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.
PRAYER OF SAINT BASIL THE GREAT
God and Lord of the heavenly powers of Angels and Creator of the whole universe, out of the depths of Your unimaginable loving kindness, You sent Your Only-Begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the salvation of our human race. Through His precious Cross, Christ tore up the written accusation against our sins, and He triumphed upon the Cross against the principalities and authorities of darkness. Receive now, O loving Lord, also from us sinners, these prayers of petition and thanksgiving, and redeem us from every destructive and evil transgression, and from all visible and invisible enemies who seek to harm us. Through the salutary fear of You, O God, transfix our flesh upon the Cross and do not incline our hearts to words or thoughts of evil. Uphold our souls with the desire for You, so that looking intently toward You always, being guided by Your Light, and seeing You, the uncreated and unapproachable Light, we may send up to You an unceasing confession and thanksgiving, to You the unbegotten Father without beginning, together with Your Only-Begotten Son, and Your All-Holy, Good and Life-Creating Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
Saint Theodore, Bishop of Cyrene, and with him Cyprilla, Aroa, and Lucia; Saint Donatus of Libya; Saint George of Serbia; Holy Hieromartyr Theophilos and St. Theodotos; Holy Righteous Menignus; St. Andrew, Archbishop of Crete; Saint Savvas of Gornji Karlovac; Holy Royal Martyrs: Tsar Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra, Alexis, Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, and others (1918); Saint Asclepias the Wonderworker; St. Martha, mother of Saint Symeon Stylites the Younger; Saint Innocent and Savvatius and 30 others in Sirmium; Saint Andrew the Russian of Cairo; St. Nilus of Poltava; St. Andrew, Prince of Bogoliubsk; St. Andrew (Rublev), iconographer.
HOLY ROYAL MARTYRS OF RUSSIA: TSAR NICHOLAS II, EMPRESS ALEXANDRA, AND THEIR CHILDREN, ALEXIS, OLGA, TATIANA, MARIA, AND ANASTASIA.
Saint John of Kronstadt often counseled Nicholas. Nicholas was one of the bearers of the holy relics of Saint Seraphim of Sarov when they were uncovered in 1903. Saint Seraphim left a letter for Nicholas to read when he would one day come to carry his holy relics. The content is unknown, but after Nicholas read the letter, he was visibly shaken. Nicholas ruled his country with the best traditions and with the precepts of Orthodoxy. Alexandra was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria of England, and she converted to Orthodoxy. She was known for her piety and compassion for the poor and suffering. The children were known for their kindness and modesty. When political turmoil began in Russia in 1917, Nicholas abdicated the throne for the good of his country. However, the revolutionaries put the royal family under house arrest anyway. They were finally sent by guard to Ekaterinburg. Olga, the eldest of the children, sent a letter asking that Nicholas' people not take vengeance on his account because he had forgiven all, nor should they avenge themselves. Nicholas warned that the evil causing these uprisings would only grow stronger, and that only love conquers evil. After sixteen months of imprisonment, the royal family was martyred in 1918.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Romans 8:14-21
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 9:9-13
INSPIRING WORDS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"The Lord is present everywhere, and nothing happens without His will or His permission, either in this life or in eternity." (Geronda [Elder] Thaddeus of Vitovnica)
ON OUR TIMES (Part III)
By Saint Paisios of the Holy Mount Athos [Source: Orthodox Heritage. Brotherhood of Saint Poimen]
What do we see now? It's bad enough that cunning "interpreters of Scripture" are commenting on prophecy after their own fashion. They're representatives of the clergy, but they're more cowardly than lay people. And it would behoove them to exhibit a healthy spiritual unease and help Christians by sowing beneficial concern so they'll be strengthened in their faith and receive divine consolation.
I'm amazed: Doesn't what's happening give them any cause for concern? And why don't they at least add a question mark to the interpretations they come up with? And if they help the Antichrist and thus lead other souls to perdition?
No, behind the "perfected credit card system," behind "computerized security," lurks worldwide dictatorship and the yoke of the Antichrist: "And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads. And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six" (Revelation 13:16-18).
The world has lost control of itself. Honor and self-sacrifice have abandoned people. The taste of sacrificial joy is unknown to today's people, and that's why they're so tortured. For only when you co-participate in the pain of another do miracles happen.
If a person doesn't cultivate in himself the spirit of self-sacrifice then he thinks only of himself and doesn't receive Divine Grace. The more a person forgets himself, the more God remembers him. Those who die heroically don't really die. And where there's no heroism nothing worthwhile can be expected.
Our time is like bubbling and steaming cauldron. One needs temperament, audacity, courage. Take care not to be caught unprepared, if something is to happen. Start getting ready now so that you'll be able to resist difficulties. Christ Himself tell us: "Therefore be ye also ready" (St. Matthew 24:44), doesn't He? Today, living in such complicated times, we have to be not merely ready, but triply ready, at the minimum!
Possibly we may meet not only with sudden death, but with other dangers. So let's drive away the desire to arrange our lives comfortably! May love of honor and the spirit of self-sacrifice live in us.
I see that something is in the works, that something lies just around the corner, but it's constantly being put off. Little delays all the time. Who's creating the delays? God? Another month passes, then another couple of months! That's how it all goes. But since we know what awaits us, let's develop love in ourselves, to the degree that we can. That's the main thing: for true brotherly love to exist between us. Kindness, love--that's strength! Guard the secret as well as you can and don't indulge in excessive frankness. If "he and I and the bell-ringer" are all in on the secret, then what will come of that?
Death in battle adds greatly to God's mercy, for a person who dies the death of the brave sacrifices himself to defend others. Those who give up their lives out of pure love in order to defend their neighbor are imitating Christ. These people are supreme heroes. They arouse fear in our enemies. Death herself trembles before them, because they scorn her due to their great love, and attain immortality in this fashion, finding the key to eternity under the gravestone. They enter into eternal blessedness without difficulty.
That's why I say to you: Cultivate self-sacrifice, brotherly love. May each of you attain a spiritual condition which will allow you to get out of difficult situations. Without a spiritual condition a person loses courage, because he loves himself. He can renounce Christ, betray Him. You must be ready for death. We believe that nothing is in vain, that our sacrifice has meaning.
Remove your "I" from everything you do. The person who leaves his "I" rises above the earth, moves in another atmosphere. As long as he remains inside himself he cannot become a heavenly being.
There is no spiritual life without sacrifice. Try to remember, at least a little bit, that death exists. And since we'll die in any case, let's not take care of ourselves too much. Look after your health, but not to the degree where you begin to bow down before your peace and well-being. I'm not asking anyone to throw themselves headlong into dangerous adventures, but you have to have at least a bit of heroism, my brother!...
Feats are committed not by the tall in size but by the audacious, the heartfelt, and the self-sacrificing. There's no barbarity in spiritual audacity. Such people don't fire at the enemy, but over his head, forcing him to surrender. A kind man prefers being killed to killing. The harmonious person is prepared for accepting divine powers.
The mean, the cowardly, and the small of spirit, on the other hand, use impudence to hide their fear. They're afraid of themselves as well as others and shoot without stopping. Courage and audacity are one thing; criminality and malice quite another. In order to succeed at anything one needs a wild streak, in the positive sense. He who lacks this wild streak can become neither a hero nor a Saint. The heart must become uncalculating.
(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!
HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!
May God the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, continue to bless our country and to protect her from all evil forces from within and from without!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God