Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope

All Glory, Honour a nd Worship to the Father, and to the Son, a nd to the Holy Spirit, now a nd forever, and unto the Ages of ages. Amen. Rememberi ng also our Mos t Holy, M os t Pure, Mos t Blessed and Glori ous Lad y, Maria, Theotokos, ye t Ever Virgin, together wi th all the Saints. A nd let us commi t ourselves and one another and our whole Li fe to Christ our God. Amen.

9th Sunday After Pentecost

Tone (8) Plagal 4

5 Au g u s t 2 0 1 2

Forefeast of Transfiguration 9th Sunday of St Matthew – Walking on Water
Feast of St Eusignios of Antioch – St Job the Gorge-Dweller – St Antheros & St Fabian of Rome – St Pontious of Cimella, Gaul/France – St Cantidios, St Cantidian, & St Sibelios of Egypt – St Nonna, mother of St Gregory the Great – St Theoktistos of Chernigov – St Pontios – St Oswald – St Christos of Preveza

Resurrection Apolytikion

− TONE (8) PLAGAL 4

Ex

ipsous katilthes O Efsplaghnos, tafin katedexo triimeron, ina imas elevtherosis ton pathon. I Zoi ke i Anastasis imon, Kyrie, § Doxa Si!

Thou descended from on High,

O Tender-hearted One; Thou endured the three-days’ burial, so that Thou might free us from our passions, O our Life and Resurrection: § Glory to Thee!

Apolytikion – Forefeast of Transfiguration – TONE 4

Hristou

tin Metamorfosin proipantisomen, fedros panigirizontes ta proeortia, Pisti ke voisomen. Iniken i imera tis entheous evfrosinis, aneisin is to Oros to Thavor O Despotis, tis Theotitos aftou apastrapse tin oreotita. ti Thia simeron Metamorfosi, i vrotia apasa, fisis prolampi theikos, en evfosini kravgazousa. Metamorfoute Hristos, sozon apantas.

[English translation unavailable at present]

Kontakion – Forefeast of Transfiguration

En

[English translation unavailable at present]

Festal Prokeimenon
O Lord, how Marvellous art Thy Works: in Wisdom Thou has made them all. Bless the Lord, O my soul, O Lord my God: Thou art greatly exalted.

St Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians 3 : 9 – 17
THE GLORY
OF

GOD

Brethren: If the ministry of condemnation had Glory, the Ministry of Righteousness exceeds much more in Glory. For even what was made Glorious had no Glory in this respect, because of the Glory that excels. For if what is passing away was Glorious, what remains is much more Glorious. Therefore, since we have such Hope, we use great boldness of speech – unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the Children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day, the same veil remains ‘unlifted’ in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless, when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty. THE OLD COVENANT WAS EXTERNAL, TEMPORARY AND Therefore THE NEW COVENANT OF GOD IS FAR MORE POWERLESS. GLORIOUS than the Old, imperfect Covenant with God. UNDER THE OLD COVENANT GOD WAS PRESENT AND IT WAS “Lord” refers to GOD THE FATHER, GOD THE SON AND GOD CERTAINLY GLORIOUS WITH THE DIVINE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. GOD, BUT IT WAS AN IMPERFECT HOLY COVENANT, which IN THE NEW TESTAMENT THE TERM “LORD” USUALLY REFERS imparted a ‘ministry of death because the people were unable to keep, observe or obey God’s Divine TO OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST – OUR SAVIOUR AND OUR Law. GOD – THE THIRD ETERNAL, ALMIGHTY PERSON OF THE THE NATION OF ISRAEL HAD ACCESS TO GOD BUT THEY HOLY TRINITY. GENERALLY FAILED TO APPREHEND IT. Although some may have a difference of opinion as to Therefore the ‘Inner Veil” of the Temple and the ‘Veil’ which of the Three Divine Persons of the Godhead over the face of Moses was a reference to the veil “Lord” refers to in each usage, Orthodox Christianity over the hearts of fallen human nature – MANKIND teaches: COULD NEITHER ADEQUATELY APPROACH NOR SEE GOD. 1. GOD THE FATHER, THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT ARE Many people fail to behold the Divine Godhead that is IN NO MANNER AT ALL CONFUSED – St Paul had in veiled by the Flesh of God Incarnate – our Lord Jesus mind one Divine Person or another. God the Christ. Son, for example, cannot be God the Holy Spirit. By contrast, THE NEW COVENANT IS INTERNAL, ETERNAL 2. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A DIVINE PERSON – ONE PERSON AND POWERFUL. OF THE HOLY TRINITY – NOT AN IMPERSONAL FORCE, Under the New Covenant GOD IS FULLY PRESENT AS AN although elsewhere in the New Testament the term “spirit” occasionally refers to a realm or way UNLIMITED, LIFE-GIVING GLORY, THROUGH THE DIVINE of existence. MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. 3. In this case, “Lord” describes how ALMIGHTY GOD Consequently, FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS HAVE BOLD AND FREE REIGNS OVER ALL CREATION. It does not describe ACCESS TO ALMIGHTY GOD FOR THERE IS NO LONGER the Eternal Relationship of the Persons of the ANY TYPE OF VEIL TO SEPARATE US FROM HIS DIVINE PRESENCE.

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8 t h Sunday AP-8 t h of St Matthew–Forefeast of Transfiguration – 5 August 2012

1.

Holy Trinity: the Holy Spirit, for instance, does not PROCEED from God the Son. PAUL TRANSFORMED THE OLD COVENANT ST UNDERSTANDING OF ONE GOD – THE LORD GOD – INTO OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST’S NEW COVENANT REVELATION OF ONE GOD IN THREE PERSONS – THE HOLY TRINITY – EACH OF WHOM IS LORD GOD. So, when we turn to the Lord, WE DO NOT ONLY TURN TO GOD THE FATHER, BUT ALSO TO GOD THE INCARNATE SON, IN THE POWER OF GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT. THE WORK (OR ACTION) OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BRING US LIBERTY – freeing us TO BEHOLD GOD AND HAVE OPEN ACCESS TO HIM AT ALL TIMES. Because we are created in the Image of God, WE ARE ABLE TO SEE HIS UNCREATED IMAGE, GOD THE SON Who is the Glory of the Lord (God the Father) in two ways: 1. THROUGH THE SON’S DEIFIED HUMANITY and 2. IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

As we behold Him, WE SLOWLY BECOME WHAT WE WERE CREATED TO BE. [WE SL O WL Y R E G AIN O UR L O ST L IK E NE SS TO
G OD – O UR PURE, CREATED H UMAN NATURE .]

God is Infinite – therefore growing in His Image and Glory [OR LIKENESS] has no limits – but it is entirely up to us for WE MUST CEASELESSLY STRIVE FOR SPIRITUAL PERFECTION – or as close as we can get. As we make Spiritual Progress THROUGH HUMILITY AND OBEDIENCE TO ALMIGHTY GOD, WE SHALL SEE GOD MORE CLEARLY AND EVER BE TRANSFORMED INTO HIS LIKENESS.
DUE
TO OUR FALLEN HUMAN CONDITION – SIN – WE HAVE LOST OUR DIVINE LIKENESS. AS A RESULT, GOD HAS GRANTED EACH HUMAN BEING A SPECIFIC AMOUNT OF TIME DURING WHICH WE HAVE TO MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO REGAIN THAT

DIVINE LIKENESS BY FAITHFULLY FOLLOWING HIS TEACHINGS AND COMMANDMENTS THAT DRAW US CLOSER TO HIM AND WHICH MAKE US WORTHY CITIZENS AND CO-HEIRS OF HIS ETERNAL KINGDOM.
LOST

The Holy Gospel According to St Matthew 14 :
Walking on Water

22 – 34

At that time, our Lord Jesus made His Disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had send them away, He went up the mountain by Himself to pray. And when evening came, He was alone there. However, the boat was then in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. And in the Fourth Watch of the night Jesus went to them – walking on the sea. And when the Disciples saw Him walking on the water, they were troubled, and said: “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. And immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying: “Be of good cheer! It is I – do not be afraid!” And Peter answered Him and said: “Lord, if it is Thee, command me to come to Thee on the water.” So He said: “Come!” And when Peter got down out of the boat, he walked upon the water and went towards Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out: “Lord, Save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His Hand and caught him, and He said to him: “O thee of little Faith! Why did thou doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those who were in the boat went and worshipped Jesus, saying: “Truly! Thou art the Son of God!” And when they had crossed over, they arrived at the land of Gennesaret. then caused Christ to rebuke St Peter rather than the HAVING FED AND HEALED THE BODIES AND SOULS OF THE wind and waves. 5000 FAMILIES who had followed our Lord Jesus “AND IMMEDIATELY JESUS STRETCHED OUT HIS HAND AND Christ and His Disciples into the wilderness, CHRIST CAUGHT HIM...” WHENEVER WE BESEECH GOD to Save FIRST DISMISSED HIS DISCIPLES AND THEN THE GREAT us or to have Mercy on us or our weak human MULTITUDE BEFORE GOING UP THE MOUNTAIN IN TOTAL condition, HE IMMEDIATELY RESPONDS. ISOLATION TO COMMUNICATE THROUGH PRAYER WITH NOT ONE WORD OF OUR PRAYERS GO UNHEARD BY GOD but GOD HIS FATHER. we must ACCEPT WITH ALL DUE HUMILITY AND SEVERAL HOURS LATER, when the Disciples were in the OBEDIENCE THAT EVERYTHING IS ACCORDING TO THE middle of the Lake – “... in the Fourth Watch of WILL OF GOD and according to His Divine, unique the night...” - OUR LORD WENT TO THEM BY WALKING Plan or Purpose for each us! ON THE WATER – something that was quite natural for ONLY GOD HAS DOMINION OVER ALL CREATION. Him but terrifying to behold for His Disciples who Consequently THESE DIVINE MIRACLES CERTAINLY CONFIRM immediately perceived Him to be a ghost or THE DIVINITY OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR, JESUS phantom. CHRIST. WITH HIS WORDS OF COMFORT, HE CALMED THEM down THE IMAGERY OF CHRIST AND HIS DISCIPLES IN A BOAT ON but ST PETER, AS IMPULSIVE AS USUAL, ASKED OUR THE STORM-TOSSED WAVES DEPICTS HIS HOLY CHURCH, LORD JESUS TO PROVE IT IS INDEED HIM BY MAKING IT which is steered by God and filled with His Faithful POSSIBLE FOR HIM TO ALSO WALK UPON THE WATER. Disciples, and carried safely over the turmoil and WITH ONE DIVINE WORD: “COME!” CHRIST ALLOWS ST troubles of earthly life, towards the safety of His PETER TO DO THE NORMALLY IMPOSSIBLE – to walk on Eternal Harbour – His Heavenly Kingdom. water – and AS LONG AS ST PETER IS FOCUSSED ON OUR GOD PERMITS US TO EXPERIENCE THE STORMY, LIFELORD, HE IS INDEED ABLE TO DO SO! THREATENING CONDITION OF EARTHLY LIFE SO THAT WE Our Holy Church Fathers believe that St Peter’s initial MAY ALSO UNDERSTAND AND APPRECIATE HIS DIVINE strength of Faith allowed him to walk on the water. PROVIDENCE AND PROTECTION, WITHOUT WHICH WE Furthermore, St Peter did not ask Christ to make him WOULD NEVER BE ABLE TO SURVIVE OR PROGRESS. walk on water, but rather to be with Him for his When Christ rebukes the stormy conditions that threaten yearning was not to perform any Miracle but rather life and limb, it also illustrate His Compassion for His to be joyfully reunited with Christ. most beloved creatures – mankind – for HE ALONE Thus St Peter was able to participate in the Divine Miracle of Christ as long as he focused exclusively on CAN ALSO CALM THE STORMY, THREATENING TEMPESTS Him. OF OUR IMMORTAL SOUL. However, THE INSTANT ST PETER TOOK HIS ATTENTION OFF This is the second time that our Lord permitted His CHRIST AND FOCUSED ON THE SURROUNDING Disciples to be caught in a storm at sea. During the first terrifying storm at sea, He was with them CONDITIONS, HE LOST FAITH AND BEGAN TO SINK. but in this instance, they were on their own. “Lord, Save me!” IS THE MOST POWERFUL PRAYER that In this manner, CHRIST STRENGTHENED THEIR FAITH IN has been repeated countless times throughout the HIS ETERNAL PRESENCE – HE IS ALWAYS WITH US – centuries. The Greek term for “doubt” in this context means “to EVEN IN THE MIDST OF THE WORST CONDITIONS AND waver” or “to hesitate.” CIRCUMSTANCES OF OUR EARTHLY LIFE. Thus, THE ACTUAL CAUSE OF ST PETER’S SINKING WAS NOT “It is I (Am)” – “I AM” IS THE DIVINE NAME OF GOD. DUE TO THE STORMY CONDITIONS, BUT RATHER DUE TO Thereby our Lord Jesus Christ reassured His HIS SUDDEN DOUBT, WAVERING OR HESITATION, which

2.

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8 t h Sunday AP-8 t h of St Matthew – Walking on Water -Forefeast of Transfiguration – 5 August 2012

Disciples of His Absolute and Divine Authority over life – especially their lives, as His Faithful Disciples. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THAT HIS DISCIPLES CONFESS OUR LORD AS “SON OF GOD” – and knowing that only God In today’s Holy Gospel Lesson we learn about the amazing Power of Faith. We learn that if we have Faith we can perform Miraculous Things. Our Lord Jesus Christ reminds us of this when He told us: “If you have Faith as (small as) a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain: ‘Move there to that place!’ and it will move; and nothing shall be impossible for you.” (MATTHEW 17:20) And He again told us: “Truly I say unto you: If you have Faith, and doubt not, you shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if you shall say to this mountain: ‘ be removed, and be cast into the sea’ it shall be done.” (MATTHEW 21:21) WHEN WE HAVE FAITH WE EMBARK ON A SPIRITUAL PATH THAT LEADS US TO GOD. That Path often appears to be dangerous – such as when St Peter climbed out of the boat onto the stormy water – yet he actually began to walk on it – even in the midst of a howling storm. IF WE HAVE ANY DOUBT AS WE WALK THIS SPIRITUAL PATH
THEN THE TROUBLES AND CARES OF THIS WORLD WILL OVERWHELM US.

can be worshipped, they confess His Divinity by worshipping and glorifying Him.

Walking on Water
Remember how ST JONAH GLORIFIED GOD IN THE BELLY OF THE WHALE and was subsequently Saved by God.
(JONAH 2:7)

Remember how the THREE HOLY CHILDREN SANG THE GLORIES OF GOD IN THE FIERY FURNACE and were Saved. (DANIEL 3:19-26) Remember how ST DANIEL THE HOLY PROPHET WAS KEPT FROM ANY HARM IN THE LION’S DEN AND WAS EVENTUALLY SAVED. (DANIEL 6:16-23) Remember how the BLESSED ST JOB THE MUCH AFFLICTED CONSTANTLY PRAISED GOD IN HIS AFFLICTION. (JOB 2:7-10) WITH THE REMEMBRANCE OF THESE FINE EXAMPLES OF UNSHAKABLE, UNWAVERING FAITH, WE SHOULD NEVER 1 but should BE STRENGTHENED SURRENDER TO DESPAIR IN OUR FAITH – EVER CONFIDENT AND TRUSTFUL - THAT THE LORD WILL ALWAYS SAVE US so that we can proclaim the words of the Blessed Psalmist and King, St David, who wrote: “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do to me. Thou Vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises to Thee. For Thou hast Delivered my soul from Death: will not Thou Deliver my feet from slipping.” (PSALM
56:11-13)

We become preoccupied with the storms that surround us simply because WE LOSE OUR FOCUS ON GOD. This is what happened to St Peter and he quickly began to sink. He lost his focus on our Saviour and saw the raging storm that surrounded them. AS SOON AS HE TOOK HIS CONCENTRATION AND ATTENTION OFF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST HE LOST THE DIVINE GRACE
THAT WAS GRANTED TO HIM WHEN HE STEPPED OUT OF THE BOAT WITH UTTER FAITH.

Amen
DELIVERED BY FR. MILAN MEDAKOVIC AT HOLY TRINITY SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH ON THE 9TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST 2009. HTTP://FRMILAN.WORDPRESS.COM/2009/08/10/SERMON-9TH-SUNDAY-AFTERPENTECOST/

WITHOUT FAIL, WHEN THE SORROWS

We should never forget our Lord’s truthful Teaching: “...without Me you can do nothing.” (JOHN 15:5) When we lose our focus on the Lord and get caught up in the storm of temptations around us, WE HAVE A CHOICE TO MAKE - do we PLACE OUR TRUST IN THE SAVIOUR to help us or do we allow the temptations to overcome us? This is the same choice with which St Peter was confronted when he began to sink. When we find ourselves in a similar situation we have two options - the first is to immediately call out to Go as St Peter did “Lord, Save me!” – “Kyrie Soson me!” (MATTHEW 14:30) or as St Job’s frustrated wife suggested in the midst of his many terrible afflictions and sorrows “...curse God, and die!” (JOB 2:9) If we choose to follow St Peter’s example and cry out: “Lord, Save me!” WE WILL EXPERIENCE GOD’S GREAT MERCY because our Loving Saviour is always ready to reach out His Hand and pluck us from the threatening storms of temptation just like He did for St Peter. Our Lord is always with us – watching and waiting for us to call out to Him. Although we know that the Lord is always present with us - why do we doubt? WE DOUBT BECAUSE WE ARE FAINTHEARTED (TIMID, FEARFUL, NERVOUS) and weak in Faith (PREFERRING TO TRUST IN USELESS “LUCKY”
CHARMS OR PAGAN TALISMANS) INSTEAD OF BEING UTTERLY CONFIDENT IN AND TRUSTFUL OF THE ABSOLUTE, INFINITE AND TRUE POWER OF ALMIGHTY GOD!

AND AFFLICTIONS OF LIFE THREATEN TO ENDANGER OR OVERWHELM US - AND ESPECIALLY WHENEVER WE APPEAL TO GOD WITH ALL HUMILITY AND FAITH FOR DIVINE HELP - HE SCOOPS US UP INTO THE SAFETY AND COMFORT OF HIS COMPASSIONATE AND LOVING ARMS, AND CARRIES US THROUGH THE WORST EXPERIENCES UNTIL WE REACH A BETTER STATE – EITHER PHYSICALLY, EMOTIONALLY OR SPIRITUALLY. THEN HE GENTLY SETS US DOWN TO CONTINUE OUR LIFE’S JOURNEY TOWARDS ETERNITY. THIS OCCURS THROUGHOUT OUR TEMPORARY, EARTHLY LIFE - MORE OFTEN THAN NOT WITHOUT OUR KNOWLEDGE – UNTIL WE LOOK BACK AND BEHOLD HIS INFINITE MIRACLES. CONSEQUENTLY, WE MUST PERPETUALLY OFFER OUR PRAYERS OF THANKSGIVING TO OUR MOST BENEVOLENT AND LOVING GOD, WITHOUT WHOM, LIFE ITSELF WOULD BE EXTREMELY DIFFICULT AND EVEN IMPOSSIBLE! EXAMINE YOUR OWN LIFE, AND BEHOLD HOW OFTEN GOD HAS INDEED CARRIED YOU THROUGH THE MOST DIFFICULT EXPERIENCES! AND ALWAYS – ALWAYS! – EXPRESS CONSTANT GRATITUDE TO AND APPRECIATION OF BOTH GOD AND OUR FELLOW SINNERS WITH WHOM WE PROGRESS STEP BY STEP TOWARDS OUR ULTIMATE DESTINATION.

(mp)

THE WHOLE EARTH IS A LIVING ICON OF THE FACE OF GOD. S T J O H N O F D A M A S C U S HE WHO ATTAINS LOVE CANNOT FALL. S T M A K A R I O S FASTS AND VIGILS, THE STUDY OF SCRIPTURE,
RENOUNCING POSSESSIONS AND EVERYTHING WORLDLY ARE NOT IN THEMSELVES PERFECTION - THEY ARE ITS TOOLS. FOR PERFECTION IS NOT TO BE FOUND IN THEM; IT IS ACQUIRED THROUGH THEM. S T . J O H N
CA SSI AN

There are so many wonderful examples recorded in Holy Scripture that clearly demonstrate HOW MUCH WE SHOULD REJOICE AND TRUST IN THE LORD OUR GOD even when we suffer the greatest afflictions and tragedies: Remember how ST ABRAHAM trusted the Lord God implicitly when he WAS READY AND WILLING TO OFFER HIS ONLY HEIR AND MOST BELOVED SON, ST ISAAC, AS A SACRED SACRIFICE and how God Saved him and Blessed him for such profound Faith. (GENESIS 22:1-18)

1

D ESPAIR IS T OTAL HOP ELESSNESS , W HICH IS BEING ALIENATED OR IN EXILE FROM THE SELFISHNESS,

ALMIGHTY GOD. THIS IS CAUSED BY SPIRITUAL STUBBORNNESS AND IGNORANCE.

S PIRI TUAL D EATH LOVE AND GOODNESS OF UNREPENTED SINS, EGOISTIC PRIDE,

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8 t h Sunday AP-8 t h of St Matthew–Forefeast of Transfiguration – 5 August 2012

3.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh – On Doubt, which Should Not be Feared
WE OFTEN FEAR DOUBT - YET WE FEAR IN VAIN, BECAUSE DOUBT ARISES WHEN WE DO NOT KNOW THE TRUTH IN FULL
AND THUS BEGIN TO QUESTION (AND, HOPEFULLY, EXAMINE, SEEK AND ATTAIN TRUE ENLIGHTENMENT.)

I will give an example: I once occupied myself with Science - and one of the characteristics of ‘scientific progress’ is the calling into question of everything of which you had previously been certain. When a Scientist gathers facts, they are at first uncoordinated. Then he gathers them together, and some kind of general picture emerges, which seems integral. At this point, if he is a true Scientist, he will pose a question to himself: “Where are the cracks? I will search for a fact that will dismantle the integrity of my conception, since my conception is limited.” All Science in general consists of COLLECTING FACTS, ARRANGING THEM INTO A SINGLE WHOLE, AND THEN CALLING THIS WHOLE INTO QUESTION – SO THAT IT MIGHT BECOME DEEPER, BROADER, AND FULLER. It is the same with our Faith. EACH OF US HAS SOME EXPERIENCE OF GOD. This Experience is TRUSTWORTHY and should not be rejected. IT MAY BE IMPERFECT, BUT IT IS PURE. BUT IT IS NOT THE FULLNESS OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. Then a question may begin to creep in: “I conceive of God in such-and-such a way. Is He such in Reality?”

