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.
PRAYERS OF THE SIXTH AND THE NINTH HOUR
SIXTH HOUR (2:00 p.m.)
+In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Glory to You, our God, glory to You. Come, let us bow down and worship God our King. Come, Let us bow down and worship Christ our God and King. Come, let us bow down and worship Christ Himself, our King and our God.
As on the sixth day and hour, O Christ our God, You nailed upon the Cross the sin of Adam, which he had dared to commit in Paradise, tear up also the written accusation of our transgressions and save us.
O Christ our God, when You stretched out Your pure arms upon the Cross, You accomplished the salvation of mankind upon the earth, and gathered all the nations into unity that confess and say: "Glory to You."
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
We bow in reverence before Your holy Icon, O Benevolent Lord, seeking forgiveness of our transgressions, from You, O Christ our God. For You willed voluntarily to be lifted up to the Cross, and to redeem from the slavery of the enemy, those whom You Yourself had created. Thus we thankfully cry out and say: Our Savior, You filled all things with joy, when You came to save the world.
Now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
(Monday, Tuesday, Thursday)
O Theotokos, You are the source of compassion, make us worthy to have sympathy for others. Look upon a people that has sinned, Show Your power as always, for we have placed our hope in You, and to You we say, Rejoice, as did Gabriel of old, the Archangel of the bodiless Angelic Hosts.
O Most superlatively glorified Virgin Mother of God, we sing hymns of praise to You. For through the Cross of Your Son, Hades was vanquished and Death died. We who had died were raised up, and made worthy of eternal life. We received again the original delight of Paradise. As we given thanks to You, we glorify Christ, our mighty Savior and Merciful God, Who loves mankind.
Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
Placing of the Robe of the Most Holy Theotokos at Vlachernae; St. Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem; Saint Juvernal, Protomartyr of America and Alaska; St. Photios, Metropolitan of Kiev; Saint Stephen the Great, king of Moldavia; New Holy Martyr Lampros of Makri (+1835); Saint Monegunde of Gaul; Saint Swithun, Bishop of Winchester; Odoceus, Bishop of Llandaff; "Portal," "Theodotiev," and "Akhryr" holy Icons of the Mother of God.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 9:1-7
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 1:39-49, 56
INSPIRING WORDS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"We spend our whole life rotting from thoughts, because everyone justifies himself. That is why we make no progress, why we get no benefit from anything. Each one, as said before, leaves himself alone, and demands the Commandments from his neighbor. This is why we are not conscientious in doing good...We blame [our brother or sister] and say that 'He should do that,' or 'Why didn't he do it like that.' Why do we not demand the keeping of the Commandments for ourselves and condemn ourselves as transgressors? [Saint Dorotheos of Gaza]
THE DEPOSITION OF THE VESTURE OF THE MOST HOLY MOTHER OF GOD IN THE VLACHERNAE CHURCH IN CONSTANTINOPLE.
In the time of the Emperor Leo the Great (457-474 AD) and the Empress Verina and Patriarch Gennadius, two Constantinopolitan nobles, Galbius and Candidus, were travelling in the Holy Land to venerate the holy places there. In Nazareth, they stayed in the house of the Jewish girl who had the vesture of the Mother of God (Theotokos) kept in a secret place. Many of the sick and wretched had received healing through prayer and the touching of this vesture. Galbius and Candidus took this holy relic to Constantinople and informed the Emperor and the Patriarch of its existence. It was the cause of great rejoicing in the imperial city. The vesture was ceremonially placed in the Vlachernae church (a church built by the Emperor Marcian and Empress Pulcheria on the shore of a bay, and named 'Vlachernae' after a General Vlachernae from Scetis, who was killed there, and this commemorative feast was instituted. [Source: The Prologue from Ochrid)
ON OUR TIMES
by Saint Paisios of the Holy Mount Athos [Source: Orthodox Heritage. Brotherhood of St. Poimen]
The spirit of lukewarmness reigns. There's no manliness at all. We've been spoiled for good. How does God still tolerate us? Today's generation is the generation of indifference. There are no warriors. The great majority are fit for parades and feasts only.
Godlessness and blasphemy are allowed to appear on television. And the Church is silent and doesn't excommunicate the blasphemers. And they need to be excommunicated. What are they waiting for? Let's not wait for someone else to pull the snake out from its hole so that we can live in peace. They're silent out of indifference. What's bad is that even people who've got something inside have begun to grow cool, saying: "Can I really do anything to change the situation?" We have to witness our faith with boldness, because if we continue to be silent we'll have to answer in the end. In these difficult days each must do what's in their power. Leave what's out of their power to the will of God. In this way our conscience will be clear.
