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

ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

2nd Sunday After Pentecost

Tone 1

6 June 2010

2nd Sunday of St Matthew – Fishers of Men Feast of St Hilarion the New – Abbot of the Dalmation Monastery; St Bessarion Wonderworker of Egypt; St Martha, St Mary, St Cyris, St Valeria & St Marcia – Virgin Martyrs of Caesarea
RE SURRE CTION A POL YTIK ION – T ONE 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!
O F THE EVE R BLESSED THEOT OKO S

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

KO NT AKION

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 Help of all of us, who in Faith cry out to Thee: speed up Thine Intercession, and press on Thy Supplication, O Theotokos who always protects all those who honour Thee!

Resurrection Gospel 2 : Mark 16 : 1 – 8 THE HOLY MYRRHBEARERS WITNESS THE EMPTY TOMB OF OUR RISEN LORD & SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST
PROKEIMENON

Have mercy on us, O Lord, as we have set our Hope on Thee! Rejoice in the Lord, all Righteous men!
The Epistle of St Paul to the Romans 2 : 10 - 16

WE ARE REMINDED THAT OUR CONSCIENCE WILL JUDGE US FIRST BEFORE THE FINAL JUDGEMENT OF CHRIST OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR

Brethren: Glory, Honour and Peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Hebrew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. For as many as have sinned without Law will also perish without Law, and as many as have sinned in the Law will be judged by the Law (for not the hearers of the Law are Just in the Sight of God, but the doers of the Law will be Justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the Law, by nature do the things in the Law, these, although not having the Law, as a law to themselves, who show the Work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the Day when God will Judge the secrets of mankind by Jesus Christ, according to my Gospel. Even as believing Christians, WE MUST NOT TAKE THE WORSHIP OF GOD and never for our own OUTCOME OF GOD’S FINAL JUDGEMENT FOR GRANTED! glorification or to receive the FLATTERY AND In every Divine Liturgy Orthodox Christians pray: “For a COMPLIMENTS OF OTHERS, which can CAUSE OUR SPIRITUAL DEATH THROUGH VANITY, GREED, ETC. good Defence before the dread Judgement Seat of By humbly seeking only the Glory of God through our good Christ, let us pray to the Lord: Lord have deeds, we receive the Eternal Reward of Immortality – mercy!” Eternal Life in God’s Heavenly Kingdom of Everlasting St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (2:2-16) describes God’s Love/Agape. Judgement, showing how WE CAN PREPARE OURSELVES GOOD DEEDS MAY BENEFIT OTHERS BUT THEY WILL NOT for It. BENEFIT US AT ALL UNLESS WE SEEK FIRST THE GOD’S RIGHTEOUS JUDGEMENT will be: KINGDOM OF GOD. > ACCORDING TO TRUTH – GOD’S TRUTH: NOTHING IS Therefore, if we only commit ourselves to doing any good HIDDEN FROM GOD Who sees everything and Who deeds so that others will praise us and admire us, that knows the Truth about every human being. Our TEMPORARY GLORY BECOMES AN ACCUSATION AGAINST greatest deception is the belief that anything can be US, THE CONSEQUENCES OF WHICH WILL WEIGH “secret” or “hidden” and thinking that there is no HEAVILY AGAINST US IN ETERNITY! Divine Judgement! GOOD INTENTIONS ALONE, OR FAITH WITHOUT WORKS, > ACCORDING TO IMPENITENT HEARTS: THOSE WHO ARE WILL NOT SAVE OUR SOULS FROM CONDEMNATION!
UNREPENTANT, STUBBORN AND IN A STATE OF SPIRITUAL DEATH DESPISE GOD’S INFINITE GOODNESS, THEREBY ACCUMULATING THE WRATH OF GOD AT THE FINAL JUDGEMENT. A repentant

soul who is in a state of Spiritual Life is grateful for God’s Infinite Patience and Blessings, abiding in Christ and practising A LIFETIME OF REPENTANCE, which PRODUCES SPIRITUAL CONFIDENCE before our Lord at the Final Judgement. > ACCORDING TO OUR DEEDS: The “doing good” is not an attempt at gaining special merits with our Lord. Rather it means ENJOYING THE UNITY OF INTENTIONS WITH ACTIONS – i.e. Faith with Works –
OUR FAITH MOTIVATES AND COMPELS US TO DO GOOD DEEDS AT ALL TIMES, WITHOUT EXPECTING ANYTHING IN RETURN. Even unbelievers are

Simply to hear but not to do is false faith – faith without any foundation or reality. Those who have True Faith are the doers of God’s Truth and they CEASELESSLY PRACTISE VIRTUE FROM PURE AND REPENTANT HEARTS. “By nature” – i.e. BY OUR HUMAN NATURE THAT IS
CREATED AND ENLIVENED BY GOD, WE ARE INSPIRED BY AND CO-OPERATE WITH GOD’S DIVINE GRACE. Therefore GOOD DEEDS ARE NATURAL TO US while wicked deeds are contrary to our human,

intellectual nature! Because we all fail sooner or later, WE ALWAYS NEED
GOD’S DIVINE MERCY. THE PRESENCE OF DIVINE LAW – THE LAW OF GOD – WITHIN OUR CONSCIENCE CONDEMNS ANYTHING WE DO THAT IS CONTRARY OR AGAINST OUR TRUE, PERFECTLY CREATED HUMAN NATURE.

rewarded for their good deeds, apart from Spiritual Understanding.
“DOING GOOD” EXCLUSIVELY
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MEANS WHATEVER WE DO IS FOR THE GLORY, HONOUR AND

Therefore, even Gentiles – those who are not under the Old or New Covenant with God – have a natural, internal
6 JUNE 2010

2ND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – 2ND SUNDAY OF ST MATTHEW – FISHERS OF MEN

1

Divine Law within them – their conscience – according to which they, too, will be judged. Melchizedek, Job and the Ninevites are Old Testament examples of non-Hebrews who were judged to be Righteous. Hebrews had TWO LAWS OF GOD – THE LAW OF MOSES (THE
OLD COVENANT LAW) AND THE NATURAL DIVINE LAW OF THEIR CONSCIENCE – AND THEY – JUST LIKE US OF THE NEW COVENANT LAW – WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR BOTH BEFORE GOD. THOSE WHO ARE CONDEMNED HAVE CHOSEN TO REJECT GOD. There is no automatic, fated Condemnation: GOD’S JUST JUDGEMENT IS BASED ON OUR PERSONAL EXERCISE OF OUR FREE WILL. ALTHOUGH SIN IMPAIRS OUR POWERS, IT DOES NOT DESTROY GOD’S DIVINE IMAGE IN US OR OUR FREE WILL

TO CHOOSE WHETHER TO ACCEPT OR REJECT GOD’S WILL. Due to our sinful state, WE HAVE LOST OUR LIKENESS TO GOD, WHICH IS WHY OUR ENTIRE LIFE ON EARTH SHOULD BE SPENT TRYING TO REGAIN THAT GODLIKE STATE. ON THE EIGHTH DAY – THE DAY OF FINAL JUDGEMENT – WE WILL NOT BE JUDGED DIRECTLY BY GOD THE FATHER WHOM WE CANNOT SEE, BUT BY HIS INCARNATE SON WHOM WE DO SEE: our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who will Judge us ON THE BASIS OF THE LIGHT THAT HE HIMSELF GRANTED EACH OF US AND OUR RESPONSE to

His Divine Light. The “secrets of men” are all the “thoughts and intents of the heart.”

The Holy Gospel of St Matthew 4: 18 – 23
OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST CALLS HIS FIRST APOSTLES

At that time, our Lord Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon, called Peter, and Andrew, his brother, casing a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them: “Follow Me, and I will make you Fishers of Men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called to them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their Synagogues, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. > THESE FIRST DISCIPLES OR APOSTLES OF CHRIST OUR The crowds of people did not swarm to our Lord Jesus SAVIOUR had already heard the preaching of St when He commanded Repentance but only when He John the Baptist and WERE PREPARED TO ACCEPT began to heal the people and perform His Divine OUR LORD “IMMEDIATELY.” Miracles, which shows that they misunderstood the > ALTHOUGH THEY WERE ILLITERATE AND UNEDUCATED IN True Nature of His Divine, Eternal Kingdom of Heaven. THE HEBREW FAITH, THESE HUMBLE FISHERMEN > It also clearly demonstrated OUR LORD’S CONCESSION
WHOM OUR LORD JESUS CALLED TO FOLLOW HIM WOULD SOON BE REVEALED AS THE WISEST OF ALL, THROUGH THE DESCENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ON THAT GLORIOUS DAY OF PENTECOST. TO GRANT CREDIBILITY TO WHAT HE TAUGHT AND REVEALED to the fickle multitudes of that time.

2nd Sunday After Pentecost and of St Matthew – Fishers of Men
WHEN OUR LORD JESUS CALLED HIS DISCIPLES, THEY LEFT IMMEDIATELY LIFE IN CHRIST IS A CONTINUAL PERSONAL CHANGE

a
AND

they left their nets, and they did not

look back.
THEY LEFT THE FAMILIARITY OF THEIR LIVES AND FOLLOWED CHRIST DESPITE THEIR MANY PERSONAL WEAKNESSES, which are exposed in Holy Scripture. THEY ARGUED and THEY COMPETED with one another to

>

changing BEHAVIOUR. constant

OF

MIND,

ATTITUDE

LIFE IN CHRIST IS SPIRITUAL WARFARE UNTIL OUR LAST BREATH.

see who would be the greatest; THEY SUFFERED FROM LACK OF FAITH; THEY EVEN DENIED AND DESERTED OUR LORD and not only St Peter. AT THE MOST CRUCIAL TIME, THEY WERE ALL AFRAID, even St John the Beloved Apostle, who had followed “from a distance” after our Lord’s arrest. THEY ALL SUFFERED FROM THEIR HUMAN FRAILTIES, but they did what the good farmer did according to our Lord’s Parable: they put their hands to the plough and no one who ploughs a field looks back since that would cause the furrows to be crooked, and a less abundant crop would be harvested later. This is the Key, dear Brethren: HAVE YOU LEFT YOUR
THEIR NETS?

This is what it means to pick up our cross and follow Christ! We must leave our nets immediately and completely to follow our Lord and Saviour! If we set our sight towards Jerusalem, as our Lord did meaning IF WE DO NOT LET THE WORLD OBSTRUCT OR
INTERFERE WITH THE TRUE PURPOSE OF LIFE - THEN GOD WILL STRENGTHEN AND HELP US.

We will always have many problems to contend with and we will always have many sins to repent. In fact, we sin wretchedly and continually, but God always helps us when we have the right priorities, and turn to Him for help and His Great Mercy.

>

CHRISTIANITY IS NOT SIMPLY WHAT WE BELIEVE - IT IS HOW WE ACT AND WHAT WE BECOME – OUR SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT

which is impossible

without belief. Yet BELIEF IS ONLY THE BEGINNING, just like when a tiny grain of mustard seed is planted into the ground: it is only the beginning only the start – and as soon as the mustard seed germinates, it starts to grow. Many things might threaten the progress of the seedling, but eventually, with much care and nurturing, it will become a great tree. This is exactly what we must do as well. > We must have THE DETERMINATION TO GROW, TO
CHANGE AND TO FLOURISH, DESPITE ANYTHING THAT MAY THREATEN OUR SPIRITUAL PROGRESS –

Our Lord Called St James and St John, the sons of Zebedee, and immediately THEY LEFT THEIR NETS. The "nets" in this context refer to the "world.” THE
SPIRITUAL, THE INNER MEANING, OF THE NETS CONSISTS OF ALL THE THINGS THAT ENTANGLE US – THAT IMPEDE OUR SPIRITUAL PROGRESS.

Have you left your nets?
NETS AROUND YOU?

Or DO YOU STILL KEEP YOUR

It is not a question of whether or not you commit sin. We are all sinners. We should not be surprised when we sin. It does not concern your personal weaknesses or passions.

>

YOUR PARAMOUNT PRIORITY – WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU – IS THE MOST ESSENTIAL AND VITAL ASPECT OF LIFE!

Have you left your nets? Do you understand?
DO YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE IN CHRIST AS A CONTINUAL ASCENT, AWAY FROM THE EARTH, TOWARDS GOD’S HEAVENLY, ETERNAL KINGDOM?

and we must CEASELESSLY NOURISH AND NURTURE OUR SOULS WITH DIVINE TRUTH – THE TEACHINGS AND COMMANDMENTS OF CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR. This is THE TRUE ESSENCE OF LIFE IN CHRIST.

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2ND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – 2ND SUNDAY OF ST MATTHEW – FISHERS OF MEN

6 JUNE 2010

When our Lord Called His Disciples, they immediately left their nets. They had been waiting for the Messiah and ALTHOUGH
AT THAT TIME THEY DID NOT FULLY UNDERSTAND, THEY INSTINCTIVELY RESPONDED TO HIS DIVINE PRESENCE AND LOVE. THOSE SIMPLE FISHERMEN HAD SENSITIVE SOULS THAT WERE SPIRITUALLY AWARE AND ALTHOUGH THEY MIGHT NOT HAVE UNDERSTOOD THE IMMENSE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MOMENT, THEY WILLINGLY AND EAGERLY CHOSE TO FOLLOW CHRIST IMMEDIATELY.

Sadly we waste the Divine Grace bestowed so generously upon us because WE DO NOT USE OUR GOD-GIVEN
TALENTS TO PRODUCE SPIRITUAL FRUITS FOR THE GLORY OF GOD like water flowing into a ditch or sewer and not used efficiently for the production of fruit in an orchard. DESPITE OUR NEGLECT, SOME DIVINE GOODNESS IS RETAINED FOR GOD ONLY DESIRES OUR LOVE. HE DOES NOT WANT US TO SIN BECAUSE IT ALIENATES US FROM HIM.

They surrendered everything they knew in order to follow Him wherever He led them. They left everything familiar to them, and they did not look backwards.
THEY STILL CARRIED THE WEIGHT OF THEIR SPIRITUAL BAGGAGE – their sins and personal faults BUT THEY HAD A KEEN DESIRE TO CHANGE EVERYTHING.

By His Divine Grace HE ENABLES US to resist temptation and rather seek His Way, His Truth and His Life.

> >

And look what God has done, with twelve simple, ordinary men! He did not choose twelve kings, or twelve princes, or twelve great men, or twelve erudite scholars, but twelve simple men who were illiterate and uneducated for the most part; simple men; men of the sea and of the earth. And look what happened to them because they freely and eagerly accepted Christ’s Calling and instantly left their nets – left their means of survival without question or stressing about it. Furthermore, anything that was imperfect in them would eventually be healed and perfected by Divine Grace due to their eagerness to follow Christ. It is crucial to understand the Purpose of Christian Life. We can talk about it, but TO REALLY UNDERSTAND IT IS TO
LIVE IT: PERFECTION – THEOSIS – REGAINING OUR LIKENESS TO GOD; SELF-IMPROVEMENT THAT HAS AN EVERLASTING EFFECT; CHANGING OUR LIFESTYLES ACCORDING TO THE ONE WHOM WE PROFESS TO LOVE; LEAVING BEHIND ALL THINGS THAT ENSLAVED AND SHACKLED US.

GOD CREATED US PERFECTLY, WITH A NATURAL DESIRE TO PERFORM GOOD DEEDS AND TO LIVE IN A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, THE INCARNATE SON OF GOD, HAS TAUGHT US DIRECTLY AND CLEARLY HOW TO REGAIN OUR DIVINE LIKENESS AND HE WATCHES OVER US, ENCOURAGING AND ENABLING US AS WE STRUGGLE DAILY TOWARDS OUR ULTIMATE GOAL:

the more we strive to imitate Him, the more Divine Grace He grants us. Those who endure to the end of their lives are rewarded accordingly and infinitely more. Even though we may never achieve Perfection, OUR PERSONAL
SPIRITUAL STRUGGLE IS JOYFULLY ACKNOWLEDGED BY GOD AND THE ENTIRE CHURCH TRIUMPHANT. > OUR EAGERNESS AND WILLINGNESS TO FOLLOW CHRIST WITHOUT QUESTION OR HESITATION IS THE SUPREME KEY – THE PRICELESS PEARL. OUR READINESS TO STRUGGLE AGAINST ALL OPPOSITION AND TO RESIST ALL TEMPTATIONS AND DIFFICULTIES THAT THREATEN OUR SPIRITUAL PROGRESS IS THE ULTIMATE PRIORITY OF LIFE IN CHRIST, which grants us Eternal Life in God’s Heavenly Kingdom of Divine Love. > We must leave behind – DISCARD - ALL THAT IS NOT OF GOD. In this earthly life OUR SPIRITUAL PRIORITIES AND THE EAGERNESS TO FOLLOW CHRIST IS OF FAR GREATER MAGNITUDE THAN THE RESISTANCE OF TEMPTATION AND SIN because once we get our Spiritual Priorities

As St Paul taught us: "WE ARE SURROUNDED BY SO GREAT
A CLOUD OF WITNESSES," WHO ENCOURAGE CONTINUOUSLY IN OUR SPIRITUAL ENDEAVOURS. US

right and imitate Christ, BY THE GRACE OF GOD, EVERYTHING ELSE WILL BECOME EASIER AND POSSIBLE.

So let us leave behind the nets of sin that so easily entangle us – let us abandon our nets! The ability to sin and our personal weaknesses may still remain within us as evident from the experiences of the Holy Apostles. However, WHEN GOD SEES THOSE WHO WANT TO CHANGE,

> There

are innumerable Spiritual Entrapments surrounding us that have been around for a very long time, but ONE OF THE WORST SPIRITUAL
AFFLICTIONS IS LUKE-WARM FAITH, WHICH INVENTS RIDICULOUS EXCUSES, CAUSES SELF-INDULGENCE AND NEGLECT OF SPIRITUAL WELFARE, BLINDS US TO REALITY AND TRUTH, AND NEGLECTS PRAYER AND WORSHIP, AND DESTROYS OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH GOD, WITH FAMILY AND WITH FRIENDS. IT WARPS OUR SENSE OF JUSTICE AND IMPORTANT, RELEVANT MATTERS.

>

HE ALWAYS MAKES IT POSSIBLE FOR THEM TO DO SO. DIVINE GRACE DESCENDS UPON US, WHICH MAKES THE IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE FOR ALL OF US! LIES WITHIN OURSELVES FOR WE MUST SINCERELY DESIRE THAT SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION. WE MUST WANT TO IMITATE CHRIST – TO REGAIN OUR DIVINE LIKENESS – OUR TRUE GODLINESS.

Nevertheless, THE VITAL KEY TO SUCH AMAZING CHANGE

>

Only then can our personal imperfections be healed and be left behind. Only then can all our faults be burnt away, finally revealing a perfect, shining Pearl – the lovely result of Divine Grace and personal effort. Our sins and passions should be kept in the right perspective and WE SHOULD NOT LAMENT THEM MORE

We must not be entangled by the deadly nets of the fallen world that offers us nothing worthy in return, and which pushes us towards the awful Abyss of Spiritual Death, until we fall over the edge into Eternal Condemnation! We must leave our nets so that WE MAY BECOME LIKE THE
HOLY SAINTS, SHARING IN THEIR HOLINESS AND CLOSE COMMUNION WITH GOD.

>

EVERY HUMAN BEING CAN BECOME A SAINT.

>

THAN OUR ATTITUDE AND WILLINGNESS TO CORRECT OURSELVES. OUR SPIRITUAL LAZINESS, LACK OF APPROPRIATE PRIORITIES, AND OUR LACK OF FAITH IN GOD AND OUR LACK OF BELIEF AND TRUST IN THE RESURRECTION IS WHAT REALLY CAUSES SUCH SINS, WHICH ENSNARE US AND DRAG US DOWN.

That is the Truth. After all, we are all created from the same substance and THE SAME DIVINE GRACE IS
BESTOWED UPON US ALL.

Our lack of Spiritual Fruit is caused by not leaving our nets immediately and following Christ eagerly. OUR
FAULTY PRIORITIES ARE HOLDING US BACK.

These will be burnt away by the Grace of God, but only after we have struggled with all our strength to leave them behind us. We should BE AWARE OF THE INFINITE GRACE OF GOD AND THE DEPTH OF OUR HUMAN WEAKNESSES. We must RECOGNISE AND ACKNOWLEDGE HOW OUR
MERCIFUL GOD TAKES SUCH IMPERFECT VESSELS AND BESTOWS HIS GRACE UPON THEM.

We must act according to St Paul who encouraged us by saying: “... seeing that we are surrounded by so great a Cloud of Witnesses, let us lay aside sin, which so easily encumbers us." WE MUST STRIVE TO ATTAIN OUR ULTIMATE GOAL. We must constantly struggle and eagerly follow Christ for GOD WILL NEVER ABANDON US AND HE WILL

>

ALWAYS HELP AND PROTECT US. THE HOLY SAINTS ARE THE RESURRECTION IN ACTION.