But what is being doubted here? MY CONCEPTION - NOT GOD - IS TO BE QUESTIONED! It is like a question for the Scientist: IS THIS THE OBJECTIVE TRUTH OR IS IT HIS CONCEPTION THEREOF? Therefore, WHEN DOUBT ARISES IN US IT MEANS THAT WE HAVE OUTGROWN OUR INCOMPLETE CONCEPTION OF GOD AND OUR IMPERFECT KNOWLEDGE OF HIM. God is saying to me: “Yes, now you have come to see all this. But look at Me: I Am greater than that. You cannot be satisfied with the picture you have made for yourself, because it is as small (AND AS LIMITED) as you yourself, as your mind, as your education, as your imagination. Open up, and pose the question: ‘What might others think about this? What other answers might there be?’ Do not be afraid: I will not be offended if you call Me into question, because you are not questioning Me, as such, but your own conception of Me.” Consequently, IF WE SEEK DIVINE TRUTH IN THIS MANNER,
OUR DOUBTS MAY PROVE TO BE THE GREATEST FORCE THAT COMPELS US TOWARDS PROGRESS AND ADVANCEMENT IN THE TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD AND THE PERCEPTION AND UNDERSTANDING OF GOD’S ABSOLUTE, PERFECT TRUTH.
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “DOUBT SHOULD NOT BE FEARED” BY METROPOLITAN ANTHONY OF SOUROZH HTTP://WWW.PRAVMIR.COM/DOUBT-SHOULD-NOT-BE-FEARED/

Eternal Wisdom of our Holy Church Fathers St Symeon the New Theologian
We may find ourselves hampered by certain people who sows tares of despondency – who try to prevent us from climbing to such heights of Holiness by discouraging us with various thoughts. For instance, they will tell us that it is impossible for us to be Saved and keep every single one of God's Commandments while we live in this world. When this happens we should SIT DOWN IN A SOLITARY COLLECT OURSELVES, PLACE BY OURSELVES, my soul, are you dejected, and why do you trouble me? “Put your Hope in God, for I will give thanks to Him; for M Y S A L V A T I O N L I E S N O T I N M Y ACTIONS BUT IN GOD. A TRUE CHRISTIAN IS MADE BY FAITH AND LOVE OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST. OUR SINS DO NOT IN THE LEAST HINDER OUR CHRISTIANITY, according to the Word of our Saviour Himself. He deigned to say: “...not the Righteous have I come to Call, but sinners to Salvation; there is more Joy in Heaven over one who Repents than over ninety Righteous ones!”
CONCENTRATE YOUR THOUGHTS AND COUNSEL TO YOUR SOUL, saying: "Why, GIVE GOOD

“Who will be vindicated by actions done according to the Law? No living person will be vindicated before God! “Y E T B Y V I R T U E O F M Y F A I T H I N G O D I H O P E THAT IN HIS INEFFABLE MERCY HE WILL GRANT ME SALVATION. “Get behind me, Satan! I worship the Lord my God and serve Him since my youth; for He is able to Save me simply through His Mercy “Go away from me! The God Who created me in His Image and Likeness will reduce you to impotence! ( PSALM 42:5; GALATIANS 2:16; PSALM 143:2; MATTHEW 16:23;
MATTHEW 4:10)

St Herman Of Alaska
Likewise concerning the sinful woman who touched His Feet, He deigned to say to the Pharisee Simon: “...TO ONE WHO HAS LOVE, A GREAT DEBT IS FORGIVEN, but from one who has no Love, even a small debt will be demanded.” From these Judgments a Christian should bring himself to Hope and Joy, and not in the least accept an inflicted despair. Here ONE NEEDS THE SHIELD OF FAITH.

St Bede the Venerable
"You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe, and they tremble." (JAMES 2:19) THEY ALONE KNOW HOW TO BELIEVE IN GOD WHO LOVE GOD, WHO ARE CHRISTIANS NOT ONLY IN NAME BUT ALSO IN ACTION AND [WAY OF] LIFE, BECAUSE WITHOUT LOVE FAITH IS EMPTY. WITH LOVE, IT IS THE FAITH OF A CHRISTIAN —without Love, the faith of a demon.

St Peter The Damascene
WE ALL RECEIVE GOD'S BLESSINGS EQUALLY. But some of us, receiving God's Fire - His Word become soft like beeswax, while the others like clay become hard as stone. And IF WE DO NOT WANT HIM, HE DOES NOT FORCE ANY OF US, but like the sun He sends His rays and Illuminates the whole world. And THOSE WHO WANT TO SEE HIM, ARE ABLE TO BEHOLD HIM, whereas those who do not want to see Him, are never forced by Him. And NO ONE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS PRIVATION OF LIGHT EXCEPT THOSE WHO DO NOT WANT IT. (THOSE WHO REJECT IT.) God created the sun and the eye. Man is free to receive the sun's light or not. The same is true here. GOD SENDS THE LIGHT OF KNOWLEDGE LIKE RAYS TO ALL, BUT HE ALSO GAVE US FAITH LIKE AN EYE (WITH WHICH TO PERCEIVE DIVINE TRUTH). THOSE WHO WANT TO RECEIVE KNOWLEDGE THROUGH FAITH, KEEP IT BY THEIR GOOD WORKS, and so GOD GRANTS THEM EVEN MORE WILLINGNESS, KNOWLEDGE, AND POWER.

4.

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8 t h Sunday AP-8 t h of St Matthew – Walking on Water -Forefeast of Transfiguration – 5 August 2012

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
All Gl ory, Honour and Worship to the Father, a nd to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now a nd forever, and unto the Ages of ages. Amen. Rememberi ng also our Mos t Holy, Mos t Pure, Most Blessed and Glori ous Lady, Maria, Theotok os, yet Ever Virgi n, together wi th all the Sa ints. A nd let us commit ourselves and one another a nd our whole Life to Christ our God. Amen.

6 August The Transfiguration of Christ our Saviour

2012

Apolytikion of the Transfiguration of Christ Our God TONE (7) VARYS/GRAVE

Metemorfothis

en to Ori, Hriste O Theos, dixas tis Mathites Sou, tin Doxan Sou kathos idinanto; lampson ke imin tis amartolis, to Fos Sou to Aidion, Presvies tis Theotokou, Fotodota Doxa Si!

Thou

T H E T R ANS FI GU R AT IO N B Y B R IDGET J U L IA H AYES

were Transfigured upon the Mountain, O Christ our God, showing to Thy Disciples Thy Glory as far as they could understand; shine upon us sinners as well, Thine Everlasting Light, by the Intercessions of the Theotokos, O Giver of Light, Glory to Thee!

Kontakion

o f t h e T r a n s f i g u r a t i o n –( 27 July Until 13 August)

Epi

tou Orous Metemorfothis, ke os ehoroun i Mathite Sou, tin Doxan Sou Hriste O Theos etheasanto. Ina otan se idosi Stavoumenon, to me Pathos noisosin ekousion to de kosmo kirixosin oti Si Iparhis Alithos, tou Patros to Apavgasma!

Upon

the Mount Thou were Transfigured, and Thy Disciples beheld Thy Glory, as far as they were able to do, O Christ our God; so that when they would see Thee Crucified, they would know that Thou Suffered willingly; and thus proclaim to all the world: Thou art truly the One Who is the Father’s Radiance! with Thee is the Fountain of Life; in Thy Light we shall see Light! Save us, O Son of God Who was Transfigured on Mount Tabor, as we sing to Thee: Alleluia!

Isodikon :

Oti para Si Pigi Zoix, Kyrie, en to Foti Sou opsometha
Fos. Soson imas, Ie Theou, O en to Orei to Thavor Metamorfothis, psalontas Si: Allilouia!

For

The Holy Gospel According to St Luke

9 : 28 - 36

The Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ on Mount Tabor

At that time, our Lord Jesus took Peter, John and James and went up on the Mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His Face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in Glory and spoke of His Decease, which He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem. But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His Glory and the two men who stood with Him. Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus: “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for Thee, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” – not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a Cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the Cloud. And a Voice came out of the Cloud, saying: “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” When the Voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days any of the Things they had seen. THE TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS A 3. THE TRANSFIGURATION NOT ONLY PROCLAIMS CHRIST’S
THEOPHANY – A MANIFESTATION OR REVELATION OF GOD – especially of the Divinity of Christ – through DIVINE SONSHIP, BUT ALSO FORESHADOWS HIS FUTURE GLORY when He – as the long awaited

a display of His Uncreated Divine Energy. Therefore the Orthodox Church celebrates the Transfiguration of Christ as a major Feast Day.
SEVERAL ELEMENTS OF THE TRANSFIGURATION SHOW THAT OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS INDEED BOTH MESSIAH (ANOINTED SAVIOUR) AND GOD: 1. Because GOD IS UNCREATED LIGHT, THE BRIGHT CLOUD, THE SHINING OF OUR LORD’S FACE – as bright as the sun – AND THE GLISTENING WHITENESS OF HIS GARMENT, ALL DEMONSTRATE THAT HE IS GOD.

Messiah – ushers in the Eternal Heavenly Kingdom of Love, Peace and Joy – the Kingdom of Eternal Life in Christ. The Bright Cloud recalls Temple Worship and the Mysterious Cloud that went before the Israelites during their travels in the Wilderness before they arrived at the Promised Land – THE VISIBLE SIGN OF
THE EXTRAORDINARY DIVINE PRESENCE.

(In some Holy Icons this Uncreated Light is shown as ‘beyond white’ – a blue-white, an ineffable colour – indicating its Spiritual Origin.) 2. GOD THE FATHER BEARS WITNESS FROM HEAVEN CONCERNING HIS BELOVED ETERNAL SON. He does not say: “This has become My Son,” but “This IS My Son...” indicating that THIS DIVINE
GLORY BELONGS TO CHRIST DUE TO HIS DIVINE, ETERNAL NATURE.

St Peter saw this as A SIGN THAT THE KINGDOM OF GOD HAD COME and knowing that the Feast of Tabernacles is the Feast of the awaited Kingdom, he asked permission from Christ to erect the Festal Booths –“tabernacles” – for each of them, which was the usual practise – SYMBOLISING THE DWELLING
OF GOD AMONGST HIS JUST AND FAITHFUL SOULS IN THAT ETERNAL KINGDOM. 4. ST MOSES REPRESENTS THE LAW OF GOD AND ALL WHO HAD ALREADY DIED, WHILE ST ELIJAH REPRESENTS THE HOLY PROPHETS OF GOD AND – since he himself did not experience Death – ALL THOSE WHO ARE ALIVE IN CHRIST. Their presence shows that THE HOLY LAW AND THE PROPHETS – THE LIVING AND THE DEAD – ALL BEAR WITNESS TO OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST AS THE ONE AND

From Eternity – infinitely before His Baptism and Transfiguration – HE IS GOD THE SON OF GOD THE
FATHER – FULLY SHARING IN THE DIVINE ESSENCE AND ATTRIBUTES OF THE ETERNAL FATHER. OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS TRULY THE ETERNAL SON OF GOD THE FATHER – HE IS CERTAINLY GOD OF GOD.

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8 t h Sunday AP-8 t h of St Matthew–Forefeast of Transfiguration – 5 August 2012

5.

ONLY TRUE MESSIAH Who is THE FULFILMENT OF THE ENTIRE OLD COVENANT WITH GOD.

In

The presence of St Moses and St Elijah also manifested THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS. (HEBREWS 12:1) Both Holy Men were immediately recognisable and they conversed with our Lord Jesus. The Holy Apostles were able to understand our Lord’s words when He said “Elijah has come already” –
REFERRING TO ST JOHN THE FORERUNNER to Christ. (MATTHEW 17:12) BAPTIST AND

Their eyes had been opened to the fact that MALACHI’S PROPHESY REFERRED TO ONE WHO WOULD COME “in the spirit and power of Elijah” RATHER THAN TO ST
ELIJAH HIMSELF.
(LUKE 1:17)

5. Finally, THE HOLY TRINITY IS REVEALED HERE, for
CHRIST IS TRANSFIGURED, GOD THE FATHER SPEAKS FROM HEAVEN TESTIFYING TO THE AUTHENTICITY OF OUR LORD JESUS’ DIVINE SONSHIP AND THE HOLY SPIRIT IS PRESENT IN THE FORM OF A DAZZLING UNCREATED LIGHT

the Liturgical Cycle, THE FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION IS FORTY DAYS BEFORE THE FEAST OF THE HOLY CROSS ON 14 SEPTEMBER, SHOWING THE CONNECTION BETWEEN CHRIST’S GLORY AND HIS CROSS. The term “Exodus” reveals that CHRIST’S PASSION IS A FULFILMENT OF THE OLD COVENANT PASSOVER AND IS THE TRUE EXODUS FROM THE SPIRITUAL ENSLAVEMENT OF SIN INTO THE FREEDOM OF OUR ETERNAL SALVATION IN CHRIST JESUS. This Revelation of Divine Power also confirms that OUR LORD’S DEATH ON THE CROSS WAS NOT IMPOSED ON HIM BY OUTSIDE FORCES, BUT WAS A VOLUNTARY OFFERING OF HIS DIVINE LOVE FOR THE SAKE OF THE SALVATION OF ALL MANKIND. Furthermore, NO ARRESTING SOLDIER COULD HAVE WITHSTOOD SUCH GLORY IF GOD HAD NOT CONSENTED
AND ALLOWED IT TO HAPPEN IN ORDER TO FULFIL ALL THAT WAS NECESSARY FOR OUR SALVATION AND SPIRITUAL RESTORATION TO THE DIVINE GRACE OF ALMIGHTY GOD. (MATTHEW 26:53)

surrounding our Lord and overshadowing the Holy Apostles as well as the entire Mount Tabor. CHRIST’S “DECEASE” (Greek: “Exodus” – “Departure”) is a reference to His forthcoming Death, which WAS INTIMATELY CONNECTED TO THE GLORY OF HIS TRANSFIGURATION FOR OUR LORD IS GLORIFIED THROUGH HIS CRUCIFIXION DEATH. (JOHN 12:23)

Everything God permits is for our Immortal Benefit due to His infinite Love for us. In the Festal Kontakion of Transfiguration, we sing: “Thy Disciples beheld Thy Glory as far as they could bear it, so that when they saw Thee Crucified, they would understand that Thy Suffering was voluntary.”

The Second Epistle of St Peter
Partakers of Divine Nature

1 : 10 – 19

To those who have obtained similar Precious Faith with us by the Righteousness of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ: Brethren: be even more diligent to make your Call and Election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an Entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the Everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, although you know and are established in the present Truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Furthermore I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the Power and Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His Majesty. For He received from God the Father Honour and Glory when such a Voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I Am well pleased.” And we heard this Voice, which came from Heaven, when we were with Him on the Holy Mountain. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a Light that shines in a dark place, until the Day dawns and the Morning Star rises in your hearts... HE WAS PRESENT AT OUR LORD’S TRANSFIGURATION ON THE PRIMARY TRUTH WITH WHICH ST PETER DEALT – and MOUNT TABOR. which he only indirectly touched upon at this point What St Peter repeated concerning the Second Coming - IS THE SECOND COMING OR REAPPEARANCE OF of Christ is the common APOSTOLIC TRADITION, CHRIST AND HIS EVERLASTING KINGDOM. WHICH IS SUPPORTED BY THE EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY People lived in tents while journeying, constantly OF THE HOLY APOSTLES – AND ESPECIALLY THE THREE moving, or at war. So as long as we are in this WHO WITNESSED THE TRANSFIGURATION. physical body during this Spiritual Journey towards The absolute Truth concerning everything to do with Eternity, WE LIVE IN “TENTS” - TEMPORARY, Christ is definitely not an elaborate scheme of
TRANSPORTABLE STRUCTURES - WHICH BEAR WITNESS TO OUR LONG JOURNEY OF LIFE AND THE ONGOING BATTLE AGAINST ENEMY FORCES OF DARKNESS THAT CONSTANTLY THREATEN US. OUR TEMPORARY PHYSICAL BODIES BELONG TO GOD, having been SANCTIFIED THROUGHOUT OUR LIFETIME WITH THE HOLY MYSTERIES. Thus THEY ARE TO BE RETURNED TO THE EARTH FROM WHENCE THEY CAME – ALWAYS BEING TREATED WITH THE UTMOST RESPECT. ST PETER WAS AN EYEWITNESS TO THE MAJESTY OF CHRIST IN MANY WAYS – AND HE REMINDS US ESPECIALLY THAT

“fables” such as the Gnostics invented and propounded. In all the Holy Gospel accounts, THE TRANSFIGURATION
IS DIVINE AND TRUE PROOF – AS WELL AS A FORETASTE – OF THE GLORIOUS RETURN (in His physical Form) of

Christ in all His Divine Glory.
THE TRUTHFUL TESTIMONY OF THE HOLY APOSTLES both CONFIRMS THE PROPHETIC WORD – the Holy Prophecies – AND THE SECOND COMING, and SHOWS US HOW TO INTERPRET HOLY PROPHECY CORRECTLY AND TRUTHFULLY.

The Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ on Mount Tabor

The Holy Gospel According to St Matthew 17 : 1 – 9

At that time, Jesus took Peter, James and John, his brother, led them up a high mountain by themselves. And He was Transfigured before them. His Face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold! Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter said to Jesus: ”Lord, it is good for us to be here; if Thou wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for Thee, one of Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold! A Bright Cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a Voice came out of the Cloud, saying: “This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I Am well pleased. Hear Him!” And when the Disciples heard It, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. And Jesus went and touched them and said: “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Then, as they went down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying: “Tell the Vision to no one until the Son of Man is Risen from the dead.”

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The Transfiguration of Christ our Saviour

6 August 2012

The Significance of our Lord’s Transfiguration
Forty days before our Lord Jesus Christ was delivered to an ignominious Death for our sins, He revealed to three of His closest Disciples, the Glory of His Divinity – the Glorious Appearance of the Eternal Third Person of the Holy Trinity – God the Son. This was the amazing Event to which Christ referred when He said to His Apostles: “... There are some standing here who shall not taste Death until they behold the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom!”” (Matthew 16 : 28) Consequently, having witnessed our Lord’s Glorious Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, the Faith of the three Apostles - St Peter, St James and St John – was Strengthened and prepared for the Great Trial of our Lord’s approaching Passion and Crucifixion – and they were able to see in it not only the terrible human suffering, but the entirely voluntary Passion of the True Son of God. His Holy Apostles were also enabled to behold St Moses and St Elijah – the ancient Holy Prophets of God – who stood and conversed with Christ, and so it was that they began to understand that our Lord Jesus Christ was not Himself either St Moses, St Elijah or any other Holy Prophet of God – as many thought – but without any doubt Someone Who was much Greater – the True Messiah-Saviour of all Creation! They witnessed the Divine and Absolute Truth that our Lord Jesus Christ could call upon the Law of God and His Holy Prophets to be His Holy Witnesses, since He was the Fulfilment of both the Law and all the Prophecies! The three accounts of the Holy Transfiguration of Christ concern the Appearance of God to Moses and Elijah on Mount Sinai, and it is indeed appropriate that the greatest God-seers of the Old Testament should be present at the Glorification of our Lord in His New Covenant, witnessing for the first time His Humanity, even as His Apostles beheld for the first time His True Divinity. The Transfiguration of Christ our Lord is regarded by His Holy Church as one of the Twelve Great Feasts – a significant and important Feast in the Sacred Festal Calendar since the fourth century, as attested to by the surviving Homilies and Sermons of our great Holy Church Fathers such as St John Chrysostom, St Ephraim the Syrian and St Cyril of Alexandria. The Transfiguration Feast has in fact been commemorated since the beginning of the Holy Church of Christ in the First Century and in the Fourth Century, St Helena erected a church in honour of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, at the Traditional Site. Although the Transfiguration of Christ actually happened in February, which was forty days before His There was a time when sunlight was not contained within an orb as within a vessel. Light was First-born, while the orb was formed on the Fourth Day of Creation by the One Who made everything – visible and invisible. Our Creator united the Light with the orb and thus created a luminary that grants daylight to us and shines brightly and warms us during the daylight hours. In the same manner, the Eternal, Uncreated, Divine Light existed before It became contained in the physical Body of Christ as in a Vessel. That Divine Light is Pre-Eternal, while the adjuncted obtained from us by the Son of God – i.e. His human Flesh – was created later, for our sake; having voluntarily taken on Himself Who is the Fullness of Divinity, He – the Son of Man – became a Divinely Creative and Divinely Radiant Luminary. Crucifixion, the Feast was – since the earliest years – transferred to August because the full Glory and Joy of the Transfiguration could not be fittingly celebrated amid the sorrow and Repentance of Great Lent. The 6th day of August was chosen as being forty days before the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross of Christ on 14 September when the Great and Holy Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is once again honoured and Commemorated. Orthodox Theology sees in the Transfiguration a prefigurement of our Lord’s Resurrection and His Glorious Second Coming [His Glorious Reappearance in His human but Glorified Form – i.e. once again visible to all Creation.] And more than this – since every Holy Feast of the Church Calendar has an application to our individual Spiritual Life in Christ – of the Transformed State in which Faithful Christians shall appear at the end of this world – the Final Day of God’s irrevocable Judgement – and in some measure even before then. In the foreshadowing of future Glory, which is celebrated at this joyful Feast, our Holy Church comforts Her Children by showing us that after the temporary sorrows and deprivations with which our earthly life is afflicted, the Glory of Eternal Blessedness shines forth; and in it even the body of the Righteous will participate. It is a pious Eastern Orthodox Custom (in the Northern Hemisphere) to offer the first fruits of the harvest to be Blessed. These Offerings of Thanksgiving to God are of Spiritual Significance because just as fruits ripen and are transformed under the nurturing warmth of the summer sun, so is mankind Called to a Spiritual Transfiguration through the nurturing warm Light of God’s Word by means of His Holy Mysteries. (Sacraments) Some Saints – such as St Seraphim of Sarov – under the Action of that Life-giving Grace, have shone bodily before witnesses even in this life with the same Uncreated Light of God’s Divine Glory, which is another Revelation or Sign to us of the Great Spiritual Heights to which we – as striving, Faithful Disciples of Christ – are Called and the wonderful Spiritual State that awaits us. In other words, we, too, according to our personal Spiritual Struggles, will be Transformed in the Image and Likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ Who was so Gloriously Transfigured on Mount Tabor. Adapted & edited by mp: “The Significance of the Transfiguration” by Father Seraphim Rose

The Divine Light
Our Lord Jesus Christ’s Face shone as brightly as the sun, while even His garments became as gleaming white as snow. The Evangelist, St Mark, noted: “... His clothes became shining, exceedingly white like snow – such as no launderer on earth can whiten!”
(MARK 9: 3)

Thus both the Body of Christ and His garments shone with the same blindingly bright Light although unequally for His Face became as radiant as the sun, while His garments shone from contact with His Glorified Body. Consequently, He revealed to us the wondrous nature of that Garment of Glory, in which will be clothed those who will be with God in the Eternal Age, and also the nature of the Garment of Sinlessness, which Adam lost through his transgression, and, upon seeing his own nakedness, was filled with shame.
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “THE DIVINE LIGHT” BY ST GREGORY PALAMAS

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The Transfiguration of Christ our Saviour

6 August 2012

7.

The Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ’s Transfiguration
Profound trembling and awe seized the Holy Apostles – St Peter, St James and St John – on Mount Tabor when they were overshadowed by a Cloud from which they heard the Voice that all Creation cannot hear without shaking. – the Voice of our Creator – God the Father – Who bore Witness to His Only Begotten Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. However, not only were the Apostles overwhelmed by such tremendous awe, they were filled with the Joy of Blessedness, as St Peter expressed it: ”Lord, it is good for us to be here; if Thou wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for Thee, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” These words issued from the depths of St Peter’s heart, which was overcome with Spiritual Rapture and Joy, and at that wondrous moment he did not even think of what would actually happen if they had remained on the mountain. Furthermore, as mentioned in the Holy Gospel accounts, St Peter did not realise what he was saying – i.e. he did not fully understand the significance of his words, but had only expressed his spontaneous emotions of Great Joy – that Blessed Awareness and Joy of being in God’s Divine Presence, which was attested to by the two Holy Prophets whom our Lord had summoned – St Moses from the netherworld and St Elias from the Mysterious World Beyond. When the Lord our God had conversed with St Moses as His Friend, He said: “I know you better than all the rest..” meaning that St Moses was especially Blessed to have a close, intimate Relationship with God – so much so that he dared to ask God to show him His Divine Glory! Nevertheless, the Lord responded compassionately to his request but warned St Moses that no human being could come Face to face with Divine Glory and still live. That was because we would be so overwhelmed with extreme Rapture, Joy and Awe, that our mortal being would melt like wax in the presence of fire! God told St Moses that although he could not look directly into the Face of God: “Here is a place by Me: you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be: while My Glory passes by, I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My Hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My Hand, and you shall see My Back; but My Face shall not be seen.” (EXODUS 12: 22 – 23) After St Moses looked upon the Glory of the departing Lord, his face shone as brightly as the sun so that it was impossible for the people to look directly at him. Consequently, whenever St Moses went among his people, he had to cover his head and only when he prayed to God or was alone did he expose his shining face. Moreover, according to our Holy Church Fathers, the One Who appeared to St Moses on Mount Sinai – the One Who placed him in a cleft rock and covered him with His Hand until He has passed by, was our Lord Jesus Christ – the second Person of the Holy Trinity – the Only Begotten, Eternal Son of God the Father. So it was that St Moses beheld Him and later he was further honoured to behold Him Face to face on Mount Tabor, where St Moses himself appeared in Glory. The Holy Prophet of God, St Elias (Elijah) was worthy enough to feel the Blessed Presence of God after having achieved the great feat of having led the nation of Israel to the True Faith before they fell victim to the wicked influences and threats of the ungodly pagans. When the evil Queen Jezebel threatened him with death, St Elias fled into the desert in order to prevent his people from believing the false accusations that he had committed criminal deeds for which he would have been ‘justly’ punished. Eventually, on Mount Horeb “...the Word of God...” instructed St Elias to stand at the entrance of the cave wherein he had rested: ”...Go out tomorrow and stand on the mountain before the Lord; and behold, the Lord will pass by, and before the Lord, a great an powerful wind will be rending the maintains and shattering the rocks; but the Lord will not be in the wind. After the wind, an earthquake – but the Lord will not be in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there will be a fire, but the Lord will not be in the fire. After the fire, there will be a sound of a Gentle Breeze, and the Lord will be there.” [LXX - 3 KINGDOMS 19: 11 – 12]
AS ST GREGORY OF SINAI EXPLAINED: THE HOLY SPIRIT – “A GREAT AND POWERFUL WIND” – MANIFESTS HIS GRACE IN A VARIETY OF WAYS IN PRAYER. IN SOME HE “RENDS THE MOUNTAINS” OF SINFUL PASSIONS AND “SHATTERS THE ROCKS” OF HARDENED HEARTS. IN OTHERS, HE IS LIKE AN EARTHQUAKE, WHICH IS AN INWARD SENSE OF JUBILATION OF EXULTATION. YET AGAIN, IN OTHERS, HE IS A NON-MATERIAL FIRE. FINALLY, IN OTHERS, GOD IS “A GENTLE BREEZE,” WHICH OCCURS WHEN OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST COMES TO DWELL IN THE HEART, ( AS ST PAUL STATED IN HIS EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS 3:17)

Thus St Elias too, was worthy to stand before our Creator and converse with Him – and now, on Mount Tabor, he stood – representing all the ancient Prophecies concerning Christ – together with St Moses, who represented the Laws of Almighty God – face to Face before our Transfigured Lord Jesus Christ in Whom all Holy Prophecies and Divine Law was fulfilled. For Creation in general, and especially for any human being, there can be no greater Bliss than to be worthy to stand directly before the Lord our God to be worthy enough to the degree that we could stand before God without our mortal essence falling apart or dying! So it was that our Lord showed His Divine Glory to His Apostles “... in so far as they were able to bear It...” - not all His Awesome and Unbearable Glory, before which even His Angels tremble and are unable to gaze upon, but only a part of His Gory – as much as His human Holy Prophets and Apostles were able to bear. Adam and Eve originally had possessed such a Blissful ability - the Lord our God associated directly with them as their Heavenly Father and conversed with them as His pure, innocent and obedient Children in Paradise. Only later did they begin to understand the extent of that Blissful State, and what a great loss they suffered after their Fall from Divine Grace – banishment from God’s Glorious Presence. Our Lord Calls each of us to Eternal Life and when we pass into Eternity, if we are worthy, we will once again receive the Divine Bliss of being in the Loving Presence of Almighty God. Nothing impure or foul can enter the Eternal Kingdom of God and for that reason, throughout our earthly life – our preparation time – we must cleanse ourselves of all sin and impurity of body and soul. Otherwise we will not be able to behold the Glory of God and our souls will remain in Eternal Darkness and alienation from God. Consequently, not only should we make every effort to repent our sins and grow closer to God by all means possible, but also pray for the souls of those who have already departed this life, as well as for our own immortal souls – beseeching our Lord for His Great Mercy - in the constant Hope of Eternal Life for us all.
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “THE GLORY OF THE LORD’S TRANSFIGURATION” BY METROPOLITAN PHILARET (VOZNESENSKY), RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD, BALTIMORE, USA

http://www.holy-transfiguration.org/transfig_glory.html

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The Transfiguration of Christ our Saviour

6 August 2012

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
All Glory, Honou r and Worship to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and unto the Ages of ages. Amen. Remembering also our Most Holy, Most Pure, Most Blessed and Glorious Lady, Maria, Theotokos, yet Ever Virgin, together with all the Saints. And let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole Life to Christ our God. Amen.

1 0 t h S u n d a y Af t e r P e n t e c o s t

Tone 1

1 2 Au g u s t 2 0 1 2

Afterfeast of the Transfiguration 1 0 t h S u n d a y o f S t M a t t h e w : Mustard Seed & Mountains
Also the Feast of St Anektos & StPhotios, his nephew, of Nicomedia – St Alexander of Comana – St Gerontios, St Serapion, St Herman, St Bessarion, St Michael, St Otar & St Symeon of St David Gareji Monastery, Georgia - St Pamphilos & St Caption of Oliura
TONE 1

Resurrection Apolytikion

Tou lithou sfragisthentos ipo ton Ioudeon ke stratioton While
filassonton to ahranton Sou Soma, Anestis trimeros, Sotir, Doroumenos to kosmo tin Zoin. Dia touto e Dinamis ton Ouranon evoon si Zoodota. Doxa ti Anastasi Sou, Hriste! Doxa ti Vasilia Sou! Doxa ti Ikonomia Sou, mone Filanthrope!

the stone was sealed by the Jews, and soldiers stood on guard over Thy Body undefiled, Thou rose on the Third Day, O Saviour, Who grants Life to the world. For which cause the Heavenly Powers cried aloud to Thee: O Giver of Life: Glory to Thy Resurrection, O Christ! Glory to Thy Kingdom! Glory to Thy Providence, O Thou Who alone Loves mankind!

Festal Apolytikion - Transfiguration Of Christ Our God

TONE (7) VARYS/GRAVE

Metemorfothis

en to Ori, Hriste O Theos, dixas tis Mathites Sou, tin Doxan Sou kathos idinanto; lampson ke imin tis amartolis, to Fos Sou to Aidion, Presvies tis Theotokou, Fotodota Doxa Si!

Thou were Transfigured upon the Mountain, O Christ our
God, showing to Thy Disciples Thy Glory as far as they could understand; shine upon us sinners as well, Thine Everlasting Light, by the Intercessions of the Theotokos, O Giver of Light, Glory to Thee!

Festal Kontakion

- T r a n s f i g u r a t i o n ( 27 JULY UNTIL 13 AUGUST)

Epi

tou Orous Metemorfothis, ke os ehoroun i Mathite Sou, tin Doxan Sou Hriste O Theos etheasanto. Ina otan se idosi Stavoumenon, to me Pathos noisosin ekousion to de kosmo kirixosin oti Si Iparhis Alithos, tou Patros to Apavgasma!

Upon

the Mount Thou were Transfigured, and Thy Disciples beheld Thy Glory, as far as they were able to do, O Christ our God; so that when they would see Thee Crucified, they would know that Thou Suffered willingly; and thus proclaim to all the world: Thou art truly the One Who is the Father’s Radiance!

Resurrection Gospel 10 : John 21 : 1 – 14
Our Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ Serves Breakfast to His Eleven Apostles

Prokeimenon Let Thy Mercy be upon us, O Lord, as we have set our Hope in Thee, Rejoice in the Lord, O All Righteous men! The First Epistle of St Paul to the Corinthians 4 : 9 – 16
Wisdom of our Spiritual Fathers

Brethren: I think that God has displayed us, the Apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to Angels and to mankind. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonoured! To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labour – working with our own hands. Being reviled, we Bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made like the filth of the world – the off scouring of all things until now. I do not write these things to shame you, but as my Beloved Children, I warn you. For although you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have Begotten you through the Gospel. Therefore I urge you: imitate me. spreading the Divine Truth and Light of the Holy WE ALL NEED TO DEFLATE OUR FALSE SENSE OF PRIDE Gospel to the Spiritually Blind and Ignorant. because nothing justifies thinking that we are better THE HOLY APOSTLES OF CHRIST ENDURED ALL KINDS OF than or above anyone else in this poor fallen world. USUALLY WHAT WE ARE SO QUICK TO SEE IN OTHERS AND TO HUMILIATION AND PERSECUTION. They were insulted and despised, mocked and beaten, deprived of any CRITICISE OR MOCK, IS A REFLECTION OF OUR OWN comfort or kindness by those who hated them. CONDITION! Despite all that, THEY NEVER FOUGHT BACK OR RETALIATED St Paul used irony and sarcasm as bitter medicine to IN A SIMILAR MANNER but instead THEY RESPONDED emphasise his WARNING AGAINST SUCH SELFWITH AGAPE – DIVINE LOVE AND COMPASSION towards SATISFACTION AND SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS. their persecutors and those who mocked them. And The three parallel statements he used: “... we are fools... this they did all FOR THE TRUE JOY OF SERVING OUR we are weak... we are dishonoured...” are heaped upon each other in a stinging series so that the LORD JESUS CHRIST AND FULFILLING THEIR SACRED relative comfort of THE CORINTHIAN CHRISTIANS WAS MISSION OF RECONCILING THE SIN-DARKENED WORLD CONTRASTED WITH THE PERSECUTED, AND SOMETIMES WITH GOD. EXTREMELY DIFFICULT, POVERTY STRICKEN LIVES OF THE St Paul soothed the pain of his rebuke by REMINDING THE HOLY APOSTLES AND FAITHFUL DISCIPLES of Christ CORINTHIANS OF HIS SPIRITUAL FATHERHOOD to them. who gave themselves entirely in the Holy Service of Just like in any ordinary family life, THE HOLY CHURCH OF God and His people – in their ceaseless devotion to CHRIST HAS MATURING SPIRITUAL CHILDREN WHO NEED

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10 t h Sunday AP -10 t h of St Matthew – Mustard Seed & Mountains - 12 August 2012

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TO BE TAUGHT AND GUIDED BY THEIR LOVING AND CONCERNED SPIRITUAL FATHERS AND MOTHERS.

St Paul, who is the Apostle of all Gentiles – including us – advises us all to IMITATE HIM – JUST AS HE STRUGGLED TO IMITATE OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST. We should rather be motivated to FULFIL ALL THE TEACHINGS AND COMMANDMENTS OF GOD, which promotes our Spiritual Welfare and ensures our

Eternal Life in Christ – Everlasting, Priceless Treasure indeed – instead of choosing temporary, unfulfilling, unsatisfactory and spiritually unprofitable worldly things that distract us and which draw us further and further away from Divine Grace – ultimately resulting in Eternal Condemnation and exile from all Goodness, Mercy and Love.

The Holy Gospel According to St Matthew 17 : 14 – 23
The Epileptic Son & the Strength of Faith - Even As Small As Mustard Seed

At that time, when they had come to the multitude, a man went to Jesus, kneeling down to Him and saying: “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into fire and water. So I brought him to Thy Disciples, but they could not cure him.” And Jesus answered and said: “O faithless and perverse generation! How long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to me.” And He rebuked the demon, and it went out of him, and the child was cured at that very hour. When the Disciples went to Jesus privately and asked Him: “Why could we not cast it out?” Jesus said to them: “Because of your unbelief; for truly, I say to you: if you have Faith as (small as) a mustard seed, you will say to that mountain: ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind (of demon) does not go out except by Prayer and Fasting.” And while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them: “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful. SICKNESS AND DISEASE IS SOMETIMES ASSOCIATED WITH accompanied Him to Mount Tabor and witnessed His DEMONIC ACTIVITY – ESPECIALLY IN OLD TESTAMENT Transfiguration. TIMES. “THIS KIND” OF DEMON WAS A REFERENCE TO ALL EVIL By kneeling before our Lord Jesus, THE FATHER POWERS OF SPIRITUAL DARKNESS AND DEATH – AND NOT
DISPLAYED HIS SINCERE HUMILITY AND DESPERATION, BUT HE ALSO LACKED FAITH.

Although the Disciples of Christ also suffered from a lack of Faith, HE REBUKED THE FATHER FOR TRYING TO
BLAME THE DISCIPLES WHEN IT WAS HIS EVEN GREATER LACK OF FAITH THAT PREVENTED HIS SON FROM BEING HEALED.

SIMPLY THOSE TYPES OF DEMONS THAT CAUSED CERTAIN ILLNESSES.

The exorcism and banishment of such fearsome demons required STRONG, UNWAVERING FAITH, FERVENT PRAYERS AND STRICT FASTING, for THERE IS NO HEALING
AND NO VICTORY IN SPIRITUAL WARFARE WITHOUT ALL THREE SPIRITUAL WEAPONS.

In effect, our Lord Jesus Christ defended His Disciples and Apostles in front of the multitudes but LATER, IN
PRIVATE, HE REPRIMANDED THEM FOR THEIR PERSONAL DOUBTS AND LACK OF TRUST IN GOD through Whom all

Beginning with the Didache, our Holy Church Fathers have taught us that both THE PERSON IN NEED OF
HEALING AND THE PERSON PERFORMING THE HEALING MUST FIRMLY BELIEVE, FERVENTLY PRAY AND STRICTLY FAST.

things are possible – after they sought the reason for their failure to exorcise the demon and heal the boy. This is a good lesson of how to CORRECT THE ERRORS OF
OTHERS – WITHOUT HUMILIATING OR EMBARRASSING THEM IN FRONT OF WITNESSES. ERRORS ARE TO BE GENTLY BUT FIRMLY CORRECTED AND THOSE WHO ARE BEING CORRECTED SHOULD ACCEPT IT WITH HUMBLE GRATITUDE INSTEAD OF RESENTMENT OR ANGER. The discipline of our Holy Church is based on MUTUAL CORRECTION IN THREE EXPANDING STAGES. (Matthew 18: 15 20)

While it is not recorded that an Apostle literally moved a mountain, our Holy Church Fathers are clear that
THEY HAD SUCH DIVINE AUTHORITY IF THE NEED EVER AROSE – and CERTAIN SAINTS HAVE BEEN ABLE TO CAUSE CREVICES TO APPEAR in mountains.

Furthermore, not everything that the Holy Apostles of Christ accomplished was written down for posterity. Beyond the literal meaning this Divine Promise is also AN
ILLUSTRATION OF THE GREAT POWER OF TRUE FAITH AND FERVENT PRAYER IN ALL AREAS OF EARTHLY LIFE.

SIN AND CORRECTION ARE TO REMAIN PRIVATE UNLESS THE OFFENDER STUBBORNLY AND WILFULLY REFUSES TO REPENT OR CORRECT THEIR ERRORS. ALL CORRECTION MUST BE DONE WITH GREAT CARE AND HUMILITY, WITH THE HIGHEST CONCERN BEING THE SALVATION OF THE OFFENDER. (1 CORINTHIANS 5:5 & GALATIANS
6:1)

St Theophylact believed: “Whatever we ask, without hesitation and by believing in God’s Power, we shall receive...” when we ask for SPIRITUALLY
PROFITABLE THINGS.

Nevertheless, CORRECTION IS NECESSARY AND ESSENTIAL
SO THAT THE SIN DOES NOT SPREAD TO OTHERS AS WELL.

For the second time, our Lord Jesus Christ predicted and spoke of His forthcoming Death and Resurrection, which showed that HE WENT TO HIS
PASSION FREELY AND WAS NOT TAKEN AGAINST HIS WILL.

St John Chrysostom pointed out that Christ reprimanded nine of His Apostles – none of whom had been able to exorcise the demon that caused the young boy’s epilepsy.
THE OTHER THREE APOSTLES WERE THE “PILLARS OF FAITH” – ST PETER, ST JAMES AND ST JOHN – who had

God Himself chose the day, the year and the hour of His Passion – so it was not due to anyone else’s schemes or plots.
EVERYTHING IS CONTROLLED AND PERMITTED BY GOD FOR OUR SALVATION - or Condemnation – depending on

what course we freely and wilfully choose to take!

The Extraordinary Power of Faith
It seems that the Exorcism of the epileptic son of which we hear in today’s Sacred Gospel Lesson was a criterion for having either weak or deep Faith. Our Lord Jesus Christ expressed dissatisfaction or disappointment with His Apostles, relating their weakness to a weakness or lack of Faith - referring to their generation as being “faithless and perverse.” The WEAKNESS OF FAITH that Christ rebuked is THE INABILITY TO SOLVE SPIRITUAL AILMENTS AND DOUBTS AND BEING UNABLE TO DEAL WITH VARIOUS PROBLEMS, INCLUDING PHYSICAL INFIRMITIES. SUCH FAITH DOES NOT SATISFY OUR LORD – NOR DOES IT TAKE CARE OF HUMAN NEEDS. FAITHLESSNESS does not answer any enquiry and LEAVES US HELPLESS, FRUSTRATED AND DISAPPOINTED. In this Gospel account of St Matthew some tough expressions have been used, which makes us wonder: “What is True Faith – not in the sense that we who are the ‘faithless generation’ know it but as Christ Himself defines it?” Our Lord Jesus Christ’s comparison between THE TINY MUSTARD SEED (the measure of Faith) AND THE MOUNTAIN (the works – i.e. extremely difficult or impossible tasks that arise throughout our lifespan) EXPRESS A PROFOUND TRUTH AND REVEALS THE TRUE NATURE OF FAITH AS MEANT BY OUR LORD. For as HE WHO IS ALL KNOWING HAS TOLD US, IF WE HAVE FAITH AS SMALL AS ONE GRAIN OF MUSTARD SEED, WE CAN ACHIEVE WORKS AS BIG AS MOUNTAINS! THE MINUTE MUSTARD SEED REPRESENTS THE SIZE OF WHAT WE CAN OFFER, WHILE THE MOUNT REPRESENTS

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10 t h Sunday AP -10 t h of St Matthew – Mustard Seed & Mountains - 12 August 2012

THE SIZE OF WORKS THAT ARE BROUGHT ABOUT BY

ALMIGHTY GOD. The mustard seed points to our weakness and THE MOUNTAIN REMINDS US OF THE GREAT WORK OF HIS DIVINE GRACE IN US. [EVERYTHING THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR US TO
ACHIEVE BUT WHICH IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE WITH ALMIGHTY GOD.]

The Faith that our Lord Jesus Christ requests from us is FAITH BASED ON THE FIRM FOUNDATION OF THE WORK OF GOD IN US. When St Paul asked the Lord to take away from him the ‘thorn in the flesh,’ the Lord responded: “My Grace is sufficient for thee: for My Strength is made Perfect in weakness.” (1 CORINTHIANS 12:6 & 9) Consequently, True Faith is the firm belief that THE GRACE OF OUR LORD WORKS IN US – even if our Faith was a small as a mustard seed. FAITH IS neither a principle nor a doctrine as much as OUR UNSHAKABLE BELIEF IN THE PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST – INCLUDING THE POWER AND TRUTH OF THE HOLY TRINITY. Such Faith is similar to that of St Paul who proclaimed that he could DO EVERYTHING IN CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS him. Finally, Faith is – in a word – equal to CLEAVING TO THE LORD OUR GOD AND PUTTING ALL OUR HOPE IN HIM ALONE! A twisted or untrue faith is to rely on certain personal convictions or oneself. This is utterly ineffective and does not fulfil any human needs for life. True Faith knows that GOD FULFILS EVERYTHING AND WITHOUT HIM WE CANNOT DO ANYTHING WORTHWHILE AT ALL! True Faith knows very well that we human beings are weak but our FAITH IN GOD MAKES US
EXTRAORDINARILY STRONG AND CAPABLE OF DOING THINGS BEYOND EXPECTATION.

Advancement and the regaining of our lost Likeness to God. “The one born of the flesh is flesh!” What can a living being do more than work for our daily living and make ends meet? As living beings we are born, we mature, we reproduce, and eventually we die - A CONTINUOUS CIRCLE OF
LIFE WITH A SPECIFIC AND UNIQUE AMOUNT OF TIME FOR EACH SOUL.

Every human being is occupied with daily affairs of this temporary world but THERE IS CERTAINLY MORE TO DAILY LIFE than that because EACH OF US IS GRANTED
THAT UNIQUE LIFESPAN IN ORDER TO DEVELOP BOTH PHYSICALLY AND SPIRITUALLY – PREPARING AND IMPROVING OURSELVES FOR ETERNITY.
IN ORDER TO FULFIL OURSELVES AS COMPLETE HUMAN BEINGS WHO WERE CREATED IN THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF ALMIGHTY GOD, WE NEED DIVINE GRACE, WHICH REQUIRES A CLOSE, PERSONAL AND INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AND A DEDICATION AND COMMITMENT TO LIFE IN CHRIST – A BLESSED LIFE OF HUMBLE OBEDIENCE TO GOD.

WE FULFIL OURSELVES AND OUR HUMAN TRUTH THROUGH WORDS, THOUGHTS AND DEEDS THAT ARE WORTHY – BY LIFTING UP OUR HEART AND HANDS TOWARDS HEAVEN, BECOMING THUS A CHANNEL OF DIVINE GRACE. Any worldly affair, which is even smaller than the mustard seed can only yield such a tiny result. However, Faith as small as one grain of seed can even ‘move mountains’ since GOD’S MOST POWERFUL DIVINE GRACE WORKS THROUGH SUCH FAITH. Finally, A JUST MAN WILL NOT MOVE MOUNTAINS UNLESS HE IS AN AMBASSADOR OF CHRIST IN THE WORLD. We enter this world not in our own name but IN THE NAME OF OUR MOST LOVING AND MERCIFUL MASTER THROUGH WHOM WE CAN ACHIEVE ANYTHING. It is the same with any other Ambassador of a country: WE DO NOT REACH OUR PERFECTION UNLESS WE KEEP
PRESERVE AND MAINTAIN THE LOFTINESS OF THIS DIVINE TRUTH – and when WE TAKE UPON OURSELVES THIS TRUTH OF CHRIST’S HOLY GOSPEL BY FAITH, DIVINE GRACE WILL OVERSHADOW US AND THE LORD WILL STRENGTHEN US.

