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.
PRAYERS AT MEALTIME
Before the Midday Meal
+In the Name of the Fathers and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts of which we are about to partake, for Thou are blessed and glorified; now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
After the Midday Meal
We thank You, O Christ our God, that You has filled us with Your earthly goods; deprive us not also of Your Heavenly Kingdom, but as You came in the midst of Your Disciples, O Savior, and gave them peace, come also among us and save us. Amen.
Before the Evening Meals
The poor shall eat and be filled, and they that seek the Lord shall praise Him; their hearts shall live forever and ever. Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
After the Evening Meal
You have gladdened us, O Lord, by Your deeds, and in the works of Your hands have we rejoiced. The Light of You countenance, O Lord, has been signed upon us; You have given gladness to our hearts. From the fruit of wheat, wine, and oil have we been filled; in peace in the same place shall we lie down and sleep, for You, O Lord, alone has made us to dwell in hope. Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On September 22nd Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Preachers, Evangelists, Confessors, Martyrs, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul made perfect in our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Hieromartyr Phocas of Sinope, the Bishop and Wonderworker, who was perfected in martyrdom by being terribly burned in a bath-house in the reign of the pagan Roman emperor Trajan; Saint Phocas the Gardener of Sinope; Holy Martyrs Isaac and Martin; Holy Twenty-Six Righteous Martyrs of the Monastery of Zographou, who censured the Latin-minded emperor Michael Paleologus the Eighth, and the Patriarch John Beccus, were perfected in martyrdom when they were burned alive in a tower; our Righteous Father Cosmas, who struggled in asceticism in the Monastery of Zographou on Mt. Athos; Holy Martyrs of the Theban Legion: Maurice, Exuperius, and Candidus the Commanders and those with them, who suffered martyrdom at Agaunum in Cisalpine Gaul under the pagan Roman emperor Maximian; our righteous Fathers Jonas of Yashozero.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Bishops, Holy Monks, Holy Ascetics, Holy Mothers, Holy Fathers, Holy Hieromartyrs, Holy Commanders, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
HOLY HIEROMARTYR PHOCAS, BISHOP OF SINOPE. This Saint was known for the many miracles he worked and for his apostolic zeal in shepherding the flock of Sinope. He contested for the Faith during the reign of the pagan Roman emperor Trajan in the year 102 AD, when he was burned to death in a bath-house. A homily in his honor was composed by Saint John Chrysostom. The translation (anakomide) of his holy relics is celebrated on July 23rd.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Hieromartyr. Fourth Tone
As a sharer of the ways and a successor to the throne of the Apostles, O inspired of God, thou foundest discipline to be a means of ascent to the divine vision. Wherefore, having rightly divided the word of truth, thou dist also contest for the Faith even unto blood, O Hieromartyr Phocas. Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Galatians 4:28-31; 5:1-10
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 3:19-22
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS, AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
From Abba (Father) Isaac:
"The truly wise and prudent person is one who has fully understood that there is an end to the present life and hastens to put an end to his faults and failings. For what knowledge or wisdom is greater than this: that is, for one to concern himself with departing this present life for eternity without having been corrupted by sin, without any part of him having been defiled by the stench of the desires of this world, and without his soul having been tainted by the putative and external sweetness thereof?
Question, by the same: Who is it that has been illumined in his thoughts and intentions? Answer: It is he who has discovered the bitterness hidden within the sweetness of the world and has hindered his mouth from drinking of this cup; it is he who ever attends to the salvation of his soul and does not halt on the path of asceticism and virtue until he has left this world; and finally, it is he who shuts the doors of his senses, such that yearning for the present life might never enter thereby and plunder his treasures." (Source: The Evergetinos)
(Source: Excerpts from the diary of Saint John of Kronstadt)
To be humble means to consider ourselves deserving, for our sins, of every humiliation, injury, persecution, and even blows; and to be meek means to patiently endure, abuse and so forth, and to pray for our enemies.
