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 HOLY TRINITY
+In the Name of the Father, of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
All-Holy Trinity, the consubstantial Sovereignty, The individual Kingdom, the cause of all good things, Support and give understanding to my heart; Remove from me every profanity; Enlighten my mind to praise, hymn and worship Your saying: One is Holy, One is Lord, Jesus Christ, Unto the glory of the Father. Amen.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers Lord Jesus Christ our God, Have mercy upon us and save us. Amen.
The Holy Great Martyr Theodore the Tyro [February 17th]
Glory. Second Tone
I honor the as the namesake of divine gifts, O thrice-blessed Theodore; for appearing as an unwaning luminary of the Divine Light, thou didst illuminate the whole creation with thy contests. Proving mightier than fire, thou didst quench the flame, and didst crush the head of the wily dragon. Wherefore, at the time of thy contest, Christ bowed down and crowned thy divine head, O Great Martyr and athlete. Since thou hast boldness towards God, do thou fervently pray in behalf of our souls.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On February 17th 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 Great Martyr Theodore the Tyro; Saint Auxibius, Bishop of Solon in Cyprus; our Righteous Father Theosterictus, and the finding of the holy relics of Saint Menas the Most Eloquent; the Sovereigns Marcia and Pulcheria of pious memory; Holy New Martyr Theodore the Byzantine was perfected in martyrdom by hanging in Mytilene in the year 1795; Saint Fintan, Bishop of Clonenagh, the Father of Irish Monks; our Righteous Father Theodore the Silent of the Kiev Caves; our Righteous Fathers Theodosius and Romanus of Bulgaria; Holy Hieromartyr Hermogenes, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia; our Righteous Father Barnabas of the Gethsemane; Holy New Hieromartyr Theodore, Priest of Udobnaya, who was slain by the atheists (communists) in the year 1918; our Righteous and God-bearing Father Nicholas Planas, Presbyter of Athens, who reposed in peace in the year 1931.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Bishops, Holy Monks, Holy Hieromartyrs, Holy Priests, Holy Mothers, Holy New Martyrs, Holy Ascetics, Holy Sovereigns, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY GREAT MARTYR THEODORE THE TYRO. Saint Theodore, who was from Amasia of Pontus, contested during the reign of the pagan Roman emperor Maximian (286-305 A.D.). He was called Tyro, from the Latin Tyro, because he was a newly enlisted recruit. When it was reported that he was a Christian, he boldly confessed Christ; the ruler, hoping that he would repent, gave him time to consider the matter more completely and then give answer. He was brought to trial and imprisoned in a prison that was then locked and sealed. The wicked judge intended him to die of hunger, but the Lord Christ Himself appeared to Theodore in the prison and encouraged His martyr wit these words: 'Fear not, Theodore; I am with thee. Take no more earthly food and drink, for thou shalt be in the other life, eternal and unending, with Me in heaven.' Then a multitude of Angels appeared in the prison, and the whole place shone with Light. The warders on duty saw the Angels in white apparel and were filled with fear. Then Saint Theodore was taken out, tortured and condemned to death. He was thrown into fire, and gave his soul to the Most High God. He suffered in 306 A.D.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Martyr. Second Tone
Great are the achievements of faith! In the fountain of flame, as by the water of rest, the holy Martyr Theodore rejoiced; for having been made a whole-burnt offering in the fire, he was offered as sweet bread unto the Trinity. By his prayers, O Christ God, save our souls.
Kontakion Hymn of the Martyr. Plagal of Fourth Tone
Having received the Faith of Christ in thy heart as a breastplate, thou didst trample upon the enemy hosts, O much-suffering champion; and thou hast been crowned eternally with a heavenly crown, since thou art invincible.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 2 Timothy 2:1-10
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 2046-47; 21: 1-4
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"Avoid conceit with all your might." (St. Photios the Great)
ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN ESCHATOLOGY (LAST THINGS)
Quotations from the Holy Fathers of the Church: On The Dread Judgment by Saint John Maximovitch:
"The more consciously and persistently a man strives toward God in his life, the greater will be his joy when he hears the words: 'Come unto Me, ye blessed'; and conversely, those same words will call forth the fire of horror and torment on those who did not want Him, who fled or fought or blasphemed Him during their life.'"
Life After Death by Saint John Maximovitch:
"But when it leaves the body, the soul finds itself among other spirits, good and bad. Usually it inclines toward those which are more akin to it in spirit, and if while in the body it was under the influence of certain ones, it will remain in dependence upon them when it leaves the body, however unpleasant they may turn out to be upon encountering them."
Sermon On the Last Judgment by Saint John Maximovitch:
"The Last Judgment knows of no witnesses protocols! Everything is inscribed in the souls of man and these records, these "books," are opened at the Judgment. Everything becomes clear to all and to one oneself."
