WHO WERE THE APOSTLES PETER AND PAUL?

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

WHO WERE THE APOSTLES PETER AND PAUL?

THE HOLY APOSTLE PETER

Peter, the preeminent Apostle of the Lord and the brother of the First-Called Apostle Andrew, was known as Simon prior to being called to the Apostleship by the Lord Jesus Christ. Simon, son of Jonas (Jonah), was a Jew of the Tribe of Simeon. He was a native of Bethsaida, an insignificant and little-known town of Galilee in Palestine. He lived in poverty during the years when Hyrcanus was the high priest of the Jews. After the repose of Peter’s mother, Peter took to wife the daughter of Aristovoulos, the brother of the holy Barnabas, and begat children of her: a son and a daughter. Simon was a simple and unlettered man. Imbued with the FEAR OF GOD, he observed all the commandments of the Lord. He walked blamelessly in His sight in all his works. Simon was a fisherman by trade. As a poor man, he provided for his family by his manual labor. Thus, he fed his wife, children, and mother-in-law.” He was fair with a slightly sallow tone to his complexion. His eyes were the color of blood like wine. His hair was white and thick. He had a long nose and eyebrows that were somewhat inverted. He was of average height with a straight and upright frame. He was intelligent and prudent. Divine zeal impelled him against injustice and wrong. He was unexacting with the penitent, receiving with ease their conversion. He was quick and fearless in retracting previous decisions, as well be seen in a later episode when the Lord washed the Disciples’ feet.

The holy Apostle Andrew went to his brother Simon and said to him, ‘WE HAVE FOUND THE MESSIAH’ (which is, being interpreted, The Christ), and he led him to Jesus. And having looked at him, Jesus said, ‘THOU ART SIMON, THE SON OF JONAS. THOU SHALL BE CALLED KEPHAS’ (which is interpreted, A STONE) [John 1:41-42]. Straightway, Peter was aflame with love for the Lord, believing in Him as the True Christ sent by God FOR THE SALVATION OF THE WORLD. Yet he neither quit his home nor forsook his occupation. He continued to provide for his household with all that was necessary for survival; in this responsibility. Simon’s brother Andrew sometimes helped him for the sake of their elderly father. And thus did the brothers live until the Lord summoned them to the Apostolic Ministry (Diakonia).

One day, after John the Baptist was imprisoned in Herod’s dungeon, the Lord Jesus Christ withdrew into Galilee. He was walking past the Sea of Galilee (which is also known as the Sea of Tiberias or the Lake of Gennesaret). He espied the two brothers: Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother. They, as fishermen, were throwing a casting net into the sea. Jesus said to them, “COME AFTER ME, AND I WILL MAKE YOU FISHERS OF MEN” (Matthew 4:19). Straightway, they left the men and followed Jesus.

THE SHADOW OF THE APOSTLE PETER

The Apostles wrought many signs and wonders (miracles) among the people who magnified them. More and more believers were being added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and of women, “insomuch that they carried out the sick into the streets and laid them upon beds and pallets, in order that at least THE SHADOW OF PETER AS HE CAME MIGHT OVERSHADOW SOME OF THEM. And also the multitude kept on coming 15-16]together out of the cities round about to Jerusalem, bearing sick people and those who were troubled by unclean spirits–all of whom were being healed [ Acts 5: 15-16]. This overshadowing had not occurred in the history of Christ. But see here what Jesus had told them actually coming to pass, that “THE ONE WHO BELIEVETH IN ME, THE WORKS WHICH I DO SHALL THAT ONE DO ALSO; AND GREATER WORKS THAN THESE SHALL HE DO, BECAUSE I GO TO MY FATHER” [John 14:12].

THE MARTYRDOM OF THE APOSTLE PETER

Saint Symeon Metaphrastes says that Saint Peter was not taken alone, but with a multitude of the faithful, among whom were Clement, Herodion, and Olympos. The tyrant condemned them to decapitation but ordered Saint Peter TO BE CRUCIFIED. Laying hold of the condemned, the soldiers brought them to the place of execution. Clement, as a kinsman of the emperor, took pity on and set free. But Herodion and Olympos, who had come to Rome with the Apostle Peter, they beheaded together with a multitude of the faithful. THE APOSTLE REQUESTED THAT HE BE CRUCIFIED HEAD DOWNWARD, SAYING: “I AM NOT WORTHY TO BE CRUCIFIED AS MY CHRIST, UPRIGHT; FOR THIS HE WAS CRUCIFIED, SO AS TO LOOK TO THE EARTH, WHERE HE WOULD DESCEND INTO HADES TO DELIVER THE SOULS THEREIN. CRUCIFY ME HEAD DOWN, THAT I MAY LOOK TO THE HEAVENS, WHITHER I SHALL GO.” This the Great Apostle of the Lord, the holy Peter, reposed, glorifying God in his death by the cross. He endured great tortures from the nails in his hands and feet until he surrendered his blameless soul into the hands of God, on the 29th day of June, in the year of our Lord 67 A.D. His disciple, the holy Clement, having begged the authorities for the precious body of the Apostle, took it down from the cross and washed it. After Clement called together the remaining faithful and clergy, he interred the body with honor. They, likewise, gave a reverent burial to the bodies of Herodion, Olympos, and the other martyrs who suffered with the Apostle Peter, glorifying Christ God Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, is glorified forever. Amen.

Again, it is Church Tradition that informs us THAT THE HOLY APOSTLE PETER DEEMED HIMSELF UNWORTHY TO BE CRUCIFIED AS THE Master Christ. He requested of his executioners that they crucify him UPSIDE DOWN…The church which now stands on the spot where Saint Peter was crucified is small, round, and has two levels. On the lower level, one can see the place where the overturned cross of the Apostle was erected. Above this place, a lamp burns perpetually. In the floor of the upper level of this church, a round opening has been made marking the height of the cross of Saint Peter. The foothill of the Janiculum Hill on which this church stands is called Golden Hill (Monte d’Oro, or, abbreviated, Montorio), by virtue of the golden color of the sand of which its soil consists. [Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)

(Next: Saint Paul)

____________________

“Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!”

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

With sincere agape in His Divine and Glorious Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

THE CHIEFS OF THE HOLY APOSTLES, PETER and PAUL

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

On the 29th of June, the Holy Orthodox Church commemorates the
holy, glorious, far-famed, and chiefs of the Apostles,
PETER and PAUL.

Peter and Paul, the chiefs of the Apostles, are celebrated on the 29th of June in one of the culminating feasts of the Holy Gospel, according to Saint John Maximovitch, "The Apostles Peter and Paul, without having authority over others, both stood in front of all the others on account of their warm seal and labors. Their life was the most brilliant and was a personification of the life and labors of all the Apostles. The end of their earthly labors was especially impressive, also thanks to the fact that it occurred as it were before the eyes of the whole world. Peter WAS CRUCIFIED UPSIDE DOWN, and Paul WAS BEHEADED, BOTH IN ROME, itself toward which at that time the gaze of all peoples was directed. The news of this quickly flew to all the ends of the universe, all the more in that they were both known personally in many places; their names were everywhere the Savior was preached. The Apostle of the Jews and the Apostle of the Gentiles departed in Christ ON THE SAME DAY, as if indicating their equal nearness to God and the oneness of the Church of Christ, ‘WHERE THERE IS NO GREEK AND JEW’ (Colossians 3:11). Therefore, the day on which the earthly labors ended for the leaders of the Apostles, who labored more than all–though separated in body, yet together in spirit–became one of the most memorable days for the whole Church.

