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Akathist Hymn to the Martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoctistus

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Kontakion 1

 Our Heavenly Father, we are not worthy of Thy holy martyrs who gladly endured torture rather than denounce Jesus Christ. Even so, lest the suffering of Christ Himself be in vain, we assemble as Christians and we praise Saint Cyprian and Saint Justina who lived in Antioch and who, with Saint Theoctistus, were martyred in Nicomedia in the year 304. Let us therefore bow our heads in veneration of those who sacrificed their lives for the sake of Jesus Christ, saying:

Have mercy, holy martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoctistus: for your love is undying.

Ikos 1

 Saint Cyprian, thou wert a pagan priest, having been a pupil of evil devices since a child and in accordance with thine upbringing. Thou wert able to call forth demons, cast spells, and inflict diseases. Thou even taughtest others how to do the same, spreading the ways of evil and devastating the lives of many. Mercifully, thou wert to be called forth to serve the True God as a true priest. We likewise ask for mercy that any deviances from our spiritual path might be straightened:

Have mercy, for many people today are deceived by evil practices of witchcraft and sorcery.

Have mercy, for the devil useth tricks and disguises to entrap and dominate both the ungodly and the Christian.

Have mercy, for Jesus Christ kneweth that the devil desired the downfall of the holy Apostle Peter.

Have mercy, for the enemy of mankind despised Saint Peter’s dedication to the Only Son of God.

Have mercy, for the holy Apostle Paul warned the Ephesians that we struggle against wicked principalities.

Have mercy, for the devil trieth to sway individuals and also entire communities for his evil purposes.

Have mercy, for Saint John Chrysostom said that Satan grieveth when a person is delivered from sin.

Have mercy, for only the repentant can enter the Kingdom of Heaven and enjoy eternal life.

Have mercy, holy martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoctistus: for your love is undying.

Kontakion 2

Saint Justina, thou wert also brought up in a pagan household, but thou becamest a Christian and then converted thy parents to the True Church. Young in years but strong in faith, thou didst devote thyself to a life of prayer. Thou didst continually crucify thine impure passions and desires, and lived virtuously for the sake of thy Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thine home became a sanctuary of unceasing worship, and everyone in it said: Alleluia!

Ikos 2

May the young find motivation in thy priorities, Saint Justina, and may the old find renewal in thy zeal. Like the Prophetess Anna, thou didst set aside all earthly matters and fervently prayed to God. Like Saint John the Forerunner, thou wert a messenger of the glad news within the wilderness of thy family. Thou art truly worthy of emulation, and we therefore offer thee these praises:

Have mercy, new convert to Christianity and a blessing to thy mother.

Have mercy, young follower of Jesus Christ and a revelation to thy father.

Have mercy, first in thine household to hear the Gospel and first to be martyred.

Have mercy, first in thy family to make the Sign of the Cross and first to repel the demons.

Have mercy, Christian in the city of Antioch and stranger to places of temptation.

Have mercy, worshipper in the Church of Christ and foreigner to temples of idols.

Have mercy, eager recipient of the glad news and deaf mute to evil murmurings.

Have mercy, golden vessel of the virtues and brick wall to unbefitting influences.

Have mercy, holy martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoctistus: for your love is undying.

Kontakion 3

In thy dedication to a life of prayer, Saint Justina, thou didst refuse a marriage proposal from a conceited young man who was attracted to thy beauty and the excellence of thy character. He deemed thee suitable to become his bride, not understanding that thine honorable conduct resulted from thy conversion to Christianity. It was the True Bridegroom of the True Faith Who had transformed thee into a fragrant flower of blessings. Therefore, in faithfulness to God’s calling, thou didst say: Alleluia!

Ikos 3

Everything is to be done according to the will of God and for the glory of God. Whether to marry or to live in solitary prayer: it is not a personal preference, but the calling of God upon His people and the distribution of His gifts. Let us thank God for sending us holy examples from all walks of life, as we bring forth praises to Saint Justina who was martyred for truth and because of love:

Have mercy, for the faithful continue to preserve thy memory from one generation to the next.

Have mercy, for the persecuted arise to sainthood from every manner of Christian living.

Have mercy, for a pure heart is the acceptable habitat of God’s love.

Have mercy, for God showeth no bias toward the social status of persons.

Have mercy, for the gifts of God are diverse and in accordance with His Wisdom and mercy.

Have mercy, for the martyrs prove that all Christians are to be righteous and faithful.

Have mercy, for abundant reward is given to all who do the will of God.

Have mercy, for Heaven awaiteth those who glorify Him here on earth.

Have mercy, holy martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoctistus: for your love is undying.

