Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE SEVENTH PRAYER OF ORTHROS (Matins)
O God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, You have raised us from our beds of sleep, and have gathered us for the hour of prayer. Grant that as we open our mouth in prayer, our offering of thanksgiving prayers may be acceptable to You. Teach us Your judgments, for we do not know how to pray unless You, Lord, will guide us by Your Holy Spirit. For this reason we beseech You to have mercy and forgive whatever sins, up to this time, we have, voluntary or involuntary, committed in word, in deed, in thought. For if You were to regard our sins, O Lord, who would be able to stand before You, Lord? Redemption comes from You; for You are the only One Who is Holy; The only powerful Helper and Defender of our life, and our praise is always given to You. May the power of Your Kingdom be ever blessed and glorified, of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATIONS OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On June 19th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions (prayers) 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 Apostle Jude, the Brother of the Lord; Saint Paisius the Great of Egypt; Saint Paisius the Bulgarian of Hilander, Mt. Athos; Saint John Maximovitch of Shanghai and San Francisco; Holy Myrrh-bearer Mary, mother of Apostle James; Saint Zosimas the Soldier at Antioch; Saint Macarius of Petra; Saint John the Solitary of Jerusalem; Saint Romuald of Revenna; Saint Job, Patriarch of Moscow; Saint Zeno of Egypt; Saint Varlaam of Shenkursk; Saint Parthenius of Russia; Saint Asyncretos, martyred at the church of Holy Peace by the Sea in Constantinople.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Apostles, Holy Ascetics, Holy Archbishops, Holy Patriarchs, Holy Fathers, Holy Mothers, Holy Confessors, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
SAINT JOHN MAXIMOVITCH OF SHANGHAI AND SAN FRANCISCO THE WONDERWORKER. Saint John was born in Russia in 1896 and at first given the name Michael. When he became a monk, he took the name of John in honor of his relative Saint John of Tobolsk. He taught at the Orthodox Seminary in Serbia, and then was elevated to bishop and sent to Shanghai, China. He became known for his daily church services, the strictness of his own asceticism, coupled with a loving heart, and the raising of orphans. By this time, St. John had been known as a holy man for some time. In 1950, St. John and his spiritual children safely left Shanghai. He was then elevated to Archbishop of Paris and later to San Francisco in 1963. Wherever Saint John went, he inspired souls to convert to Orthodoxy. He also found and celebrated the services of many of the forgotten Saints of the West, and he foresaw and worked for the glorification of Saint Herman of Alaska as well. The power of St. John's prayers worked miracles in the lives of those for whom he prayed.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: St. Jude 1:1-25
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 14:21-24
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE WORKS OF THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS, HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"O relatives and close ones of the dead! Do for them what is needful for them and within your power. Use your money not for outward adornment of the coffin and grave, but in order to help those in need, in memory of your close ones who have died, for churches, where prayers for them are offered. Show mercy to the dead, take care of their souls. Before us all stands the same path, and how we shall then wish that we would be remembered in prayer! Let us therefore be ourselves merciful to the dead." (St. John Maximovitch of San Francisco)
THE ORTHODOX CHURCH AND THE GIFT OF THE TONGUES
By Father Alexis (Trader), Monastery of Karakalou, Mt. Athos, Greece. (Source: In Peace Let Us Pray to the Lord: An Orthodox Interpretation of the Gifts of the Spirit)
Following our Lord's Holy Resurrection, He Himself told His divine Apostles that "they shall speak with new tongues (languages)" as a sign following belief in Him. And indeed, the Apostles did speak "in new languages" and with renewed tongues. On the day of Holy Pentecost, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, they proclaimed the Gospel of Christ before foreigners present at Jerusalem who in turn heard the Apostolic proclamation in their native tongue as the foreigners themselves bore witness: "we do hear them speak in our language the wonderful works of God" (Acts 2:11). Before tyrants and rulers, they spoke the words of "the new language" of Grace inspired by the self-same Spirit. "For I," Christ told His disciples, "will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist" (St. Luke 21:15). Finally with "psalms and spiritual songs," they spoke "the new language" of prayer in their hearts through the Grace of the Divine Spirit following the Apostle Paul's exhortation: "teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (I Colossians 3:16).
