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.
PSALM 54 (53)
Save me, O God, by Your name, and vindicate me by Your strength. Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers have risen up against me, and oppressors, have sought after my life; they have not set God before them. Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is with those who uphold my life. He will repay my enemies for their evil. Cut them off in Your truth. I will freely sacrifice to You; I will praise Your name, O Lord, for it is good. For He has delivered me out of all trouble; and my eye has seen its desire upon my enemies.
[The prokeimenon (gradual) of Wednesday Vespers service, this psalm is also used in the daily prayers at the Sixth Hour--noontime. It is a prayer said in adversity, with the underlying assumption that noonday is the hour of greatest adversity.]
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On July 10th 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: Deposition of the Precious Robe of the Lord at Moscow; 45 Holy Martyrs at Nicopolis in Armenia; 10,000 Holy Fathers of the desert and caves of Scetis; Saint Anthony of the Kiev Caves; Saints Bianor and Silvanos of Pisidia; Saint Apollonius of Sardis; Saint Silouan of the Far Caves in Kiev; Saint Gregory, Bishop of Assos near Ephesus; Saint Evmenis and St. Parthenius of Crete; Saint Joseph of Damascus, and Holy Companions; Synaxis (Assembly) of All Saints of Vatopedi Monastery, Mt. Athos, Greece; Synaxis of Saint John the Theologian in Beatus; "Konevits" Holy Icon of the Mother of God.
HOLY 45 MARTYRS OF NICOPOLIS IN ARMENIA, INCLUDING LEONTIOS, DANIEL, ALEXANDER, MAURICE, ANTHONY, SISINIUS, ANICETOS, VERELAD, AND MENEOS. Unfathomable was the agony of these Holy Martyrs of the Church. Leontios and a few friends came before the governor during the 4th century persecutions of the pagan Roman Emperor Licinius. The governor attacked them, saying that their Christ had been crucified and had died. St. Leontios told him that He also rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. They were beaten, imprisoned, and left to starve to death. A Christian woman gave them water through the prison bars, and an Angel of God comforted and encouraged them. At their trial, the jailers and many others came forward as Christians. Their arms and legs were cut off, and all together, they were burned.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Romans 15:17-29
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 12:46-50, 13:1-3
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE WORKS OF THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"Imagination is like a multiform and many-head monster similar to the mythical Daedalos and Hydra, which the devil utilizes as sort of bridge, as the Saints have previously noted. These murderous villains communicate and unite themselves with the soul, making it into a hive of parasites, a place of passionate and fruitless thoughts." (Saint Kallistos)
A MIRACLE WROUGHT THROUGH ALMSGIVING
By Elder Cleopa of Sihastria
Counsels to Laity
Please note: In part I of this article we left off with the order from the Emperor to locate Anastasia the widow woman before the church could consecrated.
"In all the commotion that was going on in the rear of the church, she (another widow), asked 'What is the matter?' When someone told her that they were looking for a widow by the name Anastasia, she said, 'I know Anastasia. She lives at the edge of town.' The old woman told this to the Emperor and he then immediately sent servants to find her and bring her to the church.
"The men went to the house in the untilled garden. What did they find at the widow Anastasia's door? No lock. No latch. It was obvious that the woman was not home. Children playing told the men that Anastasia had left with an armful of grass.
The generals and other men returned to give their report to the Emperor. 'Your Majesty, we went and found the small house on the edge of town. There were some children playing and they said that Anastasia is here, in this crowd, somewhere.'
"Someone who knew Anastasia, heard this and said that she was in the church, 'She is praying to the Savior!' If she is in church, tell her not to be afraid, since she has never met me,' said the Emperor. 'Send some elderly women to her to tell her that at the consecration of the church the Emperor is going to make a gift of a cow to all the old women.'
"Following the Emperor's order, they found the elderly Anastasia and brought her before the Emperor who said, 'Don't be afraid, Anastasia. You have been found worthy of a great blessing from God! What offering did you bring this morning for the consecration of the church?' I did not bring anything, Your Majesty, because I am so poor! She did not consider the armful of grass that she'd given the oxen as any kind of offering.
"Please think, dear Anastasia. You must have brought a great gift because my church has been given to you! I didn't bring any gift because I have no money. I have nothing! All I have is a sickle and a pitchfork.
"This is an imperial church and I spent a fortune from my own gold and silver to build it; but look at the inscription that says if was made by Anastasia! What did you give to this church?' "I didn't give anything except for an armful of grass to a yoke of oxen.'
"Don't be afraid, Anastasia. The inscription was done by God, not by you. God Himself wrote on the inscription, "To the glory of the All-Holy Trinity of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, this holy church was built and provided for by me, the widow Anastasia.' The men had to read it to her, since she was illiterate.
"You see, dear woman, you say that you did not bring anything, but remember that you did bring an armful of grass!' 'Look, Anastasia, your armful of grass was more precious than all the treasures that I gave. See, the Angel of the Lord has put the church in your name and it will remain yours forever. We will consecrate the church with all these patriarchs, with all the pomp and celebration as we planned, but the church will be Anastasia's forever. The church will be consecrated with your name since the Angel has written that both in heaven and here.'
"The poor widow was astounded and exclaimed, 'What a miracle!'
"When the blessed Anastasia from Constantinople died, the Emperor buried her in the holy altar, with an inscription above her tomb: 'Here, in the church that God miraculously gave her, is buried the widow Anastasia.'
"An armful of grass, given in the name of the Lord with humility and a sorrowful heart far surpasses all the wealth of the Emperor Nicephoros. That is what God desires!
"Saint Ephraim the Syrian says, 'God does not look upon the quantity of offerings that you make, but the heart with which you bring these offerings.' However small your offering may be, give it with humility and a sorrowful heart that you cannot offer more. That is true almsgiving.
"God truly beholds a broken and contrite heart. Just the other day, says Elder Cleopa, a poor woman came to me. I looked at her and wondered at how God had brought her to me! She said, 'I want to offer forty Liturgies (Saranda-leitourgo), but I have no money even to get home from here. Here! Here is a hand-kerchief.' She insisted on giving fifteen lei (Fifteen lei, at that time, were worth about a dollar). I told her, No! We did not come to the monastery to become rich! We came here to weep for our sins.'
'But Father, God does not receive the offering if I don't give any money!' 'He receives it, believe me!' I told her.
"When Saint Anthony the Great saw the snares of the devil stretching as far as the eye could see, he said, 'Lord, who can pass through all these traps?' Then he heard a voice from heaven, 'Anthony, humility and almsgiving.'
"When these two virtues, humility and almsgiving, meet, they pass over all the snares the world can set! You see, almsgiving is not measured in the amount of money, but rather it is measured in the heart and the desire with which you make your offering.'
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