St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints. Nov. 18/Nov. 4

24th Week after Pentecost. Tone 6. No fast.

Martyrs Galacteon and his wife Episteme, at Emesa (253). St. Jonah, archbishop of Novgorod (1470). New Hiero-confessor Tikhon (Bellavin), patriarch of Moscow and all Russia. Apostles Patrobus, Hermas, Linus, Gaius, and Philologus, of the Seventy (1st c.). St. Gregory, patriarch of Alexandria (9th c.). St. Hilarion, recluse, of Troekurovo (1853). St. Dositheus, monk of Glinsk Hermitage (1874). Martyrs Domninus, Timothy, Theophilus, Theotimus, Dorotheus, Eupsychius, Carterius, and Pamphilius, of Palestine (307). St. Cybi, abbot, of Cornwall and Wales (550). St. Odrada, virgin, of Balen (Neth.) (8th c.). St. Gregory of Cassano, Calabria (1002).

Repose of Abbess Anna of Vrachevshnitsa Monastery (Serbia) (1975) and Hieromonk Raphael (Ogorodnikov) of Porkhov (Pskov) (1988).

 

Today's Scriptures:

2 Corinthians 11:1-6

Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly-and indeed you do bear with me. For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.  For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted-you may well put up with it! For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles. Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things.

Luke 9:1-6

Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.  And He said to them, "Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece.  Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them. So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

 

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Saturday. [II Cor. 11:1-6; Luke 9:1-6]

   And he sent them (the holy apostles) to preach the Kingdom of God. Then only throughout Palestine, but later throughout the whole world. The preaching which was begun then has not ended to this day. Every day we hear what has been handed down by the holy Apostles from the the Lord, in the holy Gospels and the Apostolic writings. Time does not make a difference: we hear the holy Apostles and the Lord Himself as if they were before us, and the power which acted in them acts to this day in the Church of God. The Lord has not deprived any believers of anything: what the first ones had, the most recent ones have as well. Faith has always encompassed this, and still does. But false wisdom came and made a division between the present and what was originally. It seemed to this false wisdom that there was a great gulf between them; its head began to spin, its eyes grew dim, and for it, the Lord and holy Apostles were as if plunged into a seemingly impenetrable darkness. And it gets what it deserves: let it reap the fruits of what it has sown; only the downfall of the spirit is in it. It wallows in darkness and it does not see the light, and one can only acknowledge this consciousness as being sincere—but who is guilty? It has fogged itself over and continues to do so. To this day, it has not stated why one could not consider the words of New Testament Scripture to be the true word of the holy Apostles and of the Lord Himself. It only cries out tirelessly: “I do not see, I do not see.” We believe, we believe, that you do not see! But stop emitting your fog—the air around you will clear, and then perhaps God’s light will come in and you will see something. “But this is the same as me ceasing to be myself.” Too bad! Stop; others will have more peace. “No, I cannot. I am destined to exist until the end of the age, and very artful ones will arise. I began in the first creature’s mind, even before this visible world [came into being], and while the world still stands, I will rip like a whirlwind across the paths of truth to raise up a pillar of dust against it.” But, you see, you only fog yourself, while around you it is light. “No, I will dust at least someone’s eyes; and if not, let them know me as I am. I will not be silent, and you with your truth will never manage to bar my lips.” Who does not know this? Everyone knows that your first title is “pizma” (from the Greek)—obstinately insisting on your own way, regardless of all obviousness which unmasks your falseness. You are blasphemy against the Holy Spirit—so await the fulfilment of the sentence pronounced against you by the Lord.

 

Prologue of Ohird for Today:

November 4 

1. The Venerable Ioannicius the Great 

The great spiritual light Ioannicius was born in the village of Marycata in the province of Bithynia, of his father Myritricius and his mother Anastasia. As a youth, he was a shepherd. While tending his sheep, he would often retreat into solitude and remain in prayer the whole day, encircling his flock with the sign of the Cross so that the flock would not stray and scatter. Later, he was taken into the army and displayed marvelous courage, particularly in the wars with the Bulgarians. Following his military service, Ioannicius withdrew to Mount Olympus in Asia Minor, where he was tonsured a monk and dedicated himself completely to asceticism until his repose in great old age. He lived in asceticism for over fifty years in various places, and received from God a truly abundant gift of wonderworking. He healed all sicknesses and pains, drove out demons, and tamed wild beasts. He especially had power over snakes, could cross over water as on dry land, could be invisible to men when he so desired, and could foretell future events. He was distinguished by overwhelming humility and meekness. His outward appearance was that of a giant— massive and powerful. He took an active part in the destiny of God’s Church. During the iconoclast controversy, he was deceived at first, but later tore himself away from the iconoclast viewpoint and became an ardent champion of the veneration of icons. He had a great friendship with Patriarch Methodius of Constantinople. Ioannicius lived for ninety-four years and entered peacefully into rest in the Lord in the year 846. He was a great miracle-worker both during his life and after his death. 

