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.
CONTRITE PRAYER TO OUR LORD
+In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. O Christ our God, at all times and every hour, in heaven and on earth, You are worshipped and glorified; You are long-suffering, most merciful, most compassionate, You love the righteous and have mercy upon the sinners; You call everyone to salvation through the promise of future blessings; Receive, O Lord, our prayers at this hour and direct our life toward Your Commandments. Sanctify our souls; make our bodies chaste; correct our thoughts; purify our intentions; and deliver us from every grief and pain that comes from evil. Encompass us by Your holy Angels, so that guarded and guided by them we may attain to the unity of faith and to the knowledge of Your inapproachable glory, for You are Blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On September 5th 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 Zacharias and Righteous Elisabeth, parents of Saint John the Forerunner and Baptist; Holy Martyrs Urban, Theodore, Medimnos, and 77 companions at Nicomedia; Saints Abdas, Hormizd, and Sunin of Persia; Saint Athanasius of Brest; Saints Juventinus and Maximos at Antioch; Saint Gleb of Russia, in holy baptism David; Appearance of Holy Apostle Peter to Emperor Justinian at Athira, near Constantinople.
+ By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Prophets, Holy Righteous, Holy Ascetics, Holy Fathers, Holy Mothers, Holy Confessors, Holy Emperors, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
HOLY MARTYRS URBAN, THEODORE, MEDIMNOS, AND 77 COMPANIONS AT NICOMEDIA. A persecution to undermine but not kill the Orthodox Christians was begun by the Arians (heretics) in Constantinople in the year 370 A. D. A group of seventy Christians was sent to the emperor in Nicomedia to defend Orthodoxy. Urban, Theodore, and Medimnos were their leaders. However, they upset the emperor to the point of wrath. Therefore, so as not to anger the people, he secretly ordered them to be arrested and put to death. They were put onto a ship under the pretext that they would be exiled. The real mission, though, was to burn the ship and the group of seventy at sea. The sailors lit the fire and abandoned ship. The winds delivered the burned vessel to the port Dacizis along with the bodies of the seventy.
THE HOLY PROPHET ZACHARIAS AND ELIZABETH, PARENTS OF ST. JOHN THE FORERUNNER AND BAPTIST. Holy Prophet Zacharias was the father of St. John, he was the son of Barachias, of the tribe of Aaron, a high priest in descent from Abia, and held the eighth degree of service in the Temple in Jerusalem. His wife Elizabeth was sister to St. Anna, the mother of the holy Mother of God. In the reign of King Herod, the child-slayer, Zacharias was serving one day in his turn in the Temple in Jerusalem. An Angel of God appeared to him in the altar, and Zacharias was afraid. But the Angel said to him: "Fear not, Zacharias" (St. Luke 1), and informed him that his wife Elizabeth would bear a son in answer to their prayers, for Zacharias and Elizabeth were both old. When Zacharias doubted the words of the heavenly messenger, the Angel told him: "I am Gabriel, that stands in the presence of God", and Zacharias was made dumb from the moment, and did not speak until his son was born and he had written on a tablet: "His name is John." Then his mouth was opened, and he glorified God. Later, when the Lord Christ was born and Herod began killing the children in Bethlehem, he sent men to find Zacharias's son and kill him, for he had heard of all that had happened to Zacharias and how John was born. Seeing the soldiers, Elizabeth took John in her arms--he was 18 months old at that time--and fled from the house with him to a rocky and desert region. When she saw where the soldiers had driven them, she cried out to the mountain: "O mountain of God, receive a mother with her child!", and the rock opened and hid the mother and child inside itself. Herod, furious that John had not been killed, ordered that Zacharias be cut down before the altar. Zacharias's blood spilled over the marble and became as hard as stone remaining thus as a witness to Herod's wickedness. At the place where Elizabeth hid with John, a cave opened and a spring flowed forth, and a fruit-bearing palm grew up by God's power. Forty days after Zacharias's death, blessed Elizabeth also entered into rest. The child John stayed in the wilderness, fed by an Angel and guarded by God's Providence, until the day when he appeared by the river Jordan.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 24:13-28
INSPIRING WORDS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY FATHERS AND HOLY MOTHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"The Spirit of God is given to us, not according to our merits, but by the mercy of the Living God. How do men grieve the Spirit of God? All bitterness and wrath, anger and clamor, cursing and all malice and our every sin grieve this Spirit. What pleases the Spirit of God? Keeping the Commandments, meekness, mercy and forgiveness" (Saint Nikolai Velimerovich).
BLESS AND DO NOT CURSE
By Geronda (Elder) Ephraim of Filotheou Monastery at Mount Athos and Saint Anthony Monastery in Arizona.
