Beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord, God, Redeemer and Only Savior Jesus Christ,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
THE LITTLE ENTRANCE
Wisdom! Let us rise. In churches bless God, the Lord, from the springs of Israel. O Son of God, Who didst rise from the dead, save us, who sing unto Thee: Alleluia.
Christ is Risen from the dead, by death trampling upon Death, and has bestowed Life to those in the tombs.
They who were with Mary came before the dawn, and find the stone rolled away from the Sepulchre, heard the Angel say unto them; Why seek ye Him as man amongst the dead, Who dwells in Light Eternal? Behold the grave wrappings; make haste and declare to the world that the Lord is Risen, and hath caused death to die; for He is the Son of God, the Savior of mankind.
The Angel spake to her that is full of Grace, saying, O Pure Virgin, rejoice; and I say also, Rejoice; for thy Son is risen from the tomb on the Third day.
Shine, shine, o new Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord hath risen upon thee. Rejoice and be glad, O Zion; and thou, O Pure Theotokos, exalt in the Resurrection of Him, Whom thou didst bear.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On April 30th 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: Saint James (Iakovos) the Apostle, the brother of St. John the Evangelist and Theologian; Saint Maximus of Ephesus; Saint Clement the Hymnographer, Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Studion; Saint Ignatius (Brianchaninov) of Russia (+1867); New Holy Martyr Argyra of Prusa; Uncovering of the holy relics of Saint Basil, Bishop of Amasea; Uncovering of the holy relics of Nicetas, Bishop of Novgorod; New Martyr Alexis of Plotava; Translation (Apodosis) of the relics of Savvas, Egoumenos (Abbot) of Zvenigorod Monastery; Saint Erconwald, Bishop of London.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Apostles, Holy Egoumenoi, Holy Bishops, Holy Ascetics, Holy Martyrs, Holy Hymnographers, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY APOSTLE JAMES, BROTHER OF SAINT JOHN THE THEOLOGIAN. Saint James was one of the Twelve Apostles, like his brother of St. John (celebrated on September), whom the Lord called "Sons of Thunder," because they became great preachers and because of their profound theology. It was the Saint's boldness in preaching the Gospel that Herod Agrippa, the son of Aristovulos and grandson of Herod the Great, could not endure, and so he took him into custody during the days of the Passover, and slew him with the sword (Acts 12:1-2); and thus he drank the cup of which the Savior had spoken to him prophetically (St. Matthew 20:23). As for Herod, the following year he went down to Caesarea, and, as the Acts of the Apostles records: "Upon a set day, Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration" to the elders of Tyre and Sidon; and the flatterers that surrounded him "gave a shout, saying, 'It is the voice of god, and not of a man.' And immediately an Angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory; and" like his grandfather (see Dec. 19) "he was eaten of worms and gave up the spirit" (Acts 12:21-23).
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Third Tone
O Holy Apostle James, intercede with the Merciful God that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of offences.
Kontakion. Second Tone
The voice of thy God thou heardest when it called to thee, O glorious James; hence, casting off thy father's love, thou together with John thy brother didst run straightway to Christ the Lord, and with him wast granted to see the Lord's Divine Transfiguration.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 12:1-11
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 9:1-6
SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"It is most necessary and helpful for the soul to endure with fortitude every tribulation, whether inflicted by men or by demons. We should recognize that our sufferings are no more than we deserve, and we should never blame anyone but ourselves. For whoever blames others for his own tribulations has lost the power of judging correctly what is to his own advantage." (Saint John of Karpathos)
SECULARISM IN CHURCH, THEOLOGY, AND PASTORAL CARE
By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos
Secularism is the loss of the true life of the Church, the alienation of Church members from the Genuine Church spirit. Secularism is the rejection of the ecclesiastic ethos and the permeation of our life by the so-called "worldly spirit."
It should be stressed that secularization of the Church members is a grave danger. The Church has several enemies; the worst and most dangerous one is secularization, which eats up the marrow of the Church. The Church itself, of course, is under no real danger, since it is the blessed Body of Christ, but the threat exists for the members of the Church. To be accurate, we would say that secularism, which consists of the way of life and of true faith, is related to the passions and, naturally, has been lurking in the Church since the beginning of its existence. In Paradise, Adam attempted to interpret God's Commandments rationally. Even after Pentecost there were cases of some Christians adopting an anthropocentric way of thinking and living. Gnostics (heresy) and others are the obvious proofs of this.
