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ewriggs 09-03-2004 07:51 AM

Friday, September 3 / August 21 (Church Calendar)
Commemorated Today
Apostle Thaddeus of the Seventy. Martyr Bassa of Edessa and her sons Theogonius, Agapius and Pistus. St. Abramius, archimadrite, Wonderworker of Smolensk, and his disciple St. Ephraim. St. Abramius the Lover-of-labor of the Kiev Caves. St. Theocleta the Wonderworker of Asia Minor. St. Cornelius, abbot of Paleostrov, and his disciple St. Abramius. St. Isaiah of Mt. Athos.
O Holy God-Pleasers, Pray to God for Us!

The Shepherd of Hermas [ca. 150]: Written by Hermas, who is believed to be brother of Pius, the Bishop of Rome. The Shepherd of Hermas is an apocalyptic document (in the sense that it claims to be revealed), modelled after the Book of Revelation. It deals with practical matters of church purity and discipline in second century Rome.

(The Shephard or Hermas had been taken up into Heaven and was in conversation with "a lady.")
Hermas 3:3
After these words of hers had ceased, she saith unto me, "Wilt thou listen to me as I read?" Then say I, "Yes, lady." She saith to me, "Be attentive, and hear the glories of God" I listened with attention and with wonder to that which I had no power to remember; for all the words were terrible, such as man cannot bear. The last words however I remembered, for they were suitable for us and gentle.

Hermas 3:4
"Behold, the God of Hosts, Who by His invisible and mighty power and by His great wisdom created the world, and by His glorious purpose clothed His creation with comeliness, and by His strong word fixed the heaven, and founded the earth upon the waters, and by His own wisdom and providence formed His holy Church, which also He blessed-behold, He removeth the heavens and the mountains and the hills and the seas, and all things are made level for His select, that He may fulfill to them the promise which He promised with great glory and rejoicing, if so be that they shall keep the ordinances of God, which they received, with great faith."

ewriggs 09-04-2004 04:25 PM

Saturday, September 4 / August 22 (Church Calendar)
Commemorated Today
Martyr Agathonicus of Nicomedia and his companions: Martyrs Zoticus, Theoprepius, Acindynus, Severian, Zeno and others who suffered under Maximian. Virgin Martyr Eulalia of Barcelona. St. Anthusa. Hieromartyr Athanasius, Bishop of Tarsus in Cilicia, and Martyrs Charesimus and Neophytus. St. Bogolep of St. Paisius of Uglich Monastery. New-Martyrs Bishop Ephraim of Selenginsk and Priest John Vostorgov (1918). (Greek Calendar: Martyrs Irenaeus, Deacon, Or, and Oropsus.)
O Holy God-Pleasers, Pray to God for Us!

Homily 1: In the Beginning...
By St Basil the Great
(Part 1)

'In the Beginning God Made the Heaven and the Earth...'

1. It is right that any one beginning to narrate the formation of the world should begin with the good order which reigns in visible things. I am about to speak of the creation of heaven and earth, which was not spontaneous, as some have imagined, but drew its origin from God. What ear is worthy to hear such a tale? How earnestly the soul should prepare itself to receive such high lessons! How pure it should be from carnal affections, how unclouded by worldly disquietudes, how active and ardent in its researches, how eager to find in its surroundings an idea of God which may be worthy of Him!

But before weighing the justice of these remarks, before examining all the sense contained in these few words, let us see who addresses them to us. Because, if the weakness of our intelligence does not allow us to penetrate the depth of the thoughts of the writer, yet we shall be involuntarily drawn to give faith to his words by the force of his authority. Now it is Moses who has composed this history; Moses, who, when still at the breast, is described as exceeding fair; Moses, whom the daughter of Pharaoh adopted; who received from her a royal education, and who had for his teachers the wise men of Egypt; Moses, who disdained the pomp of royalty, and, to share the humble condition of his compatriots, preferred to be persecuted with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting delights of sin; Moses, who received from nature such a love of justice that, even before the leadership of the people of God was committed to him, be was impelled, by a natural horror of evil, to pursue malefactors even to the point of punishing them by death; Moses, who, banished by those whose benefactor he had been, hastened to escape from the tumults of Egypt and took refuge in Ethiopia, living there far from former pursuits, and passing forty years in the contemplation of nature; Moses, finally, who, at the age of eighty, saw God, as far as it is possible for man to see Him; or rather as it had not previously been granted to man to see Him, according to the testimony of God Himself, "If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house, with him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently and not in dark speeches." It is this man, whom God judged worthy to behold Him, face to face, like the angels, who imparts to us what he has learnt from God. Let us listen then to these words of truth written without the help of the "enticing words of man's wisdom" by the dictation of the Holy Spirit; words destined to produce not the applause of those who hear them, but the salvation of those who are instructed by them.
(to be continued)

