My 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.
+ In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Come, let us worship!
How lovely is Your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs and faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in Your house, ever singing Your praise! Blessed are the men whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
Prayer from the Ninth Hour
O Christ God, at the Ninth Hour You tasted death in the flesh for our sake: mortify the rebellion of our flesh and save us! In the midst of two thieves, Your Cross was revealed as the balance-beam of righteousness; For while the one was led down to hell by the burden of his blaspheming, the other was lightened of his sins to the knowledge of things divine. O Christ our God, glory to You!
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On August 25th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors, entreats and supplicates 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: Commemoration of the return of the holy relics of the Holy and glorious Apostle Bartholomew; Commemoration of the Holy Apostle Titus, Bishop of Gortynia in Crete, disciple of the Holy Apostle Paul;Synaxis (Assembly) of the holy Hierarchs of Crete: Titus the Apostle, Andrew of Crete, and Cyril and Evemenius of Gortynia; Holy Fathers Menas, Epiphanius, Gennadius, and John, Archbishops of Constantinople; Holy Martyr Genesius of Arles; Holy Martyrs Efsevius, Pontian, Vincent, and Peregrinus of Rome; Holy Confessors Varses and Evlogius, Bishops of Edessa, and Protogenes, Bishop of Carrhae in Mesopotamia; Father Aredius, Egoumenos (Abbot) of Atane in France; our righteous Mother Ebba the Elder, sister of Saint Oswald of Northumbria and Egoumenissa (Abbess) of Coldingham; the translation of the holy relics of our Righteous Mother Hilda of Whitby; our Righteous Father Gregory of Utrecht, fellow laborer of Saint Boniface the Enlightener of Germany; Holy New Hieromartyr Anatolius, Priest of Kochkovskoe, who was slain by the atheists (communists) in the year 1919.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, holy Martyrs, Hierachs, Apostles, Archbishops, Confessors, Egoumenoi, Ascetics, Monks, Nuns, Hieromartyrs, Bishops, O Christ Our God have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
The Translation of the Sacred Relics of the Holy Apostle Bartholomew. The Holy Apostle Titus, First Bishop of Crete. Saint Titus was a Greek by race, and an idolater. But having believed in Christ through the Apostle Paul, he became St. Paul's disciples and follower and labored with him greatly in the preaching of the Gospel. When Saint Paul ordained him Bishop of Crete, he later wrote to him the Epistle which bears his name. Having shepherded in an apostolic manner the flock that had been entrusted to him, and being full of days, he reposed in peace, some ninety-four years of age.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Third Tone
O Holy Apostles, intercede with the merciful God that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of offenses.
Kontakion. First Tone
The marvellous return of thine all-holy relics is now for us the cause of a feast bright and joyous, O all-famed Bartholomew, thou Apostle of God the Lord. Paying homage to thy feast, we piously honor thee, the lamp whose light doth never dim; and we worship and magnify Christ our God.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Titus 1:1-5; 2:15; 3:1-2, 12-15
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 5:14-19
SACRED SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"You must love everyone with all your soul, hoping, however, only in God and honoring Him with all your heart" (Saint Maximus the Confessor).
HOW TO APPROACH THE READING OF THE GOSPEL AND HOLY FATHERS
By Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov
While reading the Gospel do not seek enjoyment; do not seek ecstasies; do not seek glittering thoughts; seek to behold infallibly Holy Truth.
Do not be content only with fruitless reading of the Gospel; strive to fulfill its commandments; read it through deeds. This is a book of life, and one must read it through living.
Do not think that without reason the most sacred of books, the Four Gospels, begins with the Gospel according to Matthew and ends with the Gospel according to John. Matthew teaches more how to fulfill God's will, and his precepts are especially suited for those starting on God's path; John expounds the way of God's uniting with man renewed by the commandments, which is accessible only to one who has been successful along God's path.
Opening the book, the Holy Gospel, for reading, remember that it will determine your eternal lot. We will be judged according to it, and depending upon what we were here on earth with respect to it, we will acquire either eternal blessedness or eternal punishment (John 12:48).
