The Beginning of the Church's Existence, Its Growth and Its Purpose

Martyr Andrew Stratelates in Cilicia

Martyr Andrew Stratelates in Cilicia

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 FOR THE WORKERS OF THE GOSPEL
(Father Constantinos Kallinikos)

O Eternal Logos (Word) of God the Father, O mystical ΙΧΘΥΣ - ('Ιησού Χριστέ Θεού Υιέ Σωτήρ), O Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior, - You drew the fishers of fish to come to You so that You may transform them into fishers of men, who would draw "the rational fish" from the depths of perdition into the nets of Your Church.

Lord, as You once walked bodily along the seas of Galilee and the sight of the people, discouraged and without shepherds, touched Your heart and motivated You to select disciples, who would be trained and guided by Your word and example to sacrifice their life for the sheep, may You in like manner now come down among us, who are suffering badly from a serious lack of man-power Your Apostolic invitations.

O Lord, give to Your Orthodox Christians Christ-bearing men, who will lead them as leaders of sanctification. Raise up judges among the people of New Israel, who will lead them to victory against their various enemies. Increase, support and strengthen the order of workers of the Gospel, so that they may all the more effectively carry on the work of evangelization and sanctification of the people for the glory of Your Church, and of Your Holy Name, the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

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

On August 19th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelist, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every Orthodox Christian soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Great Martyr Andrew the Commander, and the two thousand five hundred and ninety-three (2,593) perfected in martyrdom together with him; Holy Martyrs Timothy, Agapius, and Thecla of Palestine; Holy Martyrs Eutychian the soldier and Strategius, who were perfected in martyrdom by fire; our Righteous Father Theophanes the New, the Wonderworker, who struggled in asceticism on Mount Naousa in Macedonia; our Righteous Father Pitirim, bishop of Perm; recovery of the holy relics of Saint Gennadius of Kostroma; the Synaxis of the Donskaya Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God.

+ By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Great Martyrs, Holy Mothers, Holy Ascetics, Holy Fathers, Holy Bishops, Holy Righteous, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us.

THE HOLY MARTYR ANDREW THE COMMANDER AND THE 2,593 HOLY MARTYRS WITH HIM. During the reign of the pagan Roman emperor Maximian, about the year 289 A.D., Antiochos the Commander-in-Chief of the Roman forces sent Andrew with many other soldiers against the Persians, who had overrun the borders of the Roman dominion. Saint Andrew persuaded his men to call upon the Name of Christ, and when they had defeated the Persians with unexpected triumph, his soldiers believed in Christ with him. Antiochus, learning of this, had them brought before him. When they confessed Christ to be God, he had St. Andrew spread out upon a bed of iron heated fiery hot, and had the hands of his fellow soldiers nailed to blocks of wood. Antiochos then commanded some thousand soldiers to chase the Saints beyond the borders of the empire. Through the instructions of Saint Andrew, these soldiers also believed in Christ. At the command of Antiochos, they were all beheaded in the mountain passes of the Taurus mountains of Cilicia.

TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: II Corinthians 6:11-6
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Mark 1:23-28

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

"A house is a little church...let your prayers be common. Let each go to church; and let the husband ask his wife at home, and she again ask her husband, the account of the things which were said and read there"(Saint John Chrysostom).

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THE BEGINNING OF THE CHURCH'S EXISTENCE ITS GROWTH AND ITS PURPOSE
(Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Father Michael Pomazansky)

The Church of Christ received its existence with the coming to earth of the Son of God, "when the fullness of the time was come" (Gal. 4:4), and with His bringing of salvation to the world.

The beginning of its existence in its complete form and significance, with the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, was the day of Pentecost, after the Ascension of the Lord. On this day, after the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, in Jerusalem there were baptized about three thousand men. And, further, the Lord each day added those being saved to the Church. From this moment, the territory of the city of Jerusalem, then of Palestine, then of the whole Roman Empire, and even the lands beyond its boundaries, began to be covered with Christian communities or churches. The name "church" which belongs to every Christian community, even of a single house or family, indicates the unity of this part with the whole, with the body of whole Church of Christ.

Being "the body of Christ," the Church "increaseth with the increase of God" (Col. 2:19). Comparing the Church with a building, the Apostle teaches that its building is not completed, it continues: "All the building fitly framed groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord" (Eph. 2:21). This growth is not only in the sense of the visible, quantitative increase of the Church on earth; in even greater degree, this is a "spiritual growth," the "perfection of the saints," the filling up of the heavenly-earthly world through sanctity. Through the Church is accomplished "the dispensation of the fullness of times" foreordained by the Father, so that "He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth" (Eph. 1:10).

In the sense of its earthly growth, the Church develops in the spheres of Divine services and the canons, it is made richer by Patristic literature; its grows in the outward forms which are necessary for its earthly conditions of existence.

The Church is our spiritual home. As with one's own home--and even more than that--a Christian's thoughts and actions are closely bound up with the Church. In it he must, as long as he lives on earth, work out his salvation, and make use of the grace-given means of sanctification given him by it. It prepares its children for the heavenly homeland.

As to how, by the Grace of God, spiritual rebirth and spiritual growth occur in a man, in what sequence these usually occur, what hindrance must be overcome by him on the way of salvation, how he must combine his own indispensable labors with the grace-given help of God--special branches of theological and spiritual learning are devoted to all these matters. These are called "moral theology" and "ascetic theology".

Dogmatic Theology proper limits the subject of the Church to an examination of the grace-given "conditions" and the mystical, grace-given "means" furnished in the Church for the attainment of the aim of salvation in Christ.

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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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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry)
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George