life in the Theology of Elder Sophrony
From the examples of Zacchaeus, Nathanael, and the Samaritan woman, we see that it is possible to meet God anywhere and at any point in our life. We can glorify Him in our joys and sorrows, in life and in death, and even when we are in the deepest hell.
Father Sophrony would sometimes say to me, 'If I had never known the lives of the Saints, I would have fallen into despair many times; but being familiar with them, I was able to bear more.' It is important to know the lives of the Saints for they contain descriptions of the various phenomena and stages of the spiritual life. When we come to experience these for ourselves, we recall what we have read in order to be confirmed and reassured on the way of salvation. During times of testing, great consolation can be derived even from indirect knowledge of the spiritual life. This gives us the courage to say, 'Lord, let me experience this for myself,' which is exactly what God wants. He never forces anything on us, for He is Noble and Kind, and He wants to know our freedom. (However, that is where our tragedy also lies.) He offers us His words and saving Commandments, leaving it up to us to conduct our experiment with Him so that we can verify His Truth that His Truth may become the law of our being.
One way of conducting our experiment is to ponder God's way with man. This leads to an understanding of the great honor in which God holds man. We begin to realize that man was in the mind of God before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-5) and that God has cared for him tremendously since the time of his creation and throughout the tragedy of his fall. He has given us His Only-begotten Son, Who came down to earth and purchased man, sold under sin, with the immense price of His precious blood. God's ineffable dispensation towards man is the surest indication of how sublime and wonderful is man's calling. With the grace of God, man is great; without grace he is nothing but sinful dust. According to Elder Sophrony, when man is aware of having been in the mind of God before all worlds, and of God's caring dispensation towards him, he is inspired to deep gratitude and humility, and his disposition of the heart attracts God's grace.
These two virtues---humility and gratitude--are important because they dispose the heart of man to open wide to God. By meditating on the first chapter of Genesis, for example, or on God's work in the history of mankind, we give space to God in our heart. Dwelling upon His Second Coming helps us too, but in a different way: this practice generates a certain fear of God, which helps us to preserve His grace and spurs us on to unceasing repentance. This is the eschatological perspective, and it is equally important because we need to hold fast to our inspiration, for the Lord is always near.
According to the Book of Revelation, God knocks continuously at the door of man's heart. He waits for man freely to open the door to Him (cf. Rev. 3:20). Then He enters, loaded with His gifts of grace and all His incomparable riches, and makes a feast with man, and finally concludes an alliance with him. For God has had His mind set on man from all eternity.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God