8

T H
A F T E R P E N T E C O S T – 8
T H
S T MA T T H E W – A F T E R D O R M I T I O N – F E E D I N G 5 0 0 0 F A M I L I E S – 3 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4 1.
Gr e e k Or t h o d o x Pa t r i a r c h a t e o f Al e x a n d r i a & Al l Af r i c a
AL L GL OR Y , HONOU R A ND WOR S HI P T O T HE FA T HE R , A ND T O T HE SON, A ND T O T HE HOL Y SP I R I T , NOW A ND FOR E V E R , A ND U NT O T HE AGE S OF
AGE S . AME N
RE ME MB E R I NG A L S O OU R MOS T HOL Y , MOS T P U R E , MOS T BL E S S E D A ND GL OR I OU S L A DY , MA R Y , T HE OT OK OS Y E T E V E R VI R GI N, T OGE T HE R WI T H
A L L T HE SA I N T S . AND L E T U S COMMI T OU R S E L V E S A N D ONE A NOT HE R A N D OU R WHOL E L I F E T O CHR I S T OU R GOD. AME N.
3 A u g u s t 2 0 1 4
8
t h
S u n d a y A f t e r P e n t e c o s t
To n e ( 7 ) V a r y s / Gr a v e
8
t h
S u n d a y o f S t Ma t t h e w – F e e d i n g 5 , 0 0 0 F a mi l i e s
AL S O T HE FE AS T OF ST I S AA C, ST DAL MAT OS & ST F AUS T OS T HE AS CE T I CS OF T HE DAL MAT I AN MONAS T E RY OF CONS T ANT I NOP L E
– ST T HE OKL I T OS – ST SAL OME T HE HOL Y MY RR HBE ARE R – ST T HE ODORAS OF T HE S S AL ONI KA – ST ANT HONY T HE ROMAN &
AB BOT OF NOVGOROD – ST RAZ HDE N T HE PE RS I AN PROT OMART Y R OF GE ORGI A – ST COS MAS T HE EUNU CH & HE RMI T OF
PAL E S T I NE – 9 KHE R KHE U L I DZ E BROT HE RS WI T H T HE I R MOT HE R, SI S T E R AND 9000 HOL Y MAR T Y RS OF MARABDA
R E S U R R E C T I O N A P O L Y T I K I O N – T O N E ( 7 ) V A R Y S / G R A V E
F E S T A L A P O L Y T I K I O N O F T H E S Y N A X I S O F T H E H O L Y A P O S T L E S O F C H R I S T
Apostoli Agii, presvefsate to eleimoni Theo, ina
ptesmaton afesin, paraskhi tes psihes imon
O Holy Apostles, intercede with our Merciful God to
grant our souls forgiveness of sins!
K O N T A K I O N O F T H E E V E R B L E S S E D T H E O T O K O S
Prostasia ton Hristianon akateskhinte, mesitia pros ton
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.
O 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
Aid of all who in Faith cry out to Thee: speed up
Thine Intercession, and press on Thy Supplication, O
Theotokos who forever protects all those who
honour Thee!
G o s p e l 8 : J o h n 2 0 : 1 1 - 1 8
O U R R I S E N L O R D J E S U S S P E A K S T O S T M A R Y MA G D A L E N E
P r o k e i me n o n
T he L or d wi l l gr ant St r engt h t o Hi s Peopl e.
Of f er t o t he L or d, O Sons of God, of f er t o t he L or d Sacr i f i ce and Pr ai s e!
Th e F i r s t E p i s t l e o f S t P a u l t o t h e C o r i n t h i a n s 1 : 1 0 – 1 7
H O L Y U N I T Y
Brethren: I plead with you, by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no
divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same Judgement. For it
has been declared to me concerning you, my Brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions
among you.
Now I say this, that each of you says: “I am of Paul,” or: “I am of Apollos,” or: “I am of Cephas,” or: “I am of Christ.” Is
Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you Baptised in the Name of Paul?
I thank God that I Baptised none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had Baptised in my own
name. Yes, I also Baptised the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I Baptised any other.
For Christ did not send me to Baptise, but to Preach the Gospel, not with Wisdom of words, lest the Cross of Christ should
be made of no effect.
I ton Apostolon Protothroni, ke tis Ikoumenis Didaskali,
to Despoti ton olon Presvefsate, Irinin ti ikoumeni
dorisasthe, ke tes psihes imon to Mega Eleos..
Among the Apostles the loftiest, and Teachers of the
Universe, intercede, O Peter and Paul, with the Master
of us all, peace to all the world to grant, and to our
souls, the Great Mercy
2. 8
T H
A F T E R P E N T E C O S T – 8
T H
S T MA T T H E W – A F T E R D O R M I T I O N – F E E D I N G 5 0 0 0 F A M I L I E S – 3 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4
This was the first time that St Paul rebuked the Corinthians,
pleading with them in the Name of our Lord Jesus to PUT
AWAY HUMAN DI VISI ONS AND THUS MAINTAIN THE LOVE (AGAPE)
AND UNITY OF THE HOLY CHURCH OF CHRI ST.
St Chloe was a prominent Christian woman who hosted the
Corinthian Church in her home and who had faithfully
reported these dangerous contentions to St Paul.
St Apollos was an educated Hebrew from Alexandria, Egypt, who
was “mighty in the Scriptures.” (ACTS 18:24)
He was originally a follower of “the Baptism of John,” and was
eventually TAUGHT MORE FULLY ABOUT CHRI ST by St Priscilla and
St Aquila at Ephesos.
He later preached at Corinth, where some regarded him as a
“rival” to St Paul – although this most certainly was an
unfounded and erroneous assumption.
St Apollos became the first Bishop of Crete. (TITOS 3:13)
ST PAUL MADE I T QUI TE CLEAR THAT HE AND ST APOLLOS WERE IN
FACT HOLY PARTNERS IN APOSTOLI C WORK AND THAT ST
APOLLOS WOULD NOT HAVE APPROVED OF THE FACTI ONALI SM OF
THE MISGUIDED CORI NTHI ANs. (1 CORINTHIANS 3: 4 – 6, 4:6 & 16:12)
St Paul put THE RHETORICAL QUESTION to the Corinthians – and to
us – “IS CHRI ST DIVI DED?” OR IS HIS HOLY CHURCH – HIS HOLY
BODY OF WHI CH WE ARE THE MEMBERS – DI VI DED? And the
answer to such queries or doubts is a resounding, loud NO!
Anyone can leave the Holy Church of Christ but WE CAN NEVER
DIVI DE I T!
FACTI ONALI SM, however, causes great harm to the Holy Church
of Christ since it SEEKS TO GI VE TO EI THER AN APOSTLE OR A
DISCI PLE OF CHRI ST THE POSITI ON AND HOLY AUTHORITY THAT
BELONGS TO OUR LORD JESUS CHRI ST ALONE!
At that time, many people regarded THE HOLY APOSTLES as mere
teachers of Philosophy rather than DIVI NELY CALLED AND
INSPIRED TEACHERS OF GOD’S ABSOLUTE TRUTH – HIS HOLY
GOSPEL.
FACTI OUS PEOPLE DO NOT ACCEPT TRUE WISDOM, WHI CH IS
BESTOWED ONLY BY GOD THE HOLY SPI RI T and consequently
THEY MISREPRESENT THE HOLY APOSTLES OF CHRI ST as being
rivals to each other instead of being FELLOW HOLY WORKERS
WITH OUR LORD JESUS CHRI ST.
St Crispus had been a Ruler of the Synagogue at Corinth. He was
converted to Christianity through the Inspired Preaching of St
Paul and after he had been Baptised, he was succeeded by
Sosthenes. (ACTS 18:8 & 17)
St Gaius was a resident of Corinth with whom St Paul stayed while
he wrote his Epistle to the Romans. The Third Epistle of St John
seems to have been addressed to that same “Gaius.” (ROMAN
16:23 & 3 JOHN 1)
St Paul’s denial does not degrade Holy Baptism at all, nor the
Sacred Responsibilities of God-parenthood and those who
have been Baptised – he was simply emphasising that
BAPTISING WAS NOT HIS PRIMARY ROLE OR CALLI NG BECAUSE,
AS A HOLY APOSTLE OF CHRI ST, ST PAUL’S SACRED TASK WAS TO
PREACH THE HOLY GOSPEL TO EVERYONE – NOT ONLY TO THE
HEBREW NATIONS – TEACHI NG THOSE WHO SOUGHT GOD’S
PERFECT TRUTH TO ACCEPT HOLY BAPTISM AND THEREBY A LIFE I N
CHRI ST.
Those who perform the Holy Mystery of Baptism are God’s
Ordained Instruments so THE LOYALTY OF THE CONVERT MUST
BE TO GOD ALONE – and no one else at all!
The expression: “wisdom of words” refers especially to
philosophical thought and rhetorical devices.
SUCH HUMAN WISDOM BY I TSELF DOES NOT PROMOTE SALVATI ON
NOR AN UNDERSTANDING OF HOW GOD WORKS in the world –
AND WHAT HE WI SHES US TO DO.
Th e Ho l y Go s p e l A c c o r d i n g t o S t Ma t t h e w 1 4 : 1 4 – 2 2
T H E M I R A C U L O U S F E E D I N G O F 5 0 0 0 F A M I L I E S
At that time, when Jesus went out, He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with Compassion for them, and He healed
their sick.
When it was evening, His Disciples went to Him, saying: “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the
multitude away, so that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.” And Jesus said to them: “They do not
need to go away. You give them something to eat.” And they said to Him: “We have here only five loaves and two
fish.” He said: “Bring them to Me.”
Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking
up to Heaven, He Blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the Disciples; and the Disciples gave to the multitudes. So
they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained.
Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men – besides the women and children!
Immediately Jesus made His Disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes
away.
This great Divine Miracle, which was recorded by all four Holy
Evangelists, shows OUR LORD JESUS CHRI ST FED “A GREAT
MULTI TUDE” OF HIS PEOPLE (5000 FAMILI ES!) JUST AS HE
HAD FED THE WANDERING ISRAELITES FOR 40 YEARS I N THE
WILDERNESS before they entered the Promised Land.
(EXODUS 16)
Our Holy Church Fathers regard this Divine Event as AN IMAGE
OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST – a concept made clear by St
John the Beloved Apostle and Theologian in his Holy
Gospel. (JOHN 6)
St Matthew mentioned ANOTHER DIVINE MIRACLE OF 4000
FAMILIES FED WITH SEVEN LOAVES AND A FEW SMALL FISH.
While certain modern scholars say that these two different
accounts are merely one and the same story, the True
Witness and Testimony of the Holy Gospel is quite clear
that THEY ARE DEFI NITELY TWO SEPARATE AND DI STINCT
ACCOUNTS – WI TH CHRI ST HIMSELF REFERRI NG TO BOTH OF
THEM SEPARATELY. (MATTHEW 16: 8 – 10)
OUR LORD HAS BEEN FREQUENTLY RECORDED AS HAVING BEEN
“MOVED BY COMPASSI ON” by His Evangelists, thereby
showing us that HI S POWER AND AUTHORITY IS EXTENDED TO
ALL WHO SUFFER. (MATTHEW 20:34; MARK 1:41& 6:34; LUKE 7:13)
An even more astonishing fact is that the five little loaves and
two fish were offered to Christ by one of His youngest
Disciples – a little boy – whose mother had packed FIVE
SMALL ROLLS AND TWO SARDI NES for her son to
sustain himself even though all the Disciples had been
instructed not to carry anything extra with them so that
they would learn to depend on the Providence of God.
THI S LITTLE BOY’S FAITH WAS HELD UP AS AN EXAMPLE TO ALL THE
OTHERS – the Faith of a child – which carried him
throughout his life towards his eventual Martyrdom.
HE WAS ST POLYCARP OF SMYRNA - A FAI THFUL DISCI PLE OF
CHRI ST SINCE EARLY CHI LDHOOD AND LATER OF ST JOHN
THE DIVI NE THEOLOGIAN AND APOSTLE.
To this day – when a census is taken or when counting
masses of people – ONLY MEN ARE COUNTED AND
THEN THE WOMEN AND CHI LDREN ARE ESTIMATED RELATIVE
TO THE NUMBER OF MEN. So FOR EVERY MAN THERE ARE AT
LEAST ANOTHER TWO OR THREE PEOPLE!
THUS THE MULTITUDE WHO WERE FED WITH THE CHILD’ S FOOD
PARCEL MUST HAVE BEEN CLOSE TO 20 000 SOULS!
A Spiritual Interpretation of our Holy Church Fathers teaches
us that:
1. THE “FIVE LOAVES” I NDI CATE THE PENTATEUCH – the five
Holy Books of the Law according to the Old
Covenant – Genesis to Deuteronomy – which are
BROKEN OPEN I N CHRIST AND WHICH FEED THE
UNIVERSE.
2. THE “TWO FISH" REPRESENT THE HOLY GOSPEL AND THE
EPI STLES OF THE NEW COVENANT – the Divinely Inspired
Teachings of the simple Fishermen of Christ.
3. The gathering of the “twelve baskets full of the
fragments” by the Holy Apostles shows that THE
TEACHI NGS THAT WE ARE UNABLE TO GRASP OR
UNDERSTAND ARE NEVERTHELESS PRESERVED CAREFULLY
AND REVERENTLY IN THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF THE HOLY
CHURCH OF CHRI ST FOR THOSE WHO ARE ABLE TO MAKE
GOOD USE OF THEM.
Once again, our Lord Jesus Christ shows by His own Good
Example that WE NEVER PARTAKE OF ANYTHI NG UNLESS WE
HAVE FIRST EXPRESSED OUR SINCERE GRATI TUDE TO
ALMI GHTY GOD FOR HIS GREAT MERCY AND INFI NITE
BLESSINGS.
The terminology that is used points towards the Last Supper or
the Mystical Supper of Christ, which leads us to a
Eucharistic interpretation of this Divine Miracle.
Just as His Faithful Disciples and Apostles distributed the food
amongst the great multitude, so also does OUR LORD
JESUS CHRI ST DISTRIBUTE HIS HOLY EUCHARIST TO HIS
FAITHFUL FLOCK THROUGH THE HANDS OF HIS ORDAI NED
BISHOPS (OVERSEERS) AND PRI ESTS ( PRESBYTERS).
8
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A F T E R P E N T E C O S T – 8
T H
S T MA T T H E W – A F T E R D O R M I T I O N – F E E D I N G 5 0 0 0 F A M I L I E S – 3 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4 3.
E i g h t h S u n d a y A f t e r P e n t e c o s t – F e e d i n g 5 , 0 0 0 F a m i l i e s
> Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy
Spirit...
All that the Most High does, He does as is fitting.
There is nothing in what He does that is aimless,
unnecessary or superfluous.
Why do some people wander about so aimlessly and do
so many aimless things?
Because they are unaware of the Purpose of their life and
the goal of their Journey.
Why do some people load themselves down with
unnecessary cares, being scarcely able to move under
the great heap of superfluous things?
Because they do not know the One Thing that is needful!
In order to bring together mankind’s fragmented mind, to
heal our divided heart and to unite our disordered
strength – in order to do all this, our Lord Jesus
Christ, from first to last, revealed One Goal – and only
one: the Kingdom of God.
A cross-eyed man looking two ways at once, sees neither
way.
Oh, how aimless is the life of those who strive after many
things.
How insensitive is a divided heart!
How weak is our will if our strength is frittered away!
Only One Thing is needful: the Kingdom of God!
Christ the Wonder-worker strove to direct the eyes of all
mankind to this one point.
Those who so look have one thought – God; one feeling –
Love; one Yearning – to draw close to God!
Blessed are those who have come to this Truth for they
have become like a glass lens that concentrates the
sun’s rays on one spot, in order to produce a flame.
The words that our Lord said to St Martha of Bethany,
were in fact, said as a reprimand and a warning to the
whole of mankind: “Martha! Martha! Thou are
careful and troubled about many things, but one
Thing is needful!” (LUKE 10: 41- 42)
And this One Thing needful is the Kingdom of God.
(Matthew 6:33)
All that our Lord said and did was done with this aim in
view. To this point was gathered all the flame that
lights travellers as they wander about in the chasms
and whirlpools of this transitory life.
All that our Lord does is fitting; all is done with this
highest, this sole and unique Aim; all is fitting and
absolutely necessary both in the words spoken and
the deeds accomplished.
Never a superfluous word; never an inappropriate deed.
And how Fruitful were His Words and Deeds!
How many millions of times has the Fruit of every word
and deed of His borne Fruit, right down to our own
times!
And how sweet, fragrant and life-giving is that Fruit!
Why did our Lord not turn stones to bread when Satan
sought this of Him?
On two later occasions, when the multitude around Him
was hungry, He turned a little bread into a vast
amount, so that there were even more leftovers than
there were at the beginning of the meal!
The first Miracle, however (i.e. the turning of stones to
bread) would have been utterly inappropriate,
unnecessary and superfluous, while the second
Miracle (the feeding of the great multitudes) was
totally appropriate, necessary and fitting.
Why would our Lord give no Sign from Heaven to the
Pharisees when they demanded this of Him?
Did He not give such Signs from Heaven on innumerable
occasions – unheard-of Miracles for the sick, the
lepers, the insane, the fearful and even the dead?
Because every Sign from Heaven to the envious and vain
Pharisees would have been inappropriate, unnecessary
and superfluous, while in the other cases it was
appropriate, necessary and fitting.
Why did our Lord not move mountains from one place to
another, or cast them into the sea?
He Who was able to command the stormy sea to be calm,
and the winds to be still, could undoubtedly have
moved mountains and cast them into the sea.
But what Purpose would have been served?
None whatsoever.
And our Lord therefore did not do so.
There was, though, a great need for the sea to be calmed
and the wind to be stilled, for men were threatened
with drowning and crying out to God for Divine Help.
Only devils and sinners demand aimless, unnecessary and
superfluous Miracles of our Saviour.
Just think of all the senseless things that Satan demanded
of our Lord – to turn stones into bread in the
wilderness and leap down from the pinnacle of the
Temple!
And consider how the hardened sinners – the Pharisees
and Scribes – who had witnessed so many of our
Lord’s Divine Miracles that were of service to mankind
– sought some further Signs of Him – some aimless
and superfluous Miracle like casting a mountain into
the sea!
Our Lord Jesus Christ therefore refused these demands
by the devil and the sinners. Yet He never refused to
perform Miracles when they were appropriate and of
service to the Eternal Salvation of mankind – of all
humanity throughout the ages!
Today’s Sacred Lesson of the Feeding of the 5,000
families describes one such appropriate and
necessary Divine Miracle – the multiplying of such a
small amount of food in the wilderness – not an
deserted wilderness, nor a wilderness where there is
only the devil, but a wilderness where there where
between 10,000 – 20,000 hungry men, women and
children (for it is written that there were 5,000 men –
besides all the additional women and children who
had accompanied them!)
So dearest Brethren: let us focus our attention and our
efforts on the attainment of the Eternal, Heavenly
Kingdom of God, which truly begins here on Earth –
and we shall never hunger or thirst again, for our Lord
Jesus Christ is our Heavenly Bread and our Living
Water that constantly nourishes us and which grants
us Eternal Life.
Amen
HOMILY ON 8
TH
SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST DELIVERED BY ST NIKOLAI VELIMIROVIC
HTTP://WWW.ONEARTHASINHEAVEN.COM/NIKOLAIHOMILY8.HTML
S t Ma x i m o s t h e C o n f e s s o r ( 5 8 0 - 6 6 2 )
'Nothing so much as Love brings together those who have
been sundered and produces in them an effective Union
of Will and Purpose. Love is distinguished by the beauty of
recognizing the equal value of all people. Love is born in us
when our soul's powers - that is, our intelligence, incensive
power and desire - are concentrated and unified around
the Divine. Those who by Grace have come to recognize
the equal value of all mankind in God's Sight and who
engrave His Beauty on their memory, possess an
ineradicable longing for Divine Love, for such Love is always
imprinting this Beauty on their intellect.' (SECOND CENTURY OF
VARIOUS TEXTS, 72, IN THE PHILOKALIA, VOL. 2, P 202.)
St A n a t o l y o f O p t i n a
On L i v i n g Wi t h o u t Hy p o c r i s y
All prudent people do not weep in advance, but wait for
whatever the Lord will send. And what the Lord sends—
whether good or bad — they accept with Joy and strive to
endure according to their Strength. But if they cannot
endure—they Repent for their Faint-heartedness. But we
become fainthearted beforehand - while still not seeing
any misfortune or sorrow -we grieve before the sorrow ever
comes. Christians: live in a Christian manner!
N i k i t a s S t i t h a t o s
On t h e P r a c t i c e o f t h e Vi r t u e s
Passions acted out can be cured by action. Dissipation,
sensuality, gluttony and a dissolute, profligate life produce
a passion-charged state of soul and impel it to unnatural
actions.
On the other hand, restraint and self- control, Ascetic Labour
and Spiritual Struggle translate the soul from its passion-
charged state to a state of dispassion.
S t J o h n o f Kr o n s t a d t
Luxuries and money are worse than ordinary dust and dirt,
because they sully the soul; ordinary dust only sullies the
body, clothing, or room. O, how necessary it is to despise
luxuries, money, and dress besides!
8
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T H
S T MA T T H E W – A F T E R DO R M I T I O N – F E E D I N G 5 0 0 0 F A M I L I E S – 3 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4
4
F i r s t S t e p s i n N u r t u r i n g Di v i n e Gr a c e – F e a r o f Go d
What is meant by "Fear of God"?
C.S. Lewis described it in his book, ‘The Problem of Pain,’
and states that Fear of God is not a fear that one feels
towards a dangerous animal or anything that frightens
us intensely.
Fear of God is when we are filled with intense awe –
whereby we have a profound sense of "... wonder and a
certain shrinking..." or "....a sense of inadequacy to cope
with such a Visitant of or prostration before it...”
It is a fear that comes forth out of Love for our Lord.
[The Fear of God is a deep sense of not wanting to fail or disappoint our
Beloved Lord – a fear of failure to fulfil His Divine Will in all things. mp]
St Theophan taught us - as has so many other Holy Church
Fathers - that having this "Fear" is our first step closer
to God.
It is a feeling that comes with our first Encounter with God
where we know without any doubt that He really does
exist.
It is the beginning of Faith, which is necessary for Divine
Grace to work within us.
To nurture this "Fear of God" Prayer combined with the
reading of Spiritual Writings and Holy Scripture is
recommended.
Instead of filling our mind with the endless, unbeneficial
entertainment of Television (or various other media) we
must use our precious time for Prayer, Contemplation
and reading the Inspired and inspiring writings of our
Holy Church Fathers (and Mothers) as well as Holy
Scripture.
St Theophan explained: “This reading - with Prayer
preceding - strengthens the soul and gives us Strength
for the entire day. Doctors say you should not leave the
house on an empty stomach. With respect to the soul, this
is fulfilled by Morning Prayer and reading. The soul is
fed by them, and sets out on the business of the day
being properly nourished.”
To help this process St Theophan suggested that we keep a
notebook in which to write down our thoughts that we
have as we read the Holy Gospel and other Spiritual
Writings.
This will help us to stay focused on what we have read, and
through that contemplation, we will properly nurture
our thoughts.
One of the challenges with such reading and with Prayer is
that often thoughts overtake our concentration -
almost like an involuntary distraction – and they seem
to come uninvited - from nowhere.
The main problem comes when we do not take action to
deal with them.
St. Theophan advises: “...as soon as you notice your
thought wandering off, immediately put it back in its
place.”
Prayer and reading of Spiritual Writings are an essential
part of our Spiritual Development.
The key is to make choices to provide time for this new
activity.
