Weekly Bulletin

St. Cyril of Jerusalem
Orthodox Church
www.stcyril.us  (281) 298-3232
 

October 14, 2018

20th Sunday after Pentecost – Tone 3.

Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council

Martyrs Nazarius, Gervasius & Protasius of Milan (1st cent.)

BUILDING UPDATE – The buildings on the lot on FM 242 are being built out to serve as a church and a hall. This past week we have dug trenches for electricity prior to the electric company coming out to approve the work and install electricity. We continue to pray for dry weather so that soil will dry out enough to dig the hole for the septic tank. THANK YOU to all who have worked so hard in the mud to dig the trenches!

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The Enduring Spiritual Gifts of the Saints

The Saints who dwell in heaven are actually alive; they see, hear, know, feel and respond to all that happens on earth. This truth contains within it another very important fact: that the saints leave the earth with those very same qualities, skills, and gifts of grace, which they acquired while on earth, and they have lost nothing but their bodies, and the limitations of their bodies. In other words, the spiritual gifts that the saints possess in heaven are simply a continuation, strengthening and broadening of the spiritual gifts that they already possessed while they were alive on earth.

Thus we find in Holy Scripture that the saints of God possessed the gift of spiritual knowledge of things that are hidden and secret. The holy Prophet Ahijah, for example, was blind, and yet he knew Jeroboam when he came to visit him. The Prophet Elisha knew what Gehazi and the Syrians were doing, even when they were a long distance away. The holy Apostle Peter knew what Ananias and Sapphira were hiding. For the saints in heaven, this gift of knowledge is extended even further from the moment that their souls are separated from their bodies.

We read in Holy Scripture that the prayer of the righteous for others has great power. “The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects,” St. James writes. “Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again and the heavens gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit” (James 5:16-18). The Lord said of the Righteous Job: “My servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly” (Job 42:8). The prayers of the righteous are powerful because “if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God,” says St. John the Apostle, “and we receive from Him whatever we ask, because we keep His commandments and do what pleases Him” (1 John 3:21-22).

The Apostles prayed for people with this kind of powerful prayer. “We always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of His calling,” says St. Paul. Again, he writes: “We have not ceased to pray for you, that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” And to the Corinthians he writes: “This is what we pray for, that you may become perfect.” (2 Thess. 1:11; Col. 1:9; 2 Cor. 13:9)

While still on the earth, St. Paul says to the Christians that he never ceases to pray for them. If the prayer of St. Paul, and of the other Holy Apostles, was unceasing even while they were still on the earth, how would it be possible that their prayer would cease when they are “absent from the body, but present with the Lord”? For “love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.”

If while they were still here on earth the saints had such love for people, and by this love obtained a foretaste of life eternal, then it’s clear that when they pass over in love “from death into life” (1 John 3:14), they are not deprived of this love for people, but they continue to possess it, or else they would have been deprived of the Kingdom of God itself and would have ceased to experience it. If they had such deep compassion for people on earth, if they had such a ceaseless desire for their salvation, if they had prayer for them before God; if here they heard and accepted requests for prayer, if they knew the needs and deeds of man, even those which are hidden and secret, and were able to help the people by the power of grace granted them by God and by their holy prayers before God, then they certainly will lose none of these abilities when they are “absent from the body, and present with the Lord.” On the contrary, “while we are at home with the body we are away from the Lord.” Here on earth they “know in part,” but “when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.” In the kingdom of God, the saints have the fulness of the gifts of grace and knowledge, and are always ready to help. Standing before the throne of God in heaven, they have even greater abilities to help than they had while still on earth.

Every spiritual gift that a person acquires on earth remains with his soul after death. These gifts serve as foretastes and promises of their future state and of the blessedness of Paradise. They show that this earthly life is a preparation for the Kingdom of Heaven. “For we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body” (2 Cor. 5:10). “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap . . . He who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:7-8)

We know that we have passed out of death into life,” says the Apostle, “because we love the brothers.” Every one who loves his brother already has eternal life abiding in him, and has already tasted the blessedness of the future life (1 John 3:14). Further: “The Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).The active love instilled into the souls of the saints while they were here on earth remains with them eternally in heaven.

Many and various are the gifts of grace of the saints which are so essential for the Church on earth. And as soon as the saints leave “the body to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8) it’s inconceivable that they would be deprived of and lose these gifts; rather they continue to possess them exclusively for the benefit of the Church on earth. As long as the Church exists on earth, the saints in heaven will have a loving concern for it and will intercede for us.