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Mark Smith is a priest of the Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece under the Omophorian of Metropolitan Kirykos of Mesogaias and Lavreotikis. He lives in Chilliwack, BC, Canada
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Oct. 12th, 2019 @ 07:53 pm This evening we heard (Sunday, September 30th):

Thou hast entered joyously into the Holy of Holies, having made thy sacred robes red with thy martyric blood, O wise Gregory: There­in is light untold, God's unending glory, and the sound of him that keepeth feast; therein hast thou received prizes for thy pains, the unfading crown, good fame for all eternity, and the habitation in Paradise, where thou ever prayest with boldness unto Christ God for our souls, O wonderworthy and glorious Martyr of the Lord Most High.

The Menaion, September 30th, Holy Hieromartyr Gregory the Enlightener of Greater Armenia
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Oct. 12th, 2019 @ 12:10 pm Anyone who does not want the same things for his fellow human beings . . .
   Anyone who does not want the same things for his fellow human beings or pass the same judgement on them as he wishes for himself, is certainly foolish, particularly as this judgement and this wish are an inherent part of our nature. For it is a natural impulse in all of us to want to be loved and well treated by others as much as by ourselves. The will to do good and to be as well disposed towards all as we are towards ourselves is therefore also inborn in us. We were all made in the image of Him Who is good. Then when sin entered and multiplied, it did not extinguish our self-love, since it was not at all opposed to that, but it cooled down love for one another, the crown of the virtues, changed it and rendered it useless. As a result, He Who renews our nature, recalling it to the grace of His own image and putting His laws, as the prophet tells us, in our hearts (Jer. 31:33), says, “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31), and “If ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again” (Luke 6:32, 34).
   In this passage, He refers to those who are not called by His name and those who do not order their lives according to the gospel, as sinners, including them all in the same category, for it is of no benefit to us to be called Christians if we act no differently from the heathen.

The Homilies of Saint Gregory Palamas - Homily 45, Second Sunday of Saint Luke, pp. 353-358

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Oct. 5th, 2019 @ 08:08 pm This evening we heard (Sunday, September 23rd):

John the Forerunner, the fruit of prayer, hath bud­ded from a barren womb today. Rejoice, O wilder­ness, and dance for joy, O mankind! Behold, the preacher of repentance beginneth to take flesh in his mother's womb. Come, as we rejoice over his glorious conception, O ye feast-lovers, let us form a choir, cry­ing: O thou greatest of them that are born of women, cease not to intercede for us who with faith honour thy divine conception, that we may find forgiveness of sins and great mercy.

The Menaion, September 23rd, Conception of the Holy Forerunner of Christ
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Sep. 28th, 2019 @ 08:56 pm Whosoever desireth to follow after Me, let him deny himself...
The Gospel Reading for the Sunday after the Exaltation of the Cross is Saint Mark 8:34-9:1

34-37. And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, Whosoever desireth to follow after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever desireth to save his life, shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the Gospels, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?1

Since Peter had rebuked Him for wanting to be crucified, the Lord called the people unto Him, and said in the hearing of all, but directing His words mostly towards Peter, “Dost thou find fault with Me, Peter, because I take up the cross? I say to thee, that neither thou, nor anyone else, will be saved unless thou dost die for the sake of goodness and truth.” See that Christ does not compel a man to die on a cross against his own will. Instead He said, “Whosoever desireth”. The Lord is saying: “I compel no one. I invite him to something good, not to something bad to which he must be forced. ‘Whoever’ does not want these things is not worthy of them.” We can learn what it means to deny oneself if we understand what it means to deny another. He who denies another is he who, when he sees his brother, or servant, or father, being flogged or even murdered, does not turn towards him and pity him in his suffering, but acts as if he were a stranger to him. In this same manner the Lord wants us to show no pity towards our own bodies, so that even if we are flogged, or worse, let it make no difference to us. Let him take up his cross, that is, accept a most shameful death, for at that time to die on a cross was considered the most shameful of deaths. But since many were crucified for being bandits, the Lord added to the crucifixion something else: that one ought to have virtue. This is what it means to follow Me. Although His command that one give oneself over to death seemed hard and cruel, the Lord straightway shows this commandment is given out of love for mankind. For whosoever shall lose his life for My sake shall find life. (But the death of a condemned man, or of one who hangs himself, is not for Christ’s sake and brings no such reward.) And, on the contrary, he who appears to have saved his life, far from finding life, shall lose it by not remaining steadfast during his time of martyrdom. Do not say to Me, “But he has saved his life” - it means nothing. Even if you say that he has gained the whole world as well, it is of no benefit. No one can exchange money for his salvation, for if that were so, a man who had gained the world but lost his soul, could, while burning in the flames of hell, use his money to buy innocence. But at that time and in that place no such trade can be made. Here let us shut the mouths of those who say, following Origen, that all the souls in hell will be restored [and reunited with those in heaven] after they have been punished in accordance with their sins.2 Let them hear that there is no exchange that can be made there for one’s soul. No one is kept in hell as a punishment. Rather, it is the weight of his own sins which holds him there.

