The Holy and Glorious Prophet Elias

July 20th

Prophet EliasThe Journey's End is Knowledge of God

The holy prophet Elias is remarkable among the prophets and fathers for many reasons. Our Church has reflected often on the life of this great prophet, marveling at his power over nature and his boldness before God and men.  The texts for this feast call him the 'second fore-runner', and 'pure one'.

He is a fore-runner of the coming of Christ, a figure of John the Fore-runner, and of the Savior himself.  He stands between God and man, calling all to faith and fidelity.  Against idolatry and injustice, he is an uncompromising prophet of singular dedication.

Reflecting upon Elias' ascension in the chariot of fire, we see that Elias is not yet dead, but has ascended bodily into heaven. But all men must die, so his earthly mission must not yet be complete.  So, we answer that Elias will return before the second coming of Christ, acting as a 'second fore-runner'.  Elias will call us to prepare for the great day of the Lord's return. Then, it is said, he will suffer martyrdom, and die, giving his life in witness to the presence of the Lord.

But that is not Elias' only mission.  In the canon for the feast, the prophet is called 'pure one', a title we hear often in reference to Mary the Mother of God  (the Most Pure One) whom he also prefigures. Elias led a life of ascetic prayer, fasting on Carmel, wandering in the desert, wrapped in stillness upon Horeb.  Our Orthodox Church has seen him also as a fore-runner of the Mother of God, because Elias in virginity and purity became, in the flesh, worthy of the vision of God's presence. Elias upon the mountain, fasting and praying, has become the icon of the hesychast at prayer.  Not in earthquake, mighty wind, or many words; but in the "sound of sheer silence" Elias has encountered God. And this miracle while yet in the flesh! Even today, Elias stands in the body, before the throne of God in heaven. How is this possible?  We do not know, but we are glad to wonder, at God whose generosity seems beyond all we might hope for.

Those of the East, who practice prayer of stillness, hesychastic prayer, see in the holy prophet proof, that yet in this life, yet in the body, God can reveal his glory to his servants. Those who in purity of heart, and inner stillness, wait upon God and yearn to enter into the his presence are filled with hope as they recall the gifts given to this prophet. Elias has known in the flesh the fulfillment of the beatitudes, for 'pure in heart, he sees God'.

Silence is discovered by those who know purity of heart. Purity of heart is the crown of the passions conquered. The weapons for this battle are the practice of the virtues and asceticism. This road is formidable and often frightening (Elias found it terrifying), but the journey's end is knowledge of God.

The 'Praises' of the Feast of Elias sums up this spiritual journey, for Elias who "by conquering of the passions" is brought into God's presence. An "angel in the flesh" and a "heavenly man" he dwells among the saints.

From the canon, ode 9:

You now dwell in the land of the blessed where you see the angelic powers, O all-wise prophet of God, Elias; for you were blessed with graces.  Therefore all the faithful joyously glorify you.  O all-glorious one, clearly seeing the fulfillment of your predictions from the past, we wonder at the grace that was given to you.  We are amazed at the purity of your mind and soul in the clear sight of God.

Let us stand with Eliseus at the Jordan, and also pray for a share of Elias' boldness before God, his determination in prayer, his endurance in suffering, his victory over the passions, his patience in stillness, his intimacy with the Lord, that we might stand with him one day before the face of God.

Written by a monk of the Byzantine Catholic Church.

Copyright © 1998, www.byzcath.org.


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Teachings of Christ

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 ESV)

Scripture

December 10, 2017
Twenty-Seventh Sunday After Pentecost
- Matins: Luke 24:12-35 (Gospel 5)
- Liturgy: Ephesians 6:10-17, Luke 17:12-19 (Slavs), Luke 13:10-17 (Greeks)

Twenty-Eighth Week After Pentecost
- Monday: 2 Timothy 2:20-26, Mark 8:11-21
- Tuesday: 2 Timothy 3:16-4:4, Mark 8:22-26
- Wednesday: 2 Timothy 4:9-22, Mark 8:30-34
- Thursday: Titus 1:5-2:1, Mark 9:10-16
- Friday: Titus 1:15-2:10, Mark 9:33-41
- Saturday: Ephesians 1:16-23, Luke 14:1-14

December 17, 2017
Sunday of the Forefathers
Second Sunday Before Christmas
- Matins: Luke 24:36-53 (Gospel 6)
- Liturgy: Colosians 3:4-11, Luke 14:16-24

