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.
QUEEN OF ALL CREATION
(A Song to the Theotokos by Bishop Matthew of Bresthena)
O Queen of all creation, mistress of Heaven's heights, thy countless graces, O Virgin Blessed, embrace us, the flock of thy Son, Christ. Disdain us not, O Mother, Maiden Most Chaste and Pure; left destitute an grieving, to thee we cry out, bringing this hymn from souls most poor. O Well-Spring of compassion, Fountain of Holy Grace, thou art our joy and gladness, our comfort in all sadness, our hope in our disgrace. Protectress of all pious Orthodox Christian souls, of orphans, poor, and widows, and all who live amid woes: preserve us pure and whole. Should we, thy lowly servants, journey to distant lands, forget us not, O Maiden; be quick to grant thine aid, and keep us in God's hands. Thy love and great compassion, O Holy One Most Blessed, purifies our sinful minds, and heals our body's passions; thou art our peace and rest. O Mother, sweetest Mother, Mother of loving care; take pity on all those in bitterness and sorrows; accept their heartfelt prayer. Deliver our immortal and precious soul from death, from all of Satan's torments, and other such distress, until our final breath. Look upon us with thine eyes of loving compassion, O Maiden; we orphaned ones and needy cry out this poor entreaty: come hasten to our aid. All we thy children cry out: save us and help us flee all heresies and temptations and sins amid the nations which have not God and thee. And when we have departed from this our brief abode, present us to the Savior, thy Son, Who holdeth sway over this world with love untold. And at the dread and fearful hour of our repose, O Mother, come and help us; deliver us, the heedless, from our satanic foes. Then, gathered in the Heavens with the Angelic hosts, we all shall sing the praises of Christ our God Who saved us, O Maiden, our hope and boast. Aflame with love and fervor, praying in endless joy, exulting in Thy glory, Thy chosen shall extol Thee, O Holy Trinity. Through martyrdom await us, this is our prayer and hymn: we long to dwell, O Mother, with Christ and thee, and none other, save those who honor Him.
THE MOST HOLY THEOTOKOS
(The Orthodox Christian Teaching about the life of the Virgin Mary, and a prayerful contemplation on the Theotokos for each day of the months By Archbishop Lazar Puhalo)
"And God planted a garden to the east in Eden...and [He planted] the Tree of Life also in the midst of the garden. And a river poured forth in Eden to water the garden. From there, it parted and became four streams...And they heard the voice of the Lord God, walking in the garden..." (Genesis 2:9-10; 3:8).
Do you truly understand the great mystery of the Holy Virgin Theotokos? Do you understand how God foretold us about her from the very beginning? Do you know why true followers of Christ hold her in such reverence and awe?
Come, O faithful believers, and in prayerful contemplation, let us learn of the Theotokos, that we may also learn of the love and compassion of our God.
Allow your mind to wander back to the time of creation and contemplate that garden of spiritual delight which was created for mankind.
Remember with joy how God planted a special paradise where He could come and fellowship with mankind, as a loving father walks with his children in the garden in the cool, pleasant evening. Think of how God gave us His wonderful gifts of grace in the trees of that garden, but most of all, think of the Tree of Life which He planted there, in the midst of that garden. Let your heart be filled with wonder as you contemplate that great fountain of living water that poured forth from paradise and became four streams which flowed out to water the whole earth.
Does your soul not grieve when you remember how our ancestors disobeyed God and lost that paradise, where they had walked with Him and where they might someday have eaten of that tree of Life? Let your heart weep in sorrow as you think about your own sins, and how they keep you from walking close to God and feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit as a cool, comforting, evening breeze.
Then, in you repentant grief and sorrow, call to mind the Theotokos, and let your heart feel joy and comfort once again, as you prayerfully say to her:
I realized now that you are a likeness of the Paradise Garden of Eden, for through you, God has once more come down to earth to walk with His children. I think of that Tree of Life that grew in Paradise, and then I understand that Jesus Christ is the fruit of that tree. With awe and wonder, I realize that your womb is like the Tree of Life, for the Fruit of your womb is our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ Himself. Through you, O Theotokos, the Fruit of the Tree of Life has come back to us, and now we can receive It and partake of It.
My heart rejoices in you, O Theotokos, for now I think also of that Mighty Fountain which poured forth from Paradise and sent out four streams to water the earth, and the mystery of your childbearing becomes more clear.
Our Savior Jesus Christ is a Mighty Fountain of Living Waters, and you, like Eden, are the Garden from which He sprang forth. Just as that spring of old sent froth four streams to water the earth, so Jesus Christ sent forth the Four Gospels as streams of pure, spiritual water to nourish the whole world.
Now I understand why the Holy Church calls you, in hymns a "Spiritual Paradise." I am filled with joy and hope when I think of you, Most Pure Mother, and all the wondrous things that God has done through you, and I call upon you:
O Most Pure and Holy Virgin Theotokos, pray to God that I might find the path of repentance, and by His mercy, draw near to that Tree and receive the Fruit of Everlasting Life, being nourished by that Spring of Life-Giving Water.
"From the garden of old, a great fountain gushed forth into four streams to water the earth, and through thee, O Theotokos, thou mystical garden, a mighty font of Divine grace has poured forth upon all mankind, bestowing life and salvation on those who cry out to Christ our God: Alleluia." (Kontakion Two, Akathist for the Joy of Canada)
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with 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.
Please note: All holy services Monday through Sunday will take place at our holy Dormition Memorial Chapel in New Carlisle this week. The Paraklesis service will continue Monday through Wednesday at 7pm. Thursday (August 14th) the following: Great Vespers for the Feast Day of Koimisis (Dormition), Blessing of the Loaves (Artoklasia) and the Epitaphion service with the Lamentation hymns and procession around the Chapel at 7pm. On August 15th: Orthros (Matins) at 9:00 a.m. and Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m. On Sunday (August 17th): Orthros (Matins at 9:30 a.m. and Divine Liturgy at 10:30 a.m. followed by the 11th Annual Parish Picnic. If you wish to take a peek of our beautiful Chapel turn to the Holy Dormition page of our parish website.
If you need directions to the Chapel contact the Church Office or turn to the Parish Website.
With agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God