Kontakion 4

Saint Justina, the menacing young man insisted upon taking thee for his wife. Furious and spiteful, he went to a warlock and paid for a spell to be cast upon thee. That warlock was Saint Cyprian, who was renowned throughout Antioch for his knowledge of sorcery and his actual contact with the devil and hordes of demons. Thou wert to encounter vicious attacks, Saint Justina, but through prayer and fasting thou wouldst continue to say: Alleluia!

Ikos 4

Summoned by the sorcerer Cyprian, the forces of evil began attacking thee. The demons took on various disguises, and tried in different ways to distract thee from prayer and deposit thee into the arms of a scoundrel. Saint Justina, thou didst not surrender to any repressed desires or entertain romantic fantasies in thy mind, but made the Sign of the Cross upon each attack. Thou remainedst loyal to God’s calling and, as such, thou wert a formidable warrior in the face of terrible and cunning demons. For this reason, we reverently bring praises to you:

Have mercy, for we are surrounded by false images of pleasure and power in every facet of our daily living.

Have mercy, for we are admonished by foolish experts to be tolerant of moral deviations and all manner of evil.

Have mercy, for there are some who rewrite the Scriptures to suit their evil and unholy inclinations.

Have mercy, for there are others who dismiss the holy fathers and mothers in order to scatter and not to gather.

Have mercy, that our instinct may always be to rely upon God for help.

Have mercy, that our response may always be repentance and prayer.

Have mercy, that our purpose may always be to please God and serve Him.

Have mercy, that our disposition may always be humble and meek.

Have mercy, holy martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoctistus: for your love is undying.

Kontakion 5

Although thou wert the object of obsession and the target of attack, thou didst overcome all evil by making the Sign of the Cross. This sent the pagan priest Cyprian into a violent rage. He summoned the demons for more attacks – this time, attacking thy parents and relatives, as well as friends and neighbors. He afflicted them with diseases, including their animals, causing sorrow and lamentation. Saint Justina, thou wert also stricken horribly ill, but thou turnedst to the Psalms for comfort, and said: Alleluia!

Ikos 5

Finally, the entire city was afflicted with a plague. The people became angry with thee, Saint Justina, and demanded that thou shoudst marry the young man and satisfy his carnal desires. However, thou neither internalized their blame nor rejected their needs, but thou toldest them that the God of the Christians is sovereign over all the earth. Saint Justina, thou didst pray with all thy being, and the city was miraculously delivered from its misery. Many people then became Christians, for everyone saw the defeat of the sorcerer and the victory of prayer. It is therefore fitting that we sing praises to God’s wonderful saint:

Have mercy, for during all suffering thou didst remain centered in thy life of unceasing prayer.

Have mercy, for during all hardship thou didst never waver in thy dedication to Christ.

Have mercy, for while calamity invaded the city, thou didst remain focused on the authority of God.

Have mercy, for while destruction fell upon all living things, thou didst never succumb to Satan.

Have mercy, for thou leddest the people to the True God by thy powerful prayers.

Have mercy, for thou didst turn their grief into celebration.

Have mercy, for thou rosest from thy bed of sickness by thy faith.

Have mercy, for thou didst receive grace in every circumstance.

Have mercy, holy martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoctistus: for your love is undying.

Kontakion 6

Saint Cyprian, through the marvelous powers of the God of the Christians, and therefore through Saint Justina, thou wert able to observe and experience the inferiority of the devil and his devices. Yes, Saint Cyprian, thou thyself hadst been greatly deceived and cheated by the enemy of mankind. Upon the depletion of thy sorcery, thou didst criticize Satan to his face for his inability to win the spiritual war against Saint Justina. This was a turning point in thy life, for thou wouldst soon hasten to the True God, and thou wouldst say: Alleluia!

Ikos 6

Thou hadst lost all credibility in Antioch, and now the devil was enraged over thy confrontation of his fear of Jesus Christ and Saint Justina. The devil therefore leaped forward and tried to strangle thee to death. In desperation, and yet with clarity and conviction, thou didst cry out, “O God of Justina, make haste to help me.” The devil cowered, and thou madest the Sign of the Cross. The devil then retreated into darkness, and thou gavest thanks unto God for thy deliverance. Saint Cyprian, we also thank God for thee, and we offer these praises:

Have mercy, defeated in battle by the holy Saint Justina and triumphant over the forces of evil.

Have mercy, scorned by the city of Antioch and uplifted from the domain of darkness.

Have mercy, attacked by the enemy of mankind and delivered by the God of Saint Justina.

Have mercy, exhausted of evil curses and invigorated by the Sign of the Cross.

