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!
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.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On May 2nd 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: Saint Athanasius the Great, Archbishop of Alexandria; Saints, Hesperos, Zoe, and their sons Kyriakos and Theodulos, at Attalia; Saint Athanasius III, Patriarch of Constantinople; Saint Boris-Michael, king of Bulgaria; Saint Athanasius of Syandem and Valaam; Saint Jordan the Wonderworker; Translation (Anakomide) of the holy relics of Holy Passion-bearers Boris, and Gleb of Russia; "Putivl'sk and "Vutivansk" holy Icons of the Mother of God.
+ By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Archbishops, Holy Families, Holy Patriarchs, Holy Kings, Holy Mothers, Holy Fathers, Holy Ascetics, Holy Monks and Holy Nuns, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
SAINT BORIS-MICHAEL, KING OF BULGARIA. Saint Michael, known as Boris in his pre-Christian days, was brought up a pagan. His uncle and sister converted him, and he was baptized Michael. Since Michael was king, Patriarch Photios sent him priests, and in time, all of Bulgaria was Christian. The disciples of Cyril and Methodios were especially helpful in these conversions. In old age, St. Michael appointed his son Vladimir as his replacement, and became a monk. When news of his son's persecution of Christians reached Saint Michael, he temporarily changed his monastic habit for his old military garb and deposed his son in favor of a younger child, Simeon. Saint Michael ended his life peacefully in asceticism.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 13:7-16
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 5: 14-19
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY FATHERS AND HOLY MOTHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"The Savior has taught men what they could never learn among the idols. It is also no small exposure of the weakness and nothingness of demons and idols, for it was because they knew their own weakness that the demons were always setting men to fight each other, fearing lest, if they ceased from mutual strife, they would turn to attack the demons themselves. For in truth the disciples of Christ, instead of fighting each other, stand arrayed against demons by their habits and virtuous actions, and chase them away and mock at their captain the devil. Even in youth they are chaste, they endure in times of resting and persevere in toils. When they are insulted, they are patient, when robbed they make light of it, and, marvelous to relate, they make light even of death itself, and become martyrs of Christ." (Saint Athanasius the Great).
THE CURE OF MAN
By Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos (Source: Empirical Dogmatics of the Orthodox Catholic Church According to the spoken teaching of Father John Romanides, Volume 2.)
Unfortunately many today see the Church from an ethical, social and religious perspective: that people should become moral, good citizens and parents, and perform their religious duties well, so that they may live well here but also propitiate God after death and win Paradise.
"The view has become prevalent that the aim of theology certainly includes therapeutic treatment, but with regard to the life to come. In other words, we practice a therapeutic method today, but the results of the treatment will be revealed after death, or at the hour of death. So we behave ourselves now, we keep the Commandments and participate in purification, in the sense that we avoid sins-and usually in Greece they avoid 'particular' sins with a very specific meaning-and we reach the point of death. And since we are 'good boys and girls' and moral, we go to Paradise, as we are rewarded for our good behavior during this life."
However, man's ailing personality needs to be cured. The heart must be purified and the nous illumined. The organ of the nous is a lens that has been darkened and obscured. It needs to be cleansed and illuminated now, so that it can work in this life and will also be able to see the Light of God at the Second Coming. Then God will be Light for the human being.
"If the light were suddenly to be revealed to someone without him being prepared, and without his lens having been polished, instead of seeing God as Light, he would see Him as fire. Someone who is blind and lives all his life in darkness--actually, his eyes are normal, but they are not used to seeing light, so essentially the man is blind--if we suddenly take him outside at midday in Greece, in the summer when there are no clouds in the sky, his abrupt exposure to the sun's rays and facing the sun in this way could ruin his eyes. They will inevitably suffer harm and probably, instead of seeing, the man will end up being blind for the rest of his life. For that reason he needs gradually to train and get his eyes accustomed, and once they are accustomed, he can go for walks in the sun. If anyone ever wants to go blind, let him put sellotape on his eyes to force them to stay open, and let him lie on his back looking up at the sun in the middle of the day, in an atmosphere with low barometric pressure. You will see that in a few minutes his eyes will be ruined. Seeing the sun is a good thing, but at the same time it is dangerous. The sun is good, but the sun can also be bad, depending on the use one makes of it."
Christ became Incarnate. He assumed the whole of human nature in order to cure it, because, according to Saint Gregory the Theologian, "What is not assumed is not cured." Baptism, Chrismation and the Divine Eucharist contribute to purification, illumination and glorification, provided, of course, that man responds to God's action with his own cooperation. The clergy are physicians who give therapeutic treatment using the method of hesychasm and the Mysteries (Sacraments) of the Church. We attach great importance to this. The church is really a spiritual hospital. In this context we can speak about therapeutic treatment.
Hesychasm is not a later development that was expounded by Saint Symeon the New Theologian and the Holy Fathers of the 13th and 14th centuries. It is the authentic tradition of the Saints, by means of which we participate worthily in the Mysteries (Sacraments) of the church.
"The essence of this tradition was the ascetic traditions of the Holy Fathers that had been preserved down through the centuries, particularly in the monasteries, and mainly after Saint Symeon the New Theologian, who brought about a tremendous revolution in his era. It seems to me that there is a very great need for the same revolution to be repeated today. For that reason it is a distortion of historical reality to talk about 'the Great Fathers of the Church', and to talk about the latter as though they were something different from the other holy Fathers. All the Holy Fathers were neptic; they practiced asceticism. When the Holy Apostle Paul says, 'Be watchful in all things...' (2 Timothy 4:5) he is not referring only to a few monks; he means all Christians. Today when one reads the Apostle Paul and Holy Scripture, it has now been proved that this ascetic tradition is the essence of Holy Scripture."
The Westerners study hesychasm from the viewpoint of Eastern (non-Christian) mysticism. The genuine hesychasm of the holy Fathers, however, aims to cure the whole human being made up of soul and body, and leads him to communion with God, not some sort of abstract state. It has no connection at all with Eastern mysticism, which aims at the soul's departure from the body and its entry into the supra-persona absolute...
The hesychastic tradition is closely connected with the sacramental life of the Church and the two together lead man to purification, illumination and glorification. Then empirical dogmatics is experienced in practice. Dogma becomes experience.
This hesychastic tradition, in combination with initiation into the Mysteries (Sacraments) of the Church--its sacramental life--preserved the Orthodox in the difficult days of their servitude.
"In the era of the destruction of Byzantium the Church was highly successful. The Church was flourishing when the state fell. Everywhere in those days there were bishops who had noetic prayer, because hesychasm predominated. That was why the nation was saved. If there had not been hesychast Bishops under Turkish domination, the phenomenon of the New Martyrs and the Muslims who became Orthodox and then went to their martyrdom would not have been so prevalent. We would all be Muslims now, as happened with the Orthodox Christians in the Middle East, who have been reduced to a mere handful. In the area of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which rules the Holy Mountain, many Orthodox remained. All the Balkan states are Orthodox."
In conclusion, the Orthodox Church is a real hospital that helps man to get rid of self-love and acquire love for God and for other people to attain unselfish love. Someone who acquires eyes capable of seeing God will see God's glory as Light, as for him that will be Paradise and the glory and rule (vasileia) of God. This shows that the Church is not a simple religion, nor a social, moral and philanthropic system. It is the hope of the present world and the world to come.
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