ewriggs 09-06-2004 02:44 AM

Monday, September 6 / August 24 (Church Calendar)
Commemorated Today
Hieromartyr Eutychius, disciple of St. John the Theologian. Translation of the Relics of St. Peter, Metropolitan of Kiev. St. Arsenius, abbot of Komel (Vologda). St. George Limniotes the Confessor of Mt. Olympus. Martyr Tation (Tatio) at Claudiopolis. Virgin Martyr Cyra of Persia. New Hieromartyr Cosmas of Aetolia, Equal-to-the-Apostles (also entered at August 4). St. Dionysius, Archbishop of Aegina. Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos "Petrovskaya" ("Of St. Peter of Moscow").
O Holy God-Pleasers, Pray to God for Us!

Homily 1: In the Beginning...

By St Basil the Great
(Part 2)
'In the Beginning God Made the Heaven and the Earth...'

2. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." I stop struck with admiration at this thought. What shall I first say? Where shall I begin my story? Shall I show forth the vanity of the Gentiles? Shall I exalt the truth of our faith? The philosophers of Greece have made much ado to explain nature, and not one of their systems has remained firm and unshaken, each being overturned by its successor. It is vain to refute them; they are sufficient in themselves to destroy one another. Those who were too ignorant to rise to a knowledge of a God, could not allow that an intelligent cause presided at the birth of the Universe; a primary error that involved them in sad consequences. Some had recourse to material principles and attributed the origin of the Universe to the elements of the world. Others imagined that atoms, and indivisible bodies, molecules and ducts, form, by their union, the nature of the visible world. Atoms reuniting or separating, produce births and deaths and the most durable bodies only owe their consistency to the strength of their mutual adhesion: a true spider's web woven by these writers who give to heaven, to earth, and to sea so weak an origin and so little consistency! It is because they knew not how to say "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Deceived by their inherent atheism it appeared to them that nothing governed or ruled the universe, and that was all was given up to chance. To guard us against this error the writer on the creation, from the very first words, enlightens our understanding with the name of God; "In the beginning God created." What a glorious order! He first establishes a beginning, so that it might not be supposed that the world never had a beginning. Then be adds "Created" to show that which was made was a very small part of the power of the Creator. In the same way that the potter, after having made with equal pains a great number of vessels, has not exhausted either his art or his talent; thus the Maker of the Universe, whose creative power, far from being bounded by one world, could extend to the infinite, needed only the impulse of His will to bring the immensities of the visible world into being. If then the world has a beginning, and if it has been created, enquire who gave it this beginning, and who was the Creator: or rather, in the fear that human reasonings may make you wander from the truth, Moses has anticipated enquiry by engraving in our hearts, as a seal and a safeguard, the awful name of God: "In the beginning God created"-It is He, beneficent Nature, Goodness without measure, a worthy object of love for all beings endowed with reason, the beauty the most to be desired, the origin of all that exists, the source of life, intellectual light, impenetrable wisdom, it is He who "in the beginning created heaven and earth."
(To be Continued)

ewriggs 09-11-2004 04:58 AM

Saturday, September 11 / August 29 (Church Calendar)
Commemorated Today
The Beheading of the Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John
St. Alexander, abbot of Voche. New-Martyr Anastasius of Bulgaria. New-Martyr Peter, Metropolitan of Krutitsa (1936).
(Greek Calendar: St. Theodora of Thessalonica. St. Arcadius of Arsinoe on Cyprus, Bishop of and Wonderworker. Translation of the Relics of St. Joseph the Sanctified of Samaka.)
Repose of Righteous Pachomius the Silent of Valdai Monastery (1886).
O Holy God-Pleasers, Pray to God for Us!

From the Services for The Beheading of St. John the Baptist:

Verses on the Beatitudes:
As mediator standing between the old and the new covenant of the Gospel preachings, thou didst denounce the iniquitous union of the tyrant, and, rejoicing, didst accept a glorious death.