"Though it is an immovable feast, still it is bound up with the movable feasts since the preparation for it–the Apostles’ Fast–begins one week after the Feast of Pentecost. Thus, the length of this fast also depends on the date of the celebration of Pascha. This say reminds us of how they went over the earth preaching the heavenly kingdom. They emulated Christ by THEIR POVERTY, ENDURANCE WHILE BEING DISHONORED, AND SUFFERINGS. They showed their love for the children of the Heavenly Father. They revealed their inward travails over those who heeded their preaching as well as their griefs over those who paid no heed to their words. Then, finally, they offered themselves as a sacrifice. This was the earthly lot of the Apostles. But the culmination of their earthly life is at the same time the beginning of their Heavenly glory… their ascent in Christ, Whom they loved, in order to REMAIN ETERNAL WITH Him. The day of their earthly end in the day of their heavenly birth. It is the receiving OF THE CROWNS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, laid up for them and FOR ALL WHO HAVE LOVED THE HIS APPEARING.

"It is noteworthy that the Feast of the Holy Apostles follows after the Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit and, being in part bound up with it, the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul CULMINATES THE YEARLY CYCLE OF FEASTS DED9CATED TO THE EARTHLY LIFE OF CHRIST AND REVEALS THE ESSENCE OF HIS PROMISES. Even as the Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist IS THE PROLOGUE TO THE GOSPEL AND THE BEGINNING OF THE EVENTS DESCRIBED IN IT, SO ALSO THE REPOSE OF THE HOLY APOSTLES PETER AND PAUL IS BOTH THEIR CULMINATION AND THE EPILOGUE OF THE GOSPEL. The Feast of Saint John the Baptist IS THE BEGINNING OF THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL OF THE NEW TESTAMENT ON EARTH; HIS BEHEADING IS THE PREACHING OF OF IT IN HADES; AND THE FEAT OF THE HOLY APOSTLES IS THE REALIZATION OF IT IN HEAVEN."

"We, therefore, celebrate THE MEMORY OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL WITH REVERENTIAL AWE AND HEARTFELT LOVE. Saint Gregory Palamas writes for the present feast: "They are the fathers and guides of all Christians: APOSTLES, MARTYRS, HOLY ASCETICS, PRIESTS, HIERARCHS, PASTORS, AND TEACHERS. As Chief shephereds and master builders of our common godliness and virtue, THEY TEND AND TEACH US ALL, LIKE LIGHTS IN THE WORLD, HOLDING FORTH THE WORD OF LIFE’ [Philippians 2:16]. Their BRIGHTNESS EXCELLS THAT OF THE OTHER RADIANTLY PIOUS AND VIRTUOUS SAINTS AS THE SUN OUTSHINES THE STARS, OR AS THE HEAVENS, WHICH DECLARE THE SUBLIME GLORY OF GOD, TRANSCEND THE SKIES… The appearance to us this dasy of both these luminaries together BRIGHTENS THE Church. It is not the case that one has a higher orbit and is placed above, while the other is lower down and passes under his shadow. Nor does one rule the day, the ohter the night, such that one would overshadow the other if they appeared opposite each other. Light is not produced by one and received by the other in such a way that the latter’s radiance would vary sometimes depending on the distance between them. Rather, BOTH SHARE EQUALITY IN CHRIST, THE EVERLASTING SOURCE OF Eternal Light, and hae attained to the same height, glory, and radiance. That is why the coming together of these lights signifies THEIR SOLIDARITY AND SUPPORT FOR ONE ANOTHER AND ILLUMINATES THE SOULS OF THE FAITHFUL TWICE OVER." [Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church]

(To be continued)

____________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

With sincere agape in His Holy, Divine, and Glorious Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE FORERUNNER AND BAPTIST

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE FORERUNNER AND
BAPTIST.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Fourth Tone

O PROPHET and Forerunner of Christ God’s coming to us, all we
who with longing now extol thee are at a loss to honor thee
worthily. For thy mother’s barrenness and father’s long silence, by
thine all-renowned and hallowed birth, were both ended, and the
Incarnation of the Son of God is preached unto all the world.

Kontakion Hymn. Third Tone

SHE that once was barren doth today bring forth Christ’s Forerunner, John,
the culmination and the crown of all of the Prophets. For when he, in River
Jordan, laid his hand on Him Whom the Prophets preached aforetime, he
was revealed as God the Word’s forechosen Prophet, His mighty preacher,
and His Forerunner in grace.

He that was greater than all who are born of women, the Prophet who received God’s testimony than he surpassed all the Prophets, was born of the aged and barren Elizabeth [Luke 1:7] and filled all his kinsmen, and those that lived round about, with gladness and wonder. But even more wondrous was that which followed on the eighth day when he was circumcised, that is, the day on which a male child receives his name. Those present called him Zacharias, the name of his father. But the mother said, "Not so, but he shall be called John." Since the child’s father was unable to speak, he was asked, by means of a sign, to indicate the child’s name. He then asked for a tablet and wrote, "His name is John." And immediately Zachrias’ mouth was opened, his tongue was loosed from its silence of nine months, and filled with the Holy Spirit, he blessed God of Israel. Who had fulfilled the promise made to their fathers, and had visioned them were sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, and had sent to them the light of salvation. Zacharias prophesied concerning the child also, saying that he would be a Prophet of the Most High and Forerunner of Jesus Christ. John’s birth was carried throughout all Israel, coming to Herod’s ears. So, when he sent men to kill all the infants around Bethlehem, he sent men off to Zachrariahs’s family house in the hills to slay John also. But Elizabeth had the child in good time. The king was enraged at this and sent an executioner to the Temple to kill Zacharias (for it was then his turn to serve in the Temple again). Zacharias was killed between the court and the Temple, and his blood clotted and solidified on the paving slabs, and remained as an enduring witness against Herod. Elizabeth hid herself and the child in a cave in the wilderness, where she soon died. The young John remained in the wilderness alone, in the care of God and His Angels. The child John, who was filled with grace, grew and waxed among in the Spirit; and he was in the wilderness until the day of his showing to Israel [Luke 1:57-80]. His name is a variation of the Hebrew "Johanan," which means "Yah is gracious." [Source: The Great Horologion and The Prologue from Ochrid]

__________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

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

+ Father George

ON THE GLORIFICATION OF THE GOD-PLEASERS

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

ON THE GLORIFICATION OF THE
GOD-PLEASERS

Saint John Maximovitch speaks of how the glorification of God-pleasers among us are chosen: “Holiness is not simply righteousness, for which the righteous are deemed worthy of the enjoyment of blessedness in the Kingdom of God; but rather, it is such a height of righteousness that men are so filled with the grace of God THAT IT FLOWS FROM THEM EVEN ONTO THOSE WHO ASSOCIATE WITH THEM. Great is their blessedness, which proceeds from their direct contemplation of the glory of God. Being filled also with the love for men, which proceeds from love for God, they are responsive to men’s needs and to their entreaties, and they are mediators and intercessors for them before God.

