The Awakening of the Heart Through Mindfulness of Death

Martyr Longinus the Centurion, who stood at the Cross of the Lord

Martyr Longinus the Centurion, who stood at the Cross of the Lord

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.

A CONTRITE PRAYER TO OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST

+In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

At all times and every hour, in heaven and on earth, O Christ Our God, You are worshipped and glorified; You are long-suffering, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate, You love the righteous and have mercy upon the sinners; You call everyone to salvation through the promise of future blessings; receive, O Lord, our prayers at this hour and direct our life toward Your Commandments, sanctify our souls; make our bodies chaste; correct our thoughts; purify our intentions; and deliver us from every grief and pain that comes from evil. Encompass us by Your Holy Angels, so that guarded and guided by them we may attain to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of Your inapproachable glory, for You are Blessed and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

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TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):

On October 16th 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: Holy Martyr Longinus the Centurion; Holy Martyrs Leontius, Dometios, Terence, and Domninos; our Righteous Father Malus; Holy Martyrs Martinian, and Saturian and their two brethren, and Maxima the virgin, who suffered in North Africa under Genseric, Arian king of the Vandals; our Righteous Father Gall the Egoumenos (Abbot), disciple of Saint Columban; Saint Lull, Bishop of Mainz; our Righteous Mother Efpraxia the Egoumenissa (Abbess), who in the world had been Efrosyne, Princess of Pskov; our Righteous Father Longinos the Gate-keeper of the Kieve Caves; our Righteous Father Longinus of Yarenga; Holy New Hieromartyr Longinus, Priest of the Kharkov Diocese, who was slain by the atheists in the year 1918.

+ By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Virgins, Holy Mothers, Holy Egoumenoi, Holy Princesses, Holy Righteous, Holy Hieromartys, Holy Fathers, Holy Confessors, Holy Priests, Holy Bishops, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

THE HOLY MARTYR LONGINUS THE CENTURION.

Holy Martyr Longinus was in the service of Pontius Pilate at the time of Christ our Savior's Passion. While standing guard at the Cross and beholding the earthquake and all that came to pass, he cried out with fear, "Truly this was the Son of God" (St. Matthew 27:54). After the Resurrection, he forsook the military and departed for Cappadocia, his homeland, where he preached Christ. By the agency of Pontius Pilate, Tiberius Caesar had him arrested and beheaded.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Fourth Tone

Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

Kontakion. Fourth Tone

With great joy the Church of Christ today rejoiceth on the restive memory of blest Longinus, the all-famed and godly prizewinner. And she doth cry out: O Christ, my foundation and might art Thou.

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TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: Philippians 3:8-19
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 27:33-54

INSPIRING WORDS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:

"God is Agape (Love). And if we call upon God in our life as the Holy Fathers teach us, then we are calling upon Agape. If we know and believe that He is present everywhere at all times and if we are united with Him in our hearts, He will teach us how to love our neighbor. The evil spirits often so interfere with the Divine love given us by God that they often lure us away from the path of real and true love. Their suggestions are full of the physical and emotional aspects of this world: enjoyment and lust, which is nothing but enslavement." (Saint Thaddeus of Vitovnica)

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THE AWAKENING OF THE HEART THROUGH MINDFULNESS OF DEATH
By Archimandrite ZACHARIAS (Zacharou) Source: The Hidden Man of the Heart (1 Peter 3:4) Stavropegion Monastery of Saint John the Baptism, Essex, England.

The Cultivation of the Heart In Orthodox Christian Anthropology

Man and his destiny were in the Mind of the Triune God 'before the world began'. (2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2; cf. Romans 8:29). At a particular moment which man's limited powers cannot discern, the pre-eternal God decided to create man according to His image and likeness. He made him in a personal and direct way, and endowed him with an incredible intellect and a wondrous heart that is capable of embracing not only the whole of creation, both 'seen and unseen', 'visible and invisible', as the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great says, but even the very eternity of God. Man is the true lord of the kingdom of the world, the crown of the whole creation.

From the outset, God endowed man's nature with His own qualities, with every virtue, and with a strong affinity for His Spirit. Man delighted in the good presence of his Creator. His intellect could lift itself to God and see His Face, and this vision quickened his heart, which was enlarged with indescribably powerful sensations of unending gratefulness and divine love. Man was so charmed by the greatness of this state that he reached the point of forgetting that he had been created from nothing, and he surrendered to the temptation of disobedience. He wanted to become god, not by means of God's love and in submission to the Divine Command, but by means of his own independence and rebelliousness. And at that moment, his dreadful fall took place, as the Scripture relate, and this was a universal misfortune.

Man's intellect then cleaved to create things his vision was obscured. Though its lifting towards God had been lightning-quick, it was now heavy-laden with the sensations of his body. His heart was deprived of the Lord's visitation and all that accompanies this wonderful Presence. He was turned into stone. His intellect gradually lost the memory of the supernatural experiences of grace, these being immaterial by nature. Finally, he was bound to the visible world, no longer able to go beyond the immediate reality surrounding him. So did man become unmindful of his Maker, delivering himself up to sin and to its wages of corruption and death.

In this grievous state of forgetfulness of God, man feels an emptiness which cannot be satisfied and a nightmarish insecurity; he tastes of the constriction of death and his soul is oppressed by torment. The passions multiply, filling his being with every kind of vice, and craftily extinguishing all traces of even the memory of God. Man thus becomes incapable of loving, and this inevitably leads him into ever greater estrangement from God and his neighbor, and therefore from the primary purpose of his having been created.

Separated from God Who is the source of life, man can only withdraw into himself. He is deprived of divine strength and is unable to seek salvation. Gradually he is left desolate and dissolute. Faced by the inexorable threat of his annihilation, man's spirit is seized by the fear of death. He becomes sick with selfishness and enters upon a contentious struggle for personal survival.

When man banishes God and his neighbor from his heart, he loses his sovereignty over God's creation, bestowed on him by virtue of his likeness to God. In other words, he fails in what he has been designed for--to oversee the world with justice and, in a prophetic manner, to enlarge the heart and bring all creation to God. He becomes accustomed to living with a deadened spirit, because the hostile power of the wicked one holds his nature fast.

However, God's call is irrevocable and 'steadfast'. (cf., Romans 11:29). Furthermore, death is an illegitimate enemy, for the will of God, the basis of man's original issuing forth, has foreordained that man should live eternally 'in immortality' (Wisdom of Solomon 2:23). Death must be destroyed, (cf., 1 Corinthians 15:26) for which reason the Son of God Himself came into the world to blot it out and to 'destroy the works of the devil.' Man's mortality is therefore a phenomenon that runs counter to his nature in that it opposes that for which he has been designed. This is precisely why the human soul is restless: if life leads only to death, then nothing can ever be meaningful.

However, God, Who abides unto the ages and has no pleasure in the death of the sinner, does all He can for "the wicked to turn from his way and live" (Ezek. 33:11). He summons the dissolute from the blindness of their desolation, intensifying by His grace the cruel spectacle of mortality, which entered the whole creation through man's fall into sin. God increases the threat of death by keeping before man's eyes this terrible spectacle. He opens the eyes of the soul that it might behold the mark of corruption and mortality on every created thing...This spiritual phenomenon, unknown to modern psychology, is called "mindfulness of death" in Orthodox ascetic terminology. It has nothing to do with psychological awareness that we shall die some day; it is more like a deep knowledge, accompanied by a wondrous sensibility of the heart, which perceives clearly "the futility of any and every acquisition on earth' and that "all is vanity" (Eccles. 1:2).

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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.

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Glory Be To GOD For All Things!

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George