(Repeat) As mediator standing between the old and the new covenant of the Gospel preachings, thou didst denounce the iniquitous union of the tyrant, and, rejoicing, didst accept a glorious death.

Instructed beforehand by her iniquitous mother, the girl said unto Herod, who was befuddled with drunkenness: “Give me the head of John on a platter, that I may present to my mother the gift she desireth!”

The shameless tyrant, unable to endure the reproof of thy God-bearing tongue, O glorious prophet, gave thy precious martyr’s head to the girl as a reward for her dancing.

Honoring the decapitation of thine honored and most praised head, O forerunner of Christ, we glorify thine ever-laudable and universal memory, O all-blessed one.

O the vile feast! O the bitter birthday! O the drunkenness of the abominable and iniquitous Herod! For he was held fast by iniquity and, reviled, he was persuaded to slay the prophet.

The new Egyptian woman, dancing wantonly in the midst of the feast, asked for the head which had denounced her mother, the paramour of Herod.

The Son of the Virgin is now shown to have first been the Son of the Father, Who is not understood to be different in any fashion from the visible Son; and He hath remained One, perfect in both His natures.

Troparion for the Beheading of St. John the Baptist
Tone 2: The memory of the righteous is celebrated with hymns of praise, but the Lord's testimony is sufficient for thee, O Forerunner; for thou hast proved to be even more venerable than the prophets since thou wast granted to baptize in the running waters Him Whom they proclaimed. Wherefore, having contested for the truth, thou didst rejoice to announce the good tidings even to those in Hades; that God hath appeared in the flesh, taking away the sin of the world and granting us great mercy.

The Epistle
[Acts 13:25-33]

And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

The Gospel
[Mark 6:14-30]

And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead. For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist. And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist. And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison, And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother. And when his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb. And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.

Kontakion for the Beheading of St. John the Baptist
Tone 5: The glorious beheading of the Forerunner was part of God’s dispensation, that the coming of the Savior might also be preached to those in hades. Lament then, Herodias, that thou hast demanded a wicked murder, for thou didst love neither the law of God nor eternal life, but one false and fleeting.

= = = = =

The Orthodox Church keeps this day as a strict fast day (i.e. no meat, fish, dairy, wine or olive oil) as a reminder that we are to live a different style of life than Herod. In memory of this event, some Orthodox Christians keep the custom of not using dishes on this day, since John's head was served on a dish/platter. Instead, only bowls are used. Also, the food that is served on this day should not require the use of a knife, since a sharp instrument was used to behead him. Many people do not eat round foods (apples, oranges, cabbage, etc) as they are in the shape of a head.

ewriggs 09-14-2004 02:40 AM

Tuesday, September 14 / September 1 (Church Calendar)
Commemorated Today
Church New Year.
St. Symeon Stylites (the Elder) and his mother St. Martha. Martyr Aeithalas of Persia. Holy 40 Women Martyrs and Martyr Ammon the deacon and their teacher, at Heraclea in Thrace. Martyrs Callista and her brothers Evodus and Hermogenes at Nicomedia. Righteous Joshua the Son of Nun. St. Meletius the New of Greece. New-Martyr Angelis of Constantinople. Commemoration of the Great Fire at Constantinople about 470 A.D. Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos in Miasena.
(Greek Calendar: St. Evanthia. St. Nicholas of Crete, monk.)
"Chernigov-Gethsemane" Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.
O Holy God-Pleasers, Pray to God for Us!

The Beginning of the Church's Year.

The First Ecumenical Council decreed that the Church's year should begin on September 1st. The month of September was, for the Jews, the beginning of the civil year (see Exodus 12:2), the month of the gathering of fruits and the bringing to God of sacrifices of thanksgiving. It was at the time of this feast that the Lord Jesus went into the synagogue in Nazareth, opened the Book of the Prophet Isaiah and read the words: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; because He hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance' (Is. 61:1-2; cf. Luke 4:16-21). This month of September is also noted in the history of Christianity because it was during September that Constantine the Great was victorious over Maxentius, the enemy of the Christian faith, a victory followed by the granting of freedom of confession of the Christian faith throughout the whole Roman Empire. For a long time, the civil year in the Christian world was reckoned in the same way as the Church's year, from September 1st, but it was later changed to January 1st, first in western Europe and then also in Russia in the time of Peter the Great

From Prayers By the Lake, St. Nikolai (Velimirovic)


Repent of your ways, inhabitants of the earth. Behold, the eye of the Master of the world is keeping watch deep within you. Do not trust your seducible eyes, let the Eye illumine your way. Your eyes are curtains over the Eye of God.