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2ND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – 2ND SUNDAY OF ST MATTHEW – FISHERS OF MEN

6 JUNE 2010

3

THEY ARE THE LIVING EXAMPLES OF THE RESURRECTION,

and even in our life we experience living examples of the Resurrection as soon as we turn aside from the sins that beset us – once we make the right choice. This is the Resurrection at work in us, for IT IS A MOST
GLORIOUS PRIVILEGE AND AN HONOUR TO BE CREATURE OF GOD, BECAUSE HE DWELLS WITHIN US. A

So, dear Brethren, let us immediately leave our nets and follow Christ so that we may TRULY EXPERIENCE
WHAT GOD DESIRES FOR US.
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “FISHERS OF MEN” BY REVEREND SERAPHIM HOLLAND, ST NICHOLAS RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH, MCKINNEY, TEXAS, USA www.orthodox.net

The Cup of Christ – Part 1
“Two Beloved Disciples asked the Lord for Thrones of Glory, and He gave them His Cup.” (MATTHEW 20.23) THE CUP OF CHRIST IS SUFFERING. He sees our affliction, and IF HE HAD FOUND IT NECESSARY AND PROFITABLE TO WITHDRAW THE CUP But for those who drink from It on earth, the Cup FROM US, HE WOULD CERTAINLY HAVE DONE SO. of Christ GRANTS PARTICIPATION IN CHRIST'S As testified by Holy Scripture and Church history the KINGDOM AND prepares for them THRONES OF Lord has often allowed afflictions to befall His ETERNAL GLORY IN HEAVEN. Beloved, and often warded off afflictions from them, We stand in silence before the Cup of Christ, nor can in accordance with the unfathomable Ways of anyone complain about It or reject It; for HE, WHO Providence. COMMANDED US TO TASTE IT, FIRST DRANK OF IT HIMSELF. When we are faced with the Cup, we must turn our gaze O Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil! You killed our from the people who gave it to us and lift up our Ancestors in Paradise; you deceived them by the eyes to Heaven and say: “The Cup which my Father delusions of sensual pleasure and the delusions of hath given me, shall I not drink it?” “I will take the Cup of Salvation...” (PSALM 115.4 [LXX]) reason. WE CANNOT REJECT THE CUP -— THE PROMISE OF Christ, the Redeemer of the fallen, brought His Cup of HEAVENLY AND ETERNAL GOOD. Salvation into this world to the fallen and to those The Apostle of Christ teaches us Patience: “We must, who are exiled from Paradise. through much tribulation, enter into the Kingdom of The bitterness of this Cup cleanses the heart from God.” (ACTS 14.22) forbidden, destructive and sinful pleasure. How can we reject the Cup, which is the means of
THROUGH THE HUMILITY THAT FLOWS FROM IT IN ABUNDANCE, THE PRIDE OF UNDERSTANDING ON THE CARNAL LEVEL IS MORTIFIED. TO THOSE WHO DRINK FROM THE CUP WITH FAITH AND

attaining this Kingdom and growing with it?
WE WILL ACCEPT THE CUP -— THE GIFT OF GOD - FOR THE CUP OF CHRIST IS THE GIFT OF GOD.

PATIENCE, THE ETERNAL LIFE, which was and still

is lost to us by our tasting of Forbidden Fruit, WILL BE
RESTORED.

I

will

ACCEPT SALVATION.

THE CUP

OF CHRIST

-

THE CUP

OF

The Cup is accepted when CHRISTIANS BEAR EARTHLY
TRIBULATION IN THE SPIRIT OF HUMILITY LEARNT FROM THE GOSPEL.

St Paul pointed out to the Philippians: “...unto you is given on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” (PHILIPPIANS 1.29). We receive the Cup, which seemingly comes from the hand of mankind. What is it to us whether the bearer of the Cup acts Righteously or unrighteously?
AS A FOLLOWER OF OUR LORD JESUS, OUR CONCERN IS TO ACT RIGHTEOUSLY, TO RECEIVE THE CUP WITH THANKSGIVING TO GOD AND WITH A LIVING FAITH; AND COURAGEOUSLY TO DRINK IT TO THE DREGS. IN RECEIVING THE CUP FROM THE HAND OF MAN, REMEMBER IT IS THE CUP OF HIM, WHO IS NOT ONLY INNOCENT BUT ALL-HOLY.

St Peter turned swiftly with a naked sword to defend the God Man, Who was surrounded by evil doers; but our Lord Jesus said to St Peter: “Put up thy sword into the sheath: the Cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it? (JOHN 18.11).
SO, TOO, WHEN DISASTER SURROUNDS US, WE SHOULD COMFORT AND STRENGTHEN OUR SOUL by saying:

Thinking on this, WE MUST REMIND OURSELVES, AND
OTHER SUFFERING SINNERS, OF THE WORDS THAT THE BLESSED AND ENLIGHTENED THIEF spoke when he was crucified at the right Hand of the crucified God Man: “We receive the due reward of our deeds ... Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom.” (LUKE 23.41-42) And then, turning to others, we may say to them: “Blessed are you who are Instruments of Righteousness and of God's Mercy! Blessed are you from henceforth and forever!” (If they are not in a fit state to understand and receive our words, we must not cast our precious Pearls of Humility under the feet of those who cannot value them, but rather keep these words in thought and heart.) By this alone will we fulfil the Commandment of the Gospel: “Love your enemies; Bless them that curse you.” (MATTHEW 5.44). . . . T O B E C O N T I N U E D . . .
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “THE CUP OF CHRIST” BY OUR HOLY FATHER IGNATIOS BRIANCHANINOV – www.monachos.net

'The Cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?' THE CUP IS BITTER: at first sight ALL HUMAN REASONING IS
CONFOUNDED. SURMOUNT REASON BY FAITH AND DRINK COURAGEOUSLY

from the bitter Cup: IT IS THE FATHER WHO GIVES IT TO YOU, HE WHO IS ALL GOOD AND ALL WISE. It is neither the Pharisees, nor Caiaphas, nor Judas who prepared the Cup; it is neither Pilate nor his soldiers who give it! Pharisees think evil; Judas betrays; Pilate orders the unlawful killing; the soldiers of the government execute his order. Through their evil deeds all these prepared their own true perdition.
DO NOT PREPARE FOR YOURSELF JUST SUCH A PERDITION

by remembering evil, by longing for and dreaming of revenge, and by indignation against your enemies.
OUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS ALMIGHTY AND ALL-SEEING. St Gregory of Nyssa

The Wisdom of our Holy Church Fathers
If we withdraw from those who seduce us to evil, and, by the use of our reason, turn to the better by putting evil behind us, it is as if we place our own soul, like a mirror, face to face with the Hope of Good Things - with the result that THE IMAGES AND IMPRESSIONS OF
VIRTUE SHOWN TO US BY GOD, BECOME IMPRINTED IN THE PURITY OF OUR SOUL. Then our Brethren will assist us and join us, for THE ANGEL, WHO IN A WAY IS A BROTHER TO THE RATIONAL AND INTELLECTUAL PART OF OUR HUMAN SOUL, APPEARS... AND STANDS BY US whenever we approach the Pharaoh. St Gregory Nazianzen HOW COULD THIS UNIVERSE HAVE COME INTO BEING OR BEEN PUT TOGETHER, UNLESS GOD HAD CALLED IT INTO EXISTENCE, AND HELD IT TOGETHER?

For everyone who sees a beautifully made lute, and considers the skill with which it has been fitted together and arranged, or who hears its melody, WOULD THINK OF NONE BUT THE LUTEMAKER, or the luteplayer, and would CONTINUE TO THINK OF HIM EVEN THOUGH HE
MIGHT NOT KNOW HIM BY SIGHT.
NO. 6) (SECOND THEOLOGICAL ORATION

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2ND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – 2ND SUNDAY OF ST MATTHEW – FISHERS OF MEN

6 JUNE 2010

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

3rd Sunday After Pentecost

Tone 2

13 June 2010

3rd Sunday of St Matthew – The Eye is the Lamp of the Body Feast of St Akylina of Syria; St Triphyllos of Nicosia
RE SURRE CTION A POL YTIK ION – T ONE 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!
KO NT AKION O F THE EVE R BLESSED THEOT OKO S

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!

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 unashamed, 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 always protects those who honour Thee!

Resurrection Gospel 3 : Mark 16 : 9 – 20
PROKEIMENON

TH E R I SEN CH R I ST APPE AR S TO HI S APO STL E S & DI SCI PL E S BE FO R E H I S ASCE NSI O N

The Lord is my Strength and my Glory! The Lord has chastised me severely, but He has not delivered me to
The Epistle of St Paul to the Romans 5 : 1 - 10
RIGHTEOUSNESS AS A LIVING REALITY

Death!

Brethren: since we are Justified by Faith, we have Peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom also we have access by Faith into this Grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the Glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the Love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit Who was given to us. For when we were still without Strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly, for scarcely would one die for a Righteous man; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own Love for us because while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been Justified by His Blood, we shall be Saved from Wrath through Him, for if – when we were enemies – we were Reconciled to God through the Death of His Son, much more, having been Reconciled, we shall be Saved by His Life. FAITH IN CHRIST JUSTIFIES US THROUGH AN ONGOING OUR FAITH GROWS AND AFFECTS OUR ACTIONS – otherwise it STATE OF COMMUNION WITH HIM. withers and dies. Being Justified means maintaining A CONTINUOUS STATE OF FAITH ALONE – STATIC FAITH – CANNOT SAVE OUR IMMORTAL RIGHTEOUSNESS, which requires a Redemption – a SOULS! Sacrificial Offering that is capable of setting us free We have to nurture and nourish our Faith in God and our from sin and death – Spiritual Death corrected through Love for Him through our personal efforts. Repentance-Confession and physical death remedied “Do not say that you are Temples of the Lord; nor by Resurrection. should you say that Faith alone in our Lord Jesus THE REDEMPTION OF CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR UNITES US Christ can Save you, for this is impossible unless ETERNALLY WITH RIGHTEOUSNESS AND LIFE IN CHRIST – you acquire Love for Him through your deeds. As ETERNAL LIFE WITH GOD. for Faith by itself, ‘the devils also believe, and According to the Old Covenant, the Redemption of Christ tremble.’” (JEREMIAH 7:3 LXX & ST MAXIMOS THE CONFESSOR) was prefigured by Blood Sacrifices – the blood offerings > GENUINE FAITHFULNESS IS CONTINUOUS LOYALTY AND of physically perfect animals for the temporal (physical) OBEDIENCE TO GOD. remission of sins. Such Faithfulness Justifies us through the Divine Grace of According to the New Covenant, CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR IS God alone!! THE UTMOST UNIQUE SACRIFICIAL OFFERING THAT WAS “... HOPE does not disappoint because the Love of God ONLY REQUIRED ONCE SO THAT FOR ALL ETERNITY WE has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy ARE FREED FROM SIN AND DEATH AND BY HIS DIVINE Spirit Who was given to us,” is St Paul’s answer to GRACE WE ARE UNITED WITH RIGHTEOUSNESS AND the question of HOW WE CAN EXPERIENCE THE LOVE OF ETERNAL LIFE. GOD. Due to our ongoing Communion with God, we have Peace The term “the ungodly” applies to every one of us with Him, which is also ongoing. because of SIN, which ALIENATES US FROM GOD. The Greek word “Pistis” which is used here as “Faith,” can However, because WE DO NOT HAVE THE ABILITY TO BECOME also mean “Faithfulness.” RIGHTEOUS BY OUR OWN EFFORTS, GOD THE FATHER - due FAITH IS FAR MORE THAN THE SIMPLE CONVICTION THAT to His infinite Love for us, SENT CHRIST His Incarnate SOMETHING IS TRUE because as St James cautioned us: Son TO NOT ONLY TEACH US HIS DIVINE TRUTH BUT ALSO TO “You believe that there is One God. You do well. OFFER HIMSELF AS A RANSOM – the greatest Blood Even the demons believe – and TREMBLE!” (JAMES 2:19) Sacrifice ever offered! - FOR OUR EVERLASTING SPIRITUAL FAITH THAT SAVES US IS A COMPLETE FAITH, NOT JUST WITH
THE MIND AND THE TONGUE, BUT THE WHOLE OF OUR BEING, TRUSTING ABSOLUTELY AND COMPLETELY IN OUR LIVING, ALMIGHTY GOD! This also means that OUR FAITH AND OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD – OUR JUSTIFICATION – IS DYNAMIC AND LIVING!

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FREEDOM FROM SIN AND DEATH - AND TO GRANT US HIS DIVINE GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. Consequently, THOSE WHO ACCEPT AND APPROPRIATE GOD’S INFINITE LOVE ARE RECONCILED TO GOD AND RESTORED TO PEACE AND COMMUNION WITH HIM.

God has never ceased being our Most Loving and Beneficial Divine Friend – our Heavenly Father - for He is Eternally

(SPONSORED BY DIMITRI PAIZIS)

3RD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – 3RD OF ST MATTHEW – THE EYE IS THE LAMP OF THE BODY – 13 MAY 2010

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Unchangeable. WE HAVE BEEN CHANGED BY PERSONAL SIN
– WE HAVE LOST OUR LIKENESS TO GOD - SO WE NEED TO RESTORE OURSELVES TO OUR HOLY LIKENESS – AS GOD CREATED US – and this is THE DIVINE PURPOSE OF THIS

EARTHLY LIFE – while we consist of body and soul, for

without the body the soul remains changeless. As long as we remain rebellious enemies of God, OUR
LOVING GOD CONTINUES CEASELESSLY TO WORK THROUGH HIS DIVINE LOVE TO RESTORE US TO OUR FORMER GLORY – IN HIS IMAGE AND LIKENESS!

The Holy Gospel According to St Matthew 6 : 22 – 33
COMPLETE, ABSOLUTE TRUST IN GOD ALONE

At that time, our Lord Jesus said: “The Lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If, therefore, the Light that is in you is darkened, how great is that darkness! “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. “You cannot serve God and mammon! Therefore, I say to you: do not worry about your life: what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body: what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than them? “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field: how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. “Now, if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little Faith? “Therefore, do not worry, saying: ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For all these things the Gentiles seek, but your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things, so seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. > BY ATTACHING OURSELVES TO MATERIAL, TEMPORARY > However: THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE! SINCE BOTH GOD AND
THINGS, WE CUT OURSELVES OFF FROM HEAVENLY TREASURES – i.e. EVERYTHING THAT IS OF TRUE AND ETERNAL SIGNIFICANCE. MAMMON DEMAND FULL ALLEGIANCE! OUR LORD JESUS REFERRED TO EARTHLY WEALTH AND POSSESSIONS AS “MAMMON,” NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE EVIL BY NATURE BUT BECAUSE OF THE CONTROL THEY HAVE OVER MOST PEOPLE – THE GREEDY DESIRE AND OBSESSION WITH SUCH THINGS.

We become enslaved by our earthly greed and selfindulgence INSTEAD OF EXPERIENCING TRUE FREEDOM

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IN CHRIST JESUS. THE HEART OF TRUE DISCIPLESHIP LIES IN DISENTANGLING OURSELVES FROM THE STRICTURES AND LIMITATIONS OF EARTHLY MATTERS AND POSSESSIONS, AND ATTACHING OURSELVES DETERMINEDLY AND FIRMLY TO GOD – OUR TRUE, PRICELESS AND ETERNAL TREASURE! THE MIND – THE “NOUS” – IS THE SPIRITUAL EYE OF OUR SOUL, WHICH ILLUMINATES OUR INNER BEING, GOVERNING OUR FREE WILL AND CONTROLLING THE DEMANDS OF OUR BODIES – THE DESIRES OF THE FLESH.

Our Lord warns us against the anxiety and obsession with earthly matters – not against thoughtful planning and provision for the welfare of our families.

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OUR PHYSICAL WELFARE IS DIRECTLY DEPENDENT ON GOD ALONE AND ONLY INDIRECTLY ON FOOD, DRINK AND CLOTHING. Consequently, OUR APPREHENSION AND FIXATION OVER SUCH EARTHLY CARES REVEALS THE LACK OF TRUE FAITH IN GOD’S DIVINE AND BENEVOLENT PROVIDENCE OR CARE.

IN ORDER TO MAKE GOOD SPIRITUAL PROGRESS IN THIS LIFE, WE MUST TRAIN OUR SOULS TO CONTROL OUR FLESH – I.E. BE IN A STATE OF SPIRITUAL LIFE AND NOT ALLOW OUR BODIES TO CONTROL OUR SOULS, WHICH CAUSES SPIRITUAL DEATH!

Gentiles served pagan idols so they were consumed by their dependence on earthly things. However, THOSE WHO FAITHFULLY FOLLOW CHRIST ARE
FREED FROM SUCH RELIANCE AND WORRIES.

Consequently,

IT IS CRUCIAL TO KEEP OUR MIND WHOLESOME AND PURE, which is essential to Life in

Christ – i.e. daily Christian Life. Just like slaves who try to serve “two masters,” SOME
PEOPLE TRY TO MAINTAIN THEIR ATTACHMENT TO BOTH EARTHLY AND HEAVENLY THINGS. THEY PROFESS BELIEF IN GOD OR FAITH IN CHRIST - YET THEY PERSIST IN PAGANISM THROUGH ABSURD SUPERSTITIONS AND UNGODLY BELIEFS!

The Kingdom of God is the central theme of our Lord Jesus Christ’s Teaching and His Righteousness was the main subject of His Sermon on the Mount.

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BY TEACHING US TO BE FREE FROM ALL CONCERN FOR EARTHLY MATTERS, OUR LORD JESUS DIRECTS OUR ATTENTION TO ETERNAL, HEAVENLY MATTERS, SECURE IN THE FAITH THAT GOD WILL DEFINITELY AND MOST CERTAINLY PROVIDE EVERY EARTHLY BLESSING NECESSARY TO OUR PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL WELFARE.

Do Not Worry About Life!
In today’s Sacred Lesson, our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us to
REJECT ALL APPREHENSION OR FEAR OF DEPRIVATION OF PHYSCIAL NECESSITIES OF LIFE.

Again and again Christ tried to teach His Apostles and Faithful Disciples to BE PEACEFUL AND CONFIDENT IN GOD because GOD ALONE GRANTS US ALL THE NECESSITIES OF
LIFE!

Added to this is the frenetic pace and pitch of modern society so the consequential emotional hazards should not surprise us at all!
WITHOUT FAITH WE WOULD BE LEFT COMPLETELY VOID OF ANY MEANS OF OVERCOMING SUCH FRIGHTENING TENSION.

Anxiety and stress related problems have become overwhelming and destructive causes of increased mental illness and merciless, greedy and murderous obsessions.
MATERIALISTIC, INSATIABLE PEOPLE CANNOT AVOID EXTREME ANXIETY!

As it is there are not nearly enough psychological clinics or medical institutions to deal with the previously unknown numbers of patients suffering from anxiety related psychological conditions. In the midst of such social distress, CHRIST’S FAITHFUL SHINE
LIKE STARS OF PEACE AND TRANQUILITY.

Bankruptcy, divorce, violence and murder are the excessive and increasing results of such an obsession with material wealth. Extravagant lifestyles, the use of finances without Spiritual Guidance Or Wisdom, the rejection or lack of disciplined savings and spending in the pursuit of instant gratification, marital infidelity and the resulting domestic instability has produced a world of deeply distressed, traumatised and unhappy people.

In the Divine Liturgy, our Priests invoke THE PEACE OF CHRIST to the congregation by exclaiming: “Peace be to all!” In a similar manner, WE ARE CALLED TO SHARE THAT DIVINE
PEACE WITH ALL THOSE WHO ARE SPIRITUALLY DARKENED AND THIRSTY.

Our Orthodox Faith sets us apart from such destructive, time consuming anxiety and today our Lord Jesus reminds us of six important reasons for being unconcerned about worldly matters. 1. WE CAN SERVE ONLY ONE MASTER:
WEALTH AND EARTHLY POSSESSIONS (MAMMON) ARE LIKE A BRUTAL, ERRATIC AND UNSTABLE TASKMASTER WHO TREATS HIS SLAVES WITH MERCILESS CONTEMPT.

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(SPONSORED BY DIMITRI PAIZIS)

3RD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – 3RD OF ST MATTHEW – THE EYE IS THE LAMP OF THE BODY – 13 MAY 2010

We are always tempted and distracted by promises of great rewards but sometimes just when we think we can reap the harvest of our labours or we want to spend some of our accumulated wealth we realise that we have nothing of value at all – usually brought about by so many unforeseeable circumstances! We are led to believe that we will enjoy peace of mind depending on the degree of our earthly wealth, but in reality, WE SOON REALISE THAT THE MORE WE POSSESS THE MORE POSSESSIVE WE BECOME and the harder we have to work to ensure that we do not lose a cent of our “hard earned” savings. ® ALL TOO SOON WE BECOME SO OBSESSED WITH
EARTHLY ACQUISITIONS THAT WE NO LONGER HAVE ANY TIME FOR GOD OR FAMILY OR FRIENDS. ® GREATER WEALTH MAKES US LESS GRATEFUL TO GOD AND MORE SUSPICIOUS OF OTHERS. ® WE BECOME GREEDY AND LESS INCLINED TO SHARE ANYTHING WITH OTHERS. ® WE DEVELOP A DANGEROUS AND DETRIMENTAL BELIEF IN OUR OWN ABILITIES.

4. ONLY GOD KNOWS THE LENGTH OF EACH LIFE: Most people worry about GROWING OLD AND DEATH –
TWO INEVITABLE AND UNAVOIDABLE FACTS OF LIFE!

Every human being has a specific amount of time to live, and only God knows how long each soul needs to improve itself and regain our Divine Likeness through our Spiritual Struggles and our personal Relationship with God and our fellow sinners. Instead of wasting our time and efforts trying to delay or avoid the process of aging and our natural death, we must ensure that every waking moment is spent to our best advantage.

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AS

SOON AS WE COME TO TERMS WITH THE INEVITABILITY OF DEATH AND, IN FACT, MAINTAIN A (HEALTHY!) “REMEMBRANCE OF DEATH,” AS OUR HOLY FATHERS TEACH US, WE WILL NO LONGER WASTE VALUE TIME WITH PETTINESS AND INSIGNIFICANT MATTERS.

Consequently of all

and the most lasting and devastating effect

WE TOTALLY DISREGARD THE INFINITE BENEVOLENCE OF GOD WHO HAS GRANTED US EVERYTHING WE HAVE SO THAT WE CAN SHARE IT WITH THOSE LESS FORTUNATE THAN OURSELVES, BY DOING GOOD WORKS FOR THE BENEFIT OF MANY!!

