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 NEW ECCLESIASTICAL YEAR: AN OPPORTUNITY FOR A RENEWED COMMITMENT
As we enter a new ecclesiastical year it would be wise to take this opportunity for the Orthodox Christian to renew his or her commitment to our Savior Christ. A concerted effort should always be made to grow in Christ and to renew our faith in Him. He offers a new life and the invitation "to live". The Orthodox Christian strives to strengthen his communion with his Creator and Redeemer through the Mystery of the divine Eucharist.
Father John Anthony McGuckin in his book The Orthodox Church writes, "If baptism and chrismation are the mystical synopses of the whole pattern of the Lord's economy of salvation, by means of which His Church is brought in to the shared experience of His saving death and Resurrection, and in to the pentecostal gift of His Most Holy Spirit, then the Eucharist is the mystical drama of that salvation given to us, as a renewable feast, in a great spirit of joy. The celebration of the Eucharist in the churches is the repeated entrance into the one great act of Christ's self-sacrifice in His Passion. It is not the death and Resurrection of the Lord happening time after time (for this mystery was once and for all and cannot ever be repeated); rather, it is the recurring admission of time-bound creatures into the once-for-allness of the supreme eschatological mystery of the Lord's redemption...
"...The Orthodox Church believes that the Eucharist, while certainly being a sacrifice in the sense of the entrance of the Church into the great sacrifice of praise that Christ offered to the Father from His obedience on the Cross, is also a sacrifice to Christ, as well as to the Father and the Holy Spirit...It has long been understood, and accepted, in the Church, that the offering of this Great "sacrifice of praise" is for the physical support of the believers (the blessing of their homes and lives) not simply for spiritual benefit; and so those who are in need will often ask the priest to pray particularly for them. We can see this practice at work from ancient Christian times."
We believe that the divine Eucharist is the center around which the regular life of the Church's worship turns. The life of the Orthodox Christian believer is one of prayer and worship. No Orthodox Christian should marginalize in any way the importance of the regular attendance at the Divine Liturgy and receiving the Mysteries (Sacraments) of the Church. The best way to prepare for the reception of the divine Mysteries of the Church is to participate in the Sacrament of Metanoia (Repentance) and Confession. Unfortunately there are some of the faithful that separate the two. They ignore metanoia (repentance), essential to salvation, and simply offer a list of transgressions to their father confessor. The two are inseparable and necessary for God to bestow forgiveness upon the Christian.
I truly grieve when I see how some trivialize the divine Eucharist and how they approach to receive the Precious Body and Blood of the Lord. In our Holy Faith we don't speak about God's presence as though He is far from us. God's presence is felt in us every time we receive Him in Holy Communion. Through the divine Eucharist we become one with Him and with one another. Through Holy Communion we receive forgiveness of sins and life eternal. Is that not salvation? Why are some so confused? What is lacking? Could it be faith?
Orthodox Christian believers must come to their senses and renew their personal commitment to Christ and begin anew.
The Beautiful Corner of the Orthodox Christian house, which is where the family holy icons are kept with a shelf in front of them for the votive lamps, and the incense burner, and copies of the prayer books, is the place where devotions normally take place in the morning and evenings. The lamps are lit, or trimmed, and incense may be offered in honor of the Lord, and the individual or the family prays standing. The Trisagion prayers are offered with meekness and humility. The sign of the Cross is made very often. The home is the Kat' oikon ecclesia' the 'domestic church'.
God bless all of you.
With sincere agape,