“Such, first of all, were the righteous of the Old Testament, who were freed by Christ from Hades and led into Paradise, as well as Saint John the Baptist, THE GREATEST OF THOSE BORN OF WOMEN. Then the Holy Apostles and their immediate successors became such. None of the Christians doubted their sanctity, and after their decease–the greater the martyrs–they immediately began to venerate them and to invoke them in prayer. During the time of lofty spiritual ardor in the first centuries of persecutions against Christians, such also were the Holy Martyrs. A Martyr’s death was itself A DOOR TO THE ABODES ON HIGH, and Christians BEGAN IMMEDIATELY TO INVOKE THEM AS HOLY MEN PLEASING TO GOD. Miracles and signs confirmed this faith of the Christians and were proof of their holiness. Likewise, later on, the great Ascetics began to be venerated. No one decreed that Anthony the Great, Makarios the Great, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, Nicholas the Wonder-worker, and many others like them be venerated as Saints, but East and West alike revere them, and only those WHO DO NOT BELIEVE IN SANCTITY can deny their sanctity. The Assembly of the God-pleasers grew without ceasing; in every place where there were Christians, its new ascetics appeared as well.

“However, the general life of Christians began to decline; spiritual ardor began to lose its luster; no longer was there that clear sense of what divine righteousness is. For this reason, the general consciousness of the faithful ould not always determine who was actually righteous and pleasing to God. In some places, there appeared dubious persons, who, by means of supposed ascetic feats, allured part of the flock. For this reason, the Ecclesiastical Authority began to watch over the veneration of Saints, taking care TO GUARD THE FLOCK FROM SUPERSTITION. They began to investigate the life of ascetics venerated by the faithful and to VERIFY THE ACCOUNTS OF THEIR MIRACLES. Toward the time of the Baptism of Rus’, it had already been established that the recognition of a new Saint was be performed by the Ecclesiastical Authority. The decree of the Ecclesiastical Authority was, of course, disseminated throughout the region under its jurisdiction; however, usually other places also recognized A GLORIFICATION performed elsewhere, although they did not enter it into their own MENOLOGION (MENOLOGY). After all, the Ecclesiastical Authority MERELY ATTESTED TO SANCTITY. The righteous became Saints NOT BY DECREE OF THE EARTHLY ECCLESIASTICAL AUTHORITY BUT BY THE MERCY AND GRACE OF GOD. The Ecclesiastical Authority MERELY APPROVED THE EXAULTING OF THE NEW SAINTS IN CHURCH AND HIS INVOCATION IN PRAYER.

“Just what authority should and could do this was not precisely determined; it was, in any case, an Episcopal authority. There were GLORIFICATIONS PERFORMED BY THE HIGHER ECCLESIASTICAL AUTHORITY OF AN ENTIRE LOCAL Church; THE NAMES OF THE NEWLY GLORIFIED WERE THEN ENTERED INTO THE CHURCH MENOLOGIONS (MENOLOGIES) OF THE ENTIRE Church; others WERE GLORIFIED IN ONE LOCALITY OR ANOTHER, AND THEIR VENERATION GRADUALLY SPREAD TO OTHER PLACES. Usually, the GLORIFICATION was performed in that LOCALITY WHERE THE SAINT LIVED OR SUFFERED. But it also happened otherwise. Thus, the youth George, from the town of Kratov (Serbia), who suffered in 1515 at the hands of the Turks in Sofia (Sredets, Bulgaria), was GLORIFIED ALREADY WITHIN FOURTEEN YEARS IN NOVGOROD. This glorification took place in spite of the fact that his fellow citizens also venerated him as a new Martyr and that a Church service to him had even been composed by his spiritual father. They, however, did not dare to show this openly, fearing the Turks. Therefore, in Novgorod, which had commercial relations with these places, by direction of the Archbishop, a service was composed and the memory of the Martyr George the New began to be venerated, whence it spread throughout all of Russia.

“When Serbia and Bulgaria were liberated from bondage to the Turks, they began to use the service composed in Russia, while the service originally composed in Sofia remains to this day the property of a library. In last two centuries, when Russia lived in glory and prosperity, THE GLORIFICATION OF NEW SAINTS was USUALLY PERFORMED VERY SOLEMNLY BY DECREE OF THE SUPREME AUTHORITY, SOMETIMES (BUT NOT ALWAYS) TAKING PLACE THROUGHOUT ALL RUSSIA, BUT ESPECIALLY IN THE LOCALITY WHERE THE WONDERWORKING RELICS WERE FOUND.

“What, in essence, is the Church’s FORMAL GLORIFICATION OF SAINTS? asks Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky. He responds that “IN THE HOLY, CATHOLIC, ORTHODOX CHURCH THE PRAYERFUL MEMORY OF EACH OF HER MEMBERS WHO HAS DEPARTED IN FAITH, HOPE, AND REPENTANCE IS CHERISHED. THIS COMMEMORATION OF THE MAJORITY OF THE DEPARTED IS LIMITED, COMPARATIVELY TO THE NARROW CIRCLE OF THE “Church of the home,’, or, in general, TO PERSONS OF CLOSE BLOOD RELATION OR ACQUAINTED WITH THE DEPARTED. IT IS EXPRESSED IN PRAYER FOR THE DEPARTED, PRAYER FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS, THAT ‘HIS SOUL BE NUMBERED AMONG THE RIGHTEOUS,’ THAT ‘HIS REPOSE BE WITH THE SAINTS.’ This is a spiritual prayerful thread WHICH BINDS THOSE ON EARTH TO THE DEPARTED; IT IS AN EXPRESSION OF LOVE WHICH IS BENEFICIAL BOTH FOR THE DEPARTED AND, LIKEWISE, FOR THOSE WHO PRAY FOR HIM. If after death, he is not deprived of the vision of the glory of God because OF HIS PERSONAL SINS, he responds with his own prayer for those close to him on earth.

“Persons who are great in their Christin spirit, glorious in their service to the Church, beacons illuminating the world, leave behind themselves A MEMORY WHICH IS NOT CONFINED TO A NARROW CIRCLE OF PEOPLE, BUT WHICH IS KNOWN THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE Church, local or universal. CONFIDENCE IN THEIR HAVING ATTAINED THE GLORY OF THE LORD AND THE POWER OF THEIR PRAYERS, EVEN AFTER DEATH, IS SO STRONG AND UNQUESTIONED THAT THE THOUGHT OF THEIR EARTHLY BRETHREN IS NOT CHANNELED INTO PRAYER FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF THEIR SINS (SINCE THEY ARE HOLY BEFORE THE LORD WITHOUT SUCH), BUT TOWARD PRAISE OF THEIR STRUGGLES, TOWARD ACCEPTING THEIR LIVES AS MODELS FOR OURSELVES, TOWARD REQUESTING THEIR PRAYERS FOR US. (Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)

(To be continued)

_____________

“Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!”

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

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

+ Father George

Shall the Son of Man Find Faith on the Earth When He Comes?

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

Shall the Son of Man Find Faith
on the Earth When He Comes?

We hear the Lord speak elsewhere: "When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find the Faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). The way that this question is possessed in Greek, a negative answer is implied. Saint Kyril comments: "He tells us then that ‘the love of the multitude shall grow cold’ (Matthew 24:12), and that ‘in latter times some SHALL APOSTASIZE FROM THE Faith, giving heed to DECEIVING SPIRITS AND TEACHINGS OF DEMONS, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having been branded as to their own conscience [1 Timothy 4:1-2).


