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.
THE NINTH HOUR (5:00 P.M.)
Seeing the Lord of Life hanging upon the Cross, the repentant thief was saying: "If the One crucified with us were not God Incarnate, the sun would not have hidden its rays, nor would the earth have been shaken from its foundations. O Lord, You Who endure all things, remember me in Your Kingdom." Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Standing between two thieves, Your Cross, O Lord, served as a balance of justice. For the one thief, destined for Hades, the Cross indicated the burden of his blasphemy; For the other, whose transgressions were forgiven, the Cross opened the way toward the knowledge of God. Christ Our God, glory to You.
Now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Seeing the Lamb, the Shepherd and the Savior of the world, hanging on the Cross, She who gave Him birth saying with tears: "While the world rejoices in receiving redemption, my own inner being is on fire, as I look upon the Crucifixion, which You endure for the sake of all, O my Son and My God." Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy. Lord, You illumined the earthly things through the Cross and called sinners to repentance; Do not separate me from Your flock, O Good Shepherd, but seek me out for I am lost; and once again number me among Your holy flock, for You are the Only Merciful God Who loves mankind.
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Like the thief in his confession, I too raise my voice to You and say: "Remember me, O Lord, in Your Kingdom, and place me there with him, for You have voluntarily accepted to endure our sufferings. Now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Come, let us all praise the One Who was crucified for us. Mary saw Him upon the Cross and said: "Although You have chosen to endure the Cross itself, You are nonetheless my Son and my God." Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On September 21st Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of Your 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 Apostle Quadratus of Magnesia; Holy Prophet Jonas; our Righteous Father Jonas of Mar Savvas Monastery, Father of Saints Theodore and Theophanes the Branded; Holy Martyr Eusebius of Phoenicia; Holy Martyrs and brethren Eusebius, Nestabus, and Zeno of Gaza; our Holy Fathers Meletius and Isaacius, bishops of Cyprus; Holy Martyr Priscus; Holy Six Martyrs who were the bodyguards of the Emperor Maximian; Saint Castor, Bishop of Apt in Gaul; our Righteous Father Daniel of Shuzhgorye; our Righteous Father Joseph of Zaonikieva; recovery of the holy relics of our Father among the Saints Demetrius, Metropolitan of Rostov.
+ By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Bishops, Holy Righteous, Holy Metropolitans, Holy Confessors, Holy Mothers, Holy Ascetics, Holy Monks, Holy Fathers, Holy Apostles, O Christ Our God have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE APODOSIS OF THE FEAST OF THE EXALTATION OF THE CROSS. THE HOLY PROPHET JONAS. THE HOLY APOSTLE QUADRATUS.
The Prophet Jonas, the son of Amathi, of the town of Geth-hopher (IV Kings 14:25), was of the tribe of Zabulon; he prophesied during the year 838-810 B. C. (before Christ). God commanded him to go to Nineveh, the great city of the Assyrians, and to proclaim that its destruction was near at hand because of the sins, of its people. But he, as a Prophet who knew the great compassion of God, feared that at his preaching the Ninevites would repent; that God, accepting their repentance in His love for man, would not fulfill Jonas' threats; and that he would be branded a false prophet. So he disobeyed the Divine command, and boarded a ship and departed elsewhere. Yet, the sudden and fearful sea-storm and the revelation of Jonas' disobedience caused the sailors to cast him into the sea. A great sea-monster appeared straightway by Divine providence, and swallowed him up. For three days and night he was found in its belly and he prayed, saying the words, "I cried aloud in my affliction unto the Lord my God..." (Jonas 2:3, the Sixth Ode of the Holy Psalter). The sea-monster then vomited him up on dry land and he again heard God's command. Wherefore, he went and preached, saying, "In three days, Nineveh shall be destroyed." The people became terrified and all repented. The great, the small, babes at the breast, and even the irrational beasts themselves fasted, and thus, having found mercy from God, they were spared His wrath. Jonas' book of prophecy is divided into four chapters, and is placed fifth in order among the twelve minor Prophets. His three-day sojourn in the sea-monster's belly is an image of our Savior's three-day burial and His Life-bringing Resurrection (St. Matthew 12:39-40). His name means "dove."
