Sunday at 8:30am
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Orthos at 8:30 am
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My Beloved Ones,
On September 23rd, we are blessed to celebrate another conception of a beloved saint of God, John the Baptist. The conception of the Forerunner is another example of God’s ability to work miracles which are beyond nature; just as it is also another example of how Faith in God relies in lifting our hearts to Him, rather than trusting in our own minds. St. John’s parents were—as with Joachim and Anna, or Abraham and Sarah—of an advanced age: Zacharias was a priest of the Temple, and Elizabeth, descended from Aaron, was a cousin of the Theotokos. As we saw several weeks ago with Joachim and Anna, from the time of the creation of the world, those who were unable to bear children were often put to shame by their neighbors, and this was also the case with Elizabeth. Zacharias was serving in the Temple, undertaking his responsibility to burn incense— when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to him, announcing that God had heard their prayers, and would give Elizabeth a child, a son, who they would name John. More importantly, Gabriel told Zacharias, “And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth; for he will be great before the Lord… and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” (Luke 1:14-17) Though Zacharias was astonished at the Archangel’s words, his mind would not allow him to understand the Will of God, asking instead for a sign to prove these words. As a result of his disbelief, Gabriel stuck Zacharias dumb, telling Zacharias that he would not regain his speech until all these things occurred. We can see clearly in the Baptist’s conception a reminder to hold fast to our faith in God, rather than our own understanding. Despite his duties as a priest in the Temple, Zacharias allowed himself to doubt the power and the promise of God, because his mind resisted the faith of his heart. May we instead learn from the mistake of this righteous servant of God, and “turn to the Lord our God”, rather than worldly knowledge.
+ALEXIOS Metropolitan of Atlanta
The Holy Fathers have appointed the commemoration of Adam's exile from the Paradise of delight here, on the eve of the holy Forty-day Fast, demonstrating to us not by simple words, but by actual deeds, how beneficial fasting is for man, and how harmful and destructive are insatiety and the transgressing of the divine commandments. For the first commandment that God gave to man was that of fasting, which the first-fashioned received but did not keep; and not only did they not become gods, as they had imagined, but they lost even that blessed life which they had, and they fell into corruption and death, and transmitted these and innumerable other evils to all of mankind. The God-bearing Fathers set these things before us today, that by bringing to mind what we have fallen from, and what we have suffered because of the insatiety and disobedience of the first-fashioned, we might be diligent to return again to that ancient bliss and glory by means of fasting and obedience to all the divine commands. Taking occasion from today's Gospel (Matt. 6:14-21) to begin the Fast unencumbered by enmity, we also ask forgiveness this day, first from God, then from one another and all creation.
This Saint, who was from Heliopolis of Phoenicia (Baalbek in present-day Lebanon), was an idolater and led a licentious life. Being beautiful beyond telling, she had many lovers, and had acquired great riches. Yet brought to repentance by a monk named Germanus, and baptized by Bishop Theodotus, she distributed to the poor all her ill-gotten gains, and entered a convent, giving herself up completely to the life of asceticism. Her former lovers, enraged at her conversion, her refusal to return to her old ways, and the withering away of her beauty through the severe mortifications she practiced, betrayed her as a Christian to Vincent the Governor, and she was beheaded, according to some, under Trajan, who reigned from 98 to 117, according to others, under Hadrian, who reigned from 117 to 138.
Πρὸς ῾Ρωμαίους 13:11-14, 14:1-4
Ἀδελφοί, νῦν ἐγγύτερον ἡμῶν ἡ σωτηρία ἢ ὅτε ἐπιστεύσαμεν. Ἡ νὺξ προέκοψεν, ἡ δὲ ἡμέρα ἤγγικεν· ἀποθώμεθα οὖν τὰ ἔργα τοῦ σκότους, καί ἐνδυσώμεθα τὰ ὅπλα τοῦ φωτός. Ὡς ἐν ἡμέρᾳ, εὐσχημόνως περιπατήσωμεν, μὴ κώμοις καὶ μέθαις, μὴ κοίταις καὶ ἀσελγείαις, μὴ ἔριδι καὶ ζήλῳ. Ἀλλʼ ἐνδύσασθε τὸν κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, καὶ τῆς σαρκὸς πρόνοιαν μὴ ποιεῖσθε, εἰς ἐπιθυμίας. Τὸν δὲ ἀσθενοῦντα τῇ πίστει προσλαμβάνεσθε, μὴ εἰς διακρίσεις διαλογισμῶν. Ὃς μὲν πιστεύει φαγεῖν πάντα, ὁ δὲ ἀσθενῶν λάχανα ἐσθίει. Ὁ ἐσθίων τὸν μὴ ἐσθίοντα μὴ ἐξουθενείτω, καὶ ὁ μὴ ἐσθίων τὸν ἐσθίοντα μὴ κρινέτω· ὁ θεὸς γὰρ αὐτὸν προσελάβετο. Σὺ τίς εἶ ὁ κρίνων ἀλλότριον οἰκέτην; Τῷ ἰδίῳ κυρίῳ στήκει ἢ πίπτει. Σταθήσεται δέ· δυνατὸς γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θεὸς στῆσαι αὐτόν.
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans 13:11-14; 14:1-4
Brethren, salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions. One believes he may eat anything, while the weak man eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains pass judgment on him who eats; for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for God is able to make him stand.
Κατὰ Ματθαῖον 6:14-21
Εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος· ᾿Εὰν γὰρ ἀφῆτε τοῖς ἀνθρώποις τὰ παραπτώματα αὐτῶν, ἀφήσει καὶ ὑμῖν ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος· ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ἀφῆτε τοῖς ἀνθρώποις τὰ παραπτώματα αὐτῶν, οὐδὲ ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ἀφήσει τὰ παραπτώματα ὑμῶν. ῞Οταν δὲ νηστεύητε, μὴ γίνεσθε ὥσπερ οἱ ὑποκριταὶ σκυθρωποί· ἀφανίζουσι γὰρ τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτῶν ὅπως φανῶσι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύοντες· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἀπέχουσι τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν. σὺ δὲ νηστεύων ἄλειψαί σου τὴν κεφαλὴν καὶ τὸ πρόσωπόν σου νίψαι,ὅπως μὴ φανῇς τοῖς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύων, ἀλλὰ τῷ πατρί σου τῷ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ, καὶ ὁ πατήρ σου ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ ἀποδώσει σοι ἐν τῷ φανερῷ. Μὴ θησαυρίζετε ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ὅπου σὴς καὶ βρῶσις ἀφανίζει, καὶ ὅπου κλέπται διορύσσουσι καὶ κλέπτουσι· θησαυρίζετε δὲ ὑμῖν θησαυροὺς ἐν οὐρανῷ, ὅπου οὔτε σὴς οὔτε βρῶσις ἀφανίζει, καὶ ὅπου κλέπται οὐ διορύσσουσιν οὐδὲ κλέπτουσιν· ὅπου γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θησαυρὸς ὑμῶν, ἐκεῖ ἔσται καὶ ἡ καρδία ὑμῶν.
The Reading is from Matthew 6:14-21
The Lord said, "If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
"And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
11:00AM Sunday School
6:30PM Kathera Deutera Great Compline
6:00PM Greek School
11:00AM Orthodox Spirituality Book Club
6:30PM Presanctified liturgy
10:30AM Feeding the Hungry
6:30PM Frist Saluation Panagia Theotoko
8:30AM Sávvato ton psychón, Saturday orthos
11:00AM Sunday School