 

2. The Hieromartyrs Nicander, Bishop of Myra, and Hermas the Presbyter 

Nicander and Hermas were both ordained by Apostle Titus. They were both distinguished by their great zeal for the Faith and their great labors in winning pagans for Christ the Lord. Because of this, they were accused before a certain judge, Libanus, who subjected them to bitter tortures. They were stoned and dragged over stones; they were imprisoned, suffered hunger and endured many other tortures that no mortal man could endure without God’s special help. The Lord appeared to them in various ways, and when they were thrown into a fiery furnace, the Lord sent His angel to cool the flames for them. Finally, they were buried alive by their cruel torturers. But in vain do men kill those whom the Lord gives life, and in vain do men dishonor those whom the Lord glorifies. 

 

HYMN OF PRAISE

The Venerable Ioannicius the Great Ioannicius served the people, The people and the prince, with great zeal, And then withdrew from all and everything To serve the glory of the Heavenly King. Ioannicius was a great soldier For the holy Faith and for pure justice; With tears and labors for half a century He prayed and prayed to Christ. Glorious Ioannicius was a rich man, Rich and more than abundant with the power of heaven, Leading the struggle, and chanting Psalms, Against every dark and deceitful power. The wondrous saint, Ioannicius, Worked many wonderful miracles In the name of Christ and the power of the Cross, Mightily destroying the demons’ schemes. O Saint of God, Ioannicius, You found mercy in the Lord Jesus Christ: Beg mercy also for us sinners, And from the Holy Spirit, holy grace. 

 

REFLECTION

Mercy is the fruit of faith. Where there is true faith, there also is true mercy. St. Ioannicius was walking past a monastery one day. Among the many nuns, there were a mother and daughter. Evil spirits continually assaulted the young daughter with bodily temptations, and inflamed the passion of lust in her to such a degree that she wanted to leave the convent to marry. In vain did her mother counsel her to stay. Her daughter would not even hear of it. When the mother saw St. Ioannicius, she begged him to counsel her daughter to remain in the monastery and not expose her soul to perdition in the world. Ioannicius summoned the maiden and said: “Daughter, place your hand on my shoulder!” She did so. Then the compassionate saint prayed to God with a fervent heart that He deliver her from temptation, and that her bodily lust be transferred to him. Thus, it happened. The maiden was completely calmed and remained in the monastery, and the saint of God went on his way. But as he went, the passion of lust was inflamed in him, and his blood began to boil as though on fire. He desired to die rather than to give the passion its way and, seeing a large poisonous snake, ran to it so as to be bitten and to die. But the snake would not bite him. He provoked it to make it bite him, but as soon as he touched it the snake died. At that moment the flame of lust disappeared from Ioannicius. 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the Lord’s coming to Paul in a vision at night (Acts 18): 

1. How the Lord came to Paul at Corinth, in a nighttime vision; 

2. How He told him to fear not and to preach, for He said: I have much people in this city; 

3. How Paul obeyed and remained there for a year and a half. 

 

HOMILY on the heirs of the Kingdom through Christ the Lord In whom also we have obtained an inheritance (Ephesians 1: 11) 

All is from the Lord Jesus Christ, all is through the Lord Jesus Christ, and all is of the Lord Jesus Christ. Without Him, we have no proper ties or normal relationships with God, with men or with other created beings. He is our head and our mind, and through Him we have obtained an inheritance. What do we inherit? The Kingdom of God. Why are Christians often called heirs in the New Testament? Inheritance is always associated with someone’s passing from this earth. One must die for his heir to inherit. Christians even become heirs while still in this life, for the old man in them dies and the new man comes in his place as heir. The one who outlives the other is the one who inherits. When the body dies, the soul outlives it; the soul therefore inherits all that a man has gathered while in the body, be it good works for salvation or evil works for condemnation. Through the Lord Jesus Christ the inheritance that the Lord Himself rejoiced in is opened to us: the Immortal Kingdom of God. We inherit that Kingdom when we leave the earthly kingdom— when we die to this earth, we will inherit heaven; when we break off the alliance with Satan, we will become fellow heirs in Christ. O my brethren, just think what a rich inheritance awaits us! But let us not sell it cheaply, as Esau sold his birthright! O Lord Jesus Christ, our God and our Savior, have mercy on us to the end, and save us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints. Nov. 15/Nov. 2

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24th Week after Pentecost. Tone 6.  Fast Day. Wine and oil allowed.