According To St Paul, we are either vessels of honour or of disgrace. We can be a vessel of honour when we are “the Temple of the Holy Spirit,” [THROUGH SINCERE REPENTANCE AND PROPER WORSHIP OF GOD] but a vessel of shame and disgrace when we have lost Divine Grace through our unrepented sins and wilful disobedience. We are distinguished from all other created beings because ONLY WE HUMAN BEINGS HAVE THE POSSIBILITY OF RECEIVING DIVINE GRACE AND ONLY WE
ARE ABLE TO PRAY TO AND CONVERSE WITH THE

ETERNAL ONE – the Lord our God – and to walk by Faith in Him. Those who are Righteous LIVE EVERY MOMENT OF LIFE BY FAITH. Our uniqueness is that WE ARE ABLE TO RECEIVE THE OUTPOURING OF DIVINE GRACE FROM ABOVE through our Faith in God. FAITH – even a miniscule as fine mustard seed - IS THAT CHANNEL THROUGH WHICH WE RECEIVE THE WAVES OF DIVINE GRACE FROM THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO WORKS IN US for the good of our being – for our Spiritual

Through Divine Grace we become a noble medium of the Divine – A UNIQUE LIGHT to the sin darkened world and a tiny mustard seed that moves mountains! Those who are Faithful servants of Almighty God BECOME EFFECTIVE HANDS WORKING FOR GOD Who needs our little mustard seeds of Faith that DRAW HIS DIVINE GRACE INTO THIS TRAGIC, SPIRITUALLY HUNGRY AND THIRSTY WORLD. Those who are Faithful servants of God - together with St Paul - at every moment proclaim “... we were not given the spirit of failure, but rather the Spirit of the Son Who fulfils everything in us! We give Him offerings as small as a mustard seed and He grants us Works as great as mountains!” Amen
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “THE MUSTARD SEEN OF MAN’S WORK AND THE MOUNTAINS OF GRACE” BY METROPOLITAN PAUL OF ALEPPO HTTP://WWW.ALEPPORTHODOX.ORG/FILES/WRITINGS-EN/MATTHEW10-7-1.PDF

Hieromartyr Sergios Mechev – On Controlling the Tongue
For those who are Repenting, my Brethren, IT IS NOT NATURAL TO JUDGE, CONDEMN AND TO TALK IDLY. THOSE WHO ARE REPENTING OUGHT TO BE SILENT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE IN ORDER TO ACCOMPLISH SALVATION IN REPENTANCE. But we constantly talk idly, constantly judge and criticise others - CONSTANTLY COMMITTING ALL KINDS OF EVIL WITH OUR TONGUE! Thereby WE BRING EVIL BOTH UPON OURSELVES, who are speaking evil, AND UPON THOSE WHO ARE LISTENING TO OUR EVIL WORDS. Our Holy Church Fathers point out that OUR TONGUE IS ONE OF THE SMALLEST MEMBERS OF OUR BODY, YET IT DOES THE GREATEST EVIL – inflaming the circle of our life! How readily does the tongue arm one person against another! IN FAILING TO CONTROL OUR TONGUE, WE ALLOW IT TO ACT AS AN INSTRUMENT OF MURDER. St Anthony the Great plainly stated: “Whoever receives someone speaking evil or a calumniator, associates with a murderer!” Take note: A CALUMNIATOR AND A MURDERER, ACCORDING TO OUR HOLY FATHER, ARE ONE AND THE SAME. Consequently, our Holy Fathers strictly caution us: “Withdraw from the calumniator, whoever he might be, and be not ashamed to withdraw from him.” “It is safer to live with a serpent, than with a calumniator.” St John Klimakos (OF THE LADDER OF DIVINE ASCENT) forbade us from rendering esteem to such people: “Never render esteem to those who speak evilly to you of a

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10 t h Sunday AP -10 t h of St Matthew – The Epileptic Son & the Power of Faith - 21 August 2011

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neighbour. Thereby you will heal both yourself and your neighbour.” We may think that the matter only concerns the sin of calumny. [SLANDER, DEFAMATION, DENIGRATION, LIBEL, LIES, ETC] But what if you hear others speaking badly of someone and what they are saying may be true? What is to be done then? SINCE WE ARE PRONE TO EVIL SPEAKING, IT IS BETTER FOR US NOT TO LISTEN TO SUCH CONVERSATIONS. After all, we might communicate to those of whom they speak: “They are saying this and that about you,” or we might discuss the matter with another person, with a second, with a third, and so forth. Usually when we try to stop whomever is speaking, he or she immediately justifies him/herself with the excuse that, after all, this was personally heard or witnessed. And then what happens? THOSE SPEAKING EVIL FALL INTO PRIDE. No, my Beloved Brethren, A CHRISTIAN – A FAITHFUL DISCIPLE OF CHRIST - OUGHT NEVER TO ACT SO – EVEN
IF BEING AN EYE WITNESS TO THE WICKED WORDS OR DEEDS OF OTHERS. WE OUGHT NEVER TO SPREAD AROUND THE SINS COMMITTED BY OUR FELLOW SINNERS, BUT RATHER COVER THEM WITH OUR LOVE – OUR AGAPE.

A week later, the enraged Elder himself went to drive the Hermit out but the Disciple, having learnt of his intention – and due to his Love for Peace and his Holy Father – he ran ahead and informed the visitor that his Father was coming to call him to invite him to join him in the Refectory. On hearing this, the Hermit immediately went out to meet the Elder along the path, and with sincere Love he called out: “Do not trouble thyself to come to me; I myself am coming to thee.” STRUCK BY THE HERMIT’S COMPLETE LACK OF MALICE, THE SKETE ELDER WAS TOUCHED TO HIS SOUL, HIS OWN ENVY AND SPITE INSTANTLY DISAPPEARED and he happily conducted the guest to eat with him in the Refectory. When the Elder realised what his young disciple had done, he fell down at his feet and said: “Henceforth thou art my Preceptor, for by thy words our souls have been Saved!” THIS IS EXACTLY HOW SAINTS BEHAVE – even when they were sent to say or do something evil, they did not do it
EVEN THOUGH THEY OUGHT TO HAVE OBEYED THEIR ELDERS.

We must LEARN FROM THE BLESSED SAINTS – our best role models - how they acted in such cases: A Hermit went to live at a Skete where some Ascetics resided. One of the Skete Elders gave him a cell, and he began to live in concord with the Hegoumen (Abbot) and the Brethren of the Community. However, all too soon, this harmony was shattered when the Skete Elder who had initially welcomed him and provided a cell for him to use, began to envy the newcomer because so many people went to him for advice and Spiritual Guidance. Prompted by jealousy, the Skete Elder sent his young disciple to the Holy Hermit to order him to leave the Monastery immediately by telling him: “Get thee thence from whence thou came!” With humble Obedience, the young disciple, set off to deliver his Elder’s instructions, but along the way he began to reason: “If I convey his words to the Holy Father just as my Elder instructed me to do, I might arouse malice in him, and it will cause enmity to flare up between the two Holy Fathers. Surely it is better that – in the Name of the Lord and for the sake of general Peace – I should hide such harsh words and take everything upon myself.” (Abba Dorotheos, in his Teachings, allows us to do this in Prayer and Struggle.) And so, arriving at the Hermit’s cell, instead of repeating the words: “Get thee thence...” as he had been ordered to do, the young Monk bowed down before the Holy Hermit and said: “My Father has asked me to inquire of thee: ‘Art thou well?’” And the Hermit replied: “Tell thy Father that I ask for his Prayers, for I am a little ill”’ Returning to his Elder, the young Disciple told him that the visiting Hermit had found another cell but would soon depart from the Skete. Take note, dear Brethren – this is True Agape! Several days later, the frustrated Skete Elder again sent his disciple to evict the Holy Hermit. And again, instead of delivering the unkind message, the wise and compassionate Disciple of Christ told the visitor: “Having learnt that thou art ill, my Father has sent me to visit thee,” to which the grateful Hermit responded: “Tell thy Father that by his Prayers I am now completely well.” The Faithful Disciple had purposely conveyed something entirely different to that which his Elder had intended and the visiting Hermit then asked for permission to live in the Monastery only one more week before moving to another cell.

But we – with the greatest readiness and pleasure – recount everything wicked, everything bad about others – and if it is something that we ourselves have heard, we strenuously object when we are stopped and WE WOUND EACH OTHER WITH CRUEL, SPITEFUL WORDS.
[EVEN IF WE KNOW WE ARE WRONG!]

So it is that - as our Holy Church Fathers expressed it – WE
DO THE WORK OF SCORPIONS AND SERPENTS WITH OUR TONGUE! DURING THE DAYS OF FASTING AND REPENTANCE, WE OUGHT TO WATCH OUR TONGUE MORE THAN EVER. [WE ARE TEMPTED
EVEN MORE DURING FASTS!]

TRUE ASCETICS ARE SICKENED AT HEART OVER ANYONE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF HIS OR HER NEIGHBOUR. And we – for the sake of “truth” but motivated by sin - are constantly committing and promoting evil! EVERY SOCIETY SUFFERS MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE FROM EVIL SPEAKING AND CONDEMNATION, which is communicated to as many in every possible manner. So while we are struggling to Repent, let us ATTEND MOST CAREFULLY TO OUR TONGUE – let us JOIN TOGETHER IN REAL BATTLE AGAINST EVIL WORDS AND DEEDS, AND WE WILL SLOWLY GAIN VICTORY OVER OUR WICKED ENEMIES. If we REFUSE TO SPEAK EVIL OF ANYONE BUT INSTEAD PRAY FOR OTHERS, if we remember that BY ONE WORD WE CAN UNDERMINE A WHOLE EDIFICE OF RELATIONSHIPS, then we will understand why ST EPHRAIM THE SYRIAN - in his wonderful Prayer - BESOUGHT OUR LORD TO PREVENT HIM FROM MAKING IDLE SPEECH. Even in Church, before or after the Holy Services, we post bulletins throughout the Community – if not on the notice boards, then, certainly orally. Thereby WE BREAK DOWN AND DESTROY THE HOLY HARMONY AND LOVE OF THE HOLY CHURCH OF CHRIST, we become Her worst destroyers and enemies – as well as the destroyers and enemies of our own and one another’s structure. Let that Faithful Disciple of Christ – the wise and compassionate young Monk - serve as a very good example for us to imitate and to strive for – to
STRUGGLE IN EVERY MANNER POSSIBLE TO BREAK THE WICKED, DESTRUCTIVE HABIT OF SPREADING EVIL, CALUMNY, IDLE GOSSIP AND CONDEMNATION. Only then will we NURTURE AND GAIN MANY MORE TRUE FRIENDS AND GOOD, HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS – GENUINE FRIENDS IN CHRIST IN OUR MUTUAL SPIRITUAL WARFARE AGAINST ALL SIN. ONLY BY OUR CONCERTED SPIRITUAL STRUGGLES AND BY ENCOURAGING EACH OTHER IN GOODNESS AND AGAPE, ARE WE UNITED AS ONE HOLY FLOCK OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST.

Amen
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “ON CONTROLLING THE TONGUE” BY HIEROMARTYR SERGIOS MECHEV, ST NICHOLAS RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH - TRANSLATED BY DANIEL OLSON FROM NADEZHDA

http://www.pravmir.com/on-controlling-the-tongue/

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10 t h Sunday AP -10 t h of St Matthew – Mustard Seed & Mountains - 12 August 2012

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
All Glory, Honour and Worship to t he Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and foreve r, and unto the Ages of ages. Amen. Remembering also our Most Holy, Most Pure, Most Blessed and Gloriou s Lady, Maria, Theotokos, yet Ever Virgin, together with all the Saints. And let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole Life to Christ our God. Amen.

1 5 Au g u s t 2 0 1 2 The Dormition of our Ever Blessed Lady Theotokos
Also the Feast of St Makarios the Roman

Apolytikion of the Dormition

En ti Gennisi tin Parthenian efilaxas.

En ti Kimisi ton kosmon ou katelipes Theotoke. Metestis pros tin Zoin, Mirtir iparhousa tis Zois. Ke tes Presvies tes ses litromeni, ek Thanatou tas psihas imon

In

giving Birth, O Theotokos, Thou has retained Thy Virginity, and in Falling Asleep, Thou has not forsaken the world. Thou who art the Mother of Life has passed over into Life, and by Thy Prayers Thou delivers our souls from Death. Wherefore, by Thine Intercessions, deliver our souls from Death

Kontakion Of The Ever Blessed Theotokos

Prostasia ton Hristianon akateskhinte, mesitia pros ton O
Piitin ametathete, mi Paridis, amartolon deiseon fonas, alla profthason os agathi, is tin voithian imon, ton pistos kravgazonton Si: Tahinon is presvian, ke spefson is ikesian, i prostatevousa ai, Theotoke, ton timonton se.

Protection of the Christians unashamable, Mediation to the Creator Immovable, despise not, the pleading voices of those in sin, but hasten O Good One, to the Help of all of us, who in Faith cry out to Thee: speed up Thine Intercession, and press on Thy Supplication, O Theotokos who always protects all those who honour Thee!

Matins Gospel According to St Luke 1 : 38 – 49 & 56
The Visitation

At that time, Mary said: “Behold the Maidservant of the Lord! Let is be to me according to Thy Word.” And the Angel departed from Her. Then Mary arose and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leapt in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she spoke out with a loud voice, saying: “Blessed art Thou among women, and Blessed is the Fruit of Thy Womb! But why is this grant to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of Thy Greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leapt in my womb with Joy. Blessed is She Who believed, for there will be a fulfilment of those Things that were told Her from the Lord!” And Mary said: “My soul Magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour! For He has regarded the lowly state of His Maidservant. For behold! Henceforth all generations will call me “Blessed.” For He Who is Mighty has done great things form me, and Holy is His Name...” ... And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house. The Ever Blessed Virgin Mary’s faithful response to the And in the last days before the Coming of Christ, God also Annunciation of Archangel Gabriel was that of THE silenced St Zachariah, the High Priest. WITH THESE THREE SIGNIFICANT ROLES BEING VACANT, HIGHEST DEGREE OF HUMILITY AND OBEDIENCE TO GOD.

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THE INCARNATION OF GOD THE SON IS DIVINE WORK OF ALMIGHTY GOD, INVOLVED THE FREE AND WILLING MANKIND IN THE HOLY AND DEVOUT MARY.

NOT ONLY THE BUT IT ALSO RESPONSE OF PERSON OF ST

ILLEGITIMATE AND SILENT, ALL WAS READY FOR THE SON OF GOD TO BE REVEALED AS OUR DIVINE AND ETERNAL PROPHET, KING AND HIGH PRIEST.

Although Eve once disobeyed the Lord our God, St Mary instantly and voluntarily obeyed His Divine Will – which She has always done, since Her very early childhood. And although Eve -through her wilful disobedience by breaking the one Divine Commandment - had closed herself off from God – exile and alienation caused by sin – our Ever Blessed Lady opened Herself up to God and drew ever closer to Him by Her Humble Obedience to His Divine Will in all matters. She was ever watchful and resisted temptation, preferring to remain in His Divine Grace. As St Theophilact of Bulgaria put it, Her response to God was always as though she said: ‘I am a (writing) tablet; let the Writer inscribe whatever He desires on me.” In other words, Her attitude to God was always: “Let it be according to Thy Will and not my will, O Lord!”

Compelled by Her wonder and great Joy at Her Divine Conception, St Mary went to her beloved aunt, St Elizabeth, the sister of her late mother, St Anna.
AT THE SOUND OF HER GREETING, THE BLESSED ST JOHN - AS A TINY SIX MONTH BABY STILL DEVELOPING IN THE WOMB OF HIS MOTHER - PROPHESIED THE DIVINE PRESENCE OF GOD INCARNATE BY LEAPING FOR JOY. BECAUSE ST JOHN IS GOD’S HOLY PROPHET, HIS RECOGNITION OF CHRIST while they were still both in the wombs of their respective mothers, FULFILLED ST JEREMIAH’S HOLY PROPHESY: “Before I formed Thee in the

womb, I knew Thee.”

(JEREMIAH 1:5)

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ALL HOLY EVER VIRGIN THEOTOKOS RECEIVES VENERATION FROM THE HEAVENLY HOSTS AS WELL AS ALL HUMANITY. And JUST AS ST GABRIEL, THE HOLY ARCHANGEL OF GOD, HAD DONE, SO NOW TOO, ST ELIZABETH DECLARED HER YOUNG NIECE TO BE “Blessed among women.” OUR PANAGIA MARY IS CONFESSED AS “the Mother of my

THE

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AS SOON AS CHRIST BECAME INCARNATE, HOLY PROPHECY RESUMED IN ISRAEL.

Lord” by St Elizabeth and her spontaneous, sincere Confession and others like it in our Holy Church – such as “Theotokos” or “Mother/Bearer of God” – confirms that THE ONE IN HER PURE WOMB IS BOTH FULLY
HUMAN AND FULLY DIVINE IN NATURE - OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS THE TRUE SON OF GOD HIMSELF!

God had silenced His Holy Prophets for many years and even permitted an illegitimate usurper occupy the position of ‘King of Judea.’

At Holy Vespers of the Annunciation, we declare: “It is the Word of God Who dwells in Her.”

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Dormition of our Ever Blessed Lady Theotokos

1 5 A u g u s t 2 0 1 2 13.

It is significant that even though His physical Body had not yet fully formed, our Lord Jesus was Truly the Incarnate Son of God, and St Mary was already acknowledge and recognised as His All Pure, Holy Mother. This Divine Truth deals a fatal blow to the idea that abortion is justifiable because the “foetus” is not yet a person!
IN THIS DAY AND AGE, INFERTILE COUPLES REGARD THE DIVIDING CELLS - FROM THE MOMENT OF CONCEPTION OR FERTILISATION - AS A VIABLE, LIVING BABY WHO IS JOYFULLY AWAITED AND ALREADY NAMED! EVERY CHILD WHO IS CONCEIVED BUT LOST IS MOURNED AND REMEMBERED BY THE LOVING PARENTS. FURTHERMORE, THE TINY HEART BEGINS TO BEAT VERY SOON AFTER CONCEPTION AND BABIES HAVE BEEN ABLE TO BE DELIVERED AND KEPT ALIVE FROM VERY EARLY IN THE GESTATION PERIOD, MANY OF WHOM SURVIVE AND GROW INTO ADULTHOOD. THEREFORE, ABORTION IS THE VIOLENT AND MOST BRUTAL MURDER OF A TINY CHILD WHO IS MORE SENSITIVE TO AND AWARE OF EVERYTHING THAN A FULLY DEVELOPED AND BORN BABY! NOT ONE PERSON WHO HAS BEEN CONCEIVED OR BORN IS A “MISTAKE” BECAUSE EVERY MIRACLE OF CONCEPTION AND BIRTH IS BY THE DIVINE WILL OF ALMIGHTY GOD WHO HAS A PLAN AND SACRED PURPOSE FOR EACH, UNIQUE SOUL INTO WHOM HE BREATHES LIFE! (MP)

From it we are taught: ® FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS FOR ALL TIME HONOUR AND
VENERATE THE ALL HOLY, EVER VIRGIN THEOTOKOS

as she prophesied: “... all generation will call me Blessed.” ® IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO BELIEVE IN THE INSPIRATION OF ®
HOLY SCRIPTURE YET NOT BLESS OUR LADY THEOTOKOS. OUR PANAGIA ASCRIBED THE MIRACLE OF THE INCARNATION TO ALMIGHTY GOD – not to herself –

which reveals Her deep and sincere Humility and Knowledge that GOD IS THE SOURCE OF ALL
DIVINE GRACE.

® Through the Incarnation, GOD REIGNS OVER ALL
NATIONS.

Verses 46 – 56 are known as the “Magnificat” or “Megalinaria” came from the joyful heart of our Lady Theotokos who was inspired by a song of St Hannah. (1
KINGS 2 : 1 – 10)

Because our Lady Theotokos had no mother to confide in or to instruct her regarding her impending motherhood, it is natural for her to have remained with St Elizabeth for the first trimester of her pregnancy before returning home, where her companions were all committed, dedicated Virgins.
(TODAY THEY WOULD BE KNOWN AS “NUNS”)

This lovely Hymn is chanted during the Matins Service.

Sing Praises to our God, sing praises to our King! Clap your hands, all you Nations!
The Epistle of St Paul to the Philippians 2 : 5 - 11
Preserving Unity in Humility

Prokeimenon

Brethren: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, Who, being in the Form of God, did not consider it robbery to be Equal to God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and Coming in the likeness of men. And being found in Appearance as a Man, He humbled Himself and became Obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name – that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should Confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father. “Robbery” (“harpagmon“ – “prize“ or “booty“) refers to This passage consists of A HYMN THAT WAS ALREADY IN USE something that is stolen or looted illegally. IN THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH, and it was quoted here by St Paul. Christ has equality with God the Father – not by illegal or ® IT CALLS US TO CONTEMPLATE THE EXTREME AND forceful seizure or theft but due to His Eternal Divine ABSOLUTE HUMILITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST – Nature, having been Begotten by His Eternal Divine the Majestic and All Powerful Incarnate Son of Father. God – which is There was no threat, no loss and no change in the Divine ® A DIVINE TRUTH THAT IS NECESSARY FOR ALL Nature of our Lord Jesus when He took on our human SUFFERING AND STRUGGLING CHRISTIANS TO nature and offer us His Eternal Salvation. UNDERSTAND, TO APPRECIATE AND TO IMITATE Christ “made Himself of no reputation” is a reference THROUGH LIVING EVERY MOMENT OF THIS LIFE IN to His Divine Will, not His Divine Nature for He CHRIST. “emptied” Himself – not by laying down or ridding The words of this particular passage of Holy Scripture have Himself of His Divine Nature or by setting it aside, but been incorporated into many Hymns of the BY VOLUNTARILY TAKING ON OUR HUMAN FORM AND Orthodox Church. NATURE. (HE “EMPTIED” HIMSELF OF HIS MAJESTIC DIVINE GLORY IN ORDER TO Christ is He Who – being in the Form of God, i.e. His ASSUME OUR WEAK HUMAN FORM AND NATURE.) Eternal, Divine Nature – is also in the form of a He took “the form of a bondservant” VOLUNTARILY bondservant – IN OUR HUMAN LIKENESS, HIS HUMAN SHARING OUR HUMAN CONDITION except for our NATURE – and so HE WAS VOLUNTARILY SUBJECT TO inclination and ability to sin – HE CANNOT SIN! DEATH. To us human beings, CHRIST LOOKS JUST LIKE US, for being CHRIST COULD ONLY ENTER HADES IN HIS HUMAN NATURE WHERE, IN HIS DIVINE NATURE, HE SMASHED OPEN THE IMPRISONING GATES OF HADES AND SET THE RIGHTEOUS truly Incarnate, He is fully human by nature and form.
FREE TO REST IN PEACE IN PARADISE UNTIL THE FINAL JUDGEMENT. – mp

Jesus Christ Who died upon the Cross for our Eternal Salvation, has been exalted and named as “Lord” by God the Father – a Divine Name that God the Son shares with His Eternal Father. “The Form (Morphe) of God” is a concept that is parallel with “the Image (Ikon) of God” and refers to God the Son’s sharing in the complete, full Divine Nature of God the Father. (Colossians 1:15)

IN HIS HUMAN NATURE, CHRIST SHOWED THE FULLNESS OF HIS HUMILITY BY HIS ABSOLUTE OBEDIENCE – EVEN TO DEATH, TO HAVE DIED BY CRUCIFIXION

which has enslaved us since our Fall. – a terrible, humiliating and shameful form of execution for the worst type of criminals of the Roman Empire – WAS AS REPULSIVE TO

THE ROMAN CITIZENS AS IT WAS TO THE HEBREWS WHO CONSIDERED IT THE ULTIMATE CURSE. However, THE DEATH OF OUR SAVIOUR BROUGHT ETERNAL LIFE TO ALL WHO ARE JOINED TO HIM – EVEN THOSE WHOM HE CONFRONTED IN HADES AND WHO REPENTED THEIR SINS.

The Holy Gospel According to St Luke 10 : 38
One Thing is Needed!