We will make every day worthwhile and step by step progress towards the next state of our immortal existence – Eternity. It certainly is useless to ignore or try to deny our limited number of days.

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BY WALKING WITH GOD EVERY MOMENT OF OUR DAYS, WE WILL LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST AND MOST JOYFUL DEGREE! DO NOT WASTE A MOMENT ON SUPERFICIAL, INSIGNIFICANT NONSENSE, WHICH IMPEDES OUR SPIRITUAL JOURNEY.

> Faithful Christians have

ONLY ONE MASTER WHO IS ETERNALLY UNCHANGING, BENEVOLENT, LOVING, COMPASSIONATE AND MERCIFUL – ALMIGHTY GOD. GOD’S TRUTH NEVER DISAPPOINTS US AND ALWAYS FULFILS ALL DIVINE PROMISES.

This is what Christ our Lord tries to impress upon us.

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GOD WATCHES OVER US CEASELESSLY – He never leaves

We never have to be anxious about anything in this life because WE ARE SO CONFIDENT AND SECURE IN THE
REASSURANCE AND KNOWLEDGE THAT WHATEVER IS NECESSARY, GOD WILL PROVIDE ACCORDING TO HIS INFINITE WISDOM.

us and He never stops Loving us and TAKING CARE OF ALL OUR NEEDS AS ONLY HE KNOWS BEST how to do so.

> So we must simply

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FAITH IN GOD REALLY DOES SET US FREE from all earthly

concerns!

> Christ our Lord has taught us to

BE CONTENT WITH WHATEVER WE DO HAVE. HE HAS TAUGHT US TO RELAX SO THAT WE CAN ENJOY AND APPRECIATE OUR ABUNDANT BLESSINGS, instead of stressing or obsessing about all the things we think we must have! THERE IS NO GREATER, TRUE FREEDOM THAN THE ACCEPTANCE AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE ABUNDANCE OF OUR BLESSINGS – to whatever degree they may be! 2. LIFE IS A PREPARATION FOR ETERNITY: TRUE LIFE HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH FOOD, CLOTHING OR SHELTER – all of which are destined to

GET ON WITH LIVING EACH DAY IN HIS SIGHT AND ACCOMPLISH TO THE BEST OF OUR ABILITY, WHATEVER GOOD DEEDS HE OFFERS US DAILY AND WHICH WE CHEERFULLY AND WILLINGLY ACCEPT!

5.

SEEK A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

> FAITH

IS CONFIDENCE AND FREEDOM IN THE KNOWLEDGE THAT GOD IS IN CONTROL OF ALL NECESSITIES OF LIFE – AND THE CLOSER WE BECOME TO GOD, THE MORE PROFOUNDLY WE WILL UNDERSTAND!

> Upon awakening in the morning,

WE MUST REMEMBER TO THANK GOD FOR GETTING US SAFELY THROUGH THE NIGHT AND COMMIT OURSELVES TO OBEY HIS DIVINE WILL RATHER THAN OUR OWN WEAK, FLAWED AND SELFISH WILL.

eventually perish, because they are only required for a very short time, having become necessary due to mankind’s Fall into sin. AS SOON AS SIN IS NULLIFIED – eradicated by Eternal Life in God’s Kingdom – THESE THINGS WILL NO LONGER BE NEEDED BY US. The only lasting impact they may have depends on HOW EACH OF US REGARDS SUCH THINGS. Otherwise, EVERYTHING OF THIS MATERIAL EXISTENCE IS
MERELY TEMPORARY AND IS OF NO VALUE TO OUR PERSONAL ETERNAL LIFE – so why bother fretting so much about them as we do?! 3. ALL HUMAN BEINGS ARE PRECIOUS TO GOD: The constant recognition, acknowledgement and appreciation of Divine Love destroys all worldly anxiety. By attentively observing the marvellous natural world that surrounds us, we will quickly grasp the magnificence of God’s Love and Provision for all Creation. Everything has a Divine Purpose, a delicate balance and priority, and everything is perfectly created. With such an appreciation and enjoyment of Divinely created beauty and perfection, arises an awareness of how precious all Creation is to God – and we know too, that MANKIND IS GOD’S MOST BELOVED CREATURE OF ALL! Therefore, as our Lord Jesus pointed out to us, if God takes such great care for all his Creation – great and small – HOW MUCH MORE DOES HE LOVE US HUMAN BEINGS – the only intellectual beings (besides His Angels) WHOM HE CREATED IN HIS IMAGE AND LIKENESS!
(SPONSORED BY DIMITRI PAIZIS)

Those who are weak in Faith or, more sadly, have no Faith at all in God, seek the temporary and often destructive things of this fallen world, becoming more Spiritually Darkened by their obsessive search for gratification of their deceptive and misleading desires, which continuously elude their grasping hands and which disappoints or fails them. > WITHOUT GOD WE ARE NOTHING! We are only intellectual beings who are created of the same basic elements as everything else in this universe.
WHAT MAKES US UNIQUE, HOWEVER, IS OUR DIVINE IMAGE AND LIKENESS so until we regain as much of our (lost) Likeness to God, we will stagnate and be little better than the rest of God’s creatures. The most important reason for seeking a close Relationship with God and our fellow human beings is that IF WE DO NOT POSSESS TRUE LOVE – DIVINE LOVE – AGAPE – WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ENJOY THE BLISS OF ETERNAL LIFE IN GOD’S HEAVENLY KINGDOM OF LOVE.

We will spend Eternity elsewhere – Spiritual Exile, Outer Darkness, permanent alienation from God the most horrific existence that even the Evil One and his demons fear the most!! 6. FULFIL OUR TRUE PURPOSE OF LIFE This earthly life is the only time we have to IMPROVE
OUR SPIRITUAL CONDITION AND GROW CLOSER TO GOD by struggling to regain our Likeness to Him. THEREFORE ALL OUR EFFORTS SHOULD BE CONCENTRATED ON OUR PERSONAL SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT AND PROGRESS.

3RD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – 3RD OF ST MATTHEW – THE EYE IS THE LAMP OF THE BODY – 13 MAY 2010

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OUR ONLY CONCERN - OUR TRUE PURPOSE OF LIFE - IS THE IMPROVEMENT OF OUR SPIRITUAL CONDITION THROUGH OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH GOD, AND OUR FELLOW MANKIND.

UNTIL WE DRAW OUR VERY LAST BREATH, WHILE OUR BODIES AND SOULS ARE STILL UNITED, WE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO REPENT AND CONFESS OUR SINS, and

> At the end of every day, we should do a “Spiritual
Accounting” whereby WE RECALL AND EXAMINE
OUR WORDS, THOUGHTS AND DEEDS, BESEECHING FORGIVENESS OF OUR ERRORS AND SINS, ASKING GOD’S DIVINE HELP TO DO BETTER TOMORROW,

by Divine Grace, become worthy and fitting Citizens of His Eternal Kingdom of Love. But once the earthly body and the immortal soul have separated, we can no longer improve ourselves!
AFTER DEATH, ONLY THE CONTINUOUS PRAYERS OF OUR LOVED ONES AND THE HOLY INTERCESSIONS OF THE CHURCH TRIUMPHANT AND MILITANT CAN EASE OUR SUFFERING DUE TO UNREPENTANT SINS - OR CONTRIBUTE TOWARDS OUR RESTING IN PEACE IN CHRIST - UNTIL THE GENERAL RESURRECTION OF ALL MANKIND.

which is a brand new beginning, each time. Each day, each hour, each minute, GOD GRANTS US YET
ANOTHER CHANCE TO IMPROVE OURSELVES AND TO ADVANCE CLOSER TO ETERNAL LIFE IN HIS HEAVENLY KINGDOM. THE MORE WE STRUGGLE TO REGAIN OUR DIVINE LIKENESS, THE MORE GOD GRANTS US THE MEANS TO DO SO and

the closer we Homecoming!

proceed

towards

our

Spiritual

This earthly life is very short! Rejoice in God and celebrate every moment of the day – good or bad!!
BY THE GRACE OF GOD: MP: INSPIRED BY THE SERMON “AVOIDING ANXIETY” BY FATHER JOSHIAH TRENHAM OF ST ANDREW THE FIRST CALLED ORTHODOX CHURCH.

St John Karpathos - On Unseen Warfare
JUST AS THE PRESENCE OF SPIRITUAL WARMTH IN THE HEART IS SWEET, SO IS ITS ABSENCE BITTER, WEARISOME AND FRIGHTENING.

It goes when our attention and heart deviate from things of the Spirit and turn towards things not of the Spirit. By this is not meant something sinful since THOSE WHO
HAVE HAD A TASTE OF SPIRITUAL WARMTH ARE NO LONGER ATTRACTED TO SIN - ALL THE SOUL-BODY REALM, VAIN, EARTHLY, CREATED. AS SOON AS OUR ATTENTION INCLINES TOWARDS SIN, SPIRITUAL WARMTH IMMEDIATELY DECLINES, AND WHEN THE HEART ALSO CLEAVES TO SIN, IT WITHDRAWS ALTOGETHER, LEAVING BEHIND COLDNESS TOWARDS ALL THINGS DIVINE AND TOWARDS GOD HIMSELF, ACCOMPANIED BY INDIFFERENCE TO ALL SPIRITUAL WORKS AND OCCUPATIONS, PRACTISED FOR THE PURPOSE OF PRESERVING THIS WARMTH.

The consequences remain the same: Spiritual Cooling – an intense sense of emptiness since our Divine Guest and Visitor has gone! > The difference between these Spiritual Coolings is that
GUILT WEAKENS THE VERY ZEAL OF OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE, WHEREAS AN INSTRUCTIVE WITHDRAWAL OF DIVINE GRACE MAKES IT BURN WITH EVEN GREATER FERVOUR, WHICH IS THE PURPOSE OF SUCH A WITHDRAWAL. DIVINE GRACE WITHDRAWS SO AS TO TEACH US:

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® TO EXCITE OUR SPIRITUAL ZEAL, which sometimes weakens and dims through a long period of calm; ® TO EXAMINE OUR SPIRITUAL CONDITION WITH
GREATER ATTENTION AND REJECT THE ATTACHMENTS AND OCCUPATIONS NOT DIRECTLY CONNECTED WITH OUR LIFE IN CHRIST, WHICH CAUSES US TO DRIFT OFF HIS PATH; TO INCREASE AND STRENGTHEN OUR AWARENESS THAT EVERYTHING GOOD IN US IS THE FRUIT OF GOD'S DIVINE GRACE; TO MAKE US SINCERELY APPRECIATE AND VALUE THE GIFTS OF GOD, TAKING GREATER CARE TO PRESERVE THEM AND TO USE THEM CORRECTLY; TO DEPEND ENTIRELY ON DIVINE PROVIDENCE, AND TO PRACTISE SELF-DENIAL AND HUMILITY; NOT TO BECOME ATTACHED TO SPIRITUAL DELIGHTS THEMSELVES, SINCE GOD DESIRES ALL OUR LOVE AND RESPECT FOR HIMSELF TO PREVENT US FROM RELAXING OUR SPIRITUAL EFFORTS WHEN DIVINE GRACE WORKS IN US, AND TO MAKE US TOIL WITHOUT CEASING AS WE JOURNEY TOWARDS GOD’S HEAVENLY KINGDOM, MAKING FULL USE OF ALL THE POWERS WITH WHICH HE HAS ENDOWED US TO FULFIL OUR SACRED TASKS.

If we recollect ourselves immediately and hasten to re establish our habitual Spiritual Warmth producing order, it returns quickly or sometimes not so quickly. However, IF WE PAY NO ATTENTION TO OUR SPIRITUAL COOLING, and being dispersed, infatuated with something or self reliant, we deliberately allow ourselves to linger in that cold atmosphere, AND ESPECIALLY IF WE RISK
GRATIFYING AND INDULGING OUR RESURRECTED NONSPIRITUAL TASTES, OUR ZEAL FOR SPIRITUAL LIFE BECOMES UNDERMINED, IF NOT COMPLETELY DEADENED. DEADENED SPIRITUAL LIFE IS THE FORERUNNER OF FALLING INTO FORMER HABITUAL SINS, WHICH WILL NOT FAIL TO OVERCOME THE NEGLIGENT SOUL!

® ® ® ® ®

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Nevertheless, as soon as we recollect ourselves, we will have no difficulty in returning to our Spiritual State, even from there.
SPIRITUAL COOLING IS ALWAYS SELF-INFLICTED SINCE IT IS PRODUCED BY THE WEAKENING OF OUR SPIRITUAL WATCHFULNESS, which in turn is caused either by the

temptations of our worldly surroundings, whcn Prelest stupifies and abducts us, or by the obsessive wiles of the enemy who constantly contrives to induce us to abandon our inner self Watchfulness by adding his own deceptions to the natural flow of fantasy images or sometimes by affecting our body as well. Whatever the cause, the action of Spiritual Cooling begins with our attention being diverted from our inner depths, and its further progress is established when our heart cleaves to something, which is at first vain and empty, but which later becomes passionate and sinful.
(SPIRITUAL DELUSION)

Thus, even when, due to an instructive withdrawal of Divine Grace, Spiritual Cooling results, we are the cause of it, since, although Divine Grace might have withdrawn of its own accord, through weakness of Faith we may feel abandoned and rejected. So when we experience Spiritual Cooling towards all Divine Things, we must immediately withdraw inwards to carefully seek the cause of our cold heart. Should we be the cause, WE MUST HASTEN TO CORRECT
OURSELVES, NOT SO MUCH BECAUSE WE ARE ANXIOUS FOR THE RETURN OF SPIRITUAL DELIGHTS, BUT RATHER BECAUSE WE ARE EAGER TO EXPEL ALL THAT IS NOT PLEASING TO GOD.

> Whether we are guilty or not, >

WE MUST ALWAYS SUBMIT TO GOD'S WILL: 'God has decided: let Thy Will be

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done to me, O Lord, weak and unworthy as I am.'
WE MUST BE PATIENT, NEVER DEVIATING FROM THE HABITUAL ORDER OF OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE, WORKS AND EXERCISES.

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IT IS ALWAYS OUR OWN FAULT, BECAUSE NEITHER THE WORLD NOR THE DEVIL CAN VIOLATE OUR FREEDOM TO CHOOSE, SINCE THEY CAN ONLY SUBJECT IT TO TEMPTATION. SOMETIMES OUR SPIRITUAL COOLING IS DUE TO THE ACTION OF DIVINE GRACE, FOR, IN ITS TRUE ASPECT, SPIRITUAL WARMTH IS THE FRUIT OF DIVINE GRACE PRESENT IN THE HEART.

> We must

When Divine Grace comes, our heart is warm but when it leaves us due to our attraction to wrong things, our heart becomes cold due to Spiritual Cooling, which is then punitive. (DISCIPLINARY)
DIVINE GRACE MAY WITHDRAW OF ITS OWN ACCORD, FOR THE PURPOSE OF ASSISTING THE SPIRITUAL PROGRESS OF THE SERVANTS OF GOD, WHICH IS THEN INSTRUCTIVE.

OVERCOME ANY RELUCTANCE OR LAZINESS TOWARDS OUR SACRED DUTIES, FORCIBLY PRACTISING THEM AND DISREGARDING ANY DISTRACTIONS OR TEMPTATIONS THAT SUGGEST OUR EFFORTS ARE USELESS. WE MUST WILLINGLY DRINK OUR CUP OF BITTERNESS: 'See my

Humility and my Efforts, O Lord, and deprive me not of Thy Mercy,' and BE INSPIRED BY THE FAITH THAT THIS CUP
COMES FROM GOD'S LOVE FOR US, BECAUSE HE DESIRES US TO ATTAIN A GREATER SPIRITUAL PERFECTION.
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “SPIRITUAL WARFARE” BY ST JOHN OF KARPARTHOS – www.monachos.net

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3RD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – 3RD OF ST MATTHEW – THE EYE IS THE LAMP OF THE BODY – 13 MAY 2010

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

4th Sunday After Pentecost

Tone 3

20 June 2010

ST METHODIOS & ST KALLISTOS

4th Sunday of St Matthew – The Faith of the Roman Centurion Feast of St Methodios Hieromartyr of Olympus; St Kallistos 1 of Constantinople; St Nicholas Cabasilos
– T ONE 3

RE SURRE CTION

A POL YTIK ION

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.
O F THE EVE R BLESSED THEOT OKO S

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.

KO NT AKION

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 Help of all of us, who in Faith cry out to Thee: speed up Thine Intercession, and press on Thy Supplication, O Theotokos who always protects all those who honour Thee!

Resurrection Gospel 4: Luke 24 : 1 – 12
PROKEIMENON

THE HOLY MYRRHBEARERS WITNESS THE EMPTY TOMB OF OUR RISEN LORD & SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST

Sing praises to our God!

Sing praises to our King!

Clap your hands, all you Nations!

The Epistle of St Paul to the Romans 6 : 18 – 23
HOLY BAPTISM – FREEDOM FROM SIN UNDER DIVINE GRACE

Brethren: having been set free from sin, you became slaves of Righteousness. I speak in human terms because your natural limitations, for just as you once yielded your members to corruption and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your member to Righteousness for Sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to Righteousness. What Fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now, having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, the return you get is Sanctification and its end, Eternal Life. For the wages of sin is death but the Free Gift of God is Eternal Life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Although we freely choose which Master we wish to serve, we Holy Baptism does not merely “stand for” this Divine Truth but are always somehow enslaved to someone or something is itself our personal death to sin! else as well. “Human terms” are the images of slavery whereby St Paul > ONLY OBEDIENCE TO GOD LEADS US TO RIGHTEOUSNESS, expressed the fallen human condition, for GOD DOES NOT

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MAKING US HEIRS OF SALVATION RATHER THAN PERMANENT SLAVES OF SIN. HOLY BAPTISM FREES US FROM THE SLAVERY AND IMPRISONMENT OF SIN IF WE CONTINUE OUR PERSONAL SPIRITUAL JOURNEY IN OBEDIENCE TO GOD.

WANT US AS HIS SLAVES BUT AS HIS ADOPTED CHILDREN OF LIGHT AND CO-HEIRS WITH CHRIST TO HIS HEAVENLY KINGDOM!

The opponents of St Paul twisted his summary of God’s past dealings with humanity, and instead applied it to individuals. They accused him of saying: “Sin increases Grace, so let us increase sin!” However, this ridiculous argument misses the fact that WE MUST BE ALLIED WITH
ONE SIDE OR ANOTHER. ® IF WE ARE DEFIANTLY LIVING IN SIN, WE CANNOT EXPERIENCE UNITY WITH GOD AND EVEN IF DIVINE GRACE WAS INCREASED, WE ARE DESTROYING OURSELVES AND FOR THAT WE ARE PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE. THE INCREASE OF DIVINE GRACE HONOURS GOD WHEN ITS POWER LEADS US TO BECOME TRULY DEAD TO SIN.

If we served sin so well before our Holy Baptism, most certainly WE ARE NOW EMPOWERED BY GOD TO SERVE HIS
RIGHTEOUSNESS EVEN MORE EFFECTIVELY.

While we are enslaved to sin and Spiritually Blind and ignorant, we do not know enough even to be ashamed of our wickedness, but ONCE WE ACCEPT AND UNDERSTAND
THE HOLY GOSPEL OF CHRIST, WE INSTANTLY REALISE HOW REALLY SHAMEFUL THE LIFE OF SIN IS AND CAN CLEARLY SEE ITS CONSEQUENCES – SPIRITUAL AND ETERNAL DEATH!

Our “slavery” to God, which is initiated by our Holy Baptism, is actually our glorious, wonderful personal SPIRITUAL

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To have died in sin does not mean that our human nature has died. Rather, it means that WE ARE NO LONGER HELD CAPTIVE BY SIN. We are to become immovable towards sin just like something that was actually dead would be.

FREEDOM! ONLY THIS TRUE SPIRITUAL FREEDOM CAN BEAR THE FRUIT OF HOLINESS AND EVERLASTING LIFE. THE “WAGES” OF SIN ARE EARNED BY US DUE TO OUR UNREPENTED SINS – thus we suffer SPIRITUAL DEATH, which MAY BE CORRECTED THROUGH REPENTANCECONFESSION WHILE WE LIVE.

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FREEDOM FROM SIN IS GROUNDED IN THE HOLY MYSTERY OF BAPTISM.

Ignorance of what happens when we are Baptised is a great enemy and must be dealt with immediately. Otherwise, due to such unnecessary ignorance, many people are defeated in their Spiritual Warfare against sin.

However, should we stubbornly refuse to acknowledge our iniquities by either denying them or ignoring them, we will suffer the dire consequences of Eternal Death at the Final Judgement of Christ.
ETERNAL LIFE ON THE OTHER HAND, IS NEVER EARNED SINCE IT IS A WONDERFUL, MOST GENEROUS DIVINE GIFT AND NO HUMAN ACTION – NO MATTER HOW GOOD OR NOBLE THEY MAY SEEM TO BE, CAN EARN ANYONE OF US ETERNAL LIFE. ONLY THROUGH THE DIVINE GRACE AND LOVE OF GOD IS LIFE EVERLASTING GRANTED TO US.