Martyrs Acindynus, Pegasius, Aphthonius, Elpidephorus, Anempodistus, and those with them, of Persia (341). St. Marcian, monk, of Cyrrhus in Syria (388). Blessed Cyprian of Storozhev, former outlaw (16th c.). New Hieromartyr Basil Luzgin, priest, of Glazomicha (1918). Shuya-Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God (1654-1655). St. Erc, bishop of Slane, Ireland (512). St. Anthony the Confessor, archbishop of Thessalonica (844).

Scriptures for Today:

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit. But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.

 

Luke 11:42-46

But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like graves which are not seen, and the men who walk over them are not aware of them. Then one of the lawyers answered and said to Him, "Teacher, by saying these things You reproach us also." And He said, "Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.

 

St. Theophan on Today's Scriptures

Wednesday. [I Thess. 4:1-12; Luke 11:42-46]

   The Lord reproaches His contemporaries by saying that they pass over the judgement and the love of God. The drying up of righteousness and love is the root of all disharmony both in society and in every person. It comes from the predominance of self-love or egoism. When egoism enters the heart an entire horde of passions is multiplied. It itself strikes out against righteousness and love, which require selflessness; while the passions generated from it chase away all other virtues. And the person becomes, by his heart’s disposition, unsuitable for anything that is truly good. He can still tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, but he does not have the courage to do anything more substantial. This does not mean that his outer behaviour is improper. No, in every way it is adorned with decency, only on the inside he is as a grave which appeareth not, and the men that walk over it are not aware of it. The beginning of self-correction is the beginning of the appearance of selflessness in the heart, after which righteousness and love are restored. Then, one after the other, all other virtues begin coming to life. Then the person becomes noble in the eyes of God because of his heart’s dispositon, although on the outside he may sometimes seem unprepossessing to other people. But the judgement of man is not an important thing, provided that God’s judgement is not against us.

 

Prologue of Ohrid

 

1. The Holy Martyrs Acyndinus, Pegasius, Anempodistus, Aphthonius, Elpidephorus and others with them.

They were all Christians from Persia and suffered during the reign of King Sapor in the year 355. The first three were servants at the court of this same king but secretly served Christ their Lord. When they were accused and brought to trial before the king, he asked them where they came from. To this they replied: “Our fatherland and our life is the Most-holy Trinity, one in Essence and undivided, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, One God.” The king subjected them to cruel tortures but they endured all heroically, with psalmody and prayer on their lips. During the time of their torture and imprisonment angels of God appeared to them many times, and one time the Lord Christ Himself appeared to them as a man “with a face radiant as the sun.” When one of the torturers, Aphthonius, beheld a miracle, when boiling lead did no harm to the martyrs, he believed in Christ and cried out: “Great is the Christian God!” For this, he was immediately beheaded, and many others saw and believed. Then the king ordered that Acyndinus, Pegasius and Anempodistus be sewn into animal skins and cast into the sea. But St. Aphthonius appeared from the other world with three shining angels, and led the holy martyrs to dry land and set them free. Elpidephorus was one of the king’s nobles. When he revealed that he was a Christian and denounced the king for his slaughter of innocent Christians, the king condemned him to death and Elpidephorus was beheaded along with seven thousand other Christians. Then those first three martyrs [Acyndinus, Pegasius and Anempodistus] were finally thrown into a burning furnace along with twenty-eight soldiers and the king’s mother, since they also believed in Christ— and thus, in the flames, they gave up their righteous souls into the hands of the Lord. The Holy Pegasius (fresco in St. Sophia church, Ohrid, 14th c.) The Holy Elpidephorus (fresco in St. Sophia church, Ohrid, 14th c.) 