If we don't resist, then our ancestors will arise from their graves. They suffered so much for the Fatherland, and we? What are we doing for it? If Christians don't begin to witness their faith, to resist evil, then the destroyers will become even more insolent. But today's Christians are no warriors. If the Church keeps silent, to avoid conflict with the government, if the Metropolitans are silent, if the monks hold their peace, then who will speak up?
A lukewarm clergy lulls the people to sleep, leaves them in their former condition so they won't be upset, "Look," they say, "by all means do not tell them that there will be a war, or the Second Coming, that one must prepare oneself for death. We must not make people alarmed!" And others speak with a false kindness, saying: "We mustn't expose heretics and their delusions, so as to show our love for them." Today's people are water-soluble. There's no leaven in them.
If I avoid upsetting myself to protect my fleshly comfort then I'm indifferent to holiness! Spiritual meekness is one thing, and softness and indifference are quite another. Some say: "I'm a Christian and therefore I have to be joyful and calm." But they're not Christian. They're simply indifferent. And their joy is only a worldly joy.
The person in whom these worldly seeds are present is not a spiritual person. A spiritual person consists of nothing but pain. In other words, he's in pain at what's going on, he's in pain for people's condition. And divine comfort is bestowed upon him for his pain.
Our goal is to live an Orthodox life, not just to speak or write Orthodox. If the preacher has no personal experience then his sermons won't go to the heart, won't change people. To think like an Orthodox is easy, but to live an Orthodox (Christian0 life requires effort.
Today God tolerates what's going on. Tolerates, so that evil people will be unable to justify themselves. God expects patience, prayer and struggle from us. If you anger when you yourself are offended, your anger is unclean. But if someone is offended in the service of holiness, that means that zeal of God is in him. Indignation can be righteous when it's indignation for God's sake. That's the only justifiable kind of indignation in a person.
It's unseemly to become angry in one's own defense. Resisting evildoers is another matter, however, when it's in defense of serious spiritual matters, when our holy faith, Orthodoxy, is concerned. Then it's your duty. To think of others, to counter the blasphemers in order to defend one's neighbor--this is pure, because it is carried out in love.
Evil lies within us. There is no love in us, so we don't feel all people to be brothers and are tempted by [our knowledge of] their sinful ways. But it's not right when moral failings become known to all. The injunction of the Gospels to "tell it unto the church" (St. Matthew 18:17) doesn't mean that everything has to become known to everyone. By exposing the moral failings of our brother we arm the enemies of the Church, give them another pretext to escalate the war against Her. And the faith of the weak is shaken in this way too.
If you want to help the Church, then try to mend your own ways, rather than others'. In straightening yourself out you straighten out a particle of the Church. If everyone were to do that then the Church would be in perfect order. But today's people attend to everything under the sun, only not to themselves, because it's easy to teach others, while mending one's own ways requires effort.
If we expose someone out of love, with pain in our hearts, then a change will occur in his heart whether he understands us or not. But to expose without love, with partiality, only enrages the object of our exposure. Our hostility strikes against his egoism, producing sparks like flint against steel.
If we tolerate our brother out of love, he will feel it. But he also feels our hostility, even if we keep it inside and don't express it. Our hostility arouses alarm in him. We must always ask ourselves: "Why do I want to say what I'm about to say? What is motivating me? Do I really care about my neighbor or do I just want to show him how wonderful I am, to show off a bit?" If someone tries to solve ecclesiastical problem allegedly out of faith, but really thinking of his own advantage, then how can such a person win God's blessing?
Sweet words and great truths have value when uttered by righteous lips. They take root only in people of good will and clean conscience. Truth, when used without judgment, can commit a crime. And he who possesses sincerity without reason commits a twofold evil, first against himself, then against others, because there's no empathy in his sincerity. A Christian must not be a fanatic but have love in his heart for all. He who throws words around carelessly, even true words, does evil.
Veneration is a good thing, and the predisposition for good is also good, but spiritual judgment and breadth are needed to guard against fanaticism, that false companion of reverence.
Watchfulness and sobriety are needed. All that a person does he must do for the sake of God. Christ must be at the source of every movement. Much attention is required, for when we do something with the aim of pleasing others we gain no benefit.
We ascend to the heavens not through earthly striving but by humbling ourselves spiritually. He who goes low goes sure and never falls. Ours is an age of sensationalism and hullabaloo. But the spiritual life is not noisy. Divine enlightenment is required and when it's not there the person abides in darkness. He may act out of good intentions but create many problems in his confusion, both for the Church and society.
There was a time when the Holy Spirit enlightened us and showed us the way. A grand business! Today it finds no reason to descend to us. Difficult years are ahead. The Old Testament Tower of Babel was child's play compared with our age.
(To be continued)
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