For the most part, secularism started after the cessations of the persecutions. During the persecutions, Christians believed and lived the truth. When Christianity became the official state religion, an adulteration of the Christian Faith and way of living began. Anachoreticism (withdrawal from the world,), and later Monasticism, developed as a reaction to this secularization. As the Holy Scripture illustrates, especially in the Epistles of the holy Apostles, all Christians lived monastically in the ancient Church. Secularism developed as a consequence of people being attracted to Christianity out of expediency, and the development of monasticism came as a response to that. Monasticism is not something alien to the Church but rather life according to the Gospel, which some Christians wanted to live in perfection and thus elected this way of living. It can be argued that even the most eccentric monk constitutes a healthy reaction to the secular spirit that plagues Christians of our age.
Before proceeding to see how we experience secularism in Church, theology, and pastoral care, I would like to examine more closely the secular spirit and the meaning of the world (cosmos) in the biblical-patristic tradition, since the world (cosmos) constitutes the main concept of the term secularism.
THE DOUBLE MEANING OF THE WORD COSMOS
The word cosmos(world) has two meanings in the Holy Bible and in the works of the Holy Fathers. The first is that cosmos is the creation of God, the entire creation; the second meaning is that of the passions and everything that characterizes the spirit of the flesh that lacks the Holy Spirit.
To begin with, cosmos (world) is the creation. It is called such because it is an ornament, a jewel (cosmema in Greek). In the Orthodox Tradition, we say that the world is a positive work of God. It is not a copy of some other real world, the world of ideas; nor it is a downfall from the true world or a creature of a lesser God. The phrase in the Creed--"I believe in one God, Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of everything visible and invisible"--was articulated to counter a teaching of certain ancient heretics that claimed that the world is a creation of a lesser God. So the world is a creation of God, an ornament, a jewel, God is Creator by energy and not by substance. It is characteristic that at the end of creation, the Holy Bible notes..."and God saw that it was good."
The second meaning of the word cosmos (world) is sin, passions of the flesh, the spirit of the flesh, the spirit that is deprived of the Holy Spirit's life and energy. We encounter the word cosmos in this sense several times in the Holy Bible. Saint John frequently uses the word cosmos to denote God's creation, the entire creation. In other cases, he uses it to denote the passions of the flesh, everything that keeps man away from God, or man's life outside of God. A typical passage is the following: "For all that is in the world...but is of the world" (1 John 2:16). Saint John does not ask us not to love the creation, God's creation, but rather the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the arrogance of life, which constitutes in reality what is called the world. Saint Gregory Palamas teaches that the cosmos as a creature of God is neither to be held in contempt nor to be hated. In this meaning, the world has to be used by man for his maintenance. There is a danger, however, when someone views the world as a creature of God also to view it as the devil's deception; for the devil truly knows to utilize the world to deceive man.
In the Holy Scripture, it is said that the devil is a king of the world. Interpreting this term, Saint Gregory Palamas points out that God, Who created the world, is the real king of the world. The devil is called such because he dominates the world of injustice and sin. In discussing the departure from the world or the soul's exit from the body, as argued by the ancient philosophers; but rather it is the absence of attachment by the soul to the body. Naturally, when the Holy Fathers refer to the body, they do not mean the body as such but rather the carnal spirit, the passions of the flesh and the adoration of the body.
It is in the context that the Holy Fathers discuss the world. Theoleptos of Philadelphia says, "I call 'world' the love of material objects and of the flesh." He who is liberated from these becomes akin to Christ and acquire His love." More generally, to quote Saint Isaac the Syrian, "when we want to name all passions, we call them cosmos (world). It is exactly this meaning of the word world that is used in the term secularism and that we will employ hereafter. Secularism is man's distortion by the spirit of the flesh and the passions. When our life is permeated by passions, by the world of injustice, and when we pursue such a life within the Church and try to be theologians in such a manner, this is secularism. Secularism is life's estrangement from God, our not pursuing communion and unity with Him, our attachment to earthly matters, and our viewing of all things and issues in our life from God's will. One could claim that secularism is a synonym for anthropocentricism.
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
(To be continued)
With sincere agape in Our Risen Savior Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God