My beloved spiritual children 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.
A PRAYER TO THE HOLY ANGEL WHO HAS BEEN SENT BY GOD TO PROTECT AND GUARD US
O Holy Angel, attendant of my wretched soul and of my afflicted life, forsake me not, a sinner, neither depart from me for my incontinency. Give no place to the evil demons, to subdue me with the oppression of this mortal body; but take me by my wretched and outstretched hand, and lead me in the way of salvation. Yes, O Holy Angel of God, the guardian and protector of my hapless soul and body, forgive me all things whatsoever wherewith I have troubled You, all the days of my life, and if I have sinned anything this day. Shelter me in this present night, and keep me from every affront of the enemy, lest I anger God by any sin; and intercede with the Lord on my behalf, that He might strengthen me in the fear of Him, and make me a worthy servant of His Goodness. Amen.
By Saint John Climacus
"Let us approach willingly the most sacred prayer, the queen of the virtues, speaking to us with an exalted voice and saying: Come to me, all who have become weary of the carnal and the worldly and the demonic warfare, and I will redeem you from all of these and give you rest" (cf. St. Matthew 11:18).
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On June 25th 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, Teachers and every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Righteous Martyr and much-suffering Fevronia of Nisibis; Holy Martyr Orentius of Anatolia and his six brothers whose names were Pharnacius, Eros, Firmus, Firminus, Kyriakos, and Longinos; Holy Righteous Martyrs Leonis, Livya, and Eftropia, who were perfected in martyrdom, the first by fire, the others by the sword; our Righteous Father Simon; our Righteous Father Dionysius, Founder of the sacred Monastery of the Venerable Forerunner on Mount Athos; our Righteous and Spirit-bearing Father Domentius, friend and fellow ascetic of Saint Dionysius, who was also a shepherd and Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Monastery of Dionysiou; Holy Righteous Martyr Procopius of Varna; New Holy Martyr George of Attalia, who was perfected in martyrdom by hanging in Crena of Asia Minor in the year of our Lord 1823; our Father among the Saints Maximus, Bishop of Turin; our Righteous Father Moluag, Enlightener of the Isle of Lismore in Scotland; Saint Peter and Fevronia of Murom, the Wonderworker, who in the holy and angelic habit were renamed David and Efrosyne; holy New Confessor Nicon of Optina.
+By the holy intercessions of the Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Mothers, Holy Righteous, Holy Fathers, Holy Enlighteners, Holy Wonderworkers, Holy Confessors, Holy Ascetics, Holy Bishops, Holy Egoumenoi, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
HOLY RIGHTEOUS MARTYR FEVRONIA. This Holy Martyr practiced the ascetic discipline of Nisibis of Mesopotamia; she was of such great beauty that the report of her came to the pagan persecutor Selenus, and every attempt was made to make her deny Christ. After many horrible tortures, she was cruelly dismembered by the executioners, then beheaded, in the year 310 A.D. (or, according to some, in 302 A.D. during the reign of the pagan Roman Emperor Diocletian).
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
In ascetic discipline, thou was made fair as a virgin; then, O famed Fevronia, thou shonest forth as a martyr; with thy lamp in hand, thou rannest unto thy Bridegroom, having watched throughout the night of martyric sufferings. And since thou art crowned in glory, thou intercedest for them that praise thee with faith.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Romans 8:2-13
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 10:16-22
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE WORKS OF THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"By repentance I mean not just forsaking our former evil deeds, but also doing good deeds greater than the evil ones. 'Bear fruit that befits repentance,' says Saint John the Baptist (St. Matt. 3:8). But how shall we bear that fruit? By doing the opposite things. For example, have you seized other's property by violence? From now on, give away your own property. Have you been guilty of fornication for a long time? Abstain even from your wife for certain appointed days, and exercise continence. Have you insulted and struck people passing by? From now on, bless those who insult you, and do good to those who strike you. It's not enough for our health just to pull out the arrow; we must apply remedies to the wound. Have you lived in self-indulgence, and been drunk in the past? Fast, and be careful to drink water, to destroy the ill that has grown up inside you. Have you looked with unchaste eyes on beauty that belonged to another? From now on don't even look at a woman at all, to keep yourself safer." (Saint John Chrysostom, Homily 10 on St. Matthew, chapter 7)
CORPOREAL CHARITY IS REQUIRED OF LAYMEN
(Source: The Evergetinos: A Complete Text)
From the Gerontikon
I once was visiting Abba (Father) Joseph at Ennaton; by coincidence, the sophist Sophronios [who taught rhetoric in Damascus and who is often identified, despite some recent scholarly doubts in this regard, as one with St. Sophronios (560-638 AD), who later became Patriarch of Jerusalem] was also there. As we were conversing with the Elder (Geronda), a visitor came from Aila and gave the Elder some coins, saying, 'Bless me, Father, that my ship, which I chartered and sent to Ethiopia, will have a good journey.'