   Saint Cyprian of Carthage states:  "If there be amazon us the fear of God if the maintenance of the Faith prevails if we keep the precepts of Christ, if we guard the incorrupt and inviolate sanctity of His spouse (the Church), if the words of the Lord abide in our thoughts and hearts when He says, "Thinkest thou, when the Son of Man cometh, shall He find the faith on the earth?;" then because we are God's faithful soldiers, who war for the Faith and sincere religion of God, let us keep the camp entrusted to us by God with faithful valor.  Nor ought custom, which had crept in among some, prevent the Truth from prevailing and conquering; for custom without truth is the antiquity of error.  Let not faith and Truth be betrayed when that which is done outside against the Church is defended within, indeed,  IN THE VERY CHURCH HERSELF."

   Saint Theophylactos notes here about the Antichrist, saying that "by using the form of a question, He shows how then He shall find few faithful.  For the son of lawlessness shall gain the mastery to such a degree then, 'SO AS TO LEAD ASTRAY, IF POSSIBLE, EVEN THE ELECT" (Matthew 24:24).  "…FEW WILL KEEP FAITH TOWARD GOD AND TOWARD OTHERS… NOW FAITH IS THE SOLID BASE AND FOUNDATION OF PRAYER.  The Lord mentions faith while He is teaching about prayer, showing in a hidden manner THAT FEW WILL PRAY THEN SINCE FEW SHALL BE FOUND THEN WHO HAVE FAITH… WITH HIS COMING, HOWEVER, HE SHALL PUT AN END TO FAITHLESSNESS, FOR, WILLINGLY OR NOT, 'EVERY TONGUE SHALL CONFESS FOR ITSELF THAT JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, TO THE GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER."

   Indeed, there is a great reward for those who welcome the perfect, that is, RECEIVING THOSE WHO ARE OF CHRIST.  Saint Gregory Palamas says, "this means not just be entertaining them and making them comfortable, but BY OBEYING THEM.  On this subject, Christ says elsewhere to His Disciples, "The one who heareth you heareth Me, and the one who rejecteth you rejecteth Me, and the one who rejecteth the truth REJECTETH THE One Who sent Me forth" (Luke 10:16).  But even a person who offers hospitality and refreshments to God's servants will receive a great reward IF HE DOES IT FOR GOD'S SAKE.  For, again, the Lord says, "The one who receiveth a Prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a Prophet's reward, and the one who receiveth a righteous man in the name shall receive a righteous man's reward (Matthew 10:41).  You may ask, 'How does such a one receive the reward of a Prophet or a righteous man?' Hear the holy Apostle:  "But in accordance with EQUALITY IN THE PRESENT TIME: YOUR ABUNDANCE FOR THEIR WANT, THAT THEIR ABUNDANCE ALSO MIGHT BE FOR YOUR WANT, SO THAT THERE MIGHT COME TO BE AN EQUALITY" (2 Corinthians 9:14).  Indeed, one will reap great benefits for giving EVEN A LITTLE.  For Our Savior says, "WHOSOEVER SHALL GIVE TO ONE OF THESE LITTLE ONES ONLY A CUP OF COLD WATER TO DRINK IN THE NAME OF A DISCIPLE, VERILY I SAY TO YOU, IN NO WISE SHALL HE LOSE HIS REWARD" (Matthew 10:42). 

   But let us return to the words of the Apostle.  Saint John Chrysostomos explains the meaning of this "EQUALITY" in "THE PRESENT TIME," asking, 'How is there equality?  You and they giving in return the abundance of each, and fill up what the other lacks.  And what kind of equality is this, giving spiritual in return for carnal?  For it is eminently more on that side.  Why does he call it equality?  Either in respect of each abounding and wanting or he says it in regard to his present life only.  Now he is saying these things both to restrain the high thoughts of the wealthy and to show that after our departure from here the spiritual ones possess A SUPERIOR ADVANTAGE.  For here on the one hand we all enjoy equality, but there much distinction and a great preeminence when the righteous shine brighter than the sun."

   Saint Paul urges us, saying, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, well-pleasing to God, your rational worship.  And cease being fashioned according to this age, but be transfigured by the renewing of your mind, in order for you to put to the test what is the good and well-pleasing and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:1-2).  Saint John Chrysostomos explains:  "SINCE IT WAS LIKELY THAT, BEING PEOPLE, WE WOULD BE SINNING EVERY DAY, HE CONSOLES HIS HEARER, SAYING, "BE RENEWING THYSELF DAY BY DAY."  This is what we do with houses, we keep on REPAIRING THEM AS THEY AGE, AND SO TOD THIS TO THYSELF… IN ORDER FOR YOU TO PUT TO THE TEST WHAT IS THE GOOD…"  What does he mean by this?  Be renewed to learn what is more expedient for you and what is the will of God…For, also, there, things are one.  For God wills what things are expedient for us, and what God wills, that is also expedient for us."

   Saint Gregory ends by saying, 'Let us, as the Saints, present our bodies and souls, as a pleasing offering to God on these days of celebration, that by the prayers of the Saints we may come to share in that endless festival and joy.  May we all attain to this, by the grace and love for mankind of our Lord Jesus Christ."  Amen. [Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church]

________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

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

+ Father George

ALL SAINTS DAY

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

ALL SAINTS DAY

Saint Maximos the Confessor writes: "God made us so that we might become ‘PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE’ (θείας κοινωνοί φύσεως) and sharers in His eternity, and so we might come to be like Him through divinization by grace. It is through divinization that all things are reconstructed and achieve their permanence, and it is for its sake that what is not IS BROUGHT INTO BEING AND GIVEN EXISTENCE."

UNCREATED Light, according to the teaching of Saint Gregory Palamas and of the Hesychasts in general, IS THE DIVINIZING GIFT OF THE Holy Spirit– "this glory of the divine nature, whereby God has COMMUNION WITH SAINTS." This Light IS NOT VISIBLE TO MAN but also participable by him, and PARTICIPATING IN IT HE IS DIVINIZED. Those who have pleased God and reach that for which they came into being, namely, THEOSIS (DIVINIZATION, THAT IS, PARTICIPATION IN THE UNCREATED ENERGIES, NOT THE ESSENCE WHICH THE WORD ‘DEIFICATION’ CONNOTES)–FOR THEY SAY IT WAS FOR THIS CAUSE THAT GOD MAE US, IN ORDER THAT WE BE MADE PARTAKERS OF His own Divinity–even such as these are in God, as they are divinized by Him and He is in them since He is divinizing them. These also participate in the Divine energy, though in another manner, but they DO NOT participate in the ESSENCE OF GOD. Therefore, also, the theologians state that DIVINITY is a name for the Divine energy."

Saint Gregory Palamas, paraphrasing Saint Maximos the Confessor, says that "GRACE ACCOMPLISHES THIS MYSTERIOUS UNION…GOD IN ALL FULLNESS COMES TO DWELL IN THE COMPLETE BEING OF THOSE WHO ARE WORTHY OF IT, AND THE SAINTS FULLY DWELL WITH THEIR COMPLETE BEING IN THE WHOLE GOD BY DRAWING TO THEMSELVES THE WHOLE GOD, AND NOT RECEIVING ANY OTHER REWARD BUT GOD HIMSELF FOR THE ASCENT ACCOMPLISHED TOWARD HIM. HE ATTACHED HIMSELF TO THEM AS THE SOUL IS ATTACHED TO THE BODY.