Twenty-Ninth Week After Pentecost
- Monday: Hebrews 3:5-11, 17-19, Mark 9:42-10
- Tuesday: Hebrews 4:1-13, Mark 10:2-12
- Wednesday: Hebrews 5:11-6:8, Mark 10:11-16
- Thursday: Hebrews 7:1-6, Mark 10:17-27
- Friday: Hebrews 7:18-25, Mark 10:23-32

December 23, 2017
Saturday Before Christmas
- Galatians 3:8-12, Luke 13:18-29

December 24, 2017
Sunday Before Christmas
Sunday of the Holy Fathers
- Matins: John 20:1-10 (Gospel 7)
- Liturgy: Galatians 3:8-12
- Matthew 1:1-25

Christmas Eve
- First Royal Hour: Micah 5:2-4, Hebrews 1:1-12, Matthew 1:18-25
- Third Royal Hour: Baruch 3:36-4:4, Galatians 3:23-29, Luke 2:1-20
- Sixth Royal Hour: Isaiah 7:10-16; 8:14; 8:8-10, Hebrews 1:10-2:3, Matthew 2:1-12
- Ninth Royal Hour: Isaiah 9:6,7, Hebrews 2:11-18, Matthew 2:13-23
- Vespers: 1) Genesis 1:1-13, 2) Numbers 24:2, 3 ; 5-9, 17, 18, 3) Micah 4:6, 7; 5:2-4, 4) Isaiah 11:1-10, 5) Baruch 3:36-4:4, 6) Daniel 2:31-36, 44, 45, 7) Isaiah 9:6, 7, 8) Isaiah 7:10-16; 8:1-4, 8-10
- Liturgy: Hebrews 1:1-12, Luke 2:1-20

December 25, 2017
Christmas
- Matins: 1:18-25
- Liturgy: Galatians 4:4-7, Matthew 2:1-12

December 26,2017
Synaxis of the Most Holy Mother of God
- Hebrews 2:11-18, Matthew 2:13-23

December 27, 2017
First-Martyr and Archdeacon Stephen
- Acts 6;8-15, 7:1-7, 47-60, Matthew 21:33-42, Hebrews 10:1-18, Mark 11:23-26

December 28, 2017
Twenty Thousand Martyrs of Nicomeida
- Hebrews 10:35-11:7, Mark 11:27-33

December 29. 2017
Holy Innocents
- Hebrews 11:8,11-16, Mark 12:1-12

Saturday After Christmas
- 1 Timothy 6:11-16, Matthew 12:15-21

December 31, 2017
Sunday after Christmas: Commemoration of the Holy Righteous David the King, Joseph the Betrothed, and James the Brother of the Lord
- Matins: John 20:11-18 (Gospel 8)
- Liturgy: Galatians 1:11-19, Matthew 2:13-23

Feasts & Fasts

December
6 - St Nicholas the Wonderworker and Archbishop of Myra in Lycia
9 (8) - The Conception of the Most Holy Mother of God by the Righteous Anna
12 - Our Lady of Guadalupe
17 - Second Sunday Before Christmas (Holy Forefathers)
24 - Sunday Before Christmas (Holy Fathers) / Christmas Eve
25 - The Nativity of our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ
26 - Synaxis of the Most Holy Mother of God, Boxing Day (Canada)
27 - First-Martyr and Archdeacon Stephen
28 - 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia
29 - 14,000 Infants (the Holy Innocents) Slain by Herod at Bethlehem
31 - Sunday after Christmas: Commemoration of the Holy Righteous David the King, Joseph the Betrothed, and James the Brother of the Lord

Please pray!

"They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword...." (Hebrews 11:37a)

Please lift up in prayer all those who are persecuted and deprived of liberty, everywhere in the world. Please especially remember the peoples of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Niger - the whole Middle East and Africa - who are literal martyrs for Christ. Also the peoples of Ukraine. They are our brothers, for all are one in Christ.

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Saint Nicholas of Myra

The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock, * as a rule of faith, an image of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence. * Therefore, you attained the heights through humility, * and riches through poverty. * O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, * pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved. (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

In Myra, You were shown to be a servant of the sacred things, O Holy Nicholas, * for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, you, O Venerable, laid down your life for your people, * and saved the innocent from death. * Therefore, you were sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

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Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Adam, before the fall ... participated in ... divine illumination and resplendence, and because he was truly clothed in a garment of glory he was not naked, nor was he unseemly by reason of his nakedness. He was far more richly adorned than those who now deck themselves out with diadems of gold and brightly sparkling jewels. St. Paul calls this divine illumination and grace our celestial dwelling when he says, 'For this we sigh, yearning to be clothed in our heavenly habitation, since clothed we will not be found naked' (2 Cor. 5:2).

St. Gregory Palamas (Topics of Natural and Theological Science no. 67, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 377)