 

2. The Venerable Marcian of Cyrus Marcian was from the town of Cyrus in Syria. 

He was distinguished by his noble ancestry as well as by his physical beauty. He left all for the sake of Christ and withdrew into the wilderness of Halkis to live as a hermit. He was a contemporary of Patriarch Flavian of Antioch and the Emperors Constantius and Valens. A heavenly light shone in his cell at night by which he read the Holy Scriptures, and he never had need of any other light. He was a great miracle-worker both during his life and after death. Before his death, he ordered his disciple Eusebius to conceal his body and bury it secretly because of his many admirers. He entered into rest in the Lord in 387. 

 

3. The Hieromartyr Victorinus, Bishop of Patav 

Many maintain that he was a Slovene by ancestry. Blessed Jerome points him out as a learned and devout man. He knew Greek better than Latin. He wrote the interpretations of several books of the New and Old Testaments. He suffered for the Christian Faith in about the year 303. 

 

HYMN OF PRAISE

The Holy Martyrs Acyndinus, Pegasius, Anempodistus, Aphthonius and Elipidephorus The martyr Acyndinus and with him Pegasius, Courageous Anempodistus and with him Aphthonius, And the gentle Elipidephorus, a royal dignitary: All— sacrificial lambs, snow-white lambs. They showed themselves servants of the Most-holy Trinity, And declared Christ to Sapor, face to face. For them, martyrdom was a celebration. Christ was dearer to them than youth and health; Christ was dearer to them than royal delights; Christ was dearer to them than royal honors. Whatever the world gave them, they gave away for Christ; They fell as noble sacrifices for Christ; They fell in disgrace and rose in radiance; They fell on earth and rose in Paradise. For the Church on earth, they shed their blood; In the heavenly Church they completed the edifice of their souls. Filled with love for the Christian race, They now pray to the risen Christ That He preserve the Church on earth from misfortune, And lead it to the final victory. 

 

REFLECTION

How will one who transgresses love toward his parents raise himself toward love for his enemies? Love for one’s parents— this is the main and fundamental school of love. Without this school, one can go no further. The Serbian King Dragutin rose up against his father with an army in order to sit on his father’s throne. But it so happened that he later broke his leg, and this awakened in him pangs of conscience which did not leave him in peace until his death. Dragutin withdrew from the throne and relinquished his authority to his younger brother Milutin, and began to widely distribute alms, build churches, and perform other good works. In addition to this, he lived a strict life of asceticism in secret. He girded himself with a belt of reeds around his naked body, dressed in coarse sackcloth, and prayed to God at night in a secretly dug grave. This penitent king did all this only that God would forgive him the sin of lack of love toward his parents, and God forgave him. Many holy martyrs joyfully received their executioners who were seeking them, and treated them hospitably in their homes while they themselves prepared for death. To entertain one’s mortal enemies— is this not an expression of great love toward one’s enemies? When King Sapor harshly tortured Acyndinus, Pegasius and others with them, he suddenly went mad, became dumb and unable to speak, and began to claw his face with great fury. Seeing his tormentor in such despair, St. Acyndinus wept and prayed to God for the king and said, “In the name of Jesus Christ the Lord, speak!” and the king’s tongue was loosed and he began to speak. Here is an example of true love for one’s enemies! 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the wondrous power of the apostles’ words (Acts 16): 

1. How a certain slave girl with an unclean spirit of divination cried out after Paul and Silas; 

2. How Paul turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her; 

3. How the unclean spirit at that same hour came out of the slave girl. 

 

HOMILY on the will of God that all Christians should be holy

God wills, according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1: 4).  Only the Church teaches and demonstrates that first there was a plan for the world and then the world was created. That plan was in the wisdom and will and power of God. And we Christians, as the Church of God, are in this plan. According to this plan, God chose us before the foundation of the world for holiness and righteousness and love. God chose us beforehand and adopted us through Him— through Whom? Through the Lord Jesus Christ. For all that we are to God, we are to Him through Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus Christ man has no other bond, no other relationship, no other kinship with God, and therefore our choosing and adoption was through our Lord Jesus Christ. He chose us, His Holy Church, according to the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1: 5), as He had once chosen Israel from among all the nations on earth. Let no one say that this choosing of God destroys man’s free will, so that neither does a Christian have merit because he is a Christian, nor is a pagan condemned because he is a pagan. No, this is a totally erroneous interpretation. For at one time God also chose Israel and some in Israel perished while some were saved. He also chose His Holy Church, calling all nations and peoples to it. But the salvation of those among the chosen does not depend on God’s choice alone, but also on man’s will and effort. O eternal God, our Creator, Who chose us for salvation before Thou hadst even created us, have mercy on us and save us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints. Nov. 14/Nov. 1

24th Week after Pentecost. Tone 6. No fast.