The Elder did not even look at the offering of money and paid it no heed. So, Sophronios, seeing the Elder's indifference, said to him: "Elder, take the money he offered and give it to some brother who is in need." To this suggestion, the Elder replied: "So I can thus be doubly disgraced: on the one hand, that I should accept money when I have no need of it and, on the other hand, that I should reap with my own hand the thistles of another? God grant me to be able to reap the thistles of my own soul. I say this because a God-inspired adage says that, if you are disposed towards sowing, sow from your own seeds; for strange seeds can be most bitter with tares. This is all the more so, my child, when the reason for charity is not the salvation of the soul."
With some surprise, Sophoronios asked: "What then? Are all of those things which a man does in charity reckoned nothing by God?" The Elder replied: "This is in accordance with the goal with which the charity is undertaken, since there are many and diverse circumstances in which charity is undertaken. One man offers charity to bless his household, and God also blesses it; another offers charity for his ship, and the Lord blesses the ship with a good journey; another for his children, and God protects his children; yet another to be glorified, and God glorifies him. God disdains no one, as long as the soul of such a man is not harmed by what God grants.
"In keeping, then, with the goal for which charity is shown, God grants the corresponding supplication, even though this may be of no benefit to these people in the future life. You, however, as often as you show charity, should do so for your soul, and God will grant unto you what you need. This truth is written in a God-inspired axiom: '(The Lord) grant thee according to thine own heart' (Psalm 19:5). There are many people who have the idea that they are doing charitable works, and yet they provoke God in this instance."
At this point Sophronios, not grasping the meaning of what was being said, commented: "Father, please clarify for us what you mean by these words."
The Elder replied: "God, as we know from the Old Testament, commanded that there be offered to Him the first fruits of the agricultural products of the earth and the first animals form a flock, that all thereafter might be blessed and that sins might be forgiven. In addition, He commanded that the first male child of a family be dedicated to Him. The wealthy, out of guile and cunning, do that total opposite; they keep for themselves all that is useful and valuable, while everything that is worthless and fit to throw away they distribute among their poor brothers. By way of example, the best wine they drink themselves; but the vinegary wine and that which has an odor they give to the widows and orphans. The best fruits they eat themselves and the rotten fruit they offer to the poor.
They do the same thing with clothing. Whatever is new and usable they wear themselves, throwing to the poor what is old and all ragged...It is thus that God, Who knows our hearts, dismisses and refuses these offerings. Therefore, Cain, when he offered sacrifice to God, not only did not please Him, but provoked Him.
"So, people should reflect: When we want to honor mortal men, such as ourselves, we are mindful to give to them, as gifts, that which they will consider more valuable than any other. Should we not so much more, then, offer to God--our Creator, the Giver of all good things, from Whom we receive all of the things from which we make our offerings--the most choice and valuable things?
"When we wish to propitiate God with our charity, we owe it to offer, on His behalf, the choicest goods from all that we have available, so that God does not, to our shame, see our gift as an abomination and thus dismiss it as unacceptable.
"From the following incident, we may conclude that God accepts or rejects a sacrifice in accordance with the disposition of the soul of the one offering it: The sacrifice of Noah was well received by God, even though it was just aromatic smoke, since his offering was good and counted by God as a fragrant smell, as Scripture also says: "...and the Lord smelled a sweet savor" (Genesis 8:21). By contrast, the offering of sacrifices to God which come forth from the cunning intention of a person, even though it many include many fruits which appear to be rich and beautiful, are abhorrent and repulsive to the Lord, like the sacrifices and incense offerings of the Hebrews. God said to the Hebrews through the Prophet: 'Vain incense offerings are an abomination unto Me' (Isaiah 1:13).
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.
May the Lord God strengthen the holy and pure faith of devout Orthodox Christians, and of His Holy Church, this city and Parish, to the endless ages. Amen
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God