We will need to get up at least 30 minutes earlier in the
morning, which means we will have to go to bed thirty
minutes earlier in the evening and give up some
activity.
When our desire for Divine Grace is strong enough we are
able to act on it and make the necessary changes.
Our laziness is our worst enemy!
ST T HE OP HAN T H E RE CL US E : “ T H E SP I R I T UA L L I F E ” ( P P 145- 146)
HT T P : / / OR T HODOX WA Y OF L I F E . B L OGS P OT . COM/ S E AR CH / L AB E L / GR ACE
E t e r n a l Wi s d o m o f o u r I n s p i r e d H o l y C h u r c h F a t h e r s
St Di d ymo s t he Bl i n d :
Being the Source of Goodness, God – even after our
failures – Calls us anew.
St Ma ka r i o s t he Gr e a t :
The heart itself is but a small vessel, yet dragons are
there, and there are also lions; there are poisonous
beasts and all the treasures of evil.
But there, too, is God, His Holy Angels, the Life and the
Kingdom, the Light and the Apostles, the Heavenly
Cities, and the Treasuries of Divine Grace – all Good
Things are there.
St J o hn Chr ys o s t o m:
What takes place here requires Faith the eyes of our soul,
so that we pay heed not only to what is seen, but that
we make the unseen visible from seen.
This is what the Eyes of Faith can do.
St Ba s i l The Gr e a t :
Mankind is made in the Image and Likeness of God; but
sin marred the Beauty of the Image by dragging the
soul down to passionate desires.
Now, God, Who made us, is the True Life.
Therefore, when we lost our Likeness to God, we lost our
participation in the True Life; separated and estranged
from God as we are, it is impossible for us to enjoy
the Blessedness of the Divine Life.
Let us return, then, to the Divine Grace, which was ours in
the beginning, and from which we have alienated
ourselves by sin, and let us again, adorn ourselves
with the Beauty of God’s Image, being made like our
Creator through the quieting of our passions.
Those who – to the best of their ability – copy within
themselves the tranquillity of the Divine Nature
attains to a Likeness with the Very Soul of God; and
being made like God in the manner aforesaid, they
also achieve in full, a semblance to the Divine Life and
abide continually in unending Blessedness.
If, then, by overcoming our passions we regain the Image
of God, and if the Likeness of God bestows upon us
Everlasting Life, let us devote ourselves to this pursuit
in preference to all others, so that our soul may never
again be enslaved by vice, but that our Understanding
may remain firm and unconquerable under the
assaults of temptation, that in the end we become
sharers in the Divine Beatitude.
St E p h r a i m t h e S y r i a n :
It was fitting that the Architect of the Works of Creation
should come and raise up the House that had fallen,
and that the Hovering Spirit should Sanctify the
Buildings that were unclean.
Thus, if the Progenitor entrusted the Judgement that is to
come to His Son, it is clear that He accomplished the
Creation of humanity and our Restoration through
Him as well.
He is the Live Coal, Who had come to kindle the briars
and thorns.
He dwelt in the Womb and Cleansed it, and Sanctified the
place of birth pangs and the curses.
The Flame, which Moses beheld, moistened the Bush and
distilled the fat lest it be inflamed.
The likeness of refined gold could be seen in the
(Burning) Bush, entering into the fire but without
being consumed.
This happened so that it might make known that Living
Fire, which was to come at the end, Watering and
Moistening the Womb of the Virgin, and clothing it
like the Fire that enveloped the Bush.
St Syme o n t h e Ne w The o l o gi a n :
The only thing God requires of us is that we do not sin.
But this is achieved, not by acting according to the
Law, but by carefully guarding the Divine Image in us
and our supernal dignity.
When we thus live in our natural state, wearing the
resplendent Robe of the Spirit, we Dwell in God and
God Dwells in us. Then we are called ‘gods,’ by
Adoption and ‘sons of God,’ Sealed by the Light of the
Knowledge of God.
St S e r a p h i m o f Sa r o v :
God is a Fire that warms and kindles our heart and
inward parts.
Hence, if we feel in our heart the cold that comes from
the devil – for he is cold – let us call on our Lord, who
will come to warm our heart with His Perfect Love, not
only for Him but also for our neighbour, and the cold
of him who hates the Good Will flees before the Heat
of His Countenance.
T H E T R A N S F I G U R A T I O N O F C H R I S T O U R S A V I O U R 6 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4 5.
Gr e e k Or t h o d o x Pa t r i a r c h a t e o f Al e x a n d r i a & Al l Af r i c a
AL L GL OR Y , HONOU R A ND WOR S HI P T O T HE FA T HE R , A ND T O T HE SON, A ND T O T HE HOL Y SP I R I T ,
NOW A ND FOR E V E R , A N D U NT O T HE AGE S OF AGE S . AME N
RE ME MB E R I NG A L S O OU R MOS T HOL Y , MOS T P U R E , MOS T B L E S S E D A ND GL OR I OU S L A DY , MA R Y ,
T HE OT OK OS Y E T E V E R VI R GI N, T OGE T HE R WI T H A L L T HE SA I NT S . AN D L E T U S COMMI T OU R S E L V E S
A ND ONE A NOT HE R A N D OU R WHOL E L I F E T O CHR I S T OU R GOD. AME N .
6 A u g u s t 2 0 1 4
Th e Tr a n s f i g u r a t i o n o f C h r i s t o n Mo u n t Ta b o r
F E S T A L A P O L Y T I K I O N – T R A N S F I G U R A T I O N - T O N E 4
F E S T A L K O N T A K I O N – T R A N S F I G U R A T I O N - T O N E ( 7 ) V A R Y S / G R A V E
Epi tou Orous Metemorfothis, ke os ehoroun i Mathite
Sou tin Doxan Sou, Hriste O Theos etheasanto. Ina
otan Se idosi Stavroumenon, to men pathos noisosin
ekousion, to de kosmo kirixosin, oti Si iparhis Alithos,
TOU PATROS TO APAVGASMA.
Upon the Mountain Thou were Transfigured, and Thy
Disciples beheld Thy Glory as far as they were able, O
Christ our God; so that when they would see Thee
Crucified they might understand that Thy Passion
was deliberate, and declare to the world that in Truth
THOU ART THE FATHER’S RADIANCE.
S E C O N D F E S T A L A N T I P H O N – T R A N S F I G U R A T I O N – T O N E 2
Soson imas Iie Theou, O EN TO ORI TO THAVOR
METAMORTOTHIS, psallontas Si: Allilouia!
S T I HOS I themelii Aftou en ti Oresi tis Agiis
Soson imas Iie Theou, O EN TO ORI TO THAVOR
METAMORTOTHIS, psallontas Si: Allilouia!
S T I HOS Agapa Kyrios tas Pilas Sion. Iper panta ta
skinomata Iakov
Soson imas Iie Theou, O EN TO ORI TO THAVOR
METAMORTOTHIS, psallontas Si: Allilouia!
S T I HOS Dedoxamena elalithi peri Sou, i Polis tou Theou.
Soson imas Iie Theou, O EN TO ORI TO THAVOR
METAMORTOTHIS, psallontas Si: Allilouia!
S T I HOS Mitir Sion eri anthropos, ke anthropos egennithi
en afti.
O Son of God, TRANSFIGURED UPON MOUNT TABOR
Save us who sing to Thee: Alleluia
V E RS E His Foundations are in the Holy Mountains
O Son of God, TRANSFIGURED UPON MOUNT TABOR
Save us who sing to Thee: Alleluia
V E RS E The Lord Loves the Gates of Zion more than all
the dwellings of Jacob.
O Son of God, TRANSFIGURED UPON MOUNT TABOR
save us who sing to thee: alleluia
V E RS E Glorious Things are spoken of Thee, O City of
God.
O Son of God, TRANSFIGURED UPON MOUNT TABOR
Save us who sing to Thee: Alleluia!
V E RS E Zion is our Mother, a man shall say, and such a
man was born in her
I S O D I K O N : T R A N S F I G U R A T I O N
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 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!
F e s t a l Ma t i n s Go s p e l A c c o r d i n g t o S t L u k e 9 : 2 8 - 3 6
T H E G L O R I O U S T R A N S F I G U R A T I O N O F C H R I S T O N M O U N T T A B O R
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 THEOPHANY – A
MANIFESTATION OR REVELATION OF GOD – especially of the
Divinity of Christ – through 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.
(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.
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 Thine Disciples Thy Glory as much
as they could bear. In us – sinners
though we be – shine Thine Everlasting
Light, at the Intercession of the
Theotokos; O Giver of Light: >Glory to
Thee!
6. T H E T R A N S F I G U R A T I O N O F C H R I S T O U R S A V I O U R 6 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4
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.
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.
3. THE TRANSFIGURATION NOT ONLY PROCLAIMS CHRIST’S DIVINE
SONSHIP, BUT ALSO FORESHADOWS HIS FUTURE GLORY when
He – as the long awaited 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.
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 ONLY TRUE MESSIAH Who is THE FULFILMENT OF THE
ENTIRE OLD COVENANT WITH GOD.
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 BAPTIST AND FORERUNNER to Christ. (MATTHEW 17:12)
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 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)
In 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)
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.”
Th e S e c o n d E p i s t l e o f S t P e t e r 1 : 1 0 – 1 9
P A R T A K E R S O F D I V I N E N A T U R E
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...
THE PRIMARY TRUTH WITH WHICH ST PETER DEALT – and which he only
indirectly touched upon at this point - IS THE SECOND
COMING OR REAPPEARANCE OF CHRIST AND HIS EVERLASTING
KINGDOM.
People lived in tents while journeying, constantly moving, or at
war. So as long as we are in this physical body during this
Spiritual Journey towards Eternity, WE LIVE IN “TENTS” -
TEMPORARY, 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 HE WAS PRESENT AT OUR
LORD’S TRANSFIGURATION ON MOUNT TABOR.
What St Peter repeated concerning the Second Coming of
Christ is the common APOSTOLIC TRADITION, WHICH IS
SUPPORTED BY THE EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY OF THE HOLY APOSTLES –
AND ESPECIALLY THE THREE WHO WITNESSED THE TRANSFIGURATION.
The absolute Truth concerning everything to do with Christ is
definitely not an elaborate scheme of “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.
Th e Ho l y Go s p e l A c c o r d i n g t o S t Ma t t h e w 1 7 : 1 – 9
T H E T R A N S F I G U R A T I O N O F O U R L O R D J E S U S C H R I S T O N M O U N T T A B O R
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.
T H E T R A N S F I G U R A T I O N O F C H R I S T O U R S A V I O U R 6 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4 7.
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.”
Th e Gl o r i o u s Tr a n s f i g u r a t i o n o f o u r L o r d & S a v i o u r , J e s u s C h r i s t
>Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy
Spirit...
Upon Mount Tabor, our Lord Jesus Christ revealed to His
Disciples a Heavenly Mystery.
While living among them He had spoken of the Kingdom
and of His Second Coming in Glory, but to banish
from their hearts any possible doubt concerning the
Kingdom and to confirm their Faith in what lay in the
future by its Prefiguration in the present, He granted
them on Mount Tabor a wonderful Vision of His Glory,
a Foreshadowing of the Kingdom of Heaven.
It was as if our Lord said to them: “As time goes by you
may be in danger of losing your Faith. To Save you
from this I tell you now that some standing here
listening to Me will not taste Death until they have seen
the Son of Man coming in the Glory of His Father.“
Moreover, in order to assure us that Christ could
command such Power when He wished, six days later,
our Lord Jesus took St Peter, St James and St John,
and “... 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.”
These are the Divine Wonders we celebrate today; this is
the Saving Revelation granted to us upon Mount
Tabor.
This is the Great Feast of Christ that has drawn us here.
Let us listen, then, to the Divine Voice of God so
compellingly Calling us from on High, from the
summit of the Mountain, so that with our Lord’s
Chosen Disciples we, too, may penetrate the deep
meaning of these Holy Mysteries, so far beyond our
capacity to express.
Our Saviour Jesus goes before us to show us the Way,
both up the Mountain and into Heaven, and – I speak
boldly – it is for us now to follow Him with all speed,
yearning for the Heavenly Vision that will grant us a
share in His Radiance, Renew our Spiritual Nature and
Transform us into His own Likeness, making us
forever sharers in His Godhead and raising us to
Heights as yet undreamed of.
Let us run with confidence and Joy to enter into the
Cloud like Moses and Elijah, or like St James and St
John.
Let us be caught up like St Peter to behold the Divine
Vision and to be Transfigured by that Glorious
Transfiguration.
Let us retire from the world, stand aloof from the Earth,
rise above the body, detach ourselves from creatures
and turn to the Creator, to Whom St Peter in ecstasy
exclaimed: ”Lord, it is good for us to be here!”
It is indeed good to be here, as Thou hast said, St Peter.
It is good to be with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ,
and to remain here forever.
What greater happiness or higher honour could we have
than to be with God - to be made like Him and to Live
in His Light?
Therefore, since each of us possesses God in our heart
and we are being Transformed into His Divine Image,
we also should cry out with Joy: It is good for us to be
here! – here where all things shine with Divine
Radiance, where there is Joy and Gladness and
Exultation; where there is nothing in our heart but
Peace, Serenity and Stillness; where God is seen.
For here, in our heart, Christ takes up His Abode together
with the Father, saying as He enters: “Today Salvation
has come to this house!”
With Christ, our heart receives all the Wealth of His
Eternal Blessings, and there where they are stored up
for us in Him, we see reflected - as in a mirror - both
the First Fruits and the whole of the world to come.
Amen
H O M I L Y B Y S T A N A S T A S I O S T H E S I N A I T E
HTTP://PREACHERSINSTITUTE.COM/2011/07/29/ON-THE-FEAST-OF-TRANSFIGURATION/
E l d e r A r s e n i e ( P a p a c i o c ) o f Ro ma n i a
With God where there is good present, there is no past
evil – for when God forgives us, it means that He
forgives us Eternally.
We must never ignore a beggar, nor anyone who offers us
help, for Charity is not only to give something – it also
means to accept other people without ignoring or
neglecting them.
By having pity on others we show our Likeness to Christ.
Beggars stretch out their hands – not to only to beg but to
offer us the Kingdom of Heaven, which we fail to see!
Let us remember, my Brethren: beggars are Biblical
characters!
Do you want to get rich? Give everything you have to
others! And, in return, you will receive a hundredfold!
We do not always remember to give thanks to God for
everything we receive, yet we remember whatever we
have given.
We must learn to live not only for ourselves, but to live in
Christ and for all who are with us.
The Mercy of God does not abolish Hell – i.e.
Condemnation or Judgement.
We need to Love much! For Christ commands us to do so.
Let us be attentive: Love is the Criteria of the Last
Judgement!
When our Lord Jesus Christ asks us to Love each other as
much as He Loves us, He grants us the Strength to do
so.
We should also love our pain, our sorrow and those who
cause it.
We are free and have the possibility to grow – as long as
we do not hate.
Our heart must always be free (of our passions) in order
to be able to accommodate Christ.
This world – the beautiful Creation of God – is not evil;
we are at fault for we do not know how to Love each
other unconditionally nor do we take care of our
environment.
Hatred of our neighbours is the most devilish work
because - if we would try to Love others as much as
we profess to Love Christ - we will no longer see the
wrongs of our neighbours.
We must know that the Love for our enemies is a Divine
Commandment so we ought to ‘boast’ them in our
heart.
One question is justified – let us all ask ourselves: “Do I
Love or do I not Love...?”
Love is the most Sacred Commandment of our Saviour for
do we really think that He spoke only to the people of
His time or to His Apostles?
No! Our Lord and Saviour spoke to all mankind and for
all Eternity.
The great battle for our Holy Fathers is to Heal wounds –
not to apply Penances – for we defile our Lord’s Great
Sacrifice on Golgotha when we refuse to absolve or
forgive those who have Repented their grievous sins.
The Canons of the Holy Church of Christ are a great
guidance for Priests, but they are to be used with
Agape and Economia. (i.e with Love and sensitive
consideration)
A hunted animal will not run away (fast enough to avoid
being killed) for two reasons – either because it is too
fat or because it is too weak.
Thus too much Asceticism can weaken us, but also our
indifference and slothfulness will cause our Spiritual
Death.
Personally, I am not for Penances, which require a lot of
time and physical effort that could be put to better
use.
True Penance means the possibility of sincerely Repenting
and striving to never commit a particular sin again –
to put all our effort into our Spiritual Struggle so that
we do not Fall again.
A good Penance is to look upon the Penitent as someone
who is dearly Loved – and we all need to have a
continuous state of Love.
We must also have the need to Love both God and each
other for it is never mere coincidence that we are in
8. T H E T R A N S F I G U R A T I O N O F C H R I S T O U R S A V I O U R 6 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4
each other’s life for we are all here by Divine
Providence and for God’s Holy Purpose.
A True Spiritual Father takes responsibility for his Child’s
weakness.
God does more for our Salvation than that which Satan
tries to do for our destruction.
Outside the Holy Church of Christ there is no Salvation!
Hell exists only outside the Holy Church.
We are all capable of doing good things, so when we fail
to do so we are guilty of committing sin.
No matter what wicked words, thoughts or deeds we may
have, we can all be Saved through Confession and
Repentance, so it is possible for every human being to
be Saved. Only Satan and his demons cannot be
Saved.
Without Divine Grace, it is impossible for us to be Saved
only by means of our actions – no matter how great
our Ascetic Feats may be!
It is the Holy Cross of Christ that Saves all mankind! Not
God’s Justice or His Divine Miracles, but His Holy,
Life-giving Cross! For when our Lord Jesus Christ was
crucified upon it, Satan was defeated!
I do not see how Fasting alone can give us hope for
Salvation. Without exception, Humility rooted deeply
in our heart and freedom from resentment are the
only hope for our Eternal Salvation.
What God asks of us first is the will to overcome
temptations, and by praying to God, His Divine Grace
will never abandon us.
Heaven is full of Repentant sinners.
We ought to strive for the entire world to be Saved – with
everything we have – (body and soul, as well as with our
earthly possessions and abilities.)
So, every day we may gain Eternal Life – and that is our
ultimate Purpose and our Ideal.
Our Saviour was not crucified only for a certain
“category” of sins, but for everything that pertains to
sin on Earth.
Furthermore, He has given each and every one of us the
Strength to avoid Hell, yet He descended into Hades
for our sake. And those who were trapped in Hades,
and those who will suffer Eternal Condemnation (Hell)
He also Loves, but the unrepentant sinners are
whipped by His Divine Love and by His Divine Justice.
Our Lord Jesus Christ has given us every means possible
in order to Save us from Eternal Death and Exile in the
Outer Darkness from all His Goodness and Love.
Our fear of Death is not caused by Death itself but by Life
– and if we do not want to fear Death then we must
live as Christians – we must LIVE IN CHRIST.
Only those who do not Live in Christ constantly fear
Death!
In our foolish pride and suffering we want all God’s
Blessings and His Heavenly Kingdom instantly!
But like all Good Things, it takes time and great effort to
achieve whatever is truly worthwhile and Spiritually
Beneficial.
There is no sense or purpose to this short lifespan if we
do not have a close Relationship with Almighty God.
By the Will of God the Father, through God His Son, and
by the Energy and Power of the Holy Spirit, we can
certainly overcome the temptations of the evil one
and of our fallen world.
As long as our Faith is alive and unwavering, we will lose
nothing at all.
This short earthly life is too precious to be spent in vanity
and every moment should be put to good use for our
Eternal Life in God’s Heavenly Kingdom.
During the Holy Mystery of Marriage Prayers we say that
the woman shall be subject to her husband, and the
husband must also take heed when he is told to Love
his wife, for if he does not Love her, she will neither
obey nor cooperate with him.
By not paying careful attention to these Divine Words, we
become responsible for each other’s stubbornness.
We must never forget that this Obedience is our way of
Salvation and as the man is the head of the family, the
woman is the heart of the family and is created by
God so that He may find rest in it!
There is nothing better than a good hearted woman and
nothing worse than a fallen woman, so husbands
must labour with all their power to maintain a good
relationship and a stable, happy, family life.
Love joins and unites everyone, and this is symbolised by
the golden wedding rings.
Marriages that are done just for pleasure or convenience
or material gain have no meaning or purpose in our
life, for Holy Matrimony, being Sanctified by Almighty
God, means that we should grow together in Christ
and reach Eternity together in perfect harmony and
Love.
Married women give birth to the new generation whom
they nurture, nourish and educate in and with Christ
our Lord.
Therefore it is absolutely unacceptable for any woman to
abort her baby - for by doing so she has brutally
murdered an unbaptised soul that God has created for
His own Divine Purpose and Reason.
The Holy Eucharist Perfects us but (on it’s own) it will not
forgive our unrepented sins.
We must first prepare ourselves by Repenting and
Confessing our sins on a daily basis in private, and as
often as possible with our Spiritual Father who can
administer the Holy Mystery of Absolution.
HT T P : / / ORT HODOX WORD. WORDP RE S S . COM/ CAT E GORY / ORT HODOX
- S AI NT S - AND- CHURCH- F AT HE RS / S P I RI T UAL - E L DE RS /
Th e E t e r n a l , I n s p i r e d Wi s d o m o f o u r Ho l y C h u r c h F a t h e r s
N i k i t a s S t i t h a t o s
On t h e P r a c t i c e o f t h e Vi r t u e s
In the eyes of God and of those who live a Christ-like Life, to act
with passion because of one's dissolute character and to
take pride in one's virtues through a spirit of self-conceit are
each as evil as the other.
In the first case it is shameful even to speak of the things that
those enslaved to the passions do in secret, and in the
second case, the self-vaunting of the heart is an
abomination to God. (CF. EPHESIANS. 5:12);
The dissolute person alienates himself from God, for he is 'flesh'
while the person who takes pride in his virtue is unclean in
God's Sight because of his self-conceit. (CF. GENESIS 6:3)
S t Gr e g o r y o f N a r e k , ( c i r c a 1 0 0 0 )
"If all the Cedars of Mount Lebanon were formed into one
great balance beam of justice, and on one side were
placed (Mount) Ararat in all its grandeur, and on the other,
my sins. . . my sins would out-weigh (the mountain)."
S t J o h n o f Kr o n s t a d t
Ought a Holy and Chosen Flock - that is, Orthodox Christians -
to live, as we live? Are we walking by Faith, are we living
soberly in expectation of the Second Coming of Christ and
of the terrible Day of Judgment? Do we tremble at the
thought of Everlasting Torments? Do we thirst for Eternal
Bliss?
Do we not cling to this transitory life? "...but you are a Chosen
Generation, a Royal Priesthood, an Holy Nation!"
Therefore we must keep a strict watch over ourselves, for
much will be required of us!
Is this how those should live, who hope for the Resurrection and
the Future Life? Is this how those should live, who have
received Warning and Sure Testimony--from the True and
Veritable Head of their Faith--of the Truth and Certitude of
Future Torments?
S t Ma x i mo s t h e C o n f e s s o r
He who forsakes all worldly desires sets himself above all worldly
distress.
S t Ma x i m o s t h e C o n f e s s o r
If we make provision for the desires of the flesh and bear a
grudge against our neighbour on account of something
transitory, we worship the creature instead of the Creator.
(CF. ROMANS. 13:14)
S t Ma x i mo s t h e C o n f e s s o r
If we keep our body free from disease and sensual
pleasure it will help us to serve what is more noble.
9
T H
S U N D A Y A F T E R P E N T E C O S T – 9
T H
O F S T M A T T H E W - W A L K I N G O N W A T E R – 1 0 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4 9.
