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.
A PRAYER TO THE EVER-VIRGIN MARY THE THEOTOKOS (MOTHER OF GOD)
(St. Gennadios Scholarios, Patriarch of Constantinople)
O Blessed Virgin, You are full of grace and among women the most blessed of any person; You are the adornment of the human race, the Miracle of Angels, the joy of all creation, the Crown of virtue, the Most True image and likeness of God, the Most well-disposed Queen, and we laud and praise Your Holiness. After all the glory we render to the Eternal Logos (Word) of God, our Creator and Savior, we directly confess and witness to Your graces, O Theotokos, for You co-operated with and participated in the plan of our salvation. We beseech You, Most Holy Mother of God accept also now our petition and send it for a favorable consideration to our Savior, and Your Son, Jesus Christ, and through Him to the Unoriginate God and Father and the Holy Spirit. For You have served God in the very best of all the divine acts and in the greatest heavenly plan for the salvation of us humans. If God listens to sinners when they return in repentance to His obedience and love--O what supernatural wonder!-How will He reject Your intercessions on our behalf? We admit that we are sinful and unworthy of any heavenly or earthly visitation; and yet we dare to be bold because we know the depth of Your own loving-kindness and compassion that resembles that of God Himself. We also confess and witness to Your own abiding favor and providence toward our nation, which has been demonstrated from the beginning until now. For these reasons therefore do not overlook us, the least of Your servants, but intercede on our behalf; show Your guardianship over us. Our life is passing away and the guilt of our sins is great and heavy. Our repentance is lukewarm and uncertain. We turn to God our Creator in repentance and immediately we return again to evil. For this reason then, Most compassionate Mother of our Merciful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, be quick to deliver us from these present fears of ours. Grant us a repentance that is as true and steadfast as possible; make us all to be diligent in the work of our salvation; supplement with Your divine love for mankind what is lacking in us because of our natural weakness and long-standing companionship with evil. Dissolve the guilt of our many great sins, by generating a profound contrition in our soul and by offering it as a start to the divine love for mankind, through which so many repentant thieves, prostitutes, and publicans have been saved. If, through Your own concern and effort on our behalf, we do not see the Light of divine mercy upon us who are most imprudent and reckless, then all of our affairs will be filled with horrible fears and destruction. We know and are certain that You will not abandon us altogether; we still have hope that is based upon the abundance of God's loving kindness toward mankind and Your own many visitations to us. O Most Holy Theotokos, full of grace and Most Blessed among women, the Lord is indeed with You, and may He be also with us through You, now and always. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On May 29th 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 Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Commemoration of the First Ecumenical Council; St. Alexandros, Patriarch of Alexandria; Saint Theodocia of Constantinople; St. Theodosia of Tyre; St. John of Thessaloniki, at Smyrna (+1802); St. Olbian, bishop of Aneus, and his disciples; New holy Martyr Andrew Argentes of the island of Chios; St. John of Ustiug, Fool-For-Christ.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Patriarchs, Holy Mothers, Holy Bishops, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
Holy Virgin-Martyr Theodosia of Constantinople. Four centuries after Saint Theodosia of Tyre was martyred, she appeared in a vision to a childless woman who was fervently praying for a child. Saint Theodosia told her that she would give birth, and the child was to be named Theodosia. At an early age, the young Theodosia was dedicated to God. She lived in the monastery of the holy Martyr Anastasia. The rest she gave to the poor. When another iconoclast period intensified under Emperor Leo the Isaurian, St. Theodosia became an activist. She led a demonstration to the city gates, where a Prefect on a ladder was about to remove an icon of Jesus. The group surged forward, toppling the ladder and killing the Prefect. For this, many were beheaded. The monks involved were tortured for eight months. Saint Theodosia then led a group of women against the impious Patriarch Anastasios, who had been given the office by Leo to replace the deposed Patriarch Germanos. They stoned Anastasios, and again many were beheaded. Saint Theodosia was martyred when an imperial guard plunged a ram's horn through her throat. This occurred on the same day as the martyrdom of Saint Theodosia of Tyre four centuries earlier.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 27:1-44
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 17:18-26
INSPIRING WORDS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY FATHERS AND HOLY MOTHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"True repentance consists of withdrawing from sin and nurturing hatred for it. For, lo, when someone says from his heart, I have hated deceit and been repelled by it--then God accepts him with joy" (Saint Ephraim the Syrian).
