‘ . . . we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God’ (Acts 14:22 KJV).
‘In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world’ (St John’s Gospel 16:33 KJV).
We have laid out some very grim things lately. But so long as Christ remains in the world through His Body, His Holy Orthodox Church (which will be the case till the end of the age and His Þrymmfull (Glorious) Second Coming), the world will not descend utterly into Hell; Heaven will continually be breaking into this world wherever pure prayer and the Holy Sacraments are offered with love, sacrifice, and lowly-mindedness; wherever holy relics and icons are approached with faith and reverence; and so forth. This is the way to the healing of our fallen and broken human nature, and the attainment of true Godlikeness, which the transhumanist Elite so desperately would like to take hold of through technology and other Godless means.
This reality, of Heaven on earth, is what one finds in the service for the Great Blessing of the Waters (and throughout Orthodox life in general). May the South choose soon to live in that reality.
A prayer of the Holy Patriarch Sophronios of Jerusalem (+638) from the Great Blessing of the Waters:
Trinity beyond all being, beyond all goodness, beyond all godhead, all-powerful, all-vigilant, invisible, incomprehensible; Creator of the spiritual beings and rational natures, innate goodness, unapproachable Light that enlightens everyone coming into the world, shine also in me your unworthy servant. Enlighten the eyes of my mind that I may dare to sing the praise of your measureless benevolence and power. May my supplication for the people here present be acceptable, so that my offences may not prevent the Holy Spirit from being present here; but permit me now without condemnation to cry out to you and say, Master, lover of mankind, beyond all goodness, Almighty, eternal King. We glorify you, the Creator and Fashioner of the universe. We glorify you, only-begotten Son of God, without father from your Mother, without mother from your Father. For in the preceding feast we saw you as a babe, but in the present one we see you full and perfect man, our God, made manifest as perfect God from perfect God. For today the moment of the feast is here for us and the choir of saints assembles here with us, and Angels keep festival with mortals. Today the grace of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove dwelt upon the waters. Today the Sun that never sets has dawned and the world is made radiant with the light of the Lord. Today the Moon with its radiant beams sheds light on the world. Today the stars formed of light make the inhabited world lovely with the brightness of their splendour. Today the clouds rain down from heaven the shower of justice for mankind. Today the Uncreated by his own will accepts the laying on of hands by his own creature. Today the Prophet and Forerunner draws near, but stands by with fear seeing God’s condescension towards us. Today the streams of Jordan are changed into healing by the presence of the Lord. Today all creation is watered by mystical streams. Today the failings of mankind are being washed away by the waters of Jordan. Today Paradise is opened for mortals and the Sun of justice shines down on us. Today the bitter water as once for Moses’ people is changed to sweetness by the presence of the Lord. Today we have been delivered from the ancient grief, and saved as the new Israel. Today we have been redeemed from darkness and are filled with radiance by the light of the knowledge of God. Today the gloomy fog of the world is cleansed by the manifestation of our God. Today all creation shines with light from on high. Today error has been destroyed and the coming of the Master makes for us a way of salvation. Today things on high keep festival with those below, and those below commune with those on high. Today the sacred and triumphant festal assembly of the Orthodox exults. Today the Master hastens towards baptism, that he may lead humanity to the heights. Today the One who does not bow bows down to his own servant, that he may free us from servitude. Today we have purchased the Kingdom of heaven, for the Kingdom of the Lord will have no end. Today earth and sea share the joy of the world, and the world has been filled with gladness. The waters saw you, O God, the waters saw you and were afraid. The Jordan turned back when it saw the fire of the godhead descending in bodily form and entering it. The Jordan turned back as it contemplated the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, descending and flying about you. The Jordan turned back as it saw the Invisible made visible, the Creator made flesh, the Master in the form of a servant. The Jordan turned back and the mountains leapt as they saw God in the flesh, and the clouds uttered their voice, marvelling at what had come to pass, seeing Light from Light, true God from true God, the Master’s festival today in Jordan; seeing him drowning the death from disobedience, the goad of error and the bond of Hell in Jordan and granting the Baptism of salvation to the world. Therefore I too, a sinner and your unworthy servant, recount the greatness of your wonders and, seized with fear, in compunction cry out to you:
After completing this, he says in a more powerful voice,
Great are you, O Lord, and wonderful your works, and no word is adequate to sing the praise of your wonders (x3). People: Glory to you, Lord, glory to you!"
Source: http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2009/01/holy-theophany-prayer-from-great.html, opened 10 Jan. 2017
A further reflection on Christ’s overcoming of the evil in the world through His Holy Baptism:
'But Christ's descent into the river has also a further significance. When Christ went down into the waters, not only did he carry us down with Him and make us clean, but He also made clean the nature of the waters themselves... The feast of Theophany has thus a cosmic aspect. The fall of the angelic orders, and after it the fall of man, involved the whole universe. All God's creation was thereby warped and disfigured: to use the symbolism of the liturgical texts, the waters were made a "lair of dragons". Christ came on earth to redeem not only man but through man the entire material creation. When He entered the water, besides effecting by anticipation our rebirth in the font, he likewise effected the cleansing of the waters, their transfiguration into an organ of healing and grace.' Bishop Kallistos, "Background and meaning of the Feasts" in the Festal Menaion.
Source: http://www.abbamoses.com/months/january.html, under the heading of ‘January 6’, opened 1 Jan. 2016
(Icon from https://www.orthodoxmonasteryicons.com/products/baptism-of-christ-theophany-icon, opened 10 Jan. 2017)
Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð!
Anathema to the Union!