Gr e e k Or t h o d o x Pa t r i a r c h a t e o f Al e x a n d r i a & Al l Af r i c a
AL L GL OR Y , HONOU R A ND WOR S HI P T O T HE FA T HE R , A ND T O T HE SON, A ND T O T HE HOL Y SP I R I T , NOW A ND FOR E V E R , A ND U NT O T HE AGE S OF
AGE S . AME N
RE ME MB E R I NG A L S O OU R MOS T HOL Y , MOS T P U R E , MOS T BL E S S E D A ND GL OR I OU S L A DY , MA R Y , T HE OT OK OS Y E T E V E R VI R GI N, T OGE T HE R WI T H
A L L T HE SA I N T S . AND L E T U S COMMI T OU R S E L V E S A N D ONE A NOT HE R A N D OU R WHOL E L I F E T O CHR I S T OU R GOD. AME N.
9
t h
S u n d a y A f t e r P e n t e c o s t 1 0 A u g u s t 2 0 1 4
To n e ( 8 ) P l a g a l 4
A f t e r f e a s t o f Tr a n s f i g u r a t i o n
9
t h
S u n d a y o f S t Ma t t h e w – Wa l k i n g o n Wa t e r
AL S O T HE FE AS T OF ST L AURE NCE , PROT ODE ACON & HOL Y MA RT Y R, ST
XI S T OS T HE AT HE NI AN ARCHB I S HOP & POP E OF ROME , ST FE L I CI S S I MOS
& ST AGAP I T OS , DE ACONS & ST ROMA NOS , SOL DI E R , HOL Y MART Y R S
OF ROME – ST L A URE NCE T HE F OOL F OR CHR I S T & WONDE RWORKE R OF
KAL UGA
R E S U R R E C T I O N A P O L Y T I K I O N – T O N E ( 8 ) P L A G A L 4
F E S T A L A P O L Y T I K I O N - T R A N S F I G U R A T I O N – T O N E 4
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 Thine Disciples Thy Glory as
much as they could bear. In us – sinners though we
be – shine Thine Everlasting Light, at the Intercession
of the Theotokos; O Giver of Light: >Glory to Thee!
F E S T A L K O N T A K I O N - T R A N S F I G U R A T I O N
Epi tou Orous Metemorfothis, ke os ehoroun i Mathite
Sou tin Doxan Sou, Hriste O Theos etheasanto. Ina
otan Se idosi Stavroumenon, to men pathos noisosin
ekousion, to de kosmo kirixosin, oti Si iparhis Alithos,
TOU PATROS TO APAVGASMA.
Upon the Mountain Thou were Transfigured, and Thy
Disciples beheld Thy Glory as far as they were able, O
Christ our God; so that when they would see Thee
Crucified they might understand that Thy Passion
was deliberate, and declare to the world that in Truth
THOU ART THE FATHER’S RADIANCE.
P r o k e i me n o n – P s a l m 7 5 - T O N E ( 8 ) P L A G A L 4
Vow, and Pray to the Lord your God!
In Judah is God known: His Name is Great in Israel!
S t P a u l ’ s F i r s t E p i s t l e t o t h e C o r i n t h i a n s 3 : 9 – 1 7
W I S D O M O F T H E A P O S T O L I C M I N I S T R Y
Brethren: we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the Grace of God, which
was granted to me, as a wise Master Builder, I have laid the Foundation, and another builds on it.
But let each one take heed how he builds on it, for no other Foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is
Jesus Christ.
Now, if anyone builds on this Foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become
clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by Fire; and the Fire will test each one’s work - of what sort
it is.
If anyone’s work, which he has built on endures, he will receive a Reward. If anyone’s work is burnt, he will suffer loss; but
he himself will be Saved - yet so as through Fire.
Do you not know that you are the Temple of God and that the Spirit of dwells in you? If anyone defiles the Temple of God,
God will destroy him, for the Temple of God is Holy, which Temple you are.
“Fellow workers” (synergoi) refers to THE BIBLICAL CONCEPT OF
SYNERGISM, shown here by THE WAY THE HOLY APOSTLES OF
CHRIST WORKED TOGETHER WITH GOD BY CARRYING OUT AND
FULFILLING HIS DIVINE MINISTRY ON EARTH.
SO, TOO, DO WE – AS GOD’S FELLOW WORKERS – CO-OPERATE WI TH
HIM TO FULFIL HIS DIVINE WILL FOR THE BENEFIT OF OUR ETERNAL
SALVATION.
THIS HOLY SYNERGY OR CO-OPERATION WITH GOD DOES NOT MEAN
THAT WE ARE CO-EQUALS WITH ALMIGHTY GOD. Neither is it a 50-
50 arrangement.
HOLY SYNERGY MEANS THAT GOD IS OUR LORD AND WE ARE HIS
FAITHFUL SERVANTS WHO ARE CALLED BY HIM TO PARTICIPATE WITH
HUMILITY AND OBEDI ENCE IN HIS HOLY WORK.
St Paul reminds us that OUR PHYSICAL BODY IS A HOLY TEMPLE OF
GOD AND WHEN WE ARE IN A STATE OF SPIRI TUAL LIFE, THE HOLY
SPIRI T – INDEED, THE HOLY TRINITY – DWELLS WI THIN US AND ACTS
FROM WITHIN US.
Our entire life is spent Sanctifying our body and soul through the
partaking of the Holy Mysteries of God.
Therefore, OUR BODY IS AS HOLY AND SACRED AS OUR IMMORTAL SOUL.
AS LIVING HOLY TEMPLES OF GOD, IT IS IMPERATI VE TO TREAT OUR BODY
– AND THE BODY OF OTHERS – WITH ABSOLUTE RESPECT AS A SACRED
– SANCTIFIED - VESSEL OF GOD.
THE HUMAN BODY is to be honoured and nurtured carefully for it
ACTUALLY BELONGS TO GOD Who has “lent” it to us in order to
accommodate our immortal soul.
We are created with body and soul – and since the body is
complicated while the soul is very simple – THE TWO WORK
TOGETHER TO ACHIEVE GOOD PHYSI CAL AND SPIRI TUAL PROGRESS
IN THIS LI FESPAN - AND ESPECI ALLY FOR LATER - FOR ETERNI TY.
Our Immortal soul is breathed into each of us by God the Life-
giving Holy Spirit so IT IS NATURAL TO YEARN FOR GOD AND ALL HIS
GOODNESS – AND TO KNOW GOOD FROM EVIL.
AT THE SEPARATI ON OF BODY AND SOUL, THE TWO ELEMENTS ARE
RETURNED TO THEIR ORIGINAL PLACES – THE BODY TO THE EARTH AND
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!
10. 9
T H
S U N D A Y A F T E R P E N T E C O S T – 9
T H
O F S T M A T T H E W - W A L K I N G O N W A T E R – 1 0 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4
THE SOUL TO ETERNI TY – resting until the General Resurrection
and our Final Judgement when we will receive either Eternal
Life or Eternal Death (Eternal Exile and Alienation from God
and all His Goodness.)
Th e Ho l y Go s p e l A c c o r d i n g t o S t Ma t t h e w 1 4 : 2 2 – 3 4
W A L K I N G O N W A T E R
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.
HAVI NG FED AND HEALED THE BODIES AND SOULS OF THE 5000
FAMILIES who had followed our Lord Jesus Christ and His
Disciples into the wilderness, CHRIST FI RST DISMISSED HIS
DISCIPLES AND THEN THE GREAT MULTITUDE BEFORE GOING UP THE
MOUNTAIN IN TOTAL ISOLATION TO COMMUNICATE THROUGH PRAYER
WITH GOD HIS FATHER.
SEVERAL HOURS LATER, when the Disciples were in the middle of
the Lake – “... In the Fourth Watch of the night...” - OUR LORD
WENT TO THEM BY WALKING ON THE WATER – something that was
quite natural for Him but terrifying to behold for His Disciples
who immediately perceived Him to be a ghost or phantom.
WITH HIS WORDS OF COMFORT, HE CALMED THEM DOWN BUT ST PETER,
AS IMPULSIVE AS USUAL, ASKED OUR LORD JESUS TO PROVE IT IS
INDEED HIM BY MAKING I T POSSIBLE FOR HIM TO ALSO WALK UPON
THE WATER.
WITH ONE DIVINE WORD: “COME!” CHRIST ALLOWS ST PETER TO DO
THE NORMALLY IMPOSSIBLE – to walk on water – and AS LONG AS
ST PETER IS FOCUSSED ON OUR LORD, HE IS I NDEED ABLE TO DO SO!
Our Holy Church Fathers believe that St Peter’s initial strength of
Faith allowed him to walk on the water.
Furthermore, St Peter did not ask Christ to make him walk on
water, but rather to be with Him for his yearning was not to
perform any Miracle but rather to be joyfully reunited with
Christ.
Thus St Peter was able to participate in the Divine Miracle of Christ
as long as he focused exclusively on Him.
However, THE I NSTANT ST PETER TOOK HIS ATTENTION OFF CHRIST AND
FOCUSED ON THE SURROUNDING CONDITI ONS, HE LOST FAITH AND
BEGAN TO SINK.
“Lord, Save me!” IS THE MOST POWERFUL PRAYER that has been
repeated countless times throughout the centuries.
The Greek term for “doubt” in this context means “to waver” or “to
hesitate.”
Thus, THE ACTUAL CAUSE OF ST PETER’S SINKING WAS NOT DUE TO THE
STORMY CONDITIONS, BUT RATHER DUE TO HIS SUDDEN DOUBT,
WAVERING OR HESITATION, which then caused Christ to rebuke
St Peter rather than the wind and waves.
“AND IMMEDIATELY JESUS STRETCHED OUT HIS HAND AND CAUGHT
HIM...” WHENEVER WE BESEECH GOD to Save us or to have
Mercy on us or our weak human condition, HE IMMEDIATELY
RESPONDS.
NOT ONE WORD OF OUR PRAYERS GO UNHEARD BY GOD but we must
ACCEPT WITH ALL DUE HUMILITY AND OBEDI ENCE THAT EVERYTHI NG IS
ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD and according to His Divine,
unique Plan or Purpose for each us!
ONLY GOD HAS DOMI NION OVER ALL CREATION.
Consequently THESE DIVINE MIRACLES CERTAI NLY CONFIRM THE
DIVINITY OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST.
THE IMAGERY OF CHRIST AND HIS DISCIPLES I N A BOAT ON THE STORM-
TOSSED WAVES DEPICTS HIS HOLY CHURCH, which is steered by
God and filled with His Faithful Disciples, and carried safely
over the turmoil and troubles of earthly life, towards the safety
of His Eternal Harbour – His Heavenly Kingdom.
GOD PERMI TS US TO EXPERIENCE THE STORMY, LIFE-THREATENING
CONDITION OF EARTHLY LIFE SO THAT WE MAY ALSO UNDERSTAND
AND APPRECIATE HIS DIVINE PROVIDENCE AND PROTECTION,
WITHOUT WHI CH WE WOULD NEVER BE ABLE TO SURVI VE OR
PROGRESS.
When Christ rebukes the stormy conditions that threaten life and
limb, it also illustrate His Compassion for His most beloved
creatures – mankind – for HE ALONE CAN ALSO CALM THE
STORMY, THREATENING TEMPESTS OF OUR IMMORTAL SOUL.
This is the second time that our Lord permitted His Disciples to be
caught in a storm at sea.
During the first terrifying storm at sea, He was with them but in this
instance, they were on their own.
In this manner, CHRIST STRENGTHENED THEIR FAITH I N HIS ETERNAL
PRESENCE – HE I S ALWAYS WITH US – EVEN IN THE MI DST OF THE
WORST CONDITI ONS AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF OUR EARTHLY LI FE.
“IT IS I (AM)” – “I AM” IS THE DIVINE NAME OF GOD. Thereby our
Lord Jesus Christ reassured His Disciples of His Absolute and
Divine Authority over life – especially their lives, as His Faithful
Disciples.
THIS IS THE FI RST TIME THAT HIS DISCIPLES CONFESS OUR LORD AS “SON
OF GOD” – and knowing that only God can be worshipped,
they confess His Divinity by worshipping and glorifying Him.
N i n t h S u n d a y A f t e r P e n t e c o s t – Wa l k i n g o n Wa t e r
Often, we think of God’s Will as some overarching plan
for our lives.
We tend to focus on ‘the big picture’ and forget that
God’s Will for us is revealed every day - it is
discerned through a daily - if not moment by moment
- Relationship and participation in the Life of the
Holy Trinity through His Holy Church.
We can forget - or willingly choose to forget - that “...Thy
Will be done...” goes hand in hand with “...give us this
day our Daily (Super-Substantial) Bread...” feeding on
Christ through the Holy Mysteries.
It is necessary for those who Love God and who desire
Salvation, to suspend their own opinions and
preferences in order to learn God’s Way, to continue
to Struggle, to change into the Likeness of Christ.
In this way, we learn to participate more and more in the
Life that He is.
The word that St Paul used to describe this Relationship
of Cooperation in today’s Epistle is “Synergoi,”
“Synergy,” saying: “..we are God’s fellow workers.”
This is no 50/50 Relationship: We are not equals with
God.
We cooperate with God’s Work in us through our
Obedience to His Teachings, to His Church, to the
Hierarchy - so that we can be (brought into His Holy
Flock), in order that we may grow in Christ-Likeness
and ultimately change, by conforming ourselves to
God’s Will.
Obviously, this is a great challenge, but a necessary one if
we are to grow in Christ and be Deified.
The Priests – as our Spiritual Fathers to all who are
communing members of the Church - do not simply
offer us their own ‘opinions’ about Christ, His Holy
Church, or the Orthodox Faith.
Rather, they strive - as our Holy Fathers in Christ - to
(unconditionally) Love us just as Christ our Saviour
Loves us, to teach us, to preach to us and to adjure us
(i.e. to earnestly appeal to us) to stay on the sure Path
that has been entrusted to us by our Lord Jesus
Christ.
God Loves us too much to leave us to our own devices!
Instead, He grants us Priests, Spiritual Fathers and
Teachers who are accountable in His Church, to Guide
us—if we are open to receiving their Guidance.
9
T H
S U N D A Y A F T E R P E N T E C O S T – 9
T H
O F S T M A T T H E W - W A L K I N G O N W A T E R – 1 0 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4 11.
The tenets of Orthodoxy can be learnt from books - but
the heart of Orthodoxy is learnt only through
Humility and Obedience, and thereby, through
Cooperation with the Work of the Holy Spirit in our
life.
In this way, St Paul reminds us today: “...no other
Foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid,
which is Jesus Christ.”
As our Priests ‘build’ into us, they are Called by and are
accountable to God, to their Bishops, to give us the
Fullness of the Truth of Christ, even if we struggle
with it or - God forbid! - reject it.
Consider, for example, their calling of us to attend Holy
Services, to make regular Confession, to worthily
prepare to receive the Eucharist, to pray daily, to put
Christ first and to witness to the Truth He is, to come
before Christ’s Presence in our outward dress and
with inward Humility, seeing all the Saints who
surround us.
These admonitions can all be challenging, but, they are
also necessary for our Spiritual Welfare and progress.
As far as the Holy Priesthood is concerned, each Priest is
responsible for how they build on what they have
received and the extent to which they are willing to
Cooperate with the Work of the Holy Spirit in our Life
through the Church, which is granted to us to grow
and work out our Salvation.
Healing, Growth and Salvation in Christ requires a
dynamic, active, ongoing Relationship and
Communion with our Living God—He Who is Eternal
Life.
And so - realizing what is at stake - we live with Eternity
before us – and we prioritise the Kingdom of God
over all that is temporal and which inevitably passes
away, so that we may become Inheritors of that
Eternal Kingdom and help others to find their way
into the Kingdom as well through our example and
Life of Faith.
Our Cooperation - our daily “yes!” to God, is predicated
(asserted or based) on Faith, or, at least, the desire for
Faith.
And Faith is one of those big concepts that often eludes
us or can seem ambiguous.
Faith means letting go of our control - our own will - and
implicitly trusting God, which is a tremendous
Struggle for us to achieve.
Taking a big step of Faith can induce fear.
The more pride we have, the more we fear the Spiritual
Surgery that God may be doing in us to grow us in
Cooperation with His Work in our Life for our
Salvation.
The Disciples of Christ were in constant fear as they
followed our Lord Jesus AND, they were in constant
need of Faith.
They seemed to have been placed in one perilous
situation after another.
In today’s Gospel, we heard how they had been tossed
about on the stormy sea - the huge waves and the
buffeting wind terrified them. To add their terror,
they suddenly beheld Christ walking towards them on
the storm-tossed waves. Imagine their reactions when
they assumed He was a ghostly Phantom Who was
approaching them!
Immediately our Lord comforted them and dispelled their
fear with His Words: “Be of good cheer! It is I – do
not be afraid!”
He literally used the Divine Name of God – “I Am!”
And who else has such Power over the laws and the
elements of nature, except Almighty God?
Although he was still slightly dubious, the impetuous St
Peter called out: “Lord, if it is Thee, command me to
come to Thee on the water.”
And our Lord simply responded: “Come!” and St Peter
took a huge step of Faith as he climbed over the
gunwale of the boat and onto the storm tossed waves
and began to actually walk on the water!
We often forget these significant facts when we consider
this passage.
While taking his first few steps, St Peter exhibited the
profound Faith that is necessary for us to reach
Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
St Peter was avidly focussed on Christ – and the
impossible became possible for him.
Then, in a split second, as St Peter became distracted by
the surrounding circumstances, and took his focus off
our Lord, and began to sink beneath the waves.
The very instant his Faith wavered – being distracted
from his focus on God Who makes everything possible
- he began to sink.
It is exactly the same with every one of us, because if we
hope to build on the Foundation with which we have
been entrusted in the Holy Church of Christ — our
New Life in Christ that is our hope for Eternal Life—
our Cooperation of Faith - our absolute trust in God -
is of the utmost significance.
We must have trust and confidence in His Holy Church -
the ‘unsinkable ship’ that He has provided to safely
carry us to the Shelter and Protection of His Holy
Harbour.
Faith means ceaselessly Repenting our sins and
immediately striving to regain our focus on Christ.
However, as St Peter demonstrated: Faith requires
dedication and very hard work – and often it is
extremely difficult to maintain our focus on Christ
when there are so many distractions surrounding us.
But when we are overwhelmed by our fears and doubts
we begin to drown in the stormy tempest of the
mundane material world.
The distractions of our various arrogant and self-
indulgent passions, our worldly preoccupations, our
egotistical self-focus soon causes us to Spiritually
Drown – for we sink into the depths of our unbelief or
weak Faith.
And so, God in His Love and Understanding grants us His
Great Mercy.
He offers us the all the necessary Spiritual Tools that
help us to maintain our focus on Him by means of
our Repentance and Cooperation with His Divine
Works of Healing, Spiritual Growth and Salvation.
These Spiritual Tools consist of our daily Morning and
Evening Prayers, the Jesus Prayer, our calling on His
Divine Name throughout the day, our Fasting - which
reminds us to hunger and thirst after God, our
attending all the Divine Services of His Holy Church,
our imitation of the Lives of the Saints, our
application of the Teachings and Commandments
recorded in the Holy Scriptures and Inspired Writings
of our Holy Church Fathers and Mother, and our
regular partaking of the necessary Holy Mysteries —
all of which He offers us as He guides us in through
His Holy Church.
We need all these Spiritual Tools for being Orthodox
Christians – or Disciples of Christ – means that we
never do anything on our own or follow our own
faulty ideas and sinful path.
It is vitally essential to our Spiritual Welfare to make
constant use of all the Spiritual Tools that the Lord
our God has entrusted to us.
Each of us is accountable to God for our own words,
thoughts and deeds.
Consequently, we must be continuously Repentant, which
means that we must strive for the essential,
inseparable Virtues of Humility and Obedience.
All our concentration and focus must be on Christ so that
we may grow closer in our Relationship and
Communion with Him.
What foundation are we building on?
Are we making use of the Priceless Treasure that God
grants us?
We begin with cooperation and a teachable spirit, praying
for an increase in Faith and by striving to keep our
focus on Christ at all times.
May each of us pray that through growth in Faith, we may
do the hard work of cooperating with God’s Work in
our Life, through Obedience, Humility, Repentance,
and Love for God and His Holy Church, making use of
all the Spiritual Tools that He has entrusted to us.
In this way, we will be among those who build on the
Foundation of Christ with the purest ‘gold,’ and not as
those who are Saved, “...as through Fire.” (1 CORINTHIANS
3:15).
FR. ROBERT MACLEAN - HOLY ARCHANGELS ORTHODOX CHURCH
SERMON DELI VERED ON SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013 - CHRI ST WALKS ON T HE WATER
HT T P:/ / WWW.ORTHODOXANNAPOLI S.ORG/ 9T H-SUNDAY-AFTER-PENT ECOST-ORT HODOX-
HOMI LY-ON-CHRI ST-WALKI NG-ON-WAT ER/
12. 9
T H
S U N D A Y A F T E R P E N T E C O S T – 9
T H
O F S T M A T T H E W - W A L K I N G O N W A T E R – 1 0 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4
P r a y e r i s t h e Te s t o f E v e r y t h i n g . . . . ( P a r t 1 )
Prayer is the test of everything; Prayer is also the Source of everything; Prayer is the Driving Force of everything;
Prayer is also the Director of everything. If Prayer is right, everything is right. For Prayer will not allow anything to
go wrong." — ST. THEOPHAN THE RECLUSE
Perhaps the most popular and basic definition of Prayer
is that it is a Conversation with God.
While this is essentially true, Orthodox Christianity looks
upon Prayer as something deeper than ‘conversation.’
Prayer is understood as an intimate Encounter with God.
When we pray, we meet with God in our hearts, in the
sanctuary of all our thoughts, motivations, dreams,
emotions and concerns.
This is a place where we can share our inner selves with
no other human person as completely as we can share
ourselves with our Lord.
To enter into this very personal and intimate place with
God, full of Faith and Love, is to feel His Presence in
our Life in the most profound and Life-giving of ways.
In this place in our heart, we no longer perceive God as
being ‘out there,’ looking down on us.
Rather, we sense His Presence inside us, stirring our
heart, Guiding our actions, Enlightening our mind.
Our Orthodox Christian Faith teaches us that Prayer is the
most natural thing a person can do - it is what we are
created for.
In Paradise, Adam and God conversed frequently. It is
only after the Fall that we hide from God and choose
not to speak openly with Him.
Human beings were made for Prayer - not because God
needs us to pray to Him - but because we need to
connect with Him Who made us, Saved us from sin
and Death, and showers His Sanctifying Grace upon
us.
Without Prayer there is no Life - not in its fullest sense.
As human beings we are created for Prayer just as we are
created to breathe or to think.
Prayer is part of our unique nature; of all God's creatures,
only human beings are able to perceive and interact
with both the visible (physical) and invisible (spiritual)
realities.
Prayer is so important in our Life that St Gregory of
Nazianzos instructed us to "...remember God more
often than you breath."
At first, this Task might seem daunting - perhaps
impossible.
In Truth, we find that often the greatest obstacle to our
developing Prayer Life is our own lack of trust in
ourselves, and in what God can do for and with us.
Often we ’psych’ ourselves out when it comes to Prayer.
We think that it is only for the spiritual ‘specialists’ to
engage in Prayer -- Clergy, Monks, Nuns.
We feel that if we need to Struggle with our Prayer Life we
must not be "doing it right."
In Truth, it is only when we Struggle with Prayer that we
are approaching it in a healthy way.
But even though Prayer is - or at least should be - a
natural part in our human make-up, Prayer is a
Discipline - it is a Spiritual Exercise.
An analogy commonly used by the Saints is that Prayer is
like Fire.
Initially, it starts out only as a small spark in our soul.