Saint Gregory Palamas states: "God lets Himself be seen face to face, and not through enigmas…He Himself to them to the extent of coming to dwell in His entirety in their entireties, so that, on their side, THEY DWELL COMPLETELY IN HIM AND, THROUGH THE SON, THE SPIRIT IS POURED OUT RICHLY ON THEM [Titus 3:6]… YOU DO NOT, HOWEVER, CONSIDER THAT GOD LETS HIMSELF BE SEEN IN HIS SUPERESSENTIAL ESSENCE, BUT ACCORDING TO THE DIVINIZING GIFT AND ACCORDING TO HIS ENERGY, ACCORDING TO THE GRACE OF ADOPTION, UNCREATED DIVINIZATION, AND THE DIRECT HYPOSTASIZED HYPOSTATIZED) GLORY."

Blessed Jerome states: "The truth must now be inculcated more in detail, that WE ARE NOT ONE IN THE FATHER AND THE SON ACCORDING TO NATURE, BUT ACCORDING TO GRACE. For the essence of the human soul and the essence of God ARE NOT THE SAME."

Saint Basil the Great notes: "We say that we know the greatness of God, His power, His wisdom, His goodness, His providence over us, and the justness of His judgment, but NOT His very essence… The energies are diversified, and the essence simple, but we say that we know our God from His ENERGIES, but DO NOT UNDERTAKE TO APPROACH NEAR TO HIS ESSENCE. His energies come down to us, but His ESSENCE REMAIN BEYOND OUR REACH…SO KNOWLEDGE OF THE DIVINE ESSENCE INVOLVES PERCEPTION OF HIS INCOMPREHENSIBILITY, AND THE OBJECT OF OUR WORSHIP IS NOT THAT OF WHICH WE COMPREHEND THE ESSENCE, BUT OF WHICH WE COMPREHEND THAT THE ESSENCE EXISTS."

The distinction made BETWEEN ESSENCE and THE ENERGIES makes it possible to preserve the true meaning of the Apostle Peter’s words "PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE (θείας κοινωνοί φύσεως) [Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church]

(To be continued)

_______________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST: THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

ON THE FIRST DAY FOLLOWING SUNDAY OF PENTECOST,
OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHURCH COMMEMORATES
ALL SAINTS
WHO SHONE FORTH THROUGHOUT ALL THE WORLD,
NORTH AND SOUTH, EAST AND WEST.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn). Fourth Tone

ADORNED in the blood of Thy Martyrs throughout all the world as in
purple and fine lines, Thy Church, through them, doth cry unto Thee,
O Christ God: Send down Thy compassion upon Thy people; grant
peace to Thy commonwealth, and great mercy to our souls.

Kontakion Hymn of All Saints, Plagal of Fourth Tone

AS FIRST-FRUITS of our nature to the Planter of created things, the world
presenteth the God-bearing martyred Saints in offering unto Thee, O Lord.
Through their earnest entreaties, keep Thy Church in deep peace and divine
tranquillity, through the pure Theotokos, O Thou Who art greatly merciful.

On this holy day, the Sunday after Pentecost, we Orthodox Christians celebrate the Feast of All Saints, from all over the inhabited world, to Asia in the East, to Europe in the West, and beyond. Libya and farther, and regions both North and South.

We rejoice spiritually on this day, celebrating the memory of the Saints. It is significant that this day is dedicated to the Saints, after the Descent of the Holy Spirit, thus signifying THE COMMUNION OF THE HARVEST OF SAINTS WHO CONFESSED THE COESSENTIAL TRINITY. Therefore, we commemorate today ALL THE SAINTS, INCLUDING THE ASSEMBLY OF PROPHETS, WHO PROCLAIMED THE COMING O CHRIST TO THE WORLD; THE CHOIR OF APOSTLES, WHO CAUGHT NATIONS AND WERE FISHERS OF MEN; THE COMPANY OF THE MARTYRS, WHO ENDURED THE TORTURES FOR THE SAKE OF THE Orthodox Faith AND RECEIVED THE CROWN OF CONTEST; THE BEEHIVE OF THE VENERABLE ASCETICS NOW WITH THE ANGELS, ASKING THEIR INTERCESSIONS THAT WE MIGHT BE RESCUED FROM VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE ENEMIES. These choirs include NOT ONLY THE APOSTLES, THE ASSEMBLIES OF MARTYRS AND ASCETICS AND TEACHERS, AS WELL AS THE RIGHTEOUS TOGETHER WITH THE HIEROMARTYRS, BUT ALSO THOSE BEFORE THE LAW WITH PATRIARCHS AND PROPHETS.

We also take this opportunity to honor THOSE WHO REMAIN UNKNOWN TO US, though known to God and the Church Triumphant (Church in Heaven). Again, many of these Saints may be honored in local churches in different parts of the inhabited earth who, for reasons unknown, are not known worldwide. Therefore, that we may VENERATE AND INVOKE THOSE SAINTS who hailed from every part of the earth, the holy Fathers designated this salutary and jubilant festival for those Saints from earliest times to our own times, whether known or unknown. Saint Gregory of Sinai tells us that "ALL WHO HAVE RECEIVED THE FULLNESS OF THE PERFECTION OF CHRIST IN THIS LIFE ARE OF EQUAL SPIRITUAL STATURE." And that "THE SAINTS IN HEAVEN HOLD INNER CONVERSE TOGETHER, COMMUNICATING MYSTICALLY THROUGH THE POWER OF THE Holy Spirit."

Now the Sunday after Pentecost originally commemorated the holy Martyrs. But this feast was expanded in the 9th century TO INCLUDE ALL THE SAINTS, BOTH KNOWN AND UNKNOWN THROUGHOUT THE AGES. With the repose of the ever-memorable Empress Theophano the Wonder-worker, (895-897 A.D.) her husband, Emperor Leo VI, desired to build a church dedicated to her. The funeral, held at the Church of the Holy Apostles, witnessed countless miracles and cures that took place before her precious relics. She rejected his proposal to build a church in her name as did the Church leaders at the time, during her lifetime and so soon after her repose. Leo, therefore, with the consent of the Church, that the Feast of All Saints should be ENTERED IN THE CHURCH CALENDAR ON THE SUNDAY AFTER THE FEAST OF PENTECOST. When he dedicated a new church to All Saints, which was near to the Church of the Holy Apostles at Constantinople, he added, "Theophano is among the righteous. Therefore, when the Feast of All Saints is commemorated, she is also to be celebrated, to the glory of God Who is wondrous in His Saints.

