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.
A PRAYER TO THE MORE-THAN-HOLY THEOTOKOS
(Saint Gennadios Scholarios, Patriarch of Constantinople)
+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
O Blessed Virgin, You are full of grace and among women the Most Blessed of any person; You are the adornment of the human race, the miracle of Angels, the joy of all creation, the crown of virtue, the most true image and likeness of God, the most well-disposed Queen, and we laud and praise your holiness. After all the glory we render to the Eternal Logos (Word) of God, our Creator and Savior, we directly confess and witness to your graces, O Theotokos, for You co-operated with and participated in the plan of our salvation. We beseech You, Most Holy Mother of God, accept also now our petition and send it for a favorable consideration to our Savior, and your Son, Jesus Christ, and through Him to the Unoriginate God and Father and the Holy Spirit. For you have served God in the very best of all the divine acts and in the greatest heavenly plan for the salvation of us humans. If God listens to sinners when they return in repentance to His obedience and love--O what supernatural wonder!--how will He reject your intercession on our behalf? We admit that we are sinful and unworthy of any heavenly or earthly visitation; and yet we dare to be bold because we know the depth of your own loving kindness and compassion that resembles that of God Himself. We also confess and witness to your own abiding favor and providence toward our nation, which has been demonstrated from the beginning until now.
For these reasons therefore do not overlook us, the least of your servants, but intercede on our behalf; show your guardianship over us. Our life is passing away and the guilt for our sins is great and heavy. Our repentance is lukewarm and uncertain. We turn to God Our Creator in repentance and immediately we return again to evil.
For this reason then, Most Compassionate Mother of Our Merciful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, be quick to deliver us from these present fears of ours. Grant us a repentance that is as true and steadfast as possible; make us all to be diligent in the work of our salvation; supplement with your divine love for mankind what is lacking in us because of our natural weakness and long-standing companionship with evil. Dissolve the guilt of our many great sins, by generating a profound contrition in our soul and by offering it as a start to the divine love for mankind, through which so many repentant thieves, prostitutes, and publicans have been saved. If, through your own concern and effort on our behalf, we do not see the Light of Divine mercy shine upon us who are most imprudent and reckless, then all of our affairs will be filled with horrible fears and destruction. We know and are certain that you will not abandon us altogether; we still have hope that is based upon the abundance of God's loving kindness toward mankind and your own many visitations to us. O Most Holy Theotokos, full of grace and Most Blessed among women, the Lord is indeed with you, and may He be also with us through you, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen. (Source: A Prayer Book. An Anthology of Orthodox Prayers by Fr. Peter A. Chamberas)
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On August 11th 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 perfected in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Great Martyr Efplus the Deacon of Catania in Sicily; on this day we commemorate the Consecration of the venerable and right comely house and divine Temple of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos, the Merciful; Holy Martyrs: Neophytos, Gaius, Gaianus, Zeno, Mark, and Macarius; our Righteous Father Passarion; our Righteous Father Niphon; on this day we commemorate the wondrous miracle of our Father among the Saints Spyridon the Wonderworker, which came to pass against the Hagarenes on the Isle of Corfu (Kerkyra) in the year 1716); the Holy Virgin Martyr Susanna and those with her: the Holy Martyrs Gaius, Pope of Rome; the presbyter Gabinus his brother and the father of Susanna; Maximus; Claudius, his wife Praepedigna, and their sons Alexander and Cutias; Holy Martyr Elian was perfected in martyrdom by fire in Philadelphia of the Decapolis in the Trans-jordan; St. Blane, Bishop of Bute in Scotland; the Holy Righteous Martyrs Basil and Theodore of the Kieve Caves; St. Theodore, Prince of of Ostrog, who became Theodosius, Monk, of the Kieve Caves; Holy New Martyr Anastasios and Demetrios of the Isle of Lesvos.
