Translation of the relics of St Nicephorus the Patriarch of Constantinople
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.
ΤHE DIVINE LITURGY OF SAINT BASIL THE GREAT THE OFFERTORY PRAYER
Priest: O Lord our God, You created us and brought us into this present life. You have shown us ways to salvation and given us a revelation into heavenly mysteries, ordaining us to this ministry by the grace of Your Holy Spirit. See fit, O Lord, to accept us as servants of Your New Covenant, ministers of Your sacred Mysteries. In the greatness of Your love accept us as we approach Your holy Altar, so that we may be rendered worthy to offer You this spiritual and bloodless sacrifice, for our sins and for the failings of the people. Having received it at Your holy and spiritual Altar above the heavens as a fragrant scent, will You in turn send down on us the grace of it as you accepted the gifts of Abel, the offerings of Noah, Abraham's whole burnt offerings, the priestly ministries of Moses and Aaron, the peace offerings of Samuel. As You accepted this true worship from Your holy Apostles, likewise, in Your Goodness Lord, accept these gifts from our sinful hands; so that, having been judged worthy to serve blamelessly at Your holy Altar, we may obtain the reward of the faithful and prudent stewards on the fearful day of Your just judgment. Through the mercies of Your Only-begotten Son, with Whom You are Blessed, together with You All-Holy, Good and Life-Creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On March 13th 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: The recovery of the holy relics of our Father among the Saints Nicephoros the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople; Holy Hieromartyr Publius, Bishop of Athens; Holy Martyrs Africanus, Publius, and Terence; Saint Habib of Hermopolis who having been tied to a stone and cast into a river, was perfected in martyrdom; Holy Martyr Christina of Persia, having been scourged, was perfected in martyrdom; our Righteous Father Gerald, Egoumenos [Abbot] of Mayo in Ireland; Holy Martyrs Roderick the Priest and Solomon were beheaded in Cordova by the Moors in the year 857 AD.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Mothers, Holy Confessors, Holy Hieromartyrs, Holy Fathers, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
HOLY MARTYR CHRISTINA OF PERSIA. Saint Christina was harshly tortured in Persia in the 4th century for her unfaltering confession of the Christian faith. The torturers whipped her so terribly that she died from exhaustion. Her soul parted from her martyred body and went to dwell in the eternal joy of Christ her King and Lord.
HIEROMARTY PUBLIUS. Saint Publius, priest and martyr, was successor in the Episcopate in Athens to the famous Saint Dionysius the Areopagite. As bishop, he was tortured by unbelievers and beheaded in the 2nd century. For a brief time of torture he inherited eternal life.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
"Great Christians are those who have great love for Christ. Oh, how truly great Christians our God-bearing fathers, mothers and the martyrs were! In our time, it is difficult for many to imagine this. Here is what one of those Saints, Saint Symeon the New Theologian, confessed in his monastery before all the monks. Speaking from his experience, how it bore out the truth of the Lord's words: 'My yoke is easy and My burden is light', he said: 'Believe me, when I have fled to God my Savior, I have not encountered anything hard or unbearable...I had a great and unbearable sadness only because I couldn't find a sufficient means of dying for the love of Christ.' Are not such souls like flames shut in earthen vessels? Flames are always upright and directed towards heaven. Just take off the lid, and the flames will leap up higher." (The Prologue from Ochrid)
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Orthros (Matins) Old Testament: Isaiah 13:2-13
Esperinos (Vespers) Old Testament 1: Genesis 8:4-21|
Esperinos (Vespers) Old Testament 2: Proverbs 10:31-11:12
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"God waits for an opportunity to reveal to each of us His truth" (Saint John Chrysostom).
NEW HEAVEN, NEW EARTH
By Dennis E. Engleman (Source: Ultimate Things: An Orthodox Christian Perspective on the End Times)
In Greece there is an ancient place called Agion Oros, the "Holy Mountain." Here monastic Orthodox Christians have devoted themselves to God for hundreds of years. In Stavronikita, one of the peninsula's venerable monasteries, fifteen-century icons painted by the Cretan master Theophanes present an unearthly portrait of sanctity.
The holy figures of Christ and His Saints shown on these holy icons possess a remarkable luminosity, as though the light on their bodies is not reflected from an external source, but rather shines from within them. This illumination portrays the holiness to which Christians many attain.
The essence of divinity is Light. As Saint John says, "God is Light and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). Christ's Return at the end of the Great Tribulation will bathe the earth in Divine Light. As the evening stars fade from view at dawn, so shall all material sources of light pale beneath the brilliance of Christ's Divine Illumination. "There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them Light" (Revelation 22:5).
Even the mighty sun will seem dark by comparison: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken" (St. Matthew 24:29-31). Referring to this, Saint John Chrysostom taught that the sun and stars are "not destroyed, but overcome by the Light of His presence; and the stars shall fall, for what shall be the need of them thenceforth, there being no night?"
The heavens which man watched for guidance during his long sojourn on earth will no longer be visible, for their Creator will again walk in brilliance with man. "For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light," anticipated Isaiah. "The sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine" (Isaiah 13:10).
In this new heaven and new earth, Satan will never enter. Death will not be known there, but only eternal life in God's righteousness. "We...look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:13).
UNCREATED LIGHT, IMMATERIAL FIRE
The Lord's Transfiguration on Mount Tabor was also a preview of the Glory of His Coming. The Gospel records that "His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light" (St. Matthew 17:2). The Festal Menaion reading for Matins of the Transfiguration of our Lord includes these words: "Thou was revealed as an immaterial fire that burns not the material substance of the body...showing the exchange mortal men will make with Thy Glory at Thy Second and fearful Coming, O Savior."
The Light of Christ will illumine those who are prepared for it, and burn those who are not, even as Saint Symeon's prayer before Holy Communion indicates: "O Thou Who givest me willingly Thy Flesh for food, Thou Who art fire, and burnest the unworthy, scorch me not, O my Maker, but rather pass through me for the integration of my members, into all my joints, my affections, and my heart. Burn up the thorns of all my sins."
Prayers offered during Matins of the Holy Theophany of Our Lord characterize the Last Days themselves as a "fire", the final conflagration in which all unrighteousness is to be permanently consumed in the Divine inferno. "Christ baptizes in the fire of the Last Day those who are disobedient and believe not that He is God: but through the Spirit and by the grace that comes through water He grants a new birth to all who acknowledge His Divinity, delivering them from their faults."
This blaze will penetrate into the depths of creation, removing all impurities forever: "But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of Judgment and perdition of ungodly men...But the Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up" (2 Peter 3:7-13).
(To be continued: The Transformation)
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.
Glory Be to God For All Things!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God