Today, we hear chanted: "Some were beheaded, others were dismembered in their arms and their whole bodies. All the Saints became sharers of the Passion of Christ." Who, therefore, was "the Martyr, the Faithful One the firstborn of the dead, and Ruler of the kings of the earth?" IT IS JESUS CHRIST… Who loveth us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be the glory and the might to the ages of the ages. Amen [Revelation 1:4-6]…

",,,So it was with those who confessed the Faith, keeping the words of Christ within them Who had said, "WHENEVER THEY LEAD YOU AWAY AND DELIVER YOU UP, CEASE TAKING THOUGHT BEFORE WHAT YE SHOULD SAY, NEITHER BE MEDITATING. BUT WHATSOEVER SHALL BE GIVEN TO YOU IN THAT HOUR, BE SPEAKING THIS, FOR YE ARE NOT THE ONES WHO SPEAK, BUT THE HOLY SPIRIT" (Matthew 13:11). They did not grow fainthearted, even if their outward man was being utterly destroyed, yet the inward man WAS BEING RENEWED DAY BY DAY. They believed that the lightness of their momentary afflictions worked for them a more and more surpassing eternal weight of glory. They did not look at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen ARE TEMPORAL, but the things which ARE NOT SEEN ARE ETERNAL…

"…Saint Theophylact counsels that "THE NEW MAN, ACCORDING TO GOD’S PURPOSE, ALWAYS ABOUNDS TOWARD GOD AND TO FULL DIVINE KNOWLEDGE." How does this come to pass? "Put off from yourselves all these things: WRATH, ANGER, MALICE, BLASPHEMY, FOUL LANGUAGE OUT OF YOUR MOUTH. CEASE LYING TO ONE ANOTHER, SINCE YE HAVE PUT OFF THE OLD MAN WITH HIS PRACTICES, AND HAVE PUT ON THE NEW THAT IS BEING RENEWED TOWARD FULL KNOWLEDGE ACCORDING TO THE IMAGE OF THE ONE WHO CREATED HIM" (Colossians 3:8-10). We are then told to put on for ourselves, as elect of God, compassion from our inward parts, KINDNESS, HUMBLENESS OF MIND, MEEKNESS, LONG-SUFFERING, BEARING WITH ONE ANOTHER, AND GRACIOUSLY FORGIVING ONE ANOTHER, IF ANYONE HAS A COMPLAINT AGAINST SOMEONE. "Even as the Christ graciously forgave you, thus also do ye. And over all these things, PUT ON LOVE, WHICH IS THE BOND OF PERFECTION" (Colossians 3:13-14).

Saint Bede reminds us that "because the King of kings and heavenly Priest united us to His own body by offering Himself for us, there is not one of the saints who has not spiritually the office of priesthood, in that he is a member of the Eternal Priest."

By the intercessions of Thine Immaculate Mother, O
Christ God, and of all Thy Saints from the ages, have
mercy and save us, as Thou alone art Good and the
Lover of mankind. Amen.

[ Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church]

_______________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

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

+ Father George

DISCRIPTIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

My beloved brothers and sister in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

DESCRIPTIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS OF
THE HOLY SPIRIT.

+ In the Name of the Father and of the Son of

the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Glory to Thee Our God, Glory to Thee!

O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth,
You are everywhere and fill all things.
Treasury of blessings and Giver of life come
and abide in us, and cleanse us from every
impurity, and save our souls, O Good One!

Saint Basil writes that "His proper and peculiar title is ‘Holy Spirit;’ immaterial, and indivisible. So Our Lord, when, when teaching the Samaritan women who thought God to be an object of local worship that the incorporeal is incomprehensible, said ‘God is Spirit’ [John 4:24]. On our hearing, then, of a spirit, it is impossible to form the idea of a nature circumscribed, subject to change and variation, or at all like the creature. We are compelled to advance in our conceptions to the highest, and to think of an intelligent essence, in power infinite, in magnitude unlimited, unmeasured by times or ages, generous of His good gifts, to Whom turn all things needing sanctification, after Whom reach all things that live in virtue, as being watered by His inspiration and helped on toward their natural and proper end; perfecting all other things, but Himself in nothing lacking; living not as needing restoration, but as Supplier of life; not growing b additions, bu straightway full, self-established, omnipotent, the origin of sanctification, light perceptible in the mind, supplying, as it were, through Himself, illumination to every faculty in the search for Truth; by nature unapproachable by reason of goodness, filling all things with His power, but communicated only to the worthy; not shared in one measure, but distributing His energy according to ‘THE PROPORTION OF FAITH’; in essence simple, in powers various, wholly present in each and being wholly everuwhere; impassively divided, share without loss of ceasing to the entire, after teh likeness of the sunbeam, whose kindly light falls on him who enjoys it as though it shone for him alone; yet illumines land and sea and mingles with the air. So, too, is the Spirit TO EVERYONE WHO RECEIVES HIM, AS THOUGH GIVEN TO HIM ALONE, AND YE THE SENDS FORTH GRACE SUFFICIENT AND FULL FOR ALL MANKIND, AND IS ENJOYED BY ALL WHO SHARE HIM, ACCORDING TO THE CAPACITY, NOT OF HIS POWER, BUT OF THEIR NATURE."

Those WHO DENY THE SPIRIT ARE TRANGRESSORS. "FOR IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO WORSHIP THE SON, SAVE BY THE HOLY SPIRIT; IMPOSSIBLE TO CALL UPON THE FATHER, SAVE BY THE SPIRIT OF ADOPTION" (Saint Basil the Great, On the Spirit, ch. 11, and 27, Nicene, 2nd Ser. VIII:17,18).

SEVENFOLD GRACE OF THE SPIRIT

With regard to giving of the Spirit, in the Old Testament we hear God declaring: "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, THE SPIRIT OF COMPASSION" [Zachariah 12:10]. Saint Bede mentions that "Christ pledged that His good Spirit would be given by the Father TO THOSE ASKING FOR HIM, BECAUSE WHETHER WE DESIRE TO SECURE FAITH, HOPE, AND CHARITY, OR ANY OHTER HEAVENLY GOODS AT ALL, THEY ARE NOT BESTOWED ON US OTHERWISE THAT BY THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. So it is that same Spirit, in Esaias, is named THE SPIRIT OF WISDOM AND UNDERSTANDING, THE SPIRIT OF COUNSEL AND FORTITUDE, THE SPIRIT OF KNOWELDGE AND PIETY, THE SPIRIT OF THE FEAR OF THE LORD; AND IN ANOTHER PLACE, THE SPIRIT OF LOVE AND PEACE, AND THE SPIRIT OF GRACE AND COMPASSION. UNDOUBTEDLY, WHATEVER GOOD WE TRULY HAVE, WHATEVER WE DO WELL, THIS WE RECEIVE FROM THE LAVISHNESS OF THE SAME SPIRIT." (Venerable Bede).

Saint Maximos the Confessor explains that "the holy Prophet Esaias, in his prophecy, says that SEVEN SPIRITS RESTED UPON THE SAVIOR WHO GREW OUT OF THE ROOT OF JESSE. He says this, not because he knows of seven Spirits of God and teaches others, too, to accept a doctrine , but because HE CALLS THE ACTIVITIES OF ONE AND THE SAME HOLY SPIRIT ‘SPIRITS,’ OWING TO THE FACT THAT THE ACTUATING HOLY SPIRIT EXISTS WHOLLY AND COMPLETE IN EACH ACTIVITY PROPORTIONATELY. On the other hand, the divine Apostle calls the different activities of this same one Holy Spirit different ‘GIFTS’, which of course are actuated by this one and thes same Spirit. The Spirit IS THE SOURCE OF THESE GIFS THAT ARE DIVERSIFIED IN THE REIPIENTS. The underlying condition of each of the faithful defines the gift he can receive and the way in which the Spirit can energize him.

Saint Kyril of Alexandria writes: "To one Spirit he has given a multiplicity of operations. For there is not one Spirit of wisdom and another of understanding or of cousel or of might, and so on. On the contrary, just as the Logos/Word of God the Father is one but is called, according to His various operations, LIFE, AND LIGHT, AND POWER, SO IT TOO WITH REGARD TO THE Holy Spirit. He is one but is regarded as multiform because of the way in which He operates. Taht is why the most wise Paul lists for us the various kinds of gifts: All these, he says, are inspired by the one and the same Spirit, Who ‘energithe all these things, distributing to each separetly as He will (1 Corinthians 12:11).