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WHAT CHRIST ACCOMPLISHED ON THE CROSS – AN ACTUAL DEATH TO SIN – HOLY BAPTISM ACCOMPLISHES IN US: AN ACTUAL DEATH TO SIN AND OUR TRUE LIBERATION FROM ITS DEADLY POWER. > BECAUSE OUR HOLY BAPTISM INTO CHRIST GRANTS US POWER OVER SIN, IT IS AN EXACT LIKENESS OF HIS DEATH. If we make every effort to avoid death of the body, still more should we endeavour to avoid death of the soul! There is no obstacle for those who want to be saved

(SPONSORED BY DIMITRI PAIZIS)

4TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – 4TH OF ST MATTHEW – THE FAITH OF THE CENTURION

20 JUNE 2010

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The Holy Gospel According to St Matthew 8 : 5 – 13
THE FAITH OF THE ROMAN CENTURION

At that time, when Jesus entered Capernaum, a Centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying: “Lord, my servant is lying at home, paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.” So Jesus said to him: “I will come and heal him.” But the Centurion answered and said: “Lord, I am not worthy that Thou should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one: ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another: ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant: ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard his words, He marvelled and said to those who followed Him: “Assuredly, I say to you: I have not found such great faith – not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from East and West, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven. But the sons of the Kingdom will be cast out into Outer Darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!” Then Jesus said to the Centurion: “Go you way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour. THE REJECTED “sons of the Kingdom,” ARE THE HEBREWS A Centurion ( a Gentile) commanded 100 conscripted men WHO DENY CHRIST AND THOSE WHO ARE RAISED IN HIS in a Roman Legion, while OUR LORD JESUS IS THE
SAVIOUR OF ALL HUMANITY, REGARDLESS ETHNIC, GENDER OR SOCIAL DISTINCTIONS. OF ANY HOLY CHURCH WHO DO NOT LIVE THEIR FAITH.

Many Greek scholars regard the words of Christ: “I shall come,” as being expressed as a question: “Shall I come?” Whichever manner it was said, OUR LORD JESUS IS READY TO DEAL GRACIOUSLY WITH EVERYONE – even the Gentile Roman Centurion – and He was prepared to go to his house to heal his paralysed servant, which would have made Him “unclean” to the Hebrews.
THE CENTURION EXPRESSED HIS UNUSUAL FAITH IN CHRIST BY ADDRESSING HIM AS “LORD,” AND HIS WORDS, SPOKEN WITH SUCH FAITH AND HUMILITY, IS FREQUENTLY QUOTED IN LITURGICAL TEXTS AS AN IDEAL EXPRESSION OF HUMILITY: “Lord, I am not worthy

The reference to “Outer Darkness” and “... the weeping and gnashing of teeth,” are terrifying descriptions of
THE ETERNAL SPIRITUAL STATE OF THE UNRIGHTEOUS DEAD in Sheol (Hades) according to Hebrew Tradition.
(ENOCH 103:8)

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OUTER DARKNESS IS ABSOLUTE OR TOTAL EXILE FROM THE UNCREATED DIVINE LIGHT AND LOVE OF GOD THE ULTIMATE OR MOST EXTREME DISTANCE FROM GOD AND EVERYTHING THAT IS GOOD. IT IS THE WORST POSSIBLE SPIRITUAL STATE WHICH ALL THOSE SOULS WHO REJECT OR DENY GOD WILL EXPERIENCE FOR ALL ETERNITY, TOGETHER WITH SATAN AND HIS FALLEN ANGELS – THE DEMONS.

The utter horror of such permanent alienation and exile from God will be PERPETUAL, INDESCRIBABLE
SUFFERING, PAIN, REGRET, SORROW, ANGER, REMORSE, SORROW, ETC Hence the “... weeping and gnashing

that Thou should come under my roof.”
TWICE in the Holy Gospels it is noted that OUR LORD JESUS “MARVELLED.” Once was at THE UNBELIEF OF THE HEBREWS IN HIS HOMETOWN OF NAZARETH and now at THE ASTONISHING FAITH OF THIS ROMAN CENTURION.

of teeth!”

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In verses 11 & 12: “... many will come from East and West and sit down .... But the sons of the Kingdom... ...will be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” OUR LORD JESUS
NULLIFIES ANY IDEAS OF ETHNIC SUPERIORITY.

OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS SINLESS AND THEREFORE CANNOT LIE TO US! SO EVERYTHING THE SON OF GOD HAS TAUGHT AND REVEALED AND WARNED US ABOUT IS TRUE!

The Wounds of Love
One of the most meaningful Prayers prior to receiving Holy Communion: "Thou hast smitten me with yearning, O Christ, and by Thy Divine Love Thou hast changed me." To be smitten by Christ is the most profound of all Mystical Experiences. Our Lord Jesus Himself, as it were, wounds our hearts with His Love, and from that moment on we are never the same again. Our only desire is to be with Him, to serve Him and to make Him known to others. Today’s Sacred Lesson of St Matthew's account of a Roman Centurion is a moving testimony of the heroic lengths to which Love will go. The Roman Centurion willingly crossed the lines of a rigid caste system to seek healing for his paralyzed slave and, as if that were not enough, he crossed the imposing religious divide that separated the Hebrews from the Gentiles. Finally, he crossed the greatest barrier of all and manifested a Faith that knew no spatial limitation when it came to healing. He knew that our Lord Jesus only had to say the word and his servant would be healed. And by this he proved that his was a calibre of Faith that had never been seen in all of Israel. This is what happens to us when we are smitten by the Love of Christ: we will cross every barrier and confront and overcome every obstacle along the way for the sake of His Love. One such barrier that the Centurion nimbly vaulted over, was his ego, for he was a man used to issuing commands, but due to his humility, he did not dare to ask our Lord to enter under the roof of his house. He also knew that it was not lawful for a Hebrew to enter the homes of Gentiles, since their dwelling places were regarded as being unclean and thus forbidden areas according to Mosaic Law. The fact that he humbled himself before our Lord Jesus was in itself amazing, since most Romans harboured a deep resentment and abhorrance towards the Hebrews in general, due to their occupation and domination of Palestine, which often resulted in cruel persecutions and punishments. Furthermore, the Hebrew worship of one God was regarded as a threat to the pagan priests who enjoyed great wealth and social status due to the superstitions and practises of the idol worshippers. In Alexandria the pagan priests had spread false rumours that the Hebrews had sworn an oath never to show kindness to any Gentile, and that their ceremonies involved a yearly sacrifice of a Gentile. Nevertheless, none of these deep prejudices or suspicions mattered to the Centurion. Sincere humility impelled him to breach the social etiquette of his station and the Love he felt emanating from Christ our Saviour, made every obstacle disappear. This humility was also evident in the way the Centurion treated his slave. His was not the double standard of many who say they Love the Lord but despise a brother or sister. The Centurion possessed that perfect blend of Love of God and neighbour. He Loved his slave, thus proving himself to be an unusual man of that era. In antiquity, a slave was regarded merely as an object – a possession with no rights or emotions to consider. To quote Aristotle: "A master and slave have nothing in common; a slave is a living tool, just as a tool is an inanimate slave." Varro, the Roman writer on agriculture, divided the instruments of agriculture into three classes the
20 JUNE 2010

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(SPONSORED BY DIMITRI PAIZIS)

4TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – 4TH OF ST MATTHEW – THE FAITH OF THE CENTURION

articulate comprising the slave, the inarticulate comprising the cattle, and the mute comprising vehicles. The only difference between a slave and a beast or a wagon was that the slave could talk. Any and all ill treatment was completely justified by the law. In the words of Petrus Chrysologos: "Whatever a master does to a slave, undeservedly, in anger, willingly, unwillingly, in forgetfulness, after careful thought, knowingly, unknowingly is judgement, justice and law." In an age such as ours when much attention is focussed on human rights, it is clearly evident that in the ancient world slaves were not only devoid of all rights, but their very humanity was denied! Besides profound Virtues of Humility and Love of neighbour, the Centurion had deep Faith in God. He really did believe that all our Lord needed to do was simply to “say the word...” and even from a distance, his beloved servant would be healed. The absolute Faith in the Divine Power of God of that Roman Centurion amazed our Lord Jesus Christ because it was so pure, trusting and confident – more profound than any learned Hebrew had ever revealed before. This kind of Wonder working Faith is needed by all of us, not just Faith in the existence of God. Many people believe in the existence of a deity, or even in the Dogma of their Faith, but how many believe in the possibility of Miracles. "Only say the word, and my servant will be healed," the Centurion declared. It's this kind of Faith that inspired the following Hymn: "Who is so great a god as our God. Thou art the God Who performs Wonders." The fact that the Centurion was smitten and transformed by the Love of Jesus Christ cannot be denied. It reminds us again of the Prophecy of our Lord Jesus concerning those who would one day sit at table with Him in the Kingdom: "... many will come from East and West and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven, while the sons of the Kingdom will be thrown into the Outer Darkness..." (MATTHEW 8:12). In more contemporary times in Kenya, a certain man named Joseph, who was a Masai warrior, was smitten by the Love of Christ just like the Centurion. His face bore the ritual scars that every young Masai man receives after killing his first lion armed only with a spear and a shield. One day, as he was walking along a hot, dusty road, he met an Orthodox Christian Missionary who shared the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ with him. Joseph was so deeply affected by hearing the Divine Truth of God that he immediately hurried to his own village to share that same Good News with the members of his local tribe. He began going door to door, telling everyone he met about the Cross of our Lord Jesus and the Salvation it offered, expecting to see their faces light up in the same way his had done. To his puzzled surprise the villagers not only did not care, they became violent. The men of the village seized him and held him to the ground while the women beat him with strands of barbed wire, and later he was dragged from the village and left to die alone in the bush. Somehow Joseph managed to crawl to a water hole, and there, after days of passing in and out of

consciousness, he eventually had enough strength to get up. He wondered about the hostile treatment he had suffered from people he had known all his life. Encouraged by the Wound of Love, he concluded that he must have omitted something significant or perhaps had narrated the story of Jesus Christ incorrectly. After rehearsing the Message he had initially heard, he decided to return to the village and share his Faith once more. Joseph limped into the circle of huts and again began to proclaim Jesus Christ: "He died for you, so that you might find forgiveness and come to know the Living God," he pleaded. But, as before, he was grabbed by the men of the village and held down while the women beat him mercilessly, re opening the terrible wounds that had only just begun to heal. Once again they dragged him beaten, bleeding and unconscious from the village and left him to die in the bush. To have lived through the first beating was truly remarkable. To survive a second attack was nothing short of miraculous. Yet again, several days later, Joseph awoke in the wilderness, bruised, scarred and determined to go share the Holy Gospel with his fellow villagers. For the third time he went back to the small village but even before he began to speak, they attacked him and they whipped him for the third and probably the last time, he witnessed as loudly as possible to them about Jesus Christ. Before he passed out, the last thing he saw were the women who had beaten him so cruelly but who were now tending to his dreadful wounds. Throughout the ensuing days, as he suffered the full effects of the three attacks, the women tenderly nursed him slowly back to health and soon he realised that the entire village had accepted Christ. Joseph is no longer known by the ritual scars carved in his face. He is recognized by the wounds he suffered for the sake of Christ, which are not only visible on his skin, but forever in his heart. They are the very Wounds of Love that our Lord Jesus Himself endured for our Salvation and He will suffer in every one of us again and again until every precious soul is Redeemed! Today, Christ wants to wound each of us so that we, too, will never cease loving and serving Him. Let us open ourselves up to this wondrous action of Divine Grace this Mystical Stabbing of our hearts. Let us gladly endure the scars that the piercing Love of Christ inflicts. Let us faithfully persist in our resolve to carry out every Commandment of our Lord Jesus, even to the point of death. Then our Lord and Saviour will say to us, as He did to the Faithful Centurion: "...not even in Israel have I found such Faith!" (MATTHEW 8:10)
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “THE WOUNDS OF LOVE” BY REVEREND JOHN CHAKOS - GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERICA - www.goarch.org

St Tikhon of Zadonsk
let us examine ourselves and test whether we are truly Christians. According to the apostolic injunction:`Examine yourselves, whether YOU ARE in the faith’ for without faith it is not possible to be a Christian. (2 CORINTHIANS
13:5)

We show the outward signs of Christianity but do we have true Christianity within us? For everything outward is nothing without the inward, and outward signs apart from very Truth are a lie and hypocrisy. JOURNEY TO HEAVEN.

(SPONSORED BY DIMITRI PAIZIS)

4TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – 4TH OF ST MATTHEW – THE FAITH OF THE CENTURION

20 JUNE 2010

11.

Justification and Faith (Part 1)
The Conditions of Justification
THE ONLY CONDITION REQUIRED BY THE NEW COVENANT IN ORDER TO FAMILIARISE THE WORK OF SALVATION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, IS FAITH. RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING IT IS CONNECTED TO REPENTANCE for our Lord Jesus Christ specifically

Faith must not only be at the beginning of our Spiritual Journey but ever present through the growth and progress of our Justification.
FAITH MUST NOT BE THE WORK OF OUR MIND
(IT MUST NOT BE

told us: “THE TIME IS FULFILLED AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND: REPENT AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL.” (MARK 1:15; MATTHEW 4: 17; 10:7) For that reason FAITH BECOMES THE FOCUS AND SOURCE
OF DIVINE LIGHT THAT ENLIGHTENS ALL THE SPIRITUAL POWERS within us human beings, ACTIVATING OUR WHOLE INNER BEING AND SHINING ITS LIFE-GIVING RADIANCE WITHIN THE DEPTHS OF OUR SOUL.

BUT THE POSSESSION OF MORAL ATTRIBUTES, INFLUENCING OUR
SIMPLY DUE TO OUR OWN INTELLECTUAL PROCESS OR CONCEPT)

ENTIRE INNER BEING

the Inner Power of all those Virtues which, when they bear Fruit, will comprise
(AGAPE)

Justifying Faith is not a work of the mind.
OWN MENTAL ABILITIES OR STRENGTH OR DETERMINATION)

(IT IS NOT DUE TO OUR

THE TREASURE OF LOVE.

Thus we have the right through our Faith, which is “... working through Love...” (GALATIANS 5:6)

IT UNDERTAKES THE NATURE OF MORAL WORK WHEREBY THE DIAKONIA (MINISTRY) OF THE WORD ACHIEVES “... THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH.” (ROMANS 1:5)

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FAITH WITHOUT WORKS ACHIEVED THROUGH THE GRACE OF GOD ARE “DEAD!” (JAMES 2:17, 20 & 26)

This is also the opinion of all Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church, because SALVATION IS OFFERED TO
US THROUGH DIVINE GRACE AND “... NOT BY WORKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, WHICH WE HAVE DONE.” (TITUS 3:5) OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY SINLESS ONE WHO BECAME OUR IDEAL AND PERFECT MORAL EXAMPLE and

At the beginning Faith appears to be a Heavenly Enlightenment of our mind but since all Spiritual Powers are connected very closely and inseparably, it is natural that this DIVINE ENLIGHTENMENT – if it is real and not a spark of the moment that shines in the darkness of night – WILL NOT LEAVE OUR HEART
UNMOVED AND WILL NOT ALLOW OUR FREE WILL TO FALL INTO INACTIVITY OR LETHARGY. FAITH – even at its start – being united to our Return and

compared to Him we fall far too short! However, EVEN SUCH MORAL GOOD WORKS, WHICH PROVE
TO BE ACTIVE AND JUSTIFY OUR FAITH ARE THE “... FRUIT OF THE (HOLY) SPIRIT.” (GALATIANS 5:22; EPHESIANS 5:9)

Repentance, and generally to the Work of Preparation Grace, HAS MORAL ATTRIBUTES THAT, WHEN
PERFECTED BY DIVINE GRACE, PROVES TO BE ACTIVE IN LOVE.
THE TERM “LOVE” CAN ALSO BE TRANSLATED AS “CHARITY” – SO ACTS OF LOVE ARE ACTS OF CHARITY – DOING GOOD DEEDS FOR OTHERS OUT OF OUR LOVE FOR CHRIST

Furthermore,

GOD REWARDS OUR GOOD DEEDS BY CROWNING US WITH HIS DIVINE GIFTS. THE REWARD OF OUR GOOD DEEDS AND VIRTUES IN CHRIST IS RELATIVE BUT NOT ABSOLUTE, so under no circumstances can we speak of an abundance of Reward, especially in regard to the extraordinary Good Works of the Holy Saints. MORE ABUNDANT, DO NOT EXIST for even if we

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FAITH ALONE WHICH IS ONLY INTELLECTUAL AND NOT REALITY, IS DIFFERENT TO LOVE. (AGAPE) TRUE FAITH AND SINCERE LOVE INFLUENCE AND INTERACT WITH ONE ANOTHER in a very close relationship such as that between our heart and the rest of our body: the heart nourishes and gives life to the body, while the body supports and gives life to the heart. Likewise the relationship between Faith and Love: FAITH IS THE LIFE-GIVING POWER THAT NOURISHES AND STRENGTHENS LOVE AND LOVE IS THE POWER THAT STRENGTHENS FAITH. SINFUL LIFE weakens the Light of Faith and CAN EVEN COMPLETELY EXTINGUISH IT.

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EXTRAORDINARY GOOD WORKS THAT MAKE JUSTICE

“... have done all those things which (we) are Commanded...” we must always realise and admit that WE ARE “...UNPROFITABLE SERVANTS...” and that WE MERELY “... HAVE DONE WHAT WAS
OUR DUTY TO DO.”
(LUKE 17:10)

We must never forget: “... THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS –

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NO! NOT ONE!” (ROMANS 3:10; PSALM 14/15:1 – 3) SINCE GOOD DEEDS ARE INSEPARABLE FROM FAITH AND ARE THE FRUIT OF FAITH, THEY ARE UTTERLY VITAL FOR OUR SALVATION. (DOSITHEOS OF JERUSALEM: “CONFESSION”)

On the contrary, THE WARMER AND GREATER THAT LOVE
IS EXPRESSED THROUGH OUR DEEDS, THE STRONGER OUR FAITH BECOMES.

OUR LORD JESUS MADE IT UNRESERVEDLY CLEAR TO US THAT WE SHALL BE JUDGED ACCORDING TO OUR WORDS, THOUGHTS AND DEEDS. BUT THE GREATEST JUDGEMENT OF ALL WILL BE DEPENDENT ON OUR TREATMENT AND RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS.

It is understandable that OFFENCES OF EVANGELICAL LAW MAY DISQUALIFY US FROM SALVATION for St John the Evangelist, Apostle and Theologian warned us that “... there is sin leading to death...” and “... there is sin not leading to death.” (1 JOHN 5 : 16 – 17)

As our mind becomes cleaner and purer through Love, being the eye of the soul, the more it is Enlightened by the Light of Faith. Consequently, OUR MIND BECOMES STRONGER AND MORE
SKILFUL IN PERFECTING OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE ESSENCE OF FAITH, according to our Lord Jesus Christ Who informed us: “BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART, FOR THEY SHALL SEE GOD.”
(MATTHEW 5:8)

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SIN

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THAT LEADS US TO DEATH INFESTS OUR JUSTIFICATION IN CHRIST FOR THIS DEVELOPS INTO BLASPHEMY AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT THAT WILL NEVER BE FORGIVEN “... EITHER IN THIS AGE OR IN THE AGE TO COME!” (MATTHEW 12: 31-32) SIN THAT DOES NOT LEAD US INTO DEATH OCCURS EITHER BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN CARRIED AWAY IN THE MOMENT OR BECAUSE OF OUR HABITUAL, DAILY WEAKNESSES. IMMEDIATELY CORRECT OUR ERRORS THROUGH THE HOLY MYSTERY OF REPENTANCE-CONFESSION SO THAT WE MAY RECEIVE FORGIVENESS.

In addition, OUR CONFORMITY (OBEDIENCE) TO THE DIVINE COMMANDMENTS of our Great Shepherd and Physician of our soul, STRENGTHENS OUR FAITH AND
TRUST IN GOD.
TO BE CONT INUED .. . ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “ORTHODOX TEACHINGS” BY HIS EMINENCE, PANTELEIMON LAMPADARIOS, (FORMER) ARCHBISHOP OF PELUSIUM, (CURRENTLY) BISHOP OF ANTINOE

However, as soon as we have fallen into sin, WE MUST

St Justin Martyr
when WE hear that we MUST SEEK a Kingdom, WE suppose, without making any inquiry, that we speak of a human Kingdom; whereas we speak of that which is with God, as appears also from the confession of faith made by those who are charged with being Christians, Although they know that death is the punishment awarded to THOSE who so confess. For if we SEEK a human Kingdom, we should also deny our Christ SO that we might not be slain; and we should strive to escape detection SO that we might obtain what we expect. But since our thoughts are not fixed on the present, we are not concerned when men cut us off; since also death is a debt which must at all events be paid. (FIRST APOLOGY)

SIN CAUSES US TO FALL INTO A STATE OF SPIRITUAL DEATH, WHICH, WHILE OUR BODY AND SOUL IS STILL UNITED, CAN BE CORRECTED THROUGH SINCERE REPENTANCECONFESSION. THROUGHOUT THIS PREPARATORY LIFE AS WE JOURNEY TOWARDS ETERNITY, WE CONTINUOUSLY EXPERIENCE VARYING STATES OF SPIRITUAL LIFE (REPENTANCE AND HUMBLE OBEDIENCE TO GOD) AND SPIRITUAL DEATH (UNREPENTED SIN THROUGH DISOBEDIENCE TO AND REBELLION AGAINST GOD) HOWEVER, BLASPHEMY AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT CAUSES THE WORST SPIRITUAL DEATH THAT REMAINS PERMANENT, CAUSING OUR EXCOMMUNICATION OR EXILE FROM THE DIVINE PRESENCE AND GREAT MERCY OF GOD!

The True Meaning of Justifying Faith St Paul wrote to the Romans: “We conclude that a man is JUSTIFIED BY FAITH.” (ROMANS 3:28) However, this Faith that Justifies us is not simply some kind of mental consent or fruitless knowledge.