In Christ's Holy Church, these "new languages" have always been present. One need only turn to the lives of the Martyrs and Confessors to see Christians speaking a new language, full of wisdom and strength that no philosopher or clever sage could overturn. One need only look to the Great Ecumenical Teachers and Fathers of the Church to find that "new language" that is able to formulate the saving Truth of Christ that purifies the heart, illumines the soul, and unites man with God. One need only read the lives of the God-bearing Fathers, "of whom the world the world was not worthy", who lived "in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth" (Hebrews 11:38), to encounter a "new language" sanctified by fasting and tears, the pure, yet silent, tongue of the prayer of the heart.
At the same time, it is clear that "speaking in tongues," when interpreted (or misinterpreted) literally as the gift of "speaking in foreign languages" is by no means the sine qua non of sanctity encountered in the life of every Saint. In every generation there are those who are given the grace to heal the sick in soul and body. There are those who through the grace of the Holy Spirit are intimately united with God in prayer. There are those who can see deep into the hearts of men. There are those who can see the future as though it were the present. (cf., Saint Paul's list of the gifts of the Spirit: "For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another diverse kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues" (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). Yet, it seems that only a few literally speak "foreign languages" by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Modern Pentecostals, Charismatics and non-denominational, born-again Christians clearly see this as a "deficiency." Saint John Chrysostom himself in fact bewailed the difference between the presence of the gifts (and above all virtue) in the first days of the Church and his own time, but he did not seek to acquire a gift that was God's to give, but sought to acquire virtue and holiness, those fruits of the synergy between the human and Divine Will, fruits which in turn through the grace of God have the power to unite God with man (cf., the commentary on First Corinthians). The Orthodox Christian's broad vision of the meaning of salvation (man's restoration to spiritual health), with the aid of his spiritual father, gives him the perspective necessary to perceive what he in fact lacks. Furthermore, he understands from experience that everything that takes place in his own life and that of the Church at large is governed by the wisdom of God. Gifts are not given at random, but according to the will of God to those good and faithful servants who have been faithful with a little. And these God-given gifts are precisely what are needed for the salvation of the believer and those around him. It is no deficiency for a heart surgeon to be lacking a plumber's wrench.
Thus, the Holy Orthodox Church was never subjected to a "protestant reformation" because, unlike the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church never ceased to purse Her Apostolic mission of healing the souls of those who turned to her in faith. (Please note: "Even the most superficial study of the Medieval Papacy indicates a radical shift in the Papacy's understanding of its mission after the 8th century. For an enlightening interpretation of the cause of this change, please see John Romanides "Franks, Romans, and Feudalism".) In other words, She, (the Orthodox Church) never fell into heresy, which spreads spiritual sickness rather than healing it. Likewise, She (the Orthodox Church) was never in need of "a Charismatic renewal" in order for the children to experience the life of the Holy Spirit. To assert such is to assert that the Church is not the Church, to utter "a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit." (St. Matthew 12:31). Father John Romanides (of blessed memory) notes, "we literally cannot speak about renewal of the life of the Church since:
1). The Church is the Body of Christ in Whom the believers abide and with Whom the members of the Church are filled from Pentecost.
2). The life of the Church is the glory of the Holy Trinity in the human nature of the Logos (Word); it is the house of God and the faithful.
"Thus, neither the Church nor Her life are renewed. Only Her members are renewed (Father John Romanides, "Test for the Application of Theology," pages 474-475).
In the Holy Orthodox Church, the grace of the Holy Spirit is tangibly present in all the aspects of Her life. The believer experiences Divine Grace through the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments), through the Divine Services, through the Holy Icons, through the Holy Relics, through the divine writings (scriptural and patristic), through those perfected members of the Church (the Saints in both the Church militant and triumphant or earthly and heavenly), through obedience to his spiritual father, and his own labors at prayer. For this reason, the believer is not in need of some "movement" outside the Church to supply him with that which the Church so naturally possesses in abundance. He is aware of his spiritual sickness and the Church places the means for his recovery at his disposal.
(To be continued)
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God