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 HOLY FEAST OF THE HOLY MARTYRS COSMAS AND DAMIANOS--JULY 1ST
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Plagal of Fourth Tone
Our Holy Unmercenaries and wonderworkers, visit our infirmities; freely ye received, freely give to us.
Kontakion Hymn. Second Tone
Having received the grace of healing, ye extend health to those in need, O glorious and wonderworking physicians. Hence, by your visitation, cast down the audacity of our enemies, and by your miracles, heal the world.
[These Saints, who are different from those that are celebrated on the 1st of November, were from Rome. They were physicians, freely bestowing healing upon beasts and men, asking nothing from the healed other than they confess and believe in Christ. They ended their life in martyrdom in the year 284 AD, under the Emperors Carinus and Numerian.]
Unmercenary doctors and Wonderworkers (Miracleworkers), these two Saints were brothers. Born in Rome, baptized as children and given a Christian education, they were endowed by God with the gift of healing, generally by the laying-on of their hands, of both men and animals. They sought no reward for their work, only urging the sick to believe in Christ the Lord. Inheriting great wealth, they compassionately divided it among the poor and needy. The Emperor Galerius was on the throne in Rome at that time. Persecutors of the Christian faith brought these two brothers, bound in chains, before him. After prolonged interrogation, the Emperor charged them to deny Christ and offer sacrifice to idols. Cosmas and Damianos (Damian) not only refused to obey the pagan Roman Emperor; they urged him to forsake dead idols and come to the knowledge of the one, true God. Our God is not created, but is the Creator of all, and your gods come of the imaginings of men and the hands of artists. If there were no artists to make your gods, you would have nothing to worship. After a miracle performed on the Emperor himself--healing him of a grave infirmity--the Emperor declared his faith in Christ and let the holy brothers go in peace. They continued to glorify Christ our God and to heal the sick, and were themselves glorified on all sides by the people. A doctor, a former teacher of theirs, envying their fame, lured them into the hills on the pretext of collecting herbs and stoned them to death. They suffered with honor for the Christian faith in 284 AD. Their memory endures in the Church on earth, and their souls went to the Kingdom of the Lord, to live eternally in glory and joy.
Christians affirm the link between this world and the next in their prayers and alms for the dead. The Church in this world and the next is one church, one body, one being; as the root of a tree beneath the earth is one organism with its trunk and branches above the earth. From this it is clear how we, being part of the Church on earth, can receive help from the Saints in the Church in Heaven, and that departed sinners can, in the other world, receive help from us on earth. Saint Athanasius says, "As with wine inside a barrel, which, when the vineyard flowers, senses it and flowers together with it, so it is with the souls of sinners. They receive some release from the bloodless sacrifice, offered for them in charity", wrought for the sake of their peace. Saint Ephraim the Syrian uses the same example of wine and the vineyard, then concludes: "And thus, when there exists such mutual sensitivity even among plants, do not the departed feel yet more keenly the prayers and sacrifices made for them."
--On how we must rejoice in Christ.
"Wherein (in Christ), ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold trials" (I Peter 1:6).
Thus speaks the Holy Apostle Peter, whose life was filled with many trials and much heaviness. Thus speaks a man who left his home and kinsmen to follow Christ, who suffered much for the sake of Christ--hunger, thirst, persecution from the Jews and the Romans, from false prophets, from brutal pagans, and finally crucifixion--all for the sake of Christ the Lord. He who was in this life mercilessly assaulted by great heaviness and great trials counsels us to rejoice in Christ, that this joy may swallow up all our insignificant trials and heaviness.
But, my brethren, why rejoice in Christ? Because He reveals the reality of the highest hopes and dreams of the human race.
He reveals to us the one, living and almighty, all-wise and all-merciful God, and gives us the right to call ourselves His sons and daughters.
He reveals eternal life to us, life incomparably better than this earthly life.
He reveals the spiritual Kingdom to us, the Kingdom of the Angels and the Righteous, the Kingdom of every good thing and of True Light and justice.
He reveals to us the purpose of our being here on earth and the purpose of all our labor and suffering in this temporal life.
He reveals to us the ocean of heavenly joy, compared with which all our heaviness and trials are like drops of turbid water, quite unable to cloud the waters of that ocean.
Oh, my brethren, what joy awaits us! Oh, my brethren, what little the Lord demands in payment for the purchase of this joy, in which the Angels bathe and the righteous swim! Only to fulfill some little commandments of His--that is all the cost!
O Lord Jesus Christ, Thou Most Wondrous Fount of Joy, our pride and our boast, our glory and our praise, place Thy finger on our mouths, and do not let the turbid drops of heaviness and trials poison us. To thee be Glory and Praise for ever. Amen. (Source: The Prologue from Ochrid, vol. 3)
Divine Services at the Holy Dormition Chapel on Friday, July 1st - (Feast-day of the Holy Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damianos):
Orthros (Matins) at 9:00 a.m.
Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m.
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