Saint Irenaeos says that Jesus, God’s Anointed, showed Himserlf to be the One Who had been preached in advance by the Prophets. "And as precursor there went before Him John the Baptist, preparing in advance and disposing the people to receive the Logos/Word of life, declaring that He was the Christ, on Whom rested the Spirit of God" (Isaiah 11:2; Matthew 3:16; John 1:32), united with His body."

The Results of the Coming of the Spirit:

"And having come, that One will reprove the world in regard to sin, and in regard to righteousness, and in regard to judgment: in regard to sin, indeed, because they believe not in Me; and in regard to righteousness, because I go away to My Fathe and ye behold Me no longer; and in regard to judgement, because the ruler of this world hath been judged" (John 16:8-11).

Saint Kyrll of Alexandria states: "See how the repraoch of sin is placed first… The reproaches are not for the Jews alone, but rather for every man who shall be stubborn and resistent to the Paraclete. The third reproach of the Holy Spirit shall be that most merited condemnation of the prince of this world. The Paraclete will testify to the glory of Christ, and will show the world its error in having abadoned Him and worshipped one who is nto by nature God, that is, Satan… Now he is not the prince of this world in truth, as though he possessed the dignity of a ruler inherent in him, but because he holds the glory of this world y fraud and violence, and because he still rules those in error, and because of their own evil wills does he exercise authority over them."

Saint Bede notes: "The righteousness of Christ’s disciples considered in this: that they believed that the Lord, Whom they discerned was a true human being and was also the True Son of God; and, that they worshipped always with a definite love the One Whom they knew had been taken away bodily from them. The righteousness of other belieers, that is, of those who have not seen the Lord in His human body, consists in this: that with their hearts they believe and love Him Whom htey have never seen with their bodily vision as True God and Man. Unbelievers are convincted of this righteousness, which righteousness ARISES FROM FAITH, for that reason that, when they heart the word of life in like manner with believers, they are unwilling to believve in a way which leads to righteousness." [Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church]

________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

With sincere agape in His Holy and Divine Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

MONDAY OF PENTECOST: THE GREAT FEAST AND CELEBRATION OF GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

ON MONDAY OF PENTECOST, THE HOLY ORTHODOX CHURCH
GLORIFIES THE LIFE-CREATING HOLY SPIRIT, COESSENTIAL
WITH THE FATHER AND THE SON.

On this day, the Monday of the Pentecost, we Orthodox Christians glorify, and celebrate
the All-Holy and Life-creating and Omnipotent Spirit, Who IS GOD, and One of the Trinity,
and EQUAL IN HONOR AND COESSENTIAL AND EQUAL IN GLORY WITH THE FATHER AND
THE SON.

"O ever breath, keep giving glory to the Spirit of the Lord, through
Whom the impudence of the evil spirit is made to vanish."

Saint Gregory the Theologian maintains that "the Holy Spirit always existed, and exists, and always will exist. He neither had a beginning nor will He have an end, but He was everlastingly ranged and numbered with the Father and the Son. For it was not ever fitting that either the Son should be wanting to the Father or the Spirit to the Son. For then Deity would be shorn of Its Glory in its greatest respect, fo rIt would seem to have arrived at the consummation of perfection as if by an afterthought. Therefore, the Spirit was ever being partaken, but nor partaking; perfecting, not being perfected; sanctifying, not being sanctified; deifying, not being deified; Himself ever the same with Himself, and with Those with Whom He is ranged; INVISIBLE, ETERNAL, INCOMREHENSABLE, UNCHANGEABLE, WITHOUT QUALITY, WITHOUT QUANTITY, WITHOUT FORM, IMPALPABLE, SELF-MOVING, ETERNALLY MOVING, WITH FREE WILL, SELF-POWERFUL, ALL POWERFUL (EVEN THOUGH ALL THAT IS OF THE SPIRIT IS REFERABLE TO THE FIRST CAUSE, JUST AS IS ALL THAT IS OF THE ONLY-BEGOTTEN); LIFE AND LIFE-GIVER; LIGHT AND LIGHT-GIVER, ABSOLUTE GOOD, AND SPRING OF GOODNESS, THE PRINCELY SPIRIT; THE LORD…ENERGIZING AS HE WILLS; DISTRIBUTING HIS OWN GIFTS; THE SPIRIT OF ADOPTION, OF TRUTH, OF WISDOM, OF UNDERSTANDING, OF KNOWLEDGE, OF GODLINESS, OF COUNSEL OF FEAR (WHICH ARE ASCRIBED TO HIM) BY WHOM THE FATHER IS KNOWN AND THE SON IS GLORIFIED; AND BY WHOM ALONE HE IS KNOWN; ONE CLASS, ONE SERVICE, WORSHIP, POWER, PERFECTION, SANCTIFICATION. Why make a long discourse of it? All that the Father has the Son has also, except the being Unbegotten; and all that the Son has the Spirit has also, except the Generation. …So those who reduce the Holy Spirit to the rank of a creature are blasphemous and wicked servants, and worst of the wicked. For it is the part of wicked servants to despise Lordship, and to rebel against dominion, and to make That which is free their fellow servant."

The difference between PROCESSION and SENDING, or the ‘Eternal Origin’ and the ‘Sending in time (temporal) Origin,’ IS IMPORTANT. We look to the Holy Orthodox Fathers to exhort us on the meaning of the TRANSCENDENT TRINITY AND THE ECONOMIC TRINITY (the latter relating to the Church and the world). Most attempts to support the FILIOQUE HERESY of the Latins (Roman Catholics) CONFUSE THE TWO OR FAIL TO RECOGNIZE THE DIFFERENCE. They are NOT THE SAME. THE PROCESSION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT FROM THE SON IS NOT TO BE FOUND IN SACRED SCRIPTURE. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, "Whenever the Paraclete should come, Whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit OF TRUTH WHO PROCEEDS FROM THE FATHER, THAT One shall bear witness concerning Me" [John 15:26].

"…Saint John of Damascus affirms that "WE BELIEVE ALSO IN ONE HOLY SPIRIT, THE LORD AND GIVER OF LIFE, WHO PROCEEDS FROM THE FATHER AND RESTS IN THE SON: THE OBJECT OF EQUAL ADORATION AND GLORIFICATION WITH THE FATHER AND SON UNCREATED, FULL, CREATIVE, ALL-RULING, ALL-EFFECTING, ALL-POWERFUL, OF INFINITE POWER. Lord of All Creation and not under any lord, divinizing, not sanctified; the Intercessor, receiving the supplications of all, in all things like to the Father and Son, PROCEEDING FROM THE Father and communicated through the Son, and participated in by all creation, through Himself creating, and investing with essence and sanctifying, and maintaining the universe…"

"The Medieval Latins (Roman Catholics) also attempted, during the 14th century Palamite Controversy, to demonstrate that the Greek Father accepted a notion OF CREATED GRACE, not only by affirming the procession of the Holy Spirit from God the Father through the Son–meaning thereby that the grace of the Holy Spirit, while deriving from the Father, took manifest form through the creative power of the Son–but also by arguing that the energies-essence distinction of Saint Gregory Palamas was a distinction between the essence and the created energies of God…