Repentance is admission of the way of sin. Repentance opens up a new way. The penitent's eyes are open to two ways: to the way which he is going, and to the way he should be going.

There are more who feel repentant than there are who turn their wheels onto a new way. I tell you: the penitent must have two types of courage--he must have the courage to weep over his old way, and he must have the courage to prepare himself for a new way.

What good is it for you to feel repentant and still tread the old way? How do you describe a person who is drowning and shouts for help, but when help arrives will not grab hold of the life line? I liken such a person to you.

Repent of your yearning for this world and all that is in this world. For this world is the graveyard of your ancestors, which is gaping and waiting for you. Just a little longer and you will be ancestors and will yearn to hear the word "repentance," but you will not hear it.

Just as the wind begins blowing and carries off the mist before the sun, so will death carry you off before the face of God.

Repentance rejuvenates the heart and lengthens one's lifetime. The tears of a penitent wash darkness from his eyes, and give his eyes a childlike radiance. The eye of my lake is like the eye of a deer, always moist and radiant as a diamond. In truth, the moisture in the eyes drains the anger in the heart.

The soul in the penitent is like a new moon. A full moon must wane, a new moon must wax.

The penitent clears the weeds from the field of his soul, and the seed of goodness begins to grow.

Truly, the penitent is not one who laments over the evil deed he has committed, but one who laments over all the evil deeds that he is capable of committing. A wise landowner not only cuts the thornbush that has pricked him, but every thornbush on the field that is waiting to prick him.

O my Lord, make haste to show a new way to every penitent, after he scorns his old way.

O heavenly Mother, Bride of the All-Holy Spirit, bow down toward our heart, when we repent. Open the fountain of tears within us, that we may wash away the heavy clay, that saddens our eyes.

O All-Holy Spirit, blow and disperse the unclean stench from the soul of the penitent that has been choking him and lead him to repentance.

We bow down and beseech You, O Life-giving and Mighty Spirit!

ewriggs 09-14-2004 03:24 AM

It sould be noted that to the present day, the Church has always celebrated the beginning of the New Year on September 1. This was the custom in Constantinople until its fall in 1453 and in Russia until the reign of Peter I. September 1 is still festively celebrated as the New Year at the Patriarchate in Constantinople; among the Jews also the New Year, although reckoned according to a moveable calendar, usually falls in September.

The Great Horologion (Book of Services of the Orthodox Church)

NOTE: The majority of the Orthodox Churches use the "Old" Calendar, the Julian Calendar for calculating the dates of the feasts and fasts of the Church. The dates currently fall 13 days following the same dates on the "Civil" or Gregorian Calendar used by the "world." Thus, September 1 on the Church Calendar falls on September 14 on the Civil Calendar.

The "Old Calendar" is followed by the Russian Orthodox Church, the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Jerusalem Patriarchate, the Alexandrian Orthodox Church, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the Georgian (Eastern Europe) Orthodox Church, the traditionalist Greek Orthodox Churches, and many others.

HUMOR: How can you tell an Old Calendar Orthodox Christian?
He can automatically add 13 days to any date.

ewriggs 09-16-2004 02:25 AM

The Sacraments

St. Nicholai, Bishop of Ochrida
Part I

There are seven Sacraments in the Church militant on earth: Baptism, Confirmation (NB: called Chrismation), Eucharist, Penance, Ordination (Cheirotonia), Marriage and Extreme Unction. In the East the Sacraments are still called Mysteries. Why? Because each one of them hides in itself a mysterious and miraculous action of God the Holy Spirit. The very kernel of each of them consists of this mysterious and miraculous divine action. In the Christian Mysteries we do not know HOW but we know THAT, i.e., we do not know how the Holy Spirit works in a Mystery but we know that He works in and through it.