Holy Wonderworkers and Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian, of Mesopotamia, and their mother, St. Theodota (3rd c.). Hieromartyrs John, bishop, and James, priest, in Persia (345). Martyrs Cyrenia and Juliana, in Cilicia (305-311). Martyr Hermeningilda the Goth, prince of Spain (586). Martyrs Caesarius, Dacius, Sabbas, Sabinian, Agrippa, Adrian, and Thomas, at Damascus (7th c.). New Hieromartyr Sergius (Zverev), archbishop of Elets and Melitopol (1937). Hieromartyr Benignus of Dijon, priest and apostle, of Burgundy (ca. 272). St. Stremonius (Austremoine), first bishop of Clermont and apostle of the Auvergne (3rd c.). St. Marcellus, bishop of Paris (ca. 430). New Virgin-martyr Helen of Sinope (18th c.). Repose of Elder Hilarion of Valaam and Sarov (1841).

 

Scriptures for Today:

 

1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God, night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith? Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.

Luke 11:34-41

The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light. And as He spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat. When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner. Then the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also? But rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you.

 

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures

 

Tuesday. [I Thess. 3:9-13; Luke 11:34-41]

The light of the body is the eye, while the light of the soul is the mind. When the eye of the body is undamaged we see everything around us in our external life, and we know how and where to go, and what to do. So also when the mind is sound, we see everthing in our inner life, in our relation to God and our neighbour, and in how we ought to behave. The mind, the higher side of the soul, combines a feeling of the Godhead, the demands of conscience, and aspirations for what is better than everything possessed by us and known to us. When the mind is sound, fear of God reigns in the soul, as well as good conscience and detachment from anything outward; but when it is unsound—God is forgotten, the conscience limps on both legs, and the soul wallows in what is visible and obtainable. Then it is a dark night for that person—concepts are confused, deeds are in disharmony, and the heart is constricted with hopelessness. Circumstances which he encounters push him and he is drawn after them like a wood chip in the current of a river. He does not know what has been done until now, what he is now, and how his path will end. On the hand, he whose mind is sound, fearing God, conducts his affairs with circumspection, listens only to the law of his conscience, which gives a uniform harmony to his entire life, and he does not plunge himself into things of the senses, taking wing through hope in future bliss. From this his view on the entire flow of life with all that it touches is clear, and for him all is full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give one light (cf. Luke 11:36).

 

Prologue of Ohrid:

 

1. Saints Cosmas and Damian 

Cosmas and Damian were unmercenaries and miracle-workers. They were brothers both in the flesh and in the spirit, born somewhere in Asia Minor of a pagan father and a Christian mother. After their father’s death, their mother Theodotia devoted all her time and effort to educating her sons and raising them as true Christians. God helped her, and her sons matured as sweet fruit and luminaries of the world. They were learned in the art of medicine and ministered to the sick without payment, not so much with medicine as by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. They were called “unmercenary physicians,” that is, unpaid physicians, for they healed freely and thus fulfilled the commandment of Christ: Freely ye have received, freely give (Matthew 10: 8). So careful were they in healing men free of charge that Cosmas became very angry with his brother Damian because he accepted three eggs from a woman, Palladia, and ordered that he not be buried alongside his brother Damian after his death. In fact, St. Damian did not accept these three eggs as a reward for healing the ailing Palladia, but rather because she adjured him in the name of the Most-holy Trinity to accept these three eggs. Nevertheless, after their death in the town of Fereman, they were buried together according to a revelation from God. The holy brothers were great miracle-workers both during their life and after their death. A snake crawled through the mouth and into the stomach of a certain farm laborer during his sleep, and the unfortunate man would have died in the greatest pain had he not, in the last moment, invoked the help of Saints Cosmas and Damian. Thus, the Lord glorified forever the miracle-working of those who glorified Him on earth by their faith, purity and mercy. Saints Cosmas and Damian (Menologion of Basil II, 11th c.) 

 

2. The Holy Martyr Hermenegild the Heir 

Hermenegild was the son of the Gothic King Leovigild who adhered to the Arian heresy. However, Hermenegild did not turn away from Orthodoxy in spite of all the flatteries and threats of his cruel heretical father. His father cast him into prison and, early on Pascha, sent a heretical bishop to administer Communion to him. But the God-pleaser refused to receive Communion at the hands of a heretic, and the heretical bishop informed the king about this. The king became angry and ordered the executioner to behead Hermenegild in the year 586. Leovigild later repented that he had killed his son; he renounced his heresy and returned to Orthodoxy. 

