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 LITURGY OF THE PRESANCTIFIED GIFTS
Stichera Prosomia for the Cross In the First Tone.
Let us all cleanse our souls in the waters of Fasting, and approaching the precious and awesome Cross of the Lord, let us venerate it in faith, drawing from it Divine Light and reaping, the fruits of eternal salvation, and peace and great mercy.
Verse: If you retain sins, Lord, O Lord, who can stand? With You there is forgiveness. O Cross, the Apostle's pride, honored by Principalities and Powers, and Archangels, keep safe from all harm those who worship you; make us worthy to complete the stage of abstinence, and so to reach that day of salvation by which we are saved.
Verse: For Your Name's sake, O Lord, I have waited for You. My soul has waited for Your promise, my soul has hoped in the Lord.
An additional Prosomoion. In the Seventh Tone.
As we worship the Lord's Cross this day, let us cry: "Hail, tree of life, despoiler of Hades. Hail, joy of the World, destroyer of death. Hail, who in your power scatter the demons. Support of the faithful, unbreakable weapon, guard and sanctify, we pray, those who venerate you.
THE LORD'S CROSS
By Saint Nikolai Velimirovich
"Whosoever, therefore, shall be ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the Holy Angels."
Hearken, to this, all ye faithful, and do not count overmuch on God's compassion! Indeed, God's mercy will be poured out on unrepentant blasphemers only in this life, for, at the Last Judgment, justice will stand in place of mercy. Hearken to this, all ye who, every day, draw nearer to your inevitable death: hearken and hold this in your heart and soul. These words were not said by your enemy, but by your Greatest Friend. These same lips that, from the Cross, forgave His enemies, also formed these terrible but righteous words. Of him who is ashamed of Christ in this world, Christ will be ashamed at the end of the world. Of him who is ashamed of Christ before sinners, Christ will be ashamed before the Holy Angels. Of what will you be proud? O man, if Christ is ashamed of you? If you are ashamed of life, this means that you take pride in death; if of truth, you take pride in lies; if of compassion, you take pride in evildoing; if of justice, you take pride in injustice. If you are ashamed of suffering on the cross, this means that you take pride in idolatrous profanity; if of immortality, you take pride in the decay of death and the grave's corruption! And before whom, in this case, can you be ashamed of Christ? Before someone better than Christ? No! For there is none better than Christ. This means that you are ashamed of Christ before someone lesser than Christ. Are you ashamed of your father before a bear, or is a daughter ashamed of her mother before a fox? Why, then, would you be ashamed of the Best before the bad, the Most Pure before the impure, the Almighty before the powerless, the Most Wise before the stupid? Why would you be ashamed of the Majestic Lord before an adulterous and sinful generation? Is it because this generation is always dancing before your eyes, but the Lord is not seen? Just a little, little longer, and the Lord will appear in glory on the clouds of Angels, and this generation will disappear from before His feet as dust before a strong wind. In every truth, you will then be ashamed, not of the King of Glory but of yourself, but your shame will then be of no use. It is better to be ashamed now, while shame is still of some help, ashamed of everything before Christ, and not of Christ before everyone.
Why does the Lord say: "of Me and My words"? Whoever is ashamed of Me means: whoever doubts My Divinity, and My Divine Incarnation of the Most Holy Virgin, and My sufferings on the Cross and My Resurrection, and whoever is ashamed of My poverty on earth and My love for sinners. Whosoever is ashamed of "My words" means: whoever doubts the Gospel or denies My teaching, or whoever twists My words and, through heresy, brings unrest and strife among the faithful, or whoever is arrogant in the face of My revelation and teaching, replacing them with some other teaching of his own, or whoever deliberately conceals and keeps silence about My words before the great and powerful might of this world, will be ashamed of me and will fear for himself. Christ's words are a life-giving testament to the world, as his sufferings. His Body and His Blood. The Lord does not divorce His words from Himself, neither does He give a lesser value to them than to His Person. His word is inseparable from Himself. His word has the same force as His Person, and this is why He says to His disciples: "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you" (St. John 15:3). He, by His word, cleansed souls, healed the sick, cleansing and Life-Giving. How can it, then, be strange when we are told in the Gospels: "and the Word was God" (St. John 1:1)?
The Lord calls this generation adulterous in the wider sense of the word, like the ancient prophets who called the worship of other gods adultery (Ezekiel 23:37). Everyone who forgets his own wife and goes off after another woman is an adulterer, and everyone who forgets the Living God and goes off to bow down to the created world is himself also an adulterer. Whoever forsakes faith in the Lord to put his belief in men, and who abandons love for God and transfers it people and things, this man commits adultery. In brief, all sins that separate your soul from God and tie it to something or someone apart from God, can be called by one general name-adultery, for they all bear the marks of an adulterous husband or wife. Whosoever, then, is ashamed of Christ the Lord, the Bridegroom of the human soul, before such an adulterous generation, is indeed a bride who is ashamed of her betrothed before licentious men. The Lord does not only speak of a "sinful" generation, but of it as "adulterous and sinful." Why? In order to make a special denunciation of adultery. Under the word "adultery" are here understood all the gravest, the most poisonous and the most deadly sins, that most often turn a man back from following Christ, from self-denial, from his cross and his re-birth.
(To be continued)
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