Apocalypse (The Book of Revelation) Part III

Venerable Paphnutius the Abbot of Borov

Venerable Paphnutius the Abbot of Borov

My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord, Redeemer, God and Our 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.

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

On May 1st 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: Venerable Prophet Jeremiah; St. Panaretos, Archbishop of Paphos in Cyprus; St. Philosophos of Alexandria; Holy New Martyr Mary of Crete; Saint Tamara, Empress of Georgia; St. Nicephoros of Chios; Holy Martyr Savvas; Saint Athanasius the Servant, in Smyrna; St. Ultan, founder of Fosse; St. Macarius, Metropolitan of Kiev; St. Batas of Nisibis; Holy New Martyrs Efthimius, Ignatius, and Acacius the Serbian of Mt. Athos; St. Paphnutius of Borovsk; St. Gerasimus of Boldino; St. Isidora, fool-for-Christ of Tabenna; "Tsarevokokshaisk" and "Andronikovsk" holy Icon of the Theotokos (Mother of God).

+By the Holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Empresses' Holy Metropolitans; Holy Mothers, Holy fools-for-Christ, Holy Fathers, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

VENERABLE PAPHNUTIUS, EGOUMENOS (ABBOT) OF BOROVSK. Saint Paphnutius became a monk at the age of twenty, at the Pokrov-Protection Monastery in the area of Borovsk, Russia, in the 15th century. Paphnutius struggled at his ascetic labors for many years, and when his predecessor died, he was chosen Egoumenos (Abbot). He remained so for thirty years, also acting as the monks' father confessor. When Paphnutius fell ill, he resigned as Egoumenos (Abbot); however, he regained his health and went off to live a hermit's life near the Protva River. Soon monks arrived to benefit from his spiritual wisdom and strict life. St. Paphnutius led by example, He chose the worst food for himself and ate nothing on Monday and Friday, he worked at the hardest jobs, chopped and carried wood, had the worst cell, dug and tended the garden, and arrived first to church services. A monastery developed and a stone church built, dedicated to the Nativity of the Theotokos. Saint Paphnutius earned the love and respect of monks in other monasteries as well as his own. God foretold to Saint Paphnutius the day of his death, and he told the monks a week ahead of time. He prayed and blessed the monks and died peacefully.

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TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 8:40, 9:1-19
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 6:48-54

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

"Entrust those things to God which are humanly difficult, so as to avoid anxiety. For when Christ sees that you do not have any human help, then He will intercede by offering help. With humility and faith all problems are resolved." (Saint Arsenios the Cappadocian)

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APOCALYPSE: THE BOOK OF REVELATION (PART III)

The cumulative effect of St. John's choice of language is telling: The perpetual immanence of the Apocalypse reveals the ever-present in-breaking of the Kingdom of God, the ceaseless worship and praise that occur in heaven perpetually and on earth when the faithful pray together. There is an eternal and ever-present interaction between heaven and earth. This state of being, described in the Apocalypse, is the fulfillment of Jesus' Sacrifice and Christ's Resurrection. The Apocalypse describes and the Divine Liturgy unveils that Jesus Christ has transformed and is transforming human being and, indeed, all of creation. The Apocalypse is not a map of the past or future but a revelation of the eternally present.

The Divine Liturgy and the Apocalypse Revisited

Western Christians often state that they believe in the literal meaning of the Holy Scripture. Many Orthodox theologians would counter that Orthodox Christianity actually exceeds Western Christianity (Roman Catholicism and Protestantism) in its literal understanding of Holy Scripture. It is not surprising, for instance, that the Orthodox interpretation of the Apocalypse has been influenced by the liturgical practice of the Orthodox Church, for that liturgical practice was deeply influenced by the Apocalypse. Orthodox Christians have realized the Apocalypse in the most literal terms possible: The Apocalypse is the door through which we pass into the Divine Liturgy. We enter the heavenly Jerusalem each time we celebrate the Divine Liturgy. The Rapture is our departure from this world and our participation in the heavenly revealed Kingdom of God. The Altar, embedded with the holy relics of a Saint(s), is the nexus between this world and the next. The Presbyters (Priests) are gathered there, around the tomb of the Saints, burning incense and praising God (Revelation 5:8).

The Apocalypse is the living icon of Orthodox Christianity's belief in a transformative truth, one that affects everyone who follows Christ. Through the Divine Liturgy, we are recipients of the Church's apostolically authorized distribution of God's grace and of Christ Himself. For the Orthodox Christian, then, there is a "parousia" of Jesus Christ on a supernatural level during the Divine Liturgy. When celebrating the Divine Liturgy, each Orthodox Christian is at the "end of time participating in the eternal and timeless Kingdom of Heaven..."

Christians of diverse beliefs share reactive responses to the image within the Apocalypse. The content of those responses are different, but the dynamic of interpretation is, in fact quite similar. Text is quoted and then interpreted. Meaning is ascribed and contextualized for the believer. There is a constant search for meaning, or an attempt to neutralize the relevance of competing meanings. In every case, affirmation of truth or the demonstration of irrelevance requires one to assess how successfully the text has been understood. In the diverse multiculturalism of a global society, believers of all stripes are looking for the context in which to understand the meaning of the Apocalypse. The earliest Christians, too, searched for a context for their faith within the sacred text, Scripture (bearing in mind the centuries it took to form a common canon). Then as now, the interpretation of the Apocalypse as either a revelation of the future of a revelation of current truth will directly affect the manner in which Christian faith is lived out by those who call themselves Christian...

Early Christians came to understand the narrative of Christ's salvation as a living road map for their internal being. Within their world view, what had formerly been the ontological reality of the world was no longer of value. They were changed, and the world was no longer of value. They were changed, and the world was changed whether it was aware of it or not. Their attempt to understand the narrative and its meaning was to recreate the story of Christ's life, Sacrifice, and Resurrection again and again, to live it out as though it were happening each time they chose to re-enact it. The earliest Christians rather quickly came to understand that this was how they could live out the Commandment of Christ to join Him in His resurrected state. The Divine Liturgy was and still is the parousia, the end, the experience of the heavenly Jerusalem descending to accept the believing populace left upon the earth along with those who are already in heaven praising and worshipping God, It is the eschaton realized.

Believing that the end was imminent in the beginning of their new faith, there was no longer a coherent system of cause and effect for Orthodox Christians; there was only the coming of the One Who would liberate them from suffering and grant them everlasting life. They actively sought to dwell within a world beyond the end of things, hastening that end so that they might pass through to the other side of the eschaton's telos. To accomplish this, they set about to simulate the eschaton in the liturgical life of the Church. Thus the Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Church is to this day a temporal simulacrum in this world of the eternal reality of the next world.

Translator's Note:

The Apocalypse is a powerful visionary text, a prophetic explosion. As the final vision and statement of the New Testament, it presents itself to every generation with a story that may defy any one interpretation, but not our imagination. The text is a vibrant, pulsing word-image, streaked often with violent colorations, bathed at other times in deeply peaceful hues. Here we truly have text as image. In the Orthodox Christian Church, images (or icons, as they are called) can serve as text. An icon tells a story, often conflating time and collapsing discrete narratives into a single image with multiple references.

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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 Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George