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.
+In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. O Lord and Master of my life, Give me not a spirit of laziness, of aimless curiosity, A spirit of lust for power over others and of vain talk. Rather, grace me, your servant, With the Spirit of purity, humility, patience and love. Yes, O Lord King, Grant me discernment to see my own faults, And not to judge and condemn my fellow human beings. For You are Blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.
[Saint Ephraim the Syrian]
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On September 4th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions 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 Prophet and God-seer Moses and his brother Aaron the Priest; Holy Hieromartyr Vavulas, Bishop of Antioch the Great; the Three Holy Children who were with him, Urban, Prilidian, and Epolonius; and their mother, Christodulas; who were perfected in martyrdom by the sword; On this day Saint Vavylas, a teacher of Nicomedia, was perfected in martyrdom by the sword with the Eighty-four (84) Children who were his disciples; Saint Hermione, one of the daughters of Saint Philip the Apostle; Saints Theotimos and Theodoulos, executioners who believed in Christ through St. Hermione, were perfected by fire; Holy Martyrs Centurion, Theodore, Amianos, and Julian, who were from the village of Kanduale; holy Martyrs Petronius, Charitina, Sarbelus (Sharbel), Thathuel, and Vevaia; On this day we commemorate the Holy 3,628 Martyrs of Nicomedia; our righteous and God-bearing Father Anthimus of Cephalonia, the New Ascetic; the finding of the holy and precious relics of our Father among the Saints Joasaph, Bishop of Belgorod; Holy Father Symeon the Clairvoyant and Wonderworker, Egoumenos (Abbot) of Garedja in Georgia; the Synaxis of the Holy Icon of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary that is called The Burning Bush.
+By the holy intercessions of the Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Confessors, Holy Prophets, Holy Mothers, Holy Fathers, Holy Ascetics, Holy Monks, Holy Nuns, Holy Children, Holy Wonderworkers, Holy Egoumenoi, Holy Apostles, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY PROPHETS MOSES, THE SEER OF GOD, AND AARON. THE HOLY HIEROMARTYR VAVYLAS, BISHOP OF ANTIOCH.
THE PROPHET MOSES--whose name means "one who draws forth," or "is drawn from" that is, from the water--was the pinnacle of the lovers of wisdom, the supremely wise lawgiver, the most ancient historian of all. He was of the tribe of Levi, the son of Amram and Jochabed (Num. 26:59). He was born in Egypt in about 1550 B.C. (before Christ). While yet a baby of three months, he was placed in a basket made of papyrus and covered with pitch, and cast into the streams of the river Nile for fear of Pharaoh's decree to the mid-wives of the Hebrews, that all the male children of the Hebrews be put to death. He was taken up from the river by Pharaoh's daughter, became her adopted son, and was reared and dwelt in the king's palace for forty years. Afterward, when he was some sixty years old, he fled to Madian, where, on Mount Horeb, he saw the vision of the burning bush. Thus he was ordained by God to lead Israel and bring it out of the land of Egypt. He led Israel through the Red Sea as it were dry land and governed the people for forty years. He wrought many signs and wonders (miracles), and wrote the first five books of the Old Testament, which are called Pentateuch (Πεντάτευχος δηλαδή πέντε βιβλία). When he reached the land of Moab, he ascended Mount Nabau, on the peak called Phasga, and there, by divine command, he reposed in the sixteenth century before Christ, having lived for some 120 years. He led the people through the wilderness to the Promised Land, which he saw but did not enter, having at one time sinned against God (Numbers 20:12). He appeared from the other world on Tabor at the Lord's Transfiguration, and, according to the testimony of St. John of the Ladder (Climacus), appeared to the monks of Sinai. The first two Odes of the Old Testament, "Let us sing to the Lord" and "Attend, O heaven, and I will speak," were written by him. Of these hymns, the first was chanted by the shore of the Red Sea as soon as the Israelites had crossed it; the second, in the land of Moab, a few days before his repose. The Holy High Priest Aaron was the elder brother of the Holy Prophet Moses. He was appointed by God to serve as the spokesman of Moses before the people, and also before Pharoah, in Egypt. Afterwards, in the wilderness he was called to the ministry of the high priesthood, as narrated in the books of Exodos, Leviticos, and Numbers in the Old Testament. The name Aaron means "enlightened."
SAINT VAVYLAS (Babylas) was the twelfth Bishop of Antioch, being the successor of Zebinus (or Zebinas); he was beheaded during the reign of Decius, in the year 250 A.D., and at his own request was buried in the chains with which he had been bound. The Emperor Gallus (reigned 351-354 A.D.) built a church in his honor at Daphne, a suburb of Antioch, to put an end to the demonic oracles at the nearby temple of Apollo. When Julian the Apostate came in 362 to consult the oracle about his campaign against the Persians, the oracle (that is, the demon within it) remained dumb until at last, answering Julian's many sacrifices and supplications, it told him, "the dead prevent me from speaking." It told him to dig up the bones and move them. Julian, then, in the words of Saint John Chrysostom, "leaving all the other dead, moved only that Martyr." He commanded the Christians to take away Saint Vavylas' bones, which they did with great solemnity and triumph. When this had been done, a thunderbolt fell from heaven destroying with fire the shrine of Apollo, which Julian did not dare rebuild. Saint John Chrysostom preached a sermon on this within a generation after.
Apolytikon (Dismissal) Hymn of the Prophet. Second Tone
As we celebrate the memory of Thy Prophets Moses and Aaron, O Lord, through them we beseech Thee to save our souls.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Hieromartyr. Fourth Tone
As a sharer of the ways and a successor to the throne of the Apostles, O inspired of God, thou foundest discipline to be a means of ascent to the divine vision. Wherefore, having rightly divided the word of truth, thou didst also contest for the Faith even unto blood, O Hieromartyr Vavylas. Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.
