Monday, October 3, 2011

Happy Feast of St. Dennis (or St. Dionysius the Areopagite)!!

No more "Dennis the Menace"!

Stand aside "Ohhhhh, Mr. Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiillllllllllllson"!!!

For those who carry the name Dennis, or Denis, or Denise, or any variations of this, today is your day 'cause of
St. Dionysius the Areopagite. He was the guy that St. Paul selected to be Bishop of Athens.  He came to Jesus b/c of Paul's preaching as recorded in Acts 17.

Read his awesome story below.  I just love St. Dionysius's encounters with Mary!!!!!!!

To promote Orthodox-Catholic relations according to the mind of Christ, this icon was chosen as a classroom decoration.

(c) 2000 St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery, Inc — Florence, AZ 85232

The source of the following can be found in Professor James Michael Thompson's Facebook page if you click HERE.

St. Dionysius the Areopagite, bishop ( Byz. and R.M. #1, Oct. 3, 2011)

by James Michael Thompson on Sunday, October 2, 2011 at 3:38pm

The Hieromartyr Dionysius the Areopagite, Bishop of Athens St Dionysius
lived originally in the city of Athens. He was raised there and received a
classical Greek education. He then went to Egypt, where he studied astronomy at
the city of Heliopolis. It was in Heliopolis, along with his friend Apollophonos
where he witnessed the solar eclipse that occurred at the moment of the death of
the Lord Jesus Christ by Crucifixion. "Either the Creator of all the world now
suffers, or this visible world is coming to an end," Dionysius said. Upon his
return to Athens from Egypt, he was chosen to be a member of the Areopagus
Council (Athenian high court).

When the holy Apostle Paul preached at the place on the Hill of Ares (Acts 17:16-34), Dionysius accepted his salvific proclamation and became a Christian. For three years St Dionysius remained a companion of the holy Apostle Paul in preaching the Word of God. Later on, the
Apostle Paul selected him as bishop of the city of Athens. And in the year 57 St
Dionysius was present at the repose of the Most Holy Theotokos.

During the lifetime of the Mother of God, St Dionysius had journeyed from Athens to
Jerusalem to meet Her. He wrote to his teacher the Apostle Paul: "I witness by
God, that besides the very God Himself, there is nothing else filled with such
divine power and grace. No one can fully comprehend what I saw. I confess before
God: when I was with John, who shone among the Apostles like the sun in the sky,
when I was brought before the countenance of the Most Holy Virgin, I experienced
an inexpressible sensation. Before me gleamed a sort of divine radiance which
transfixed my spirit. I perceived the fragrance of indescribable aromas and was
filled with such delight that my very body became faint, and my spirit could
hardly endure these signs and marks of eternal majesty and heavenly power. The
grace from her overwhelmed my heart and shook my very spirit. If I did not have
in mind your instruction, I should have mistaken Her for the very God. It is
impossible to stand before greater blessedness than this which I beheld."

After the death of the Apostle Paul, St Dionysius wanted to continue
with his work, and therefore went off preaching in the West, accompanied by the
Presbyter Rusticus and Deacon Eleutherius. They converted many to Christ at
Rome, and then in Germany, and then in Spain. In Gaul, during a persecution
against Christians by the pagan authorities, all three confessors were arrested
and thrown into prison. By night St Dionysius celebrated the Divine Liturgy with
angels of the Lord. In the morning the martyrs were beheaded. According to an
old tradition, St Dionysius took up his head, proceeded with it to the church
and fell down dead there. A pious woman named Catulla buried the relics of the

The writings of St Dionysius the Areopagite hold great significance for the Orthodox Church. Four books of his have survived to the present day:

On the Celestial Hierarchy On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy
On the Names of God On Mystical Theology 

In additional, there are ten letters to various people.

The book On the Celestial Hierarchies was written
actually in one of the countries of Western Europe, where St Dionysius was
preaching. In it he speaks of the Christian teaching about the angelic world.
The angelic (or Celestial-Heavenly) hierarchy comprises the nine angelic Ranks:

Seraphim Cherubim Thrones Dominions Powers Authorities Principalities
Archangels Angels

The account of the Synaxis of the Bodiless Powers of
Heaven is located under November 8.