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4TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – 4TH OF ST MATTHEW – THE FAITH OF THE CENTURION

20 JUNE 2010

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

24 June 2010 Nativity of St John the Baptist & Forerunner to Christ our Lord
Also the Feast of St Panagiotis the New Martyr of Caesarea

A POL YT IKION

O F

THE

NA TI VIT Y

O F

ST

JOH N

THE

BAP TI ST

T ONE

4

Profita

ke Prodrome tis parousias Hristou, axios effimise se ouk efporoument imis, i potho timontes se; stirosis gar tekousis, ke patros afonia, lelinte ti endoxo ke septi sou gennisi, ke sarkosis Iou tou Theou, Kosmo kirittete.

O Prophet & Forerunner of the coming of Christ, to praise
Thee worthily we find no proper means, we who cherish Thy Memory. For the barrenness of the Bearer, and lack of speech of the Father, both were loosened, in Thy Birth the Sacred and Glorified; and the Incarnation of the Son of God was proclaimed to the world.
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Apostole Agie, ke evangelista Marke, presveve to eleimoni O
Theo, ina ptesmaton afesin, parashi tes psihes imon.
KO NT AKION O F THE EVE R BLESSED THEOT OKO S

Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark, Intercede with our Merciful God to grant remission of sins to our souls. 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!

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.

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Matins Gospel : Luke 1: 24 – 25; 57 – 68; 76, 80
THE MIRACULOUS CONCEPTION & BIRTH OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST

At that time, after those days, Zachariah’s wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying: “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.” Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. When her neighbours and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great Mercy to her, they rejoiced with her. So it was, on the eighth day, that they went to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias but his mother said: “No! He shall be called John.” So they said to her: “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.” Then they made signs to his father – what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote: “His name is John.” So they all marvelled. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosened, and he spoke, praising God. Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying: “What kind of child will this be?” And the Hand of the Lord was with him. Now his father, Zacharias, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has Visited and Redeemed His People... And you, child, will be called ‘The Prophet of the Highest;’ for you will go before the Face of the Lord to prepare His Ways...” ...So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel PEOPLE OF THE OLD COVENANT: THE HOLY OFFICES OF “Elizabeth Conceived:”
THE MIRACULOUS CONCEPTION OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST AND FORERUNNER TO CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR is Liturgically celebrated on 24 September, CONFIRMING THE SANCTITY OF MARITAL RELATIONS FOR THOSE PAST THEIR CHILDBEARING YEARS.

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PROPHET, PRIEST AND KING ONLY OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST FULFILLED ALL THREE HOLY OFFICES PERFECTLY. CIRCUMCISION WAS A SIGN OF ISRAEL’S COVENANT WITH GOD

“Hid herself:”

and the means whereby a male became a member of God’s Community.
GENESIS 17:10-14 (& LEVITICUS 12:3):

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SINCE THE TIME OF MALACHI, GOD HAD NOT SENT A GREAT PROPHET TO ISRAEL. MACCABEES 9: 27: “There was great perplexity in Israel, such as had

not been seen since the days when the Prophets ceased to be seen in their midst.”
THIS SILENCING OF THE HOLY PROPHETS OF GOD SERVED TO HEIGHTEN THE ANTICIPATION OF THE MESSIAH AND TO MAKE IT ALL THE MORE EVIDENT WHEN HE CAME. > As ST JOHN THE BAPTIST WAS THE LAST AND GREATEST HOLY PROPHET OF GOD WHO PREPARED THE WAY FOR CHRIST our Saviour, HE WAS KEPT HIDDEN UNTIL CHRIST – THE INCARNATE SON OF GOD – WAS CONCEIVED. Only then ST JOHN THE BAPTIST WAS REVEALED THROUGH HIS FIRST PROPHETIC ACT OF LEAPING WITH JOY INSIDE ST ELIZABETH’S WOMB. When ST ZACHARIAS WAS STRUCK DUMB DUE TO HIS LACK OF FAITH, it also served as PROOF THAT ST GABRIEL THE ARCHANGEL’S ANNOUNCEMENT WAS TRUE. > THE SILENCING OF THE HIGH PRIEST ALSO REVEALED A DEEPER MYSTERY: THE MESSIAH WAS EXPECTED TO FULFIL THREE CRUCIAL ROLES HELD BY VARIOUS

“This is the Covenant you shall keep; between Me and you and your seed after you throughout their generations: every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin. It shall be a Sign of the Covenant between Me and you. A child of eight days old shall be circumcised by you – every male child throughout your genealogy; he who is born in your house, and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised; and My Covenant shall be in your flesh for an Everlasting Covenant. And the uncircumcised male child(‘s) ...soul shall be cut off from his people for he has broken My Covenant.”
THE NEW COVENANT WITH GOD IS A BLOODLESS COVENANT AND HOLY BAPTISM OF BOTH MALE AND FEMALE IS OUR “NEW CIRCUMCISION.”

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The name “John” means “Grace of God,” and by insisting on the name God had chosen for her son, St Elizabeth affirmed the Truth of St John’s Divine Calling and Mission. (Refer GENESIS 17:5; 15; 32:28) When St Zacharias assented to God’s Will, his speech was restored and just as the prophecy was restored at the Incarnation of Christ, so St Zacharias, as High Priest, could speak again now that our Saviour Jesus Christ
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and His Forerunner, St John the Baptist, had come into the world. > It is of particular significance that ST ZACHARIAS
IMMEDIATELY DECLARED CHRIST – “THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL” – AND THEN REVEALED THE ESSENTIAL ROLE OF HIS OWN SON AS “PROPHET OF THE HIGHEST.”

Since the age of approximately two years, as a consequence of the terrible “Slaughter of the Innocents,” St John the Baptist lived in the desert on his own.

His mother had died soon after their escape and his father had been murdered in the Temple of Jerusalem by the soldiers of King Herod. Due to the Will of God and by His Divine Providence and Grace, St John reached adulthood safely and without the influence or contamination of human wickedness, which made him Spiritually Pure – able to resist temptation by having grown so “strong in spirit.”

The Epistle of St Paul to Romans 13 : 11 – 14 : 4
WE MUST AWAKEN AND PUT ON THE ARMOUR OF LIGHT.

Brethren, ... do this knowing the time: that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our Salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the Armour of Light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil its lusts. Receive those who are weak in the Faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge Another’s servant? To his own Master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. > EXPECTATION OF FUTURE “SALVATION” THROUGH THE > We must NEVER JUDGE OTHERS BECAUSE WE HAVE NO GLORIOUS COMING OF CHRIST MOTIVATES US TO AUTHORITY or right to do so, being wretched sinners VIGILANCE AND PROPER CONDUCT. ourselves. “The night” is this life under the influence of evil powers – while > WE ARE ALL GOD’S SERVANTS WHOM ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE. “the day” is the Glorious Coming or rather, the > WE WILL BE JUDGED AND HELD ACCOUNTABLE like those we Reappearance of our Lord Jesus Christ. dare to criticise, so therefore TAKE GREAT CARE NOT TO

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IN ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY, THERE ARE CERTAIN THINGS THAT CANNOT BE COMPROMISED BUT THERE ARE ALSO GREY AREAS. > GOD IS GRACIOUS AND ALLOWS DIVERSITY IN “DOUBTFUL THINGS” [PERSONAL OPINIONS - NOT GOD’S TRUTH] – BUT NOT MATTERS INVOLVING CHRISTIAN DOGMA. WE MUST CONDUCT OR BEHAVE OURSELVES ACCORDING TO CHRISTIAN TEACHING, HAVING “PUT ON CHRIST” AT OUR HOLY BAPTISM. > THE CROSSES WE WEAR ARE A REMINDER TO US, AND OTHERS, OF THE RISEN CHRIST WHOM WE ARE STRIVING TO IMITATE EVERY DAY OF OUR LIVES. We must STRUGGLE TO LIVE UP TO THE CHRISTIAN IDEALS HE PRESENTED TO US. THOSE “WEAK IN THE FAITH” ARE CHRISTIANS OF IMMATURE CONSCIENCE AND WISDOM who may attach primary

JUDGE OTHERS.

Instead LOOK CLOSELY AT YOURSELF AND CORRECT YOUR OWN
FLAWS. THROUGH CONSTANT WATCHFULNESS OF OURSELVES AND CORRECTION OF OUR OWN ERRORS, WE WILL GROW SPIRITUALLY STRONGER AND LESS CRITICAL OF OTHERS. > ONLY GOD KNOWS THE HEARTS AND SOULS OF HIS CREATURES AND HE WILL DECIDE WHO HAS ETERNAL LIFE OR ETERNAL DEATH.

importance to secondary matters, such as foods and religious festivals. [MANY PAY MORE ATTENTION TO THE RITUALS RATHER THAN THE
COMPLETE, WHOLE FAITH, MAKING THEIR EFFORTS EMPTY GESTURES INSTEAD OF MEANINGFUL WORSHIP OF GOD.]

The two examples of flexible areas in this reference concern food restrictions and the observance of Liturgical Calendars, thing that the Spiritually Weak might try to use to judge others or to divide the Church. In both cases, we are commanded to be flexible with others just as God Himself is.
DURING ANY PERIOD OF FASTING THROUGHOUT THE YEAR WE SHOULD NOT ONLY FOCUS ON THE DETAILS OF OUR PHYSICAL SELF-DENIAL BUT PARTICULARLY ON THE SPIRITUAL FAST CONCERNING OUR IMMORTAL SOUL – RESISTING ALL TEMPTATIONS OF SIN.

The Holy Gospel According to St Luke 1 : 1 – 25; 57 – 68; 76; 80
Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who, from the beginning, were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word, delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilos, so that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed. There was in the days of Herod, the King of Judea, a certain Priest named Zacharias, of the Division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both Righteous before God, walking in all the Commandments and Ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years. So it was, that while he was serving as Priest before God in the Order of his Division, according to the custom of the Priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the Temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the Hour of Incense. Then an Angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the Altar of Incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the Angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your Prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have Joy an Gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the Sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘...to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children...’ and the disobedient to the Wisdom of the Just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” And Zacharias said to the Angel: “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” And the Angel answered and said to him: “I am Gabriel who stands in the Presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these Glad Tidings. But, behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words that will be fulfilled in their own time.” And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he lingered so long in the Temple. But when he came out, he could not speak to them; and they perceived that he had seen a Vision in the Temple, for he beckoned to them and remained speechless. So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house.

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Now, after those days, his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying: “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.” ...Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. When her neighbours and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her. So it was, on the eighth day, that they went to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. His mother answered: “No! He shall be called John.” But they said to her: “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.” So they made signs to his father – what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying: “His name is John.” So they all marvelled. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosened, and he spoke, praising God. Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea. And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying: “What kind of child will this be?” And the Hand of the Lord was with him. Now his father, Zacharias, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has Visited and Redeemed His People... ...And you, child, will be called the Prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the Face of the Lord to prepare His ways...” So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts until the day of his manifestation to Israel. As eyewitnesses of our Lord Jesus Christ, His Disciples time by rotation. The responsibilities of the Priests in listened to His Holy Gospel (GOOD NEWS) and saw His each Division were decided by drawing lots. Divine Miracles firsthand. As St Luke himself was not St Zacharias and St Elizabeth had continuously prayed for a one of the original Disciples of our Lord Jesus, his Holy son and at last their Prayers were answered when St Gospel is anchored on the True Testimony of these Gabriel, the Archangel of God, was sent to announce original witnesses. the coming of their son who would always be St Luke addressed himself to Theophilos, a prominent remembered as St John the Baptist & Forerunner to Gentile, who had received Christian Instruction. Christ our Lord. (THE NAME “JOHN” MEANS “THE GRACE OF GOD.”) However, nothing else is known of him. St Luke’s Holy The Archangel Gabriel’s description of the character and Gospel is written as an orderly account so as to provide role of St John the Baptist is as an Ascetic Prophet who greater certainty concerning the details of our Lord’s was to prepare the Hebrew Nation for the long-awaited Holy Ministry. Coming of the Messiah. St Luke was on the only Evangelist who provided The Hebrews expected St Elijah, one of the greatest information about the birth and infancy of St John the Prophets of Israel, to reappear from Heaven in order to Baptist. St Zacharias and St Elizabeth were anoint the Messiah. acknowledged as being a Righteous couple of Priestly St Zacharia’s question: “How shall I know this?” indicated Lineage, who lived their entire lives in the fulfilment of a slight lack of Faith in God’s Promise and his God’s Will. subsequent muteness served both as a discipline for Nevertheless, St Elizabeth was barren, like so many other his unbelief and as a Sign of the Divine Truth of St women mentioned in Holy Scripture (SUCH AS SARAH - GENESIS Gabriel’s Announcement. 16:1; REBECCA – GENESIS 25:21; HANNAH 1 SAMUEL 1:2). Circumcision was a most important ritual whereby a male Infertility was regarded as a “public reproach” and it was child was initiated into the Covenant Nation of God. viewed very negatively because a woman’s most After Christ, circumcision was fulfilled in Christian important role in family life was to produce as many Baptism. [ACCORDING TO OUR NEW, BLOODLESS COVENANT WITH GOD, HOLY living children as possible to continue the family name BAPTISM REPLACES CIRCUMCISION. IT IS THE BLOODLESS “NEW CIRCUMCISION.”] and to contribute to the welfare of the family. The Song of St Zacharias (“THE BENEDICTOS”,) was a Prophetic Barren women were denigrated and insulted, being Hymn of Praise to God Who is Blessed for His Gracious regarded as parasites rather than valuable contributors and Redeeming Acts among His People in fulfilment of the Messianic Promises. to society. Each Priest was assigned to a Division. [1 CHRONICLES 23:3-6; 28:13] There were 24 Divisions in all, each serving a week at a

The Nativity of St John the Baptist & Forerunner to Christ our Saviour
Today our Holy Church commemorates the Nativity of “the Friend of the Bridegroom,” St John the Baptist, a cousin of the Ever Blessed Theotokos and our Lord Jesus Christ. What was most significant Truth concerning St John the Baptist was that he was not only the last of the great Holy Prophets of God since the time of Malachi but, according to the very Testimony of Christ Himself, he was the greatest of all Holy Prophets. A vague portrait of St John the Baptist may be gleaned from the Holy Scriptures. He was the answer to long and fervent Prayers of his barren, aged parents, St Zacharias and St Elizabeth. God had a Plan of Salvation (since even before the Creation!) and St John the Baptist was to be His Messenger. Isaiah 40: 3: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the Way of the Lord; make straight the Paths of our God!” As always, God made the impossible possible so that His Divine Plan could be accomplished and the aged and barren parents were joyfully Blessed with a son whom they were instructed to name “John,” meaning “the Grace of God.” St John the Baptist was chosen to prepare the people of Israel for the Coming of the long awaited Messiah and his Message of Messianic Preparation consisted of one crucial word: REPENT!
(SPONSORED BY DIMITRI PAIZIS)

The Repentance of St John the Baptist did not seek sad eyed sorrow for personal deeds – past and present. Instead he called for personal change – a radical chance of personal direction. It was an admonition to stop... to think... to examine... and to radically change themselves. He warned the Hebrew nation to stop their wicked daily practises and habits, to consider how they treated others, to examine their attitudes towards God and to make a new beginning as the faithful, chosen people of God for the KINGDOM OF GOD which had been instituted at the Incarnation of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Centuries before God had told Ahaz through the Holy Prophet Isaiah: “... behold the Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and you shall call His Name Immanuel.” (TRANSLATED “GOD WITH US .” - ISAIAH 7:14) Now the most decisive moment in the history of mankind had arrived, which was to change the entire world for all time. So it was for the Eternal Benefit of humanity that St John the Baptist was born and survived the terrible “Slaughter of the Innocents.” At the most perfect moment, according to Divine Will, St John the Baptist and Forerunner to Christ emerged from the desert where he had grown up in isolation according to Divine Providence and Grace, to deliver to mankind the most vital Divine Message, to bear
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witness to Christ our Saviour (Whom he met for the very first time on the Day of Theophany), to be His Friend and then to disappear from our world once again. Barrenness and prophesy are two interconnected themes that permeate the Feast of St John the Baptist’s Nativity. St Elizabeth’s barrenness was used by God to reveal His infinite Love for His entire Creation. This Divine Love, expressed in Divine Power and Glory, enables the aunt of the Ever Blessed Holy Virgin to conceive. The Conception and Birth of St John points to the termination, not only of the barrenness of St Zachariah and St Elizabeth, but also that of cosmic barrenness. Sin and death had rendered Creation incapable of nurturing and sustaining life, for the reign of death, traced back to Adam’s Fall, aborted all life that was destined from all Eternity to abide in the Bosom of God. Today we celebrate and bear witness to the unfolding of Creation’s Renewal, which was affirmed in the birth of St John the Baptist. Previously bound to death, Creation begins to reflect its True Identity and from the barrenness of St Elizabeth emerged the Forerunner to Christ Jesus Who is Life. Celebrating the Nativity of St John should be an expression of our gratitude to God Who has delivered us from the horrible barrenness – the fruitlessness – of death, which not only robs us of our biological existence, but strives to impair and ultimately smother the creative powers of our mind and heart. Consequently, human creativity, now imbued with Hope and Life, is urged on by Divine Love to transcend its inherent limitations. Finding its highest expression in True Worship, human creativity is joined to Divine Life. The human being and his unique energy gradually, through Ascetic Effort, achieve harmony with the Divine Energy, and hence the unfolding of the Eternal Ascent into the Kingdom of Heaven, which is to come.
THE MYSTERY OF REPENTANCE IS HOW WE ARE ABLE TO BESEECH GOD TO FORGIVE US - HAVING DECIDED TO RENOUNCE THE SINFUL DIRECTION OF OUR (FREE) WILL – I.E. TO RENOUNCE OUR SINFUL BEHAVIOUR, DEEDS AND HABITS AND TO REMOVE ALL SINFUL INCLINATIONS WITHIN US, GRANTING US THE SPIRITUAL STRENGTH TO PROGRESS ACCORDING TO THE DIVINE COMMANDMENTS AND TEACHING OF CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR.

Yet, do we still hear, let alone heed, his Divine Message today?
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “NATIVITY OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST” BY DEAN GEORGE P BITHOS - www.orthodoxpraxis.org

Barrenness & Prophesy
As Members of the Body of Christ, we are endowed with a Prophetic Calling: we are to proclaim and to show that the barrenness of Creation has been filled with Life. In the midst of desolation, God has brought St John the Baptist, the greatest of all His Holy Prophets, to prepare the Way of the Lord. Like St John the Baptist, we are to continue announcing the Prophetic Word that awakens Creation from the barren, fruitless slumber of sin. Like St John the Baptist, we are Commissioned to lead an anxious and searching humanity to Repentance by which we are drawn into the Divine Embrace of our Life Giver. St John the Baptist prepared Israel for the Coming of the Messiah. His Call to Repentance and Baptism formed a faithful remnant of God’s chosen people who helped to provide the human component of God’s Holy Church. Now we are responsible for continuing the Call to Repentance, which leads to the Baptism of Water and the (Holy) Spirit. This is the Baptism that enable humanity to become one (united) with the Sacred Pascha that takes us from death to Life. (especially Spiritual Death to Spiritual Life!) This is the Holy Baptism that compels us to prophesy our Lord and Saviour’s Glorious Second Coming (His Reappearance in His Incarnate – human – Body) The Feast of St John the Baptist affirms the Victory of Regenerated and Transfigured Life. New Life emerging from the barrenness of sin and death is the Joyous Core of our Feast today. This is the beginning and the end of the Holy Church of Christ’s Mission to and for the entire world. Amen.
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST” (JUNE 24) BY FATHER ROBERT M ARIDA - HOLY TRINITY CATHEDRAL, BOSTON www.holytrinity.org

The Mystery of Repentance
Repentance Confession and then simply continue to sin as usual!

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The Mystery of Repentance is also A PAINFUL AWARENESS OF
THE DEVASTATION AND DESTRUCTION OF SIN THAT COMPELS US TO FERVENTLY AND CONSTANTLY PRAY FOR OUR REMISSION AND LIBERATION FROM SIN BY DIVINE AID AND GRACE.

SUCH AN DEADLY, CARELESS ATTITUDE TOWARD A HOLY MYSTERY IS BLASPHEMOUS! FORGIVENESS IS ENTIRELY CONDITIONAL ON THE COMPLETE TRANSFORMATION OF A PENITENT'S LIFE AND SINCERE RESOLVE TO LIVE HENCEFORTH ACCORDING TO THE LAW OF GOD. AS A RESULT, WHOEVER APPROACHES THE CONFESSIONAL WITHOUT THIS RESOLVE DEPRIVES HIMSELF OF DIVINE GRACE AND HIS SINS WILL NOT BE FORGIVEN AT ALL AND HE WILL SUFFER ETERNAL CONDEMNATION!!

Sin is due to our arrogance and disobedience to God when we put our own selfish will above the Will of God and above any Love for our fellow men by regarding ourselves as the centre of the universe!
REPENTANCE IS THE RENUNCIATION OF THIS SOLIPSISTIC EGOCENTRISM (BELIEF IN SELF AS ONLY REALITY!)

“There is no Repentance for those who bargain with repentance, who hoping for repentance remain in the state of sin. Repentance is of no avail to them. Those who mock are not pleasing to God!” ST EPHRAIM OF SYRIA Even if the Mystery of Repentance could remit sins by the authority of the Priest, THE PENITENT IS STILL REQUIRED TO
RENOUNCE SIN SO IT IN NO WAY ENCOURAGES HIM TO SIN FURTHER.