When you are slandered, and therefore grow disturbed and sick at heart, it shows that pride is in you, and that it must be wounded and driven out by outward dishonor. Therefore do not be irritated by derision, and do not bear malice against those who hate you and slander you, but love them as your physicians, whom God has sent you to instruct you and to teach you humility, and pray to God for them. "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you." Say to yourself, "It is not me that they slander, but my evil passions; not me that they strike, but that viper which nestles in my heart, and smarts when anybody speaks ill of it. I will comfort myself with the thought that, perhaps, these good people will drive it from my heart by their caustic words, and my heart will then cease to ache. Therefore, thank God for outward dishonor: those who endure dishonor here will not be subjected to it in the next world." "She hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins." "Lord, Thou wilt ordain peace for us: for Thou also hast wrought all our works for us."
We must by every means humble our hearts and subdue our proud intellect, lest we should be like the contemporaries of the prophets, who looked on them only as sweet-voiced singers, and nothing more; they did not wish to fulfill their commands, they even despised, persecuted, beat, and killed them; lest we should be like those, by whom "no prophet is accepted in his own country." However insignificant and unimportant the man may be, honor in him the image of God, especially when he speaks with love, and, above all, when he speaks of and does the works of love.
When anyone blames the imperfections and faults of your works, humbly acknowledge the justice of such censure, and say: "Yes, it is true, I am sinful, most sinful, I do not do my work with due care and willingness. Pray for me brother"-(saying thus to him who blames you)-"that the Lord may teach and help me, by His grace, to fulfill the duties of my calling and the work of serving others with due care and willingness." Should anyone find fault with your abilities, say: "I do not give myself such and not other abilities is the same as to find fault with the Creator, Who gave them." When your own relations blame you and expose your weaknesses in the hearing of others, say to them: "I am truly such as you describe; but it is no advantage to you that I am really such, nor that you should defame me and mock at me: to mock at the infirmity or weakness of your brother is foolish and inhuman; it is better to hide such an infirmity, because my infirmity is your infirmity, my shame is your shame; for I am your member, and you, too, are not without infirmity; let us, therefore, pray that the Lord may heal our infirmities, for all of us are infected with the leprosy of iniquity." "Charity," it is said, "endureth all things," and does not put weaknesses to shame."
When your heart inclines to evil, and the evil one begins to undermine your heart, so that it is completely removed from the rock of faith, then say to yourself inwardly: "I know of my spiritual poverty, my own nothingness without faith. I am so weak, that it is only by Christ's name that I live and obtain peace, that I rejoice and my heart expands, whilst without Him I am spiritually dead, I am troubled, and my heart is oppressed; without the Lord's Cross I should have been long since the victim of the most cruel distress and despair. Only Christ keeps me alive: and the Cross is my peace and my consolation."
Consider yourself worse and more infirm than all others in spiritual respects, and despise, hate yourself for your sins,--this is pious and right--and be indulgent to others, respect and love them in spite of their sins, for God's sake, Who commanded us to respect and love all men, and also because they are created after His image--although they bear the wounds of sin, and because they are members of Jesus Christ.
Spiritual poverty consists in esteeming oneself as though not existing, and God alone as existing; in honoring His words above everything in the world, and in not sparing anything to fulfill them, even one's own life; in considering God's Will in everything, both for ourselves and others, entirely renouncing our own will. The man who is poor in spirit desires and says with his whole heart: "Hallowed be Thy name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven." It is as though he himself disappears; everywhere and in everything he wishes to see God--in himself and in others...
If you truly wish to be humble, then long to be in every way offended and persecuted, as a hungry man longs for food; for by the justice of God you are worthy of this.
If you wish to be truly humble, then consider yourself lower than all, worthy of being trampled on by all; for you yourself daily, hourly trample upon the law of the Lord, and therefore upon the Lord Himself.
(To be continued)
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
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