- 42

&

11 : 27 – 28

At that time, He entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called “Mary,” who also sat at Jesus’ Feet and heard His Word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said: “Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me!” And Jesus answered and said to her: “Martha! Martha! You are worried and troubled about many things, but one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” ... And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him: “Blessed is the Womb that bore Thee, and the breasts that nursed Thee!” And He replied: “More than that: Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep It!”

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Dormition of our Ever Blessed Lady Theotokos

15 August 2012

THIS PARTICULAR PASSAGE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT IS READ ON SEVERAL HOLY FEASTS OF OUR EVER BLESSED LADY THEOTOKOS, AS WELL AS DURING THE SMALL PARAKLESIS.

St Mary and St Martha of Bethany were the two devoted and faithful sisters of St Lazaros, (whom Christ resurrected after being dead for four days.) They all remained Faithful Disciples of Christ and, after the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ, they suffered much at the hands of the Hebrews who had rejected our Lord as the Messiah and who sought the destruction of all His Faithful Disciples and Apostles. They were eventually put in a boat – without sails or oars – and set adrift in the expectation of drowning at sea. However they arrived, by the Grace of God, at Cypress where they continued to spread the Holy Gospel. On this particular day, OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST DID NOT
REBUKE ST MARTHA FOR SERVING HIM AND HIS FOLLOWERS, BUT RATHER FOR COMPLAINING ABOUT HER DUTIES AND HER SISTER – AND ESPECIALLY FOR BEING DISTRACTED, WORRIED AND TROUBLED BY INSIGNIFICANT MATTERS RATHER THAN PAYING ATTENTION TO EVERYTHING OF WHICH HE SPOKE OR TAUGHT DURING HIS VISIT IN THEIR HOME.
THERE IS A TIME AND PLACE FOR EVERYTHING – BUT EVERYTHING TO DO WITH GOD SHOULD BE A PRIORITY OF LIFE.

Later on OUR LORD JESUS CORRECTED THE WOMAN who had so impulsively called out from the crowd - Blessing His Mother for having brought Him into this world.
CHRIST DID NOT DENOUNCE HER OR HER WORDS OF PRAISE – NEITHER DID HE INSULT HIS MOTHER.

Instead He emphasised that there was more to Blessed parenting and that was to LISTEN In
PROPERLY AND CAREFULLY TO THE WORD OF GOD AND FULFIL EVERYTHING GOD TEACHES US TO DO. other words: IT IS FAR MORE BLESSED TO TRULY LIVE IN CHRIST BY STUDYING ALL HIS TEACHINGS, HOLY COMMANDMENTS AND THE MANNER WITH WHICH HE ALWAYS DEALT WITH PEOPLE – AND THEN APPLY THEM TO DAILY LIFE – NEVER WEAKENING, NEGLECTING OR IGNORING OUR SPIRITUAL STRUGGLE. God Himself has clearly pointed out: THOSE WHO REALLY HEAR THE DIVINE TEACHINGS AND COMMANDMENT AND OBEY THEM ALL, ARE TRULY BLESSED AND LOVED BY GOD.

As

St Mary of Bethany and His own Ever Blessed Mother were two good examples of such humble Obedience to God. We must NEVER ALLOW WORLDLY COMMITMENTS AND
INSIGNIFICANT INTERESTS TO DISTRACT US FROM OUR SACRED DUTY TO GOD - OUR MOST IMPORTANT COMMITMENT IS THE FULFILMENT OF ALL SACRED DUTIES.

As Faithful Disciples of Christ, we are Called to serve Him and others in whatever manner required for that is how we facilitate the spread of His Holy Gospel. (ACTS 6:1 – 4) The Dormition of our Ever We must not confuse The Dormition of our Ever Blessed Lady Theotokos with Her Assumption into Heaven, which occurred three days later, according to Holy Tradition. The Dormition or Koimisis (Falling Asleep) of the Most Holy Theotokos recognizes the moment when Her soul was taken into the Hands of Her Son and Her body was placed Her tomb. Orthodox Christians emphasize Her Repose in order to help us remember that she shared our human nature, finally died and was – unlike most human beings assumed into Heaven three days later. This is where the Teaching of the Orthodox Church differs from the Roman Catholic Church who celebrate her Assumption on this day. In the Roman Catholic Church, the Assumption is Dogmatically defined, while according to the Eastern Orthodox Teaching, Her Dormition is Liturgically and Mystically defined. "Unlike the Resurrection of Christ, the mysterious character of Her death, burial, Resurrection and Ascension were not the subject of Apostolic Teachings, The Archangel of God Foretells the The Ever Blessed St Mary had lived with the family of St John (the Divine Theologian, Beloved Apostle and Evangelist) in Jerusalem since the Crucifixion of Christ, and as the years passed, she longed to be with her Most Beloved Son and was not at all afraid of her approaching final Repose. She had prayed ceaselessly, day and night, throughout her entire life, and her Ascetic Way of Life has continued throughout the years – to this very day - as the perfect example for all who enter into Monastic Life – as well as those who Struggle for Spiritual Perfection in the world. She often went to the place on Mount of Olives where our Lord Jesus had ascended into Heaven and on one such visit the Archangel, St Gabriel, (Bearer of Good Tidings) appeared to her and said: “Thy Son says: ‘The days are approaching when I will take My Mother unto Me.’ … Thy Son sent me to tell Thee that He calls Thee to Him - to His Kingdom - to His Ineffable Glory - so you can sit at the right hand of His Throne. He is waiting for Thee. Therefore do not be troubled over these words, but receive them with delight, for Thou will be Translated to Life Eternal.” (FROM THE GREAT SYNAXARISTES OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH , 5TH
EDITION, VOL VIII)

The Greek word “menounge” is translated as “more than that,” and is also translated as “yes, indeed,” according to St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. (ROMANS
10:18)

Thus that particular word corrects by AMPLIFLYING – not by negating. Blessed Lady Theotokos or at least there are no extant Epistles; yet it has been revealed to the inner consciousness of the Church. Inaccessible to the view of those outside the Church, the Glory of the Theotokos' Dormition can be contemplated only in the Inner Light of Holy Orthodox Tradition. The Glorification of the Ever Virgin-Mother is a result of the voluntary Condescension of the Son Who is Incarnate of Her and became the "Son of Man", capable of dying. The Mother of God is now established beyond the General Resurrection and the Last Judgment, having passed from death to Life, from time to Eternity, from terrestrial condition to Celestial Beatitude. Hence, the Feast of 15 August is a second Mysterious Pascha, since the Church celebrates - before the end of time - the secret First-fruits of its Eschatological Consummation." O Marvellous Wonder! The Source of Life is laid in the tomb, and the tomb itself becomes a Ladder to Heaven. Thy Glory is full of Majesty, shining with Grace in Divine Brightness. (OUSPENSKY AND LOSSKY, THE
MEANING OF ICONS, P 213)

Death of the All Holy Theotokos was called ‘a Heaven’ - submitted of His own Will to burial as a mortal, how should She, who gave Him Birth without knowing a man, refuse it?” (MATINS CANON,
ODE FOUR)

St John of Damacus (c.676-c.750) wrote: “If Her Fruit Whom none may comprehend, on Whose account She

Archangel Gabriel presented Her with a branch from a date Palm in Paradise. It was alight with a Heavenly Light, which signified that Her bodily death would have no power over Her. She would Repose for a short time and then awaken, shaking off Death as though awakening from sleep - and when she awoke she would see the Glorious Light of our Lord’s Face. Archangel Gabriel instructed Her to have the Palm branch from Paradise carried before Her bier during Her funeral procession to ensure that Death would have no power over Her. She was overjoyed as she had received from the Archangel a Pledge that she would be received directly into Heaven. She immediately prayed: “I would not have been worthy to receive Thee, O Lord, into my womb, unless Thou had Mercy on me, Thy servant. I kept the Treasure entrusted to me and therefore, I have the boldness to ask Thee, O King of Glory, to protect me from the power of Gehenna. If Heaven and the Angels tremble before Thee, how much more mankind, made of earth, who has nothing good of his own except what he has

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Dormition of our Ever Blessed Lady Theotokos

1 5 A u g u s t 2 0 1 2 15.

been granted by Thy Goodness. Thou, O Lord, art God, and Blessed forever.” It is said in the Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church that as our Ever Blessed Lady Theotokos prayed this Prayer, the olive trees growing on the Mount of Olives The Miraculous Gathering of While making all the arrangements for Her impending Repose, a loud, thunderous noise was suddenly heard, and a great Cloud hovered over the home of St John (the Beloved Apostle of Christ and the Protector of our Holy Lady Theotokos). By the Command of God all the Apostles were taken up from different places throughout the world and carried on that mysterious Cloud to Jerusalem. All the Holy Apostles of Christ, except St Thomas, were miraculously taken to the home of St Mary. As we know from other historical accounts in Holy Scripture this kind of gathering up was not an unique happening. Perhaps it is difficult for some people to accept such reports, but if God could create the entire universe then definitely nothing is impossible for Him! Consider the Great Divine Miracles such as the Immaculate Conception of Christ and the Virgin Birth, or the Glorious Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. With absolute Faith in Almighty God, everything is possible and acceptable. This mysterious Gathering of the Holy Apostles of Christ is recorded in the writings of many of our Holy Church Fathers: St Kosmas (7th-8th century): “...carried to Zion as it were upon a swift Cloud, the Company of the Apostles assembled from the ends of the earth to minister to Thee, O Virgin...” St John of Damascus (7th century): “ ...It was right that the Eyewitnesses and Ministers of the Word should behold the Dormition of His Mother according to the flesh - even the final Mystery concerning Her: hence, they might be Witnesses not only to the Ascension of the Saviour but also to the Translation of Her who gave Him Birth. Assembled from all parts by Divine Power, they went to Zion, and sped on Her way to Heaven the Virgin who is higher than the Cherubim.” The Holy Apostles rejoiced when they saw each other again and wondered why our Lord had gathered them there, until St John the Divine Theologian informed them about the imminent Departure of the Ever Blessed Theotokos, which made them most sorrowful. However, when the Holy Apostles entered the room where our Lady Theotokos lay upon Her bed, they saw that She was Joyful and Peaceful – and they greeted Her: “Blessed is the Lord Who made Heaven and earth!” to which She replied: “Peace to you, Brethren, chosen by the Lord Himself!” She inquired about how they were all able to get to Jerusalem at the same time and marvelled at how they had come from such diverse distant places. So they told Her how the Holy Spirit had brought them there. St Paul exclaimed: “Rejoice, O Mother of my Life and my Preaching! Gazing on Thee now, I think that I behold Thy Son!” Then St Paul’s disciples - St. Dionysios the Areopagite, St. Hierotheos and St Timothy the Apostle along with many others including the rest of the Seventy Apostles went in to greet Her. The dearly beloved Mother of God called each of them by name and praised their Faith and Work in preaching about Jesus Christ. She wished each of them Eternal Beatitude and prayed for the Peace of the whole world. After having informed them what Archangel Gabriel had told Her and about the Palm branch that had been presented to Her, She said: “The Lord has brought you here for the consolation of my soul which as our mortal nature demands - is soon to be separated from the body. Already the time appointed by my Creator draws nigh.” Filled with deep sadness, they replied: “During Thy life on earth, we were consoled by looking on Thee as

bowed in unison with Her as though they were alive – when she bowed down before the Lord God, they also bowed down and when She arose, all the trees straightened up again. the Holy Apostles of Christ though on our Lord Himself. But now, deprived of Thy presence, how can we bear the sorrow that fills our souls? Yet now - by the Will of Him Who was born of Thee, Christ God, Thou art going away to the Heavenly Home and it is impossible for us not to rejoice at God’s decision regarding Thee! “At the same time we cannot refrain from weeping for we are to be left like orphans as we will no longer be able to behold Thee, our Mother and Comforter.” Consider the important role that our Lady Theotokos played in the Life of the early Church: the Apostles themselves emphasised how She had "...consoled them...” just like the Lord Himself had done - and their sense of being ‘orphaned’ after Her Dormition is surely a profound expression of the great loss they experienced at their separation from Her lovely, wise and guiding presence. She also advised them: “Watch and pray with me, that when the Lord comes to receive my soul, He will find you watching.” All the Faithful Disciples of Christ, together with the All Pure Theotokos kept Vigil throughout the night, praying, chanting Psalms and certain Hymns. The Beloved Disciple, St John, addressed his Spiritual Mother who had been entrusted by Christ to his protective Love and care, emphasising the significant and essential role She held in the Holy Church: “... My Lady, Mother of God and my Mother, Thy Beloved Son had left Thee as a Consolation; and now Thou shall leave us? In all the world what will we humble Apostles have to console us? Who will teach and guide us? What here on earth will encourage us if Thou leave us?” Hearing his words of Love and devotion, our Lady Mary tearfully replied: “... Do not Sorrow, my Children, for you make me sad when I see you cry so. Although I will be going to my Son, O Friends of my Son, I will not be apart from you, nor from those who call on me. No, I shall be an Intercessor and Mediatrix for all Christians before my beloved Son. Therefore do not weep. Do not darken my Joy by your sorrow and mourning. Rather Rejoice with me, for I am going to my Son and God. My body that I have prepared for burial, put in the earth in Gethsemane. Thereafter, return to the Preaching of the Gospel assigned to you. If the Lord so Wills, you will see me after my Departure.” (LIFE OF
THE VIRGIN MARY - PP 453-454)

Once again our Lady explained to the Faithful Apostles and Disciples of Christ that Her role – as our Intercessor and Mediatrix would continue even after her Dormition. Furthermore, as always, She encouraged them to continue the important Holy Mission of Christ, which they had begun. Although Her Dormition was a great bereavement for all Faithful Disciples of Christ at that time, due to their great Love for Her, She reassured them that even after Her departure, She would continue to Guide, Teach and Protect all Faithful Christians – especially those who requested Her Intercessory Prayers. A Matins Hymn states: “... Peter cried aloud to Thee: “O Undefiled Virgin, I see Thee who art the Life of all mankind lying here outstretched, and I am struck with Wonder: for He Who is the Delight of the Future Life make His Dwelling in Thee. Pray Thee fervently to Thy Son and God ...” St Gregory Palamas wrote: “The precepts and encouragements She gave to God’s Heralds (THE APOSTLES) were sent throughout the whole world. Thus She was both a Support and Comfort while heard and seen among men. She laboured with the rest in every way for the Preaching of the Gospel...
HTTP://ORTHODOXWAYOFLIFE.BLOGSPOT.COM

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Dormition of our Ever Blessed Lady Theotokos

15 August 2012

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
All Glory, Honour and Worship to t he Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, no w and forever, and unto the Ages of ages. Amen. Remembering also our Most Holy, Most Pure, Most Blessed and Glorious Lady, Maria, Theotokos, yet Ever Virgin, together with all the Saints. And let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole Life to Christ our God. Amen.

1 9 Au g u s t 2 0 1 2
11
t h

Sunday After Pentecost Tone 2

Afterfeast of the Dormition 11th Sunday of St Matthew The Unmerciful Servant
Feast of St Andrew Stratelates & 2,593 Martyred Soldiers of Cilicia – St Pitirim of Great Perm – St Timothy, St Agapios & St Thekla of Palestine – St Theophanes the New of Dochiariou Monastery, Mount Athos – Intercession of the Holy Icon of our Ever Blessed Lady Theotokos of Don
Resurrection Apolytikion – TONE 2

Ote katilthes pros ton Thanaton, i Zoi i Athanatos, tote When
ton adin enekrosas ti astrapi tis Theotitos. Ote de ke tous tethneotas ek ton katahthonion anestisas, pase e Dinamis ton Epouranion ekravgazon. Zoodota Hriste, O Theos imon, Doxa Si!
Festal Apolytikion – Dormition

Thou condescended to Death, O Life Immortal, Thou slayed Hades with the lightning flash of Thy Divinity. When also Thou raised up the dead from the subterranean abodes, all the Powers of Heaven cried aloud: O Life-giver, Christ our God, Glory to Thee!

En

ti Gennisi tin Parthenian efilaxas. En ti Kimisi ton kosmon ou katelipes Theotoke. Metestis pros tin Zoin, Mitir iparhousa tis Zois. Ke tes Presvies tes Ses litroumeni, ek Thanatou tas psihas imon.

In giving Birth, O Theotokos, Thou retained Thy Virginity,
and in Falling Asleep, Thou has not forsaken the world. Thou who art the Mother of Life has passed over into Life, and by Thy Prayers, Thou delivers our soul from Death.

Festal Kontakion of the Ever Blessed Theotokos - Dormition

Tin

en Presvies akimiton Theotokon, ke prostasies ametatheton Elpida, tafos ke nekrosis ouk ekratisen; os gar Zois Mitera, pros tin Zoin metestisen, O Mitran ikisas Aiparthenon.

The Theotokos who is incessant in Her Intercessions, and
immovable Hope in Her Protection, tomb and the state of death could not hold; for being the Mother of Life, to the Life He carried, He Who dwelt in a Womb Ever Virgin.

Resurrection Gospel 11 - John 21:14 - 25
Our Lord Jesus Restores And Commissions St Peter

Prokeimenon

The Lord is my Strength and my Glory! The Lord has punished me severely, but He has not delivered me to Death.
The First Epistle of St Paul to the Corinthians 9 : 1 – 12
The Good Example and Rights of St Paul as an Apostle or Disciple of Christ

Brethren: Am I not an Apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my Work in the Lord? If I am not an Apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the Seal of my Apostleship in the Lord. My defence to those who examine me is this: Do we have no right to eat and drink? Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other Apostles - the Brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working? Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock? Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the Law say the same also? For it is written in the Law of Moses: “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen that God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sake? For our sake, no doubt, this is written, that he who ploughs should plough in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be a partaker of his hope. If we have sown Spiritual Things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more so? Nevertheless, we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the Gospel of Christ. St Paul’s Holy Apostleship was under attack and he had CHILDREN, so they obviously enjoyed a certain to defend it’s authenticity and Truth. amount of time with them. THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE CLERGY IS CERTIFIED BY THE ST PAUL OFTEN DID MANUAL LABOUR TO EARN HIS KEEP AND SPIRITUAL CONDITION OF THE HOLY FLOCK. HE ALWAYS ENCOURAGED OTHERS TO DO LIKEWISE SO ST PAUL had led most of the Christians in the Corinthian THAT THEY WOULD NEVER BE A BURDEN TO OTHERS. Church to the Divine Truth of our Lord God and THE HOLY PRIESTHOOD SHOULD BE SUPPORTED AND consequently WAS THEIR SPIRITUAL FATHER. ENCOURAGED BY THE FAITHFUL so that they are free to TOGETHER WITH ST BARNABAS, ST PAUL HAD WORKED sow “Spiritual Things” and not have to waste their CEASELESSLY FOR THE HOLY FLOCK IN CORINTH and valuable time trying to earn a living for themselves seemed to have been criticised for taking a break or and their families. resting. According to the Old Covenant Law, GOD HAD PROVIDED THE MARRIED APOSTLES AND DISCIPLES OF CHRIST WERE FOR THIS ASPECT OF HOLY LIFE, for the people always OFTEN ACCOMPANIED BY THEIR MARRIED SPOUSES AND ensured that the Holy Priesthood and their families were provided for and St Paul implied the same for the New Covenant Priesthood.

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11th Sunday AP - 11th of St Matthew – The Unmerciful Servant - 1 9 August 201 2

17.

The Holy Gospel According to St Matthew 18 : 23 – 35
Forgiveness in the Holy Church of Christ

At that time our Lord Jesus said to St Peter: “... the Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain King who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his Master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment should be made. “The servant fell down before him, saying: ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And the Master of that servant was moved with Compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying: ‘Pay me what you owe!’ And his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying: ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt. “So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and went and told their Master all that had been done. And his Master, after He had called him, said to him: ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have Compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’“And his Master was angry, and delivered him to the Torturers until he should pay all that was due to Him. “So My Heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his Brother his trespasses!” Certain of our Holy Church Fathers have interpreted this Before relating the Parable of the Unforgiving or Holy Parable as follows: Unmerciful Servant, St Peter had asked our Lord THE SERVANT REPRESENTS OUR SOUL. Jesus HOW OFTEN SHOULD WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO SIN THE WIFE REPRESENTS OUR BODY. AGAINST US, to which He answered: “SEVENTY THE CHILDREN REPRESENT OUR DEEDS – I.E. OUR TIMES SEVENTY!” - which was symbolic of AN
UNLIMITED OR INFINITE AMOUNT OF TIMES TO FORGIVE OTHERS BECAUSE THAT IS HOW OFTEN GOD FORGIVES US WHEN WE SINCERELY REPENT OUR SINS. WORDS, THOUGHTS AND DEEDS. THUS OUR BODY AND OUR UNREPENTED DEEDS ARE

Our Lord Jesus used this Parable to clearly illustrate and make us understand THE FULL EXTENT AND
MEANING OF TRUE FORGIVENESS.

V

“Ten thousand talents” was an impossible amount to owe – FAR MORE THAN ANY LABOURER COULD EARN IN SEVERAL LIFETIMES! SUCH IS THE DEGREE OF OUR OWN, PERSONAL UNPAYABLE SPIRITUAL DEBT TO GOD. “A hundred denarii” is a significant amount from an earthly perspective (approximately three months’ wages) yet it was A PITTANCE COMPARED TO THE ENORMOUS DEBT OWED TO THE KING. GOD NOT ONLY WITHHOLDS THE PUNISHMENT WE DESERVE, BUT HE FORGIVES US FOR OUR ENTIRE DEBT AS WELL. Because God forgives us so generously and so mercifully, WE IN TURN ARE REQUIRED TO GRANT THE
GREAT AND LIBERATING GIFT OF FORGIVENESS TO OTHERS. WHATEVER WE DO FOR OR TO OTHERS IS RETURNED TO US A HUNDRED TIMES MORE!

1

given over to Spiritual Slavery – i.e. although we are IMPRISONED BY SATAN, WE DO HAVE THE CHANCE TO REPENT OUR SINS SO THAT OUR SOUL MIGHT BE SAVED. C O R I N T H I A N S 5 : 5 “... deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit might be Saved on the Day of the Lord Jesus.”

IN THE HOLY CHURCH THERE IS PROTECTION FROM THE DESTRUCTIVE POWER OF SATAN. However, THIS HOLY PROTECTION IS REMOVED FROM US THROUGH EXCOMMUNICATION in the hope that – HAVING EXPERIENCED THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOD’S RULE AND SATAN’S ENSLAVEMENT AND SPIRITUAL DEATH, THE OFFENDER MAY TRULY REPENT and in the

V

end be Saved from Eternal Condemnation and Everlasting Banishment from the Divine Presence and Goodness of God. THE FLESH (SARX) IS NOT SYNONYMOUS WITH THE BODY (SOMA) and WE MUST CONSTANTLY STRUGGLE TO
ERADICATE THE PASSIONS OF THE FLESH – THE DESTRUCTIVE SINS OR LUSTS OF THE FLESH – FROM OUR SANCTIFIED BODY, WHICH IS THE HOLY TEMPLE OF GOD.

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Therefore, if we share our Divine Blessings with others we will reap the Spiritual Reward a hundred times – infinitely – more. Our Saviour said more than once: "Forgive, and you shall be forgiven..." thereby setting OUR
FORGIVENESS OF OUR NEIGHBOURS AS THE CONDITION FOR OUR FORGIVENESS BY OUR LORD. (LUKE 6:37; CF. MARK
11:25-26)

Father Viktor Potapov - On The Unforgiving Debtor Although our sinfulness makes us unworthy of God's Loving Kindness - through the Death of His Son on the Cross - THE LORD HAS FORGIVEN US OUR OFFENCES.
CHRIST’S VOLUNTARY SACRIFICE, HIS PASSION, WAS THE FINAL BLOOD SACRIFICE BECAUSE IT WAS THE ULTIMATE, MOST PERFECT WHOLE SACRIFICE FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF ALL SINS FOREVERMORE! NOW, ACCORDING TO OUR NEW COVENANT WITH GOD, WE MAKE BLOODLESS OFFERINGS TO GOD FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS AND ETERNAL LIFE – THE HOLY EUCHARIST, WHICH WE PARTAKE OF AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE IN PREPARATION FOR ETERNITY – BECAUSE WE CONTINUE TO COMMIT OFFENCES AGAINST GOD AND EACH OTHER!