Eventually though, if we fan the flames with a constant
effort to pray, this spark grows into Spiritual Flames
— and these Flames are the Burning Bush in our soul,
where we, like Moses, are able to speak with God.
To feed the Fire of Prayer in our soul, we must work
ourselves into a regular pattern — or Rule of Prayer.
Like a Fire, if our Prayer Life is left untended, it will die
away and turn cold.
The more we pray, the more meaningful and nourishing
our Prayer Life becomes, and our desire to pray
increases until we are able to continuously Converse
with God.
In Orthodox Spirituality, we recognize two basic types of
Prayer: Liturgical (i.e. communal worship) and
personal Prayer.
In our Church both types of Prayer are understood as
corporate acts – for they are carried out by Believers
as the single Body of Christ
Liturgical Prayer is obviously corporate as a group of
Brethren in Christ gather together to offer Hymns and
Prayers to God.
However, even when we pray in private, we do not pray
alone. Rather, we join our voices to the countless
other Orthodox Christians throughout the world who
are also lifting their hearts to God in Prayer at that
moment.
Christianity is always Lived in Christ as a group - never as
an isolated individual. (It is not a solo, independent
Journey!)
Liturgy and private Prayer are interdependent. It is not
enough for us only to pray by ourselves, because
every human being has an innate need for community
- a need to belong.
Our Liturgical Worship also gives us the order and
structure necessary for the stability of our Spiritual
Life.
At the same time, our Liturgical Prayer is truly vibrant
and Life-giving only when those present are "people of
Prayer" outside the Holy Services as well.
Our Orthodox Faith and our Prayer Life is not ‘Sunday-
only.’
Both Liturgical and personal Prayer compliments and
supplements each other – and in both structure is
important.
Worship Services have a set structure of fixed and
variable parts.
Although our private Prayer can be much more simple
and ‘customised’ than Worship Services, we still
structure it as part of our daily Life.
In our personal Prayer Life, we need to develop a habit of
praying regularly at certain times during the day,
which is called our "Rule of Prayer."
Ancient Christian sources instruct us to pray three times
a day: in the morning, at midday and in the evening.
In this way we keep God on our mind and in our heart
throughout the day - upon waking up, in the midst of
our daily tasks and before retiring for the night.
This regularity is very important because, at its core, our
Life and Prayer is in constant remembrance of God.
The Saints taught us that our Prayers should include the
following four elements, in this order:
1 & 2) Glorification and Thanksgiving: the primary work
of Prayer is to Glorify God and Thank Him for His
Great Blessings, both known and unknown;
3) Confession of sins: we ask God for His Forgiveness
when we fall short of the Life to which He has Called
us;
4) Supplication: we ask God for His Great Mercy and to
grant our Petitions for others as well as ourselves.
This structure helps us to remember that God’s Blessings
are granted to us not because we have earned them,
but in spite of our imperfections and faults.
It also helps us to avoid regarding God as being merely
able to fulfil our requests because the last thing we
must do is ask for things that are Spiritually
Unbeneficial for our Eternal Salvation.
BY REVEREND FATHER ANDREW JARMUS
SAINT NICHOLAS ALBANIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
N i k i t a s S t i t h a t o s
A passion is not the same thing as a sinful act: they are
quite distinct.
A passion operates in the soul while a sinful act involves
the body. For example, love of pleasure, avarice and
love of praise are three particularly noxious passions
of the soul; but unchastity, greed and wrong-doing
are sinful acts of the flesh.
Lust anger and arrogance are passions of the soul
produced when the soul's powers operate in a way
that is contrary to nature.
Adultery, murder, theft, drunkenness and whatever else
is done through the body, are sinful and noxious
actions of the flesh.
. D O R M I T I O N O F O U R E V E R B L E S S E D L A D Y T H E O T O K O S 1 5 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4
13
Gr e e k Or t h o d o x Pa t r i a r c h a t e o f A l e x a n d r i a & A l l A f r i c a
ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHI P TO T HE FAT HER, AND T O THE SON, AND T O THE HOLY SPI RI T , NOW AND FOREVER, AND UNT O THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN.
REMEMBERI NG ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORI OUS LADY, MARI A, THEOT OKOS, YET EVER VI RGI N, T OGET HER WI TH ALL T HE SAI NT S. AND LET US COMMI T
OURSELVES AND ONE ANOT HER AND OUR WHOLE LI FE TO CHRI ST OUR GOD. AMEN.
1 5 A u g u s t 2 0 1 4
Do r m i t i o n o f o u r L a d y , t h e E v e r B l e s s e d T h e o t o k o s
F E S T A L A P O L Y T I K I O N – D O R M I T I O N O F E V E R B L E S S E D T H E O T O K O S
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
F E S T A L K O N T A K I O N – D O R M I T I O N O F T H E E V E R B L E S S E D T H E O T O K O S
Tin en Presvies akimiton Theotikon, ke prostasies
ametatheton Elpida, ta Fos ke nekrosis ouk ekratisen.
Os gar Zois Mitera, pros tin Zoin metestisen, O MITRAN
IKISAS AIPARTHENON.
Neither the Tomb nor Death had power over the
Theotokos, who is Ever Watchful in Her Prayers and
in whose Intercession lies Unfailing Hope. For as the
Mother of Life She has been Transported into Life by
Him WHO DWELT WITHIN HER EVER VIRGIN WOMB.
Ma t i n s G o s p e l A c c o r d i n g t o S t L u k e 1 : 3 8 – 4 9 & 5 6
T H E V I S I T A T I O N
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
Annunciation of Archangel Gabriel was that of THE HI GHEST
DEGREE OF HUMI LI TY AND OBEDI ENCE TO GOD.
] THE INCARNATI ON OF GOD THE SON I S NOT ONLY THE DIVI NE
WORK OF ALMI GHTY GOD, BUT IT ALSO I NVOLVED THE
FREE AND WILLING RESPONSE OF MANKIND I N THE HOLY
AND DEVOUT PERSON OF ST MARY – THE EVER BLESSED,
ALL HOLY THEOTOKOS.
Although Eve once disobeyed the Lord our God, ST MARY
INSTANTLY AND VOLUNTARILY OBEYED HIS DI VINE 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 alienated and
distanced herself from God – exile and alienation caused
by sin – our EVER BLESSED LADY OPENED HER HEART AND
SOUL UP TO GOD AND DREW EVER CLOSER TO HIM BY HER
HUMBLE OBEDI ENCE TO HIS DIVI NE 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 I T BE
ACCORDI NG TO THY WILL AND NOT MY WI LL, O LORD!”
] AS SOON AS CHRI ST BECAME I NCARNATE, HOLY
PROPHECY RESUMED IN ISRAEL.
God had silenced His Holy Prophets for many years and even
permitted an illegitimate usurper occupy the position of
‘King of Judea.’
AND I N THE LAST DAYS BEFORE THE COMI NG OF CHRI ST, GOD
ALSO SILENCED ST ZACHARIAH, THE HI GH PRI EST.
WITH THESE THREE SI GNI FI CANT ROLES BEING VACANT,
ILLEGITI MATE AND SILENT, ALL WAS READY FOR THE SON OF
GOD TO BE REVEALED AS OUR DIVI NE AND ETERNAL PROPHET,
KING AND HIGH PRI EST.
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.
14. D O R M I T I O N O F O U R E V E R B L E S S E D L A D Y T H E O T O K O S 1 5 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4
AT THE SOUND OF HER GREETI NG, THE BLESSED ST JOHN - AS A
TINY SIX MONTH BABY STILL DEVELOPING IN THE WOMB OF HI S
MOTHER - PROPHESI ED THE DI VINE PRESENCE OF GOD
INCARNATE BY LEAPI NG FOR JOY.
BECAUSE ST JOHN IS GOD’S HOLY PROPHET, HIS RECOGNITION OF
CHRI ST while they were still both in the wombs of their
respective mothers, FULFILLED ST JEREMI AH’S HOLY
PROPHESY:
 “Before I formed Thee in the womb, I knew Thee.” (JEREMIAH
1:5)
] THE ALL HOLY EVER VIRGI N THEOTOKOS RECEI VES VENERATI ON
FROM THE HEAVENLY HOSTS AS WELL AS ALL HUMANI TY.
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 PANAGI A MARY I S CONFESSED AS “THE MOTHER OF MY
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
DIVI NE IN NATURE - OUR LORD JESUS CHRI ST I S THE TRUE SON
OF GOD HIMSELF!
At Holy Vespers of the Annunciation, we declare: “I T IS THE
WORD OF GOD WHO DWELLS IN HER.”
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)
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)
This lovely Hymn is chanted during the Matins Service.
From it we are taught:
ä FAITHFUL CHRI STIANS FOR ALL TIME HONOUR AND
VENERATE THE ALL HOLY, EVER VIRGI N THEOTOKOS as
she prophesied: “... all generation will call me
Blessed.”
ä IT IS IMPOSSI BLE TO BELI EVE IN THE INSPI RATI ON OF HOLY
SCRI PTURE YET NOT BLESS OUR LADY THEOTOKOS.
ä OUR PANAGI A ASCRI BED THE MIRACLE OF THE
INCARNATION TO ALMI GHTY GOD – not to herself –
which reveals Her deep and sincere Humility and
Knowledge that GOD IS THE SOURCE OF ALL DIVINE
GRACE.
ä Through the Incarnation, GOD REIGNS OVER ALL
NATIONS.
Because our Lady Theotokos had no mother to confide in or to
instruct her regarding her impending motherhood, I T WAS
NATURAL FOR HER TO HAVE REMAI NED WITH HER AUNT, 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”)
P r o k e i m e n o n
Sing Praises to our God, sing praises to our King!
Clap your hands, all you Nations!
T h e E p i s t l e o f S t P a u l t o t h e P h i l i p p i a n s 2 : 5 - 1 1
P R E S E R V I N G U N I T Y I N H U M I L I T Y
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.
This passage consists of A HYMN THAT WAS ALREADY IN USE IN THE
EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH, and it was quoted here by St
Paul.
ä IT CALLS US TO CONTEMPLATE THE EXTREME AND ABSOLUTE
HUMI LI TY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRI ST – the Majestic and
All Powerful Incarnate Son of God – which is
ä A DIVI NE TRUTH THAT I S NECESSARY FOR ALL SUFFERI NG AND
STRUGGLI NG CHRI STIANS TO UNDERSTAND, TO APPRECI ATE
AND TO I MI TATE THROUGH LIVI NG EVERY MOMENT OF THIS
LIFE I N CHRI ST.
The words of this particular passage of Holy Scripture have
been incorporated into many Hymns of the Orthodox
Church.
Christ is He Who – being in the Form of God, i.e. His Eternal,
Divine Nature – is also in the form of a bondservant – I N
OUR HUMAN LIKENESS, HIS HUMAN NATURE – and so HE WAS
VOLUNTARI LY SUBJECT TO DEATH.
CHRI ST COULD ONLY ENTER HADES I N HI S HUMAN NATURE WHERE - I N HI S
DI VI NE NATURE - HE SMASHED OPEN THE I MPRISONING GATES OF
HADES AND SET THE RI GHTEOUS FREE TO REST IN PEACE I N PARADI SE
UNTI L THE FI NAL JUDGEMENT. – mp
OUR LORD JESUS CHRI ST WHO DI ED UPON THE CROSS FOR OUR
ETERNAL SALVATI ON, HAS BEEN EXALTED AND NAMED AS
“LORD” BY GOD THE FATHER – A DI VINE NAME THAT GOD THE
SON SHARES WI TH 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 I N THE COMPLETE, FULL DIVI NE NATURE OF GOD THE
FATHER. (COLOSSIANS 1:15)
“Robbery” (“harpagmon“ – “prize“ or “booty“) refers to
something that is stolen or looted illegally.
CHRI ST HAS EQUALI TY WITH GOD THE FATHER – not by illegal or
forceful seizure or theft but DUE TO HIS ETERNAL DIVI NE
NATURE, HAVI NG BEEN BEGOTTEN BY HIS ETERNAL DIVI NE
FATHER.
THERE WAS NO THREAT, NO LOSS AND NO CHANGE I N THE DI VINE
NATURE OF OUR LORD JESUS WHEN HE TOOK ON OUR HUMAN
NATURE and offered us His Eternal Salvation.
Christ “made Himself of no reputation” is a reference to HIS
DIVI NE WILL, NOT HIS DIVI NE NATURE for HE “EMPTI ED”
HIMSELF – not by laying down or ridding Himself of His Divine
Nature or by setting it aside, but BY VOLUNTARI LY TAKI NG ON
OUR HUMAN FORM AND NATURE. (HE “EMPTIED” HIMSELF OF HIS
MAJESTIC DIVINE GLORY IN ORDER TO ASSUME OUR WEAK HUMAN
FORM AND NATURE. )
OUR DIVI NE SAVI OUR TOOK “THE FORM OF A BONDSERVANT”
VOLUNTARI LY SHARI NG OUR HUMAN CONDITION except for our
inclination and ability to sin – HE CANNOT SIN!
To us human beings, CHRI ST LOOKS JUST LI KE US, FOR BEING
TRULY INCARNATE, HE IS FULLY HUMAN BY NATURE AND FORM.
IN HIS HUMAN NATURE, CHRI ST SHOWED THE FULLNESS OF HIS
HUMI LI TY BY HIS ABSOLUTE OBEDIENCE – EVEN TO DEATH,
which has enslaved us since our Fall.
TO HAVE DIED BY CRUCI FIXION – a terrible, humiliating and
shameful form of execution for the worst type of criminals
of the Roman Empire – WAS AS REPULSIVE TO THE ROMAN
CITI ZENS AS I T WAS TO THE HEBREWS WHO CONSI DERED IT THE
ULTIMATE CURSE.
However, THE DEATH OF OUR SAVI OUR BROUGHT ETERNAL LIFE TO
ALL WHO ARE JOI NED TO HIM – EVEN THOSE WHOM HE
CONFRONTED IN HADES AND WHO REPENTED THEI R SI NS.
. D O R M I T I O N O F O U R E V E R B L E S S E D L A D Y T H E O T O K O S 1 5 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4 15.
T h e H o l y G o s p e l A c c o r d i n g t o S t L u k e 1 0 : 3 8 - 4 2 & 1 1 : 2 7 – 2 8
O N E T H I N G I S N E E D E D !
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!”
H o m i l y o n t h e Do r m i t i o n o f o u r E v e r B l e s s e d , A l l H o l y L a d y , T h e o t o k o s
>In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
Holy Spirit...
Dear ( Brethren in Christ): Today we celebrate the Holy
Dormition of the Mother of God.
We do not celebrate “the death” of our Lady Theotokos,
but Her Dormition.
It is a Feast because all the Holy Apostles of Christ were
there, with one exception – St Thomas – and there was
the singing of the Angels of Heaven, and there was
great Spiritual Joy in Jerusalem on that Day of the
Dormition of the Mother of God.
And that is why, for us Orthodox Christians, the
Dormition of our Lady Theotokos is what we are
praying for in every Holy Service - that we, ourselves,
may experience a Christian end to our life, which is
painless, unashamed and Peaceful, and a good
account before the Dread Judgement Seat of Christ
our Lord.
Our Lady Theotokos, the Ever Virgin Mary, is the First
Saint of the Holy Church of Christ and we see in Her
the Perfect Christian (the Perfect Disciple of Christ.)
We see our own Vocation as a Reality in Her Life and
Dormition. And that is why She is so important for all
of us.
The Ever Blessed Theotokos is the Mother of God, the
Mother of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who
prays for us and whom we can ask to intercede on our
behalf and whom we can ask to be with us now and
also at the time of our Repose.
And we believe very strongly that She will be there
because She is the First Saint of the Holy Church.
Our Lady was also the First Saint even before Her
Dormition and thus Her Life is our best example of
Christian Life.
She is for us all the best example of a human being who
always obeyed the Word of God.
That is most important for us as well, because we are
Orthodox Christians, which means that we have to
accept and be obedient to the Word of God: the Holy
Gospel being like a Constitution for us because it is
the Word of God.
Furthermore, our Ever Blessed Lady was a human being
who prayed, who was always with Her Son and God –
not only physically but also spiritually – and at the
First Sign – the First Divine Miracle of Christ, She took
the initiative, being present.
And that is significant for us, too, for as Christians we
have to stay in the Holy Church because the Life of
the Church is essential for our Salvation – not only the
Holy Gospel, the Word of God, but also the Work of
Christ in the Community of His Holy Church.
Another noteworthy, important fact is that our Lady
Theotokos is our most perfect example of Obedience
to Her own Son.
We have the Holy Gospel – the Word of our Lord, and we
have the Life of His Holy Church - with our Bishops
who guide us and whom we must obey as being the
Icons of Christ our Lord.
The Bishops are not like our civil authorities, neither are
they Kings but rather Servants of Christ and His Holy
Flock.
Therefore we cannot separate the Holy Gospel, Church
Life and our Obedience to Christ or to His Icon in
Church who are our Bishops.
If we accept our Life in Christ and if we live in the Holy
Spirit, then certainly the end of our lifespan in this
world will also be a “Dormition” (a Falling Asleep)
and we will receive from Christ the Kingdom of
Heaven.
Let us be Faithful.
Let us be Obedient.
Let us accept the Holy Gospel as the Word of God, and
the Life of His Holy Church as a Community of
Love (Agape – unconditional, Divine Love!) and let
us also attend to the teachings of our Bishops in
order to be good, faithful Christians – real Disciples
of Christ.
Amen
SERMON PREACHED BY ARCHBI SHOP GABRI EL OF COMANA ON THE FEAST
OF THE DORMI TI ON, AT THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY TRI NI TY & THE
ANNUNCI ATI ON, OXFORD – 28 AUGUST 2006
HTTP://WWW.PRAVMI R.COM/SERMON-ON-THE-FEAST-OF-THE-DORMI TI ON/
F a i t h A l o n e i s I n s u f f i c i e n t f o r S a l v a t i o n
Many people who call themselves ‘Christian’ think that it
is through Faith alone that we will be Saved.
This is a dangerous error.
Salvation requires us to receive the Holy Spirit.
St Theophan explained: “...’Believe! Believe, and the Holy
Spirit will come!’ This is the biggest lie. Faith is indeed
an indispensable condition for receiving the Holy Spirit,
but the very receiving of the Gift comes about not
from Faith alone, but from Faith through the
Divinely-established Mysteries. This is how it was
even in Apostolic times.”
Our current culture is misled by our dependence on
rational thought, which leads us to accept the idea
that we only need to believe and we can be Saved.
This is an intellectual deception.
We cannot intellectually think of God and then expect to
receive the Holy Spirit, Who is His Saving Grace.
The Holy Spirit is only received through the Holy
Mysteries (Holy Sacraments) of His Holy, Orthodox
Church.
St Theophan makes this point through the story of St Paul
in Ephesos:
When he arrived at Ephesos St Paul encountered several
Believers and asked them if they had received the
Holy Spirit, and they replied that they had not even
heard of the Holy Spirit.
They had been Baptised with the Baptism of St John the
Forerunner (and Baptist of Christ who had Baptised
with water alone).
St Paul then Baptised them with the Holy Baptism of
Christ (i.e. he Baptised them with [Sanctified] ‘Water and
Fire’ – 3 Immersions in the Names of the Holy Trinity )- after
which he laid his hands on them and they were filled
with the Holy Spirit.
The Baptism of St John, which they had received before,
was only for their Renewal and their Preparation for
receiving the Life-giving and Salvific Holy Spirit, Who
is bestowed on us through ‘the Laying on of Hands.’
Later, as the Church grew and spread throughout the
world and the Apostles could not personally perform
the Laying on of Hands, they introduced Holy Chrism
(Sanctified Oil) for our reception of the Gifts of the
Holy Spirit, which makes us full, operative Members
of Christ’s Holy Church and worthy partakers of all
Her Holy Mysteries.
Today in the Orthodox Church we are received into the
Body of Christ though our ONE Holy Baptism and the
Holy Mystery of Chrismation where we receive the
Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
This Holy Mystery is essential for all Orthodox Christians
(and should always be performed with deep respect and a
sincere commitment by the recipients – and their families -
16. D O R M I T I O N O F O U R E V E R B L E S S E D L A D Y T H E O T O K O S 1 5 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4
to Christ and all His Teachings and Divine Commandments,
which become our Way of Life – our Life in Christ.)
Many Protestant churches do not have this most essential
Holy Mystery – and they preach the idea of Faith alone
having already Saved them.
All they require is a Confession of Faith and then being
Baptised with water - an act that is often regard as
merely symbolic of their ‘commitment’ to Christ.
Those who follow this direction are grossly misled and
never receive the Holy Spirit (and all His Divine Gifts,
which are essential for our Union with God and the
understanding and fulfilment of His Teachings and
Commandments.)
(Orthodox Baptism and Chrismation is a REALITY for the Holy
Mysteries actually cause us to change in a Divinely
Mysterious manner, which is beyond our understanding
or comprehension, but which becomes evident as we
grow in Christ.)
Consequently, once we have the Gifts of the Holy Spirit,
which we receive through the Holy Mystery of
Chrismation, we certainly need to continuously
nurture them so that the Presence and Action of the
Holy Spirit can grow and develop properly within us.
If we fail to do so these wonderful Gifts of the Holy Spirit,
which makes marvellous things possible for us, will
remain latent or hidden.
If ignored, they will eventually become inactive, which will
be very difficult to reactivate and to restore.
For that reason, God has granted us the other essential
Holy Mysteries of Confession and Communion, which
help us to maintain the Active Work of the Holy Spirit
by our continuous Repentance and partaking of Holy
Eucharist, which further imparts to us His Divine
Gifts.
Of course we have Faith, but we also receive the Holy
Spirit through Chrismation and continually Renew His
Presence and Energy through the other Holy
Mysteries.
It also the reason for us to continually engage in our
Ascetic Efforts - to Purify our heart so that the "Fire"
of the Holy Spirit will be fanned and be allowed to act
through all our bodily actions.
In this way we can become Virtuous and with Humility
and Obedience, fulfil the Commandments and
Teachings of God.
This is the only Way to our True Union with God and His
Eternal Salvation.
ST T HE OP HAN T HE RE CL USE – “ T HE SP I RI T UAL L I FE ”
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I T H- AL ONE - I S - I NS UFFI CI E NT - FOR . HT ML
C . S L e w i s O n U n d e r s t a n d i n g E v i l
We must remember that... the right Direction leads not
only to Peace but to knowledge.
When we are getting better, we understand more clearly
the evil that is still left in us.
When we are getting worse, we understand our own
badness less and less.
A moderately bad person knows he or she is not very
good, but those who are thoroughly bad think they
are all right.
This is common sense, really.
We understand sleep when we are awake, not while we
are sleeping.
We can see mistake in arithmetic when our mind is
working properly, but while we are making mistakes,
we cannot see them immediately and thus correct
them.
We can understand the nature of inebriation when we
are sober, but not if we are drunk.
Good people know about both good and evil, whereas
wicked people do not know about either.
Gl o r y t o Go d f o r A l l T h i n g s – On Hi s A p p e a r i n g i n t h e L i t u r g y
Standing in Church, listening to the Choir or Chanter while
the Priest censes the Icons, words swirl with the rising
smoke, and connections and associations multiply as
words evoke images, and images evoke thoughts:
participation, Co-Inheritance, Incarnation, Mystery,
Timeless Form and formless time, Fullness and
Emptiness, Fulfilment and…
And then the thought comes, fully formed or teasing, but it
arrives. Not as a result of logic or reason, not as the end
of a chain, but more like fruit falling from a tree, sweet
and wondrous.
The Knowledge that comes within the Liturgy belongs to a
different class of knowing than is most commonly
described.
The Liturgy never seeks to make a point. It is never
insistent or argumentative, does not teach or correct.
