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.
THE AKATHIST HYMN TO OUR SWEETEST LORD JESUS CHRIST
Kontakion. Plagal of Fourth Tone
To Thee, the Champion Leader, and Lord, the Vanquisher of Hades, I, Thy creature and servant, offer a song of praise, for Thou hast delivered me from eternal death. But as Thou hast ineffable loving-kindness, from all dangers that can be do Thou deliver me, that I may cry to Thee:
Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me. Creator of Angels and Lord of Hosts, as of old Thou didst open the ear and tongue of him that was deaf and dumb, so now open my perplexed mind and tongue to praise Thy most Holy Name, that I may cry to Thee:
Jesus, most wonderful, Astonishment of Angels.
Jesus, most powerful, Deliverance of Forefathers.
Jesus, most sweet, Exultation of Patriarchs.
Jesus, most glorious, Dominion of kings.
Jesus, most desired, Fulfillment of Prophets.
Jesus, most praised, Steadfastness of Martyrs.
Jesus, most gladsome, Comfort of monastics.
Jesus, most compassionate, Sweetness of presbyters.
Jesus, most merciful, Abstinence of fasters.
Jesus, most tender, Joy of the righteous.
Jesus, most pure, Sobriety of virgins.
Jesus, pre-eternal, Salvation of sinners.
Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me.
Seeing the widow weeping bitterly, O Lord, Thou wast moved with compassion, and didst raise up her son as he was being carried to burial; likewise do Thou have compassion on me, O Friend of man, and raise up my soul which hath been slain by sins, as I cry aloud: Alleluia.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On September 30th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors, and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul perfected in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Hieromartyr Gregory the Illuminator of Greater Armenia; Holy Women Martyrs Rhipsime, Gaiana, and another Thirty-two Righteous Women Martyrs and virgins; Holy Seventy Martyrs who were put to death with Saint Rhipsime, and also Two Righteous Women; Holy Martyr Stratonicus; Holy Martyr Mardonius was perfected in martyrdom when live coals were placed upon his navel; Holy One Thousand Martyrs were perfected in martyrdom by the sword; our Father among the Saints Michael the Wonderworker, First Metropolitan of Kiev and all Russia; Holy Martyr Michael, Grand Duke of Tver; our Righteous Father Gregory of Vologda; Holy New Confessor Seraphim of Kharkov, the Hieromonk, who reposed in the year 1943.
+ By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Mothers, Holy Virgins, Holy Ascetics, Holy Fathers, Holy Metropolitans, Holy Righteous Women and Martyrs, Holy Righteous, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY HIEROMARTYR GREGORY, BISHOP OF GREATER ARMENIA. This Saint, a Parthian by race, was the son of Anak. He was born about the year 240 AD and was taught the Faith of Christ in Caesarea of Cappadocia. He entered the service of Tiridates, king of Armenia, but when discovered to be a Christian, he was subjected to many horrible torments at the king's hands, then was cast into a pit of mire with poisonous serpents and left to die. By the power of God, however, he abode there unharmed for fourteen years, his needs provided by a certain widow, until he was made known by revelation and set free. He converted to piety innumerable multitudes of Armenians, including Tiridates himself, and was consecrated bishop by Leontius, Archbishop of Caesarea, to shepherd the vast flock he had gained for Christ. He spent the last part of his life in retirement in the ascetical discipline, and reposed in peace about the year 325 AD. Saint Gregory is honored as the Illuminator of Armenia.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. 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 didst also contest for the Faith even unto blood, O Hieromartyr Gregory. Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.
Kontakion. Second Tone
Let us the faithful today all acclaim with divine songs and hymns the renowned hierarch Gregory as an athlete for truth's sake, as a shepherd and teacher, a universal luminary bright with splendor; for he intercedeth with Christ that we be saved.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 1st Corinthians 16: 13-24
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 24:42-47
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH: From Saint Gregory the Dialogist
Questions and Answers
Q: I would like to learn if we are to believe that the souls of the departed are somehow benefited by the burial of their bodies inside the Church.