In one of Christ's talks with His Forgiveness, His Instruction on cautious reproval [CRITICISM OR BLAME] Sister who has sinned, provoked the Apostle, St Peter, concerning

Disciples about the loving and of a Brother or a question from

HOW MANY TIMES ONE MUST FORGIVE THOSE WHO HAVE OFFENDED.

Although the Scribes taught that one could forgive only three times St Peter wished to exceed the Righteousness of the Old Covenant, so he raised the number of forgiveness to seven times. However, CHRIST, Who urged us to make our heart pure and bright by All-forgiving Love [AGAPE], TAUGHT US TO FORGIVE 70 times seven - that is, WITHOUT ANY LIMIT AT ALL. To make this clear to St Peter, our Lord Jesus then related His Parable of the Unmerciful Debtor. The meaning is utterly clear. THE KING IS OUR LORD, "...to Whom all Power is given . . . in Heaven and on earth..." (MATTHEW
28:18)

THE SERVANTS OF THE KING ARE US HUMAN BEINGS who are destitute and insolvent debtors to the Lord our God to Whom we owe everything in this life and the next! [AN INSURMOUNTABLE DEBT!]

The Kingdom of Heaven [ETERNAL LIFE] is compared to “a certain King” [CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR] Who takes account of [JUDGES] all His servants. Whatever occurs in the Holy Church of Christ [THE EARTHLY KINGDOM OF HEAVEN] can be likened to the keeping account of all God’s servants’ Spiritual Credits or Debts – THE UNAVOIDABLE PERSONAL RECORD OF OUR EARTHLY LIFE – OUR EVERY WORD, THOUGHT AND DEED – AND ALL THE CONSEQUENCES THAT WERE CAUSED BY THEM - WHICH WILL BE REVEALED AT OUR FINAL, IMPARTIAL JUDGEMENT. The King of Heaven has the right to an accounting of all our thoughts, desires, words, and deeds at any time and we are compelled to answer to Him, which means that we must live according to the New Covenant Laws of His Holy Gospel – His Divine Teachings. GOD’S GREAT MERCY ALLOWS US TO SETTLE SOME OF OUR ACCOUNTS THROUGHOUT THIS PREPARATORY LIFESPAN –

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TO REPAY AS MANY OF OUR DEBTS TO GOD - AND EACH OTHER – THROUGH CONFESSION-REPENTANCE.

Our greatest fear should be that of departing from this world with unpaid Debts that we can never repay or Repent of afterwards!!
THAT IS WHY OUR DAILY SPIRITUAL ACCOUNTING IS SO IMPORTANT – A SINCERE SELF-EXAMINATION TO ROOT OUT AND ERADICATE OUR DAILY SINS, WHICH WE CONFESS AND REPENT BEFORE THE LORD OUR GOD, AS WELL AS ASKING THE FORGIVENESS OF OTHERS AND FORGIVING THEM

“... THEIR TRESPASSES AGAINST US.”

When the King had begun to reckon, one servant was brought to him, who owed him 10,000 Talents! WE WILL ALL STAND BEFORE THE AWESOME JUDGEMENT SEAT OF GOD WITH JUST SUCH AN ENORMOUS, INSURMOUNTABLE DEBT! The weight of such a heavy Debt nearly crushed the destitute servant, who wanted so much to be debt free. He may have been able to stand before the mighty King and beg him for an extension of time to repay at least some of the Debt, for he was not forcibly taken to the King, but went to him after an insistent Invitation. OUR FALL IS SO GREAT THAT WE CANNOT APPROACH GOD ON OUR OWN - ONLY A FEW PEOPLE WHO ARE PURE IN HEART, CAN DO SO. MOST SINNERS ARE PRESENTED BEFORE GOD BY MEANS OF THE INTERCESSORY PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS, OR BY MISFORTUNE, ILLNESS, AND OTHER TRIALS THAT HUMBLE US and remove us from the fleshly passions of this world, and thereby remind us of Eternity. OUR LORD ALSO SENDS US EXPERIENCED SPIRITUAL DIRECTORS TO GUIDE AND TEACH US - both those who are still living and those who have Reposed – through their verbal and written Teachings. According to Blessed Theophilact, Archbishop of Bulgaria, THE UNFORGIVING DEBTOR IS NOT MERELY ONE PERSON, BUT ALL HUMANITY – EVERY ONE OF US! Bishop Ignatios Brianchaninov taught us that EACH AND EVERY SIN IS SIGNIFICANT, SINCE EACH SIN IS AN OFFENCE AGAINST GOD. OUR SINS ARE AS OVERWHELMING as the 10,000 talents of the unforgiving servant – AN IMPOSSIBLE DEBT THAT WE CANNOT EVER REPAY. That great Debt consists of all our sins that we have committed against God's Ten Commandments OUR CRUSHING DEBT OF INGRATITUDE FOR GOD'S INFINITE GREAT MERCY! Every hour of the day most of us commit different degrees of sin and EACH DAY WE CONTINUE TO INCREASE OUR DEBT TO GOD. Because the Unmerciful Servant could not pay his great Debt, the King commanded him to be sold [INTO SLAVERY], together with his wife and children, and all that he possessed, in order to make some sort of payment. This apparent cruelty of the King is disturbing to most of us. Why did the King sell the servant, his wife and his children and all that he possessed when such a personal loss meant that he certainly could never repay his great Debt. ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM explained: "...not out of cruelty or inhumanity, but in order to frighten the servant, and thereby TO SPUR HIM ON TO SUBMISSIVENESS, without any intention of selling him! “For if the King had had this in mind, then He would not have heeded the servant’s request and would not have shown him His Loving-kindness. “The King only wanted to make the servant understand HOW MANY DEBTS HE WAS FORGIVING HIM, and through this means TO COMPEL HIM TO BE MORE LENIENT TOWARD HIS FELLOW-DEBTOR. “For - IF HAVING REALIZED BOTH THE WEIGHT OF HIS DEBT AND THE GREATNESS OF THE FORGIVENESS - HE NEVERTHELESS BEGAN TO CHOKE HIS FELLOW SERVANT,
THEN WHAT EXTENT OF CRUELTY WOULD HE NOT HAVE REACHED, IF HE HAD NOT PREVIOUSLY BEEN MADE TO UNDERSTAND BY SUCH MEANS?"

In desperation, the Unmerciful Servant fell down upon his knees, and worshipped Him, saying: "Lord, have Patience with me, and I will pay Thee all." TERROR PROVOKED HUMILITY IN THE SERVANT. Then THE LORD OF THAT SERVANT WAS MOVED TO COMPASSION, AND LOOSED HIM, AND FORGAVE HIM THE DEBT. The same thing occurs with every sinner - WHEN WE REALISE THE DEPTH OF OUR FALL AND THE EXTENT OF OUR DEBT TO GOD. When we TURN TO GOD WITH REPENTANCE AND A SINCERE PLEDGE TO CORRECT OURSELVES, our Lord is always ready to grant us complete Remission of sins. Concerning this, St John Chrysostom remarked: "... what power Prayer has! This debtor showed neither Fasting nor indifference to riches nothing of the kind! However, when he bereft and devoid of every Virtue - besought his Lord for clemency, he succeeded in inclining Him to Mercy. “Let us not weaken in our Prayers. “Do you not have boldness? For this, then approach, in order to acquire great Boldness. He Who wishes to be Reconciled with you is not a man before whom you must be ashamed and blush. He is God Who desires more than you to free you from sin. You do not desire your safety so much as He seeks your Salvation." THE LORD'S FORGIVENESS IS HEAVENLY GRACE, WHICH DOES NOT ACT AUTOMATICALLY, BUT ONLY AFTER THE PARTICIPATION OF THE BELIEVER. Of course, the Lord could forgive His servant unilaterally, without Repentance, but HE WANTS THE
DEBTOR TO LEARN FROM EXPERIENCE AND TO FORGIVE DEBTS IN HIS OWN LIFE TOO.

But this same servant went out [from Repentance and Humility], and found a fellow-servant who owed him 100 dinarii. [A MINISCULE DEBT BY COMPARISON!] THE FIRST SERVANT FORGOT ABOUT GOD – FOR HAD HE REMEMBERED HIM, HE WOULD HAVE BEEN KINDER TO A FELLOW DEBTOR! Instead he took him by the throat and demanded: "Pay me what you owe me!" That debt was so insignificant that it is awkward to even name it, yet the desire for payment caused the ungrateful sinner to choke his fellow-sinner. HE CLAIMED HIS OWN JUDGEMENT BY ONE STANDARD, BUT
HE USED ANOTHER STANDARD TO JUDGE HIS FELLOW DEBTOR! HE ENJOYED THE KING'S LOVE AND MERCY, BUT HE HIMSELF SHOWED NO MERCY TOWARDS OTHERS.

All too often we see such behaviour towards our fellow debtors - when we are angry or we recall certain offences of others, and when we mutter angry, resentful and offensive words, WE CHOKE OUR NEIGHBOUR UNMERCIFULLY. Our hostile gaze - unnoticed by ourselves - can harm others and WHEN WE SPREAD ALL KINDS OF FALSE STORIES AND HARM THE REPUTATION OF ONE ANOTHER, we are slowly choking each other to death! V WE SHOULD CEASELESSLY REPEAT THE UNGRATEFUL WORDS: "PAY ME!" TO OURSELVES! After all, we are quick to demand that those who have sinned against us must offer us satisfaction. If they caused us material injury, we want them to reimburse us immediately; and if they have offended us, then we demand an apology. WE WANT THEM TO SUFFER FOR THEIR OFFENCES IN ORDER TO SATISFY OUR OWN SMUG SELF-LOVE! We choose to ignore our Saviour’s cautionary Teaching: "With what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again!" (MATTHEW 7:2). Who does not recall that heartfelt sympathy that we experience WHEN SOMEONE ASKS FORGIVENESS OF US? At times we feel awkward; we are ready to FORGIVE AND FORGET EVERYTHING IMMEDIATELY. But it was not so with the Unmerciful Servant because he was implacable - he was BLINDED BY HIS

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PITILESSNESS, not at all realising that ETERNALLY CONDEMNING HIMSELF!

by this HE WAS

Such blindness always accompanies those who become stern and cruel - those who "depart from God," THOSE WHO LEAVE THE TRUE PATH AND FORGET OR IGNORE GOD'S GREAT MERCY. WHEN WE DEMAND IMMEDIATE SATISFACTION FROM SOMEONE, WE IMPRISON AND ALIENATE OURSELVES FROM GOD and we can no longer recite the Lord's Prayer in Truth and Sincerity: "...forgive us our Debts [TRESPASSES], as we forgive our debtors [THOSE WHO
TRESPASS AGAINST US]."

V

GOD DOES NOT ACCEPT PRAYER FROM THOSE WHO REFUSE TO FORGIVE THEIR NEIGHBOURS. The specific words of our Lord Jesus Christ are: "Therefore if you bring your gift to the Altar, and there remember that your Brother has something against you, leave your gift there, before the Altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your Brother, and then come and offer your gift." (MATTHEW 5:23-24) Witnesses – other servants - sympathized with their fellow servant who suffered because of the Ungrateful Servant: "... So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and went and told their Lord all that was done..." METROPOLITAN ANTONY (Khrapovitsky), following the Holy Fathers of the Church, believed that the “fellow-servants” are THE ANGELS AND SAINTS -

OUR BENEFACTORS AND HOLY INTERCESSORS IN HEAVEN. “... And his Lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, until he should pay all that was due to him..." Usually, the words "delivered . . . to the tormentors" are taken to mean that GOD CONSIGNS HIS DEBTORS TO ETERNAL TORMENT. But then who can be Saved? We must understand “tormentors” as TEMPORAL AFFLICTIONS, MISFORTUNES, ILLNESSES, and so forth. When we sin, WE ARE DRIVEN BY THE DESIRES OF THE FLESH TOWARDS SELF-GRATIFICATION AND ENJOYMENT. Affliction is a fitting Redemption of such sin. However, only Christ grants us complete Redemption: "I forgave you all that debt, because you desired Me; should you not also have had Compassion for your fellow-servant, even as I had pity on you?" These words mean that OUR LACK OF DESIRE TO FORGIVE OUR NEIGHBOUR OFFENDS GOD'S LOVING-KINDNESS AND HIS TRUST IN US. We must soften our hearts, while we can. We must R E M E M B E R A L L G O D ' S M E R C I E S . V Let us HEED THE SACRED LESSON OF THIS PARABLE SO THAT WE MAY F U L F I L C H R I S T ' S C O M M A N D M E N T : "JUDGE NOT, and you shall not be Judged; CONDEMN NOT, and you shall not be Condemned; FORGIVE AND YOU SHALL BE FORGIVEN." (LUKE 6:37).
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “THE UNFORGIVING DEBTOR” BY FATHER VIKTOR (POTAPOV) http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/parables_potapov.htm

The Eternal Wisdom of our Holy Church Fathers – Ancient & Modern Father Thomas Hopko
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT IS THAT YOU LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR MIND, ALL YOUR SOUL, AND ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND THE SECOND IS THAT YOU LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR AS YOURSELF. The only way you can prove you Love God is by loving your neighbour, and the only way you can Love your neighbour in this world is by endless forgiveness. Dostoevsky, writing in ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ noted the far reaching possibilities of this transforming Love, this Energy which begins with a Prayerful attention for all of Creation. He says, in the words of Father Zossima, the Monastic Elder: ‘ My brother asked forgiveness of the birds: it seems senseless, yet it is right, for all is like an ocean - all flows and connects; touch it in one place and it echoes at the other end of the world.’ For Father Zossima, this Prayerful Attention is also realized in the confidence of sharing one's "Light" with others: So, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ However, in certain modern editions of the Bible, I have seen this translated as, ‘You shall Love your neighbour as you Love yourself.’ But that's not what it says.
[IN FACT, AS SOME HOLY FATHERS BELIEVE, IT MEANS THAT WE MUST LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS MUCH AND AS UNCONDITIONALLY AS GOD LOVES US!]

Father John Shimchick
‘If you had shone, your light would have lit the way for others, and the one who did wickedness would perhaps not have done so in your light. ‘ And even if you do shine, but see that people are not Saved even with your light, remain Steadfast, and do not doubt the Power of the Heavenly Light; believe that if they are not Saved now, they will be Saved later. ‘And if they are not Saved, their sons will be Saved, for your Light will not die, even when you are dead. ‘The Righteous man departs, but his Light remains.’ ["BEING TRANSFIGURED - PERSON BY PERSON"] begging forgiveness, pleading with Thee and craving Thy Mercy. But Thou Thyself have come to me - wretched and goodfor-nothing servant that I am; my Lord has come to me, His enemy and apostate; my Master has come and has bestowed His Love of mankind upon me. Listen my soul: God has come to us!" (TREASURY OF RUSSIAN
SPIRITUALITY VOL. II; NORDLAND PUBLISHING CO. PG. 216):

St Tikhon of Zadonsk
"Thou came into the world to Save sinners; therefore Thou came to Save Me also. Thou came to find and to Save those who was lost; therefore Thou came to seek me too, for I am one of the lost. O Lord, O my God and Creator! I should have come to Thee as a transgressor of Thy Law. I should have fallen at Thy Feet, cast myself down before Thee, humbly

St John Klimakos
Do not make judgements, and you will travel no quicker road to the Forgiveness of your sins. 'Judge not, so that you may not be judged!' (LUKE 6:37 & THE LADDER OF DIVINE ASCENT; PAULIST PRESS PG. 156)

St. Symeon the New Theologian
Jesus our Lord and God, Who has never fallen into sin, was smitten so that those sinners who imitate Him should not only receive the Forgiveness of the sins they have committed, but also become Partakers of His Divinity because of their Obedience. (2 PETER 1:4) He who does not accept this in Humility of heart because he is ashamed to imitate the Master's Sufferings, of him will Christ also be ashamed in the presence of the Angels and of His Father Who is in Heaven. (MARK. 8:38 &
MATTHEW 10:33)

This is what I mean to say - He was God, but He became Man for the sake of us men. He was slapped, spat upon, crucified - as though He Who is impassible

in His Godhead were teaching and telling each one of us for whom He suffered: 'O man, if you wish to become a god and obtain Eternal Life and to be with Me - that which your ancestor failed to obtain because he wished for it in an evil way then abase yourself even as I abased Myself for your sake. ‘Cast aside the boastful pride of the devilish mind; accept being beaten, spat upon, buffeted, and endure those things until death and be not ashamed of it.' (THE DISCOURSES; PAULIST PRESS PG. 232):
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11th Sunday AP - 11th of St Matt hew – The Unmercif ul Servant - 1 9 A ugust 201 2

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
All Glory, Honour and Wo rship to t he Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and unto the Ages of ages. Amen. Remembering also our Most Holy, Most Pure, Most Blessed and Glorious Lady, Maria, Theotokos, yet Ever Virgin, together with all the Saints. And let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole Life to Christ our God. Amen.

12th Sunday After Pentecost 12th

Tone 3

26 August 2012

Sunday of St Matthew – Eternal Life

Also the Feast of St Adrian & St Natalia & their 33 Fellow Martyrs of Nicomedia - St Adrian, Abbot of Ondrusov, Valaam – Commemoration of the Vladimir Icon of our Lady Theotokos and the deliverance of Moscow from invasion – St Adrian of Uglich – St Joasaph, son of St Abenner the King
Resurrection Apolytikion – TONE 3

Evfrenestho ta Ourania,

agaliastho ta epigia, oti epiise Kratos en Vrahioni Aftou O Kyrios. Epatise to Thanato ton Thanaton.Prototokos ton nekron egeneto. Ek kilias Adou errisato imas ke pareshe to kosmo to Mega Eleos.

Let the Heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad, for the
Lord has shown Strength with His Arm; He has trampled down Death by Death; He has become the First-born of the dead; from the womb of Hades He has delivered us, and to the world He has granted Great Mercy.
TONE 3

Festal Apolytikion –St Adrian & St Natalia -

Anafereton,

olvon igiso, tin sotirion, Pistin trismakar, katalipon tin Patroan asevian. Ke to Despoti kat’ ihnos epomenos, kateploutisthis entheis harismasin. Adriane endoxe, Hriston ton Theon iketeve, omou sin Natalia ti Theofroni,

Undeniable Bliss Thou enjoyed, in the Saving Faith Most
Bless, having left the paternal impiety; and of the Master the steps having followed, Thou were enriched with Godly and Pious Gifts: O Glorious Adrian, Intercede with Christ our God, along with Natalia the Godly-minded.

Festal Kontakion – Nativity of the Ever Blessed Theotokos

Ioakim

ke Anna onidismou ateknias, ke Adam ke Eva ek tis fthoras tou thanatou ileftherothisan Ahrante, en ti Agia gennisi Sou. Aftin eortazi ke o laos sou, enohis ton ptesmaton, litrothis en to krazin si: i stira tikti tin Theotokon, ke trofon tis zois imon.

By thy Holy Nativity, O Most Undefiled One, Joachim and
Anna were freed from the scorn of childlessness, and Adam and Eve from death’s corruption. This is the Feast now observed by thy people, who from the guilt of their errors, were delivered as they cry out to thee: the barren one bear the Theotokos, and our life’s Sustainer!

Prokeimenon
Sing Praises to our God! Sing Praises to our King! Clap your hands, all you Nations!

St Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians 15 : 1 - 11
Witnesses to the Resurrection

Brethren: I declare to you the Gospel, which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand – by which also you are Saved - If you hold fast that Word which I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again on the Third Day, according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the Twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred Brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After than He was seen by James, then by all the Apostles. Then, last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the Apostles, who am not worthy to be called ‘an Apostle,’ because I persecuted the Church of God. But, by the Grace of God, I am what I am, and His Grace towards me was not in vain; and I laboured more abundantly than them all – yet not I, but the Grace of God which was with me. Therefore - whether it was me or them - so we preach and so you believed. This concise statement of the Holy Gospel of Christ is APOSTLES, WHICH IS METICULOUSLY PRESERVED AND probably PART OF AN EARLY CREED OR CATECHISM. [SEE PASSED ON to the following generations. [SEE 1 CORINTHIANS
PSALM 16:9-12; GALATIANS 1:4 & 1 JOHN 2:2 & 4:10] 11:2 & 23; GALATIANS 1:9; PHILIPPIANS 4:9; 1 THESSALONIANS 2 : 13 & 4:1]

St Paul delivered AN APOSTOLIC TRADITION OF CHRIST’S RESURRECTION, WHICH IS UNCHANGING AND SUFFICIENT FOR SALVATION, which he had received directly from our Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, which was later confirmed by his interactions with the original Apostles in Jerusalem, and the whole Church of Christ. [GALATIANS
2:2-10]

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO DECIPHER THE EXACT SOURCE OF DIVINE KNOWLEDGE – the Knowledge and Understanding granted to St Paul by the Will of the Father, through the Son and by the Action of the Holy Spirit – that enabled him to be such an erudite, Inspired and wise Teacher of Divine Truth – AND WHAT HE ALSO LEARNT FROM THE OTHER HOLY APOSTLES OF CHRIST. To St Paul HIS TEACHING OF THE HOLY GOSPEL FORMED A SEAMLESS WHOLE. To “receive” designates the passing on of Holy Tradition – PASSING ON THE DIVINE TEACHINGS OF CHRIST AND HIS

St Paul listed those who would testify to the Truth of the Resurrection – from the very first witnesses to himself. What is Christianity without the Resurrection – both the Glorious Resurrection of Christ and ours, which we all anticipate? THE PASSION – THE VOLUNTARY SACRIFICE - OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST WITHOUT HIS GLORIOUS RESURRECTION WOULD NOT HAVE BENEFITTED US AT ALL. WHAT USE IS FORGIVENESS OF OUR SPIRITUAL DEBTS, TRANSGRESSIONS OR SINS IF WE REMAINED DEAD – if there was not Eternal Life to anticipate and prepare for. THE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST ARE TRANSFORMED BY HIS RESURRECTION, which is what our Holy Fathers have preached above everything else throughout the ages.