And yet there is an insistence and an argument, teaching
and correction within it.
Preoccupation and distraction easily overlook their
presence. Fatigue can render us immune. But when we
become present, even quiet to the Presence, Knowledge
comes.
And the Knowledge that comes is often itself without
words. Birthed in a torrent of words and sounds, the
Knowledge itself can be impossible to speak. But there
it is.
The Services that surround Christ’s Pascha, those of Great
Lent and Holy Week, are not the Fruit of immediate
Apostolic reflection.
Many elements within them are among the most “recent”
developments (although they are more than a
millennium in age).
The first Services of Pascha took place behind locked doors.
There, bewildered Disciples gathered only to be surprised
by interruptions of breathless witnesses saying: “The
Tomb was empty!” and “We saw a Vision of Angels!”
Unable to make sense of such things the gathering
remained. St Cephas and St John, St Luke and St
Cleopas joined the chorus of women’s voices: “We have
seen the Lord!” and the Mystery of those early
gatherings deepened.
Did they pray? Surely. How did they pray? Doubtless with
the singing of Psalms.
But the enigma and riddle remained.
The Liturgy deepened when, the doors being locked for fear
of the Jews, Christ Himself appeared within their midst
and spoke the Words that are repeated regularly
throughout the Church’s Services: “Peace be with you!”
And then ensues the tangible Liturgy, the touching and the
probing, the demonstration of the Crucified One Who
said: “Thrust your hand into My Side!”
We have the strange witness, even terrifying, in the early
Gospel accounts of these Liturgies: “Some doubted.”
How could they have seen and doubted? Seeing is not
always believing and doubting is not a matter of
thought.
The Risen Christ appears and the thoughts of all are laid
bare. The doubting heart was always a doubting heart –
for its thoughts are not those of reason but of fear.
But the Liturgy continued.
“On the first day of the week...” the Disciples continued to
meet. “On the first day of the week...” they continued to
read Scripture and Break Bread. And He Appeared. And
they met. And He Appeared.
And it is this Appearing, His Parousia, that abides.
It is this Appearing that the Liturgy remembers. And it
remembers actively as the Appearing itself continues.
If the Liturgy did not remember His Appearing, it would
have ceased. But it is His Appearing that
is Participation, Co-Inheritance, Incarnation, Mystery,
Timeless Form and Formless Time, Fullness and
Emptiness, Fulfilment and fully formed teasing.
It is not history that draws Christ’s Disciples back behind
the doors year by year and week by week. It is not
Memorial and sentiment that stands for hours in
darkened churches, lighting candles and breathing
Prayers. It is not superstition and ethnic pride.
It is the Appearing of Christ our Lord and Saviour!
“Finally, there is laid up for me the Crown of
Righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge,
will grant to me on that Day, and not to me only but
also to all who have Loved His Appearing.” (2 TITOS 4 : 8)
Even so. Come quickly!
FAT HE R ST E P HE N FR E E MAN
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AP P E A R I NG- I N- T H E - L I T UR GY /
1 0
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A P – 1 0
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O F S T M A T T H E W – L A C K O F F A I T H – A F T E R F E A S T O F D O R M I T I O N - 1 7 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4 17.
Gr e e k Or t h o d o x Pa t r i a r c h a t e o f Al e x a n d r i a & Al l Af r i c a
AL L GL OR Y , HONOU R A ND WOR S HI P T O T HE FA T HE R , A ND T O T HE SON, A ND T O T HE HOL Y SP I R I T , NOW A ND FOR E V E R , A ND U NT O T HE AGE S OF
AGE S . AME N
RE ME MB E R I NG A L S O OU R MOS T HOL Y , MOS T P U R E , MOS T BL E S S E D A ND GL OR I OU S L A DY , MA R Y ,
T HE OT OK OS Y E T E V E R VI R GI N, T OGE T HE R WI T H A L L T HE SA I NT S . AND L E T U S COMMI T OU R S E L V E S
A ND ONE A NOT HE R A N D OU R WHOL E L I F E T O CHR I S T OU R GOD. AME N .
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To n e 1
A f t e r f e a s t o f t h e Do r mi t i o n
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S u n d a y o f S t Ma t t h e w – L a c k o f F a i t h
AL S O T HE FE AS T OF ST MY RON, PRE S B Y T E R OF CY ZI KOS – ST P AUL & ST J UL I ANA OF
SY RI A – ST DI MI T R I OS , NE W MART Y R OF SAMAR I NA , EP I ROS – ST AL Y P I OS T HE
I CONOGRAP HE R OF K I E V NE AR CA VE S - ST T HY RS OS , ST L E U K I OS , ST CORONAT OS &
OT HE R MART Y RS OF BI T HY NI A – ST PAT ROKL OS OF T ROY E S – ST S T RAT ON, ST PHI L I P , ST
EUT Y CHI AN & ST CY P RI AN OF NI COME DI A – ST T HE ODOR I T OS T HE ENL I GHT E NE R OF T HE
L AP P S OF S OL OVK I – ST L E U CI OS OF VOL OK OL A MS K – ST PHI L I P , HE R MI T OF MOUNT
YANKOV, SU KHONA RI VE R – ST T B E L I AB US E RI DZE OF GE OR GI A
R E S U R R E C T I O N A P O L Y T I K I O N – T O N E 1
Tou lithou sfragisthentos ipo ton Ioudeon ke stratioton
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!
While the stone was sealed by the Judeans, and soldiers
stood on guard over Thine Undefiled Body, Thou rose
on the Third Day, O Saviour Who gives 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!
F E S T A L A P O L Y T I K I O N - T H E E V E R B L E S S E D T H E O T O K O S & E V E R V I R G I N M A R Y
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
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
F E S T A L K O N T A K I O N - E V E R B L E S S E D T H E O T O K O S & E V E R V I R G I N M A R Y
Tin en Presvies akimiton Theotokon, ke prostasie
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, neither
tomb nor Death could hold; for being the Mother of
Life, to the Life She carried - He Who dwelt in a
Womb Ever-Virgin.
Re s u r r e c t i o n Go s p e l 1 0 : J o h n 2 1 : 1 – 1 4
O U R R E S U R R E C T E D L O R D J E S U S C H R I S T S E R V E S B R E A K F A S T T O H I S E L E V E N A P O S T L E S
P r o k e i me n o n
L et T hy Mer cy be upon us , O L or d, as we have s et our Hope i n T hee,
Rej oi ce i n t he L or d, O Al l Ri ght eous men!
Th e F i r s t E p i s t l e o f S t P a u l t o t h e C o r i n t h i a n s 4 : 9 – 1 6
W I S D O M O F O U R S P I R I T U A L F A T H E R S
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.
WE ALL NEED TO DEFLATE OUR FALSE SENSE OF PRIDE because nothing
justifies thinking that we are better than or above anyone
else in this poor fallen world.
USUALLY WHAT WE ARE SO QUICK TO SEE IN OTHERS AND TO CRITICISE OR
MOCK, IS A REFLECTION OF OUR OWN CONDITION!
St Paul used irony and sarcasm as bitter medicine to
emphasise his WARNING AGAINST SUCH SELF-SATISFACTION AND
SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS.
The three parallel statements he used: “... we are fools... we are
weak... we are dishonoured...” are heaped upon each
other in a stinging series so that the relative comfort of THE
CORINTHIAN CHRISTIANS WAS CONTRASTED WITH THE PERSECUTED, AND
SOMETIMES EXTREMELY DIFFICULT, POVERTY STRICKEN LIVES OF THE HOLY
APOSTLES AND FAITHFUL DISCIPLES of Christ who gave themselves
entirely in the Holy Service of God and His people – in their
ceaseless devotion to spreading the Divine Truth and Light
of the Holy Gospel to the Spiritually Blind and Ignorant.
THE HOLY APOSTLES OF CHRIST ENDURED ALL KINDS OF HUMILIATION AND
PERSECUTION. They were insulted and despised, mocked
and beaten, deprived of any comfort or kindness by those
who hated them.
Despite all that, THEY NEVER FOUGHT BACK OR RETALIATED IN A SIMILAR
MANNER but instead THEY RESPONDED WITH AGAPE – DIVINE LOVE
AND COMPASSION towards their persecutors and those who
mocked them. And this they did all FOR THE TRUE JOY OF
SERVING OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST AND FULFILLING THEIR SACRED
MISSION OF RECONCILING THE SIN-DARKENED WORLD WITH GOD.
St Paul soothed the pain of his rebuke by REMINDING THE
CORINTHIANS OF HIS SPIRITUAL FATHERHOOD to them.
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Just like in any ordinary family life, THE HOLY CHURCH OF CHRIST HAS
MATURING SPIRITUAL CHILDREN WHO NEED 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.
T h e H o l y G o s p e l A c c o r d i n g t o S t Ma t t h e w 1 7 : 1 4 – 2 3
T H E E P I L E P T I C S O N & T H E S T R E N G T H O F F A I T H - E V E N A S S M A L L A S M U S T A R D S E E D
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 DEMONIC ACTIVITY
– ESPECIALLY IN OLD TESTAMENT TIMES.
By kneeling before our Lord Jesus, THE FATHER 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.
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 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)
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)
Nevertheless, CORRECTION IS NECESSARY AND ESSENTIAL SO THAT THE SIN
DOES NOT SPREAD TO OTHERS AS WELL.
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 accompanied Him to Mount
Tabor and witnessed His Transfiguration.
“THIS KIND” OF DEMON WAS A REFERENCE TO ALL EVIL POWERS OF SPIRITUAL
DARKNESS AND DEATH – AND NOT 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Te n t h S u n d a y A f t e r P e n t e c o s t – L a c k o f F a i t h
> In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
Holy Spirit...
Dear Brethren in Christ: In today’s Gospel Lesson we have
heard that God, our Lord, designates the strength of our
Faith as the main Weapon that is able to bring Victory
over evil.
Our Faith is not like a lifeless stone – it is not a precious
diamond, which, although beautiful and very
expensive, is still dead and insensible.
Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us that our Faith must be
similar to a tiny mustard seed – although it is primarily
so very small it is alive and will eventually grow into a
big, beautiful tree.
Similarly, our Faith must also grow and develop, and never
freeze or stagnate, for as our Lord Jesus tells us, even
if our Faith is as small as a mustard seed, the power of
such Faith can ‘move mountains.’
Our Lord explained to His Disciples how Prayer and Fasting
is the most powerful means of strengthening our Fait.
What hidden meaning is there in the Words of God that by
the strength of our Faith we would even be able to move
mountains? Why would we need to do so? And would it
help to Save our soul?
Our Lord was not talking about the physical, geographic
mountains of earth and stone, but about those
mountains that rise in our heart – the mountains of sin
that accumulate during our life.
These are the very mountains that separate us from God,
which we should remove and topple down.
Only with the Help of God’s Grace that we receive at every
Holy Service, are we able to break down and remove
these cold, dark, lifeless rocky mountains of pride and
sin that weigh us down.
The Holy Apostles eventually proved to be able to
overthrow their own mountains of sin, and they were
then able to worthily and properly teach Christ’s Divine
Truth to the entire known world.
Under the influence of their preaching and teaching, and by
their personal examples that clearly demonstrated the
incredible Strength of their Faith, which they Confessed
in spite of multiple and various persecution even to
death, many pagans rejected their false beliefs and
accepted Christianity.
Consequently, the entire ancient world was changed and a
new Christian civilization was established.
The evil one obsessively desires to destroy the New World
of God-Believers that our Heavenly Father created and
which we can preserve only by our Prayers and Fasting,
together with our other Orthodox practises and
worship.
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Our Faith must constantly increase – day to day – for if it
does not grow, it will soon decline and eventually die.
The True Fast is not when we give up eating meat and dairy
products and their derivatives.
The True Fast is when we deny ourselves and give up our
sins – our sinful habits.
Real Prayer is such a state of mind, that when our soul is
turned to God every minute of the day, it is like a radio
that is constantly turned to the radio station.
Only by fulfilling Christ’s Teachings and Commandments
together with proper, constant Prayer and Fasting, do
we become stronger that Satan and his demons,
stronger than atheism, and stronger than any other
false, aggressive beliefs!
Amen
FR OM T HE P A T R I A R CHA L P A R I S HE S OF T HE RU S S I A N OR T HODOX
CHU R CH I N CA NA DA - 1 SE P T E MB E R 2013
HT T P : / / WWW. OR T HOD OX - CA NA DA . COM/ S E R MON- F OR - T HE - 10T H -
S U NDA Y - A F T E R - P E N T E COS T - MA T T HE W- 17- 14- 23/
P r a y e r i s t h e Te s t o f E v e r y t h i n g . . . . ( P a r t 2 )
Prayers do not have to be long or complicated to be
effective.
Some of the most powerful Prayers in history have been
sentences of only a few words.
The Repentant Thief on the Cross merely said:
"Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom" – and he
received our Lord Jesus Christ's Divine Promise:
"Today you shall be with Me in Paradise."
When trying to develop a habit (Rule) of Daily Prayer in
our life, we must remember: IT IS FAR BETTER TO
SPEND FIVE MINUTES EACH DAY IN PRIVATE
DEVOTIONS, than to "bank" the time and take in 35
minutes of personal Prayer once per week.
Many Believers have developed a great love for the
Prayers found in our Prayer Books with their
collections of Prayers that were written at different
times in history for different situations, times of day
and needs.
In the Orthodox Church, our most beloved Prayers are
the Old Testament Book of Psalms, which offer us a
way of framing life's varying experiences -- good and
bad -- in Prayer using very poetic and profound
language.
The Book of Psalms is so significant to Orthodox
Worship, they are used in every Holy Service and Rule
of Prayer.
Written Prayers can be a Font of Wisdom and Comfort.
There are some, however, who may not feel that written
Prayers completely fit their personal "voice."
For these people, spontaneous Prayer is an important part
of their personal devotions.
There is nothing wrong with spontaneous Prayer.
The only caution with spontaneous Prayer is that the
content of such Prayers must not contradict the
beliefs and practices of the Orthodox Faith.
For example, we would not pray that, after we die, God
would reincarnate us as a better person, since we do
not believe in reincarnation.
(Our Lord has explicitly told us that we have only this short
preparatory period before Eternity to Repent our sins and
develop a close personal Relationship with God through His
Teachings and Divine Commandments – as well as the
essential Holy Mysteries. There is no ‘second chance’ to
change our ultimate destiny after we have Reposed.mp)
The Orthodox Christian approach to written and
spontaneous Prayer is one of balance.
Our written Prayers are truly a Treasury of Christian
Spiritual Insight, Nurture and Guidance.
But, at the same time, even our Prayer Books instruct us
to "...take time to pray to God in your own words..."
There is a place for both types of Prayer - written and
spontaneous - and each complements the other.
In the Holy Gospels, our Lord Jesus Christ cautions us
with regard to personal Prayer: "When you pray, do
not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they
think that they will be heard for their many words.”
(MATTHEW 6:7)
Based on this verse, some Protestant groups teach that as
God is not pleased by written Prayers, all Prayer
should be spontaneous.
This Teaching, however, does not make sense when we
see that two verses later, our Lord Jesus gives His
Disciples a specific Prayer, which we use every day:
"...in this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father Who
art in Heaven...” (MATTHEW 6:9-13)
The issue that our Lord Jesus addresses is not written
Prayer versus spontaneous Prayer, but rather HOW we
approach Prayer.
In Matthew 6, our Saviour also teaches us: "...when you
pray, go into your room, and when you have shut
your door, pray to your Father Who is in the Secret
Place; and your Father Who sees in secret will
Reward you openly."
The Saints teach us that there is a double meaning to the
words: "...go into your room:"
1. It means we must keep a low profile when we pray
and we must never use Prayer to show off to
others as though declaring: ‘Look at me, everyone!
I am praying! I am SO Holy!’
2. It means that we must shut out distractions when we
pray. We have to pay attention and focus on God
when we pray. We cannot simply rattle off the
words of our Prayers with our mind wandering to
other things -- our schedules, a song on the radio,
a conversation happening beside us, the big play
of last night's game... We must focus on what we
are praying.
Whether we are praying by using words from a Prayer
Book or in our own words, the key is that we put in
the effort to do it right – with humble sincerity and
Faith.
Everyone enjoys a conversation when we pay attention to
what each other is saying.
Therefore, we should also act accordingly with God. Quite
simply - He deserves nothing less!
One of the most important Prayers in the Orthodox
Tradition is the "Jesus Prayer" which is neither long
nor complicated; "O Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God,
have Mercy on me, a sinner." Some make it even
shorter: "Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me" or
simply: “Lord have Mercy on me!” - “Kyrie eleison
me!”
The Jesus Prayer became common practise in Monasteries
through "Hesychasm," or the Way of "Stillness."
Hesychasm is possible only when we have completely
stilled our heart and our body so that we can be fully
open to the Life-Giving Presence of God.
The body must be stilled from its obsessions,
compulsions and addictions and the heart must be
stilled of its wandering about, looking for something
to keep it occupied, entertained and satisfied.
The Jesus Prayer is used as the Refrain of a Prayerful
Meditation, an through its continued use,
practitioners find themselves reciting it automatically,
much in the same way that we sometimes find a tune
running through our minds without our conscious
effort.
At its highest level, the practice of the Jesus Prayer leads
to an intimate Encounter with God through a Vision of
what is known as the "Uncreated Light."
Shortly before His Crucifixion, our Lord Jesus took His
Apostles St Peter, St James and St John to the top of
Mount Tabor. There, they beheld His garments turn
pure, blinding white, and His Face began to shine with
a Resplendent Light that was too much for them to
bear. (SEE MATTHEW 17:1-9; MARK 9:2-13; LUKE 9:28-36)
This Light was a manifestation of our Lord Jesus' Divinity.
This is the Uncreated Light that various advanced
practitioners of the Jesus Prayer (and Hesychasts)
encounter when perpetually praying this Prayer of the
Heart.
This sounds very impressive and perhaps even desirable.
However, it is not what we experience -- or what we do
not experience -- that matters when we pray the Jesus
Prayer or any other Prayer.
What really matters is that we pray with an awareness of
what our words really mean, and that we try to stay as
attentive as possible to the words we are saying while
we pray.
The most important part in the Jesus Prayer is the Name
of our Saviour.
The Saints teach that the very mention of the Name of our
Lord Jesus sends the demons running.
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Jesus Christ is God speaking for Himself.
God is not far off and remote from us.
God Loves us so much that He came to be one of us,
through His Only-Begotten Son, and He allows us to
relate to His Son on a first-name basis, calling Him
"Jesus."
Repetition of the Name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is
a very powerful Tool in our Spiritual Life.
It allows us to approach God in a very direct manner.
We do not simply say: "Somebody - whoever is out there -
hear my Prayer."
We specifically say: "Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God", hear
my Prayer.
By the way, the Name "Jesus" (Joshua) means "The Lord
is Salvation."
As we call on the Name of our Saviour Jesus, we call
upon Him as "Lord" -- "Lord, Jesus Christ..."
"Lord" is a title of honour.
In times past, someone who was a ‘Lord’ had authority
over people under him.
To refer to Christ as our Lord is to put ourselves under
His Divine Authority.
Christ is the Lord of our lives... we will follow His
Teachings, do what He wants us to do, base our lives
on the Way of living that He has shown us.
In short, if Jesus Christ is the Lord, He is in charge.
Also important in the Jesus Prayer is the request for
God's Great Mercy.
Admitting that we are broken and sinful, we pray with
words found so often in the Gospels: "...have Mercy
on me."
No one is "worthy" of God's Grace - there are no
‘necessary requirements’ that make us ‘entitled’ to
God's Blessings.
The Blessings we receive from God are solely based on
His great and abundant Mercy.
Divine Mercy is the starting point our whole life.
If God were not merciful, we wouldn't even exist!
The Jesus Prayer became so important, so loved, that it
eventually made its way into every Worship Service in
a couple of different forms.
The best know of these forms is the response: "Lord,
have Mercy" in our Litanies.
"Lord, have Mercy" is a compact form of the Jesus
Prayer.
Whether we are singing it in worship or saying it quietly
in personal Prayer, the Jesus Prayer is a priceless,
unique Jewel of our Spiritual Tradition.
Prayers do not necessarily have to be long to be effective.
We must recite the words of the Jesus Prayer, with
awareness, attention and a sincere heart.
We must say them often -- and we will find God acting in
our Life like never before.
God wants to get our attention - He wants us to turn to
Him, to listen to Him, to open ourselves to a
Relationship with Him.
God never forces Himself on us, but He makes overtures
to us, and patiently waits for us to respond with
loving attentiveness towards Him.
If we pay attention - if we listen - we will hear God
speaking to us.
Prayer is as much about listening to God as it is speaking
to Him. In fact, the listening is even more important
than the talking.
One way of listening to God in our Prayers is through the
reading of Holy Scripture and other of Orthodox
Spiritual Writings.
In our private devotions, we can select a passage and read
it, and then take some time to think about what we
have read.
As we think about the passage, we become aware of
specific sentences, phrases or words that grab our
attention.
Some people write down their observations in a journal
for future discussion with their Spiritual Father.
The second means of listening to God in Prayer is through
silence.
Silence is something with which many of us are
uncomfortable. So we fill our days with the noise of
iPods, TV, radios.
For some people, the time that they dread most are the
moments at night before they go to sleep, when all
they are left with is silence and their thoughts.
And yet, God often talks to us, not in thunder claps and
lightning flashes, but in the still small voice
whispering in our heart. (FOR MORE ON THIS, SEE 1 KINGS 19:11-13)
The Saints instruct us that as we say our Prayers, we
should take time to stop and sit quietly, just being
present with God.
The Monastic Fathers and Mothers of our Church say that
Prayer is like a flying bird. When a bird is in the air, it
beats its wings until it has reached a certain height; at
that point, it stops beating its wings and glides along.
The words of our Prayers are our Spiritual Wings.
There will come a point while praying where words are no
longer necessary and we can stop talking and glide in
silence, allowing God's Presence to keep us aloft.
Prayer is a conversation. It is a two-way dynamic.
As we all know, it is difficult to say we have had a
‘conversation’ with someone, if that person has
monopolized the time, without giving us the
opportunity to offer any input.
In order for Prayer to be truly Beneficial to us, in addition
to talking to God we also need to listen to what He
has to say to us.
Sometimes we think that if our Spiritual Life isn't ‘feeling
right’ - that our Prayers are somehow ‘not working.’
Regardless of how we feel, any time is an appropriate
time for us to pray.
We start from where we are - emotionally and spiritually.
We approach God as we are - trusting that He is ready,
willing and able to overlook our faults, doubts and
wounds and to lift us above them.
At the same time, we must take care never to assume that
we are doing ‘good enough’ in our Life, and that we
may excuse ourselves from Prayer.
Christ did not call us to be ‘good enough.’ He Called us to
be Perfect.
The Struggle for that Perfection is a life-long endeavour.
Furthermore, it is an endeavour that we cannot achieve
ourselves - it can be accomplished only with, and
through God — the God that we encounter intimately
through Prayer.
In the Divine Liturgy, we hear the invitations: "...Let us lift
up our heart..." and "...Let us give thanks to the
Lord."
These two calls sum up the centre of human existence.
When we lift up our heart to God, we Glorify Him for all
that He does for us -- both known and unknown.
And in doing so, the Image of God -- Who is our Creator,
our Saviour and the Sanctifier of our Life - shines
within us, and through us into the world.
"Prayer is the test of everything; Prayer is also the
Source of everything; Prayer is the Driving Force of
everything; Prayer is also the Director of everything.