"Bless them which persecute you; bless and curse not" [Romans 12:14]
My beloved Christians, the Apostle Paul, the mouth of Christ, has left us a paramount, wise, and life-saving Commandment: "Bless and do not curse". Our mouth should not utter bitter words, should not voice curses, should not emit thorns that wound our fellow man and our brother; it should only voice blessed words.
As we all know, a curse is an extremely harsh phrase. Just hearing the word "curse" makes us feel uneasy. Usually, curses are voiced by parents, particularly mothers, toward their children. During a moment of anger, when they become annoyed, they thoughtlessly direct curses toward their children using a variety of expressions, thus rendering themselves terribly guilty before God. Of course, prior to this their children have been disobedient and defiant; at times, even rude and disrespectful. However, God does not give parents the right to react and respond this way when their children misbehave.
From life experience, we have observed that curses uttered by parents, especially by mothers, oftentimes transpire into a regrettable reality for their child. This occurs because, usually, their wrath is justified. A mother will never become angry with her child if he has not done something wrong. However, instead of becoming enraged, anathematizing, blaspheming, sending her child to the place where she has no right to send him, and expressing herself with harsh language that is unbefitting to a Christian mother, she should kneel frequently and pray fervently to God with tears, asking him to grant prudence, enlightenment, respect, and obedience to her child.
Who can give a mother the right to send her child to the devil? In an instant, the enemy can fulfill the mother's request and actually enter and take possession of her child. When a child is sent to Hell during a moment of anger and rage, it is quite natural for the devil to infuriate the child and make him behave even worse. This in turn will annoy the mother even more, and thus a chain reaction is initiated. As a result, the mother becomes guilty before God with her curses, while the child goes from bad to worse, bringing upon himself the consequential evil of the curse and anathema. Mothers, in particular, must realize that this can often become a terrible habit, and they should implement the other method I mentioned. By doing so, they will fulfill their obligations to their children, in a manner befitting Christian mothers.
Accordingly, they should focus on advising their children with love, instructing them on how to pray, encouraging them to attend Church regularly, teaching them good manners, and edifying them with their own personal example. Thus, with less effort, their children will find the correct path leading to salvation, and later on in life they will be useful to themselves and to society on account of their refined spiritual state.
We have many examples of mother's curses that took hold and inflicted serious harm upon their children. I will relate one such incident.
Once, God led my footsteps to a certain island of our homeland Greece, in order to offer the Mystery (Sacrament) of Holy Confession. There, in a certain village, I met a mother and her newlywed daughter-in-law, who were both dressed in black--both externally with their clothes, and internally with their souls. They were mourning because the mother's son and husband of the young bride had been killed. What led to their particular tragedy? When the man who had been killed was still an insubordinate youth, he would secretly take his uncle's rifle and go hunting. His mother constantly advised him: "My child, don't go hunting because your uncle hasn't given you permission...something bad will happen to you..." This boy, however, continued to disobey and secretly take the rifle. He would leave the house and take a long time to return. One day his mother completely lost her patience and snapped at him, "My child, since you don't listen to me and always upset me, may you die by the rifle!" As these words came forth from her mouth, a seed was instantly planted.
Many years passed. The boy grew up and got married. One day, he went out to hunt as usual. He left quite early, but this time he never returned home. His mother, fearing the worst--because her conscience was eating away at her for what she had once said--got up at sunset that evening, and started scrambling through the mountains; however, her son was nowhere to be found. She returned home sorrowful and stayed up all night worrying about her son. At the crack of dawn she set out for the mountains once again. During her frantic search, she came across her son's hunting dog, which led her to her dead son. Later, it was determined that her son had attempted to jump over a fence, at which time the rifle stock spun down, the trigger was accidentally engaged, and he shot himself.
From that very day, his mother and his bride dressed themselves in black, and amongst other things--as its common in villages on account of ignorance and demonic superstition--for six months or a year, I'm not quite certain, they believed that they should not attend church. This is the methodology of the devil, who desires to deprive people in mourning from God's consolation. He locks them up in their home, isolates them from others, encircles them with a thousand and one destructive thoughts, and in the end, oftentimes, they commit suicide.
The conclusion: Even though these harsh words were sown while the lady's son was still a young lad, they materialized into a reality during his adulthood. This is what happens in many other cases as well. Therefore, we must be extremely careful when we speak. Oftentimes, a heavy word does not materialize the moment it is expressed; it is planted, nonetheless, and it can take root at a later time when God will appoint.
Cursing is an unbearably burdensome sin, which can inflict harm not only upon the person to whom it is directed, but, frequently, upon the person who is voicing it...
Prayer is the best remedy for this sin, which is so common and which especially burdens mothers, to come to an end. Of course, even if they have been driven into this unfortunate predicament by their children, God's compassion and mercy are infinite. He forgives everything when a person repents and returns.
May our good God pour His mercy and enlightenment upon us all, so that we repent and acquire His Kingdom. Amen.
(Source: Orthodox Heritage)
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