Prayer and the Angels

Hieromaryter Simeon, the Kinsman of the Lord

Hieromaryter Simeon, the Kinsman of the Lord

My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord, Redeemer, God and Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!

RESURRECTION ODE

Let us who have beheld the Resurrection of Christ, worship our Holy Lord Jesus, Who is alone without sin. We worship Thy Cross, O Christ, and praise and glorify Thy Holy Resurrection. For Thou art our God, and we know none other beside Thee, and we call upon Thy Name. Come, all ye faithful, let us worship Christ's Holy Resurrection, for behold, through the Cross, joy has come to the whole world. We praise His Resurrection, and forever glorify the Lord. He endured the Cross for us, and by death destroyed Death. Jesus, having risen from the grave, as He foretold, has given to us Eternal Life and the Great Mercy. Amen.

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

On April 27th 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 faith: Holy Hieromartyr Symeon, Bishop of Jerusalem and Kinsman of the Lord; our Righteous Father John the Confessor, Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Monastery of the Chaste; Holy Martyr Publius, who was perfected in martyrdom by the sword; Saint Evlogius the Hospitable of Egypt; Holy Martyr Lollion the Younger, who, having been dragged upon the ground, was perfect in martyrdom; our Righteous Father Stephen, Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Kiev Caves, who also became Bishop of Vladimir.

+ By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Hieromartyrs, Holy Bishops, Holy Confessors, Holy Righteous, Holy Egoumenoi, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

THE HOLY HIEROMARTYR SYMEON, KINSMAN OF THE LORD. Saint Symeon was a first cousin of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He was the son of Clopas (or Cleopas also called Alphaeus), the brother of Joseph the Betrothed. He became the second Bishop of Jerusalem, as a successor to Saint James the Brother of the God. He ended his life when he was crucified during the reign of Trajan, in 107, at the age of 120.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. First Tone

We sacredly acclaim thee as Jesus Christ's kinsman, and as His steadfast Martyr, O all-lauded Hierarch. For bravely has thou destroyed all deception and kept the Faith. Hence, O Symeon, we keep thy holy remembrance on this festive day; and by thy prayers, we are granted the pardon of grievous sins.

Kontakion Hymn. Fourth Tone

Since the Church hath Symeon, the God-proclaimer, as a great and shining star, she is now guided by his light as she doth cry-out in joy today: Rejoice, O venerable summit of martyred Saints.

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TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWINGS:

Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 6:8-15:7:1-5, 47-60
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 4:46-54

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

"The Christians directs every action, small or great, according to the will of God" (Saint Basil the Great).

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PRAYER AND THE ANGELS
By Saint Symeon of Thessalonike (Source: Treatise on Prayer. Translated by Dr. Harry L.M. Simmons)

This discourse concerning prayer is the most important, brethren, for truly this is the task entrusted to us by God, and the crown of all else. Prayer is conversation directly with God, being always with God, having one's soul united with Him  and one's inseparable, as David says: "My soul clings to You," (Psalm 62:9); and "My soul thirsts for You" (Psalm 62:3); "As the deer longs for the springs of water, so my soul longs for You, O God" (Psalm 121:1); "I will love You, O God my strength" (Psalm 16:2); and "My soul is always in Your hands" (Psalm 118:109). Furthermore, he says: "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise will always be in my mouth" (Psalm 33:2). He becomes one with the Angels, unites with them in positive praise and longing: "Praise the Lord from the heavens," he says, "Praise Him on high. Praise Him all His Angels: praise Him, all you powers" (Psalm 148:1). Not that he exhorts them as though they did not praise Him, but rather as having the same task and perpetual longing for God, he exhorts them and unites himself with them.

This is the reason why David, that good and angelic hymn writers, calls the whole world to the praise of God, manifesting that saving revelation and ceaseless doxology and knowledge of the Holy Trinity which the nations have obtained through this: "Praise the Lord, all you nations: praise Him, all you peoples" (Psalm 116:1-2). We are taught that there is unceasing praise of God by the Angels--by Isaiah, who saw the Glory of God and the Angels singing the Trisagion (Thrice-Holy Hymn: Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord of Sabaoth, heaven and earth are full of Thy glory...) ceaselessly, and by Ezekiel also.