At Christ's Second Coming by Saint Augustine of Hippo:
"He will gather with Him for the Judgment His chosen ones, but the others He will set apart; for He will place some on His right, others on His left. What is more equitable, what more true than that they should not themselves expect mercy form the Judge, Who themselves were unwilling to show mercy before the Judge's coming. Those, however, who were willing to show mercy will be judged with mercy."
Homily 79 on St. Matthew by Saint John Chrysostom:
"But while the brutes have from nature their unfruitfulness, and fruitfulness, these have it from choice, wherefore some are punished, and the others crowned. And He does not punish them, until He has pleaded with them; wherefore also, when He has put them in their place, He mentions the charges against them. And they speak with meekness, but they have no advantage form it now; and very reasonably, because they passed by a work so much to be desires."
Dialogues, by Saint Gregory the Great (the Dialogist). "From the Fathers of the Church series (New York, 1959). See Vol. IV, which is entirely devoted to the subject of death and the future life.
The Last Judgment by Father Steven C. Kostoff:
"The Fathers tell us that we have the gift of "self-determination" (Gr. autexousia). This means that we are forming ourselves in the way we shall be for all of eternity--a sheep "at His right hand" or a goat "at His left."
On the Second Coming of Christ, Ch. 15 from The Truth of Our Faith by Saint Cleopa of Romania:
"If neither the Angels in heaven nor the Son of Man Himself as man know the appointed time, how is it possible for it to be known among men? From the words of the Savior it is understood only that we must be ever vigilant and mindful of our salvation, ever ready for the Coming of the Lord, for we know neither the day nor the hour of His Coming, nor even the hour of our own end in this life. His appearance will be unexpected, as the Lord forewarned us when He said, '"Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.' (St. Matthew 25:13).
Life after Death by Bishop Alexander Mileant:
"The Scripture also teaches us that after death God appointed a place of temporary abode corresponding to that which it has earned while living in the body-heaven or hell. The appointment in one or the other place or condition is preceded by a so-called informal judgment. The informal judgment must be distinguished from the Final Judgment that will take place at the end of the world. Regarding the informal judgment, the Scripture teaches us: 'For it is an easy thing unto the Lord in the day of death to reward a man according to his ways' (Sirach 11:26). And further, 'And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment' (seemingly on an individual basis (Hebrews 9:27).
OUR ACCOUNTABILITY TO GOD FOR OUR WORDS, THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS WHILE ON EARTH ACCORDING TO THE HOLY SCRIPTURE.
"But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment" (St. Matthew 12:36).
"For it is written: 'As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.' So then each of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:11-12).
"Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you" (Hebrews 13:18).
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10).
"But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ" (Romans 14:10).
Great and Holy Lent is a preparation for the Second Coming (Judgment Day) of our Savior, for the eternal Passover in the Age to Come, a theme that is also the focus of the first three days of Holy and Great Week. But the judgment is not only in the future. Here and now, each day and each hour, in hardening our hearts toward others and in failing to respond to the opportunities we are given of helping them, we are already passing judgment on ourselves.
Because of all the technological advances that have been made everything that we say or do is recorded and can be viewed at another time for all to see. We have seen how politicians have said something or promised something to the people and after the election into office the words and promises are forgotten. However, the media can easily expose them by showing the country or the world of his/her deception by playing what was said while he/she was running for office.
According to our Holy Orthodox Christian Tradition everything is recorded in the "books" and everything that we do or say in this life is recorded. On Judgment Day (Second Coming) the "books" will be opened and everything that we have thought of, said, or acted upon, will be revealed before the Angels and Archangels and Saints of God. That will be our judgment. "And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and the books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books" (Revelation 20:12).
"Standing before God" at His Throne at the Final Judgment, "the dead" are confronted with "their works." "The books" of judgment (Daniel 7:10) contain a record of men's own deeds; them (Psalm 62:12; Jeremiah 17:10). The Orthodox Divine Liturgy thus petitions God for a "good account before the Dread Judgment Seat of Christ."
If Christians today are not acting as Christians should, it is because the Second Coming and Judgment Day has been forgotten. They wrongly believe that there is no accountability and that a Christian can think, feel and act as he/she desires without any penalty, without judgment, without any responsibility to God. We are constantly reminded through the Holy Scripture of our duty and the consequences of our actions or lack of compassion for our fellow man: "The goats will ask the Lord, 'When did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' Then He will answer them saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me" (vv. 42-45). "Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (v. 41). So, not only is there accountability, but also, everlasting condemnation.
Everything was accomplished by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ while on earth. One thing is left, the Second Coming and Final Judgment. Are we ready to face Him on that day?
MY BLESSING FOR 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