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 PEACE OF THE WORLD
(From the Great Euchologion)
+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen O Lord our God, who can be compared with You? Who is even similar to You among the gods? What god is as great as our God, Who is abundant in mercy and benevolent in strength to bring consolation and salvation to all of us? This is why we pray to You, O God, this day, not be silent at a time when we hear the sounds of war and threats from the mighty ones of the earth. Forgive, O Most loving God, forgive and show mercy. You are a most compassionate and merciful Lord and You will not chastise us in Your wrath nor instruct us in Your anger. Otherwise we would revert back to the chaos at the beginning before we came into existence. During these difficult times be with us. Lord our God, make us strong for we have placed our hope in You and are fortified in and encouraged by Your Name. May Your word be confirmed, Lord, which You spoke to us that You will be with us always even to the end of the age. May the hopes of the Christians be raised up high, and may those who threaten us be put to shame. May those who threaten us with wars and battles be terrified, shamed and scattered, and may their power be destroyed and their dominion be no more. And they will all know indeed that Your Name is the Lord, that You alone are the Most High over all the earth...Hear the voice of our supplication, O Lord, and turn away from us the dangers which threaten the human race, dissolve the clouds of devastation from a possible war, and solidify Your peace among us, so that Your All-Holy Name will be glorified, the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On August 25th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions (prayers) of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Glorious Apostle Bartholomew; Holy Apostle Titus, Bishop of Gortynia in Crete, disciple of the Holy Apostle Paul; Synaxis of the Holy Hierarchs of Crete: Titus the Apostle, Andrew of Crete, and Cyril and Eumenius of Gortynia; Holy Fathers Menas, Epiphanius, Gennadius, and John, Archbishops of Constantinople; Holy Martyr Genesius of Arles; Holy Martyrs Eusebius, Pontian, Vincent, and Peregrinus of Rome; Holy Confessors Barses and Euglogius, Bishops of Edessa, and Protogenes, Bishop of Carrhae in Mesopotamia; our Righteous Father Aredius, Egoumenos (Abbot) of Atane in France; our Righteous Mother Ebba the Gerondissa (Elder), sister of Saint Oswald of Northumbria and Egoumenissa (Abbess) of Coldingham; translation (anakomide) of the Holy Relics of our Righteous Mother Hilda of Whitby; our Righteous Father Gregory of Utrecht, fellow laborer of Saint Boniface the Enlightener of Germany; Holy New Hieromartyr Anatolius, Priest of Kochkovskoe, who was slain by the communist atheists in the year 1919.
+ By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Ascetics, Holy Mothers, Holy Bishops, Holy Righteous, Holy Egoumenoi, Holy Enlighteners, Holy Laborers, Holy Confessors, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
The Translation (Anakomide) of the Sacred Relics of the Holy Apostle Bartholomew. The Holy Apostle Titus, First Bishop of Crete, Greece.
Saint Bartholomew was one of the Twelve Apostles, and had Galilee as his homeland; this is all that is known of him for certain according to the history of the Gospels. Concerning his Apostolic work, certain say that he preached in Arabia and Persia, and especially in India, bringing to them the Gospel written by Saint Matthew, which has been written originally in Hebrew, and which was found there one hundred years later by Pentaenus, formerly a stoic philosopher and later an illustrious teacher of the Christian school in Alexandria. Other accounts say that he went to Armenia. According to some, he ended his life by being crucified, or by being flayed alive, in Albanopolis (Urbanopolis) of Armenia.
Saint Titus was a Greek by race, and an idolater. But having believed in Christ through the Holy Apostle Paul, he became Saint Paul's disciple and follower and labored with him greatly in the preaching of the Gospel. When Holy Apostle Paul ordained him Bishop of Crete, he later wrote to him the Epistle (Letter) which bears his name. Having shepherded in an Apostolic manner the flock that had been entrusted to him, and being full of days, he reposed in peace, some ninety-four years of age.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Third Tone
O Holy Apostles, intercede with the merciful God that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of offences.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Titus 1:1-5; 2:15; 3: 1-2, 12-15
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 5: 14-19
INSPIRING WORDS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"Do whatever falls into your hands, in your circle and in your situation...and believe that this is and will be your true work; nothing more from you is required. It is a great error to think that you must undertake important and great labors, whether for heaven, or, as the progressive think, in order to make one's contribution to humanity. That is not necessary at all. It is necessary only to do everything in accordance with the Lord's Commandments...if you set about to act in this way in every instance, so that your works will be pleasing to God, having carried them out according to the Commandments without any deviation, then all the problems of your life will be solved completely and satisfactorily" (Saint Theophan the Recluse).