"In the end, as various Orthodox theologians have argued, the entire question of the procession of the Holy Spirit and created grace rests ON THE FAILURE OF LATIN theologians to distinguishe BETWEEN "PROCESION" and "MISSION" (and its synonyms) by supposing that proceeding is identical with being conferred. Latin theologians tended to see the "mission" in non-Trinitarian terms, as created action separate from the Providential grace of God the Father and the REDEMPTIVE GRACE of God the Son–a separation that not only disrupts the synergistic action of the Holy Trinity but also distorts the uncreated nature of the Holy Spirit…

"…Saint Gregory Palamas elaborated upon this "UNCREATED" divine life is God’s GIFT OF DIVINIZATION TO CREATED MAN, the MEANS BY WHICH He ENTERS INTO COMMUNION WITH ALL CREATURES THROUGH THE SON IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. Saint Gregory Palamas writes: "The Spirit as energgy pours Itself [Himself] out from the Father through the Son and, if you prefer it, from the Son over all those worthy thereof…For the Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, and comes from Him, being breathed and sent and manifested by Him, but in His VERY BEING and His EXISTENCE. He is the Spirit of Christ, but is NOT from Christ, but FROM THE Father." In the writings of Saint John of Damascus, when he says that the Holy Spirit is NOT from the Son, he means that the Spirit is NOT from the Son as from a first and remote mediate Cause, for it is in this manner that the Holy Spirit is from the Father…" [Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church]

___________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

With sincere agape in His Holy and Glorious Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

SUNDAY OF THE CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY PENTECOST AND THE COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

ON THE EIGHTH SUNDAY OF PASCHA OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHURCH
CELEBRATES THE GREAT FEAST DAY OF HOLY PENTECOST AND THE
COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. (Part II)

On this day we celebrate the final of the great mystery and economy of Christ’s Incarnation. It is the sequel and conclusion of the feasts. Christ fulfilled His promise. Before His Resurrection, He said to His Disciples: "It is expedient for you that I should go away; for unless I go away, the Paracletos (Paraclete) will NOT come to you; but I go, I will send Him to you" [John 16:7]. And, "The Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, that One shall teach you all things, and shall remind you of what I said to you" [John 14:26]. Then after the Resurrection, when He was assembled together with His Disciples, He bade them not depart from Jerusalem, "but to wait for the promise of the Father, which ye heard Me; for John indeed baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days after these" [Acts 1:4-5).  And, "Ye shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses to Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the ends of the earth" [Acts 1:8].

Thus, on the day corresponding TO THIS DAY OF SALVATION, the Day of Pentecost, the Apostles of the Savior, who were formerly simple fishermen and unlearned, were suddenly instructed by the Advent of the Holy Spirit. They were now possessed of the greater wisdom and spoke plainly of heavenly doctrines. They became preachers of Truth and teachers to the whole world. From that day they began the work of their great mission (apostole). This ORDINATION OF THE APOSTLES WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE PRIESTHOOD OF GRACE, OF THE NEW ISRAEL.

Now to one should imagine that the Holy Spirit’s work began at Pentecost, rather IT WAS CONTINUED BECAUSE THE HOLY TRINITY IS ONE IN ACTION AND IN WILL. So says Saint Leo the Great: "The Lord Jesus had promised that the Spirit should come, not then first to be THE INDWELLER OF THE SAINTS, but TO KINDLE TO A GREATER HEAT, AND TO FILL WITH LARGER ABUNDANCE THE HEARTS THAT WERE DEDICATED TO HIM, INCREASING, NOT COMMENCING HIS GIFTS, NOT FRESH OPERATION BECAUSE RICHER IN BOUNTY. FOR THE MAJESTY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS NEVER SEPARATE FROM THE OMNIPOTENCE OF THE FATHER AND THE SON, AND WHATEVER THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT ACCOMPLISHES IN THE ORDERING OF ALL THINGS, PROCEEDS FROM THE PROVIDENCE OF THE WHOLE TRINITY."

Now a word about the Pentecost holy icon. The building in the background of the holy icon represents THE UPPER ROOM WHERE THE DISCIPLES OF THE LORD ASSEMBLED AFTER THE ASCENSION. We do NOT see the Twelve, all together, seated. Among those portrayed we observe SAINT PAUL, though he was NOT historically present at that time. We also see the FOUR EVANGELISTS–MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE, AND JOHN–BEARING BOOKS OF THE GOSPEL. In many icons, the other Apostles are holding SCROLLS. This REPRESENTS THE TEACHING AUTHORITY GIVEN TO THEM BY CHRIST. We also note that the Apostles are shown in a semicircle, which EXPRESSES THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH WITH HER DIVERSE MEMBERS. IT IS EXECUTED IN INVERSE PERSPECTIVE AS THE FIGURES THAT ARE FURTHER AWAY APPEAR LARGER. In the center of the holy icon, but below the Apostles, there is a Royal figure against the dark background. THIS IS A SYMBOLIC FIGURE, COSMOS, REPRESENTING THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD ABIDING IN A DARK PLACE, A WORLD OF SIN AND PAGANISM. The OLD FIGURE, we discern, SYMBOLIZING THE WORLD WITHOUT FAITH, IS CLAD IN RED AND SIGNIFIES THE GORE AND SACRIFICES TO THE DEVIL. The ROYAL CROWN signifies SIN WHICH RULED OVER THE WORLD. The WHITE CLOTH OR SHEER, CONTAINING TWELVES SCROLLS, SYMBOLIZE THE TEACHING OF THE TWELVE THAT USHERED LIGHT INTO THE WORLD. THE HOLY TRADITION OF THE CHURCH HOLDS THAT THE APOSTLES CARRIED THE MESSAGE OF THE GOSPEL TO ALL PARTS OF THE INHABITED WORLD.

Saint Athanasios states: "Let us keep feat on the holy day of Pentecost–on that which was at one time to the Jews, typically, the Feast of Weeks, in which they granted FORGIVENESS AND SETTLEMENT OF DEBTS; and indeed that day was one of deliverance in every respect. Let us keep the feast ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE GREAT WEEK, AS A SYMBOL OF THE WORLD TO COME, IN WHICH WE HERE RECEIVE A PLEDGE THAT WE SHALL HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE HEREAFTER. Then, having passed hence, we shall keep a perfect feast with Christ, while we cry out and say, like the Saints: ‘For I myself shall go through to the place of the wonderful Tabernacle, as far as the House of God, with a voice of rejoicing and thanksgiving, of the sound of those keeping festivals" [Psalm 41:4]; whence pain and sorrow and sighing have fled, and upon our heads, gladness and joy shall have come to us! May WE BE JUDGED WORTHY TO BE PARTAKERS IN THESE THINGS!

"Let us remember the poor, and not forget kindness to strangers, above all, let us LOVE GOD WITH ALL OUR SOUL, AND MIGHT, AND STRENGTH, AND OUR NEIGHBOR AS OURSELVES. So may we receive those things which the eye has not seen, nor the ear heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man, which, God has prepared for those THAT LOVE HIM, THROUGH HIS ONLY SON, OUR LORD, AND SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST! GLORY AND DOMINION BE TO THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND FOREVER AND EVER! AMEN. Salute one another with a kiss. All the brethren who are with me salute you!

By the intercessions of the Holy Apostles
O Christ Our God, have mercy on us. Amen.
[Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church]

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"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"