On Faith: And to Those Who Say That Those Living in the World Cannot Attain Perfection in Virtues

99 Martyred Fathers of Crete

99 Martyred Fathers of Crete

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 THE ALMIGHTY GOD AND CREATOR OF ALL

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

Lord, our God, You have given Your peace to mankind; and the gift of the Holy Spirit. You have sent to Your disciples and apostles, opening their lips with fiery tongues by Your power. Open also the lips of us sinners and teach us how and for what we should pray. Lord, govern our life for You are the calm harbor for those who are storm-tossed. And make known to us the way we should go. Renew a right spirit within us, and establish our spiritual instability with Your governing Spirit. Each day, may we be guided brightly by Your Good Spirit toward what is beneficial for us, being empowered to observe Your Commandments, To remember always Your Glorious Presence, which leads us to seek the salvation accomplished by You for mankind, and not to be deceived by the corrupting pleasures of this world. Strengthen us, Lord, to desire rather the delight of future blessings. For You are truly Blessed and praised among Your Saints unto the ages of ages. Amen.

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

On October 7th 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 every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saints Sergius and Bacchus in Syria; St. Polychronios of Gamphanitus; Saints Julian, Caesarius, Eusebius, and Felix, at Terracina; Saint Leontius the Consul; 99 Holy Fathers of the Isle of Crete; Saint Sergius of Nurma; Saint Jonah, Bishop of Manchuria; Saint Joseph the Elder of Georgia; Saint Sergius of the Kiev Caves; Saint Sergius, Bishop of Narva; Saint Abdon of Persia; Saint Olympiades of Persia; Uncovering of the holy relics of Martinian of Belozersk; Saint Osyth of Crich.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Mothers, Holy Ascetics, Holy Bishops, Holy Fathers, Holy Elders, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

HOLY MARTYR POLYCHRONIOS OF GAMPHANITUS. Saint Polychronios tended a vineyard not far from Constantinople in the 4th century. He also nurtured a closeness to God and fasted and prayed day and night. The owner of the vineyard gave St. Polychronios a great amount of money for his service, and so he built a church back in his village. He became a reader, and because of his zeal was ordained a priest. He attacked the Arians (heretics), in his own town as well as at the Council of Nicaea, with such intensity that they sought revenge. The heretical Arians attacked Saint Polychronios while he was in church and killed him.

TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: Philippians 1:12-20
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 6:46-49, 7:1

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

"Everything that you gain in your inner battles will be reflected in your life in God. Struggle against every passion which arouses in you critical thoughts about others. Do not accept what the enemy suggests to you against someone who is unjust towards you. Whether you are alone in your room or in company, every critical thought, every negative inner movement, creates a crack in your spiritual fortress and in that of your community. No thought is born or passes without consequence. With good thoughts, you will be able to see in every person that you meet someone very beloved. With negative thoughts, on the contrary, your facial expression and your psychological energies will spoil your relationships and affect the environment around you. When grace is with us, we do not see the defects of others; we only see the sufferings and the love of our brethren" (Archimandrite Sophrony of Essex, England).

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ON FAITH; AND TO THOSE WHO SAY THAT THOSE LIVING IN THE WORLD CANNOT ATTAIN PERFECTION IN VIRTUES. TO START WITH, A MOST PROFITABLE TALE
By Saint Simeon the New Theologian (Source: Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart)

It is good to preach God's mercy before all men and to reveal to one's brethren His great compassion and ineffable grace shed on us.--I know a man who kept no long strict fasts, no vigils, did not sleep on bare earth, imposed on himself no other specially arduous tasks; but, recollecting in memory his sins, understood his worthlessness and, having judged himself, became humble--and for this alone the most compassionate Lord saved him; as the divine David says: 'The Lord is near unto them that are of broken heart; and saves such as be of contrite spirit" (Psalm 34:18). In short, he trusted the words of the Lord and for his faith the Lord received him. There are many obstacles obstructing the way to humility; but no obstacles bar the way to belief in the words of God. As soon as we wish with all our heart, straightway we believe. For faith is a gift of the all-merciful God, which He gave us to possess by nature (infused in our nature), subjecting its use to the authority of our own will. Consequently, even the Scythians and barbarians have natural faith and believe one another's words. But to show you an actual example of whole-hearted faith, listen to a tale, which will confirm this.