This is primarily the task of the first orders of Angels, i.e., The Seraphim and the Cherubim. The first group of these praises fervently, and so is called fiery and zealous, and these are the Seraphim. The other group excels in the depth of its knowledge and praise, and this characterizes them as Cherubim. They are many-eyed because of their excellent, ceaseless, perceptive contemplation and praise. Similarly, there are amongst us zealous holy men, fired with love and fervor and zealous prayer, as it is written: "My heart burned within me, and in my studying it will burn with fire" (Psalm 38:5), and "Did not our hearts burn within us?" (St. Luke 24:32). Furthermore: "Who will separate us from the love of Christ?" (Romans 8:35), and "For they persevere in prayer, made fervent by the Spirit and serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11-12). And many among us have abundance of divine knowledge and pour forth longing for the Divine like a mighty stream: "Grace is poured upon your lips" (Psalm 44:3), and "You enlarge my understanding" (Psalm 118:77). Their eyes are totally fixed on God, as it is written: "My eyes are ever toward the Lord" (Psalm 24:15), and "I keep the Lord always before me" (Psalm 15:8). They, being pure of heart, see the Lord.

Again, some among us also imitate the Third Order, the Thrones, for God dwells in them. As a throne is for rest and repose, so among them they honor God in thoughts, hymns, words, and deeds, whose repose is honor, living according to the saying: "Arise, O Lord, into Your resting-place" (Psalm 131:8), and "Your throne, O God, is eternal" (Psalm 44:7). In them God was pleased, and "I will dwell among them," He says, "and will walk with them" (2 Corinthians 6:16), and "I and the Father... will come to him and make our home with him" (St. John 14:23), and "Do you not know that Christ is dwelling in you unless you are inexperienced" (Romans 6:16). This possessing of Christ, this bearing Him in one's heart and mind and unceasingly remembering Him, studying in Him, being made fervent by desire like the Seraphim and beholding Him like the Cherubim, and having Him reposing in one's heart like the Thrones, is the aim of prayer. Therefore, prayer is an excellent task for the servants of Christ above all others, for the other things are ministries and secondary. This is why David tells the other Angels, who are called Divine servants: "Praise the Lord, all you Angels of His, mighty in strength, who carry out His Commands, who hear the voice of His words." They are so fervent in zeal and in the execution of His Commands, since this is a work of obedience and humility, yet --"Praise and glorify Him forever," he says. In saying this he does not exhort them, but honors them because they have the same perpetual task as the other orders, and joins himself and all of us to them. This praise is offered only to God, while the other ministries of the Angels occur for our benefit, since we have need of them, while God has no needs, but should be praised as Benefactor because of His gracious deeds.

For this reason, after the three highest orders the other orders of Angels were given names referring to ministries. Some are Virtues, and are called this because they are strengthened by God and by those orders above them, and they strengthen the lower ones. The Powers similarly are ruled by God and the first orders, and have authority over those below them. In the same way the Dominions are ruled by God and the former ones--some by nature, others by dignity and knowledge--and govern the others who are subject to them. Similarly, the Third Order is also intermediate, being superior to the last, since it relates to God, Who creates the mighty, the authorities, and the rulers, and secondly abounds in fervor and praise.

These others are called Principalities, as they originate and proceed from the one prime cause, the unoriginate Holy Trinity, and have authority over those below them. Others are Archangels, as they announce the Divine wishes and commands, and have power over those beneath them. The last of the other orders are Angels, as they are sent for our salvation and convey the Divine wishes. All these, therefore, are servants of God for those who are to inherit salvation. Moreover, they have the task, of unceasing prayer, so that when in ministering to us they reveal the saving commands, they do not show themselves without hymns and prayer, but announce God to us as the cause of our being and exhort us to praise Him alone. For this reason the Angel who appeared to Moses said: "Put off your shoes from your feet" (Exodus 3:5) In honor of God...

Concerning inner prayer, guarding the temple and unceasing prayer, we have been taught: "Blessed is that servant whom his Master will find so doing when He comes" (St. Matthew 24:46), referring to the benefits of watchfulness and prayer, that He will set them above all creatures, showing them as gods, heavenly beings, shining brighter than the sun, that he will serve them. As it is written, "He will gird Himself and seat them at table, and He will come and serve them" (St. Luke 12:37), i.e., He will share with them everything that He has. You see what benefits God gives to those who pray with watchfulness and penitence--may He make us worthy of these things, walking and praying always, as we have been taught.

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CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!

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Glory Be To GOD For All Things!

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

+Father George