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 REFUGE
+In the Name of the Fathers, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in Your righteousness. Turn Your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since You are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of Your Name lead and guide me. Free me from the trap that is set for me, for You are my refuge. Into You hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of Truth. Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On September 28th 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, Ascetic, Teachers and of every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Our Righteous Father Chariton the Confessor; Holy Martyrs and brethren Alexander, Alphaeus, and Zosimus, the Coppersmiths; the Holy Martyr Mark the Shepherd, and the Holy Martyrs Nikon, Neon, Heliodoros, and the other virgins and children, in Pisidia; Holy Martry Eustathius of Rome; Holy Martyr Alexander and the Thirty Martyrs with him; our Father among the Saints Exuperius, Bishop of Toulouse; our Father among the Saints Faustus, bishop of Riez; our Righteous Mother Lioba of Wessex, Egoumenissa (Abbess) of Bischofsheim, kinswoman and fellow laborer of Saint Boniface of Credition; Holy Martyr Wenceslaus, Prince of Bohemia, who was slain in the year 935 A.D.; our Righteous Father Auxentius of Cyprus, the Wonderworker; holy relics of our Righteous Father Neophytus of Cyprus; our Righteous Father Chariton of Syanzhema; our Righteous Father Herodion of Ilozersk; Holy New Hieromartyr Wenceslaus, Priest of Zenkovka, who was slain by the atheists in the year 1924.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Confessors, Holy Martyrs, Holy Mothers, Holy Ascetics, Holy Bishops, Holy Princes, Holy Righteous, Holy Fathers, Holy Virgins, Holy Shepherds, Holy Coppersmiths, O Christi Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY PROPHET BARUCH, OUR RIGHTEOUS FATHER CHARITON THE CONFESSOR.
The Prophet Baruch was the son of Nerias, and the disciple and scribe of the Prophet Jeremias (Jer. 39:12; 43:4). The extant prophetical book that he wrote is divided into five chapters; it was composed in the fifth year of the Babylonian Captivity of the Jews during the years of Sedekias, 583 B.C. The prophetic lection that is read on the eve of the Feast of Christ's Nativity, which bears Jeremias' name, is taken from the prophecy of Baruch (Bar. 3:35-$:4). His name means "blessed".
Saint Charition was born in the city of Iconium during the reign of Aurelian, about the year 274 A.D. He was arrested, tortured, and condemned to death because of his Christian Faith, but finally set free by imperial edict. He came to Palestine, where he took up the ascetical life. He also brought many Jews and pagans to the Faith. Having dwelt in the desert of Judea for many years, and established several monasteries throughout the region, he reposed in peace.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Prophet. Fourth Tone
Thou didst foretell the Lord's divine Incarnation when thou didst cry out to the whole world, O Prophet: This is our God, there shall be none compared to Him; He was seen upon the earth, being born of a Virgin: He hath shone upon our souls the divine light of knowledge. And He doth grant salvation unto all who sing thy praise, O divinely-inspired Baruch.
Kontakion of the Prophet. Second Tone
As thou wast vouchsafed the shining rays of prophecy, thou also wast bound to Jeremias as his friend, and foretoldest of the Word's self-abasement for our refashioning, O all-lauded Prophet Baruch. Entreat Him to save us all, who honor thee.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 2 Corinthians 6:1-10
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 5:1-11
INSPIRING WORDS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS, HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"In everything refrain from seeking to appear important." (Saint Basil the Great)
By Archmandrite Zacharias (Zacharou) (Source: The Hidden Man of the Heart)
[1 Peter 3:4]
The Cultivation of the Heart In Orthodox Christian Anthropology
Stavropegic Monastery of Saint John the Baptist Essex, England
If we are to speak about repentance, we should start from the very beginning, from God's creation of man. In Paradise, Adam was held in great honor. He was Angelic. He was in direct contact with God and lived in His presence. He conversed with Him face to face glorified Him together with the Angels. He was nourished by every word that proceeded from the mouth of God. In spite of all this honor he was beguiled, as we know, by the serpent, and followed its demonic tendency, namely, to rise up against God in the desire to supplant Him. And just as the enemy had fallen from heaven like lightning, because of his arrogant desire to set throne above of God, so did Adam fall swiftly. The Psalmist said, 'Man that is in honor, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish' (Psalm 49:20).
