Beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Christ, God, Redeemer and the Only Savior of the world,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
FROM SUNDAY OF THE PARALYTIC
Thou didst descend into the deepest parts of the earth, and didst shatter the everlasting bars that held fast those that were fettered, O Christ. And on the third day, like Jonas from the sea monster, Thou didst arise from the grave.
Having kept the seal intact, O Christ, Thou didst rise from the tomb, O Thou Who didst not break the seal of the Virgin by Thy birth; and Thou hast opened unto us the gates of Paradise.
O My Savior, the Life-Giving and unslain Sacrifice, when, as God, Thou of Thine own will hadst offered up Thyself unto the Father, Thou didst raise up with Thyself the whole race of Adam when Thou dist rise from the graves.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On May 13th 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 of every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Mother and Martyr Glyceria of Trajanopolis; our Righteous Father Sergius the Confessor; Saint Pafsicacus, Bishop of Synnada; Saint Laodicius the prison-guard; Holy Hieromartyr Alexander, Bishop of Tiberiani, was perfected in martyrdom by the sword; our Righteous Father Efthymius the New, Founder of the sacred Monastery of Iveron; St. John the Iberian, father of the said Efthymius; and St. George their kinsman; Saint Gabriel the Iberian, who heard the divine voice of the Holy Mother of God, and took from the sea the wonderworking (miracle-working) Icon of the Ever-Virgin of the Portal; On this day the Righteous Martyrs, the monks of the holy Monastery of Iveron that censured the Latin (Roman Catholic)-minded Emperor Michael Paleologus and the Patriarch John Beccus, were perfected in martyrdom when they were cast into the sea; St. Nicephoros, Presbyter of the Monastery of Ephapsis; our Father among the Saints Servatius, Bishop of Tongres in the Netherlands; Saint Macarius of Glushitsa; Saint Glykeria the virgin, of Novgorod; Holy Righteous Martyr Macarius of Kanev, Archimandrite of Ovruch; On this day we commemorate the Consecration of the venerable and divine Temple of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos, called Pantanasa, that is, Queen of all, on the Island of Saint Glyceria.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy bishops, Holy Archimandrites, Holy Monks, Holy Mothers, Holy Fathers, Holy Virgins, Holy Presbyters, Holy Ascetics, Holy Confessors, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY MARTYR GLYKERIA. The daughter of a governor of Rome, she became poor after her father's death and went to live in Trajanopolis in Thrace. In the time of the wicked Emperor Antoninus, St. Glykeria was brought to offer sacrifice to the idol of Zeus. She traced the Cross on her forehead and, when the governor asked her where was her lamp (for they all carried lamps in their hands), St. Glykeria indicated the Cross on her forehead and said: "This is my lamp!" At her prayers, the idol was struck by lightning and broken into pieces. The governor was furious with her and commanded that she be thrown into prison. He sealed the door of the prison, intending to starve the maiden to death, but an Angel of God appeared to St. Glykeria and gave her heavenly food. After a certain time, when the governor reckoned that the maiden must have died of hunger, he opened the prison and was astounded to see her in good health, bright and merry. The warder, Laodicius, seeing this marvel, himself confessed Christ the Lord and was at once beheaded. After that St. Glykeria was thrown into a burning furnace, but she remained untouched by the flames. Standing in the midst of the fire, she praised the Lord, commemorating the wonder with the Three Children in the burning fiery furnace in Babylon. Finally, she was thrown to the lions and, praying to God, this holy maiden gave her soul into the hands of the Lord for Whom she had heroically suffered much torture. She suffered with honor in the year of our Lord 141 A.D. A healing myrrh flowed from her holy relics, which healed the sick of the gravest illnesses.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 10:21-33
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 7:1-13
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
Train your tongue to serve righteousness
What we say can be as important as what we do. St. John Chrysostom reminds us that it's up to us to decide whether we'll use our tongues for good or for evil. "First of all, we should train our tongues to be ministers of the grace of the Spirit, expelling from our mouths all hostility and ill will, and the habit of using obscenities. We have the power to make each part of our bodies a tool of evil or of righteousness. So listen how some people make the tongue an instrument of evil, and others of righteousness. 'Their tongues are sharp swords" (Psalm 57:4); but another says this about his own tongue, 'My tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe" (Psalm 45:1). The first wrought destruction; the second wrote the divine law. So one was a sword and the other a pen--not by its own nature, but by the choice of those who use it. The nature of the one tongue and the other was the same, but what they did was not the same." (St. John Chrysostom)
Please note: It has been brought to my attention that some of our parishioners are engaged in slander, hateful, mean-spirited, and vicious attacks on others within our church. These individuals, who are filled, not by the grace of the Holy Spirit, but by poison and evil, bring damnation upon their own souls and need to immediately repent, seek the forgiveness from those whom they have attacked and above all forgiveness from God through the sacrament of Repentance and Holy Confession. Saint James the Holy Apostle writes: "And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell...it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison..." (St. James 3:6-8).
As we grow older we need to be focused more on our salvation and of living a virtuous life. "Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, Who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?" (St. James 4:11-12).