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12th Sunday After Pente cost - 12th Of St Matthew – Eternal Life

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The Holy Gospel According to St Matthew 19 : 16 - 30
Earthly Riches and Eternal Life in the Kingdom of Heaven

At that time someone went and said to our Lord Jesus: “Good Teacher, what Good Thing shall I do that I may have Eternal Life?” And He said to him: “Why do you call Me ‘Good’? No one is Good except One – that is: God! And if you want to enter into Life, keep the Commandments.” He asked Him: “Which Commandments?” Jesus replied: “’Thou shalt not nurder... Thou shalt not commit adultery... Thou shalt not steal... Thou shalt not bear false witness... Honour thy father and thy mother...’ and ‘Thou shalt Love thy neighbour as thyself.’” The young man said to Him: “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him: “If you want to be Perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor; and you will have Treasure in Heaven; and come: follow Me!” Yet when the young man heard His Words, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus said to His Disciples: “Truly, I say to you that it is difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. And again, I say to you: it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” When His Disciples heard that, they were greatly astonished, saying: “Who then can be Saved?” And Jesus looked at them and said: “With men this is impossible – but with God all things are possible.” It has frequently been proved that THE MORE WE SHARE THE RICH YOUNG MAN HAD NOT TRIED TO TEST OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, BUT INSTEAD, GENUINELY SOUGHT HIS WITH OTHERS, THE MORE BLESSED WE ARE! ADVICE, regarding Him to be no more than a most In fact, WHATEVER WE DO FOR OTHERS - WHETHER GOOD Wise and Truthful Teacher. OR WICKED – IS RETURNED “A HUNDREDFOLD” to us in CHRIST’S RESPONSE TO THE YOUNG MAN DID NOT DENY HIS so many different ways! OWN DIVINITY BUT WAS INTENDED TO LEAD HIM TO THE ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM taught us that the giving away of our earthly possessions is the least of Christ’s REALISATION OF HIS TRUE DIVINE IDENTITY. instructions because FAITHFULLY FOLLOWING OUR V Furthermore, CHRIST GUIDED EVERYONE TO A L W A Y S LORD JESUS CHRIST IS A FAR GREATER AND MORE G I V E G L O R Y T O A L M I G H T Y G O D – the Holy DIFFICULT CALLING – YET IT IS FAR MORE Trinity – Who always works in Perfect Unison. FORMAL OBSERVANCE OF GOD’S COMMANDMENTS DOES FULFILLING AND REWARDING THAN THE ENTIRE NOT MAKE ANYONE RIGHTEOUS IN THE SIGHT OF GOD. EARTHLY WEALTH! The debates concerning “the eye of a needle” have THE RICH YOUNG MAN HAD AN EARNEST DESIRE FOR been many and varied. ETERNAL LIFE YET HE REALISED THAT HE LACKED V OUR LORD OFTEN USED EXTREME CONTRASTS TO SOMETHING VITAL TO ITS ACQUISITION, compelling EMPHASISE HIS TEACHINGS – SO THAT PEOPLE him to press our Lord for a more direct REALLY UNDERSTOOD THE ENORMITY AND Commandment. V TO ACHIEVE SPIRITUAL PERFECTION, W E M U S T SIGNIFICANCE. WILLINGLY SACRIFICE EVERYTHING WE Some have replaced the word ”camel” with “rope” – IT HAVE - WHATEVER HOLDS US BACK FROM IS ALSO UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE TO THREAD ROPE FOLLOWING CHRIST. THROUGH THE EYE OF A NEEDLE. GOD DOES NOT REQUIRE THE SAME SACRIFICE FROM Others see it as follows: SMALL DOORS WERE SET INTO EVERYONE FOR EACH OF OUR CIRCUMSTANCES ARE THE LARGE PROTECTIVE CITY GATES, which could not UNIQUE. be entered by beasts laden with goods. So the GOD KNOWS US FAR BETTER THAN WE CAN EVER KNOW BURDENS HAD TO BE REMOVED BEFORE THE ANIMAL OURSELVES and in the case of the rich young man, AND THEN THE GOODS COULD BE SQUEEZED THROUGH CHRIST KNEW EXACTLY WHAT KEPT HIM FROM THE SMALL OPENING. SPIRITUAL PERFECTION. WE, TOO, MUST OFFLOAD OUR WORLDLY PERHAPS THE RICH YOUNG MAN MERELY WANTED TO LIVE FOREVER IN C O N C E R N S B E F O R E W E E N T E R C H U R C H FOR ORDER TO CONTINUE ENJOYING THE PLEASURES OF SELFCOMMUNAL WORSHIP AND PRAYERS, IN ORDER TO GIVE INDULGENCE OF HIS WORLDLY WEALTH AND SOCIAL STATUS – I.E. OUR FULL ATTENTION TO GOD AND HIS HOLY HIS DESIRE FOR ETERNAL LIFE MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE CRAVING OF THE FLESH RATHER THAN FOR THE SAKE OF HIS IMMORTAL SOUL! MYSTERIES. And ESPECIALLY BEFORE WE DIE, WE MUST WE Therefore OUR LORD TOLD THE YOUNG MAN TO FREE OFFLOAD/CONQUER OUR ATTACHMENT AND OBSESSION HIMSELF FROM ALL HIS WORLDLY POSSESSIONS THAT
HE LOVED SO MUCH BECAUSE HIS GREEDY OBSESSION WITH HIS MATERIAL WEALTH WAS NOT PUT TO ITS PROPER USE – IT WAS NOT SHARED WITH OTHERS WHO WERE LESS BLESSED. WHEN GOD BESTOWS AN ABUNDANCE OF BLESSINGS ON US, IT IS IMPERATIVE TO SHARE THEM WITH O T H E R S , because, unless we do so, OUR MATERIAL POSSESSIONS WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL AND CAUSE OUR FINAL, ETERNAL CONDEMNATION. WITH WORLDLY POSSESSIONS BEFORE WE ARE ABLE TO ENTER ETERNAL LIFE IN GOD’S HEAVENLY KINGDOM OF LOVE.

Naturally, the question arises: “Who then can be Saved?” And as usual, OUR LOVING AND COMPASSIONATE LORD JESUS CHRIST ASSURES US T H A T E V E R Y T H I N G BECOMES POSSIBLE BY DIVINE GRACE – EVEN THE MOST INCREDULOUS THINGS!

The Inheritance of Eternal Life
All of Holy Writ, both the Old and the New Testaments, the whole of the Holy Gospel, the entire Teaching of the Orthodox Church, all the Holy Fathers in their works and writings, all the Heavenly Beauty of our Orthodox Divine Services in their Psalmody and Prayers, all of the Canons and Statutes of the Church — ALL OF THESE CALL UPON US TO KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS: BOTH THOSE OF A MORAL, AS WELL AS THOSE OF A DOCTRINAL, ORDER. According to the Teachings of the Holy Church, it is necessary for those who desire to be Saved, first of all, to BELIEVE CORRECTLY IN GOD AND TO BELONG TO THE TRUE ORTHODOX CHURCH — and not to a false one; to BE CLEANSED from sins through Repentance; to PRAY FREQUENTLY; to OBSERVE THE FASTS and to COMMUNE AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE of the Chalice of Christ's Holy Mysteries. It is unconditionally important for those desirous of Inheriting Eternal Life to REMAIN FAITHFUL TO THE TEACHINGS OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH AND TO BE ZEALOUS FOR GOD AND HIS ALL-HOLY TRUTH, AS WELL AS FOR PIETY. In the Holy Gospel, the Lord says: “...having come, shall I find Faith on earth?” IN THE LAST DAYS, FAITH WILL DIMINISH among mankind because they will be no longer be zealous about preserving it in all its Purity; it will diminish in the number of Zealots and Defenders of the Orthodox Confession of Faith.

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During this present time of universal Apostasy and being, at best, lukewarm in matters of Salvation in a “...world lying in evil...” and falling away from the Truth, the word "zealot" has acquired a rather negative connotation. It is perceived as something abnormal - as some sort of “...zeal not according to reason.” Those Orthodox Christians who somehow - to the extent that they are able to do so - try to be zealous for the Lord and for their own Salvation, and in no way whatsoever think to imagine themselves as some sort of distinctly unusual zealots are
MOCKED BY THOSE WHO ARE LUKEWARM IN THEIR OWN FAITH. THEY MOCK THEM IN ALL MANNER OF WAYS, sharpening

Martyrs and Confessors, manifested GOOD EXAMPLES OF PROFOUND AND MIGHTY SPIRITUAL ZEAL FOR GOD AND THE FAITHFUL FULFILMENT OF HIS DIVINE TEACHINGS AND COMMANDMENTS. This example of SPIRITUAL ZEAL WAS ALSO MANIFESTED by the Holy New-Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, who - AT THE PRICE OF THEIR LIVES AND WITH THEIR BLOOD, AT THE PRICE OF TERRIBLE DEPRIVATIONS – REMAINED STEADFASTLY ZEALOUS FOR THE ORTHODOX FAITH AND DIVINE TRUTH, never having bent their knee to Baal beneath an alien yoke together with infidels and persecutors of Christ’s Holy Church. This Holy Zeal for God to which our Lord calls us must be expressed not only in active defence of our Orthodox Christian Faith, but also in the daily fulfilment of Christ's Commandments; in kindling Love for God and neighbour within our hearts; in exhibiting Merciful Kindness and Condescension towards our Brethren in Christ and others; in magnanimously bearing offences and affronts; in compassionately forgiving our neighbours’ transgressions against us; in being nonjudgemental and kindling within ourselves a spirit of Humility and Meekness. Our Lord Jesus Christ instructed us to “... learn from Me... for I Am Meek and Lowly in heart.”
(MATTHEW 11, 29)

their tongues and attempting to be witty in their own definitions, distorting and twisting the meaning and genuine sense of the word “zealot” - calling those who are eager for Divine Truth “fanatics,” “extremists,” “rebels,” and other such senseless labels. However, in Holy Scripture, the Lord God Himself says: “I, the Lord thy God, Am a jealous God!” (EXODUS
20: 5).

And, further on in the Book of Exodus, it is written, concerning God: “His Name is ‘jealous;’ He is a jealous God.” (EXODUS 34:14) St Paul the Apostle wrote to the Galatians: “...it is good to be zealous always in Good Things.”
(GALATIANS 4: 18).

And, finally, in the Revelation of St John the Theologian, the Lord calls out to us: “...be zealous...!”
(REVELATION: 3, 19).

Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself manifested examples of zeal for us in His earthly Life, Sermons, and Suffering and Death upon the Cross for the Redemption and Salvation of the entire human race. Our Saviour - exhibiting His zeal for the Sanctity of the Temple of God - chased out all those who were selling and buying. And our Lord's Disciples - His Holy Apostles remembered the words of the Holy Psalmist and Prophet, King David, who had spoken in the Name of Jesus Christ: “...Zeal for Thine House doth consume Me!” (PSALM 68: 9 - LXX) The manner of their daily Life and Spiritual Feats of All the Holy Forefathers, Prophets, Apostles, Bishops, Venerable and Righteous Ones, Fools-for-Christ, One of Elder Porphyrios’ Spiritual Children related how he taught them to pray: “We stood facing East – two of us to his left and two to the right. ”He said: ‘Now we will pray noetically. First, I will say the words, and you will repeat them. But be careful, without anxiety or force, you will say the words calmly, humbly with Love and with sweetness.’ ”Father Porphyrios started off with his fine, delicate and eloquent voice: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me...’ ”He said the words slowly – one by one – without forcing them at all. It was a though he had Christ before him and he was begging Him, with a long pause after the Name “Christ,” colouring the words

In the Book of Isaiah it is written: “...to this Man will I look ... to those who are poor and of a contrite spirit, and who tremble at My Word...” (ISAIAH 66: 2). In other words, God watches over those people who fulfil and are zealous for His Divine Commandments while being humbly aware of their own human weakness. Therefore, beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, let us beseech our Lord and His Most-Pure Mother, the Most-Holy Bogoroditsa [Theotokos], and also all the God-pleasers [the Heavenly Hosts and all the Saints] that the Lord might be merciful toward us and grant us, to the extent of our Strength, this Holy Zeal for the Faith and for Piety, for the fulfilment of His Holy Commandments and for our Salvation. Amen.
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Elder Porphyrios’ Teaching of the Prayer of the Heart
“... have Mercy on me...” with a profoundly entreating tone. ”And we repeated each word, trying to imitate his stance, the colour of his voice and if at all possible, his Spiritual Disposition. ”At some point, Elder Porphyrios stopped saying the Prayer aloud and simply continued whispering it with his lips. We did the same. ”How long did our Evening Prayer take? I do not remember. ”All I remember was that Father Porphyrios had imparted such an amazing emotion to us that it is inexpressible with human words!”
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May God grant you Wisdom!

(Letters of Father John Krestiankin)
But WHOEVER CHOOSES HIS PATH, SHOULD NOT BE DOUBLE-MINDED ABOUT IT and swing back and forth between the world and the Monastery. The old Russian saying is not without wisdom: ‘Measure seven times and cut only once.’ This is something that we have forgotten how to do. WE DO NOT THINK THINGS OVER AND TRY THINGS ON, we just cut carelessly, and it always turns out to be very painful. I do not know any Elders who try to invade upon the Divine Determination, which says that PEOPLE UP TO THE LAST DAYS OF THE WORLD WILL MARRY, GIVE

There is no such refuge as the one about which you write – not for the Monk, nor for the layman - in everything and always, for the whole of our life, there is only endless trekking, labour and sickness – for the Monk as well as the layman. THE PATHS ARE A LITTLE DIFFERENT, BUT THE GOAL IS THE SAME. Do not break this existence into two parts – the world and the Monastery. THERE IS MONASTIC LIFE AND FAMILY LIFE – AND BOTH ARE BLESSED BY GOD.

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BIRTH, RAISE THEIR CHILDREN, AND BE SAVED THROUGH ALL THIS. PEOPLE MUST DO WHATEVER THEY ARE ABLE TO DO along

their Life’s Path. THE LORD BLESSES one thing for one person, and another thing for others. I am an old man, and during the time of my youth, when the traditional order of life was clearly falling apart, GRACE-ENDOWED PEOPLE WERE NEVER SO BOLD AS TO ANNOUNCE THE END OF HISTORY! Now there are a lot of bold people [WHO DARE TO PREDICT THE END OF THIS WORLD], but WE HAVE TO CONTINUE LIVING, WE HAVE TO SAVE OURSELVES, AND GOD’S GREAT MERCY IS THE SAME AS IT ALWAYS WAS. However, we have become so much cruder that ONLY
TANGIBLE BLOWS IN LIFE BRING US A LITTLE CLOSER TO THE AWARENESS OF OUR FRAGILITY AND TURN US TO GOD.

THERE IS NO PEACE. There never is Peace, and the Lord Himself brought not Peace but a Sword to the world. Now this Sword of the Lord severs to the uttermost depths, while COMFORT, CONSOLATION, AND AN UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT IS HAPPENING CAN ONLY BE FOUND IN FAITH – ONLY IN GOD AND WITH GOD. May God grant you this main Awareness, and your soul will then come to THIRST FOR LIFE IN THE WORLD WITH GOD ALONE – FOR GOD ALONE AND FOR PEOPLE IN GOD. May God grant you Wisdom! GIVE THANKS TO GOD FOR EVERYTHING. That we have found ourselves in His Holy Church is not our right but a Gift of God. Acquaint yourself more deeply with the Life of St John Chrysostom who will console you and help you.
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Glory to God for All Things – On the heart of darkness & the Dawn of Mercy
THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS NOT ABOUT IDEAS – IT IS ABOUT THINGS THAT ARE. As such, we do not need to cultivate Theological systems – we need to know how to live. This also tells us something about darkness. The dangers we face are not found in mistaken ideas – they are found in the negation of what is. Scripture says that our adversary was a “murderer from the beginning.” It is existence that he hates, although he does not have the power to cause anything to cease to be. IT IS GOD ALONE WHO BRINGS US INTO EXISTENCE AND GOD ALONE WHO SUSTAINS ALL THINGS. And yet, we encounter darkness. I have seen two kinds of darkness (surely there are more). One is the darkness that resembles despair. I have both seen this in others and walked there myself. It is a darkness that is easy to pity and towards which Mercy comes swiftly. Despair can take you to the brink and beyond, but it is not poisonous. The second kind of darkness bears almost no similarity to the first. CS Lewis captured a picture of this darkness in his novel, “Perelandra.” There the “Unman” (Satan using a dead man’s body) pursues an opportunity to cause a second planet to “fall.” There is a great dialogue in which the Unman engages Perelandra’s Eve. But it is in less grand settings that the darkness reveals itself. As the hero, Ransom, follows the Unman’s trail, he finds small acts of cruelty, a frog needlessly tortured and left to die; then another and another…. These petty acts of meanness point to a deeper darkness that is simply marked by hatred. …He told himself that a creature of that kind [the frog] probably had very little sensation. But it did not much mend matters. It was not pity for pain that had suddenly changed the rhythm of his heart-beats. The thing was an intolerable obscenity, which afflicted him with shame. It would have been better, or so he thought at that moment, for the whole universe never to have existed than for this one thing to have happened…. The energy of hatred is black. The real thing (and I’ve seen it – if you’ve strayed to the wrong places on the internet – even the ‘Orthodox’ internet – then you’ve seen it, too) is a vapid darkness that steals the breath. It cannot be engaged without staining everything it contacts. It bathes in shame and spews it forth. To acknowledge its very existence is to risk a kind of damnation (from which CHRIST RESCUES US). It is hard to imagine this darkness as having a human face, but it often does. I understand the tragedy and the pain of despair. There are those who imagine suicide as the worst of sins, but it is as nothing in the Face of the Great Mercy of God. I do not hesitate to pray with confidence for such souls, for although the pain of their darkness was dark to them“... the darkness and the light are both alike to God.” (PSALM 139:12) I do not understand the second kind of darkness and do not know how to enter such a place in order to bring someone out. I believe that CHRIST DOES so, and that HE KNOWS BOTH THE PATH OF ENTRY AND CREATES THE WAY OF EXIT. THE SOULS WHO HAVE EMBRACED SUCH DARKNESS ARE NOT BEYOND THE MERCY AND KINDNESS OF GOD ( ”... for He is kind to the unthankful and evil.” [LUKE 6:35]) I believe this to be so because I TRUST IN THE KINDNESS OF GOD. But I do not understand it. I BELIEVE IN THE GOODNESS OF GOD. The darkness of evil is not anything. It is not a creation of God; it has no being. It is a direction and a movement away from Goodness and being. In most cases it is a stumbling and a falling away. It is only in rare instances that it becomes a willing force that pushes away all Goodness and despises existence itself (not its own so much as that of others). This malevolence (literally “evil willing”) is described as a “mystery” that God will destroy. (REFER 2 THESSALONIANS 2:7) It is because the Christian Faith is about things that are and not theories or ideas - that I often resist various theologies that are grounded in concepts of “justice.” Although justice makes an attempt to address the problem of evil, it only compounds matters, offering little more than a theoretical need for evil to suffer yet more. Justice is used as well in an attempt to describe Christ’s Atonement. But in such models, evil presents a need for balance and payment, when the true existential crisis is the need for rescue and for evil’s destruction. HUMANITY HAS NO NEED FOR SUCH JUSTICE. GOD HAS NO NEEDS. The sound of human need is more visceral: “Who will go there to bring them home? Who will come here to deliver me?” I am reminded again of C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra. There, the hero Ransom (whose name and work mirror Christ), discovered that his mission was not to engage the Unman in conversation. Conversations with evil grant a nobility that does not exist. OUR OWN
TALK ABOUT EVIL WITH THEORIES OF BALANCE AND ATONEMENT ARE EQUALLY FRUITLESS. Ransom

discovered that his mission was simply to destroy the Unman. The Orthodox approach to human sin and the darkness that afflicts us is equally to the point: “Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down Death by Death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing Life!” God gave St Paul a Ministry for us: ”... to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to Light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive Forgiveness of sins and an Inheritance among those who are Sanctified by Faith in Me.” (ACTS 26:18). May God grant us Light and destroy all the works of darkness. (http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com)

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Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
All Glory, Honour and Worship to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and unto the Ages of ages. Amen. Rememberi ng also our Mos t Holy, M os t Pure, Mos t Blessed and Gl ori ous Lad y, Maria, Theotokos, yet Ever Virgin, together with all the Saints. And let us commit ourselves and one anothe r and our whole Life to Christ our God. Amen.

29 August 2012 The Beheading of St John the Baptist & Forerunner
Also the Feast of St Theopistis of Aegena - St Anastasios the New Martyr of Stumitza, Bulgaria – St Theodora of Thessalonika

BEHEADING OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST BY ST ELIZABETH’S HOLY CONVENT

Festal Apolytikion – Beheading of St John the Baptist & Forerunner

Mnimi

Dikeou met engomion; si de arkesi i martiria tou Kyriou Prodrome; anedihthis gar ontos ke Profiton sevamioteros, oti ke en rithris Vaptise katihiothis ton kiritomenon. Othen tis Alithias iperathlisas, heron evingeliso ke tis en Adi: Theo fanerothenta en Sarki, ton eronta tin amartian tou kosmou, ke parehonta imin to Mega Eleos.

The

memory of the Just is praised; but for Thee shall suffice, the Witness of the Lord, O Forerunner; for Thou hast truly come forth as more honoured than the Prophets, since Thou proved worthy to Baptise, in the streams, the one they preached of. Thus, having contended for the Truth supremely, with Joy Thou brought the Good News, even to those in Hades: O God Who did appear in the flesh, and took away the sin of the world, and grants to all His Great Mercy.

Festal Kontakion – Nativity of the Ever Blessed Theotokos

Ioakim

ke Anna onidismou ateknias, ke Adam ke Eva ek tis fthoras tou thanatou ileftherothisan Ahrante, en ti Agia gennisi Sou. Aftin eortazi ke o laos sou, enohis ton ptesmaton, litrothis en to krazin si: i stira tikti tin Theotokon, ke trofon tis zois imon.

By thy Holy Nativity, O Most Undefiled One, Joachim and
Anna were freed from the scorn of childlessness, and Adam and Eve from death’s corruption. This is the Feast now observed by thy people, who from the guilt of their errors, were delivered as they cry out to thee: the barren one bear the Theotokos, and our life’s Sustainer!

Matins Gospel According to St Matthew 14 : 1 – 13
The Unjust Martyrdom of St John the Baptist

At that time, Herod the Tetrarch heard the report about Jesus and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he is Resurrected from the dead, and therefore these Powers are at work in him.” For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and imprisoned him for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because John had said to him: “It is unlawful for you to have her.” And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they regarded John as a Prophet. But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. So she – having been prompted by her mother, said: “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter!” And the King was sorry; nevertheless, because of his oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her. And he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought and presented on a platter to the girl, and she took it to her mother. Then his Disciples went and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitude heard about it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. THIS ACCOUNT WAS GIVEN PARENTHETICALLY, THEREBY prepared mankind for the Coming of our Eternal EXPLAINING ST JOHN THE BAPTIST’S EARLIER MARTYRDOM Saviour. SO THAT THOSE WHO HEARD IT WOULD UNDERSTAND WHY Consequently, there was no longer a need for any HEROD THOUGHT THAT ST JOHN THE BAPTIST HAD BEEN more Holy Prophets. RESURRECTED FROM THE DEAD. After Christ’s Death on the Cross and His Descent into and The Beheading of St John the Baptist is commemorated in His “Harrowing of Hades,” ALL DEPARTED SOULS WERE our Holy Church on 29 August with A DAY OF VERY GRANTED THE OPPORTUNITY TO ACCEPT OR REJECT HIM AS STRICT FASTING.
AS AN IMPORTANT PART OF GOD’S PLAN OF SALVATION FOR ALL MANKIND, ST JOHN’S HOLY MARTYRDOM ALLOWED THE COMING OF THE MESSIAH TO BE ANNOUNCED TO THE SOULS IMPRISONED IN HADES. ALL IMMORTAL SOULS – BOTH THOSE OF UNREPENTANT SINNERS AND THE RIGHTEOUS WERE INFORMED BY ST JOHN THAT THE LONG-AWAITED MESSIAH HAD INDEED COME TO SAVE THE FALLEN, SIN DARKENED WORLD. OUR ETERNAL LORD GOD.