38-9:1. Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. And He said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.

Intellectual faith does not suffice, but confession of faith with ones mouth is required as well. Since man himself is two-fold, let his sanctification be two-fold as well. The soul is sanctified by faith, but the body is sanctified by confessing. Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed to confess that the Crucified One is his God, of him also shall the Crucified One be ashamed. For the Lord shall judge that man to be an unworthy servant, when He comes with glory, escorted by the angels, and no longer in lowly form. At the second coming He will not appear, as He did before, to be of base origin and circumstance, and an object of scorn. Since He speaks of His own glory, He desires to show that He is not vainly boasting, and says, There be some of them that stand here, namely, Peter, James, and John, who shall not die until I have shown them at the Transfiguration the glory with which I shall appear at the second coming. For the Transfiguration was nothing less than a foreshadowing of the second coming, and as He appeared in radiance then, so will He shine at the second coming, as will also all the righteous.

The Explanation, by Blessed Theophylact Archbishop of Ochrid 1108, of the Holy Gospel According to Saint Mark, pp. 69-71

1In this passage of Saint Mark, and in the following commentary, the single Greek word, psychē, has been translated as either “life” or “soul” as it has both these meanings. See also Theophylact's Explanation of Saint Matthew, pp. 30, 61, and 193. Tr.

2 This false teaching of Origen, apokotastasis, the general restoration of all fallen creation, was condemned by the Church as heresy at the Fifth Ecumenical Council held at Constantinople in 553 AD.

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Sep. 28th, 2019 @ 08:24 pm This evening we heard (Sunday, September 16th):

Rich in godly virtues, let us stand in the house of God now and let us look on the Place of the Skull with a mind completely pure, ye faithful of the Lord. O ye Angels and mortal men, come, let us all gaze on the all-holy Wood now lifted up whereon Christ God freely stretched His hands out and drew us to Himself and brought us to new life, and hath lifted all of us to Heaven's heights.

... and also ...

Let every tongue be moved to sing the fame of all­-glorious Evphemia. Let us all, every race and age, young men and virgins, crown the Virgin Mar­tyr of Christ with songs of praise. For lawfully play­ing the man, and casting off woman's frailty, through athletic labours she hurled the tyrannical enemy to the ground; and adorned with heavenly and divine power, she entreateth her Bridegroom and God that we be granted great mercy.

The Menaion, September 16th, Sunday after the Exaltation, Holy Great-martyr Evphemia
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Sep. 26th, 2019 @ 09:10 pm This evening we heard (Friday, September 14th):

Moses once prefigured thee, stretching his hands out toward Heaven, and prevailing mightily over tyrant Amalek, O most precious Cross, boast of all faithful men, staff and strength of athletes, the Apostles' fair embellishment, champion of the just, and the sure salvation of all the Saints. Hence, seeing thee exalted now, all cre­ation keepeth a festival, filled with joy and gladness, and glorifying Christ God, Who through thee in His extreme goodness joined again what was set at enmity.

The Menaion, September 14th, Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross of the Lord
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Sep. 21st, 2019 @ 08:39 pm This evening we heard (Sunday, September 9th):

On this day of joy, O Theotokos, who art extolled of all, all creation hath great delight observing with one accord this yearly remembrance of thy sacred parents, the famed and wondrous Joachim and hallowed Anna; for they became the cause of universal joy when, past all expectation, they brought thee forth flashing lightning-like with the Light as the nourisher of our life.