TODAY'S SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 2 Corinthians 10:7-18
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Mark 3:28-35
INSPIRING WORDS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"I want only one thing: to pray for all men as for myself" (St. Silouan the Athonite).
REPENTANCE IS A CHANGE OF LIFE
(Source: Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives by Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica)
May the peace and joy of our Lord be upon you! For it is true that peace and joy is the greatest wealth for a Christian both in this world and the next. We all long for it. We can have many material things, we can have everything we want, but it is all in vain if we do not have peace. And peace comes from the fountain of peace, from the Lord. When He spoke to His disciples while the doors were shut for fear of the Jews, the first thing He said to them was, "Peace be unto you" (St. John 20:19). Likewise, I too wish that the peace and joy of our Lord may come upon all of us. The Lord will reward us with His peace if we change our way of thinking and turn toward Absolute Goodness. Absolute Goodness is God Himself. He wants His children to have this Divine attribute as well. The perfection of the Christian life consists in extreme humility. Humility is a divine attribute, too. Where humility reigns, whether it be within a family or in society as a whole, it always radiates Divine peace and joy.
Every good and bad thing on earth has its origin in our thoughts. This is why we must struggle. We are a thought-apparatus that emits thoughts, that radiates thoughts by which we influence all beings; men, animals, and plants. The plants, too, have a nervous system. They expect peace, comfort, and love from us.
Repentance is a change of life. One must go to a priest and confess, or tell a friend or relative if something disturbs one's consciousnesses and shatters one's inner peace. After confession a person always feels lighter. God has created us in such a manner that we all influence one another. When a neighbor or friend feels compassion for our suffering, we immediately feel comforted and stronger. Likewise, repentance is a change of life. We must change our way of thinking, for life has dealt us many blows. We see the entire world, not just our nation, suffering because of that. If we turn toward the Fountain of Life--God--then He will give us the strength to become rooted in good thoughts--quiet, peaceful, and kind thoughts, full of love. Our sincere repentance will shine through, for good thoughts, good wishes, and feelings of love radiate peace and give comfort to every being.
There, now you understand what repentance is all about. Repentance is a complete turning of one's heart toward Absolute Goodness, and not only of the heart but also the mind, the feelings, the body, and one's whole being. Repentance is the unbreakable union of love with our Father and Creator. Therefore we must always be in prayer and at all times ask the Mother of God to give us the strength to love Him as she herself does, along with the Saints and the Angels. Then we will be blessed both in this life and in eternity as well. For God is love (agape), peace, and joy, which fills every being that seeks Him from the heart.
And so, it is clear that if we wish good for ourselves and our neighbors, we must change. Our thoughts influence not only us but everything that surrounds us. That is why we must emit only good, quiet, and kind thoughts. The Lord commands us to love our enemies, not for our sake, but for our own good. For as long as we wallow in the remembrance of an insult we have suffered from a friend, a neighbor, or a relative, we will have neither peace nor rest. We must become free from such thoughts. This means that we must forgive from the heart. Everything must be forgiven. The peace we feel afterwards brings a sense of well-being, joy, and comfort not only to us but to all who surround us. Everyone will feel the impact of our thoughts if our thoughts are kind and peaceful. And the opposite is true, as well. If the head of a family is burdened with worries and cares about the family finances, the other members of his family have no peace. Even the little children who do not yet understand the problems of life will have no peace, because the father is burdened with cares. Therefore all of us, and especially those who have a family household under their charge, must learn to "commit ourselves and one another and all our life to Christ our God." When we fully believe that God will help us if we turn to Him from our heart, He comforts us. Even if we commit a sin against our parents or disobey them in some important matter, they will open their parental hearts and forgive us and help us if we ask for their help most earnestly.
Thus we, too, must learn to forgive from the heart.
Many people come to me and tell me that they have trouble preserving their inner peace. Well, we cannot preserve our inner peace as long as our conscience is telling us something. First we must appease our conscience. The Lord will look upon us and illumine us with His Grace. And He will give us of His goodness, for goodness is a Divine power that works everywhere, especially in those who earnestly seek the Fountain of Life. The Lord has said to us even through an Old Testament Prophet, "My son, give me thine heart" (Proverbs 23:26). This is the Divine peace that God plants like a seed in every heart and the kind of peace that gives comfort to every soul.
Our Lord is the sole comfort of both angels and men, of every soul that yearns for Him. He alone is eternal. We can seek comfort from our fellow men here in this life, but all this is every limited, for created beings are limited in time and space and cannot dispense eternity. God alone takes care of every need of our souls. Although we have been created as limited beings, we seek eternity, and no one from among our closest of kin, family or friends can give us eternity. Why? Because we are all limited beings, always at war in our thoughts. The fallen spirits (Satan and demons) are full of evil and envy, and they are constantly waging war on us. God looks upon this war in order to see whether we will seek Him and His help from the heart or not. He is always waiting to help us. However, there are few living examples in this life to whom we can look. We hear a lot of words and see a lot of examples on how to live, how to behave toward our neighbors and family, and how to instruct them to acquire peace and joy. It is doubtful whether we will apply all of this in our lives. It is quite another thing when we see a living example, a person who is quiet and peaceful, full of love--when you become annoyed, that person does not. He forgives everything and is joyful about everything. When we see such a living example, it stays with us and we year to acquire that kind of peace.
(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 (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God