Repentance is A GENUINE DESIRE TO ANNIHILATE SELF-SEEKING WITH GOD'S HELP AND is in accordance with CHRIST'S

Confession is not an idle conversation whereby a sinner narrates sins and thus washed clean.
REPENTANCE IS A LIFE-LONG PROCESS SO WE ARE URGED NOT TO DELAY OR NEGLECT OUR REPENTANCE-CONFESSION THEREBY CAUSING ETERNAL CONDEMNATION. VERY FEW ARE ABLE TO TRULY REPENT ON THEIR DEATHBEDS, SINCE OUR STATE OF MIND DURING THE FINAL MOMENTS OF LIFE IS OCCUPIED WITH OUR TRANSITION FROM THIS LIFE TO THE NEXT AND CONFESSION AND REPENTENCE AS NO LESS THAN THE TOTAL TRANSFORMATION OF A PENITENT SOUL.
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “THE MYSTERY OF REPENTANCE” BY ARCHPRIEST VICTOR POTAPOV – ST JOHN THE BAPTIST ROC – WASHINGTON DC, USA

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TEACHING OF LOVE. THE MYSTERY OF REPENTANCE WITH THE DIVINE PROMISE OF FORGIVENESS IN FUTURE OR AT THE FINAL JUDGEMENT, DEFINITELY DOES NOT ENCOURAGE US TO NEGLECT OF OUR SALVATION IN THE PRESENT.

When we sin we cannot excuse ourselves with the belief that we can go to our Priest for the Holy Sacrament of

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Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

5th Sunday After Pentecost

Tone 4

27 June 2010

5th Sunday of St Matthew – Gergesene Demoniacs Feast of St Samson the Unmercenary Hospice-keeper of Xenadon, Constantinople; St Joanna the Holy Myrrhbearer; St Anektos Holy Martyr; St Luke the Hermit
RE SURRE CTION A POL YTIK ION – T ONE 4

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fedron tis Anastaseos Kirigma ek tou Angelou Mathouse e tou Kyriou Mathitrie ke tin Progonikin apofasin aporipsase, tis Apostolis kafhomene elegon: Eskilefte O Thanatos, igerthi Hristos O Theos, doroumenos to kosmo to Mega Eleos!
O F THE EVE R BLESSED THEOT OKO S

When the Women Disciples of the Lord had learnt from the
Angels the Glad Tidings of the Resurrection, and had cast away the Condemnation of their Forefather, they spoke exultingly to the Apostles: Death is no more: Christ-God is Risen, granting to the world Great Mercy!

KO NT AKION

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 of us, who in Faith cry out to Thee: speed up Thine Intercession, and press on Thy Supplication, O Theotokos who always protects all those who honour Thee!

Resurrection Gospel 5 : Luke 24:12 – 35 - OUR RISEN LORD JESUS APPEARS ALONG THE ROAD TO EMMAUS
Prokeimenon

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Lord, how manifold art Thy Works! Thou hast created them all in Wisdom!

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

The Epistle of St Paul to the Romans 10 : 1 – 10
DIVINE RIGHTEOUSNESS DUE TO FAITH

Brethren, my heart’s desire and Prayer to God for Israel is that they may be Saved, for I bear them witness that they have zeal for God, but not according to Knowledge, for they, being ignorant of God’s Righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the Righteousness of God, because Christ is the end of the Law for Righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses wrote about the Righteousness that is of the Law: “The man who does those things shall live by them.” But the Righteousness of Faith speaks in this manner: “Do not say in your heart: ‘Who will ascend into Heaven?’ ” (that is to bring Christ down from Above) or, “ ‘Who will descend into the Abyss?’ ” (that is to bring Christ up from the dead.) But what does it say? “The Word is near to you, in your mouth and in your heart,” (that is: the Word of Faith which we preach); that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be Saved, for with the heart one believes unto Righteousness, and with the mouth Confession is made unto Salvation. While mere Obedience to the Old Covenant Law has always St Paul wished nothing but good for Israel – the Hebrew failed, OUR NEW COVENANT FAITH IN CHRIST BRINGS US Nation. ALL ETERNAL SALVATION. However their zeal was not based on Divine Truth and IF
THEY HAD MERELY BEEN IGNORANT IN THEIR REJECTION OF CHRIST, THEIR OFFENCE AGAINST GOD WOULD CERTAINLY HAVE BEEN FORGIVABLE. TRAGICALLY, THE SIN OF THOSE WHO REJECTED CHRIST WAS DUE TO MORE THAN SIMPLE IGNORANCE, FOR IT WAS NOT DUE TO THEM NOT KNOWING CHRIST, BUT BECAUSE THEY WERE ARROGANTLY DETERMINED TO ESTABLISH THEIR OWN ERRONEOUS FORM OF “RIGHTEOUSNESS,” RATHER THAN TO SUBMIT TO DIVINE RIGHTEOUSNESS – THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD.

> > >

TRUE FAITH NEVER DOUBTS BUT TRUSTS IMPLICITLY IN CHRIST OUR GOD. TRUE FAITH BRINGS US – THE TRUE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST – CLOSER TO GOD. TRUE FAITH TRANSFORMS US COMPLETELY – BODY AND SOUL, WHICH INCLUDES OUR “HEART” AND MIND – NOUS.

Verses 9 & 10: “If you confess with your mouth... Confession is made unto Salvation,” means that
WHEN WE CONFESS AND BELIEVE IN CHRIST JESUS, IT IS MORE THAN SIMPLY A MENTAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF DIVINE TRUTH. > SUCH FAITHFUL BELIEF MEANS PLACING OUR ENTIRE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE IN OUR RESURRECTED LORD JESUS CHRIST AND LIVING WITH HIM AS OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR – I.E. LIVING IN CHRIST OR LIFE IN CHRIST. ONLY BY GIVING OURSELVES WILLINGLY, EAGERLY, JOYFULLY AND COMPLETELY TO CHRIST DO WE PROVE OUR TRUE BELIEF UNTO RIGHTEOUSNESS.

They trusted only in themselves and their works and rejected the Way of Faith when it was presented to them by Christ – the Messiah and God Incarnate Himself!
OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, THE WORD AND SON OF GOD, HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE WAY OF SALVATION ACCORDING TO BOTH HOLY COVENANTS WITH GOD – THE OLD AND THE NEW COVENANTS. THE MOSAIC LAW OF THE OLD COVENANT PREPARED THE HEBREW NATION FOR THE COMING OF THE MESSIAH – THE INCARNATED SON OF GOD – WHO WAS THE FULFILMENT OF GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS AND THE END OF THE OLD COVENANT LAW (of Preparation for His

Coming!) The Way of the Old Covenant Law and the Way of the New Covenant Faith are contrasted by St Paul.

Belief and Confession were both Old Testament themes: St Isaiah pointed out the Faith of the heart and St Joel emphasized the Confession of the mouth. Both Holy Prophets of God taught that Divine Grace and True Faith in God are universally offered to all human beings.
account, it is clear that we are debtors to Christ Who must serve Him until our death. How then can we regard Sonship as something that is due to us? Christ is our Master by virtue of His own Essence, and our Master by virtue of His Incarnate Life. For He created us from nothing and through His own Blood Redeems us when we are dead in sin; and to those who believe in Him, He has granted His Grace.
27 JUNE 2010

Wisdom of our Holy Fathers – St Mark the Ascetic
Some without fulfilling the Commandments think that they possess True Faith. Others fulfil the Commandments and then expect the Eternal Kingdom as a Reward due to them. Both are mistaken! A Master is under no obligation to reward his slaves; on the other hand, those who do not serve him well are not granted their freedom. If “Christ died on our account in accordance with the Scriptures,” and we do not “... live for ourselves...” but for “... Him Who died and rose...” on our
(SPONSORED BY DIMITRI PAIZIS)

5TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – 5TH OF ST MATTHEW – THE GERGESENE DEMONIACS

17

The Holy Gospel According to St Matthew 8 : 28 – 9 : 1
THE GERGESENE DEMONIACS

At that time, when Jesus arrived at the other side, which was the country of the Gergesenes, two demon possessed men met Him, having come out of the tombs and being so exceedingly fierce that no one could pass that way. Suddenly they cried out: “What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God? Hast Thou come here to torment us before the time?” Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding, so the demons begged Him: “If Thou cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.” So Jesus said to them: “Go!” And when they had come out of the two men, they entered the herd of swine but instantly the whole herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea and perished in the water. Then those who kept them fled; and they went into the city to report everything, including what had happened to the two demon possessed men. And behold, the entire city went out to meet Jesus, and when they saw Him they begged Him to depart from their region. So Jesus got into a boat, crossed over, and went to His own city.
OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST’S CONTROL OVER ALL HIS CREATION IS ANOTHER SIGN OF HIS DIVINITY AND PROOF THAT HE IS THE TRUE MESSIAH. THE DEMONS who had taken possession of the two ALTHOUGH THE MALICE OF THE DEMONS CAUSES SUCH FEAR AND SUFFERING THEY CAN DO NOTHING AGAINST THE WILL OF GOD so they had to beg our Lord Jesus to

wretched

men

of

Gergesene

(or

Gadarene)

IMMEDIATELY RECOGNISED OUR LORD JESUS AS THE WORD AND SON OF GOD. THEY KNEW GOD FROM THE TIME WHEN THEY WERE STILL HIS FAITHFUL ANGELS IN HEAVEN – before the terrible

rebellion of Satan due to his devastating, arrogant sense of pride and disobedience to God and his subsequent expulsion from Heaven together with all those who had dared to rebel with him. THEY ARE EXCRUCIATINGLY AWARE OF THE FACT THAT when the Final Day of Judgement comes, THEY WILL BE SENT
TO THE TERRIBLE ABYSS, THE OUTER DARKNESS, THE ETERNAL CONDEMNATION OF ALIENATION FROM GOD AND EVERYTHING GOOD, WHERE THEY BELONG. ETERNAL HELL WILL BE SO HORRENDOUS THAT EVEN THE WICKED DEMONS FEAR IT. They also know that THEY MAY BE ABLE TO TEMPT US AND TO INTERFERE WITH US IN THEIR CONSTANT OBSESSIVE HATRED OF MANKIND, BUT THEY HAVE NO REAL POWER

allow them to enter the herds of swine. Knowing what would happen next, which would be a great lesson to those who witnessed it, Christ permitted them to do so and the instant the destructive demons entered the swine, the poor animals went berserk, stampeded right over the high cliffs and drowned in the sea below.
CHRIST REVEALED HIS INCOMPARABLE VALUE OF ALL HUMAN BEINGS WHOSE ETERNAL SALVATION IS WORTH EVERY SACRIFICE!

The Immediate eradication of the wretched, forbidden herds clearly showed how GOD HAD PROTECTED HIS
BELOVED HUMAN BEINGS WHO WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE PERISHED UNDER SUCH LETHAL DEMONIC INFLUENCE. Furthermore, IT EMPHASISED THE ILLEGALITY OF THE SWINEHERDS, which Hebrews were forbidden to keep or

to eat. Another conspicuous but very sad aspect of this Miraculous Incident, was the fact that THE GERGESENES WERE
MORE CONCERNED WITH THE MATERIAL LOSS OF THEIR FORBIDDEN SWINEHERDS THAN OVERJOYED AT THE RESTORATION OF THE TWO MEN TO FULL SPIRITUAL HEALTH – AND BEING FREED FROM THE INTIMIDATION SUCH FIERCE DEMONS. EVEN WHEN THEY CAME INTO THE VERY PRESENCE OF GOD, THEY REJECTED HIM IN PREFERENCE TO THEIR WORLDLY POSSESSIONS WHICH THEY DEEPLY RESENTED HAVING LOST SO THEY BEGGED HIM TO LEAVE THEIR REGION. > Many of us are the same as the Gergesenes: WE ARE MORE CONCERNED WITH OUR OWN TEMPORARY, WORTHLESS PLEASURES AND PERSONAL PROPERTY THAN DEVELOPING A CLOSER, STRONGER AND MORE INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD – PREPARING OURSELVES FOR ETERNAL LIFE IN GOD’S HEAVENLY KINGDOM.

over anything unless it is permitted by God according to His own Divine Plans for us. > Although we may be subjected to their temptations, WE

>

>

ONLY COMMIT SIN ACCORDING TO OUR FREE WILL – OUR OWN CHOICE. Therefore, GOD ALLOWS US TO BE TEMPTED SO THAT WE MAY GROW SPIRITUALLY STRONGER THROUGH OUR CONSTANT RESISTANCE TO THE WICKED TEMPTATIONS AND DRAW EVER CLOSER TO GOD WHO WATCHES OVER US AND WHOSE LOVE PROTECTS US FROM HARM. SPIRITUAL WARFARE LASTS THROUGHOUT OUR LIFE AND WE DEPEND ON DIVINE GRACE FOR OUR SURVIVAL AND SPIRITUAL PROGRESS. THE DEMONS SHOCKED WHEN, SEEING CHRIST APPROACHING, THEY THOUGHT THEIR CRUEL TORMENT OF PEOPLE was being terminated even before the Last

Everything is according to Divine Grace and Providence yet

Judgement. How familiar is this Miraculous Event to us, yet every time we read it or hear it, we rediscover something that touches us, or grants us Spiritual Enlightenment. There are three features of this Sacred Lesson that we should contemplate. The first is THE ATTITUDE OF THE DEMONS TO THEIR
VICTIMS.

Our Lord Jesus Christ had established Capernaum as His “own city,” from whence He and His Apostles would set out to spread His Divine Gospel of Love/Agape.
THEY CRAVE OUR SPIRITUAL DESTRUCTION so intensely

The Healing of the Gergesene Demoniacs
they ceaselessly try to tempt us to disobey, ignore or reject our Ever Loving God.

>

>

The powers of evil have no other intention or desire than to possess us and to make us both sufferers and slaves who will do their wicked bidding because WE
HUMAN BEINGS ARE SO LOVED BY ALMIGHTY GOD,

HOWEVER, WE HAVE BEEN CREATED AS INTELLECTUAL BEINGS WITH FREE WILL AND IMMORTAL SOULS SO NO ONE CAN FORCE US TO COMMIT SIN UNLESS WE CHOOSE TO DO SO. WE HAVE ALSO BEEN GRANTED THE ABILITY AND KNOWLEDGE TO RECOGNISE OUR FALL FROM DIVINE GRACE SO THAT WE MAY IMMEDIATELY CORRECT OURSELVES THROUGH REPENTANCE-CONFESSION, WHICH RESTORES OUR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AND OUR FELLOW MANKIND.

However, our God Inspired Holy Fathers have taught us that THE EVIL ONE AND HIS DEMONS CAN HAVE NO
DIRECT ACTION IN THIS BEAUTIFUL CREATED WORLD OF GOD.
HAVING BEEN EXPELLED FROM HEAVEN, THE FALLEN ANGELS OR DEMONS BELONG NEITHER TO HEAVEN NOR THIS BEAUTIFUL CREATION OF GOD – THE DOMAIN OF MANKIND WHO IS CREATED IN THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF GOD.

THE EVIL BEINGS, in their obsessive jealous hatred for

mankind, constantly TRY TO ENSLAVE US SO THAT THEY CAN USE US TO COMMIT EVIL DEEDS AGAINST OUR FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS.

In the case of the Gergesene Demoniacs, the demons had managed to possess the two men as instruments of devastation and horror, while at the same time the men had endured acute mental and physical misery. The very moment our Saviour put His Foot ashore, the demons felt His Divine Presence with great guilty fear and trepidation, causing them to confront Him in their egotistical defence and self preservation. When our Lord Jesus Christ commanded the demons to depart from their victims, they felt typical self pity and intensely dreaded what Christ could do to them.
21 MAY 2010

18

(SPONSORED BY DIMITRI PAIZIS)

THE FEAST OF ST CONSTANTINE & ST HELEN – EQUAL-TO-THE-APOSTLES

So in their usual self absorbed interest, they begged Him to allow them to dwell in the forbidden herds of swine, which were regarded by the Hebrews as filthy, disease ridden beasts – fitting abodes for such filthy, contaminating spirits! What occurred as soon as the demons entered the bodies of the swine was a clear demonstration to all those who witnessed it of THE CONSEQUENCES OF DEMON
POSSESSION WITHOUT THE PROTECTION OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE AND GRACE OF GOD.

They were shattered by THE LOSS OF THEIR PROPERTY AND THE MONETARY VALUE OF THE HERDS. This
MATTERED MORE THAN ETERNAL LIFE OR THE WELFARE OF A FELLOW HUMAN BEING.

Consequently, they besought Christ to leave not only their immediate area but the entire region in case it cost them even more of their perceived wealth. They did not care about physical or Spiritual Healing of anyone who might be afflicted or intensely suffering. ® THEY ONLY CARED ABOUT THEIR USELESS,
TEMPORARY POSSESSIONS AND FINANCES.

The awful destruction of the herds of swine was CLEAR
PROOF OF WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO US WHEN WE ALLOW OURSELVES TO BE POSSESSED BY WICKEDNESS. ® WHEN WE ALLOW THE INVENTED PASSIONS OF SATAN SUCH AS HATRED, LUST, JEALOUSY, AND EVERY OTHER DEADLY VICE OF BODY AND SOUL TO DOMINATE AND RULE US – DUE TO THE RESULTANT SPIRITUAL DEATH CAUSED BY OUR ALIENATION AND EXILE FROM GOD AND ALL HIS GOODNESS – WE ARE DOOMED TO ETERNAL DESTRUCTION!

® THEY ONLY LIVED FOR THIS PRESENT, TEMPORARY
WORLD AND WERE NOT EVEN VAGUELY CONCERNED WITH ETERNITY. ® THEY FELT NO NEED TO LEARN MORE THAN THEY ALREADY KNEW since they were only interested in their immediate needs and desires.

® THE

We must never forget this – even for a brief moment because WE DO NOT ALWAYS UNDERSTAND TO WHAT
DEGREE WE ALLOW OUR WORST ENEMIES TO ENSNARE AND ENSLAVE US. THE SEDUCTION OF INIQUITY BEGINS IMPERCEPTIBLY – “JUST A LITTLE HARMLESS FUN!” UNTIL WE REALISE, WHEN IT IS ALMOST TOO LATE THAT THE DEADLY, VICELIKE GRIP OF OUR TRANSGRESSIONS THREATEN TO DOMINATE AND OVERWHELM US!

ETERNAL CONSEQUENCES OF THIS PREPARATORY LIFE NEVER WORRIED THEM AT ALL!

The Spiritual Tragedy of those Gergesenes is THE EXACT
SAME SPIRITUAL TRAGEDY OF OUR MODERN WORLD TODAY. ® VERY FEW PEOPLE HAVE PROGRESSED FROM THIS NARROW-MINDED, SELF-INDULGENT AND IGNORANT VIEW.

> The enormous contrast between
THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE

THE ATTITUDE OF ATTITUDE OF THE

The demons use all our personal weaknesses against us until we are not only possessed by them, but also commit iniquitous deeds through our willing co operation or lack of caution.
IF WE ALLOW EVIL TO CONTROL US, IT WILL CAUSE US SPIRITUAL DEATH – not physical death – WHICH IS ALIENATION FROM EVERYTHING THAT IS GOOD, LOVING, JOYFUL AND PEACEFUL!
AS LONG AS WE ARE ALIVE IN THIS WORLD, WE HAVE THE POSSIBILITY FOR REPENTANCE-CONFESSION WHICH RESTORES US TO SPIRITUAL LIFE, BUT SHOULD WE DIE IN A STATE OF SPIRITUAL DEATH, WE WILL SUFFER ETERNAL CONDEMNATION AND EXILE.

UNGODLY IS MOST PAINFULLY OBVIOUS. Therefore, let us turn our thoughts inwards and CONSIDER WHERE WE STAND.

Of course, our first reaction is to answer: “We are on God’s side – we belong to the Righteous!” But that is not always true. ® WHEN THERE IS A NEED FOR OUR ASSISTANCE, DO
WE FIRST WEIGH UP THE COST OF WHETHER OUR CONTRIBUTION WOULD BE FINANCIALLY “WORTH OUR WHILE?” OR WONDER WHETHER IT WILL INCUR A LOSS OF TIME OR MONEY.

® WE CANNOT FALL OUT OF EXISTENCE BUT WE CAN
BECOME POSSESSED BY AN EXISTENCE THAT IS FAR WORSE THAN WE CAN IMAGINE!

The complete opposite to such horror is OUR LORD JESUS
CHRIST, THE INCARNATE WORD AND SON OF GOD, WHO IS THE CREATOR OF EVERYTHING WONDERFUL AND BEAUTIFUL AND PERFECT.

Are we really with Christ Who forgets everything else when His Heart is pierced with compassion for those in need? ® DO WE ALLOW OURSELVES TO BE SYMPATHETIC ONE
MOMENT AND THEN AFTER CALCULATING THE COST TO US, TURN AWAY AND IGNORE THE DESTITUTE AND NEEDY?

He is our Lord and our Saviour Who is ALWAYS READY TO
HEAR OUR PRAYERS, TO HELP US OVER LIFE’S OBSTACLES, TO HEAL AND TO COMFORT US IN TIMES OF PAIN AND SORROW.

We must constantly reflect on these matters because
EVERY SACRED LESSON, EVERY PARABLE OF CHRIST, EVERY IMAGE AND EVERY ACT OF GOD CHALLENGES US: ® Where do we stand? ® Who are we? ® Are we possessed by evil demons of self indulgence and greed? ® To what extent are we willing to imitate our Lord Jesus Christ as His Faithful Disciples? ® Are we like those who feel uncomfortable and would prefer not to be in His Divine Company? ® Would we reject Him due to our self righteous justification? ® Does our Lord disturb our “peace” – our self interested and greedy little lives and threaten our financial security? Let each of us DEEPLY, SINCERELY AND MOST HUMBLY EXAMINE OUR DARKENED SOULS.

The second aspect to contemplate is the fact that IT WAS
NO CO-INCIDENCE THAT CHRIST OUR LORD WAS AT THAT PARTICULAR PLACE FOR THOSE TWO WRETCHED SOULS WHO SO DESPERATELY NEEDED HIS DIVINE SALVATION AND DELIVERANCE FROM EVIL.