 

3. The Venerable Martyr James with his disciples 

James and Dionysius James was born in the Diocese of Castoria of parents named Martin and Parasceva. Working as a shepherd James became wealthy, and by this incurred the envy of his brother, who maligned him to the Turks as having found some treasure in the ground. James fled to Constantinople where he again became very wealthy. Once, James was the guest of a Turkish Bey. The Turks ate meat and James fasted. Then the Bey said: “Great is your Christian Faith!” And he related how his wife had been mentally ill and how he, after all the physicians and cures had failed, took her to the patriarch for prayers to be read over her. As soon as the patriarch opened the book to read, a heavenly light shone forth in the church. After the completion of the prayer, his wife was made whole. Hearing how the Turk extolled the Christian Faith, James distributed all his goods and went to the Holy Mountain, where he was tonsured a monk in the Monastery of Iveron. He lived a life of asceticism on the Holy Mountain and suffered for the Faith at the hands of the Turks in Jedrene on November 1, 1520. His miracle-working relics and those of his disciples, James and Dionysius, repose in the Monastery of St. Anastasia in Galakistou near Thessalonica. 

 

HYMN OF PRAISE

Saints Cosmas and Damian The Church glorifies the miracle-working physicians, Shining stars that shine with the Lord, St. Cosmas and St. Damian, Two Christians, wondrous giants. Theodotia was the mother of these sons; She nourished these giants. The glorious brothers fulfilled the law, And by their mercy pleased Christ. They pleased Christ, the Merciful One, The greatest Unmercenary Physician. They received the gift, and became physicians; They received the gift, but did not sell it. They gave the gifts of God to the poor, And in the name of Christ healed them. Time has not covered God’s saints with darkness; Thus it has always been, and thus it is now. Nor has it covered the wonderworking physicians; They shine today as they once did, And help the infirm and the unfortunate By mighty and willing prayers Before Christ’s heavenly throne. Honor and glory to the wondrous physicians!

REFLECTION

St. Hilarion of Meglin fought a great battle against the Bogomils. At one time, the leaders of the Bogomils met with Hilarion and began to debate with him about faith. The Bogomils taught that God created the spiritual world and that the devil created the material world. To this, Hilarion replied to them that in Holy Scripture it is written: For God is the King of all the earth (Psalm 47: 7) and also: The earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness (Psalm 24: 1). The Bogomils claimed that the Old Testament is of the devil. To them, the saint replied: “If the Old Testament indeed proceeded from the devil would Christ have said, Search the Scriptures … and they are they which testify of Me (John 5: 39), and would He have acknowledged as the greatest commandments those about love toward God and one’s neighbor which, at one time, were given through Moses?” The Bogomils also claimed that the body of Christ was brought from heaven. To this, St. Hilarion replied to them that had it been so, then the body of Christ would have felt neither hunger nor thirst, nor weariness nor suffering, nor would it have been susceptible to death. The Bogomils then expressed their disapproval of the sign of the Cross which Orthodox Christians use. The saint replied to them: “And what will you do when the sign of the Son of Man, His Cross, appears in the heavens, and when all nations of the earth who do not believe in the Cross will weep?” And he also said to them: “How is it that you say that all evil is from evil material, and meanwhile you do not reverence that Wood by which the whole material world was sanctified?” 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the wondrous power of the apostles’ words (Acts 16): 

1. How Paul and Silas spoke to the assembled women alongside the water at Philippi; 

2. How the Lord opened the heart of the woman Lydia, and she and her household were baptized. 

 