PRAYER FOR THE SALVATION OF ALL MANKIND
(Source: Orthodox Spiritual Life according to Saint Silouan the Athonite. Written by Mr. Harry Boosalis)
"I want only one thing: to pray for all men as for myself."--St. Silouan the Athonite
We have seen that St. Silouan considered prayer as a natural expression of love. ("The more ardent the love, the more fervent the prayer" St. Silouan the Athonite, p. 365). However, the type of prayer which he spoke of most often and which could encapsulate his entire message, may be termed 'prayer for the salvation of all mankind'; that is to say, prayer for the personal salvation of each and every human being.
In Saint Silouan's view, no believer can remain indifferent to the well being and indeed, to the ultimate salvation, of any other human person. (See Bishop Kallistos (Ware), "Salvation, for St. Silouan as for Fr. Sophrony, means communion; and so there can be no disjunction of any kind between our personal salvation and the salvation of the world. The two form a unity. Our own salvation is necessarily linked to the salvation of every other human being..." 'We must pray for all'. (Salvation according to St. Silouan). In reality, no one is saved or sanctified alone. No one who truly lives in Christ can remain disinterested or detached from the destiny of another human person; to do so is inconceivable because it contradicts the inherent unity of all mankind. (Elder Sophrony writes, "In spirit we translate our own individual state to universal dimensions. Thus our every experience becomes a revelation of what is happening and through the ages has always happened in the human world, and our spiritual merging with the world becomes a tangible reality." On Prayer, p. 17).
Christ-like love leads naturally to Christ-like prayer for the salvation of all. True love, and thus true prayer, by nature encompasses all of mankind and strives for the salvation of every human being. This is the ultimate manifestation of the life in Christ. This is what it means to be 'alive in Christ'; it is to acquire the same consciousness as Christ, the same compassion as Christ and the same desire that Christ has for the salvation of each and every human person. (See 1 Timothy 2:4).
Saint Silouan is quite specific about what he means by prayer for all mankind. To pray for all mankind means to pray for all others as if one were praying for oneself: "I want only one thing: to pray for all men as for myself." (Saint Silouan the Athonite writes elsewhere, "...all my desire is to learn humility and the love of Christ, that I may offend no man but pray for all as I pray for myself.") When reading his writings, one is inspired by the sincerity of St. Silouan's concern for all people, that all may come to experience personally for themselves the limitless love of God: "When the soul is full of love of God, out of infinite joy she sorrows and in tears prays for the whole world, that all men may come to know their Lord and Heavenly Father. There is no rest for her, nor does she desire rest, until all mankind delights in the grace of His love."
While all of his talk of prayer for the salvation of all mankind is very interesting, the majority of readers are left to wonder, 'What does this really have to do with me'? Most of us find it difficult enough to pray for our own problems and personal salvation. Are we too expected to pray for the salvation of all mankind? Most cannot hope to attain to St. Silouan's inspired vision of man, nor even come close to his personal experience of participation in the love of Christ. Does he really expect the average believer to strive to attain such prayer? Saint Silouan answers this question directly. He stresses how much more receptive the Lord is to our prayers than many may think, "Maybe one of you will think, 'However shall I pray for the whole world when I can't even pray for myself'? But those who talk like that have not learned that the Lord hears our prayers and will accept them." He emphasizes again how the Lord is attentive to the prayers of sinners, "The Lord would have all men find salvation and dwell eternally with Him, and so He gives ear to the sinner's prayer, either for the good of others or for the good of him who prays."
Prayer must be seen as a progressive and dynamic encounter with God. (Elder Sophrony writes, "Christ's manifestation to Silouan was a personal encounter by virtue of which his approach to God acquired a deeply personal character. In prayer he conversed with God face to face." (St. Silouan the Athonite, p. 113). As is the case with all personal relationships, the believer grows and progresses in prayer. This progress relates to both the quality and the quantity of prayer, if one may use such terms. Everyone is on a different spiritual level. The important point is that one is growing and maturing (spiritually). No one begins at an advanced stage of prayer. Indeed any spiritual progress involves much time, effort and pain. There are the beginners, the more advanced, as well as all those in between. No one who is just beginning the spiritual struggle suddenly attains to the level of prayer for all mankind. The believer must first concentrate on himself, and only then does his prayer take on universal dimensions. (Elder Sophrony writes, "To begin with, we pray for ourselves. But when the Holy Spirit increases our understanding and broadens our knowledge, our prayer takes on cosmic dimensions, and in invoking our Father by the word 'our' we think of all mankind and implore grace for all men..." We Shall See Him as He Is, p. 113. See p. 572).
(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!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God