The purpose of the
divinely-established Angelic Hierarchy is the ascent towards godliness through
purification, enlightenment and perfection. The highest ranks are bearers of
divine light and divine life for the lower ranks. And not only are the sentient,
bodiless angelic hosts included in the spiritual light-bearing hierarchy, but
also the human race, created anew and sanctified in the Church of Christ.

The book of St Dionysius On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchies is a
continuation of his book On the Celestial Hierarchies. The Church of Christ,
like the Angelic ranks, in its universal service is set upon the foundation of
priestly principles established by God.

In the earthly world, for the children of the Church, divine grace comes down indescribably in the holy
Mysteries of the Church, which are spiritual in nature, though perceptible to
the senses in form. Few, even among the holy ascetics, were able to behold with
their earthly eyes the fiery vision of the Holy Mysteries of God. But outside of
the Church's sacraments, outside of Baptism and the Eucharist, the light-bearing
saving grace of God is not found, neither is divine knowledge nor theosis

The book On the Names of God expounds upon the way of
divine knowledge through a progression of the Divine Names.

St. Dionysius' book On Mystical Theology also sets forth the teaching about divine
knowledge. The theology of the Orthodox Church is totally based upon experience
of divine knowledge. In order to know God it is necessary to be in proximity to
Him, to have come near to Him in some measure, so as to attain dommunion with
God and deification (theosis). This condition is accomplished through prayer.
This is not because prayer in itself brings us close to the incomprehensible
God, but rather that the purity of heart in true prayer brings us closer to God.

The written works of St Dionysius the Areopagite are of extraordinary
significance in the theology of the Orthodox Church, and also for late Medieval
Western theology. For almost four centuries, until the beginning of the sixth
century, the works of this holy Father of the Church were preserved in an
obscure manuscript tradition, primarily by theologians of the Alexandrian
Church. The concepts in these works were known and utilized by Clement of
Alexandria, Origen, Dionysius the Great, pre-eminent figures of the catechetical
school in Alexandria, and also by St Gregory the Theologian. St Dionysius of
Alexandria wrote to St Gregory the Theologian a Commentary on the "Areopagitum."
The works of St Dionysius the Areopagite received general Church recognition
during the sixth-seventh centuries.

Particularly relevant are the Commentaries written by St Maximus the Confessor (January 21). (trans. note:
although many scholars suggest that the "Areopagitum" was actually written by an
anonymous sixth century figure who employed the common ancient device of piously
borrowing an illustrious name, this in no way diminishes the profound
theological significance of the works.)

In the Russian Orthodox Church the teachings of St Dionysius the Areopagite about the spiritual principles and deification were at first known through the writings of St John of Damascus
(December 4). The first Slavonic translation of the "Areopagitum" was done on
Mt. Athos in about the year 1371 by a monk named Isaiah. Copies of it were
widely distributed in Russia. Many of them have been preserved to the present
day in historic manuscript collections, among which is a parchment manuscript
"Works of St Dionysius the Areopagite" belonging to St Cyprian, Metropolitan of
Kiev and All Rus (September 16) in his own handwriting.

According to one tradition, he was killed at Lutetia (ancient name of Paris, France) in the year
96 during the persecution under the Roman emperor Dometian (81-96). Today most
scholars and theologians believe that St Dionysius the Areopagite did not die in
Gaul, and that St Dionysius (or Denys) of Paris is a different saint with the
same name.

St Demetrius of Rostov says that the Hieromartyr Dionysius
was beheaded in Athens, and that many miracles were worked at his grave.

Troparion - Tone 4

Having learned goodness and maintaining continence in all things,
you were arrayed with a good conscience as befits a priest.
From the chosen Vessel you drew ineffable mysteries;
you kept the faith, and finished a course equal to His.
 Bishop martyr Dionysius, entreat Christ God that our souls may be saved.

Kondakion -Tone 8

As a disciple of the apostle caught up to the third heaven,
you spiritually entered the gate of heaven, Dionysius.
You were enriched with understanding of ineffable mysteries
and enlightened those who sat in the darkness of ignorance.
Therefore we cry to you:
Rejoice, universal Father!

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