HOMILY on the call to all Christians to become saints

To the saints which are at Ephesus (Ephesians 1: 1) The Apostle calls the Christians in Ephesus saints. He does not call one or two of them saints, nor one group of them, but all of them. Is this not a wondrous miracle of God for people, not in the wilderness but in a city— and an idolatrous and corrupt city— to become saints? That married men who sire children, who trade and work, become saints! Indeed, such were the first Christians. Their dedication, fidelity and zeal in the Faith as well as their holiness and purity of life, completely justified their being called saints. If in latter times saints have become the exception, in those earlier times the unholy were the exception. Saints were the rule. Therefore, we must not wonder that the Apostle calls all baptized souls in Ephesus “saints” and that he has an even loftier name for all Christians, i.e., “sons,” the sons of God (Galatians 4: 6). Christ the Lord Himself gave us the right to call ourselves such when He taught us to address God as Our Father (Matthew 6: 9). O my brethren, do we not say to God every day: “Holy God?” Do we not call the angels holy? Do we not call the Mother of God holy? And the prophets, apostles, martyrs and the righteous? Do we not call heaven holy and the Kingdom of Heaven holy? Who then is able to enter into the holy Kingdom but the saints? Therefore, if we have hope for salvation, we also have hope for holiness. O Holy God, Who dwellest in the holy place and resteth among the saints and callest the holy to Thyself and showest mercy to them, help us also that we may become holy— in words, in thoughts and in deeds— to Thy glory and our salvation. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints. Nov. 13/Oct. 31

24th Week after Pentecost. Tone 6. Fast-free period.

Apostles of the Seventy Stachys, Amplias, Urban, Narcissus, Apelles, and Aristobulus (1st c.). Martyr Epimachus of Pelusium, at Alexandria (ca. 250). St. Maura of Constantinople (436). Sts. Spyridon and Nicodemus the Prosphorabakers, of the Kiev Caves (12th c.). St. Anatolius, recluse of the Near Caves in Kiev (12th c.). 100,000 Martyrs of Tbilisi slain under Jalal al-Din (1227). New Hieromartyr John Kochurov, archpriest, of Chicago and St. Petersburg (1917). New Hieromartyr Leonid (Molchanov), abbot, of the Sovlvychegodsk Monastery (Vologda) (1918). New Hieromartyrs Euphrosynus (Antonov), hieromonk of the Seven Lakes Monastery (Kazan), Anatole (Botvinnikov), hieromonk, of Dubrovskoye (Tver), and Innocent (Mazurin), hierodeacon, of Buigorod (Volokolamsk) (1938). Martyr Quentin of Rome (3rd-4th c.). Martyrs Epimachus the Roman and his companion Gordian (361-363). St. James, bishop of Mygdonia (4th c.). Monk-martyr Foillan, Irish missionary, of Burgh Castle (East Anglia) and Fosse (Gaul) (655). New Martyr Nicholas of Chios (1754).

Scriptures for Today:

1 Thessalonians 2:20-3:8

For you are our glory and joy. Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know. For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain. But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you- therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.

 

Luke 11:29-33

And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, "This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.  For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light.

 

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

 

Monday. [I Thess. 2:20-3:8; Luke 11:29-33]

The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgement with the men of this generation, and condemn them. For what? For indifference to the work accomplished by the Lord before their eyes. That queen, upon hearing about Solomon’s wisdom, came from afar to hear him, but these men, having before their face the Lord Himself, did not heed Him, although it was obvious that He was higher than Solomon, as the sky is higher than the earth. And the queen of the south condemns everyone who is indifferent to God’s works, because the Lord always, even among us, is as obviously present in the Gospel accounts as He was then. Reading the Gospels we have before our eyes the Lord with all of His marvellous works, for they are as doubtless as the testimony of one’s own eyes. Meanwhile, what is more attentive to the Lord as that which is impressed upon our souls? We have closed our eyes or turned them the other way; this is why we do not see; and not seeing, we do not devote ourselves to works of the Lord. However, this is no excuse, but rather the reason behind our unheedfulness, which is as criminal as what comes from it. The work of the Lord is our top priority—that is, the salvation of the soul. Furthermore, we should heed what comes from the Lord even if it is not directly related to us; ever more so should we heed what is directed at us for the accomplishment of our essential work, the significance of which extends throughout eternity. Judge for yourselves how criminal it is to disregard such a matter!

 

Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Saints:

 

The Holy Apostles Stachys, Amplias, Urban, Narcissus, Apelles and Aristobulus

1. They were all of the Seventy. Stachys was an assistant to St. Andrew the First-called. St. Andrew appointed him Bishop of Byzantium. He established the church in Argyropolis and governed his flock faithfully and zealously. After sixteen years as bishop, he entered peacefully into rest in the Lord. Amplias and Urban worked likewise with St. Andrew, and were ordained bishops by him— Amplias in Lydda of Odyssopolis in Judea, and Urban in Macedonia. Both died as martyrs for Christ the Lord. Narcissus was appointed Bishop of Athens by the Apostle Philip. St. Apelles was Bishop of Heraclea in Trachis. Aristobulus, brother of the Apostle Barnabas, preached the Christian Faith in Britain and reposed peacefully there.