Christ is our Good Shepherd Who leaves His Holy Flock in order to recover and carry to safety each of His Lost Sheep.
OUR SAVIOUR IS NEVER TOO BUSY OR TOO OCCUPIED WITH “MORE IMPORTANT MATTERS” TO TEND TO OUR PERSONAL NEEDS. NOTHING PREVENTS HIM FROM TAKING CARE OF EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US WHO NEEDS HIS DIVINE GRACE in

order to continue our Sacred Journey through this Life of Preparation before we enter Eternity. Finally, the third aspect of this Divine Visitation: THE
PEOPLE OF GERGESENE WHO HAD BEEN ALL TOO AWARE OF THE INCONSOLABLE STATE OF THE TWO MEN.

When they heard that our Lord Jesus had delivered the two men from the frightful demons and had restored them to full health, THEY DID NOT GIVE GLORY TO
GOD NOR THANK HIM FOR LIBERATING FROM SUCH EVIL THE TWO MEN WHO WERE THEIR FELLOW CITIZENS, FRIENDS AND RELATIVES.

Let us force open the windows of our soul to LET IN
GOD’S DIVINE LIGHT SO THAT WE MAY CLEARLY SEE OUR WICKEDNESS!

> Let us

THOROUGHLY CLEANSE THE DARKENED, MURKY

All they focussed on was the destruction of their (forbidden) herds of swine. THEY WERE
UNCONCERNED WITH THE RESTORATION OR SALVATION OF THE TWO MEN.

CORNERS OF OUR BEING and BEGIN TO LIVE AND ACT AS TRUE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST WHO STRUGGLE TO FOLLOW IN HIS DIVINE FOOTSTEPS!
BY THE GRACE OF GOD - ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP - INSPIRED BY “THE HEALING OF THE MEN OF GERGESENE” BY METROPOLITAN ANTHONY OF SOUROZH.

(SPONSORED BY DIMITRI PAIZIS)

5TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – 5TH OF ST MATTHEW – THE GERGESENE DEMONIACS

27 JUNE 2010

19

Justification & Faith (Part 2)
UNFORMED, FORMED, ABRIDGED AND DEAD FAITH:

The first Faith of the Old Covenant with God is regarded as “unformed Faith,” which leads us to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and introduces us to Justification in Christ. This is different to “formed Faith,” which is THE FULLNESS OF
UNDERSTANDING AND THE FRUITFUL WORKS OF LOVE, WHICH WE MAY RECEIVE IF WE ARE NOT ALIENATED FROM LOVE AND GOOD DEEDS.

the fact that THE TESTING OF OUR FAITH PRODUCES PATIENCE: “... let Patience have its Perfect Work, that you may be Perfect, complete and lacking nothing.”
(JAMES 1:3-4)

DUE TO THE CLOSE CONNECTION OF FAITH AND GOOD WORKS, SALVATION APPEARS AS FRUIT OF THE FAITH, through

The first Faith is “unformed,” because IT HAS NOT YET

>

PRODUCED ITS FRUITS, WHICH ARE THE WORKS OF LOVE, NOR HAS IT BECOME KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING. REPENTANCE IS THE (CORRECTION AND) AVOIDANCE OF SINFUL LIFE, which is our first step towards our Saviour, CONSISTING OF GOOD DEEDS AND THE FRUITS OF FAITH.

which only “...having been Justified by Faith, we have Peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom also we have access by Faith into this Grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the Glory of God.” (ROMANS 5: 1-2) For that reason, our Lord Jesus clearly told us that THOSE
WHO BELIEVE AND WHO ARE BAPTISED WILL BE SAVED, WHILE THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE WILL BE CONDEMNED.
(MARK 16:67)

THOSE WHO ARE JUSTIFIED may not have received the full

In other cases, JUSTIFICATION AND SALVATION DEPEND UPON
GOOD WORKS WHICH ARE FRUITS OF LOVE.

Knowledge of the Essence of this Faith, but HAVE
ACCEPTED THE MAIN GUIDELINES AND DOCTRINES WITH ALL THEIR HEART. THOSE WHO ARE JUSTIFIED THROUGH FAITH, ACCEPT MORE AND ACT LESS, BUT, AS THEY PROGRESS IN JUSTIFICATION AND GROW IN SANCTIFICATION, THEIR FAITH BECOMES MORE ACTIVE THROUGH LOVE AND IS MORE ENERGETIC.

Thus our Lord Jesus promised us that when He returns to Judge the living and the dead, HE WILL REWARD EACH
PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS OR HER GOOD DEEDS:

Unformed Faith is different to “dead Faith,” which is SIMPLE, INDEFINITE KNOWLEDGE that CANNOT CLEANSE
OUR WILL NOR INFLUENCE US.

Christ “...will reward each according to his works...” CALLING THOSE WHO PRACTISED GOOD TO INHERIT “... the Kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world.” (MATTHEW 16:27; 25:34) St John the Divine Apostle taught us THOSE WHO DO NOT
LOVE THEIR FELLOW MANKIND – INCLUDING OUR ENEMIES -

Nevertheless, IT IS EASIER FOR UNFORMED FAITH TO FALL
AND BECOME DEAD AND LIFELESS FAITH.
SPIRITUAL STATE CONFESSION) AND IMMEDIATELY REMEDY IT (UNLESS WE REALISE OUR THROUGH REPENTANCE-

“... abide in death...”
THOSE WHO DO LOVE ARE “...born of God and know God...”

IF THOSE WHO HAVE RETURNED AND BEEN JUSTIFIED DO NOT PERSIST IN THEIR STRUGGLE FOR VIRTUE AND CULTIVATION OF LOVE, THEY WILL LOSE THEIR INITIAL ENTHUSIASM AND THE FIRST RADIANCE OF ENLIGHTENMENT.

Therefore THOSE WHO DO NOT LOVE, DO NOT KNOW GOD FOR
HE IS LOVE and HIS DIVINE LOVE WAS REVEALED TO US WHEN HE SENT HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON INTO OUR WORLD SO THAT “... we might Live through Him.”
4:7) (1 JOHN 3:14;

Consequently, THEY WILL BECOME (SPIRITUALLY) “... shortsighted, even to blindness...” AND WILL FORGET THAT THEY WERE CLEANSED from their old sins and they will eventually, like dogs, return to their own vomit!
(2 PETER 1:9; 1:22; PROVERBS 26:11) HAVING CORRECTED OURSELVES THROUGH REPENTANCE-CONFESSION, WE MUST MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO IMPROVE OURSELVES CONTINUOUSLY AND TO LEARN TO LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY WITH THE HELP OF GOD – BY HIS DIVINE GRACE – THROUGH CONSTANT PRAYER. OTHERWISE, IF WE SIMPLY CRUISE ALONG IN SELF-SATISFACTION WE WILL QUICKLY RETURN TO OUR OLD DISGUSTING HABITS AND ONCE AGAIN FALL INTO A STATE OF SPIRITUAL DEATH!

Justifying faith

The Teaching of the JUSTIFYING AND SANCTIFYING FAITH, WHICH IS COMBINED WITH GOOD WORKS as its Fruits, IS
BASED UPON HOLY SCRIPTURE.
THE TEACHINGS OF THE NEW COVENANT – THE NEW TESTAMENT - CONSIST OF THOSE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST AND HIS HOLY APOSTLES WHO ARE OUR EARLIEST HOLY CHURCH FATHERS. IN ADDITION TO THESE HOLY SCRIPTURES, WE ALSO LEARN FROM THE GODINSPIRED TEACHINGS, WRITINGS, HYMNS AND PRAYERS OF ALL OUR OTHER HOLY FATHERS THROUGHOUT THE AGES. UNLESS WE LEARN FROM ALL THESE SOURCES, WE CANNOT BEGIN TO CLAIM ANY KNOWLEDGE OF CHRISTIANITY WHICH IS SO MUCH MORE THAN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES ALONE. FOR THEY WERE WRITTEN BY OUR HOLY FATHERS OF CHRIST’S CHURCH. THE HOLY CHURCH OF CHRIST WAS ESTABLISHED ON THE GLORIOUS DAY OF PENTECOST BY HIS HOLY APOSTLES, BEFORE THEY BEGAN TO RECORD GOD’S TRUTH – THE TEACHINGS OF CHRIST OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR AND THEIR SUBSEQUENT KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING.

THE INFINITE LOVE OF GOD IS BEYOND ANY HUMAN UNDERSTANDING, BUT WE REALISE TO A LIMITED DEGREE THE EXTENT OF THAT GREAT LOVE WHICH GOD HAS FOR US HUMAN BEINGS SINCE HE SENT HIS MOST BELOVED AND ONLY SON TO LIVE AMONG US SO THAT HE COULD TEACH US DIVINE TRUTH DIRECTLY AND NOT THROUGH THE INTERPRETATION OF HIS HOLY PROPHETS AS BEFORE. THIS IS HOW WE LEARNT THAT THE FRIGHTENING, VENGEFUL GOD OF THE OLD TESTAMENT WAS MERELY THE INTERPRETATION OF THE HOLY PROPHETS IN ORDER TO MAKE PEOPLE RESPECT ALMIGHTY GOD AND TO OBEY HIM OUT OF FEAR. CHRIST OUR LORD – GOD OF LOVE – HAS TAUGHT US THAT GOD IS LOVE! AND HE NEVER DOES ANYTHING DESTRUCTIVE, CRUEL, MALICIOUS, ETC. FOR IT IS UTTERLY FOREIGN TO HIS DIVINE NATURE. ALL BAD, CRUEL AND WICKED THINGS ARE THE INVENTIONS OF THE EVIL ONE AND HAVE NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH OUR EVER LOVING GOD OF COMPASSION, MERCY AND ALL GOOD THINGS! OUR LOVING GOD CEASELESSLY PROVIDES AND CARES FOR US, EXPECTING NOTHING IN RETURN. HE NEVER FORCES US TO DO HIS WILL. AS DEVOTED DISCIPLES OF CHRIST WE EAGERLY AND HUMBLY STRUGGLE TO OBEY HIS EVERY COMMANDMENT OUT OF LOVE FOR HIM. ONLY GOD KNOWS WHAT IS BEST FOR US AND WE CONFIDENTLY DEPEND ON HIS INFINITE WISDOM AND LOVE.

St James the Just taught us that WE ARE JUSTIFIED BY OUR
WORKS AND NOT ONLY OUR FAITH.

And finally, ST PAUL RIGOROUSLY WARNED US OF THE
EXCLUSION FROM GOD’S KINGDOM OF FORNICATORS, IDOLATERS, ADULTERERS, HOMOSEXUALS, SODOMITES, THIEVES, THE ENVIOUS, THE JEALOUS, THE GREEDY, THE SELFISH, DRUNKARDS, REVILERS AND EXTORTIONERS.
OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST AND ALL OUR HOLY FATHERS HAVE WARNED US FROM THE START THAT UNLESS WE GENUINELY REPENT OUR SINS, WE WILL BE EXCLUDED FROM GOD’S HEAVENLY ETERNAL KINDOM. ALL SIN – THE INVENTIONS OF THE EVIL ONE – ARE AGAINST GOD SO THEY ALIENATE US FROM HIM BY CAUSING US TO FALL INTO SPIRITUAL DEATH – WHICH IS A SPIRITUAL STATE WITHOUT ANY DIVINE PRESENCE. SPIRITUAL DEATH CAUSED BY UNREPENTED SIN IS OUR SELF-INFLICTED EXCOMMUNICATION WITH GOD. ONLY THROUGH REGULAR REPENTANCE, PERSONAL DETERMINATION AND CONSTANT WATCHFULNESS AND SELF-EXAMINATION DO WE PREVENT OUR FALL FROM DIVINE GRACE. WHENEVER WE ARE IN A STATE OF SPIRITUAL DEATH – SIN – GOD AND ALL HIS ANGELS, AND ALL THE RIGHTEOUS AND SAINTS OF THE CHURCH TRIUMPHANT TURN AWAY FROM US BECAUSE, BEING SO PURE AND HOLY, THEY CANNOT WATCH OVER US WHEN WE ARE WILFULLY WICKED.

It is very clearly proclaimed by St Paul that “... in Christ
Jesus...” NOTHING “... avails anything, but Faith working through Love...” AND EVEN IF ANYONE HAD ENOUGH FAITH TO “... remove mountains, but has not Love...” HE WOULD, IN TRUTH, HAVE NOTHING AT ALL! (GALATIANS 5:6; 1 CORINTHAINS
13:2) AGAPE/HOLY LOVE IS THE KEY TO LIFE IN CHRIST AND OUR ULTIMATE ETERNAL LIFE IN GOD’S HEAVENLY KINGDOM OF LOVE! SO IF WE HAVE NO LOVE OR DO NOT PRACTISE LOVE ON EARTH, WE CANNOT EXPECT TO GAIN ENTRY INTO HIS ETERNAL KINGDOM OF LOVE!

St John the Apostle, Evangelist and Theologian assured us that IT WAS THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD THAT WE
SHOULD BELIEVE IN THE NAME OF HIS SON, JESUS CHRIST, AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER. (1 JOHN 3:23)

WE REJECT ALL GOD’S GOODNESS ACCORDING TO THE DEGREE OF SPIRITUAL DEATH CAUSED BY OUR SINS!
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “ORTHODOX TEACHINGS” BY HIS EMINENCE, PANTELEIMON LAMPADARIOS (FORMER) ARCHBISHOP OF PELUSIUM, (CURRENTLY) BISHOP OF ANTINOE

St James the Just – “the Brother of Christ”

(THE ELDEST SON OF ST

JOSEPH THE BETROTHED & COUSIN OF THE EVER BLESSED THEOTOKOS)

stressed
Similarly those who pray are protected from despair; the poor from having many possessions; confessors of the faith from its denial; martyrs from idolatry. Every virtue that is performed even to the point of death is nothing other than refraining from sin, which is a work within our own natural powers, but not something that buys us the eternal kingdom. While we can scarcely keep what belongs to us by nature, Christ our lord grants us the grace of Sonship through the cross.

The Wisdom of our Holy Fathers – St Mark the Ascetic
Every good work that we perform through our own natural powers causes us to refrain from the corresponding sin; but without divine grace it cannot contribute to our sanctification. The self-controlled refrain from gluttony; those who have renounced possessions, from greed; the tranquil, from loquacity (POLYLOGIA – TOO MANY WORDS; IDLE CHATTER) the pure from self-indulgence; the modest from unchastity; the self-dependent from avarice; the gentle, from agitation; the humble from self-esteem; the obedient from quarrelling; the self-critical from hypocrisy.

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5TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – 5TH OF ST MATTHEW – THE GERGESENE DEMONIACS

- 27 JUNE 2010

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

29 June 2010 The Feast of the Holy Apostles of Christ – St Peter & St Paul
A POL YT IKION O F ST P ETER & ST P AUL – TONE 3 :

I

ton Apostolon protothroni, ke tis Ikoumenis Didaskali, to Despoti ton olon Presvefsate, Irinin ti ikoumeni dorisasthe, ke tes psihes imon to Mega Eleos..
THEOT OKO S

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

KO NT AKION

O F

THE

EVE R

BLESSED

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 of us, who in Faith cry out to Thee: hasten Thine Intercession, and present Thy Supplication, O Theotokos who always protects all those who honour Thee!

Matins Gospel According to St John 21 : 14 – 25
OUR LORD JESUS RESTORES AND COMMISSIONS ST PETER

The third time Jesus showed Himself to His Disciples after He was raised from the dead, when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter: “Simon, son of Jonah, do you Love Me more than these?” He said to Him: “Yes, Lord, Thou know that I Love Thee.” He said to him, “Feed My Lambs.” He said to him again a second time: “Simon, son of Jonah, do you Love Me?” He said to Him:, “Yes Lord; Thou know that I Love Thee.” He said to him: “Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time: “Simon, son of Jonah, do you Love Me?” Peter was grieved because He asked him a third time: “Do you Love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, Thou know all things; Thou know that I Love Thee.” Jesus said to him:, “Feed My sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you: when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would Glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him: “Follow Me.” Then Peter, turning around, saw the Disciple whom Jesus Loved following, (who had also leaned on His Breast at the Supper and asked: “Lord, who is the one who betrays Thee?” ) Seeing him, Peter said to Jesus: “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him: “If I Will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” Then this saying went out among the Brethren that this Disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but: “If I Will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” This is the Disciple who testifies to these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his Testimony is True. And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen “More than these” is a reference to the other Disciples. as not to be confused with his Beloved Lord and Before the Passion of Christ, St Peter had expressed Saviour. absolute loyalty to Him, even if the others were to be The “Disciple whom Jesus Loved” was the Apostle St John scattered. – also known as “the Theologian” and “the Divine” Now our Risen Lord asked St Peter whether he really meant because of his Divinely Inspired Knowledge. what he said and if so, to concentrate his efforts on > “What is it to you...? You follow Me!” is A SEVERE WARNING TO US NOT TO CONCERN OURSELVES WITH serving the Flock of Jesus Christ – His New Covenant THINGS THAT GOD HAS PLANNED FOR OTHERS. Church.
BECAUSE ST PETER HAD DENIED OUR LORD THREE TIMES, CHRIST ASKED ST PETER THREE TO TIMES TO CONFESS HIS LOVE FOR HIM, thus restoring him to Leadership of OUR PURPOSE IN LIFE IS TO FOLLOW JESUS CHRIST FAITHFULLY SO THAT WE MAY ACCOMPLISH OUR SACRED MISSION OF REGAINING OUR LOST LIKENESS TO GOD THROUGH CONSTANT REPENTANCE AND SELFIMPROVEMENT- TO BECOME WORTHY CITIZENS OF HIS ETERNAL KINGDOM OF LOVE.

the early Church to continue Shepherding Christ’s Flock. >

the

Ministry

of

ST PETER’S LEADERSHIP WAS NOT SUPERIOR BUT EQUAL TO ALL THE OTHER HOLY APOSTLES.

St Peter was just like any Patriarch who is the elected Leader of each Holy Synod of each Patriarchate of the Holy Church of Christ - having been elected as an equal among equals by the Bishops - i.e. he is not superior to the other Bishops of the Holy Synod. > ONLY CHRIST OUR LORD IS THE INFALLIBLE, PERFECT
(SINLESS) AND DIVINE HEAD OF OUR HOLY CHURCH AND THUS EXCLUSIVELY SUPERIOR TO ALL HUMAN BEINGS. THIS CONVERSATION WAS A VEILED PROPHECY OF THE MARTYRDOM OF ST PETER. These words imply that ST PETER WOULD THEREAFTER BE A FAITHFUL FOLLOWER OF CHRIST, EVEN THOUGH HIS FAITHFUL DISCIPLESHIP WOULD COST THE APOSTLE HIS LIFE.

St John lived a long life, dying at an age of approximately 100 years (circa 95 – 100). Early Christians marvelled at his longevity and remembered the words of Christ recorded here so quite possibly some believed that St John would not die before the Return of Christ.
HOWEVER, THAT ERRONEOUS BELIEF WAS CORRECTED HERE WITH THE STATEMENT: “...YET JESUS DID NOT SAY TO HIM THAT HE WOULD NOT DIE.”

This is the avowed (True) Testimony of St John the Evangelist’s Assistants, as the plural “we know” indicates. A certain Scribe named “Prochoros” actually committed the Evangelist’s words and Teachings to writing. > The final verse is A CONSCIOUS EXAGGERATION TO MAKE
A POINT: THE GOSPEL OF ST JOHN CONTAINS ONLY A SMALL PART OF THE WORKS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

In approximately ad 64 - 68 Nero Caesar had him put to death by crucifixion. He was crucified upside down so

Many more were recorded in the Holy Gospels of St Matthew, St Mark and St Luke, but EVEN THESE DO NOT
CONTAIN ALL OUR LORD’S TEACHINGS AND MIRACLES.

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29 JUNE 2010

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Prokeimenon: Their Proclamation went forth into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world!

The Heavens declare the Glory of God; the firmament shows the Creation of His Hands!
The Second Epistle of St Paul to the Corinthians 11 :21 – 12:9
ST PAUL DEFENDS HIS APOSTLESHIP, RECOUNTING HIS SUFFERINGS, VISIONS AND WEAKNESSES

Brethren, to our shame I say that we were too weak for that! But in whatever anyone is bold – I speak foolishly – I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? – I speak as a fool – I am more: in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Hebrews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in Fastings often, in cold and nakedness – besides the other things that come upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? If I must boast, I will boast in the things that concern my infirmity. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is Blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the Governor, under Aretas the King, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands. It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to Visions and Revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago – whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows – such a one was caught up to the Third Heaven. And I know such a man – whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows – how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. For although I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the Truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the Revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me: "My Grace is sufficient for you, for My Strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the Power of Christ may rest upon me. St Paul listed his Hebrew and Christian credentials surrounded by the Assembly of the Just in the City of according to his opponents’ level of argument. God. Genealogy was important to the Hebrews and ST PAUL HAD Unlike his opponents who publicly boasted of their own HIS OWN IMPRESSIVE GENEALOGY AND HIS CHRISTIAN greatness in their Mystical Experiences, ST PAUL EXPERIENCE WAS INCOMPARABLE WITH ANYONE ELSE – REGARDED HIS OWN “THORN IN THE FLESH” AS HAVING BEEN BESTOWED UPON HIM IN ORDER TO KEEP HIM his suffering, his compassionate, involved concern for HUMBLE. others and even his rather extraordinary Missionary His “thorn” was a chronic physical problem (some have Journeys throughout the known world of the time and suggested stomach or gastric ulcers or even cancer, everything he endured since his Miraculous Conversion. which caused intense discomfort and constant pain) as St Paul’s opponents had probably boasted of their Visions well as the deluded Christians or stubborn Israelites and Revelations so ST PAUL MENTIONED ONE OF HIS with whom he had to daily contend. OWN, FOURTEEN YEARS PREVIOUSLY, WHICH DATED THE Nevertheless, FOR ST PAUL, HIS HUMBLING PHYSICAL EVENT BEFORE HE BEGAN HIS MISSIONARY JOURNEYS –
HIS DIVINE CALLING BY CHRIST ALONG THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS.

