Mary, the Touchstone of Trinitarian Faith

Icon of the Mother of God "of Tenderness" from Seraphim-Diveyevo

Icon of the Mother of God "of Tenderness" from Seraphim-Diveyevo

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.

THE DORMITION OF OUR MOST HOLY AND GLORIOUS LADY, THE THEOTOKOS AND EVER-VIRGIN MARY.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Holy Dormition. First Tone

In giving birth, thou didst preserve thy virginity; in thy dormition thou didst not forsake the world, O Theotokos. Thou was translated unto life, since thou art the Mother of Life; and by thine intercessions dost thou redeem our souls from death.

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Kontakion Hymn of the Feast. Second Tone

The grave and death could not hold the Theotokos, who is unsleeping in her intercessions and an unfailing hope in her mediations. For as the Mother of Life she was translated to life by Him Who dwelt in her ever-virgin womb.

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

On August 10th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox faith: Holy Martyrs Laurence the Archdeacon; Sixtus, Pope of Rome; and Hippolytus. We also commemorate the Holy Martyrs Felicissimus and Agapetus the Deacons, and Concordia, Irenaeus, and Abundius. On this day our Righteous Father Heron the Philosopher; Holy Six Martyrs of Bizya ; our Righteous Father Laurence, the Fool-for-Christ's sake of Kaluga; Holy New Hieromartyr Ambrose the Priest-monk of Luben and 17 brethren with him, who were slain by the atheists in the year 1918.

By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Archdeacons, Holy Philosophers, Holy Deacons, Holy Fools-for-Christ, Holy Righteous, Holy Mothers, Holy Ascetics, Holy Fathers, Holy Confessors, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

Holy Martyr Laurence, Archdeacon of Rome. This Saint, who was born in Spain, was the Archdeacon of the Church of Rome, caring for the sacred vessels of the Church and distributing money to the needy. About the year 257 AD, a harsh persecution was raised up against the Christians by the pagan emperor Valerian. Pope Sixtus, who was from Athens, was commanded to worship the idols, and refused; before his martyrdom by beheading, he committed to St. Laurence all the sacred vessels of the Church. When St. Laurence was arrested and brought before the Prefect, he was questioned concerning the treasures of the Church; he asked for three days' time to prepare them. He then proceeded to gather all the poor and needy, and presented them to the Prefect and said, "Behold the treasures of the Church." The Prefect became enraged at this and gave command that St. Laurence be racked, then scourged with scorpions (a whip furnished with sharp iron points--compare II Chron. 10:11), then stretched out on a red-hot iron grill. But the courageous athlete of Christ endured without groaning. After he had been burned on one side, he said, "My body is done on one side; turn me over on the other." And when this had taken place, the holy Martyr said to the tyrants, "My flesh is now well done, you may taste of it." And when he had said this, and had prayed for his slayers in imitation of Christ, he gave up his spirit on August 10, 258 AD.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Martyr. Fourth Tone

Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our Immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demon's strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

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TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: II Corinthians 2:3-15'

Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 23:13-22

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

"For she (Theotokos) is ark and vase and throne and heaven." (Saint Theoteknos of Livias)

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MARY, THE TOUCHSTONE OF TRINITARIAN FAITH
by George S. Gabriel [Source: Mary, The Untrodden Portal of God]

All mysteries of the Church, sacred iconography and dogmas of the faith among them, flow from the Incarnation, the cause of all things. Mary is central to the mystery of iconography and the revelation of the Holy Trinity because she is central to the mystery of the Incarnation. Without our Lady the Theotokos, however, the Incarnation is inconceivable, iconography impossible, knowledge of God but riddles or enigmata.

When the iconoclasts charged that icons of Jesus Christ circumscribe the uncircumscribable of God, the Holy Fathers' defense of the icons of God in the flesh always came to rest in Jesus' mother. In her womb, they said, the uncircumscribable Son of God received genuine humanity: true flesh, tangible, depictable, circumscribable, possessing all properties of the flesh, from a natural mother who was formed from the same clay as all mankind. God the Father and the Holy Spirit, however, received no properties of the flesh. The Church defended and decreed icons only of the Son of the Son of God. After all, the Incarnation was of one person. Only the Son of God can be the Son of Man. The Father cannot become a Son or usurp the Sonship's distinctive and particular mode of existence. "The Father is Father and not Son; the Son is Son and not Father; the Holy Spirit is Spirit and not Father or Son; for the particularity is not transferable. Indeed, how could it be possible for particularity to continue to exist and also be transferable and changeable? For this reason, it is the Son of God Who becomes Son of Man in order that the particularity [of Sonship] remain untransferred. Therefore, being the Son of God, He became the Son of Man, enfleshed of the Holy Virgin, and did not give up His own particularity [as Son]". (St. John of Damascus, Expo. bk. 4, ch. 4).

Ambivalence and confusion in the Church over icons of God the Father and the Holy Trinity cannot, in good faith, be justified. Good faith obliges Christians to recognize that such images are alien and irreconcilable to the Incarnation and to the inescapable ontological fact that, from before the ages, the Mother of God was chosen as the exclusive fountain of divine flesh that appeared on earth. A discussion of the proper identity and portrayal of the deity in images, then, is natural to the discourse on Mary. It is only from her womb and by her consenting words, "Be it done unto me according to Thy word" (St. Luke 1:38), that God received flesh so men can see Him and paint Him. This study presents the consensus of the Church and the Holy Fathers regarding two major Old Testament theophanies of God in human form: to Abraham at Mamre and to the Prophet Daniel as the Person he called the Ancient of Days. These are also the main theophanies at issue in the defense of icons of God the Father and the Holy Trinity.

Unfortunately, the white haired and white bearded Ancient of Days is perceived everywhere, even in the secular world, to be God the Father. Misapprehension about this image among Orthodox Christians is due in part to the West's ubiquitous religious art of God the Father and the accompanying pervasive influence of the Latins (Roman Catholic) view of God in the Old Testament. The seeds of confusion, however, were first sown in the East by the East, long before the arrival of the art and influence of the West.

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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.

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Glory Be To GOD For All Things!

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Please note: All holy services of the Paraklesis to the Theotokos this week, Great Vespers, Artoklasia (Blessing of the Loaves), Epitaphion and services of the Lamentations on the Eve of Dormition, as well as, Orthros [Matins] and Divine Liturgy will take place at our Holy Dormition Chapel.

On Sunday August 16th Orthros 9:30 am and Divine Liturgy at 10:30 am at the Holy Dormition Chapel followed by the Twelfth Annual Parish Picnic.

All proceeds for Panagia's Chapel are directed to its needs and improvements. Donations to the Holy Dormition Chapel of Saint Andrew parish are encouraged.

This memorable event creates new and fresh memories for all of us but especially for our parish children. Attend as a family and enjoy the peaceful surroundings, fresh air, sun, and good company (parea). There will be activities for the children and good food for everyone.

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George

(Posted with permission of the publisher)