My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord, Redeemer, God and Only True Savior Jesus Christ,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
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.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On May 14th 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, and Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Isidore of the Greek island of Chios; St. Serapion the Sindonite; St. Leontios, Patriarch of Jerusalem; St. Aprunculus, Bishop of Clermont in Gaul; St. Niketas, Bishop of Novgorod; Saints. Alexander, Varvaros and Acolythos in Constantinople; St. Alexander of Centucellae; St. Isidore, Fool-For-Christ of Rostov; New Holy Martyr Mark of Crete, at Smyrna; New Holy Martyr John-Raiko of Shumena, Bulgaria, Egoumenos (Abbot) martyred by the Latins; Saint Therapon, Bishop of Cyprus; "Trebensk" and "Yaroslavl (Pechersk)" Holy Icons of the Theotokos (Mother of God).
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Bishops, Holy Egoumenoi, Holy Mothers, Holy Fathers, Holy Confessors, Holy Ascetics, Holy Evangelists, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
NEW HOLY MARTYR MARK OF CRETE, AT SMYRNA. Saint Mark was a handsome native of 17th century Crete. The Moslems abducted him and made him a Moslem by force through their rite of circumcision. He went to Constantinople, where he met the pious teacher Meletios Syrigus and confessed his desire to become a martyr. Meletios encouraged and strengthened St. Mark toward this end. St. Mark returned to his home, and before a crowd, with great boldness and without fear, declared that Christ was the True God and that he refuted their religion. The crowd closed in on St. Mark, hitting and pushing him along to the judge. Once there, he again confessed his faith but said that he denied and abhorred their faith. He was flogged without mercy, imprisoned, and continued to be tortured. Strengthened by the grace of God, St. Mark saw the torments as pleasure and continued to desire death to achieve eternal reward. Finally, he was led to the place of execution and was beheaded.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 14:20-28
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 9:39:10:9
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY FATHERS AND HOLY MOTHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"Regardless in what way temptation comes to man, a man should give himself to the will of God and to recognize that temptation occurred because of his sins. If something good happens, it should be said that it happened according to God's Providence" (Saint Sisoes of Egypt).
THE LIFE IN CHRIST (PART II)
HOW CHRIST IN HIS LOVE IS UNITED TO US
By Saint Nicholas Cabasilas
What then can you meditate upon with greater profit and pleasure than these things? For when we examine the, and these thoughts prevail in the soul, no evil thoughts will gain entry into us. Then it will come about that, as we learn of His benefits, we will increase in longing for our Benefactor. When we thus greatly love Him we become keepers of His Commandments and participants in His purpose, for as He says, "he who loves Me will keep My commandments" (St. John 14:15, 21).
Besides, when we recognize how great is our own worth, we shall not readily betray it. We will not endure being slaves to a runaway slave when we have found out that a kingdom is ours. We shall not open our mouth in evil speech when we recollect the sacred banquet and that Blood which has reddened our tongue. How can we use our eyes to look on that which is not seemly when we have enjoyed such awesome Mysteries? We shall not move our feet nor stretch forth our hands to any wicked thing if the recollection of these things is active in our souls. Since they are members of Christ they are sacred, as it were, a vial containing His Blood. Nay rather, they are wholly clothed with the Savior Himself, not like a garment which we wear or the skin with which we are born, but much more, in that this clothing is far more closely united to those who wear it than their very bones. One could amputate our members without our consent, but as for Christ, no one, man or demon, can separate Him from us. As Saint Paul says, "neither things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature" (Romans 8:38, 39), however great is power, can separate us from Him.
By means of Tyrants' hands the evil one was able to tear off the skin of the martyrs of Christ, to mutilate their limbs and crush their bones and disembowel them. Yet so little did he by his designs avail to despoil the blessed ones of that garment and to denude them of Christ, that without realizing it he clothed them there with more than ever before by the very acts by which he thought to strip them.
How We Should Esteem Ourselves as Members of Christ
What then could be more sacred than this body to which Christ adheres more closely than by any physical union? Accordingly we shall hold its high estate in veneration and preserve it when, conscious of so wondrous a splendor, we at all times hold it before the eyes of the soul. If we keep inviolate holy places and vessels and whatever else is sacred in all circumstances because we recognize their sacredness, we shall hardly betray things that are even greater. There is nothing so sacred as a human being to whom God has imparted of His nature. Consider this--to whom shall "every knee bow of things in heaven and things below the earth" (Phil. 2:10)? Who is it who "will come upon the clouds with power and great glory" (St. Matthew 24:30), shining with incomparable splendor? It will be a man, though certainly one like God. Each of us will then truly be able to shine more brightly than the sun, to rise on the clouds to see that body of God, to be uplifted to Him and fly towards Him, to approach Him and to be favorably regarded by Him. For when the Master appears the chorus of the good servants will surround Him, and when He shines brightly they too will shine.
What a sight--to see a countless multitude of luminaries above the clouds, an incomparable company of men exalted as a people of gods surrounding God! The fair ones surrounding the Fair One, the servants surrounding the Master! He does not begrudge His servants if any of them share in His splendor, nor does He regard it as diminishing aught from His own glory were He to receive many as partakers of His Kingdom. Those among men who hold others in subjection, even if they give their subjects everything, would not bear even to dream of them sharing their rule. But Christ does not regard His servants as though they were slaves, nor does He bestow on them honors fit for slaves; He regards them as friends. Towards them He observes rules of friendship which He has established from the beginning; He shares His won with them, not merely one or another part of His riches, but He gives the very kingdom, the very crown. What else is it that blessed Paul has in view when he says that they are "heirs of God fellow heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17), and that all those who have shared hardships with Christ reign with Him" (2 Tim. 2:12)?
What is so full of delight that it could vie with that vision of a chorus of blessed ones, a multitude of those who rejoice? Christ descends from heaven like lightning to earth, while the earth hands back other suns to the Sun of righteousness, and all is filled with Light. From the earth come those who have shown zeal for Christ by their effort and endurance, their labors and their eagerness for such things. From the earth come those who have imitated His death and have surrendered themselves to swords and fire, still displaying the scars thereof on their radiant bodies and triumphing in the marks of their wounds as though they were the inscriptions on trophies of victory. They are a circle of champions who are illustrious by reason of their wounds, at the side of the King Who by being slain has won the victory and, as St. Paul says, is "crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death" (Heb. 2:9).
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
Glory Be To GOD For All Things!
With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God