St Paul used two Hebrew terms to describe the Heavenly Realms: “the Third Heaven,” which is the highest Heaven and “Paradise,” which is where God is

>

WEAKNESSES - NOT HIS MYSTICAL EXPERIENCES - WERE THE MEANS WHEREBY THE POWER OF CHRIST REMAINED WITH HIM. DIVINE GRACE ACCOMPANIES TRUE VIRTUE – ESPECIALLY THAT OF OBEDIENCE AND HUMILITY.

The Holy Gospel According to St Matthew 16: 13 – 19
S T PETER CONFE SSE S OUR LORD JESU S A S THE CHRIST AND IS PROMISED THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM

At that time, when Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His Disciples: "Whom do men say that the Son of Man is?" So they said: "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the Prophets." Jesus asked them: "And Whom do you say that I Am?" Simon Peter answered and said: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Jesus said to him: "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, because flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but My Father Who is in Heaven. And I say you that you are Peter; and upon this Rock I shall build My Church, and the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against It. And I will give you the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. And whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in Heaven, and whatsoever you shall loosen on earth, it shall be loosened also in Heaven.” “WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?” is the greatest question we St Isaiah, speaking in the Name of the Lord, said: “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD GOD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE THE can ever answer!! LORD HATH ANOINTED ME.” [ISAIAH 61:1] St Peter’s ringing Confession: “THOU ART THE CHRIST, THE The name “Peter” is a play on the word for “rock” or “stone” SON OF THE LIVING GOD!” IS A DIVINELY INSPIRED in Aramaic and Greek. (PETROS/PETRA). THE TERM “ROCK” INSIGHT GIVEN TO HIM BY OUR HEAVENLY FATHER. DID NOT REFER TO ST PETER HIMSELF BUT TO HIS Our Lord Jesus’ Messianic Identity and Divinity, the Mystery SINCERE CONFESSION OF FAITH. hidden from Eternity, cannot be truly known through 8 THE TRUE ROCK AND FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH IS, human intelligence or reasoning, but only by God’s OF COURSE, CHRIST HIMSELF. Revelation. [1 CORINTHIANS 12:3] 8 THE CHURCH RESTS UPON THIS ROCK BY HER The title “Christ” means “the Anointed One” and AS CHRIST
IS TRULY THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD, THE FATHER HAS ANOINTED HIM WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT. [ACTS 10:38] King David wrote: “THEREFORE GOD, THY GOD, HATH ANOINTED THEE WITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS MORE THAN THY COMPANIONS.” [PSALM 45:7] UNCHANGING FAITH AND HER CONFESSION. WITH THIS FAITH AS THE FOUNDATION, THE GATES OF HADES, THE POWER OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION, ARE POWERLESS AGAINST HER.

In the Old Testament, the term “gates” suggested a fortified city. [GENESIS 22:17; 24:60; ISAIAH 14:31]

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29 JUNE 2010

8 Hence,

BY SHATTERING THE GATES, CHRIST OPENED THE STRONGHOLD OF DEATH AND SET THE SOULS OF THE RIGHTEOUS ONES FREE.

In all the Holy Gospels, the word “church” [EKKLESSIA = GATHERING] is mentioned twice by our Lord (here and in Matthew TRUE ISRAEL WHOSE 18:17) describing THE
CITIZENSHIP IS HEAVENLY.

APOSTLES WERE EMPOWERED EQUALLY WITH CHRIST’S DIVINE AUTHORITY. Therefore, ST PETER WAS NOT A LEADER OVER THE OTHERS BUT A LEADER AMONGST THEM, as seen at the Council

She is THE BODY OF CHRIST, THE DIVINE-HUMAN ORGANISM, and to Her comes the Call of our Lord Jesus for the whole of mankind TO ABIDE WITH HIM AND IN HIM.
[EPHESIANS 1:23]

of Jerusalem, where Elders or Presbyters [PRIESTS] met with the Apostles – altogether as equals. Roman Papal claims in later centuries must not be confused with the New Testament witness regarding St Peter, nor should the role of St Peter in the New Testament be minimised in opposition to those claims!

The expression “Keys of the Kingdom,” clearly implies A
SPECIAL AUTHORITY THAT CHRIST GAVE TO ST PETER HIMSELF, BUT WHICH WAS NEVER SEPARATED FROM HIS CONFESSION OF FAITH.

8

>

Furthermore, while St Peter was a leader of the Disciples and of the early Church, ALL THE HOLY

“BINDING” AND “LOOSENING” IS A REFERENCE TO THE TEACHING, SACRAMENTAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE POWERS OF THE HOLY APOSTLES THAT WERE SUBSEQUENTLY TRANSMITTED TO THE BISHOPS OF THE HOLY CHURCH OF CHRIST.

The Wisdom of our Holy Church Fathers: St Diadochos of Photiki – On Spiritual Knowledge
THE LOVING AND HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD TEACHES US THAT THE PERCEPTIVE FACULTY NATURAL TO OUR SOUL IS SINGLE.

Indeed, even the five bodily senses differ from each other only because of the body’s varying needs. BUT THIS SINGLE FACULTY OF PERCEPTION IS SPLIT because of the dislocation which, as a result of Adam’s disobedience, takes place in the intellect through the modes in which our soul now operates. Thus ONE SIDE OF OUR SOUL IS CARRIED AWAY BY THE PASSIONATE PART IN US, and we are then captivated by the good things of this life; but THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SOUL
FREQUENTLY DELIGHTS IN THE ACTIVITY OF THE INTELLECT

FERVENT REMEMBRANCE OF GOD WE ARE WELDED TO HIS LOVE. BUT THE ILLUSION OF GRACE COMES TO US WHEN WE FALL INTO A LIGHT SLEEP WHILE OUR REMEMBRANCE OF GOD IS HALFHEARTED. TRUE GRACE, SINCE ITS SOURCE IS GOD, GLADDENS US CONSCIOUSLY AND IMPELS US TOWARDS LOVE with great

rapture of soul.
THE ILLUSION OF GRACE, on the other hand, TENDS TO SHAKE THE SOUL WITH THE WINDS OF DECEIT; for WHEN THE INTELLECT IS STRONG IN THE REMEMBRANCE OF GOD, THE DEVIL TRIES TO ROB IT OF ITS EXPERIENCE OF SPIRITUAL PERCEPTION BY TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE BODY’S NEED FOR SLEEP.

and, as a result, WHEN WE PRACTISE SELF-RESTRAINT, THE
INTELLECT LONGS TO PURSUE HEAVENLY BEAUTY. IF, THEREFORE, WE LEARN PERSISTENTLY TO BE DETACHED FROM THE GOOD THINGS OF THIS WORLD, WE SHALL BE ABLE TO UNITE THE EARTHLY APPETITE OF THE SOUL TO ITS SPIRITUAL AND INTELLECTUAL ASPIRATION, THROUGH THE COMMUNION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO BRINGS THIS ABOUT WITHIN US.

If the intellect at that time is REMEMBERING OUR LORD JESUS ATTENTIVELY, it easily DESTROYS THE ENEMY’S SEDUCTIVE SWEETNESS AND ADVANCES JOYFULLY to do battle with him, armed NOT ONLY WITH DIVINE GRACE BUT ALSO WITH
A SECOND WEAPON: THE CONFIDENCE GAINED FROM ITS OWN EXPERIENCE. SOMETIMES THE SOUL IS KINDLED INTO LOVE FOR GOD AND, free

For, unless His Divinity actively Illumines the Inner Shrines of our heart, WE SHALL NOT BE ABLE TO TASTE GOD’S
GOODNESS WITH THE PERCEPTIVE FACULTY UNDIVIDED –

from all fantasy and image, MOVES UNTROUBLED BY DOUBT TOWARDS HIM; AND IT DRAWS, AS IT WERE, THE BODY WITH IT INTO THE DEPTH OF THE INEFFABLE LOVE. This may occur when we are awake or else beginning to fall asleep under the influence of God’s Grace, in the way previously explained. At the same time, THE SOUL IS AWARE OF NOTHING EXCEPT WHAT IT IS MOVING TOWARDS and when we experience things in this manner, we can be sure that IT IS THE
ENERGY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WITHIN US.

that is, with unified aspiration. The perceptive faculty of the intellect consists of the power to discriminate accurately between the tastes of different realities. Our physical sense of taste, when we are healthy, leads us to distinguish unfailingly between good food and bad, so that we want what is good. Similarly, OUR INTELLECT, WHEN IT BEGINS TO ACT VIGOROUSLY
AND WITH COMPLETE DETACHMENT, IS CAPABLE OF PERCEIVING THE WEALTH OF GOD’S GRACE AND IS NEVER LED ASTRAY BY ANY ILLUSION OF GRACE THAT COMES FROM THE DEVIL.

For WHEN THE SOUL IS COMPLETELY PERMEATED WITH THAT
INEFFABLE SWEETNESS, AT THAT MOMENT IT CAN THINK OF NOTHING ELSE, SINCE IT REJOICES WITH UNINTERRUPTED JOY.

But IF AT THAT MOMENT THE INTELLECT CONCEIVES ANY
DOUBT OR UNCLEAN THOUGHT, AND IF THIS CONTINUES IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT THE INTELLECT CALLS ON THE HOLY NAME – not now simply out of Love for God, but IN ORDER TO REPEL THE EVIL ONE – then it should realise THAT SWEETNESS IT EXPERIENCES IS AN ILLUSION OF GRACE,

Just as the body, when it tastes the delectable foods of this earth, knows by experience exactly what each thing is, so
THE INTELLECT, WHEN IT HAS TRIUMPHED OVER THE THOUGHTS OF THE FLESH, KNOWS FOR CERTAIN WHEN IT IS TASTING THE GRACE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT; for it is written:

“Taste and see that the Lord is Good.” (PSALM 34 : 8)
THE INTELLECT KEEPS THE MEMORY OF THIS TASTE FRESH THROUGH THE ENERGY OF LOVE, AND SO, UNERRINGLY, CHOOSES WHAT IS BEST.

coming from the deceiver with a counterfeit joy that is amorphous and disordered, whereby the devil tries to lead our soul into an adulterous union with himself. For WHEN HE SEES THE INTELLECT UNRESERVEDLY PROUD OF ITS
OWN EXPERIENCE OF SPIRITUAL PERCEPTION, HE ENTICES THE SOUL BY MEANS OF CERTAIN PLAUSIBLE ILLUSIONS OF GRACE, SO THAT IT IS SEDUCED by that dank and debilitating sweetness and OUR SOUL FAILS TO NOTICE ITS INTERACTION WITH THE DECEIVER.

As St Paul said: “This is my Prayer: that your Love may grow more and more in Knowledge and in all perception, so that you choose what is best.” (PHILIPPIANS 1: 9 –
10)

WHEN OUR INTELLECT BEGINS TO PERCEIVE THE GRACE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, THEN SATAN TOO, IMPORTUNES THE SOUL WITH A SENSE OF DECEPTIVE SWEETNESS in the quiet times

From all this WE CAN DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE HOLY SPIRIT
OF TRUTH AND THE SPIRIT OF ERROR. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE, HOWEVER, FOR US TO CONSCIOUSLY TASTE THE DIVINE GOODNESS or consciously to realise when we are experiencing the bitterness of the demons, UNLESS WE FIRST KNOW WITH ASSURANCE THAT DIVINE GRACE DWELLS IN THE DEPTHS OF OUR INTELLECT, while the wicked spirits

of the night, when we fall into a light kind of sleep.
IF THE INTELLECT AT THAT TIME CLEAVES FERVENTLY TO THE REMEMBRANCE OF THE GLORIOUS AND HOLY NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS AND USES IT AS A WEAPON AGAINST SATAN’S DECEPTION, HE GIVES UP THAT TRICK AND IN FUTURE WILL ATTACK THE SOUL DIRECTLY AND PERSONALLY.

As a result THE INTELLECT CLEARLY DISCERNS THE DECEPTION
OF THE EVIL ONE AND ADVANCES EVEN FURTHER IN THE ART OF DISCRIMINATION. THE EXPERIENCE OF TRUE GRACE COMES TO US when the body

cluster around only the outside of the heart. This is just what THE DEMONS DO NOT WANT US TO KNOW,
FOR FEAR THAT OUR INTELLECT, ONCE DEFINITELY AWARE OF IT, WILL ARM ITSELF AGAINST THEM WITH THE REMEMBRANCE OF GOD. (PRAYER)

is awake or else on the point of falling asleep, WHILE IN

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23

Elder Silouan – On the Soul’s Yearning for God
OUR LORD BIDS US TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL OUR HEARTS AND ALL OUR SOULS – but how is it possible to Love Him Whom THE SOUL WHO IS NOT HUMBLE AND HAS NOT SURRENDERED HERSELF TO THE WILL OF GOD CANNOT COME TO KNOW ANYTHING, but flits from one idea to another and never prays with an undistracted mind or glorifies the Majesty of God. THE SOUL WHO HAS SURRENDERED HUMBLY TO GOD’S WILL INVISIBLY BEHOLDS GOD EVERY SECOND, yet finds no words

we have never seen, and how may we learn such Love?
OUR LORD IS MADE KNOWN TO US BY HIS EFFECT ON OUR SOUL. WHEN OUR LORD HAS VISITED HER, OUR SOUL knows that a

Dear Guest has come and gone, and she YEARNS FOR HIM and seeks Him with tears: “Where art Thou, my Light? Where art Thou, my Joy? Thy trace is fragrant in my soul but Thou art not there and my soul yearns for Thee, and my heart aches and is sad, and nothing rejoices me because I have grieved for my Lord and He has hidden Himself from my sight!”
WERE WE LIKE SIMPLE CHILDREN, THE LORD WOULD SHOW US HIS PARADISE and we should see Him in the Glory of the

for this, even to herself, and is unable to describe it, but
ONLY BY EXPERIENCE COMES TO KNOW THE MERCY OF GOD, AND TO KNOW WHEN OUR LORD IS WITH HER.

The soul has surrendered to Him like a little child who receives food every day but is ignorant from whence it comes. Thus it is with God that THE SOUL FEELS THAT ALL IS WELL
WITH HER BUT CANNOT EXPLAIN HOW THIS IS.

Cherubim and Seraphim, and of all the Heavenly Host and the Saints; but WE ARE NOT HUMBLE AND THEREFORE
WE TORMENT OURSELVES AND THOSE WE LIVE AMONG.

What Joy is ours because THE LORD NOT ONLY FORGIVES OUR
SINS BUT ALLOWS OUR SOUL TO KNOW HIM, AS SOON AS SHE HUMBLES HERSELF.

Old age has come upon me; my body grows feeble with the years and I would like to lie on my bed, but my spirit does not rest.
MY SPIRIT REACHES OUT WITH LONGING TO HER GOD, HER HEAVENLY FATHER Who has made us kin (RELATED/FAMILY) through His Body and Most Pure Blood and the Holy Spirit. HE HAS GRANTED US KNOWLEDGE OF ETERNAL LIFE AND WE KNOW IN PART THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT IS ETERNAL LIFE. THE SOUL LIVES IN THE LOVE OF GOD, IN THE HUMILITY AND MEEKNESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT; BUT WE MUST GIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT THE FREEDOM OF OUR SOUL SO THAT HE MAY DWELL THEREIN; SO THAT THE SOUL MAY BE SENSIBLE OF HIS PRESENCE.

The poorest wretch may humble himself and KNOW GOD IN
THE HOLY SPIRIT.

There is no need of money or possessions to know God.
THERE IS ONLY A NEED FOR HUMILITY. OUR LORD FREELY GIVES HIMSELF, FOR HIS MERCY’S SAKE ALONE.

I did not know this before, but now every day and hour, every minute, I CLEARLY SEE THE MERCY OF GOD.
OUR LORD GRANTS US PEACE, EVEN IN SLEEP, BUT WITHOUT GOD THERE IS NO PEACE IN OUR SOUL.

Our Lord does not reveal Himself to many because of their intellectual pride; yet they think that they have much knowledge.
BUT WHAT IS THEIR KNOWLEDGE WORTH, IF THEY DO NOT KNOW OUR LORD; IF THEY DO NOT KNOW THE GRACE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT; IF THEY DO NOT KNOW HOW THIS DIVINE GRACE COMES TO US AND WHEREFORE IT IS LOST?

Those who on earth, through the Holy Spirit, dwell in the Love of God, will be with our Lord in the other world too, for LOVE CANNOT MELT AWAY. However, for fear that by reasoning we fall into error, LET US
HUMBLE OURSELVES ACCORDING TO THE WORD OF OUR LORD: “Become like little children, for of such is the

Let us humble ourselves, Brethren, and our Lord will show us all things, as a loving Father shows all things to his children. Some argue about Faith and there is no end to such disputes.
WE MUST NOT QUARREL ABOUT FAITH BUT ONLY PRAY TO GOD AND HIS EVER BLESSED MOTHER, AND OUR LORD WILL ENLIGHTEN US (not by means of argument), and will

Kingdom of Heaven.”
OUR LORD LOVES US MORE DEARLY THAN WE CAN LOVE OURSELVES; but our soul, in her distress, supposes that

our Lord is forgetful of her, that He even has no wish to look upon her, and she suffers and pines for Him. Nevertheless, it is not so, Brethren, for OUR LORD LOVES US
WITHOUT END, AND GRANTS US THE GRACE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND COMFORTS US. IT IS NOT OUR LORD’S DESIRE THAT OUR SOUL SHOULD BE DESPONDENT AND IN DOUBT CONCERNING HER SALVATION. BELIEVE AND BE SURE THAT WE CONTINUE IN SUFFERING ONLY UNTIL WE HAVE HUMBLED OURSELVES; but as soon as we

Enlighten us speedily.
MANY HAVE MADE A STUDY OF ALL THE FAITHS, BUT THE TRUE FAITH THEY HAVE NOT COME TO KNOW AS THEY SHOULD.

But IF WE PRAY TO GOD IN HUMILITY SO THAT OUR LORD MAY
ENLIGHTEN US, OUR LORD WILL MAKE KNOWN TO US HOW GREATLY HE LOVES ALL MANKIND.

The proud think they can comprehend everything with their mind. Our Lord does not grant this.
WE KNOW OUR LORD: HE HAS REVEALED HIMSELF TO US IN THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND OUR SOUL KNOWS HIM, AND IS JOYFUL AND GLAD AND AT EASE, AND IN THIS LIES OUR HOLY LIFE.

have done so our affliction ends and the Holy Spirit discloses to our soul that DUE TO OUR HUMILITY, WE ARE
SAVED. GREAT GLORY BE TO THE LORD THAT HE LOVES US SO DEARLY, AND THIS LOVE IS MADE KNOWN TO US IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. BELIEVE IN THE GOSPELS AND IN THE WITNESS OF THE HOLY CHURCH and you will savour the Blessedness of Paradise,

Our Lord said: “Where I Am, there also shall my servant be and he shall see My Glory.” But we do not understand the Scriptures. Now WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT TEACHES US, EVERYTHING
BECOMES COMPREHENSIBLE AND OUR SOUL FEELS AS IF SHE WERE IN HEAVEN, FOR THE SAME HOLY SPIRIT IS IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH, IN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, AND IN THE SOULS OF THOSE WHO LOVE GOD. WITHOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT WE GO ASTRAY AND ALTHOUGH WE STUDY ENDLESSLY, WE CANNOT LEARN TO KNOW GOD AND WE HAVE NOT DISCOVERED WHAT IT IS TO REST IN HIM. THOSE WHO COME TO KNOW THE LOVE OF GOD LOVE THE WHOLE WORLD AND NEVER MURMUR AT THEIR FATE, FOR TEMPORARY AFFLICTION ENDURED FOR GOD’S SAKE IS A MEANS TO ETERNAL JOY.

for THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN US; WITH THE LOVE OF GOD OUR SOUL KNOWS PARADISE. My soul yearns after God and I seek Him in tears. O Merciful Lord, Thou seest my decline and my distress. I humbly entreat Thy Mercy: pour upon my sinful self the Grace of Thy Holy Spirit. O Lord, grant me Thy Spirit of Humility so that I do not lose Thy Grace again and weep for it as Adam wept for God and Paradise.
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “WISDOM FROM OUNT ATHOS” BY ELDER SILOUAN; COMPILED BY ARCHIMANDRITE SOPHRONY; TRANSLATED BY ROSEMARY EDMONDS; PUBLISHED BY ST VLADIMIR’S SEMINARY PRESS

The Lord desires a person to be saved through another. In a similar manner, Satan strives to destroy a person through another. So do not spend your time with those who are sloppy or who are mischief-makers or those who do not guard their tongues, in case you are condemned with them to eternal punishment. It is difficult enough for those who associate with good people to attain salvation.

St John of Karpathos

If you do not watch yourself, but consort with those of evil character, you will be infected with their leprosy and destroyed. How can anyone expect pity if he recklessly approaches a poisonous snake? You should avoid those who cannot control their tongue, those who are quarrelsome and those who are full of agitation inwardly or outwardly.

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(SPONSORED BY DIMITRI PAIZIS)

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY APOSTLES OF CHRIST – ST PETER & ST PAUL

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29 JUNE 2010

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