23rd SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST — Tone 6. Forefeast of the Entry Into the Temple of the Most-holy Theotokos. Ven. Gregory Decapolites (816).
Tone 6 Troparion (Resurrection)
The Angelic Powers were at Your tomb; the guards became as dead men. Mary stood by Your grave, seeking Your most pure body. You captured hell, not being tempted by it. You came to the Virgin, granting life. O Lord, Who rose from the dead,// glory to You.
Tone 4 Troparion (Forefeast)
Today Anna bequeaths joy to all instead of sorrow, by bringing forth her fruit, the only ever-Virgin. In fulfillment of her vow, today with joy she brings to the temple of the Lord// the true temple and pure Mother of God the Word.
Tone 4 Troparion (St. Nicholas)
The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock as a rule of faith, an image of meekness and a teacher of self-control; your humility exalted you; your poverty enriched you.// O Father Bishop Nicholas, pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved.
Tone 4 Troparion (Sts. Gregory and Proclus)
The twofold lamps of divine gifts, Proclus, shepherd of New Rome, and Gregory, scion of Decapolis, guide us by the light of grace as divinely-inspired fathers. Let us draw near and eagerly beseech them,// that we may receive forgiveness and salvation of our souls!
Tone 6 Kontakion (Resurrection)
When Christ God, the Giver of Life, raised all of the dead from the valleys of misery with His mighty hand, He bestowed resurrection on the human race.// He is the Savior of all, the Resurrection, the Life, and the God of all.
Tone 3 Kontakion (St. Nicholas)
You proved yourself to be be a holy priest, O Nicholas. You served God in Myra and lived the gospel of Christ. You offered your life for your people, And rescued the innocent from death. Therefore God has glorified you as a trustworthy guide of things divine.
Tone 3 Kontakion (St. Gregory)
The Church knows you to be a brilliant sun enlightening all with the rays of healing and the beauty of virtue. Therefore, as we celebrate your honored memory, We glorify your struggles,// ever-blest and all-wise Father Gregory.
Tone 4 Kontakion (Forefeast)
Today the universe is filled with joy at the glorious feast of the Mother of God,// and cries out: “She is the heavenly tabernacle.”
Tone 6 Prokeimenon (Resurrection)
O Lord, save Your people, / and bless Your inheritance! (Ps. 27:9a)
V. To You, O Lord, will I call. O my God, be not silent to me! (Ps. 27:1a)
Tone 1 Prokeimenon (St. John)
My mouth shall speak wisdom; / the meditation of my heart shall be understanding. (Ps. 48:3)
Galatians 2:4-10 (Epistle)
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
V. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the heavenly God. (Ps. 90:1)
V. He will say to the Lord: “My Protector and my Refuge; my God, in Whom I trust.”(Ps. 90:2)
Luke 12:16-21 (Gospel)
Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
Excerpts from the Book Gifts of the Desert
Kyriacos C. Markides
“The Prayer,” Father Maximos responded, “literally means ‘Jesus Christ grant me your mercy, which is what I need in order to meet you, in order that you may live inside me and that I live as you wish me to live, so that you may find rest within my own being and existence.’ This is the mercy of God. It is the love of God.”
“So true prayer is the means by which to ask God to help us love him,” Antonis said.
“That’s exactly the meaning of real prayer as understood by the saints. God’s love is a given. It is we who need to learn how to love God. We don’t ask God to love us. His love is total and unconditional. It is we who need to heal ourselves so that we may be able to experience God’s love. It is we who have a problem in this relationship. Therefore, the mercy that we seek is so that God may heal our existence in such a way that we may allow God to find rest within our own hearts. It is as if we ask of God to create a space within us so that he may be allowed to bring about our own union with his love. This is what we must first and foremost ask of God. When that happens then God offers us whatever else we might really need.”
… Our true existential need is union with God. The craving for worldly goals and objectives is a false substitute for that inner need. When that is satisfied then our heart and mind work in their natural primordial condition, in a continuous memory and contemplation of God. A person in reality enters within the furthest regions of his own being.”
“In fact, Christ instructs us that when we pray we should retreat into our ‘treasury,’ that is, into the depths of our being, free of external distractions, so that we may let ourselves cry out to God the pain we experience in his absence. Our passions and the consequences of our transgressions that torment us, which form the sum total of the problems we face, can become a powerful force for prayer. “I am convinced,” Father Maximos continued, “that the antidote against all the problems people face as a result of their isolation living in modern cities, or anywhere for that matter, is prayer. The systematic practice of prayer will lead them to that space within themselves where God resides, where they will discover their true personhood and uniqueness. They will find their wholeness not in external events and in ephemeral phenomena but within the context of their relationship with God. I do believe that the best resistance and inoculation of the person against atomization and loneliness is prayer.”
If you learn to love God through prayer then it is natural to love your neighbor. In fact it is inevitable since the two go together. Furthermore, through prayer we discover who we really are. And when that happens all the fears and insecurities that we hide in our hearts vanish forever. Prayer gives us a certainty which allows us to have a different outlook on life. We develop the certainty that God is always present in our life.”
“Wherever we are, we are conscious of God’s presence. So it is important to keep in mind that prayer is like a harbor that is always nearby. It is unavoidable that there will be many storms and rough seas in our life which can lead some of us to despair, even to suicide. Prayer is the harbor where we can enter at all times and at all occasions. Only there can we find real peace and serenity. Nothing can shatter that peace because God is there, in the very depths of our being. No worldly upheaval, therefore, can undermine that tranquility, none at all. If people really knew the power of prayer they would put in the effort to gradually learn how to pray. I really believe this.”
“When you fall in love with God and his love floods your entire being then you witness your heart opening up and accommodating all of humanity. A human being in such a state is united in love with the entire creation, with birds, plants, rocks, mountains, rivers, with everything. What he feels is what the holy elders describe as the first experience of grace, the logoi ton onton.” Father Maximos reflected for a few seconds. “The logoi ton onton, as the elders say, are the purposes and the reasons hidden behind the existence of every single thing. A human being learns, not intellectually but experientially, that everything has a purpose to its existence.”
“For Orthodoxy this purpose is none other than the Gnosis , or the knowledge of God. The purpose for the existence of anything is the knowledge of the Creator and the deification of the created. Through the knowledge of creation you are guided to the knowledge of God, which eventually leads to your own Theosis [union with God]. Persons who realize this truth are masters of creation and that creation itself was made for them as a means of knowing the Creator.”
“When the holy elders say that everything was created for human beings, it does not mean that they are given a license to mindlessly subjugate and abuse the natural environment. The environment must be seen as a sacred gift, an arena that could help human beings toward the knowledge of God and their deification, their Theosis. When that happens a human being begins to function in accordance to his true nature. He communes with himself, with God, with other human beings, and with the whole world.”
In this book, the author shares dialogues that he has with “Fr. Maximos.“ The person identified as “Fr. Maximos” is actually the Metropolitan of Lemessos, Cyprus Athanasios.