Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Risen Lord, God, Redeemer and the Only Savior of the world,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
TO OUR RESURRECTED LORD JESUS CHRIST
Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus, the only sinless One. We venerate Your Cross, O Christ, and Your Holy Resurrection we praise and glorify; for You are our God, we know no other; it is Your Name we invoke. Come, all you faithful, let us worship Christ's Holy Resurrection; for behold, through the Cross joy has come to all the world. Ever blessing the Lord, let us praise His Resurrection. For in enduring the Cross for us, He destroyed death by death.
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His Only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:7-11).
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On May 8th 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 made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Synaxis of the Holy Dust, that is, the Manna, that issued from the grave of the holy and glorious Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian; the virgin and Beloved Bosom Friend of Christ; Saint Arsenius the Great; our righteous Father Meles the Hymnographer; a whole regiment of soldiers was perfected in martyrdom by the sword; Holy Martyr Victor Mavrus of Milan; our righteous Father Arsenius the Lover of Labor of the Kiev Caves; Saint Arsenius of Novgorod; Holy New Hieromartyr Arsenius, Metropolitan of Novgorod, who was slain by the atheists in the year of our Lord 1936; on this day we commemorate the supernatural wonder wrought on the unjustly blinded Stephen through the holy and venerable Icon of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos of Cassiopeia, whereby he was granted new eyes, in the year of our Lord 1530.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Mothers, Holy Fathers, Holy Ascetics, Holy Apostles, Holy Hieromartyr, Holy Soldiers, Holy Hymnographers, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY APOSTLE AND EVANGELIST JOHN. The main commemoration of this great Apostle and Evangelist is on September 26th, but on May 8th is commemorated a wonderful revelation about his grave. When Saint John was more than a hundred years old, he took seven of his disciples, went outside the city of Ephesus and told the disciples to dig a grave in the form of a cross. Then the old man went down alive into the grave and was buried. When the faithful later opened Saint John's grave, they did not find the body in it. And on May 8th each year a dust arose from the grave, from which those suffering from man diseases were healed.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 1 John 1:1-7
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 6:48-54
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"It's better to be silent and be a Christian, than to talk and not be a Christian. It's good to teach--if the teacher also acts. Then there is one Teacher, Who spoke, and it was done. Even those things He did in silence are worthy of the Father. Whoever possesses the word of Jesus can truly hear even his very silence, so that he may be perfect, and act as he speaks, and be recognized by his silence. Nothing is hidden from God; our secrets themselves are near to Him. So let us do everything as people who have God dwelling in us, so that we may be His temples, and He may be in us as our God--which indeed He is, and will show Himself to us. For that reason we are right to love Him." (Saint Ignatius of Antioch)
By Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica (Source: Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives)
God is Love. And if we call upon God in our life as the Holy Fathers teach us, then we are calling upon Love. If we know and believe that He is present everywhere at all times and if we are united with Him in our hearts. He will teach us how to love our neighbor. For we do not know how to love either the Lord or our neighbor. The evil spirits so interfere with the Divine love given us by God that they often lure us away from the path of real and true love. Their suggestions are full of physical and emotional aspects of this world: enjoyment and lust, which is nothing but enslavement.
It often happens that a person, either young or old, falls in love with another person or even an object. Some people fall in love with gold and cannot bear to be separated from it or from their wealth, house, and possessions, and they become enslaved. If someone were to take this from them, they would become desperate. Many times the powers of evil bring such people to the brink of self-destruction.
Is this love? The spirits of evil often come and meddle with the Divine love that God has planted in us. That kind of love [corrupted by the evil spirits] is without discernment. But the love of God is boundless...Love is perfection, says the Apostle (cf. Romans 13:10). God is perfect, He is faultless. And so, when Divine love becomes manifest in us in the fullness of Grace, we radiate this love not only on the earth, but throughout the entire universe as well. So God is in us, and He is present everywhere. It is God's all-encompassing love that manifests itself in us. When this happens we see no difference between people--everyone is good, everyone is our brother, and we consider ourselves to be the worst of men, servants of every created thing.
In this kind of love we are humbled; our soul is at peace and in humility. And humility is the perfection of the Christian life. It is not in the raising of the dead or in working miracles that Christian perfection lies, but in extreme humility. When we are illumined by the Grace of the Holy Spirit in the fullness of Divine love, then we want to serve everyone and help everyone. Even when we see a little ant struggling, we want to help him.
So, love is sacrifice. Love sacrifices itself for its neighbor.
The Lord is always waiting for us to unite ourselves with Him in love, but instead we drift further and further away from Him. We know that there can be no life without love. But His love is not according to the understanding of this world. The love that the world gives us consists of suffering and enslavement because the spirits of evil interfere with it. There is a little bit of love, but mostly it is just enslavement. The spirits of evil try to enslave us so that we become tied to certain people or things, in order to prevent our hearts from going to God, the Source of life and love. For they know that if our hearts unite with Him, then they cannot come close to us. The man who is given Grace and who is united with God's love is also protected by this Divine love, and the evil spirits cannot come close to him.
Love is the most powerful means of defense there is. There are no weapons and no power that can measure themselves against love. Everything is defeated before love.
All of nature is a great mystery, from the plants and birds to man, for God is present everywhere. He discloses a small part of this great mystery to those who truly love Him--to men of pure heart. God is an incomprehensible energy. Man also has incomprehensible energy. When these two energies are in harmony, we have paradise on earth, joy, and all-encompassing love.
We can all be good if, with all our hearts, we unite ourselves with the Source of life, God. He will give us strength to love both ourselves and our neighbor. Without God it is not possible to love oneself, even. Many people become depressed and hopeless and attempt to take their own lives, for without God we cannot even love ourselves, let alone our friends, family, and neighbors--or our enemies for that matter. All is possible with God, for He is our strength and our life. We must give our heart to someone, and if we give it to any person on this planet, this person can harm us. We all seek boundless and unchangeable love and infinite peace, but who can give it to us? Not even our parents, our brothers, or our sisters. Every one of them can abandon, despise, or harm us. Why? Because we are all limited by time and space and we all battle against the unclean powers, which are constantly defiling our thoughts.
To whomever we give our heart, this person can harm us or abandon us. The spirits of wickedness are constantly putting evil thoughts into our feeling of love and preying on us. Divine love is boundless and all-encompassing, whereas we are attached to men and the lifeless things of this world, and if those things are taken away from us, our hearts are saddened and they suffer.
One must love God first, and only then can one love one's closest of kin and neighbors. We must not be as idols to one another, for such is not the will of God.
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