If Prayer is right, everything is right. For Prayer will
not allow anything to go wrong." [ ST. THEOPHAN THE RECLUSE]
REVEREND FATHER ANDREW JARMUS
ST NICHOLAS ALBANIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
A b b o t T r y p h o n : O n T r u e J o y : L i v i n g A c c o r d i n g t o t h e Wi l l o f G o d
How do we know we are living according to the Will of God?
We make sure we live a Life that is focused on Christ and
not let that which is transitory rule, for a Life centred in
Christ brings about True Peace, Wisdom, and
Knowledge, and we are given the Grace to trust in God's
Divine Providence for everything.
If we focus only on the things that have not been done and
ignore the little things that bring us Joy, we will find
ourselves in a rut, constantly thinking of where we'd
rather be living, or the job we'd rather have, or the work
that still needs to be completed and we will wake up
one day and realize all we've needed for happiness has
been right in front of us all the time.
How do we know we're living according to the Will of God?
The Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica said: "He who lives
according to God's Will has no worries. When he needs
something, he simply prays for it. If he does not receive
that which he asked for, he is joyful as though he had
received it. A soul who has given itself over to God has
no fear of anything, not even robbers, sickness, or death.
Whatever happens, such a soul always cries, 'It was the
Will of God.'”
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Gr e e k Or t h o d o x Pa t r i a r c h a t e o f Al e x a n d r i a & Al l Af r i c a
AL L GL OR Y , HONOU R A ND WOR S HI P T O T HE FA T HE R , A ND T O T HE SON, A ND T O T HE HOL Y SP I R I T , NOW A ND FOR E V E R , A ND U NT O T HE AGE S OF
AGE S . AME N
RE ME MB E R I NG A L S O OU R MOS T HOL Y , MOS T P U R E , MOS T BL E S S E D A ND GL OR I OU S L A DY , MA R Y , T HE OT OK OS Y E T E V E R VI R GI N, T OGE T HE R WI T H
A L L T HE SA I N T S . AND L E T U S COMMI T OU R S E L V E S A N D ONE A NOT HE R A N D OU R WHOL E L I F E T O CHR I S T OU R GOD. AME N.
2 4 A u g u s t 2 0 1 4
1 1
t h
S u n d a y A f t e r P e n t e c o s t
To n e 2
1 1
t h
S u n d a y o f S t Ma t t h e w
Th e U n me r c i f u l S e r v a n t
AL S O T HE FE AS T OF ST EUT Y CHE S , HI E ROMART Y R OF
SE BAS T E A – ST KOS MAS , NE W HI E ROMART Y R OF AI T OL OS
& EQUAL T O T HE AP OS T L E S – ST DI ONY S I OS OF Z AKY NT HOS
& AE GI NA – ST PE T E R OF MOS COW & AL L RUS S I A,
T RANS L AT I ON OF HOL Y RE L I CS – ST ARS E NI OS OF KOME L ,
VOL OGDA – ST T AT I ON OF CL AUDI OP OL I S – ST SY R A,
VI R GI N MA RT Y R OF PE RS I A – ST GE OR GE L I MNI OT E S T HE
CONF E S S OR OF MOUNT OL Y MP OS – ST KOS MAS OF
BE RAT , EVANGE L I S E R OF SOUT HE RN AL B ANI A – ST
MART Y R I OS OF NOV GOR OD – AP P E ARANCE OF OUR L ADY
T HE OT OKOS T O ST SE R GI OS OF RA DONE Z H – ST SE RAP I ON,
AB BOT & WONDE RWOR KE R OF T HE ST JOHN T HE BAP T I S T
MONAS T E RY , GE ORGI A
R E S U R R E C T I O N A P O L Y T I K I O N – T O N E 2
Ote katilthes pros ton Thanaton, i Zoi i Athanatos, tote
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!
When 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!
F E S T A L K O N T A K I O N - N A T I V I T Y O F T H E E V E R B L E S S E D T H E O T O K O S
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!
Re s u r r e c t i o n Go s p e l 1 1 : J o h n 2 1 : 1 4 - 2 5
O U R L O R D J E S U S R E S T O R E S A N D C O M M I S S I O N S S T P E T E R
P r o k e i me n o n
The Lord is my Strength and my Glory!
The Lord has punished me severely, but He has not delivered me to Death.
Th e F i r s t E p i s t l e o f S t P a u l t o t h e C o r i n t h i a n s 9 : 1 – 1 2
T H E G O O D E X A M P L E A N D R I G H T S O F S T P A U L A S A N A P O S T L E O R D I S C I P L E O F C H R I S T
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 to
defend it’s authenticity and Truth.
THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE CLERGY IS CERTIFIED BY THE SPIRITUAL
CONDITION OF THE HOLY FLOCK.
ST PAUL had led most of the Christians in the Corinthian Church
to the Divine Truth of our Lord God and consequently WAS
THEIR SPIRITUAL FATHER.
TOGETHER WITH ST BARNABAS, ST PAUL HAD WORKED CEASELESSLY FOR THE
HOLY FLOCK IN CORINTH and seemed to have been criticised
for taking a break or resting.
THE MARRIED APOSTLES AND DISCIPLES OF CHRIST WERE OFTEN
ACCOMPANIED BY THEIR MARRIED SPOUSES AND CHILDREN, so they
obviously enjoyed a certain amount of time with them.
ST PAUL OFTEN DID MANUAL LABOUR TO EARN HIS KEEP AND HE ALWAYS
ENCOURAGED OTHERS TO DO LIKEWISE SO THAT THEY WOULD NEVER BE A
BURDEN TO OTHERS.
THE HOLY PRIESTHOOD SHOULD BE SUPPORTED AND ENCOURAGED BY THE
FAITHFUL so that they are free to sow “Spiritual Things” and
not have to waste their valuable time trying to earn a living
for themselves and their families.
According to the Old Covenant Law, GOD HAD PROVIDED FOR THIS
ASPECT OF HOLY LIFE, for the people always 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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T h e H o l y G o s p e l A c c o r d i n g t o S t Ma t t h e w 1 8 : 2 3 – 3 5
F O R G I V E N E S S I N T H E H O L Y C H U R C H O F C H R I S T
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!”
Before relating the Parable of the Unforgiving or Unmerciful
Servant, St Peter had asked our Lord Jesus HOW OFTEN SHOULD
WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO SIN AGAINST US, to which He answered:
“SEVENTY 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.
Our Lord Jesus used this Parable to clearly illustrate and make us
understand THE FULL EXTENT AND MEANING OF TRUE FORGIVENESS.
“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!
Therefore, if we share our Divine Blessings with others we will reap
the Spiritual Reward a hundred times – infinitely – more.
Certain of our Holy Church Fathers have interpreted this Holy
Parable as follows:
THE SERVANT REPRESENTS OUR SOUL.
THE WIFE REPRESENTS OUR BODY.
THE CHILDREN REPRESENT OUR DEEDS – I.E. OUR WORDS, THOUGHTS AND
DEEDS.
THUS OUR BODY AND OUR UNREPENTED DEEDS ARE 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.
1 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 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.
E l e v e n t h S u n d a y A f t e r P e n t e c o s t – T h e U n me r c i f u l S e r v a n t
> In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
Holy Spirit...
“...Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who
trespass against us....” Thus our Lord Jesus taught His
Disciples to pray, and in praying, to forgive.
Forgiveness is a Gift little understood outside of the
Household of God.
In the world an offence may be forgotten, but is rarely
forgiven.
Forgiveness is the language that God has given to us in
order to elevate us beyond our tit-for-tat fallen
relationships in order that we may truly find Healing
and become God-like.
In our earthly relationships, it is easy to begrudge and grow
bitter, it is easy to want to write off those who have
offended us.
Forgiveness, on the other hand, takes great courage and
trust in God to submit ourselves and our earthly
relationships to Him.
Bitterness and grudges are like getting bitten by a
poisonous snake over and over again.
Whatever the initial harm that has been done to us or
another — whether real or perceived — our growing
bitterness and holding a grudge against that person
means that we continue to nurse the same old wound,
over and over again.
We keep that wound and we keep ourselves from Healing
and from Loving.
Often, whatever the initial offence or hurt, our dwelling on
it, our cultivating enmity against the person, will grow
the hurt or offence into something much bigger than it
originally was - and it will take on a life of its own, and
become a means through which the enemy does us
further harm.
The Truth is that when we are bitter and nursing a grudge,
we turn someone else’s sin into our own sin and it eats
at us like some Spiritual Cancer.
If unchecked, it grows, infects our soul, and destroys our
Faith as it alters our sense of reality.
We cannot be close to God - we cannot maintain and grow
our Relationship and Communion with God, while
holding onto bitterness and while withholding
forgiveness.
For this reason, God in His Great Love for us, desires our
freedom from this Spiritual Cancer, desires our Healing
from bitterness, grudges, enmity, and strife.
So, when St Peter asked our Lord how many times we must
forgive - thinking maybe seven times would be
sufficient our Saviour replied: “...seventy times seven!”
which is symbolic of an infinite sum. (MATTHEW 18:22),
The premise of this infinite Forgiveness comes from God,
Who grants Forgiveness to us over and over and over
again.
And while we ourselves sin and then fight to forgive those
who wrong us, God does not sin and yet He Forgives us
for our sins against Him and others.
To illustrate this Truth, Christ gives us today’s Parable:
One of the Master’s servants owed him an incredible
amount of ten thousand talents - an impossible sum.
If we thought of God’s Forgiveness towards us in terms of a
Debt to be paid, we would never be able to settle such
an account, which is why we call God’s Salvation,
“Grace.”
The servant was forgiven as God Forgives us our
trespasses, our disobedience, pride, lustfulness,
unfaithfulness.
But the servant, having received that Gracious Gift of
Forgiveness of his debts immediately seized his fellow
servant by the throat, and demanded that he pay all his
debts, which - by comparison with his own debts - were
a pittance.
So it is with us by comparison.
We withhold forgiveness from our fellow man and yet we
come to expect that - no matter what - God will forgive
us.
We presume that God’s Grace will be bestowed on us.
However, our Lord Jesus Christ warned us that this shall
not be if we claim Relationship and Communion with
God while withholding forgiveness from each other.
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When the Master found out that the wicked servant had
had his fellow servant imprisoned and had failed to
forgive his debt, the Master grew angry.
Our Lord Jesus cautioned us: “So My Heavenly Father also
will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not
forgive his Brother his trespasses!”
And so, Christ teaches His Disciples to pray: “...forgive us
our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass
against us....”
This teaching is at the heart of the Holy Gospel; it goes to
the core of what the Body of Christ is meant to be about
- forgiving one another from the heart.
The question we then have to ask ourselves is how can we
expect God to forgive us if we withhold our forgiveness
of others?
That would be hypocrisy.
Yet, forgiving others can often be a deep struggle,
particularly in the cases of abuse or other deep and
painful wounds.
Forgiveness is not the same as forgetting.
We may never forget a wrong, abuse, some grievous sin
done against us, but we can with God’s Help, learn to
forgive and practice ongoing Forgiveness.
In other words, we can make it a matter of Prayer that God
may Help us to forgive someone on an ongoing basis.
We can pray that God may Heal us of our bitterness, our
grudges, our enmity against others.
Indeed, if this is a Struggle for us, we can pray this Prayer
as part of our daily prayers, even beseeching God to lift
its weight from us.
God’s Healing in this regard begins with the desire to want
to learn to forgive others as God has forgiven and does
forgive us.
Along with active forgiving, we need to strive to keep ‘short
accounts.’
That is - rather than nurse wounds and build grudges and
bitterness, withholding forgiveness, or spreading gossip
or mistrust - we can learn to go to the person who has
offended us to speak to them about it.
We then give that person an opportunity to explain, ask
forgiveness, and reconcile with us, and us with them.
But even if the person does not offer to apologize, we still
need to learn how to forgive.
Similarly, if we are on the receiving end of someone else’s
anger, even if we cannot figure out what we did wrong,
or if the person has misjudged us or our intensions, it
is still better to humble ourselves and ask forgiveness.
We can all cultivate being slow to speak, slow to anger, and
quick to forgive.
St Paul admonished us to “...be kind to one another,
tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in
Christ forgave you.” (EPHESIANS 4:22).
In this way, we will learn to combat bitterness and grudges
before they start setting root and we will grow free of
this Spiritual Cancer in our local Body of the Church.
We will demonstrate the Love and Forgiveness that is not of
this world, but which is, rather, indicative of that Higher
Calling of being a Citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven.
In His Love for us, in His desire to Save us, Free us, Heal us,
Christ Commands us to forgive as we have been
Forgiven, and by the Power of the Holy Spirit’s Work in
us and through us, He gives us the means to do so.
Amen
REVEREND FATHER ROBERT MACLEAN
HOLY ARCHANGELS ORTHODOX CHURCH
HTTP://WWW.PRAVMIR.COM/ON-FORGIVENESS-11TH-SUNDAY-AFTER-
PENTECOST/#IXZZ30V21EVS9
Ho w Do We Kn o w Go d ’ s Wi l l ?
God’s Will is what God wants to reveal to us.
It seems to us that His Will is a (Divine) Mystery, sealed
seven times over, and that although we Struggle to
know It, somehow God wants to hide It from us.
In Reality, God’s Will is what God wants to reveal to us and
what He does reveal to us.
It is not what we Live, but a sort of Divine Will that is a
Mystery and a Secret, which we Strive and Struggle to
know.
Although, in one sense, perhaps God does want us to solve
a difficult problem or to make efforts.
Nevertheless God’s Will is what is revealed to us easily. And
It becomes inaccessible to us only because we turn away
from It.
The main condition required to know God’s Will is to
renounce our own will.
This is what Obedience means. This is why children must
obey their parents – they must learn to renounce their
own will, no matter what their parents are like - whether
they are devout, not devout, intelligent or stupid.
Why does a wife have to obey her husband, no matter
what?
Sometimes I ask women this when they come to
Confession.
When I asked an elderly woman: ‘How are you - do you obey
your husband?’ she replied: ‘Me? I’m not going to start
obeying that old fool!’
But whoever or whatever he is – he is still your husband.
When we learn to obey someone – a teacher, a husband, a
parent, a Spiritual Father – we renounce our own will.
Many Novices used to go off to very strict Spiritual Fathers.
And the strictness of their Spiritual Fathers quenched
their thirst for Suffering, their thirst for Obedience,
their thirst to Witness before God to their readiness to
suffer even unto blood and to renounce their will.
In other words, in order to start to know God’s Will we
must know how to renounce our own will.
If we do not know how to renounce our own will, if we still
keep to it, then nothing can help us.
On the contrary, God will hide His Will from us - because if
we know His Will, we will oppose it.
As a Loving Father He does not want us to undergo a
greater Punishment for what we knew but did not do.
It is better that He hides His Will from us so that we do not
know It - so that we will be punished less (for our
Disobedience to God.)
If we renounce our own will, then God’s Will is revealed to
us more often.
Even a child can proclaim God’s Will. He can know God’s
Will from reading the Gospel and from the words of his
Spiritual Father.
And what is probably the most important aspect here is, of
course, those special Elders, special Saints, to whom
God’s Will is revealed, perfectly clearly.
Father Paul Troitsky was just such an Elder. When he was
alive, we would receive letters from him in which he
wrote quite clearly: “This is God’s Will. Do this and do
that...This Marriage is not God’s Will...”
And we knew it really was so. And if we did something else,
then all sorts of misfortunes and disasters would befall
us.
It was very easy to know God’s Will in this way. But it was
also terrible, because God’s Will may very well be the
opposite of our own will. (And often is opposed to everything
we would do, want to do or thought we could not do! mp)
However, Father Paul did not always reveal God’s Will to
those who went to him.
At the Convent of the Conception in Moscow there is
Abbess Juliana, who was once ‘Masha’ and had worked
as a Nurse in a children’s Reanimation Department. And
she decided to get married.
Her Spiritual Father Blessed her, her parents Blessed her,
but she did not ask Father Paul if this was God’s Will.
She wrote him a letter and told him what was happening,
and he wrote back to her: “...I will pray for you - only do
not tell your future husband anything about me.”
He did not tell her that the Marriage was God’s Will. She did
not ask him and he did not say anything, because God’s
Will is revealed to those who seek to know it.
But this Masha was troubled. She was troubled and did not
know what to do. And she wrote another two letters to
Father Paul, even though it was wrong to ask the same
thing twice.
She wrote to him with the question “Is this God’s Will?”
And Father Paul replied that he had prayed to God for a
long time, that he asked forgiveness of her, of her
parents, of her Spiritual Father, that he understood that
he was greatly upsetting them, but that this marriage
was not God’s Will.
After that she rejected her fiancé – and she began asking
Father Paul what she was to do - could she meet other
young people and could she think about marriage?
And he wrote to her: “...do not seek to meet anyone, but if
someone wants to meet you, then we will talk about it...”
Finally, she asked him if it was God’s Will for her to get
married at all. And he then told her that it was not.
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And the reason was because she was Called to be the
Abbess of the Convent of the Conception. But this was
not revealed straightaway.
And God does not always reveal things to us immediately.
“This is not God’s Will” is a very general concept - for our
destiny - our future - is seldom revealed to us instantly.
If one of us received a Revelation about what we will have
to endure in life, we would probably get depressed or
perhaps (react even) worse.
So these things are revealed to us only gradually. (God only
gives us as much as we can bear and/or understand.mp)
And generally speaking, just as an apple is eaten by the
mouthful, so we only gradually adapt to Spiritual Life.
However, when there is such an (Inspired) Elder, then of
course, it is possible to know God’s Will.
When there is no such Elder, then the Holy Gospel or a
Spiritual Father helps us to know what It is.
This is why it is good to have a Spiritual Father (who is Divinely
Inspired and who is wise enough and Spiritually Experienced enough
to truly Guide and Teach us by Divine Grace and with Agape.)
When I served in Moscow, I used to speak to our Sisters
who studied at the College and they knew the answer to
every difficult question.
When they were asked: ‘What should we do if there is this or
that? What should we do if this or that happens?’ they
always replied: “You must ask your Spiritual Father.”
But now... there are few Spiritual Fathers.
The Priest to whom we Confess may not be a Spiritual
Father or a Spiritual Person, but any Priest we Confess
to should be able to answer our question.
God’s Will is known from what is done. For instance, if we
begin to do something and it gets done, then we think
that that is God’s Will. If it does not happen, then we
believe that it is not God’s Will.
But, of course, sometimes at first we think that something
is not God’s Will and then we start to think that actually
it is. And yet we may change our opinion again.
And so we may change our opinion about it lots of times.
Inasmuch as we are not Spiritual People but changeable, the
decision as to whether something is God’s Will or not
depends on our mood.
One thing is for sure - we need to learn in order to know
God’s Will.
(The Fruits or Results of our Labours will certainly prove whether it is by Divine
Grace or not. Mp)
Father Paul wrote letters to Fater Vsevolod Shpiller. And in
those letters he very often mentioned that one thing
was God’s Will while another was not.
And Father Vsevolod’s son, Yan Vsevolodovich Shpiller,
who was a conductor, would read these letters. And
when he had found a book called the ‘Heliotropion’ he
decided to read it in order learn to know God’s Will.
However Father Paul wrote to him, cautioning him: “...you
cannot know God’s Will from books, and God’s Will is all
the more not revealed to young people.”
We can be sure of one thing, dear friends, and that is that
we must strive to know God’s Will.
How can we know it? If we have something to do and we do
not know whether to do it or not, first of all we have to
renounce our own will, so that both choices are
completely equal in significance.
In order to resolve whether we are to live or to die, to be ill
or to get better, to marry or not to marry, or some other
issue, we have to stand aside, we must not be partial to
any decision.
And once we have done this, we must pray to God ardently
so that our Lord reveals His will - and so that our Lord
brings us understanding. And where our heart inclines,
that is what we must do.
I am not sure that we always do God’s Will. But
nevertheless in this renunciation of our own will, in
praying to God, in recalling the Words of the Gospel,
there comes a certain (Spiritual) Experience - a certain
ability to distinguish between what is good and what is
bad.
But this does not come immediately for we have a certain
distance to go.
In order to know God’s Will, we probably have to live a long
life, and we have to learn how to surrender own will and
learn how to pray.
Then God’s Will is revealed.
But, of course, if we want to learn how to fulfil God’s Will, it
is also very important to do what we already know is
God’s Will.
It is God’s Will to pray in the morning. And what if we
never do this?
It is God’s Will for us never to get angry. But we often get
angry.
It is God’s Will for us to Fast (i.e. to be self-denying and self-
controlled and disciplined). We must not break the Fast.
However, is it God’s Will for us to sit in front of the
internet, (television or other forms of entertainment until the
early hours of the morning, causing us to be too tired or lazy
to pray or to attend Holy Services?)
Clearly, that is not God’s Will!
If we do what we already know to be God’s Will, then our
Lord will of course reveal His Divine Will to us in other
situations as well.
But if we do not do what is already known to us – then what
sort of ‘God’s Will’ is that?
An interesting thing happened to us on Mount Athos while
walking with Father Vladimir Vorobiov and Father
Antony Frolov from the Monastery of Zographou to the
Monastery of Hilandari.
We had enquired about the route to take, but we had gone
the wrong way and boldly continued, thinking that we
were going the right way.
We met a man dressed in lay clothes who was a Bulgarian
Priest – a lot of whom come to the Monastery to do
some work there.
He asked us where we were going and we said: “To
Hilandari.” And he told us that we were going the
wrong way, and that we would not get there in time
before the gates would be closed.
Therefore, if we did not want to spend the night on the
road he suggested that we return to Zographou
Monastery.
Nevertheless, we were quite certain that we were going the
right way and we began to argue with him.
However, he began to help us by enquiring what made us so
sure we were on the right path: “ ...But how can that be
so? What are you relying on?” And one of us responded:
“We rely on God’s Will!” to which he answered: “What is
God’s Will to fools?”
He used the term “Fools” in the sense of people who are not
humble.
Of course, there are different types of fools – and a humble
fool is better than any clever but proud person.
Therefore, of course, if we want to know God’s Will, we
have to exert our mind, acquire Humility and learn how
to renounce our own will.
Then, of course, God’s Will is definitely revealed to us.
BI S HOP PANT E L E I MON OF SMOL E NS K AND VY A Z MA
TRANSLATED FROM RUSSIAN BY REVEREND FATHER ANDREW PHILLIPS
EKATERINA STEPANOVA: ‘NESKUCHNY SAD JOURNAL’
HTTP://WWW.PRAVMIR.COM/HOW-DO-WE-KNOW-GOD-S-WILL/#IXZZ30XMBJZRH
S t J o h n o f Kr o n s t a d t
Avoid such a mode of life that tends to living for carnal motives
and desires only - that is, by indulging in sleeping, eating,
dressing, walking, then again, to eating, drinking, and walking
(i.e. being over active and seeking distractions that take our
attention off our Sacred Tasks. mp)
Such a mode of life completely kills our Spiritual Life, making us
quite earthly, and creatures of the Earth whilst Faithful
Christians - even during their life on earth - ought to be
Heavenly. "...for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!"
"Our Father, Who art in Heaven...!" We ought to read the Word
of God more frequently, pray more often at home and in
Church, and in every place - of course, more inwardly than
outwardly.
We ought to meditate more often on God, His beautiful creation,
the Calling and Predestination of mankind; on God's
Providence, our Redemption, God's unspeakable Love of
mankind, the Lives and Glorious Deeds of the Saints, who
pleased God by their manifold Virtues, and on other subjects.
We ought also to Fast, to examine our conscience, to Repent
sincerely and deeply of our sins, and so on!
T H E B E H E A D I N G O F S T J O H N T H E B A P T I S T 2 9 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4 25.
