The Beginning of the Church Year and the Feast of Saint Simeon the Stylite - September 1

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.

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ON SEPTEMBER 1st THE BEGINNING OF THE INDICTION (CHURCH NEW YEAR) AND ALSO OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH COMMEMORATES THE FEAST OF SAINT SYMEON THE STYLITE

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On the beginning of the Indiction, we also commemorate Christ's entrance into the midst of the synagogue of the Jews and His proclamation of the acceptable year of the Lord, spoken of in the Book of Isaiah the Prophet. Thus, no longer do we celebrate the feast of the ancient law; we now celebrate the feast of the new dispensation of grace on this first day of the present month, on which the very Lawgiver Christ has revealed Himself to the world, having come down from on high, bearing the Spirit of the Father in Himself and inscribing the Law of God not with His finger, but with His blessed tongue and most sweet lips, and "not on tables of stone, but on the fleshy tables of our heart" (2 Corinthians Ch. 3). He has established the noetic Tabernacle of the Church; offering to God the Father the sacrifice for our sins not without His own blood, being Himself the Great High Priest that is passed into the heavens" (Hebrews, Ch. 4), Who has cleansed us from our sins by His blood poured forth, making us to be His holy temples, according to the word of the Apostle: "The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are" (1 Corinthians, Ch. 3).

Therefore, offering Him thanksgiving, let us celebrate the acceptable year of the Lord, for we have received many and ineffable good things form His hand. Let us make haste to be well-pleasing in His sight. Let us celebrate, not the Indiction enacted by the Roman Emperors, but that which has been ordained for us by Christ, the Heavenly King of Glory. The tribute due to Christ from us on the occasion of the Indiction is the keeping and the fulfillment of His Holy Commandments, for Christ Our King does not ask of us iron and brass. Neither does He exact silver nor demand gold, as David has made clear, saying to Him, "Thou art my Lord; for of my goods, no need hast Thou" (Psalm 15). That we might with an upright heart piously believe in Him, He requires of us not iron and brass but the virtue of faith, grounded firmly and strongly in Orthodox Christian piety, which is founded upon the bloodshed by the holy Martyrs, who were tortured for the Christian faith with weapons of iron and implements and vessels of brass, as it is said, "His life was spent in irons" (Psalm 104). "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness" (Romans, Ch. 10), and with this faith we shall overcome the adversary (Satan) as though armed with a weapon of iron and a shield of brass after the manner of our holy forefathers, "who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped sharp swords, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, and turned to flight the armies of the aliens" (Hebrews, Ch. 11).

Instead of silver, Christ Our King requires of us the virtue of undoubting trust in God, which is more than silver assures a man of a prosperous life. For if a man enriches himself with much silver and hopes to receive all the good things of the world through his riches, how much more greatly has he been enriched who has undoubting trust in God? Having set all his hope in the Lord, he shall receive that which he desires and shall live in happiness, counting as nothing all the misfortunes and sorrows proceeding from the world, the flesh, and the devil which may befall him and enduring all these things with delight for the sake of the future reward. Silver frequently seduces its owner, or vanishing suddenly, leaves him poor. Having hoped to live in abundance till his death, he is deprived even of bread when he unexpectedly becomes impoverished; however, he who trusts in the Lord "Shall be as Mount Zion; nevermore shall he be shaken" (Psalm 124); his "hope maketh him not ashamed" (Romans, Ch. 5)...

"Instead of gold, Christ Our King demands the most precious virtue, unfeigned love for God and our neighbor, always represented by the teachers of the Church as gold because of its great value...He commands that we not only believe in Him with our hearts and confess Him with our lips but that we manifest in deeds our love for Him, that is, we must be ready to lay down our life for Him, and accept death for the sake of his divine love.  In like manner we are to love our neighbor (fellow man) as the beloved disciple of Christ, St. John the Theologian, teaches us: "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth" (1 John, Ch. 3). (Source: The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints)

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On September 1st we commemorate the God-bearing Father Symeon Stylites the Elder.

Our Holy Father Symeon was born about 390 A.D., in the village of Sissa on the borders of Syria and Cilicia. When he was a boy, his devout parents would send him into the wilderness to find pasture for the sheep. One day, when the snow lay so deep it was impossible to find anything for his flock, the young boy went into a church and heard these words read: "Blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek, blessed are the pure in heart..." and the rest of the Beatitudes (St. Matthew 5). Having found out what to do in order to fulfill these commandments of Christ, Symeon abandoned his family and every worldly tie and entered a nearby monastery where he stayed for two years. Then, as he wanted to lead a more ascetic life than he found there, he made his way to the Monastery of Teleda near Antioch, where the monk Heliodorus directed more than eighty brethren with great wisdom and strict observance. Symeon spent ten years there, but from the beginning of his stay, he overtook everyone in ascetic rigor. Whereas the other monks ate every two days, Symeon took a meager repast but once a week. So great was his wish to suffer for Christ that he wore a belt of palm leaves under his clothes so tightly girded that it bit into his flesh. Seeing that his warfare was above human strength and could be harmful to others who, talking it as a model, might attempt labor above their ability, the elders (gerondes) of the Monastery ordered the blessed man to leave them. Symeon accordingly made his way to the wildest part of the neighboring mountain and, finding a dry well, went down into it and stayed there singing the praises of God day and night.

Like Moses, Elias and our Savior Christ, he wanted to spend the forty days of Lent without eating anything at all, so he asked his friend Blassos to wall up the entrance of his cell. The latter would only agree on conditions the athlete of Christ took a little bread and water with him lest he be reduced to the last extremity of hunger. At the end of the forty days, Blassos entered the cell full of anxiety. He found the bread and water just as he had left them and the Saint lying motionless on the ground, too weak to utter a single word. He only regained some strength after partaking of the Holy Mysteries. Trained by experience, Symeon spent every Lent after that without eating and, strengthened by grace, remained on his feet throughout the time with the incomparable liveliness of spirit...

"Saint Symeon sought for nothing but solitude to draw near to Heaven in pure contemplation. He decided to build a pillar (a stylo) with a little platform on the top where he could install himself so as to escape from and troublesome adulation. His first pillar was ten feet high; he made a second of nineteen feet and a third of thirty-six feet. He settled finally on a column 58 feet high, where he remained for twenty years until his death, living nearer heaven than earth. Saint Symeon attracted yet greater crowds and, like a brilliant light on high lampstand, illumined with the light of faith many of the barbarians who came to wonder at the extraordinary sight.

Saint Symeon fell asleep in the Lord while deep in prayer, in 459 A.D. at the age of 69, having spread all around him the peace that reigned in his heart. His precious holy relics were taken to Antioch accompanied by a huge crowd and continued them with faith. (Source: The Synaxarion)

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostomos

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George