A: If the departed do not have serious sins, they are benefited by burial in the Church; for whenever their relatives come to Church and see their tombs, they remember them and offer prayers to the Lord on their behalf.
As for those who committed serious sins during their lifetime, when their bodies are buried in the Church, they do not obtain redemption of their sins, but rather greater condemnation. This is demonstrated by the following incidents.
The most pious Bishop Felix of Ostia [or Portus, signifying the port of Rome -Trans.], from the village of Sabina, told me about a nun there who, while abstaining from shameful pleasures, nevertheless did not try to correct herself when it came to impudence and inappropriate speech.
When she died, they buried her in the Church. Now then, the Church warden saw, by Divine revelation, the dead nun being brought before the Altar, where she was sawed in half. One half of her body was given over to the fire and was burned, whereas the other half remained.
At daybreak, the warden awoke and recounted his vision to his friends and relatives. This revelation demonstrates that those whose sins were such that they are unable to escape punishment after death are in no way helped by the burial of their bodies in sacred places.
Note: According to the tradition of those times, the more distinguished of the dead were interred in crypts within the Church, or below it, or even under the Holy Altar. This custom is condemned by many of the Holy Fathers of the Church, one of whom is Saint Gregory himself. The frightful examples cited in this chapter are repeated word-for-word in the Sacred Rudder. [Source: The Evergetinos]
(Source: Excerpts from the diary of Saint John of Kronstadt)
Receive everyone who comes to you, especially with a spiritual purpose, with a kind and cheerful aspect, although he or she may be a beggar, and humble yourself inwardly before everybody, counting yourself lower than he or she, for you are placed by Christ Himself to be the servant of all, and all are His members, although like you they bear the wounds of sin.
In order that men should esteem and love each other, should not be proud, should not be arrogant to each other, the most wise Lord has given to different men different natural and beneficial advantages, so that they may have need of each other. In this manner each one of us must involuntarily acknowledge this or that infirmity and humble himself before God and men.
Do not be despondent and do not fall into despair when you feel within your soul the deadly breath and ferment of malice and evil, impatience and blasphemy, or any weakness from impure thoughts; but fight against them unremittingly and endure valiantly, calling with all your heart upon the Lord Jesus--the Conqueror of hell. Humble yourself deeply, deeply, acknowledging yourself from the depths of your soul as the first of sinners, unworthy of human fellowship, and the Lord, seeing your humility and your struggle, will help you. Call also to your help the Most Holy Virgin, the Mother of God, saying: "Heal, Most Pure Lady, the many painful wounds of my soul, and strike the enemies (demons) constantly fighting against me."
Through masterful, or rather through mercenary pride and incomprehensible wickedness, we often do not deign to speak to those whom we feed and support, often behaving inimically to them, instead of rather humbling ourselves before them as their servants, in accordance with the words of the Lord, "Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant," so as to redouble our recompense of the Lord by sincerely and unfeignedly serving Him in the person of the least of His brethren. O, meek and humble-hearted Creator, Giver of Life, Redeemer, our Nourisher, and Preserver--Lord Jesus! Teach us to love, meekness, and humility through Thy Holy Spirit, and strengthen us in those virtues which are most pleasing to Thee, so that Thy rich gifts may not make our hearts proud, so that Thy rich gifts may not make us proud, so that we may not deem that it is we ourselves who feed, provide, and support anyone. Thou art the Universal Nourisher. Thou feedest, providest, supportest, and preservest all; under the wings of Thy mercy, bounty, and loving kindness all are provided for and given rest--not under ours, for we ourselves have need of being covered with the shadow of Thy wings at every moment of our life. Our eyes are fixed upon Thee, our God, as "the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; even so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until He have mercy upon us." Amen.
If Christ is in you through the frequent communion of the Holy Sacrament, then be yourself wholly like unto Christ: meek, humble, long-suffering, full of love, without attachment to earthly things, meditating upon heavenly ones, obedient, reasonable. Have His Spirit unfailingly within you. Do not be proud, impatient, partial to earthly things, avaricious, and covetous.
It is unpleasant for a proud man when it is required of him to be humble to others; for an envious man when it is required of him to wish his enemies well...
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