THE LIFE IN CHRIST: THE CHRISTIAN'S JOY
By Saint Nicholas Cabasilas
Joy befits us when the things which we love are present with us, and also when we hope for them. For "we rejoice in hope" (Romans 12:12), as Saint Paul says, since love and hope have the same objects. Indeed, we have joy in ourselves to the extent that we love.
Now there are those who are pleasant in themselves, since they themselves are good in character, and are so in the view of kindly friends. So the virtuous man, since he realizes that goodness alone is worthy of love, for its sake has joy in himself. For its sake also he has joy in others, whether it is because they are of like character, or because they assist him in goodness. In addition to this, the good man rejoices in the good of others, for this too is the object of his prayers and desires, that another should enjoy good fortune.
This is the most generous form of pleasure, that one should share in the pleasure of another soul, and not merely desire for oneself and one's own benefit, nor take pride merely in that which is one's own, nor love one's own gain alone, but consider oneself rewarded by the triumph of others. In this, man goes beyond his nature and becomes like God Who is the common good of all. Further, in this way it becomes evident that a man loves goodness for its own sake and not for its usefulness to himself when he is no less pleased at seeing others have it.
So it belongs to good men to desire the good of all men and to rejoice at their prosperity. One might well regard this as the sign that they are perfectly virtuous, just as the fruit which the tree brings forth clearly shows that it is healthy. Nature would not suffer a plant to bring forth fruit before it has reached maturity in itself, nor would any man be useful to others without first having become useful to himself. He is intimate with himself before he has intimacy with others; he is familiar with himself and deals with himself before all others, and desires and prays for that which is useful to himself. What, then, prevents him from first profiting himself if, on the one hand, he rejoices in that which is good, and nature on the other hand turns him first to himself and to forethought for himself, just as it does for all other beings? In short, he exists for himself, and is good for himself first of all. That each man should be himself is the first and most general desire of all men.
It is evident, therefore, that if a man loves the prosperity of others and rejoices when they attain it he is not himself deprived of it nor deficient in it. He does not show concern for others by neglecting himself and his own interests and needs. How could one wish to see in the hands of others that which he knows his own house lacks?
Even though some of those who are indifferent towards goodness and virtue assume the mask of the best qualities, pretend virtue, and seek to lead other sin the things of which they are wholly ignorant, they do not make the effort for the sake of virtue and goodness, but merely to gain reputation and false glory. Right reason shows that it is impossible for those who try to do this to become perfectly virtuous! Perfect virtue is possible only for those who have been set free from all envy and malice, and who display genuine and perfect love towards their fellow men, which is the attainment of the highest philosophy.
Therefore, to partake of this pleasure it is necessary to be the best and wisest of all men, while those who are best and wisest must have part in this pleasure. Consequently, those who partake of goodness must display the nature of that goodness in the soul, for it is the nature of that goodness to be diffused and shared. Just as all things aim at it, so its nature is to spread abroad to all things. If it did not impart itself to all, all things would not seek to obtain it, for how would it be reasonable if the desire which is of all most general were in vain?
Accordingly, the very principle of virtue demands that the good man devote himself to all men even as to himself, and that his soul experiences feelings such as distress and joy no less with regard to the affairs of other than to his own. Furthermore, it is his love for God which leads him to this joy, for he who loves must find joy not only in the one whom he loves, but also in the same things which give joy to the object of his love.
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