Have mercy, that we give no opening to Satan.

Have mercy, that we never have recourse to evil enchantments.

Have mercy, that we learn from the saints and martyrs.

Have mercy, that we trust only in the True God.

Have mercy, holy martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoctistus: for your love is undying.

Kontakion 7

In thy state of profound repentance, Saint Cyprian, thou didst gather up all thy books of sorcery and asked the bishop to burn them and to baptize you into the True Church. Although thou mettest with distrust, thine heartfelt weeping over thy sins convinced the bishop of thy sincerity. Thou were baptized, then ordained a true priest of the True God, and later becamest a bishop. Meanwhile, Saint Justina had entered a monastery. It was thy great honor to ordain her a deaconess, and then thou didst appoint her the abbess. In all things thou didst continually praise God, and said: Alleluia!

Ikos 7

Saint Cyprian, thy wondrous conversion and holy demeanor attracted many pagans to the Faith. Seeing these amazing events take place, the devil became envious. He provoked other pagans to falsely accuse thee and Saint Justina of misleading the people and subverting the government, and they demanded that both of you be executed. Yet, you continued to worship the God of the Christians, and we who are Christians therefore bring our supplications to you:

Have mercy, for the devil wageth war against Christians to this day.

Have mercy, for the evil one also trieth to obstruct the conversion of souls.

Have mercy, for there are devious people who manipulate our weaknesses.

Have mercy, for there are profane books and divers arts which entice the unguarded.

Have mercy, for the lust for power is in defiance of the sovereignty of God.

Have mercy, for the desire for fame is in opposition to the Christian virtues.

Have mercy, for we need to be reminded of our upward calling.

Have mercy, for we wish to be found holy in the sight of God.

Have mercy, holy martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoctistus: for your love is undying.

Kontakion 8

The governor of Antioch ordered Bishop Cyprian and Abbess Justina to be tortured. In their refusal to denounce Jesus Christ, the governor finally decided to kill them by plunging them into a cauldron of boiling water. The saints prayed fervently and, miraculously, were not harmed. A pagan priest arrogantly thought that he also could be submerged into the water without harm. Calling upon a pagan god to protect him, he hurled himself into the cauldron and was scalded to death. In wonderment at this vivid contrast between truth and falsehood, we all say: Alleluia!

Ikos 8

The governor of Antioch was stunned at the victory of Saint Cyprian and Saint Justina, and filled with fear over the failure of the pagan priest. He therefore senteth the saints to the governor of Nicomedia for the completion of their punishment. After years of interacting with each other, they were now to be martyred together. These true servants of Jesus Christ were then beheaded by the sword. Let us therefore lift our voices to Heaven where they dwell eternally:

Have mercy, martyrs of Nicomedia and citizens of Heaven.

Have mercy, knowers of truth and habitats of love.

Have mercy, resented by demons and venerated by the Church.

Have mercy, despised by pagans and admired by Christians.

Have mercy, united in Christ and fruitful in service.

Have mercy, joined in worship and generous in blessings.

Have mercy, members of the Body and bearers of the Cross.

Have mercy, friends of the saints and teachers of mankind.

Have mercy, holy martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoctistus: for your love is undying.

Kontakion 9

There was a soldier, Theoctistus, who looked on as Saint Cyprian and Saint Justina were being tortured. Moved by their faithfulness and called forth by the True God, Theoctistus declared himself a Christian and was straightway martyred with them. Their bodies were left unattended for six days. Then, some unidentified Christians collected the bodies and transported them to Rome for burial. A kindly Roman woman called Rufina gave the three martyrs a proper Christian funeral. People then obtained healings at their gravesites, and we today also pray to be delivered from evil and strengthened in faith. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Closing Verse

Let us declare ourselves Christians: receiving the blessings, facing the consequences, and always trusting in the True God to lead us to spiritual victory.

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Through The Archonic Looking Glass

GODS & RADICALS

William Blake's America. A Prophecy, (Frontpiece) (1793) William Blake’s America. A Prophecy, (Frontpiece) (1793)

By Michael Strojan

Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups… So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.

– Philip K. Dick, How To Build A Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later

THEN

In 1945, three months after the end of the Second World War, twelve leather-bound papyrus codices where found by a local farmer in the upper Egyptian city of Nag Hammadi. What…

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Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

Blessed Ash Wednesday everyone! Having spent the last three weeks focusing on the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in our commemorations, today marks the beginning of a Lent. For Gnostics this marks a period of purification, introspection, and self-examination. Beginning 40 days before Easter Sunday, we spend the days of this season examining ourselves and our lives, burning off the dross matter, and preparing for the resurrection of the Divine Light at Easter. Forty days, of course, has significance in the mythic story of Jesus Christ, who spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness before commencing His public ministry, and spent 40 hours in the tomb before His glorious resurrection.

