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 ALL-HOLY THEOTOKOS
(Saint Gregory of Neocaesaria)
+In the Name of the Father and of the Son of the Holy Spirit. Amen. All-Holy Virgin Mother of God, we humans cannot offer to you the hymn and the praise that is appropriate to you, for your proper praise is superior to any human melody. From you God Himself received flesh and was born as a human being. The totality of nature in heaven and on earth offers to you its boundless respect. For you have become an Angelic Throne of Cherubim. As a reflection of Light, You shine brightly in the imperceptible world and in all the ends of heaven and earth and in the whole universe, where the Unoriginate Father is praised, Whose power always overshadowed you; where the Son is worshiped, the Son to Whom you gave birth; where the Holy Spirit is glorified, the Spirit which enacted in your womb the birth of the Great King. Through you, who are full of grace, the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity is revealed in the world to become known by human beings. We pray to you and beseech you, Most Blessed Theotokos, to make us also worthy of you perfect grace that we too may partake of it with you in Christ Jesus, our Lord, in Whom the glory and the power abides unto the ages of ages. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On August 12th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Prophets, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul perfected in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Martyrs Photios and Anicetus of Nicomedia; Holy Martyrs Pamphilos and Capito, who were perfected in martyrdom by the sword; our Righteous Father Sergius and Stephen; our Righteous Father Castor; Saint Palamon of Egypt, the instructor of Saint Pachomius the Great; Holy Twelve Martyred Soldiers from the Isle of Crete were perfected in martyrdom by the sword; Holy Hieromartyr Alexander, Bishop of Comana; Saint Muredach, First Bishop of Killala in Ireland; our Righteous Fathers Gerontius, Serapion, Germanos, Bessarion, Michael, and Symeon, of Garedja Monastery in Georgia, who were martyred by the Muslem Leks in the year 1851.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Ascetics, Holy Fathers, Holy Hieromartyrs, Holy Bishops, Holy Righteous, Holy Mothers, Holy Confessors, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY MARTYRS PHOTIUS AND ANICETUS. These holy Martyrs contested in Nicomedia about the year 288 AD when the pagan Roman emperor Diocletian stirred up his persecution of the Christians. St. Anicetus presented himself openly and said that all who worship idols are blind and senseless. He was beaten with rods so ruthlessly that his bones appeared from the rents and wounds in his flesh. As he was suffering further torments, his nephew Photius came and embraced him, calling him his father and his uncle. He was also put to many tortures with him. They were then imprisoned together for three years. Finally they were cast into a furnace, where they gave up their spirits, and their bodies were preserved unharmed. Saint Anicetus is one of the Holy Unmercenaries.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Martyr. Forth Tone
Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our Immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art Merciful.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: II Corinthians 3: 4-11
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 23:29-39
INSPIRING WORDS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"Faith alone is not sufficient for grace; active prayer is also required. For true faith which reveals in practice the life of Jesus comes through the Spirit in active love. Therefore, one who does not see faith activated in his/her life possesses only a dead and lifeless faith." (Saint Gregory of Sinai)
POWER TO DO ALL THAT THE THEOTOKOS WILLS
By George S. Gabriel (Source: Mary: The Untrodden Portal of God)
Mary's intercession and mediation, therefore, are not only incomparably greater but incomparably different in nature from those of the Angels and Saints. The intercessions of all other Saints are only supplicatory in nature. Without Mary the Mother of the Incarnate Logos (Word), however, there can be no Saints. She is one of the two persons in the mystery of the Incarnation. By her words, "be it done to me" she became the co-cause of the sanctification of human flesh: "No one is filled with the knowledge of God except through you, All-Holy One. No one is saved but through you, O Theotokos. No one is delivered from danger but through you, O Virgin Mother. No one is redeemed but through you, O Mother of God. No one receives the gift of mercy but through you who contained God" (St. Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, Second Homily on the Dormition, MPG 98, 349B, C.). For "In birthgiving, you preserved virginity, and in dormition you did not abandon the world, O Theotokos" (Apolytikion (Dismissal) hymn of the Dormition Feast). It is natural, then, for the body of the Church to sing, "For it is you whom I have as Mediatress before the man-loving God" (An Exapostilarion Hymn in the Service of Supplication in the Dormition fast period). And the faithful pledge to her, "We shall never silence our speaking of your powers, O Theotokos" (A Troparion Hymn of the Small Supplicatory (Paraklesis) Canon).
Her mediation and Christ's mediation operate as one in an unceasing, indivisible synergy in Heaven and in the world. Therefore, she remits sins, intercedes, saves, heals, enlightens, sanctifies, guides, protects; she routs demons and barbarian hordes, delivers us from dangers, turns tides, calms storms. A profound vesper hymn clearly distinguishes the unique nature of the intercessions of the Theotokos: "Unveil to us the boundless sea of your mercy and goodness and thereby wash away our sins, O All-Blameless One, for as the Mother of God you have authority over creation, and by your power you bring all things to pass according to your will. For the grace of the Holy Spirit clearly abides in you, and unceasingly co-works with you in all things, O All-Blessed One" (Small Vespers, Saturday of the Fourth Tone, Apostichon hymn of the Theotokos).
Among the Saints and Angelic hosts, the Theotokos alone, therefore, "has the power to do all that she wills" (Theotokion Hymn on Tuesday of the Plagal First Tone). To her is given "authority over creation," not merely honorary or titular authority but authority with power. For the vesper hymn tells us she "brings all things to pass" by grace, and not by grace that is occasional or tentative, but by full and "unceasing" grace that abides in her. By unceasing grace, her creaturely energy becomes uncreated, as it were. Like the mystery of the Incarnation, it is the mystery of two persons, one created and one Uncreated, co-working in a synergy that is as a single operation. For no creature is of its own nature "boundless." Only the uncreated, divine energy is boundless, unfailing, undiminished, inexhaustible, eternally constant. The efficacy of this synergy, therefore, springs from the one power and one rule (or "kingdom") of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. An Entry Hymn of the Divine Liturgy invokes her "unchanging mediation" and her "constant protection of Christians." Elsewhere she is also described as "unresting in intercessions" (Kontakion Hymn of the Dormition), the constant and "ready reception" (Compline prayer to the Theotokos) of all who approach her seeking refuge.
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 (ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
(Posted with permission of the publisher)