God revealed His will to an insignificant speck of dust-man! The book in which this great and All-Holy will is set forth is in your hands. You can accept and you can reject the will of the Creator and your Savior, just as you please. Your eternal life and eternal death are in your hands; consider, then, how careful, how prudent, you should be. Do not play with your eternal destiny!
In contrition of heart pray to the Lord, that He may open your eyes to behold the wonders concealed in His law (Psalm 118:18), which is the Gospel. As your eyes are opened, a miraculous healing of the soul is perceived, accomplished by the Word of God. The healing of bodily illnesses was only an evidence of the healing of the soul, evidence for carnal people, for minds made blind by sensuality (Luke 5:24).
Read the Gospel with the greatest reverence and attention. Do not consider anything in it of little importance, little worthy of consideration. Every iota of it emits a gleam of life. Neglect of life is death.
Reading about the lepers, paralyzed, blind, cripples, and demon-possessed whom the Lord healed, consider how your soul, bearing many various wounds of sin and being in captivity to the demons, is like these sick ones. Learn from the Gospel to have faith that, having healed them, the Lord will heal you also, if you will diligently implore Him for your healing.
Acquire such a state of mind that you may be capable of receiving healing. Those capable of receiving it are aware of their sinfulness and have determined to abandon it (John 9:39, 41). The righteous man who is prideful, i.e., the sinner who does not see his own sinfulness, has no need and no use for the Savior (Matt. 9:13).
Seeing one's sins, seeing that fallen state in which the entire human race is found, is a special gift of God. Solicit this gift for yourself, and the book of the Heavenly Physician, the Gospel, will be more understandable for you.
Truly strive that the Gospel might be adopted by our intellect and heart, that your intellect, so to say, might swim in it, live in it; and then your activity also will easily come into accord with the Gospels. One can attain to this by unceasing, reverent reading and study of the Gospel.
Saint Pachomius the Great, one of the most famous of the ancient Fathers, knew the Holy Gospel by heart and, according to a revelation from God, charged his disciples with the unfailing duty of learning it. In this way the Gospel accompanied them everywhere, constantly guided them.
Do not dare to interpret the Gospel and other books of Holy Scripture yourself. The Scriptures were uttered by the holy Prophets and Apostles, uttered not at their own will, but by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (II Peter 1:21). Is it not foolish then to interpret them at our own will?
The Holy Spirit, speaking the word of God through the Prophets and Apostles, interpreted it through the Holy Fathers. Both the word of God and the interpretation of it are the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Orthodox Church accepts only this interpretation! Her true children accept only this one interpretation!
He who explains the Gospel and all Scriptures at his own will by this very act rejects its interpretation by the Holy Fathers, by the Holy Spirit. He who rejects the interpretation of Scripture by the Holy Spirit, beyond all doubt, also rejects the Holy Spirit Itself.
And so the word of God, the word of salvation, becomes, for audacious (fearless) interpreters, the stench of death, a two-edged sword with which they slay themselves unto eternal ruin (II Peter 3:16; II Cor. 2:15-16). With this sword Arius, Nestorius, Eutyches, and the other heretics slew themselves for eternity, having fallen into blasphemy through willful and audacious interpretation of Scripture.
"But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word" (Isaiah 66:2), said the Lord. Be such in regard to the Gospel and the Lord Who is present in it.
Abandon sinful life; abandon earthly inclinations and delights; deny your own soul; then the Gospel will become intelligible and accessible for you.
When the Lord was on earth in His All-Holy flesh, many saw Him and at the same time did not see. What use is it when a man looks with his bodily eyes, which he has in common with the beasts, but does not see anything with the eyes of the soul, with the mind and heart? And even now many read the Gospel every day and at the same time have never read it, do not know it at all.
The Gospel, said a certain holy desert-dweller, is read by a pure mind; it is understood in the measure of fulfillment of its commandments in one's very deeds. But it is impossible to obtain for oneself a precise and perfect opening up of the Gospel by one's own efforts: this is a gift of Christ.
The Holy Spirit, having taken up His abode in His true and faithful servant, makes him into both a perfect reader and true doer of the Gospel.
The Gospel is the portrayal of the nature of the new man, who is the Lord from Heaven (I Cor. 15:47). This new man is God in his nature. His holy generation of men believing in Him and transfigured according to Him, He makes into gods by grace.
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