Adam's exile from paradise precipitated the catastrophic divide into the visible and the invisible worlds. He fell despite God's warning and his fall was of the greatest possible magnitude. However, we should think of our fall as even greater than Adam's, for we know what happened to Adam, and yet we keep on repeating the same error.
Man was created in the image and likeness of God, a 'mirror' intended to reflect all of God's virtues. These virtues are not to be understood in a moral sense, but as divine properties of energies such as wisdom, light and beauty. In Paradise, man was transparent to the grace of God; when he fell, however, the mirror of his soul was darkened and no longer reflected any of God's glorious light. Nevertheless, the gift which God had bestowed on him was so great that certain of the Righteous of the Old Testament were able to catch the occasional glimpse of the Divine Light. They saw the spiritual world and bore witness to it. We remember the Prophet Isaiah who, having seen the glory of God, was called to repentance by the Lord with the words: 'My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts' ( (Isaiah 55:8-9)). The Lord disclosed to His Prophet the extreme tension that exists between the fallen world and the 'land of living' (Isaiah 38:11; 53:8), and the great abyss which separated the two. From then on, Isaiah saw the light of this world as darkness compared to the light of the spiritual world which had revealed to Him, [The Ascension of Isaiah 8:21, a second-century Jedeo-Christian document which describes the journey of the Prophet through seven heavens after his martyrdom], and he mourned within himself: 'O wretched man that I am.'
Another Prophet prayed in the same spirit, and his prayer is that of all the just men of the Old Testament: 'O God be merciful unto us and bless us and make Thy face to shine upon us, and make Thy way to be known on earth, and Thy salvation among the nations' (Psalm 67:1-2).
And when finally the fullness of time had come, as we read in the Scripture (cf. Gal. 4:4), and the Lord saw that a person was working righteousness on earth and was worthy of Him, He came, bowing the heavens (cf., Psalm 144:5), and shone forth from the Virgin. 'The people which sat in darkness saw a great Light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up', reads the description of the event in the Gospel of Saint Matthew 4:16. And this 'great light' began once more to speak to man, thus continuing the conversation that had been cut short in Paradise.
The Light had then been asking our forefathers, 'Adam, where art thou? Eve where art thou? What have ye done?' But neither of them answered, 'Here I am, Lord. I am hiding because I have sinned against Thee, of my own fault, and I repent. Do Thou forgive me.' Neither of them said anything of the kind; instead, Adam cast responsibility onto Eve and Eve onto the serpent. Adam even went as far as blaming God. 'The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat', said Adam (Genesis 3:12), meaning, 'it is thy fault.' And the Lord, Who never constrains anybody and never imposes Himself on anyone, departed. He left them to suffer the consequences of their disobedience, to toil on earth until they should "come to themselves" as did the Prodigal Son.
Now, this 'great Light' shines forth from the Virgin so as to resume the dialogue with man. But this time, God does not ask, 'Adam, where art thou?' Instead He says, 'repent and believe the Gospel.' There are many places in the New Testament where the Lord calls us to repentance. He enlightens the world through His word, the basic message being that we should never settle for the visible order of things, because in their fallen state, they are abominable in the sight of God. Rather He teaches us that life, and life in abundance (cf., St. John 10:10), is to be gained by such conduct as is in contrast to that of the nations whose rulers wield authority and are called benefactors (cf., St. Matthew 20:25). For the Lord overturns the visible order of things and declares, 'Whoever wants to be the first, let him be last' (cf., St. Matthew 19:30; 20:26-27). He calls for our repentance (St. Matthew 9:13): "I am not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance" (St. Matthew 9:13), because He knows that repentance alone can heal man's nature wounded by sin. "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick," says the Lord (St. Matthew 9:12). In other words to be whole, who are righteous in their own eyes, but for sinners in need of healing. He comes to save them and to restore the primordial order.
And Christ's call for repentance has not gone unanswered: even before the Lord was raised from the dead, the Good Thief repented on the cross. He was evangelized; unlike Adam, he chose to abase himself and for this reason, the Lord lifted him up and granted him Paradise that very same day. Thus, the Lord shows us that whoever wants to go up and be with Him must not be afraid first to go down, for this is the true path, and He Himself has already trodden it, granting us freedom from sin and death.
(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!
Δόξα Σοι ο Θεός, πάντων ένεκεν!
The end and the beginning... Τό τέλος και η αρχή...
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God