Beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Christ, God, Redeemer and Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
Christ is risen from the dead, by death hath He trampled down death, and on those in the graves hath He bestowed life.
Hypakoe, Fourth Tone
WHEN they who were with Mary came, anticipating the dawn, and found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher, they heard from the Angel: Why seek ye among the dead, as though He were mortal man, Him Who abideth in Everlasting Light? Behold the grave-clothes. Go quickly and proclaim to the world that the Lord is Risen, and hath put death to death. For He is the Son of God, Who saveth the race of man.
In the grave bodily; in Hades with Thy soul, though Thou wast God; in Paradise with the thief; and on the Throne with the Father and the Spirit was Thou Who fillest all things, O Christ the Uncircumscribable.
How Life-Giving, how much more beautiful than Paradise, and truly more resplendent than any royal palace proved Thy grace, the source of our resurrection, O Christ.
Rejoice, O sanctified and Divine Tabernacle of the Most High; for through thee, O Theotokos, joy is given to them that cry: Blessed art thou among women, O All-Immaculate Lady.
Lord, have mercy (forty times). Glory; both now...
More Honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, thee who without corruption gavest birth to God the Logos (Word), the very Theotokos, thee do we magnify.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On May 1st (Blessed new Month to all!) 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 every righteous soul perfected in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: The Holy Prophet Jeremias, Saint Tamara (Tamar), Qeen of Georgia; the Synaxis (Assembly) of the Three New Righteous Martyrs of the Holy Mountain, Efthymiuus, Ignatius, and Acacius; Panaretos, Archbishop of Paphos in Cyprus; Saint Philosophos of Alexandria; New holy Martyr Mary of Crete; Saint Nicephoros of the island of Chios, Greece; Holy Martyr Savvas; Saint Athanasius the Servant, in Smyrna; Saint Ultan, founder of Fosse; Saint Macarius, Metropolitan of Kiev; Saint Batas of Nisibis; Sain Paphnutios of Borovsk; Saint Gerasimos of Boldino; Saint Isidora, fool-for-Christ of Tabenna.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Queens, Holy Archbishops, Holy Ascetics, Holy Mothers, Holy Fathers, Holy Prophets, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
OUR HOLY MOTHER TAMARA QUEEN OF GEORGIA. Saint Tamara was the only child of King George III. Upon his death in 1184, she became Queen at the age of twenty-four. Despite her youth, she ruled the country with such wisdom and godliness--leading it to unprecedented military triumphs over the neighboring Muslim countries in defense of her kingdom, fostering arts and letters, and zealously strengthening Orthodoxy--that her reign is known as the Golden Age of Georgia. After her coronation, she convoked a local council to correct disorders in church life. When the bishops had assembled from all parts of her kingdom, she, like Saint Constantine at the First Ecumenical Council, honored them as if she were a commoner, and they were the Angels of God; exhorting them to establish righteousness and redress abuses, she said in her humility, "Do away with every wickedness, beginning with me, for the prerogative of the throne is in no wise that of making war against God." Saint Tamara called herself "the father of orphans and the judge of widows," and her contemporaries called her "king" instead of "Queen." She herself led her army against the Muslims and fearlessly defeated them; because of the reverence that even the enemies of Georgia had for her, entire mountain tribes renounced Islam and were baptized. She built countless churches and monasteries throughout her kingdom, and was benefactress also to the Holy Land, Mount Athos, and holy places in Greece and Cyprus. She has always been much beloved by her people, who have memorialized her meekness, wisdom, piety, obedience, and peace-loving nature in innumerable legends, ballads, and songs; the poem written in her honor by Shota Rustaveli, "The Knight of the Panther Skin" is the masterpiece of Georgian literature. The great Queen Tamara departed the earthly kingdom for the heavenly in the year of our Lord 1212.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of Saint Tamara. Third Tone
Let the mountain-tops and vales of Georgia sound with songs of praise to laud Tamara as the vessel of wisdom, the smiling suns, the sword of truth, the conversion of infidels, the most harmonious reed-pipe of Jesus Christ, and our fervent intercessor before the King of Kings, entreating Him to grant great mercy unto us.