St John - as the Forerunner to Christ and the last great Holy Prophet of God according to the Old Covenant – had to depart from this life before our Lord Jesus in His human Nature could die and thus enter Hades, where, in His Divine Nature, He set souls free from Satan’s imprisonment – Hades – and also smashed open the Gates of Hades that shall never again prevail against repentant sinners. OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST FULFILLED ALL DIVINE PROPHESY as revealed to us through His Holy Prophets, who had

NEVER AGAIN WOULD THERE BE SUCH AN OPPORTUNITY FOR US TO REPENT OUR SINS AFTER DEATH! Despite the efforts of St John the Baptist and the Love of God, CERTAIN WICKED AND STUBBORN SOULS REFUSED GOD’S DIVINE MERCY AND LOVE, preferring the company of similar wicked and disgusting souls and demons!
THOSE WHO RECEIVED CHRIST WITH JOY AND GRATITUDE, WERE GRANTED ETERNAL LIFE, and now rest in Peace in

the re-opened Paradise until our Final Judgement at the Re-Appearance in the Flesh or the Second Glorious Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. During Matins, we sing to St John the Baptist: “Thy tongue, which constantly speaks of God, has preceded Christ into Death, and is sent to Preach Him to those in Hades.”

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HEROD,

who was one of four Rulers under the Roman domination, with all his wealth and power, actually FEARED ST JOHN THE BAPTIST – a simple and humble man who lived in abject poverty and who was clothed with plain garments made from rough camel’s hair.

UNLAWFUL CO-HABITATION WITH HIS BROTHER’S WIFE, THE WICKED HERODIAS. ST JOHN’S OBEDIENCE TO GOD WAS SO PROFOUND THAT HE PREFERRED DEATH OVER ANY SORT OF COMPROMISE.

HEROD’S FEAR OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST TESTIFIED TO THE POWER, ANGELIC LIFE AND GENUINE INTEGRITY OF THE HOLY PROPHET OF GOD, AS WELL AS TO THE PEOPLE’S PERCEPTION AND VENERATION OF ST JOHN WHOM THEY HELD IN THE HIGHEST ESTEEM. Furthermore, ST JOHN THE BAPTIST IS COMMEMORATED FOR HIS HUMBLE AND UTTER OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW OF GOD in general, and as A HOLY DEFENDER OF THE SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE in particular, WHICH WAS EVIDENT FROM HIS LOUD AND VEHEMENT CONDEMNATION OF KING HEROD’S

At Holy Vespers we chant to St John: “When Thy head was cut off, Thou revealed to us the Law of God, abolishing man’s disobedience to the Law.” Because the account of St John the Baptist’s Holy Martyrdom is given parenthetically, St Theophylact believed that when our Lord Jesus “... heard it...” HE
REACTED TO THE ERRONEOUS BELIEF OF KING HEROD THAT CHRIST WAS THE RESURRECTED ST JOHN THE BAPTIST –

that our Lord Jesus was St John who had been raised from the dead.

The Holy Gospel According to St Mark 6 : 14 – 30
The Beheading of St John the Baptist & Forerunner to Christ

At that time, King Herod heard of our Lord Jesus, for His Name had become well known. And he said: “John the Baptist is risen from the dead, and therefore these Powers are worked in Him.” Others said: “It is Elijah.” And others said: “It is the Prophet, or one of the Prophets.” But when Herod heard, he said: “This is John, whom I beheaded; for he has been raised from the dead!” For Herod himself had send and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, the wife of his brother, Philip - for he had married her - and because John had said to Herod: “It is unlawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Therefore Herodias had held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a Just and Holy Man, and he protected him. And when Herod had heard John, he did many things, and had heard him gladly. Then an opportune day arose when Herod, on his birthday, gave a Feast for his noblemen, the high officers, and the chief men of Galilee. And when Herodias’ daughter herself went in and danced, and pleased Herod and those who sat with him, the King said to the girl: “Whatever you ask of me, I will give you – up to half my kingdom!” So she went out and asked her mother: “For what shall I ask?” And Herodias answered: “The head of John the Baptist!” Without delay she hastened to the King and said: “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist – on a platter!” And the King was exceedingly sorry; yet, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately Herod sent an executioner and commanded John’s head to be brought. So he went and beheaded him in prison, took his head on a platter, and presented it to the girl; and she gave it to her mother. When John’s Disciples heard of it, they went and took away his body and laid it in a tomb. Then the Disciples went to Jesus and told Him everything – both what they had done and what they had taught. OUR DIVINE TEACHER, OUR DIVINE PROPHET AND This King Herod was the son of King Herod “the OUR DIVINE KING! Great” who – having heard of the newborn Great King D e u t e r o n o m y 1 8 : 1 5 “The Lord your God will raise (our Lord Jesus Christ) from the Magi - had issued the up for you a Prophet like me from your Brethren. orders that lead to the terrible “Slaughter of the Him you shall hear... the Lord said to me: ‘... I Innocents” – when all male children who were two will raise up for them a Prophet like you from years or younger, were put to the sword without among their Brethren, and I will put My Word in exception or the smallest sign of mercy. His Mouth, and He shall speak to them all I Although technically only a tetrarch ruler – one of command Him..’” four Governors elected by the Roman oppressors ® At the time of St Moses, IT WAS FIRST NECESSARY – Herod was known as “King.” However, his powers of authority as Governor were limited to his area of rule. V Knowing that St John the Baptist had performed several Miracles while alive, HEROD WAS UTTERLY
CONVINCED BY HIS OWN BELIEFS THAT OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST WAS ST JOHN THE BAPTIST WHO HAD BEEN RAISED FROM THE DEAD – erroneously

FOR THE PEOPLE TO BE TESTED AND TO LEARN TO FEAR GOD AND NOT TO COMMIT SIN, FOR THEY WERE TOO IGNORANT AND INATTENTIVE to hear

about another Great Holy Prophet of God Who was to come later. ® Because the Israelites failed the test, they died in the desert. THEY REFUSED TO OBEY OR PUT
INTO PRACTICE EVERYTHING THAT GOD’S HOLY PROPHET, ST MOSES, TRIED SO HARD TO TEACH THEM. LIKEWISE, WE TOO, WILL FAIL THE TEST AND “DIE IN THE DESERT” THROUGH OUR OWN CHOICES AND SPIRITUAL STUBBORNNESS - WE WILL SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES OF ETERNAL CONDEMNATION TO SPIRITUAL EXILE FROM GOD – ETERNAL SPIRITUAL DEATH! Consequently, ALL THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO REJECT THE DIVINE WILL AND TEACHINGS OF ALMIGHTY GOD (WHO LOVES US AND WHO SEEKS OUR REDEMPTION AND SALVATION) WILL NEITHER ENTER NOR ENJOY THE GLORIOUS BLISS, LOVE AND PEACE OF ETERNAL LIFE IN THE PROMISED LAND – GOD’S HEAVENLY KINGDOM.

believing that such Divine “...Powers are worked in him.” ® Consequently, HEROD FEARED ST JOHN THE

®

V

BAPTIST EVEN MORE THAN WHEN HE HAD BEEN ALIVE. SOME THOUGHT THAT OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST WAS ST ELIJAH THE TISHBITE AND HOLY PROPHET OF GOD WHO WAS EXPECTED TO RETURN AND TO WORK MANY MIRACLES BEFORE THE SECOND COMING OF THE LORD.

®

M a l a c h i 3 : 2 2 - 2 3 ”Behold: I will send you Elijah before the Coming of the Great and Glorious Day of the Lord. And he will turn the heart of the father to his son, and a man’s heart to his neighbour...” ® ST ELIJAH THE TISHBITE (WHO REPRESENTS THE HOLY PROPHETS
OF GOD WHO PREPARED THE PEOPLE FOR THE COMING OF THE MESSIAH)

and ST MOSES

Others have interpreted their reference to “The Prophet” as meaning that THEY RECOGNISED CHRIST AS A NEW
HOLY PROPHET OF GOD WHO HAD BEEN SENT TO PREPARE THE PEOPLE FOR THE COMING OF THE GREAT MESSIAH OR SAVIOUR. However, our Lord came to live amongst us in order TO FIRST GATHER UP HIS LOST SHEEP OF THE OLD COVENANT ISRAEL and then TO ENLIGHTEN, GUIDE AND HEAL HIS NEW COVENANT FLOCK – THE NEW ISRAEL – I.E. HIS FAITHFUL DISCIPLES, WHO, HAVING FREELY CHOSEN TO PUT ON CHRIST AT HOLY BAPTISM CONTINUE TO

(WHO GAVE US THE DIVINE LAWS OF

V

WERE PRESENT WITH OUR LORD JESUS ON MOUNT TABOR AT HIS GLORIOUS TRANSFIGURATION. (MATTHEW 17: 1 – 13) ® THE GIVER OF THE LAW OF MOSES (THE WORD AND SON OF GOD AND OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST) WOULD SOON BECOME INCARNATE Those who believed OUR LORD JESUS WAS “THE PROPHET” meant that THEY BELIEVED HE WAS THE MESSIAH – THE ONE OF WHOM ST MOSES HAD FORETOLD. ® OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST INDEED FULFILS THREE SIGNIFICANT AND ESSENTIAL DIVINE ROLES: HE IS
GOD WHEREBY WE MUST LIVE WHILE ON EARTH)

LIVE IN

CHRIST FOREVER.
REFER TO PREVIOUS EXPLANATORY NOTES ON THE MATINS GOSPEL LESSON

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The Beheading of St John the Baptist & Forerunner
The wicked King who so unjustly and foolishly ordered the Beheading of St John the Baptist & Forerunner to Christ our Saviour, was Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Galilee, the son of the Herod the Great. Herod Antipas had a lawful wife – the daughter of Arethas, King of Arabia Petraea, who was mentioned by St Paul in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians. [2 Corinthians 11:32] Without any cause, and against every Commandment of Divine Law, he put her away and took Herodias, his sister-in-law as his wife. She was married to his brother, Philip, and they had a daughter, Salome. Herod Antipas refused to desist from their unlawful union even when St John the Baptist, the great Preacher of Repentance openly censured him. Thus, beside his many other wicked deeds, Herod added to his Eternal Condemnation by unjustly arresting and imprisoning St John the Baptist. He would, no doubt, have liked to execute him immediately but he not only feared the wrath of the people who held the Saint in great respect but he also feared the Wrath of God. Certainly, Herod Antipas also had great reverence for such a Just and Holy man, but, eventually, being pierced with the sting of mad lust for Herodias, he laid his defiled hands on the Teacher of Purity on the very day he celebrated his birthday. After Salome had danced in order to please him and those who were feasting with him, he promised her – with an oath more foolish than any foolishness – that he would give her anything she asked for – even half of his entire Kingdom – if only she would again dance for them. Having consulted with her treacherous mother, Salome then asked for the head of St John the Baptist “on a platter!” Hence this transgressor of Divine Law - preferring his lawless oath above the Precepts of God’s Law – fulfilled that ungodly promise and filled his loathsome banquet with the blood of the Holy Prophet of God. So it was that that All Venerable head – revered by the Angels of Heaven – was given as a prize for an abominable dance, and became the plaything of the dissolute daughter of a debauched mother. The body of the Divine Baptist, was taken up by his disciples, and placed in a tomb at Sebastia. [MARK 6:21
– 29)

dead Preacher of Repentance once more opened and loudly proclaimed: “Herod: thou should not have the wife of thy brother, Philip!” In a raging, terrified frenzy Herodias repeatedly stabbed the tongue of the Holy Prophet with a needle and then ordered his Holy Head to be cast into the most unclean place possible. However, St Joanna, the pious wife of Herod’s Steward, Chuza, located it and secretly buried it in an earthen vessel on the Mount of Olives, where Herod owned a section of land. After the murder of St John the Baptist, Herod Antipas continued to govern for a while and a few years later, Pontius Pilate, Governor of Judea, sent our Lord Jesus Christ to him, Whom he dared to mock.
(LUKE 23: 7 – 12)

The Judgement of God soon came upon Herod Antipas, Herodias and Salome, even during their earthly life. While crossing the River Sikoris in winter, Salome fell through the ice, which broke in such a manner that her body was trapped beneath in the icy water, while her head protruded over the ice. As she struggled to save herself, her frantic movements imitated how she had once danced so wildly – and suddenly the sharp edges of broken ice beheaded her, leaving her head on the ice while the fast flowing water beneath the ice swept her body away, never to be found again. Salome’s head was presented to Herod Antipas and the wicked Herodias, just as the Holy Prophet’s head had once been so mockingly presented during their banquet. Furthermore, King Aretas of Arabia, out of revenge for the disrespect shown to his daughter, declared war against Herod Antipas. Having suffered a great defeat, Herod Antipas was confronted by the terrifying wrath of the cruel Roman Emperor, Caius Caligua, who banished them to Gaul and then to Spain – a severe and cruel punishment at that time! The Feast day of the Beheading of St John the Baptist is a very strict Fasting day due to the grief of Faithful Christians at the violent, unjustified death of the greatest Holy Prophet of God. In certain Orthodox cultures, on this day, pious Christians do not use either platters or sharp knives and they do not eat any food that is round in shape.
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: THE BEHEADING OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST & FORERUNNER TO CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR

According to Holy Tradition, when the platter had been carried into the banqueting hall, Salome presented it to her evil mother whereupon the mouth of the I have always wrestled with the term “Wrath of God,” knowing that GOD IS UNCHANGEABLE AND LOVING. How can I understand this term and still believe in a Loving God? V F A T H E R P A T R I C K R E A R D O N gives a good perspective in his commentary on Psalm 6 (LXX): “Divine Wrath is not some sort of irritation; God does not become peeved or annoyed. The Wrath of God is infinitely more serious than a temper tantrum. It is a deliberate resolve in response to a specific state of the human soul. In St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, where the expression appears twelve times, the Anger of God describes His Activity towards the hard heart, the unrepentant, those sinners who turn the backs and deliberately refuse His Grace...”

http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com

What is meant by “the Wrath of God?”
GOD GIVES UP ON US.
[HE TURNS HIS SIGHT AWAY FROM US BUT HE PERPETUALLY AWAITS OUR REPENTANT RETURN]

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS NO LONGER ACTIVE IN US.[WHEN
WE ARE IN A STATE OF SPIRITUAL DEATH – SIN – THE HOLY SPIRIT CAN NO LONGER DWELL WITHIN US AND CO-OPERATE WITH US UNTIL WE REPENT AND RETURN TO SPIRITUAL LIFE ONCE AGAIN.]

WE BECOME DEAD TO GOD.[ SPIRITUAL DEATH IS OUR WILFUL,
SELF-INFLICTED ALIENATION FROM GOD AND HIS GOODNESS. WHILE WE STILL LIVE ON EARTH, BY MEANS OF REPENTANCE-CONFESSION, WE CAN RETURN TO SPIRITUAL LIFE. THUS THROUGHOUT OUR LIFESPAN WE CONTINUALLY GO FROM SPIRITUAL LIFE TO SPIRITUAL DEATH AND BACK AGAIN EACH TIME WE SIN AND REPENT. HOPEFULLY WE WILL NOT DIE IN A STATE OF SPIRITUAL DEATH, WHICH WILL THEN BECOME A PERMANENT ALIENATION FROM GOD AND ALL HIS GOODNESS!]

OUR CONSCIENCE BECOMES WHAT WE MAKE IT TO BE.[OUR CONSCIENCE IS THAT TINY REMNANT OF GOD THAT GUIDES
US TOWARDS ALL DIVINE GOODNESS, IN SEARCH OF OUR LOST DIVINE LIKENESS. WE NEED TO OBEY WHAT IT TELLS US TO DO, WHICH KEEPS US SAFE AND BRINGS US CLOSER TO GOD. HOWEVER, WHEN WE CONTINUALLY SUPPRESS, IGNORE OR SUFFOCATE OUR CONSCIENCE, WE EVENTUALLY BECOME SPIRITUALLY DEAD, OUR IMMORTAL SOUL BECOMES FLESHY AND WE REJECT AND IGNORE GOD AND ALL HIS GOODNESS – ALIENATED FROM GOD AND OUR FELLOW STRUGGLING SINNERS.]

WRATH THEN IS WHAT GOD DIRECTS TOWARD THE HARD HEARTED – THOSE WHO CONSCIOUSLY REJECT GOD. Yet St Paul believed that it is NOT THAT ACTION OF A GOD WHO IS ANNOYED OR PEEVED. (ROMANS 1: 24 – 32) So what is it? V S T P A U L - In his Epistle to the Romans - explained that Wrath is where

F A T H E R P A T R I C K wrote: “Three times in this passage, the Apostle Paul pounds the point home: ‘God gave them up...’” (ROMANS 1: 24, 26 & 28). “In this consists the Wrath of God: that He turns man lose, that He lets man go, hands him over, that He abandons man to his own choice of evil. “The full context of this passage deserves deep reflection, because the moral evils to which God

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delivers the hard of heart appears to be the very vices characteristic of our own times.
(ROMANS 1: 24 -32)

“These verses describe in graphic detail exactly what happens when ‘God gives them up,’ and no attentive reader of this text will fail to recognise in it a description of the world in which we live today.” S T P A U L described the resulting condition as follows: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who KNOWING THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGEMENT OF GOD, that those who practice such things are deserving of death - NOT ONLY DO THE SAME BUT ALSO APPROVE OF THOSE WHO PRACTICE THEM. (ROMANS 1:28-32) This is the result of God abandoning us
SPIRITUAL DEATH] [I.E. TURNING HIS SIGHT AWAY FROM US WHENEVER WE COMMIT SIN AND FALL INTO A STATE OF

We must WILLINGLY OFFER SOMETHING OF OURSELVES TO GOD AND COMMIT OUR HEART AND SOUL TO HIM. We must constantly prove (and improve) our WORTHINESS BY MEANS OF OUR WORDS, THOUGHTS AND DEEDS ALWAYS BESEECHING GOD’S GREAT MERCY, WHICH ENABLES US TO MAKE SPIRITUAL PROGRESS. It is not enough to merely wish for God’s Abundant Blessings. WE MUST CEASELESSLY WORK ON OURSELVES SO AS TO ATTRACT SPIRITUAL AROUSAL – SPIRITUAL WATCHFULNESS AND STRUGGLE - BY DIVINE GRACE. ONLY WHEN WE TRULY SEEK GOD AND HIS DIVINE TRUTH THROUGH OUR SPIRITUAL STRUGGLES WILL WE LEARN HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO ACQUIRE – YET OUR COMPELLING HUNGER AND THIRST FOR HIS KNOWLEDGE, UNDERSTANDING AND WISDOM WILL EVENTUALLY BE SATISFIED. However, it takes much courageous, determined and dedicated Striving. WE MAY HAVE TO STRUGGLE FOR SOME TIME, but we must continue our Sacred Mission, knowing that it is all for our own good because WE LACK SOMETHING VITAL.
[GOD PERMITS US TO SUFFER AND STRUGGLE BECAUSE THAT IS THE ONLY WAY WE LEARN TO DEPEND ON HIS GREAT MERCY AND REALISE THE LIMITATIONS AND WEAKNESS OF OUR OWN EFFORTS. HUMILITY TEACHES US OBEDIENCE AND THROUGH OBEDIENCE WE LEARN TO BE HUMBLE.]

due to PEOPLE ACTING OUT OF THEIR

BIOLOGICAL SELF-CENTRED PURSUIT OF SELF INTEREST.

If we find ourselves in this separated state from God realizing that He has left us to our own wilful, rebellious devices - what are we to do? V S T T H E O P H A N T H E R E C L U S E tells us that DIVINE GRACE IS NOT FREELY GIVEN TO THOSE WHO HAVE KNOWN CHRIST, WHO KNOW WHAT LIFE IN CHRIST IS, AND WHO HAVE BEEN BAPTISED, BUT THEN CHOSE TO IGNORE HIM OR ALIENATE THEMSELVES FROM HIM.

We may go through such periods of Spiritual Trial but we must NEVER SURRENDER TO DESPAIR - even if it seems to continue for a very long time, to the point where WE ARE TEMPTED BY THE EVIL ONE TO THINK THAT GOD HAS FORGOTTEN US, HAS TURNED AWAY AND BETRAYED HIS PROMISE TO US! We must REMAIN CONFIDENT because IF WE CONTINUE OUR SPIRITUAL LABOURS AND OUR AGONISING SEARCH WITH HUMILITY AND OBEDIENCE TO GOD, WE WILL ONCE AGAIN EXPERIENCE THE BLESSINGS AND JOY OF DIVINE GRACE.
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “WHAT IS MEANT BY ‘THE WRATH OF GOD?’” – ORTHODOX WAY OF LIFE - (REFERENCES: PATH TO SALVATION, PP 103-104; CHRIST IN THE PSALMS, PP 11-12) - http://orthodoxwayoflife.blogspot.com

The Eternal Wisdom of our Desert Fathers & Mothers Obedience has within it the promise of On True Peace
V One of the Brothers asked A B B A I S I D O R E , a Priest of Sketis: ‘Why are the demons so terrified of you?’ to which the Elder replied: ‘Ever since I became a Monk, I have tried never to let anger rise as far as my mouth.’ Abba Joseph asked A B B A N I S T E R O S : ‘What should I do about my tongue, for I cannot control it?’ The Elder enquired: ‘When you speak, do you find Peace?’ He replied: ‘No.’ The old man said to him: ‘If you do not find Peace, why do you speak? Be silent, and when a conversation takes place, prefer to listen rather than to talk.’ Two old Monks had lived together for many years and they had never fought with one another. The first Monk said to the other: ‘Let us also have a fight like other men.’ The second Monk replied: ‘I do not know how to fight.’ The first Monk tried to explain to him: ‘Look: I will put a brick between us and I will say: “It is mine.” And you will reply: “No! It is mine!” And so the fight will begin.’ So they put a brick between them and the first said: ‘It is mine,’ and the other responded: ‘If it is yours, take it and go.’ Thus they gave up the exercise without being able to find a cause for any argument. A Brother asked A B B A P O E M E N : ‘How shall I behave in my cell in the place where I am living?’ He replied: ‘Behave as if you were a stranger, and wherever you are, do not expect your words to have an influence, and you will be at Peace.’ V Humility.’ T H E E L D E R S used to say: ‘If someone has faith in another, and hands himself over to him in complete submission, he does not need to pay attention to God’s Commandments but he can entrust his whole will to his (Spiritual) Father. He will suffer no reproach from God, for God looks for nothing from beginners so much as Renunciation through Obedience.’ A B B A M I O S of Belos said: ‘Obedience responds to Obedience. When someone obeys God, then God obeys his request.’ A B B A S Y L V A N O S had a Disciple in Sketis, named Mark, who possessed in great measure the Virtue of Obedience. He was a copyist of old manuscripts, and the Old Man Loved him for his Obedience. His eleven other Disciples were aggrieved that he Loved him more than them, and when the other Elders heard their complaint, they responded negatively until one day when they visited him and Abba Sylvanos took them with him as he began to knock on the door of each of his Disciples, saying: ‘Brother, come out: I have work for you.’ But not one of them appeared. However, when he got to Mark’s cell and knocked, he merely said: ‘Mark...’ and as soon as the Disciple heard his voice, he went out and the Elder sent him on some errand. The Old Man asked his visiting Brethren: “Where are the other Brothers?” and, entering Mark’s cell, they found the book in which he had been writing and when they saw the incomplete letter O, the Elders commented: ‘Truly, Abba, we also Love the one whom you Love; for God Loves him, too!’
EDITED & ADAPTED BY MP: SAYINGS OF THE DESERT FATHERS BY BENEDICTA WARD - http://www.coptic.net/articles

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On Obedience
V T H E H O L Y S Y N C L E T I A said: ‘ I think that for those living in Community, Obedience is a greater Virtue than Chastity, however Perfect. Chastity carries within it the danger of pride, but

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