Gr e e k Or t h o d o x Pa t r i a r c h a t e o f Al e x a n d r i a & Al l Af r i c a
AL L GL OR Y , HONOU R A ND WOR S HI P T O T HE FA T HE R , A ND T O T HE S ON, A ND T O T HE HOL Y SP I R I T , NOW
A ND F OR E V E R , A ND U N T O T HE AGE S OF AGE S . AME N
RE ME MB E R I NG A L S O OU R MOS T HOL Y , MOS T P U R E , MOS T BL E S S E D AND GL OR I OU S L A DY , MA R Y ,
T HE OT OK OS Y E T E V E R VI R GI N, T OGE T HE R WI T H A L L T HE SA I NT S . AND L E T U S COMMI T OUR S E L V E S A ND
ONE A NOT HE R A ND OU R WHOL E L I F E T O CHR I S T OU R GOD. AME N.
2 9 A u g u s t 2 0 1 4
Th e Be h e a d i n g o f S t J o h n t h e Ba p t i s t & F o r e r u n n e r
AL S O T HE FE AS T OF ST T HE OP I S T I S OF AE GI NA – ST ANAS T AS I OS OF T HE ST RU MI T ZA EP AR CHY
F E S T A L A P O L Y T I K I O N – B E H E A D I N G O F S T J O H N T H E B A P T I S T & F O R E R U N N E R
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.
F E S T A L K O N T A K I O N – N A T I V I T Y O F T H E E V E R B L E S S E D T H E O T O K O S
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!
Ma t i n s Go s p e l A c c o r d i n g t o S t Ma t t h e w 1 4 : 1 – 1 3
T H E U N J U S T M A R T Y R D O M O F S T J O H N T H E B A P T I S T
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 PARENTHETI CALLY, THEREBY
EXPLAINING ST JOHN THE BAPTIST’S EARLIER MARTYRDOM SO
THAT THOSE WHO HEARD IT WOULD UNDERSTAND WHY HEROD
THOUGHT THAT ST JOHN THE BAPTIST HAD BEEN RESURRECTED
FROM THE DEAD.
The Beheading of St John the Baptist is COMMEMORATED IN
OUR HOLY CHURCH ON 29 AUGUST WITH A DAY OF VERY
STRICT FASTING.
AS AN IMPORTANT PART OF GOD’S PLAN OF SALVATI ON FOR ALL
MANKIND, ST JOHN’S HOLY MARTYRDOM ALLOWED THE
COMI NG OF THE MESSIAH TO BE ANNOUNCED TO THE SOULS
IMPRI SONED I N 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.
St John - as the FORERUNNER TO CHRIST AND THE LAST GREAT
HOLY PROPHET OF GOD ACCORDI NG 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
prepared mankind for the Coming of our Eternal
Saviour.
Consequently, THERE WAS NO LONGER A NEED FOR ANY MORE
HOLY PROPHETS OF GOD.
After Christ’s Death on the Cross and His Descent into and
His “Harrowing of Hades,” ALL DEPARTED SOULS WERE
GRANTED THE OPPORTUNITY TO ACCEPT OR REJECT HIM AS
OUR ETERNAL LORD GOD.
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 RECEI VED 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.”
26. T H E B E H E A D I N G O F S T J O H N T H E B A P T I S T 2 9 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4
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 Ascetic poverty and who was
clothed with plain garments made from rough camel’s
hair.
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 I N THE HIGHEST
ESTEEM.
Furthermore, ST JOHN THE BAPTIST IS COMMEMORATED FOR HIS
HUMBLE AND UTTER OBEDI ENCE TO THE LAW OF GOD in
general, and as A HOLY DEFENDER OF THE SANCTITY OF
MARRI AGE in particular, WHICH WAS EVIDENT FROM HIS
LOUD AND VEHEMENT CONDEMNATION OF KING HEROD’S
UNLAWFUL CO-HABITATION WITH HIS BROTHER’S WIFE, THE
WICKED HERODI AS.
ST JOHN’S OBEDI ENCE TO GOD WAS SO PROFOUND THAT HE
PREFERRED DEATH OVER ANY SORT OF COMPROMISE.
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 BELI EF 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.
P r o k i me n o n – P s a l m 6 3 – To n e 7
T h e R i g h t e o u s s h a l l b e g l a d i n t h e L o r d .
H e a r my v o i c e , O G o d .
Th e A c t s o f t h e A p o s t l e s A c c o r d i n g t o S t L u k e 1 3 : 2 5 – 3 2
T H E C H U R C H I N P I S I D I A
In those days as John was finishing his course, he said: “Who do you think I am? I am not He . But, behold: there
comes One after me – the sandals of Whom I am not worthy to loosen.”
Men and Brethren, sons of the Family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God: to you the Word of this
Salvation has been sent. For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their Rulers, because they did not know Him,
nor even the voices of the Prophets, which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him.
And although they found no cause for death in Him, they asked Pilate that He should be put to death.
Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the Tree and laid Him
in a tomb. And God Raised Him up from the dead.
He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His Witnesses to the
people.
And we declare to you Glad Tidings – that Promise, which was made to the Fathers.
Th e Ho l y Go s p e l A c c o r d i n g t o S t Ma r k 6 : 1 4 – 3 0
T H E B E H E A D I N G O F S T J O H N T H E B A P T I S T & F O R E R U N N E R T O C H R I S T
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.
THIS KING HEROD WAS THE SON OF KING HEROD “THE GREAT” who
– having heard of the newly born Great King (our Lord
Jesus Christ) from the Magi - had issued the orders that
led to the terrible “Slaughter of the Innocents” – when all
male children who were two years or younger, were put
to the sword without exception or the smallest sign of
mercy.
ALTHOUGH TECHNICALLY ONLY A TETRARCH RULER – ONE OF FOUR
GOVERNORS ELECTED BY THE ROMAN OPPRESSORS – HEROD
WAS KNOWN AS “KING.”
However, HIS POWERS OF AUTHORI TY AS GOVERNOR WERE LIMITED
TO HIS AREA OF RULE.
] Knowing that St John the Baptist had performed several
Miracles while alive, HEROD WAS UTTERLY CONVINCED BY
HIS OWN BELI EFS THAT OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST WAS ST
JOHN THE BAPTIST WHO HAD BEEN RAISED FROM THE DEAD
– erroneously believing that such Divine “...Powers
are worked in him.”
ä Consequently, HEROD FEARED ST JOHN THE 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 COMI NG 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...”
ä ST ELIJAH THE TISHBITE (WHO REPRESENTS THE HOLY PROPHETS
OF GOD WHO PREPARED THE PEOPLE FOR THE COMING OF
THE MESSIAH) AND ST MOSES (WHO GAVE US THE DIVINE
LAWS OF GOD WHEREBY WE MUST LIVE WHILE ON EARTH)
WERE PRESENT WITH OUR LORD JESUS ON MOUNT TABOR AT
HIS GLORIOUS TRANSFIGURATION. (MATTHEW 17: 1 – 13)
ä 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.
ä OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST INDEED FULFILS THREE SIGNIFI CANT
AND ESSENTIAL DIVINE ROLES: HE IS OUR DIVINE TEACHER,
OUR DIVINE PROPHET AND OUR DIVINE KING!
 D E U T E R O N O M Y 1 8 : 1 5 “The Lord your God will
raise up for you a Prophet like me from your
Brethren. Him you shall hear... the Lord said to me:
‘... I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from
among their Brethren, and I will put My Word in His
Mouth, and He shall speak to them all I command
Him..’”
ä At the time of St Moses, IT WAS FIRST NECESSARY FOR THE
PEOPLE TO BE TESTED AND TO LEARN TO FEAR GOD AND NOT
TO COMMIT SIN, FOR THEY WERE TOO I GNORANT AND
T H E B E H E A D I N G O F S T J O H N T H E B A P T I S T 2 9 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4 27.
INATTENTIVE to hear about another Great Holy Prophet
of God Who was to come later.
ä Because the Israelites failed the test, they died in the
desert. THEY REFUSED TO OBEY OR PUT INTO PRACTICE
EVERYTHI NG THAT GOD’S HOLY PROPHET, ST MOSES, TRI ED
SO HARD TO TEACH THEM.
ä LIKEWISE, WE TOO, WILL FAIL THE TEST AND “DI E IN THE DESERT”
THROUGH OUR OWN CHOICES AND SPIRITUAL
STUBBORNNESS - WE WILL SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES OF
ETERNAL CONDEMNATION TO SPIRI TUAL EXILE FROM GOD
– ETERNAL SPIRI TUAL DEATH!
ä 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.
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 COMI NG OF THE GREAT MESSIAH OR SAVIOUR.
However, our Lord came to live amongst us in order TO FI RST
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 LIVE IN CHRIST FOREVER.
Th e Be h e a d i n g o f S t J o h n t h e Ba p t i s t & F o r e r u n n e r
“Having suffered for the Truth, Thou hast gone rejoicing to declare to those in Hades the Good Tidings of God having
Appeared in the Flesh.." (TROPARION OF THE FEAST, 29 AUGUST )
.
The whole Life of St John the Forerunner, from his first
days, was entirely dedicated to the One Who came
after him.
In the horrifying days of the infant massacres in
Bethlehem - ( THE SLAUGHTER OF THE HOLY I NNOCENTS) - he was
also sought by Herod, so his aged mother, St
Elizabeth, fled with him into the desert, where she
Reposed on the Fortieth Day.
About the same time, his Righteous Father, St Zacharias,
was killed by the servants of Herod, in the Temple of
Jerusalem.
Consequently, the desert raised St John, for he remained
there in silence, for thirty years, until the Word of God
came unto him, commanding him to preach
Repentance and Call mankind to prepare the Way of
the Lord. (LUKE 3:2).
About half a year after the beginning of his Holy Ministry,
having prepared the Hebrews to expect the speedy
Coming of the long awaited Messiah, and surrounding
himself with Disciples - most of whom became the
first Disciples of Christ - St John the Baptist Baptised
Christ our Saviour, during which the great Divine
Mystery of the Holy Trinity was revealed to him.
Having informed those with him, that “...the Lamb of God
Who taketh away the sin of the world...” was present,
St John the Baptist gradually faded into the
background and (no doubt, with his encouragement and
blessings) everyone began follow the New Teacher –
our Lord Jesus Christ.
However, St John – instead of grieving over this – rejoiced,
and when his especially devoted Disciples asked him
about his lack of concern over his decreasing
popularity, he replied with words that clearly
expressed his Sanctified personality: "I am not the
Christ, but I am sent before Him. He Who has the
Bride is the Bridegroom: but the Friend of the
Bridegroom, who stands and hears Him, rejoices
greatly because of the Bridegroom's Voice.
Therefore this my Joy is fulfilled. He must increase,
but I must decrease" (JOHN 3:28-50).
Soon after this, St John’s word thundered forth, accusing
the wicked Herod, so he was cast into a prison, where
his earthly Life was soon ended when he was unjustly
beheaded during Herod's banquet.
The Beheading of St John the Baptist, which cut off his
earthly Life, at the same time, was the beginning of
his new and Glorious Ministry as Forerunner to Christ.
The immortal soul of St John the Baptist – having
departed from his Ascetic body - entered Hades where
the souls were imprisoned of all who died before our
Saviour's Death on the Cross – since the time of
Adam, whether they were good or wicked.
However, the Holy and Righteous soul of St John the
Baptist did not enter Hades in order to experience a
dark condition of Spiritual Alienation and exile from
God.
St John, being the "Friend of the Bridegroom," who had
Baptised our Lord, who had already suffered for his
Righteousness and who bore the Hope of the coming
Kingdom of God, preached to all those departed souls,
preparing the Way for our Saviour, for he was
inseparably bound to Him through his devotion -
testifying everywhere for Christ, as His Holy
Messenger who was sent before Him.
Having descended into Hades, St John continued the Holy
Ministry that he had performed on Earth - preaching
about the Kingdom of God which was now present.
The souls of the Righteous of the Old Covenant were
languishing in Hades, awaiting the Fulfilment of the
Coming of the Messiah Who would conquer ‘the
serpent’ as had been Promised to Adam by God.
The Holy Prophets, who had seen beforehand in spirit, the
Coming of the Messiah, awaited the Fulfilment of the
Revelations that had been granted to them.
To all these souls who had been deprived of the Light of
God's Glory and who had been tormented with waiting
for the Fulfilment of their Hope, St John came - and
having descended into Hades, he announced the
Joyful Tidings that soon would destroy Hades (setting
free the good souls who would then Repose in Peace in
Paradise.)
Those who awaited the Redeemer would soon behold
Him and be liberated by Him.
St John joyfully testified that the Son of God had already
come to Earth and that, after Baptising Him, he had
witnessed the Holy Spirit descending and remaining
on Him. (JOHN 1:33-34).
The preaching of St John concerning the Coming of the
Messiah was addressed not only to the souls of the
Righteous, but to all who were imprisoned in Hades
where he himself had appeared in order to prepare
the Way of the Lord, just as he had prepared it on
Earth.
St John the Baptist’s descent into Hades and his
preaching of the Holy Gospel was the Proclamation of
Joy to those who were languishing there.
The souls of all the dead, except the most inveterate
sinners, heeded the Preaching of the Baptist.
Therefore, when Christ descended into Hades after His
Death on the Cross (in His human Nature), He was
greeted not only by the Old Covenant Righteous souls,
but also by the souls of those who once were
disobedient and who had opposed our Long Suffering
God – from the time of Adam, and in the days of
Noah, and during the rest of the time that sin reigned
among mankind. (1 PETER 3:20).
Hades was immediately harrowed and destroyed by the
Presence of Christ’s Divine Soul, and the pitch dark
confinement was brightly Illuminated by His Divine
Light.
And all the souls of the reposed (who joyfully welcomed our
Lord as our Divine Saviour and Son of God) were
immediately led into the Eternal Kingdom of Heaven.
The ruin of Hades began with the descent of St John the
Baptist, and, having fulfilled his Ministry as
Forerunner of Christ on Earth, he also fulfilled his
Sacred Role in Hades.
Therefore, his Beheading was not only the culmination of
his earthly Ministry, but also the beginning of a new
and Glorious Ministry in Hades, which is why our Lord
Jesus declared him as His last but greatest Holy
Prophet: “Assuredly, I say to you: among those born
of women, there has not risen one greater than John
the Baptist...” (MATTHEW 11:11 & LUKE 7:28)
28. T H E B E H E A D I N G O F S T J O H N T H E B A P T I S T 2 9 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4
Christ also said of St John the Forerunner: “... This is he,
of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send My Messenger
before Thy Face, who shall prepare Thy Way before
Thee...” (LUKE 7:27).
These words of our Lord Himself, testify to the Spiritual
Greatness of St John the Baptist and his High Purpose
in the Work of the Salvation of the human race.
He appeared as the (MOST FAITHFUL) Servant and (DIVINELY INSPIRED)
Preacher of God as no other single man in the world,
having begun to Preach and Praise Christ before his
birth, and finishing even after his death, before
Ascending with Christ into the Kingdom of Heaven
after the destruction of Hades.
As the greatest of the Righteous, a worthy place was
prepared for him in the Kingdom of his Divine Friend,
where he remains, awaiting Its Revelation in all Glory
and the Triumphant Feast of the Lamb of God in His
Second Coming (Reappearance/Parousia), when He will
gather His Wheat, and burn up the chaff with
Unquenchable Fire. (MATTHEW 3.12 & LUKE 3.17).
The Beheading of St John the Baptist and Forerunner to
Christ was his final exploit on Earth, and the last step
towards the receiving of the Greatest Reward in the
Kingdom of Heaven - while for all those in Hades, it
was “... the Rising of the Morning Star...” before the
Appearance of the Son of Righteousness.
Just as the Nativity of St John the Forerunner and Baptist
is the beginning of the Holy Gospel of Christ for the
living, so is his Beheading the beginning of the Gospel
for the dead.
"The Glorious Beheading of the Forerunner is part of a
certain Divine Dispensation, for he preached to
those in Hades the Coming of the Saviour" (FESTAL
KONTAKION).
"Be glad, O Baptist, and let Thy spirit dance: for Thou
accuses the godless Herod, and preaches to those in
Hades, saying: ‘Our salvation has drawn near!’"
(CANTICLE 4 OF THE CANON).
"He who came before Thy Birth and Thy Divine Passion
is, through a sword, in the nethermost parts of the
Earth. John, the Prophet and Messenger of Thy
Descent there, cries as the Voice of the Word: Do ye
dead, as Giver of Life, do ye blind, as Giver of Light,
do ye prisoners, as Deliverer, exalt Christ above all
forever..." (CANTICLE 8 OF THE CANON).
http://www.orthodox.cn/catechesi s/johnmx/i ndex.html
C h r i s t i n t h e He a r t o f t h e F a i t h f u l
“... and that Christ may dwell in your heart through Faith...” (EPHESIANS 3:27)
Those do not have Christ who only have Him on their
tongue.
Neither do those have Christ who have Him only on paper.
Neither do those have Christ who have Him only on the
wall.
Neither do those have Christ who have Him in the Museum
of the Past.
Those, in Truth, have Christ who have Him in their heart,
for Christ is Love and the Throne of Love is our heart.
If Christ is in our heart, then, for us, He is God.
If He is only on our tongue, or on paper, or on a wall, or in
the Museum of the Past, and even though we call Him
‘God’ for us He is but a Toy!
Beware then, O mankind: for no one can play around with
God without Punishment!
The heart apparently is a narrow organ, but God can dwell
in it.
When God dwells in our heart, then it is filled and overly
filled and nothing else can position itself in it.
If, however, the whole world were to settle in our heart, it
will remain empty – without God!
Brethren: let Christ – the Resurrected and Living Lord –
pour Faith into our heart and our heart will be filled
and overly filled.
He cannot enter and dwell in our heart except through our
Faith.
If we do not possess Faith, Christ will remain only on our
tongue, or on our paper, or on our wall, or in the
Museum of the Past.
What kind of Benefit do we have from that?
What kind of Benefit do we have to hold Life on our tongue
and Death in our heart?
For, if we hold the world in our heart and Christ on our
tongue, we hold Death in our heart and Life on our
tongue.
Water on the tongue of the Thirsty does not help.
We must lower the Living Christ into our heart and we will
be permeated with the Truth, and we will sense
unspeakable Sweetness.
O Resurrected Lord, Cleanse our heart from the deadly
guests who dwell in it, and Thou, Thyself, take up
dwelling in it, so that we may Live and Glorify Thee!
PROLOGUE OF OCHRID
My L i f e i n C h r i s t
Pronounce the Name of God with the deepest reverence,
remembering, that everything was brought by God from
non-existence into existence, and that everything which
exists is maintained in good order solely by His Mercy,
Omnipotence, and Wisdom.
Pronounce with the deepest reverence the Name of Jesus
Christ, the Son of God, " ... by Whom all things were
made, and all things are governed;
- Who, until now, upholds all things by the Word of His
Power..." Who produces times and seasons - summer,
autumn, winter, and spring... Who brings forth all the
fruits of the earth, peoples the earth with men and
animals, the air with birds, the sea, the lakes, and rivers
with fishes... Who multiplies the human race and
provides it with all Blessings— Who Saves it from sins
and evil spirits, and prepares an Abode for those who
Love Him in the Kingdom of Heaven... Who, until now,
makes the Luminaries light the Earth or moderate the
darkness of the night... Who diffuses such Vivifying Air
for all living creatures to breathe ... Who has given such
wonderful properties to fire, that it warms, burns, and
lights... Who created the Earth, capable of easily
revolving round such an immense planet as the Sun, as
well as on its own axis; capable of generating
innumerable sorts of plants; water, capable of being
turned into an innumerable variety of juices in an
innumerable multitude of fruits, trees, shrubs, and
grasses.
"Our God does Wondrous Things."
He is All-Good and Almighty, Most Wise - the God of Mercy,
Bounties, and Love.
"There is none like unto Thee, O Lord!"
Reverently pronounce also the Name of the Most Pure
Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ - of the Ever-Virgin
Mary, Who gave Birth to Him for our salvation.
Through Her, by the Lord's Grace, we were found worthy of
innumerable Blessings: of the forgiveness of sins, of
Sanctification, of Enlightenment, of Renewal,
Deliverance from Eternal Death, of Elevation to Heaven,
of becoming the sons of God, of being made godly, and
of inheriting Life Eternal.
Reverently pronounce the names of Christ's Apostles, who
were His eye-witnesses and His servants, who carried
His Divine Teachings throughout all the world, who
implanted and spread throughout the Earth the Saving
Faith and Church of Christ — Faith in Renewal and
Salvation.
Also the names of the Martyrs, who were born by their
blood into Eternal Life, of the Venerable Fathers, who,
by the mortification of their flesh, mortified in
themselves the sins and passions, and attained Blessed
Renewal and Eternal Life; also the names of the Un-
Mercenaries, who, by their disinterestedness, obtained
for themselves the Priceless Treasures of the Spirit and
of eternal life; and the names of all the Saints.
ST JOHN OF KRONSTADT
S t T h a l a s s i o s t h e L i b y a n
Our actions disclose what goes on within us, just as
its fruit makes known a tree otherwise unknown
to us.
[ON LOVE, SELF-CONTROL AND LIFE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE
INTELLECT: THI RD CENTURY]
1 2
T H
S U N D A Y A P - 1 2
T H
O F S T M A T T H E W - I N H E R I T A N C E O F E T E R N A L L I F E & T H E O T O K O S ’ S A S H – 3 1 A U G U S T 2 0 1 4 29
Gr e e k Or t h o d o x Pa t r i a r c h a t e o f Al e x a n d r i a & Al l Af r i c a
AL L GL OR Y , HONOU R A ND WOR S HI P T O T HE FA T HE R , A ND T O T HE SON, A ND T O T HE HOL Y SP I R I T , NOW A ND FOR E V E R , A ND U NT O T HE AGE S OF
AGE S . AME N
RE ME MB E R I NG A L S O OU R MOS T HOL Y , MOS T P U R E , MOS T BL E S S E D A ND GL OR I OU S L A DY , MA R Y , T HE OT OK OS Y E T E V E R VI R GI N, T OGE T HE R WI T H
A L L T HE SA I N T S . AND L E T U S COMMI T OU R S E L V E S A N D ONE A NOT HE R A N D OU R WHOL E L I F E T O CHR I S T OU R GOD. AME N.
3 1 A u g u s t 2 0 1 4
1 2
t h
S u n d a y A f t e r P e n t e c o s t
To n e 3
1 2
t h
S u n d a y o f S t Ma t t h e w
I n h e r i t a n c e o f E t e r n a l L i f e
AL S O T HE FE AS T T HE DE P OS I T I ON OF T HE BE L T OF T HE AL L
HOL Y & EVE R BL E S S E D L ADY , T HE OT OKOS I N CONS T ANT I NOP L E
– ST CY P R I AN, B I S HOP & HI E R OMART Y R OF CART HAGE – ST
GE NNADI OS , PAT R I AR CH OF CONS T A NT I NOP L E – ST AI DAN,
BI S HOP OF L I NDE S F A RNE MONAS T E RY , I ONA – ST EANS WY T HE ,
AB BE S S OF FOL KE S T ONE , KE NT
R E S U R R E C T I O N A P O L Y T I K I O N – T O N E 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.
F E S T A L A P O L Y T I K I O N – T H E O T O K O S ’ Z O N I / B E L T / S A S H / C I N C T U R E
Theotoke Aiparthene, ton anthropon i Skepi, Esthita ke
Zonin tou ahrantou Sou somatos, kratean ti poli Sou
perivolin edoriso, to Asporo Toko Sou aftharta
diaminanta, epi Si gar ke fisis kenotomite ke hronos,
dio disopoumen Se, irinin ti politia Sou dorise, ke tes
psihes imon to Mega Eleos.