In the Mystery of Baptism God the Holy Spirit cleanses the soul from sin, so that the soul receives God's sonship by grace and is recruited into the army of Christ the Saviour. Baptism effectuates such a tremendous change in a man that is called the new birth (John iii, 5). Baptism was ordered by the Lord (Matt xxviii, 19). "Whosoever is unbaptised cannot be saved, except the martyrs, who even without the water (but by the blood) receive the Kingdom of God" (Cyril of Alexandria).

In the Mystery of Confirmation, God the Holy Spirit fills the soul previously cleansed and emptied from sin by Baptism, with positive powers or gifts. And the gifts are different. Confirmation was ordained and instituted through the practice of the Apostles (Acts viii, 15-17; xix, 1-6; 2 Cor i, 20-22).

In the Mystery of the Eucharist and at the moment of the priest's invocation, God the Holy Spirit descends on the bread and wine which have been set forth and sanctified, and transubstantiates them into Christ's body and blood (not transforms them but transubstantiates them; for the substance is changed while the form of bread and wine remain to our eyes unchanged).

This Mystery of the perpetual love of God through sacrifice was ordered and instituted by the Lord (Matt xxvi, 26-28; John vi, 53-57; I Cor. x, 16-17; xi, 23-26). So Christ Himself is our real food; He communicates Himself to us, that He may make us true men, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, the very members of His immortal body. So great is the love of God that in this Mystery the Lord gives us not only His gifts, as in other Mysteries, but Himself. Greater love than this does not exist either in heaven or on earth.

In the Mystery of Penance, or rather of Absolution, God the Holy Spirit forgives man his new sins done after Baptism. Thereby the man becomes again clean before his God. A sinner travels away from his God into a foreign land and becomes a companion of swine, throwing his pearl - his soul - to the swine. Sin being repented of, confessed and forgiven, man gets the liberty to enter again the house of his Father. The parable of the Prodigal Son explains clearly the origin and nature of sin, of true repentance, of confession and absolution (Luke xv, 11ff). The Lord Jesus ordered and instituted this Mystery through His words and actions (Luke vii, 47; Matt xviii, 18). The Apostles understood their Master and followed faithfully His example and His commandment (I John i, 8-10; Acts iii, 19; xix, 18).

In the Mystery of the Ordination of priests, God the Holy Spirit gives the special grace of Orders to the priest, the minister of the mysteries in the Kingdom of God on earth, i.e. in the Church militant. This grace He gives through the act of the laying-on of the hands of the Apostles and their successors upon the head of those who have been found worthy. In the priestly performance of a Mystery man counts almost for nothing, but the grace of God the Holy Spirit is all-important. The priest, therefore, is not allowed to say, "I baptize thee," or "I forgive thee," or "I unite you" in marriage, etc.; for the real performer of a Mystery is the Lord the Holy Spirit. This Mystery was commanded and instituted by the Lord and His Apostles (John xv, 16; Acts vi, 2-6; xx, 28; 2 Timothy i, 6).

In the Mystery of Marriage, God the Holy Spirit by His grace unites two human beings, man and woman, for the special purpose of the growth of the Church of God according to God's commandment (Gen ix,1) and for the mutual help of husband and wife in the work of their salvation. This Mystery was ratified by the Lord Jesus (Matt xix, 5-6). He Himself sanctified the bond of marriage through His presence at the marriage in Cana of Galilee (John ii, 1). The Apostle Paul, seer of the highest Mysteries, declares to us that marriage is a great mystery (Eph v, 22 ff).
(Continued below in Part II)

A paper presented at the Faith and Order: Proceedings of the World Conference Lausanne, August 3-21, 1927 George H Dorin Company, New York, 1927 ed. H. N. Bate

TheSacraments / Saturday morning, August 13th

ewriggs 09-16-2004 02:29 AM

The Sacraments

St. Nicholai, Bishop of Ochrida
Part II

In the Mystery of Extreme Unction, God the Holy Spirit comes to man's life in its last emergency and heals the sick. The purpose of the Mystery thus performed is described by St James (v, 14-15) as the restoration of health and the remission of sins. This Mystery was practiced and ordered by the Apostles from the very beginning (Mark vi, 13).