THE ORTHODOX CHURCH
By Metropolitan Kallistos Ware
"Suddenly there came from heaven a sound like the rushing of a violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues like flames of fire, divided among them and resting on each one. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:2-4). So the history of the Christian Church begins, with the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles at Jerusalem during the feast of Pentecost, the first Whit Sunday. On that same day through the preaching of Saint Peter three thousand men and women were baptized, and the first Christian community at Jerusalem was formed.
Before long the members of the Jerusalem Church were scattered by the persecution which followed the stoning of Saint Stephen. 'Go forth therefore,' Christ had said, 'and make all nations my disciples' (St. Matthew 28:19). Obedient to this command they preached wherever they went, at first to Jews, but before long to Gentiles also. Some stories of these Apostolic journeys are recorded by Saint Luke in the book of Acts; others are preserved in the tradition of the Church. The legends about the Apostles may not always be literally true, but it is at any rate certain that within an astonishingly short time small Christian communities had sprung in all the main centers of the Roman Empire and even in places beyond the Roman frontiers.
The Empire through which these first Christian missionaries travelled was, particularly in its eastern part, an empire of cities. This determined the administrative structure of the primitive Church. The basic unit was the community in each city, governed by its own bishop; to assist the bishop there were presbyters or priests, and deacons. The surrounding countryside depended on the Church of the city. This pattern, with the threefold ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons, was already widely established by the end of the first century. We can see it in the seven short letters which Saint Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, wrote about the year 107 A.D. as he travelled to Rome to be martyred. Saint Ignatius laid emphasis upon two things in particular, the bishop and the Eucharist; he saw the Church as both hierarchical and sacramental. 'The bishop in each Church,' he wrote, 'presides in place of God.' 'Let no one do any of the things which concern the Church without the bishop...Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be, just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.' [my addition: The Church is called "Catholic" for many reasons. First, because she preserves the whole truth. Second, because her life is common to all. The adjective catholic is identified with the adjective orthodox. A true Catholic is an Orthodox believer, because he possesses the whole truth and is completely transfigured by it.] And it is the bishop's primary and distinctive task to celebrate the Eucharist, 'the medicine of immortality'.
People today tend to think of the Church as a worldwide organization, in which each local body forms part of a larger and more inclusive whole. Saint Igantius did not look at the Church in this way. For him the local community is the Church. He thought of the Church as a Eucharistic society, which only realizes its true nature when it celebrates the Supper of the Lord, receiving His Body and Blood in the sacrament. But the Eucharist is something that can only happen locally--in each particular community gathered round its bishop; and at every local celebration of the Eucharist is the whole Christ Who is present, not just a part of Him. Therefore each local community, as it celebrates the Eucharist Sunday by Sunday, is the Church in its fullness.
The teaching of St. Ignatius has a permanent place in Orthodox Tradition. Orthodoxy still thinks of the Church as a Eucharistic society, whose outward organization, however necessary, is secondary to its inner, sacramental life; and Orthodoxy still emphasizes the cardinal importance of the local community in the structure of the Church. To those who attend an Orthodox Pontifical Liturgy, when the bishop stands at the beginning of the service in the middle of the church, surrounded by his flock, St. Ignatius of Antioch's idea of the bishop as the center of unity in the local community will occur with particular vividness.
But besides the local community there is also the wider unity of the Church. This second aspect is developed in the writings of another martyr bishop, Saint Cyprian of Carthage (died 258 A.D.). Saint Cyprian saw all bishops as sharing in the one episcopate, yet sharing it in such a way that each possesses not a part but the whole. 'The episcopate,' he wrote, 'is a single whole, in which each bishop enjoys full possession. So is the Church a single whole, though it spreads far and wide into a multitude of churches as its fertility increases.' There are many churches but only one Church; many episcopi but only one episcopate.
There were many others in the first three centuries of the Church who like Saints Cyprian and Ignatius ended their lives as martyrs. The persecutions, it is true, were often local in character and usually limited in duration. Yet although there were long periods when the Roman authorities extended to Christianity a large measure of toleration, the threat of persecution was always there, and Christians knew that at any time this threat could become a reality. The idea of martyrdom had a central place in the spiritual outlook of the early Christians. They saw their Church as founded upon blood--not only the Blood of Christ but the blood of those 'other Christs,' the martyrs. In later centuries when the Church became 'established' and no longer suffered persecution, the idea of martyrdom did not disappear, but it took other forms: the monastic life, for example, is often regarded by Greek writers as an equivalent to martyrdom. The same approach is found also in the west: take, for instance, a Celtic text--an Irish homily of the seventh century-which likens the ascetic life to the way of the martyr:
"Now there are three kinds of martyrdom which are accounted as a Cross to a man, white martyrdom, green martyrdom, and red martyrdom. White martyrdom consists in a man's abandoning everything he loves for God's sake...Green martyrdom consists in this, that by means of fasting and labors he frees himself from his evil desires; or suffers toil in penance and repentance. Red martyrdom consists in the endurance of a Cross or death for Christ's sake."
At many periods in Orthodox history the prospect of red martyrdom has been fairly remote, and the green and white forms prevail. Yet there have also been times, above all in this present century, when Orthodox Christians have once again been called to undergo martyrdom of blood.
(To be continued)
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
With sincere agape in our Risen Lord and Savior,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God