Ever Virgin Theotokos, the Shelter of mankind, Thou
hast granted to Thy City as a Protective Wall the
Garment and Girdle that Thou wore on Thine
Immaculate Body. By Thy seedless Child-birth, they
have remained incorrupt. For in Thee both nature
and time are made novel. Therefore, we implore
Thee, grant Peace to Thy Commonwealth, and Great
Mercy to our soul.
F E S T A L K O N T A K I O N – T H E O T O K O S ’ Z O N I – T O N E 2
Tin Theodohon gastera Sou Theotokos, perilavousa i
Zoni Sou i Timia, kratos ti poli Sou aprosmahiton, ke
thisafros iparhi, ton Agathon anekliptos, i moni
tekousa Aiparthenos.
The Precious Sash that Thou wore about Thy body that
Hosted God, O All Blessed Theotokos, truly is Power
Unassailable for Thy City and a Treasure whose
Blessings are perpetual, O Only Ever Virgin who bore
a Child.
Re s u r r e c t i o n G o s p e l 1 : Ma t t h e w 2 8 : 1 6 - 2 0
T H E G R E A T C O M M I S S I O N O F C H R I S T
P r o k e i me n o n – T O N E 3
My soul magni fi es t he Lord, and my spi ri t rej oi ces i n God my Savi our!
For He has regarded t he l ow estate of Hi s Handmai den.
Th e E p i s t l e o f S t P a u l t o t h e H e b r e ws 9 : 1 – 7
T H E O L D C O V E N A N T ’ S O R D I N A N C E S O F D I V I N E S E R V I C E I N T H E E A R T H L Y S A N C T U A R Y .
Brethren: Even the First Covenant had Ordinances of Divine Service and the earthly Sanctuary. For a Tabernacle was
prepared; the first part in which was the Lampstand, the Table and the Showbread, which is called the Sanctuary; and
behind the Second Veil, the part of the /tabernacle, which is called the Holy of Holies, which had the Golden Censer and
the Ark of the Covenant, overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were kept the Golden Pot of Manna, Aaron’s Rod that
budded, and the Tablets of the Covenant; and above it were the Cherubim of Glory overshadowing the Mercy Seat.
Of all these things we can no longer speak in detail.
Now, when these things had been thus prepared, the Priests always went into the first part of the Tabernacle, to perform
the Services.
But into the second part, the High Priest went alone, once a year – not without blood, which he offered for himself and for
the people’s sins committed in ignorance.
Th e Ho l y Go s p e l A c c o r d i n g t o S t Ma t t h e w 1 9 : 1 6 – 2 6
E A R T H L Y R I C H E S A N D E T E R N A L L I F E I N T H E K I N G D O M O F H E A V E N
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 murder... 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.
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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.”
THE RICH YOUNG MAN HAD NOT TRIED TO TEST OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST,
BUT INSTEAD, GENUINELY SOUGHT HIS ADVICE, regarding Him to
be no more than a most Wise and Truthful Teacher.
CHRIST’S RESPONSE TO THE YOUNG MAN DID NOT DENY HIS OWN DIVINITY
BUT WAS INTENDED TO LEAD HIM TO THE REALISATION OF HIS TRUE
DIVINE IDENTITY.
] Furthermore, CHRIST GUIDED EVERYONE TO AL WAYS GI V E
GL OR Y T O AL MI GHT Y GOD – the Holy Trinity – Who
always works in Perfect Unison.
FORMAL OBSERVANCE OF GOD’S COMMANDMENTS DOES NOT MAKE
ANYONE RIGHTEOUS IN THE SIGHT OF GOD.
THE RICH YOUNG MAN HAD AN EARNEST DESIRE FOR ETERNAL LIFE YET HE
REALISED THAT HE LACKED SOMETHING VITAL TO ITS ACQUISITION,
compelling him to press our Lord for a more direct
Commandment.
] TO ACHIEVE SPIRITUAL PERFECTION, WE MUS T WI L L I NGL Y
S ACRI F I CE EV ER YT H I NG WE HAVE - WHAT E VE R
HOL DS US B ACK F ROM F OL L OWI NG CH RI S T .
GOD DOES NOT REQUIRE THE SAME SACRIFICE FROM EVERYONE FOR EACH
OF OUR CIRCUMSTANCES ARE UNIQUE.
GOD KNOWS US FAR BETTER THAN WE CAN EVER KNOW OURSELVES and in
the case of the rich young man, CHRIST KNEW EXACTLY WHAT
KEPT HIM FROM SPIRITUAL PERFECTION.
PERHAPS THE RICH YOUNG MAN MERELY WANTED TO LIVE FOREVER IN
ORDER TO CONTINUE ENJOYING THE PLEASURES OF SELF-
INDULGENCE OF HIS WORLDLY WEALTH AND SOCIAL STATUS – I.E. HIS
DESIRE FOR ETERNAL LIFE MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE CRAVING OF THE
FLESH RATHER THANFOR THE SAKE OF HIS IMMORTAL SOUL!
Therefore OUR LORD TOLD THE YOUNG MAN TO FREE 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, I T I S
I MPER AT I V E T O S HAR E T H EM WI T H OT H ER S , because,
unless we do so, OUR MATERIAL POSSESSIONS WILL BE OUR
DOWNFALL AND CAUSE OUR FINAL, ETERNAL CONDEMNATION.
It has frequently been proved that THE MORE WE SHARE WITH
OTHERS, THE MORE BLESSED WE ARE!
In fact, WHATEVER WE DO FOR OTHERS - WHETHER GOOD OR WICKED – IS
RETURNED “A HUNDREDFOLD” to us in so many different ways!
 ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM taught us that the giving away of our
earthly possessions is the least of Christ’s instructions
because FAITHFULLY FOLLOWING OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS A
FAR GREATER AND MORE DIFFICULT CALLING – YET IT IS FAR MORE
FULFILLING AND REWARDING THAN THE ENTIRE EARTHLY WEALTH!
The debates concerning “the eye of a needle” have been
many and varied.
] OUR LORD OFTEN USED EXTREME CONTRASTS TO EMPHASISE HIS
TEACHINGS – SO THAT PEOPLE REALLY UNDERSTOOD THE ENORMITY
AND SIGNIFICANCE.
Some have replaced the word ”camel” with “rope” – IT IS ALSO
UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE TO THREAD ROPE THROUGH THE EYE OF A NEEDLE.
Others see it as follows: SMALL DOORS WERE SET INTO THE LARGE
PROTECTIVE CITY GATES, which could not be entered by
beasts laden with goods. So the BURDENS HAD TO BE REMOVED
BEFORE THE ANIMAL AND THEN THE GOODS COULD BE SQUEEZED
THROUGH THE SMALL OPENING.
WE, T OO, MUS T OF F L OAD OUR WORL DL Y CONCER NS
B EF ORE WE E NT ER CHUR CH FOR COMMUNAL WORSHIP AND
PRAYERS, IN ORDER TO GIVE OUR FULL ATTENTION TO GOD AND HIS
HOLY MYSTERIES.
And ESPECIALLY BEFORE WE DIE, WE MUST WE OFFLOAD/CONQUER OUR
ATTACHMENT AND OBSESSION 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 HAT EV ER YT H I NG B E COMES P OS S I BL E B Y
DI VI NE GR ACE – EV E N T HE MOS T I NCRE DUL OUS
T HI NGS !
Twe l f t h S u n d a y A f t e r P e n t e c o s t – Th e I n h e r i t a n c e o f E t e r n a l L i f e
A person accidentally slipped and fell off a cliff.
On the way down he grabbed hold of the branch of a tree
and remained suspended there.
He began to pray fervently - praying as he had never
prayed before: “Lord, Save me! Lord, Lord!”
Suddenly the Lord answered: “Yes?”
The man pleaded: “Save me, Lord!” “Have you attended
Church?” asked the Lord. “Yes, I did whenever I
could, but I promise never to miss if Thou will Save
me.”
“Have you kept the Ten Commandments?” asked God.
“Yes, as much as I could. I promise to obey them to the
letter if Thou will Save me.”
“Have you said your Prayers every day?” “Yes, Lord, but
just get me off the side of this cliff and I’ll be the best
praying man in the world.”
“Have you given generously to the Work of My
Church?” “Yes, I think I have, but I’ll give even more
generously in the future. Just get me off the side of this
cliff.”
“Do you trust Me?” asked our Saviour. “Yes, Lord, of
course I trust Thee — completely.” “Then let go the
branch.”
We must let go the man-made crutches we hold onto, and
we must replace them with a tight grip onto God.
We must let go the sin that has possessed us.
It seems that we become so accustomed to our sins that
we feel comfortable with them and refuse to let them
go.
We must let go of hatred and of resentment.
How many times have we heard people say: “I’ll do
anything for Thee, O Lord, but just don’t ask me to
forgive so-and-so.”
We must let go alcoholism or any other addiction.
A short time ago there was a convention of Alcoholics
Anonymous and three thousand well-dressed,
dignified people attended the banquet — all of them
former alcoholics.
Those who had remained dry for one year were asked to
stand up. Then two years, then three.
A fellow priest who was there told me that it was the
most inspiring sight he had ever seen.
All of those people had been brought back from death to
Life because they had let go the branch -the bottle -
and trusted God.
The Rich Young Man in today’s Sacred Gospel Lesson
went to our Lord Jesus seeking Eternal Life.
Knowing that his besetting sin was his love of money, our
Lord Jesus prescribed the remedy: “Sell all that you
have and give to the poor, and you will have
Treasure in Heaven; and come, follow Me.”
However, “...when he heard this he became sad, for he
was very rich. And Jesus - looking at him - said:
‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter
the Kingdom of God!”
In other words, how extremely difficult it is for those
who become so attached to their riches - so enslaved
to their material possessions - that they cannot let go
because their possessions have become their god –
their slave-masters!
Like the Rich Young Man in today’s Sacred Lesson, how
many are there today who want everything that Christ
has to offer: Forgiveness, Peace, assurance of Life
Eternal with God — but they don’t want to let go their
false gods, their besetting, enslaving and imprisoning
sins!
Consequently, the Lord asks each and every one of us
today: “Do you trust Me?”
And if we reply: “Yes, Lord, we trust Thee,” He instructs
us: “Then let go! Let go of the demons - let go of the
Spiritual Death that is within you!!”
And without fail, let us all respond prayerfully: “Lord, I let
go trusting that Thou will bring me back to Life!”
RE VE REND F AT HE R ANT HONY M CONI ARI S
HOL Y T RI NI T Y MI SS I ON
http://www.pravmir.com/let-go-on-the-twelfth-sunday-after-
pentecost/#ixzz31Q6i5LC8
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A Wo r d t o t h e Yo u t h
“. . . I wr i t e t o you, young men, because you have over come t he evi l one . . . ” [ 1 J OHN 2: 1 3]
My Beloved, Victory requires Struggle. There is no Victory
without a Battle.
We live in a world where it is desired that people, and
especially the youth, may be defeated in their Struggle
and “freed” to become enslaved.
If we observe the demonic work around us, we can see its
deception for it wants to give us the impression that in
fact, there is no need for a Spiritual Battle.
Many passions are now proclaimed as ‘the norm’ and it’s no
longer desired to fight against them!
The enemy hides itself but is at work: “I write to you,
young men, because you have overcome the evil
one...” said St John, the Apostle of Love.
The enemy has become very clever and it gives us the
impression – in various ways – that there’s no need to
fight.
In our times, even some churches proclaim a Christ Who is
‘nice and sweet’ - a ‘new Christ’ Who accepts our sins
as ‘normal.’
Unfortunately many so-called ‘churches’ have fallen into
this trap and there are church leaders who proclaim
loud and clear that the sins against human nature [i.e.
homosexuality, promiscuity or fornication] are ‘normal.’
“Why not accept gay couples as normal?” or “Why not have
Priests possessed by such ugly passions?”
They also argue “Why not a Christ Who is a ‘nice Guy’?…”
And, therefore, they are troubled when they encounter
Orthodox Christianity and see our beautiful Holy Icons
that depict “...a Christ Who is too serious!”
Recently, I was asked by an Orthodox layman: “Why doesn’t
Christ smile in our Icons? He will look so cute. Our Christ
is too serious!”
My Beloved, Christ is serious for He sees the wickedness of
the evil one and to what extent we are affected by it!
This life – (this earthly existence) - is a serious time for us
because it involves ceaseless Battle against evil.
If you are not aware of this Struggle you are the victim of
the devil.
“I write to you young men, because you have overcome the
evil one...” – again, Victory implies Struggle.
Any serious thing in this life is gained through hard work!
Through a disciplined Battle, an Ascetical Struggle as St.
Paul put it: “...He who strives for an earthly crown
practices Self Control…”
The Apostle of Love [St John the Evangelist] continued:
“I wrote to you, young men, because you are strong, and
the Word of God abides in you, and you have
overcome the evil one.”
We can say that this second word of the Apostle addressed
to the youth comes with details of this Victory, which
does not just happen by itself.
“I wrote to you, young men, because you are strong...” –
do we realize how strong the youth was to whom St
John referred, when he wrote these words?
Sadly, it seems that we do not know of many (Spiritually)
strong young people today!
Today’s youth seems extremely Spiritually Fragile as they
are systematically weakened - almost programmed, I
may say.
Today we live in a world that weakens the spirit, the people
and of course it exercises this the most on our children
- our youth.
In order to be strong we need to be Strengthened.
There are young people who dream of having strong
muscles – so they constantly exercise their body.
Sure, this is not a bad thing if it’s done in moderation.
However, very few young people long for the Spiritual
Strength - the Saintly’ Strength - of an Athlete in Christ!
Many people long for adventure and they dream of a life
full of interesting things…
I’d like to tell you that the most exciting Adventure is a Life
lived in Christ.
If you desire a Life full of wonderful surprises, then begin a
Life in Christ, which is a Narrow Path in the beginning
but it expands as we progress.
This Path begins in our heart - the point where Christ meets
us and as we advance, it widens to the infinite -
reaching the Kingdom of God.
On the contrary, the path of sin is broad and although it
seems wide at first, it continuously narrows until it
reaches a dead-end, where there is no way out!
The Narrow Path (that leads to Eternal Life and all Divine
Blessings, Peace, Love and Joy) requires Discipline,
Struggle and seriousness but by advancing on it, it will
reveal itself in its lovely infinity.
So, do you think you are strong?
To become strong we have to be Fortified by all the means
that we Christians have been offered (and provided) by
the Will of God the Father, through the Power of God
the Son, by the Energy of God the Holy Spirit: “You are
strong and the Word of God abides in you.”
In fact, the explanation follows in Matthew 13 in the
Parable of the Sower and the Seed: the Seed is the Word
of the Kingdom - God’s Word/Truth – which St Matthew
specifically referred to as “...the Word of the Kingdom.”
Does this Word (or Truth) of the “Kingdom”[‘Basilea tou
Qeo’ or ‘Vasileia tou Theou’ or ‘the Kingdom of God’]
interest you? Does it find any meaning in your life
today?
Many people have devalued (misunderstood or misinterpreted)
its meaning. So, for many, the word “Kingdom” [basilea
– or Vasilia] has lost its meaning.
My Beloved, let it not be so!
The Saving Word of Christ is the “Word of the Kingdom.”
We must also consider its substrate [basilea] which in
Aramaic is “Malkuta” or the “Word of the Kingdom of
God!”
God is accepted as King - He reigns - but this implies that
we are reigning with Him!
It’s an Adventure to become King, isn’t?
Our Lord Calls us to this Adventure – to reign with Him in
His Kingdom!
This Word must remain in us…
The Parable in the Holy Gospel according to St Matthew
grants us a most significant Sacred Lesson: the Seed of
the Word is often stolen quickly from us – if it is sown
on stony, hard, infertile ground or among choking
thorns.
Only some of that Divine Seed falls on good, fertile ground
(our eager, willing heart) and bears abundant Spiritual
Fruit – in some 30 times more, other 60 times more,
and another 100 times more Spiritual Fruit.
When St John the Beloved Theologian refers to the youth
who are strong, he means that “...the Word of the
Kingdom...” remains in their heart, and is not easily
stolen from them, nor stifled by worldly concerns.
It is His Word – God’s Truth - that is germinating, growing,
blooming and bearing abundant Spiritual Fruit within
us.
St John clearly told us: “When the Word of God abides
within you, you have overcome the evil one!”
Every time we recite our Lord’s Prayer - the “Our Father...”
we ask to be Delivered from the evil one!
The Beloved Apostle of Christ assures us all : “...you have
overcome the evil one...” (by having the Word/Truth of God
flourishing deep in our heart and affecting our daily living in a
positive, Spiritually Strong manner – and as long as we
continue our Spiritual Battle.)
The devil – Satan - is this evil one who lurks everywhere,
perpetually trying to destroy our physical life and our
Spiritual Life – but especially, our Eternal Life!
He desperately, obsessively, desires us to become lost
along the Way to Eternal Life in God’s Heavenly
Kingdom of Love.
My Beloved Youth, we are Called to a Victorious Battle!
We Confess our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ as the One
Who conquers all evil.
On the Holy Cross we see the letters: ‘IC XC NI KA’ –
meaning “Jesus Christ Conquers!”
Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ Calls us all to be
Victorious with Him in this continuous Spiritual Warfare
against evil - in this exciting, ongoing Battle for the
Kingdom of God.
Amen.
BY REVEREND FATHER BASIL (VASILE) MIHOC, PROFESSOR OF THEOLOGY
HT T P: / / ORT HODOX WORD. WORDP RES S . COM/ 2013/ 0 8/
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32
A r c h i m a n d r i t e S o p h r o n y o f E s s e x :
T H E W O R D O F G O D D O E S N O T P A S S – I T I S E T E R N A L
We cannot acquire the Image of Christ within us unless we are
truly One, (UNITED), as Christ asks of His Disciples: “Love one
another, so that the world may know that you belong to
Christ.” (JOHN 15:12)
For me, the Life of my Brethren is more precious than my own.
When you will understand this, there will be no more
misunderstandings between you.
The untying of a problem or a disagreement, does not depend
on any organisation, or a particular code of conduct, but
on the decision to bear everything.
Each of us must have a ‘mother’s heart’ for others.
We ought to be very sensitive to the needs of others.
Then we will be one and the Blessing of God will abound in us.
We must have Christ’s Consciousness, Who bears in Him the
whole world – therein lies the Universality of the human
being.
The Word of Christ does not change, and it is Eternal.
If we Confess in the Creed that Christ is the One True God, the
Saviour of the world and its Creator “... through Whom all
things were made...” how can we reduce our Faith to a
matter of Nationality, place or time...?
E l d e r A r s e n i e P a p a c i o c
h O N C H R I S T I A N S U F F E R I N G : My dear, suffering is a
Gift from God!
The Mission of Christ on Earth was to Save the world through
suffering, so suffering brings much Humility.
It is a mistake to try to escape from our own suffering.
We are truly free only when we are Struggling – when we are
present on the Cross.
Suffering brings deep Wisdom and makes us reflect more
seriously on our Salvation.
The most important question that will affect our Final
Judgement but which we can still Faithfully Fulfil, is: “How
is our heart responding to the suffering that surrounds
us?”
And our greatest Condemnation will be: “Why did we not
pay more attention to our neighbours?”
h M I S C E L L A N E O U S T H O U G H T S : I am not sad that I
am an old man! I do nothing for myself. Everything that I
do, I do for God and for His Children.
I am not all for a great Asceticism. I lean more towards a
Great Vigilance! For it is not Asceticism in itself that God
wants from us, but our broken and humble heart, which is
able to accommodate His continuous Presence in our
Life.
I have experienced many things in life and have seen God’s
Wonders: “I beheld the invisible God – I Experienced
Him!”
Our world today strives to see only His ‘Contour’ and only
wants to touch Him in a carnal form!!
Our Lady Theotokos represents the entire human race.
Let us get accustomed to the (Divine) Authority of the words
of Holy Scripture.
Peace is greater than Justice
There is nothing at all from what Christ spoke – His Teachings
and His Commandments - that cannot be fulfilled.
Our Life is our Witness! And we ought to Confess the Truth,
wherever we are!
No matter where or who we are, we are all unprepared, and
it is only by God’s Divine Grace that we are able to
achieve the things that we endeavour.
If we are vengeful and if we do not resist evil, we will be
Eternally indebted to God.
We must immediately refute all evil thoughts that come to
mind, and they will continue to plague us until we take
our last breath.
Our Loving God will not delay His Help as long as we have
purified our heart.
All too often we compare ourselves with those whom are
regarded as weak, self-indulgent or evil! Instead we must
compare ourselves to St Peter and St Paul, or with St
Silouan the Athonite (or any of our many Wise and Holy
Church Fathers, Saints and Martyrs who have gone before us
and who are the best examples for us to imitate.)
If we seek the Spiritual Advice of a Bishop or a man of God,
we must know that the answer will come from God and
not from that particular person. Therefore, if we complain
about it, we must know that it is God Whom we have
slandered!
Elder Cleopas was a Great Holy Father! A great Chancellor
with much Knowledge and also of detail. He created a
Spiritual Era and leaned more towards Ascetic Work with
strict Fasting, Prayers and Tears of Repentance. I am
more for Spiritual Watchfulness and Awakening.
h W I S E A D V I C E : We must believe in God. We must Love
His Holy Church and follow His Inspired, Faithful and Wise
Spiritual Fathers of Orthodox Christianity.
We must always walk on the Path of Humility and acquire a
good name in Christ, insisting more fervently in our
Prayers.
We will be free only when we walk with Love towards those
who hate us!
Stay still in Christ for Eternity...
h O N H U M I L I T Y A N D O B E D I E N C E : The humble can
never acknowledge themselves as such for they would
not be humble!
Humility is the only Power that can free the human soul and
the Nations.
There is only one Path to follow: Humility and Obedience
to God!
If we wish to overcome evil, we must humble ourselves and
not judge others. Only then will we be free.
Humility leads us to God – but Love tastes God!
We must humble ourselves in order for Divine Grace to
abound in us.
Humility is the Blood of Life. We cannot be Saved without
Humility.
We must never think nor declare - not even for a moment: “I
am humble!”
Humility is descending deep within ourselves and remaining
there – (being ever watchful so as to identify our sins, our
weaknesses and our errors, and to root them out immediately
- and thus truly be humble.)
Divine Grace abandons us so that – in our bereavement -
we may sincerely humble ourselves before God.
h O N P R A Y E R : God is very Rich! And He awaits us! He
waits for us to turn to Him and seek His Divine Assistance.
Wherever we are and whenever we are tempted, we must
pray and never become discouraged.
Those who desire the Gift of Prayer must keep silent and pray.
We speak so much about Prayer but it is something vital that
cannot be discussed but only practised.
A deep Silence is a deep Prayer. And a deep Prayer is like
deep Silence.
Every moment is a time in Eternity and every sigh can
become a Prayer.
We must never cease to pray – even with our mind. For
when we pray, we are always present in ourselves – our
inner being – and in the very Presence of God.
h O N W O R L D L Y W I S D O M : It is difficult for the intellectual
to live a Life of Prayer.
God is not revealed to the sharp mind, but to the humble,
pure heart that is constantly shown towards Him.
Philosophers can only conceive certain notions (ideas) but
they cannot solve any problems.
Intelligence and education have no value if they are not in
the service of Love (Agape – unconditional, Divine Love)
h O N T H E H O L Y C H U R C H O F C H R I S T : Salvation
exists only in Christ Jesus and His Holy Orthodox Church.
As Orthodox Christians we ought to hold tightly to all God’s
Teachings and Commandments, for if we do not, we
quickly fall into heresy.
We cannot – dare not! - renounce or change even one
iota from the Orthodox (Divine) Truth, which is a great
matter that concerns Almighty God!
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