And thus we have seven divine Mysteries as the seven different workings of God the Holy Spirit, who is the true Dispenser, the Lifegiver, the Mover and the Treasurer of all divine gifts in the Church of Christ on earth. Five of these Mysteries are related rather to the personal life and personal salvation of each member of the Church, namely, Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, and Unction; and two of them are related to the good of the whole Church, namely, Orders and Marriage. The first five mean: emptying (Baptism), filling (Confirmation), feeding (Eucharist), freeing (Penance) and healing in the last emergency (Unction). The last two mean: the increase of the Church (Marriage) and the ministration of the Mysteries in the Church under the all-powerful God the Holy Spirit (Orders).

Now when the question is raised as to which of these seven Mysteries is more and which is less important, the question inflicts a wound upon the conscience of a believer. It seems almost an offense to the Holy Spirit. Throughout its whole past, down to our own times, the Church has gathered a rich experience of the effective workings of God the Holy Spirit in all these seven Mysteries. One chariot might look more sumptuous and another less sumptuous, but it is not the chariot that matters but the charioteer. Whenever the Holy Spirit descends upon men through His grace, is it not indifferent how He arrives, sumptuously or simply? It is He that matters. And since we know even from the present experience of the Church as well as from Holy Scripture that His grace descends and works in the Mystery of Extreme Unction, why then ask whether Confirmation, or Penance, or Marriage is something greater than Extreme Unction?

The greatness of all the Mysteries, their brilliancy, their beauty and their miraculous character come from Him --- God the Holy Spirit. Ask a doctor which is more important for a person in bodily sickness, that he should be cleansed from impurities, or that he should be filled with fresh vitality; that he should be fed or healed or helped in his last agony; what would he say? He would be bewildered. Or ask a householder which is more necessary for a house, that it should be cleaned or filled with fresh air and light; that it should be maintained or or kept in repair, or saved when in danger of falling; he, too, would be bewildered. We empty our soul from the impurity of sin through Baptism; we fill it with fresh powers in the form of God's gifts through Confirmation; we feed it by Christ the living Lord through the Eucharist; we free it from new impurities of sin through Penance; we heal it and save it in a great emergency through Unction; and since we are many and not one, we need the growth of our sacred society, i.e. of the Church, and we get this growth through Marriage; and again, since we are many and not one, we need a divinely ordered dispensation to prepare the soul for immortal life in the eternal Kingdom of God. Thus the seven Mysteries represent the sevenfold drama of the Christian soul's ascent from the dark pit of sin to the height and glory of the Kingdom of God.

And if anyone should think that perhaps Baptism and the Eucharist (or other two or three of the seven Mysteries) are the only Mysteries, the only Sacraments, well --- let him ask God about it; by fasting and praying tears let him ask God, and He will reveal to him the truth as He has always revealed it to the saints. As to us of the East, we are afraid to depreciate any of the seven marvellous Mysteries, we are afraid of God the Holy Spirit. For He whispered to the Apostles and to the saints the truth about everything necessary to man's salvation. Therefore all that we have said about the great Christian Mysteries is not an opinion of our own (if it were an opinion of our own, it would be worth nothing), but it is the repeated experience of the Apostles in the ancient days and of the saints up to our own days. For the Church of God lives not on opinion, but on the experience of the saints, as in the beginning so in our days. The opinions of intellectual persons may be wonderfully clever and yet be false, whereas the experience of the saints is always true. It is God the Lord who is true to Himself in His saints.

May the Lord God the Holy Spirit, with the Father and with the Son, give to all those who tearfully pray to Him the grace of wisdom and the power to see and recognize the whole truth, necessary for the salvation of all of us, the baptized and the never sufficiently penitent children of God.

A paper presented at the Faith and Order: Proceedings of the World Conference Lausanne, August 3-21, 1927 George H Dorin Company, New York, 1927 ed. H. N. Bate

TheSacraments / Saturday morning, August 13th

ewriggs 09-17-2004 07:06 AM

Friday, September 17 / September 4 (Church Calendar)
Commemorated Today
Hieromartyr Babylas, Bishop of Antioch, and with him Martyrs Urban, Prilidian, and Epolonius and their mother Christodula. Holy Prophet and God-seer Moses. Opening of the Relics of St. Ioasaph, Bishop of Belgorod (also December 10). Martyr Babylas of Nicomedia, and with him 84 children. Martyrs Theodore, Mianus (Ammianus), Julian, Kion (Oceanus), and Centurionus of Nicomedia. Martyr Hermione, daughter of St. Philip the Deacon. St. Petronius of Egypt, disciple of St. Pachomius the Great. (Greek Calendar: Martyrs Theotimus and Theodulus the executioners. Martyr Charitina of Amisus. Martyrs Thathuil and Bebaia of Edessa.) Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos "The Unburnt Bush".
O Holy God-Pleasers, Pray to God for Us!