There lived in Constantinople a young man by the name of George, about twenty years old. All this happened in our life-time, in our own memory. He had a handsome face and in his walk, his bearing and his manner there was something ostentatious. Owing to this, people, who see only what is on the surface and, ignorant of what is hidden inside each man, came to mistaken conclusions about others, made various evil suppositions about the youth. He made the acquaintance of a certain monk, who lived in one of the monasteries in Constantinople, a man of holy life. Revealing to this monk the innermost secrets of his heart, he also told him of his ardent desire to save his soul. The good father, after some needful words of direction, gave him a small rule to follow and a book of Saint Mark the Wrestler in which he writes on spiritual law. The young man accepted the book with as much love and reverence as if it had been sent to him by God Himself, and conceived a strong faith in it, hoping to gain from it great benefit and much fruit. He read it through with much zeal and attention and received great help from it all. But three paragraphs made a particularly deep impression on his heart. The first was: 'If you seek to be healed, take care of your conscience (listen to it), and do what it tells you: this will profit you' (Para. 69). The second: 'he who seeks (hopes to receive) active grace of the Holy Spirit before practicing the commandments, is like a slave bought for money who, together with the payment of his purchase price' (Para. 64). The third: 'he who prays physically, without having yet acquired spiritual reason, is like the blind man who cried: 'Son of David, have mercy on me'" (St. Mark 10:48). But another man who had been blind, when his eyes were opened and he saw the Lord, no longer called Him son of David, but worshiped Him as the Son of God (St. John 9:35, 38)' (Para. 13, 14 on spiritual law). These three paragraph asserts, by attention to his conscience the ills of his soul would be cured; that he would be made active by the Holy Spirit through obedience to Commandments, as the second paragraph teaches; and that, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, his inner eyes would be opened and he would see the ineffable beauty of the Lord, as the third paragraph promises,---And so he became wounded by love for this beauty and, though as yet he did not see it, conceived a strong longing for it and sought it assiduously, in the hope of finding it in end.

In spite of all this, he did nothing special (as he assured me on oath), except that every evening without fail he practiced the small rule given him by his staretz, and never went to bed to sleep without performing it. But after some time his conscience began to urge him: make a few more prostrations, recite a few extra Psalms, repeat 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!' as many more times as you can. He willingly obeyed his conscience and did all it suggested without thought, as though it were a command of God Himself. He never went to bed with his conscience reproaching him: why did you not do this or that? Thus he always listened to his conscience, never leaving undone whatever it suggested to him...What he actually did was to shed copious tears, to make a great many genuflections, prostrating himself with his fact to the ground. When he stood at prayer he always kept his feet tightly pressed together and stood without moving; with a grieving heart, with sighing and tears he recited prayers to the Holy Virgin; addressing himself to our Lord Jesus Christ, he fell at His immaculate feet as if He had been there in the flesh, and implored Him to have mercy on him, as He once had on the blind man, and to open the eyes of his soul. Each evening his prayers grew longer and longer so that, at last, he stood in prayer till midnight. Yet he never permitted himself when at prayer, either slackness or negligence, or easy postures; never let his eyes turn to the right or left or upwards to look at something, but stood motionless, like a pillar or as though he had no body…"

Please note: "The Greek title of the book 'Philokalia' means love of the beautiful, the exalted, the good. More precisely it contains an interpretation of the secret life in our Lord Jesus Christ. Secret life in our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the truly Christian life, begins, develops and rises to perfection (for each in his own measure), through the good will of God the Father, by the action of the grace of the Holy Spirit present in all Christians, and under the guidance of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Who promised to abide with us for all time.

God's grace calls all men to such a life; and for all men it is not only possible but obligatory, for it is the essence of Christianity. Not all who are called participate therein, and not all who actually participate, do so in equal measure. The chosen enter deeply into it and gradually climb high by its grace" (Philokalia; or the Love of Good: Introduction).

It is my aim to introduce to all of you, Orthodox Christians, to important spiritual sources found in our Holy Orthodox Christian Tradition and to encourage you to strive to grow spiritually in Christ, Our Lord and Savior.

Believe me, when I tell you, we, Orthodox Christians, haven't even scratched the surface of our Faith. No other Christian tradition has the spiritual treasure contained in our Church's immense depository. It is my sincere request from all of you to never refer to Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church as just the 'Greek church'. You can say I belong to the Greek Orthodox Church, to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, to the Serbian Orthodox Church, to the Georgian Orthodox Church, to the Polish Orthodox Church, to the Russian Orthodox Church but not just the Greek, Bulgarian, Serbian, Georgian, Polish, Russian, Church etc. etc. You are an Orthodox Christian who belongs to the Holy Orthodox Church or to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Or to the Eastern Orthodox Church. By only mentioning the Nationality or ethnicity of the local parish or jurisdiction, one does not reveal his/her Orthodox Christian identity. There is a great deal of ignorance among Christians of other traditions, as well as non-Christians, who we are as Orthodox Christians, and thus we must be careful not to add to their confusion. What makes a person a member of the Orthodox Christian Church is your Baptism and Chrismation and not your ethnicity. The Orthodox Church is universal!

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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