Traditionally, this is one of the penitential seasons (the other being Advent), and has been associated with fasting, abstinence, prayer, penance, and “giving up” something for Lent. These practices, though often not very appealing to Gnostics, can be beneficial. In choosing to limit ourselves, exercising the will over the body, we can begin to remember that this physical body is only temporary and focus on our true spiritual nature. As we are reminded when we receive the blessed ashes on our foreheads: “Remember, O soul, that thy body is dust; and unto dust it shall return.”

If we should choose to give up something for Lent, it’s wise to begin by examining things in our lives that draw our attention away from our true nature as sons and daughters of God, and that spark of Divine Light we all possess: the indwelling Christ. Many people give up sweets or caffeine, and if these things are actually drawing you away from God, then go for it! But if we dig deeper, we may find that the true cause of our separation are things like anger, desire, laziness. When we’ve figured out the cause, we can then figure out what to do about it — it may not involve giving something up at all, but rather taking on a practice. We may choose to add to our regular devotional practices, or even begin a new one if we’ve found ourselves making excuses for finding time for prayer. Whatever we choose to give up or take on during Lent should be based on careful self-examination, so that when the 40 days are over, we find ourselves in a better position than we were before: closer to God, and closer to our neighbors and loved ones.

It’s my prayer that this Lenten season will be a time of powerful transformation for you all, as I hope it will be for myself. Pax vobiscum!

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Just for fun!

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Requiem Æternam

Repose in the eternal Fullness grant unto her, O Lord; and let the light above the Æons shine upon her. Amen.

Repose in the eternal Fullness grant unto her, O Lord; and let the light above the Æons shine upon her. Amen.

Many of you have probably already heard the tragic story of transgender teen, Leelah Alcorn, who recently committed suicide after facing no acceptance from her parents. She was forced to see “Christian” counselors, who tried to “cure” her of her gender identity and told her she was selfish for being who she was. As this blog is especially dedicated to LGBT youth who have lost their lives — either at the hand of someone else, or by their own hand due to persecution — I’ve added her name to the In Memoriam section of the sidebar. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Leelah Alcorn, may she find that peace which the world could not give. I will be praying the Office of the Dead for her myself.

http://heavy.com/news/2014/12/leelah-alcorn-joshua-alcorn-dead-suicide-rip-ohio-tumblr-suicide-note/

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Elevation of the Deceased

An excellent rite for the Elevation of the Deceased, by my good friend and colleague the Rev. Dn. Michael Strojan

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Christos Anesti!

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A blessed Easter to you all, on this great Festival of the Risen Light!  The story of Christ’s incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection is also the story of our own soul’s descent into the limitations and darkness of the physical world, and the hope of our eventual return to the Fullness of God. Most of us who come from liturgical traditions are familiar with the Paschal candle, which is lit by the deacon on Holy Saturday, and remains lit throughout Eastertide to remind us of the Divine Light of Christ, and our own indwelling spark of that same light. In the great mystery drama of Holy Week, we recall the obscuration of the Divine Light in its descent into matter, and on Easter, we celebrate its Resurrection and triumphant return. Just as we keep a Paschal candle lit at church, it is also an old custom to keep a Paschal candle at home, which we can light on each of the 40 days of Easter, beginning today. To do this, we take a large candle, surrounded by flowers, and carve into it a cross similar to the design we see at church, along with Alpha and Omega, and the current year. You may also insert grains of incense at the five points of the Cross.

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The following prayers are recited at each carving:

While cutting the vertical line of the cross, say: Christ yesterday and today.

While cutting the horizontal line, say: the Beginning and the End,

While carving the Greek letters, say: Alpha and Omega

While carving the millennial figure in the upper left quadrant of the cross: His are the times

While carving the second figure in the upper right quadrant: and aeons.

While carving the decade figure (1) in the lower left quadrant: To Him be glory and dominion

While carving the last figure of the year (4) in the lower right quadrant: unto the aeons of aeons. Amen.

While inserting a grain of incense at the top point of the cross: By His holy

While inserting a grain of incense at the center of the cross: and glorious sacrifice

While inserting a grain of incense at the bottom point of the cross: may He guard

While inserting a grain of incense at the left point of the cross: and preserve us,

While inserting a grain of incense at the right point of the cross: Christus Dóminus. Amen.

As you light the candle, whether it be before a meal, or during your devotions, say: May the light of Christ in glory rising again dispel the darkness of heart and mind.

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