+ By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Monks, Holy Bishops, Holy Mothers, Holy Wonderworkers, Holy Righteous, Holy Princes, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY MARTYR EFPLOS (EUPLOS) THE DEACON. This holy Martyr was from Catania in Sicily and contested during the reign of the pagan Roman emperor Diocletian. He presented himself of his own accord to Calvsianus the Governor, who put him to exceedingly harsh torments. As St. Efplos was on the rack, Calvisianus commanded him to worship Mars, Apollo, and Aesculapius; he answered he worshipped the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He was beheaded in the year 304 AD.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Holy 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 demons' strengthless presumption, O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art Merciful.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: II Corinthians 2:14-17; 3:1-3
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 23:23-28
INSPIRING WORDS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"Moses, who attempted to approach the burning bush on earth, was prevented until he had removed the sandals from his feet; how do you expect to see and to become conversant with the One Who is above every perception and every thought, if you do not remove from yourself every passionate thought?" (Saint Neilos the Ascetic)
One Mediation of the Mediator and the Mediatress
by George S. Gabriel (Source: Mary: The Untrodden Portal of God)
"She did not mediate only on behalf of certain chosen races, but between God and the entire human race. Standing between both, she made God the Son of Man and men the sons of God" (St. Gregory Palamas, Homily 53: On the Entry of the Theotokos, ch. 6). Her mediation is more than a parallel to her Son's; it is the same mediation because she is the mother of His humanity. And Christ's mediation belongs to the humanity of the Son of Man and High Priest. He is the Mediator because her mediation came first. "Through her mediation, He saved and vivified the human race" (St. Modestus of Jerusalem, Encomium on the Dormition, MPG, 86-2, 3288). The meaning of the "one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself a ransom for all," (1 Timothy 2:5) therefore, includes Jesus' mother. For it was through her that He became the Mediator of the eternal communion of God and creation. Her mediation became His mediation, and He became our "High Priest in the heavens" (Hebrews 4:14). "He did not take on Him the nature of Angels, of course; rather He took on the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sin of the people. For in that He Himself suffered being tempted, He is able to aid them that are tempted" (Hebrews 2:16-18).
This mediation operates unceasingly through the Theotokos. Divinized by grace in the image of Christ's theandric energy, her human energy also became one (but unconfused) with His Divine will because, from childhood, "she shunned human pursuits and surrendered to God the mind's reigning faculty and placed it in obedience to Him in all things" (St. Gregory Palamas, Op, cit., ch. 18). In a relative sense, Angels and Saints also enjoy oneness with God. Regarding the Theotokos, however, it is incomparably and infinitely greater: "The difference between His friends and His mother, however, is infinite" (St. John of Damascus, Second Encomium on the Dormition, ch. 10). "She alone among all others was worthy and received all the gifts of the spirit collectively" (Ibid., ch. 13). She is the "Queen Mother" (First Ode, Canon of the Akathist Hymn), the "Queen at the right hand of God" (Psalm 44:10) in Heaven, interceding "with motherly boldness" (From the Compline prayer to the Theotokos. The original Greek word (παρρησία) translated here as "boldness" also means "candidness" or, more precisely, "freedom to speak".)
The New Testament gives us the following vivid example of the power of her mediation with motherly boldness before the Lord. When the Savior attended the marriage at Cana, the appointed time had not yet come according to the divine plan for His public miracles to begin. Therefore, replying to His mother's mediation to Him because the host's wine had been exhausted, He said, "Woman, what hath this to do with Me and with thee? For My hour is not yet come" (St. John 2:3-4. Our translation of the passage is accurate and refutes the Protestant Bibles (King James, SRV, etc.) that present Christ as disdainful of His mother). Nevertheless, through her motherly boldness and intercession, the divine plan and will granted that the first public miracle of the Incarnate Logos (Word) be the changing of water into wine. The narrative also repeats to us her sublime admonition to all who would ask for her intercession, "Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it!"
Chosen from before the ages and generations to be mother of the Creator, she is also, the Mediatress of His unceasing energies of love, rule, will, mercy, and sustaining power and providence in the universe unto eternity. She "has honors second after the Trinity and directly receives the fullness of the gifts of God, transporting them to all, to Angels and to men" (St. Andrew of Crete, Op. cit.) As the "provider of life, the life of the living, the co-cause of life" (St. Andrew of Crete, Third Homily on the Dormition, MPG 97, 1108B.) she mediates every energy or operation of God to His creatures. And before this stunning mystery the minds of men, even of the greatest Fathers, are insufficient; the wise are shown unwise, and "philosophers are made fools" (Akathist Hymn, Third Stasis).
(To be continued)
Please note: As you can see the theology about the Mother of God in our Holy Orthodox Christian Church is vast. Unfortunately the contemporary Orthodox Christian does not know enough of the Theotokos and her place in the Church and her place in the divine plan to save mankind. Every Orthodox Christian must offer due and fitting honor, love and obedience to the Ever-Virgin Mary and Queen of Heaven. Our Panagia prays unceasingly for our salvation and the salvation of all people. The August Fast given in her honor is one way of showing her your personal commitment, appreciation, respect and love. She is the par excellence example of true humility, faith, obedience, virtue, holiness, love of God and men, of theosis, of asceticism, of virginity, of purity, of grace. Let us, as Orthodox Christian men and women emulate her divine example.
Through the holy intercessions of the Holy Mother of God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
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
(Posted with permission of the publisher)