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December 10, 2014 + The Inward Mission of Our Church: Bringing About Orthodoxy

by St. Justin Popovich

This mission of the Church is facilitated by God Himself because among our people there exists an ascetic spirit as created by Orthodoxy through the centuries. The Orthodox soul of our people leans towards the Holy Fathers and the Orthodox ascetics. Ascetic exertion, at the personal, family, and parish level, particularly of prayer and fasting, is the characteristic of Orthodoxy. Our people is a people of Christ, an Orthodox people, because—as Christ did—it sums up the Gospel in these two virtues: prayer and fasting. And it is a people convinced that all defilement, all foul thoughts, can be driven out of man by these alone (Matt. 17:21). In its heart of hearts our people know Christ and Orthodoxy, they know just what it is that makes an Orthodox person Orthodox. Orthodoxy will always generate ascetic rebirth. She recognizes no other.

The ascetics are Orthodoxy's only missionaries. Asceticism is her only missionary school. Orthodoxy is ascetic effort and it is life, and it is thus by effort and by life that her mission is broadcast and brought about. The development of asceticism...this ought to be the inward mission of our Church amongst our people. The parish must become an ascetic focal point. But this can only be achieved by an ascetic priest. Prayer and fasting, the Church-oriented life of the parish, a life of liturgy: Orthodoxy holds these as the primary ways of effecting rebirth in its people. The parish, the parish community, must be regenerated and in Christ-like and brotherly love must minister humbly to Him and to all people, meek and lowly and in a spirit of sacrifice and self-denial. And such service must be imbued and nourished by prayers and the liturgical life. This much is groundwork and indispensible. But to this end there exists one prerequisite: that our bishops, priests, and our monks become ascetics themselves. That this might be, then: Let us beseech the Lord.

St. Justin Popovich, "The Inward Mission of Our Church: Bringing About Orthodoxy," From Divine Ascent, Number 1 (Great Lent, 1997), pp. 21-27.

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Martyr Menas of Alexandria

Troparion, Tone 8

Having slain the fiery ragings and fierce movements of the passions though their ascetic labors, the Martyrs of Christ, Menas, Hermogenes, and Eugraphus, received grace to dispel the afflictions of the infirm and to work wonders both while alive and after death. It is a truly great wonder that bare bones pour forth healing. Glory to our only God and Creator.

Kontakion, Tone 4

The Lord snatched you from the temporal army making you a fellow inheritor of the eternal, O Menas; together with Hermogenes and Eugraphus with whom you suffered, you are granted an incorruptible crown.