Kontakion Hymn of Saint Tamara
O Thou whom they people called a king in justice and truth, the father of orphans and the judge of widows, thou sun which shone on the Georgian land, thou who spentest all thy strength defending thy kingdom, rise up, O Tamara, and defend us now also, and by thine intercessions with Christ, save us from sufferings.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 4:23-31
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 5:24-30
SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"True hope seeks only the Kingdom of God." (Saint Seraphim of Sarov)
SECULARISM IN THE CHURCH LIFE
By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos
It should be emphasized that when we talk about secularism in the Church, in theology, and in pastoral care, we do not imply that the Church, theology, and pastoral care become secular and are destroyed. That would imply that the true life and man's true way of therapy are lost. Instead, it is the members of the Church that become secular and, therefore, view the Church, theology, and pastoral care differently. However, throughout the centuries, there are Church members who preserve the truth regarding the Church, theology and Orthodox pastoral care.THE TRUTH REGARDING THE CHURCH, THEOLOGY AND ORTHODOX PASTORAL CARE.
SECULARISM IN CHURCH
The Church is Christ's Body. It is not a human organization but the God-man Body of Christ. The Church's purpose is to guide its members to theosis (deificaton), the principal objective of man's creation.
An important excerpt illustrating the objective of the shepherds of the Church (Bishops and Priests) can be found in Saint Paul's Epistle to the Christians of Ephesus. The Apostle says: "And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-13). According to Saint Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, in the phrase "the knowledge of the Son of God" Saint Paul does not mean the knowledge of God which is achieved through the viewing of created things and the Divine Scripture; the impure can also possess such knowledge; instead he refers to the supernatural knowledge the Son of God, arrived at through divine illumination and glorification, and granted solely to the perfect ones, those purified from the passions of the flesh and of the soul. It is the knowledge that he wishes all Christians to arrive at. Also, the phrase "to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" conveys the concept of theosis (deification).
The true Church's existence is demonstrated by its success in curing man. We know from the teaching of the Holy Fathers that the Church is the spiritual health center, the spiritual hospital that cures man. When we refer to illness and cure, we mean that the nous is not intellect (mind) but is best described as "the eye of the soul," is ill and is cured. The nous' cure is not independent of purification, illumination, and theosis (deification). The Church's goal is to cure this Gnostic center, so that man can acquire the knowledge of God that constitutes his salvation. Therefore, the existence of the true Church can be seen in the degree of success, in the results of the therapy. If it cures man, if it makes a correct diagnosis of the disease, and if it knows the way and method of therapy, then it is the true, not the secular Church.
An example revealing a Church's degree of success in curing is the presence and existence of Holy Relics. The holy relics are a proof of man's cure. When the nous is purified and illuminated and when man attains theosis (deification), then he is entirely divinized, because God's Grace is transported from the soul to the body. The holy relics of the Saints, which are everlasting, fragrant, and miraculous, are proof that he method and way of therapy are preserved, that the Church leads man to theosis (deification). A Church that does not produce holy relics demonstrates that it does not lead man to theosis (deification) and, hence, it does not possess the true method for man's therapy.
Secularism in the Church is directly related to the loss of the Church's true objective. A Church not inspired by what has been said above, that is a Church that does not cure man but is concerned with other matters, is a secularized Church. It is in this sense that we refer to secularism in the Church.
We can say that the Church becomes secular when it is considered to be a "religious organization." There is enormous difference between the Church and religion. Religion speaks about an impersonal God Who inhabits the heavens and manages the world from up there. Man, through various rituals, has to appease God and establish communications with Him. But the Church is the Body of Christ Who assumed human nature, and in this way there exists a communion between man and God in the Person of Christ. Of course, it cannot be precluded that some Christians within the Church are experiencing God from a religious perspective. This, however, occurs in the lower stages of spiritual life; it constitutes spiritual immaturity, and there is definitely a willingness and tendency for man to go on maturing spiritually so that he arrives at communion and unity with God. A secularized Church, however, simply satisfies the so-called religious feelings of man and nothing more. It is noted for its beautiful ceremonies, and it neglects the entire neptic and therapeutic wealth owned by the Church.
(To be continued)
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God