The Menaion, September 9th, Saint Joachim and Anna, Parents of the Theotokos
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Sep. 20th, 2019 @ 07:52 pm This evening we heard (Saturday, September 8th):

Today let the barren and childless Anna clap her hands with joy. Let things on earth put on bright apparel; let kings leap for joy and priests exult in hymns of blessing; let the whole world keep feast. For behold, the Queen, the spotless Bride of the Father, is sprung from the root of Jesse. No more shall women bear children in sorrow, for joy hath burst into flower, and the Life of men maketh His dwelling in the world. No more are the gifts of Joachim turned away, for Anna's mourning hath been changed to joy, as she saith: Rejoice with me, all of chosen Israel. For behold, the Lord hath given me the living palace of His divine glory, unto our common joy and gladness, and the salvation of our souls.

The Menaion, September 8th, Nativity of the Theotokos
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Sep. 14th, 2019 @ 08:57 pm This evening we heard (Sunday, September 2nd):

Since thou hadst first overcome the beasts of the unbridled desires, thou didst bridle the gaping mouths of fierce lions by thy prayer and didst check wildly raging beasts, ever abiding unharmed within their midst, O lauded Mamas, prizewinner of the Lord. Thou didst not fear the fire nor a judge's anger, since thou didst prefer nothing to the love of Christ thy Lord, O blessed one.

The Menaion, September 2nd, Holy Martyr Mamas
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Sep. 14th, 2019 @ 08:27 am The stone which the builders rejected...

The Gospel: Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. (Matt 21:42-44)

The Explanation: The stone which the builders, the Jews, rejected, the same is become the cornerstone, to join and unite two walls which before were separate. This refers to Christ, our reconciliation, Who joined together what had been separated and made the two to be as one. He was placed at the head of the corner, meaning that He became the Head of the Church, uniting Jews and Gentiles in one faith. Just as a stone laid at the corner of a building holds two walls together, so also Christ joined together all men in one faith. This corner is marvellous, and it is the Lord’s doing; for the Church which contains us all and makes us one by faith is the Lord’s work, and it is worthy of great wonder, because it is well-built. It is also marvellous in another way, in that Christ’s word has been established and confirmed by miracles. The composition of the Church is marvellous, great and lofty; evil will never prevail over our immaculate and pure faith, or over the correct dogmas of the Church of Christ. The kingdom of God, meaning familiarity with God, was taken away from the Jews and given to those who believe. Those who have stumbled on the stone and taken offence at Christ will be crushed at His Second Coming; moreover, they have already been crushed here in this world by the very same Christ; that is, they have been dispersed over all the earth, as we see from the wretched Jews who are scattered and who suffer greatly. This is the lesson contained in what ye have heard, my brethren; yet this parable rebukes not only the Jews, but also believers who spurn the divine commandments and the injunctions of Christ; for those who sin and imagine that God does not see the future also crucify the Lord. Therefore, when the Lord, the Planter of the vineyard, comes to judge all at His second and dread Advent, He will bring those evil men to an evil end, and will send them into that dismal and unquenchable fire, which is outside of the light; there, as He said, shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt 8:12). May that not befall us, my brethren! Let us strive to cultivate Christ’s vineyard, so that, when fruits are required and must be rendered, we may be ready, and may be found like the tree which is planted by the streams of waters, and may bring forth our fruits in their season, and our leaves, meaning our hope of salvation in Christ, may not fall (Ps 1:3 altered), and we may not be sent into the fire of Gehenna as barren trees. But may we be vouchsafed divine blessedness; may we enter the royal vineyard on high to gather its beautiful grapes and mystically to squeeze them in the winepresses of our hearts; may we be satisfied and filled with their sweetness, and enjoy the new and immortal drink that comes from the true Vine; which may we all be granted to receive; in Christ Jesus our Lord, to Whom be glory and dominion, unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The Gospel Commentary, Compiled and Authored by the Holy Patriarch Philotheos of Constantinople ✠1379, Thirteenth Gospel of Saint Matthew, pp. 383-389

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