Saint Quadratus was a disciple of the holy Apostles, and became Bishop of Athens, Greece. According to the Synaxaristes, he contested for the Faith in the year 117 A.D., in the reign of Hadrian (117-138 A.D.), but according to others, in the reign of Marcus Aurelius (161-180 A.D.).
On this day we celebrate the Apodosis (leave-taking) of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Life-creating Cross, and the service for September 14 is chanted as set forth in the Typicon. The services of the Prophet and to the Apostle are chanted on the 22nd of the month.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Galatians 2:16-20
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Mark 8:34-38; 9:1
INSPIRING WORDS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"We must put forward certain principles and reasonable propositions in each discussion so that the truth many finally emerge from what is admitted on both sides" (St. Gregory of Nyssa).
ON THE SPIRITUAL REALM
by Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica (Source: Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives)
A materialistic person cannot understand a spiritual person. Anything that a spiritual person says is fantasy to a materialistic person, because heavenly logic is completely different from the logic of this world. However, when one talks to a materialistic person one may bring him to the conclusion that there is, after all, something that moves the world, and that there is harmony in the universe and disharmony on the earth.
Thus, the son of Light have been called to shine forth with their lives as much as possible and to spread the Light everywhere. For the Lord Himself said, "I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?" (St. Luke 12:49). This fire is divine love.
We Christians have been called to spread upon the earth the atmosphere of heaven, eternity, love, peace, truth, and stillness. But it is very difficult, since from our youth we have learned anger and disobedience; we have become accustomed to returning blows and to approaching everyone with distrust and reserve. We have accepted much evil into our hearts, and now we need to get rid of it.
Saint John Chrysostom teaches us that all evil comes first from ourselves and only secondly from the devil. If we keep our minds vigilant and our hearts strong in the Faith, the devil has no access to us. The devil only acts on our own evil thoughts and wishes. When we are angry or envious, or when we have violent feelings toward someone, often or over a long period, we ourselves open the window of our heart to the demons. Then they feed our sins and nurture them, and we cannot get rid of them easily. Sometimes we wallow in a certain sin for such a long time that it becomes second nature to us. In this case only God can save us, both from our own selves and from the claws of the demons.
The transition from this life into eternity is a very difficult one. Before we pass on into eternity, we can pray, but afterwards we cannot do anything for ourselves--only our loved ones can help us with their prayers. In whatever state the Lord finds us at the hour of our death, He will judge us according to it.
That is why we must pray for our loved ones who have departed this life; this is what they need from us most. The Lord hears our prayers when we pray from the heart, even though we are great sinners. The Lord is always looking into our hearts, and if we turn to Him from the heart, He will be there. He will hear our prayers even thought we are very sinful, but He also expects us to repent while there is still time.
Once the Most Holy Theotokos appeared in a vision before one of the Venerable Fathers who wished to know how fast the movement of the spirit was. He said, "When we ask for intercession, we often receive help immediately, especially when we find ourselves in a situation that is between life and death. We receive help immediately if we cry out from the heart." The Most Holy Theotokos answered that the spirit moves at the speed of thought, and even faster. In our thoughts we can be anywhere in no time. We have not even had the time to think and help is already here. It is an unimaginable speed. Man's mind can pass through eternity in a single moment.
There is a constant war between good and evil. We wish to be good, but the spirits of wickedness do not want us to have a single good character trait, only bad ones. This is why we must fight. We cannot fight on our own, but the Lord is our Protector, for as soon as we ask Him sincerely to help us, He will immediately come to our aid.
Once when I was in very difficult situation I had a vision in which the Savior told me to fall down before His Most Holy Mother, for she is the Protector and Champion Leader of monastics. This is why we must struggle constantly; this is why we have a "war of thoughts." This "war of thoughts" is not waged against flesh and blood but against the spirits of evil in high places (cf. Ephesians 6:12). The Holy Apostle Paul says, "I have fought a good fight...I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7).
And so, we must always fall down before the Lord and His Most Holy Mother. We must pray to Him to make us worthy of loving Him as Hi most Holy Mother, the Angels and the Saints love Him. The Almighty Lord can certainly help us in this. He desires us to be like this, so that we can be with Him for all ages and throughout eternity in His love and His embrace. It is my wish that all of you pray to the Lord to make you worthy of loving Him in this manner. Then you will feel peace and stillness in your heart, for you will have given your heart to Him Who is infinite and Who can grant you boundless love and peace.
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