Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Lord, God, Redeemer and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
Let us who have beheld the Resurrection of Christ, worship our Holy Lord Jesus, Who is alone without sin. We worship Thy Cross, O Christ, and praise and glorify Thy Holy Resurrection. For Thou art our God, and we know none other beside Thee, and we call upon Thy Name. Come, all ye faithful, let us worship Christ's Holy Resurrection, for behold, through the Cross, joy has come to the whole world. We praise His Resurrection, and forever glorify the Lord. He endured the Cross for us, and by death destroyed Death. Jesus. having risen from the grave, as He foretold, has given to us Eternal Life and Great Mercy.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On May 5th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreaties of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Teachers and every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Irene the Great Martyr of Thessaloniki; Holy Martyrs Neophytos, Gaius, and Gaianus; Saint Varlaam of Serpukhov; Saint Adrian of Monzenski; New Holy Martyr Ephraim of Nea Makri; Saint Efthymius, Bishop of Maditos in Thrace; Uncovering of the holy relics of James, Egoumenos (Abbot) of Zhelezny Bor; Saint Hydrock of Cornwall.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Bishops, Holy Mothers, Holy Fathers, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
HOLY AND GLORIOUS GREAT MARTYR IRENE. Saint Irene was the daughter of a princelet called Licinius; named Penelope by her parents through a divine revelation she was brought to faith in Christ and at Baptism was renamed Irene. In her zeal for piety she broke in pieces all the idols of her father, who commanded that she be trampled underfoot by horses. But while she remained unharmed, one of the horses rose up and cast down her father, killing him. By her prayer she raised him to life again, and he believed and was baptized. Afterwards, in many journeys, Saint Irene suffered tortures and punishments for her faith, but was preserved by the power of God, while working dread miracles and converting many thousands of souls. At last she came to Ephesus, where she fell asleep in peace, in the first half of the 4th century. Two days after her death, her gravestone was found lifted off, and her grave empty. At least two churches were dedicated to Saint Irene in Constantinople, and she is also the patroness of the Aegean island of Thera, which is commonly called Santorini (Santa-Ireni), a corruption of "Saint Irene."
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Fourth Tone
O Lord Jesus, unto Thee thy lamb doth cry with a great voice: O my Bridegroom, Thee I love; and seeking Thee, I now contest, and with Thy baptism am crucified and buried. I suffer for Thy sake, that I may reign with Thee; for Thy sake I die, that I may live in Thee: accept me offered out of longing to Thee as a spotless sacrifice. Lord, save our souls through her intercessions, since Thou art great in mercy.
Kontakion Hymn. Third tone
Being fair adorned before with pure and virginal beauty, thou becamest fairer still in thy brave contest, O virgin; for when thou, in thine own spilt blood, wast stained and reddened, O Irene, thou overthrewest ungodly error. Hence, thou hast received the prizes of thy good victory from thy Creator's right hand.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 6:8-15, 7:1-5, 47-60
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 4:46-54
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS, HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"The man who still loves empty fame or is attached to some material thing is the one who is offended at men for the sake of temporal goods, who bears them grudges or hate, who is a slave of shameful thoughts; to the God-loving soul all these things are foreign." (Saint Maximus the Confessor)
SECULARISM IN PASTORAL CARE
By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos
Pastoral care is not unrelated to and independent of the Church and theology. Pastoral care is the work of the Church that aims at admitting man to Her Body, at making him Her true member; it is the Church's method of guiding man to theosis (deification), which is the Church's deeper objective. Further, pastoral care is not unrelated to theology, for the true theologians are true shepherds, and those who shepherd in an Orthodox way do so theologically. Therefore, what we have said so far about the Church and theology applies to pastoral care as well. The true Shepherds of the Church are the deified, those who partake, to various degrees, in the deifying energy of God or those who accept the deified and follow their teaching. Thus, we either are deified or accept those who are and exercise pastoral care with their aid.
Moses reached theosis (deification) by Grace; he saw God in His glory and then undertook the heavy task of the pastoral guidance of the people. As Saint Gregory of Nyssa says, before seeing God, Moses was unable to separate two Hebrews fighting with each other; after the vision of God, Moses was able to guide a difficult and uncompromising people. It is indicative that Moses passed the experience of theosis (deification) on to the people through his guidance and the laws.
The same can be observed in all church life. Saint Gregory the Theologian views pastoral care as the most difficult science, and he definitely ties it to man's theosis (deification). For this reason, he desired that the shepherds be previously cured in order to be able to guide their spiritual children to therapy and theosis (deification).
The Sacred Canons of the Church present the pastoral method and are medicine to cure man. If we view the Canons as legal schemes and structures, we fail to recognize their true place within the Church. The Canons presupposes man's illness, which is the darkening of the nous, and they aim at man's health, which is the illumination of the nous and theosis (deification). According to Saint Basil the Great, there are five stages for those who repent: those who stay outside the Church, crying and asking to be forgiven by the Christians, those who attend and listen to the Divine Word but leave the Church at the time the catechumens do; those who stay at the narthex of the Church and attend the Divine Liturgy, remain there and pray with the rest of the faithful without, however, partaking in the Body and Blood of Christ. These stages illustrate that every sin, which constitutes the darkening of the nous, is a repetition of Adam's sin and degradation from true life. In this sense, repentance is the struggle for man to become a member of the Church...
It is harmful when we maintain an anthropocentric position and believe that man's health can be brought about by the method of listening and talking. Man's soul, created by God in order to attain theosis (deification), does not find rest with moralistic advice and human external support. As we have said, the illness lies deeper, in the nous. It does not consist of certain suppressed and traumatic experiences of the past, but in the darkening and mortification of the nous. Therapy and illumination of the nous cannot be achieved by anthropocentric methods, advice, and psychoanalysis.
In conclusion, we can say that secularism is the Church's gravest danger. It is what adulterates her true spirit, her true atmosphere. Of course, we must repeat that it adulterates not the Church, for the Church is the real and blessed Body of Christ, but the members of the Church. Therefore, we should more properly refer to the secularization of the members of the Church.
The Church is the jewel of the world, the charity of mankind. When, however, this jewel of the world is permeated by the so-called secular spirit, when Christians, the members of the Church, instead of belonging to this jewel, instead of becoming the light of the world, are inspired by the world in the sense of the passions and become the world, and then they experience secularism. The secularism does not lead to theosis (deification). It is an anthropocentric view of our life. The Church should enter the world to transform it rather than the world entering the Church to secularize it.
A secularized church is completely weak and unable to transform the world, and secularized Christians have failed at all levels.
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