Thought for Today
Just as a child does not permanently remain a child, but grows daily according to nature’s laws until he reaches adulthood, so does a Christian, born from above through water and Spirit, should not remain in spiritual infancy. However, consigned to a spiritual life of ordeal, labors and much patience, he must continually progress and grow to the full spiritual stature, like the Apostle teaches: " a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13).
(St. Ephraim of Syria)

ewriggs 09-18-2004 02:44 AM

Saturday, September 18 / September 5 (Church Calendar)
Holy Prophet Zacharias and Righteous Elizabeth, parents of St. John the Forerunner

Commemorated Today
Holy Prophet Zacharias and Righteous Elizabeth, parents of St. John the Forerunner. Martyrs Urban, Theodore, Medimnus, and 77 Companions at Nicomedia. Martyr Abdias (Abidas) of Persia. Martyr Sarbelus of Edessa. Martyrs Ththuil (Thithail) and his sister Bebaia. Virgin Martyr Rhais (Raisa) of Alexandria. Martyrs Juventius and Maximus at Antioch. Appearance of the Holy Apostle Peter to Emperor Justinian at Athira near Constantinople. Martyrdom of HolyPassion-bearer Gleb, in holy baptism David. Martyrdom of St. Athanasius, abbot of Brest, by the Latins.
O Holy God-Pleasers, Pray to God for Us!

(From the Prologue from Ochrid)

The Holy Prophet Zacharias, father of St. John the Forerunner, was the son of Barachias, of the tribe of Aaron, a high priest in descent from Abia, and held the eighth degree of service in the Temple in Jerusalem.

His wife, Elisabeth was sister to St. Anna, the mother of the holy Mother of God. In the reign of King Herod, the child-slayer, Zacharias was serving one day in his turn in the Temple in Jerusalem. An angel of God appeared to him in the altar, and Zacharias was afraid. But the angel said to him: "Fear not, Zacharias," and informed him that his wife Elisabeth would bear a son in answer to their prayers, for Zacharias and Elisabeth were both old. When Zacharias doubted the words of the heavenly messenger, the angel told him: "I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God," And Zacharias was made dumb from that moment, and did not speak until his son was born and he had written on a tablet: "His name is John." Then his mouth was opened, and he glorified God.

Later, when the Lord Christ was born and Herod began killing the children in Bethlehem, he sent men to find Zacharias's son and kill him, for he had heard of all that had happened to Zacharias and how John was born. Seeing the soldiers, Elisabeth took John in her arms -- he was eighteen months old at that time -- and fled from the house with him to a rocky and desert region. When she saw where the soldiers had driven them, she cried out to the mountain "O mountain of God, receive a mother with her child!" and the rock opened and hid the mother and child inside itself. Herod, furious that John had not been killed, ordered that Zacharias be cut down before the altar. Zacharias's blood spilled over the marble and became as hard as stone, remaining thus as a witness to Herod's wickedness. At the place where Elisabeth hid with John, a cave opened and a spring flowed forth, and a fruit-bearing palm grew up by God's power. Forty days after Zacharias's death, blessed Elisabeth also entered into rest. The child John stayed in the wilderness, fed by an angel and guarded by God's providence, until that day when he appeared by the Jordan.

Troparion of Righteous Elizabeth
(Tone 8)
The barren wilderness thou didst make fertile with the streams of thy tears; and by thy deep sighing thou hast given fruit through thy struggles a hundredfold. Accordingly, thou hast become a star for the universe, sparkling with miracles. Therefore, O righteous Mother Elizabeth, intercede with Christ God to save our souls.

[/i]Kontakion of Righteous Elizabeth[i]
(Tone 4)
Like the full moon, thou didst receive the light of righteousness from the Messiah, the noetic Sun, O Elizabeth beloved of God, and with Zacharias didst walk in all the commandments of the Lord. Wherefore, blessing thee with worthy hymns, we magnify the Lord, the most compassionate Light, Who illumineth all.

Righteous Elizabeth is my Patron Saint. On this day I am mindful of the example of obedience to God that she sets me.

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