2. The Holy Martyr Epimachus

He was born in Egypt and labored there in asceticism, ending his earthly life as a martyr. Imitating St. John the Baptist, he withdrew to the wilderness while still a youth. Because of his great love for God, the Spirit of God led him to every truth and, with no other teacher, taught him how to live a life of asceticism. Then, Epimachus learned that the unbelievers were torturing and killing Christians in Alexandria for the sake of Christ. All aflame with zeal for the Faith, he went to the city and smashed the idols. When the pagans tortured him for this, he cried out: “Smite me, spit on me, put a crown of thorns on my head, put a reed in my hand, give me gall to drink, crucify me on a cross, and pierce me with a spear! This is what my Lord endured, and I too want to endure it.” In the crowd of people who witnessed the torturing of St. Epimachus, there was a woman who was blind in one eye. She wept bitterly, watching the heartless torture of this God-pleaser. When the tormentors scraped the body of the holy martyr of Christ, blood spurted from him, and one drop of blood touched the blind eye of that woman. Suddenly, her blind eye regained vision, and was as whole as the other. Then she cried out: “Great is the God in whom this sufferer believes!” After this they beheaded St. Epimachus and his soul took up habitation in eternal joy, in about the year 250. St. Epimachus (fresco in St. John Monastery, Patmos, Greece, 12th c.)

3. The Holy Martyr Nicholas of Chios

Nicholas was a pious youth and a great zealot for the Christian Faith. He was born in the village of Karyes on the island of Chios, where he was tortured and beheaded by the Turks in the year 1754, and gave his righteous soul to God.

4. The Venerable Spyridon and Nicodemus

They were monks and prosphora-bakers in the Monastery of the Kiev Caves. Though illiterate, Spyridon knew the entire Psalter by heart and worked many miracles during his lifetime. He entered into rest in the year 1148. HYMN OF PRAISE The Holy Martyr Epimachus Epimachus, the saint of God, Felt no fear in his heart, Either of men or of devils, And even less of dead idols. Epimachus rejoiced in his torture; With his smile he whipped the judge. His body in torment, his mind in heaven, Epimachus was adorned with wounds. He wanted to suffer like Christ, To stand as a martyr before Christ— And what he desired, God gave him, And endowed him with wondrous power To heal the infirmities of the people, And to gladden men with grace. A knight of Christ with the sign of the Cross, A precious stone among precious stones, Epimachus shines like a star— A soul such as only Christ can raise. O Epimachus, wondrous martyr And glorious prisoner of the true Faith: Defend us from evil by your prayers, And protect the Church of God unto the end.

REFLECTION

And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me, said the Lord (Matthew 10: 38). The holy and venerable Martyr Timothy of Esphigmenou (October 29) was at first a married man and had two daughters. Later, as a monk, he decided to suffer for the sake of Christ. Already prepared for the path of suffering, he begged the abbot for a blessing to stop by his village of Kessana to say farewell to his daughters. The abbot would not allow him to do that out of fear that a meeting with his two daughters would soften him, and turn him away from martyrdom for the Faith. But Kessana lay on the road to Propontis, where Timothy was headed. When he got to his village, he met a former neighbor, conversed with him and gave him a farewell message for his daughters. In vain, the neighbor begged him to stay and see his daughters, and rest. Timothy went hurriedly on his way. The daughters heard about their father from the neighbor and ran to see him. And now was seen a rare and majestic sight. The daughters raced to overtake and embrace their father, while the father fled from his daughters, so as not to transgress the command of his abbot. The daughters ran quickly but their father ran even faster. The daughters hurried to embrace their father, and Timothy, fleeing from them, hurried to embrace death. The daughters became weary and turned back in despair, and their father disappeared. Before his death Timothy begged his spiritual father, Germanus, to stop by his village and inform his daughters of his end by martyrdom. The Turks then beheaded Timothy and threw his body into a river. Germanus succeeded in retrieving just one garment from the martyr. He brought it to Kessana, found Timothy’s daughters and related their father’s heroic death to them, and showed them his garment.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the miraculous guidance of the apostles by the Holy Spirit (Acts 16):

1. How Paul and Silas wanted to go from Mysia to Bithynia;

2. How the Spirit would not allow it;

3. How, in a vision at midnight, a Macedonian man appeared to Paul and summoned him to come to Macedonia.

HOMILY

on the certainty of the righteous one that he shall not die I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord (Psalm 117: 17) Who can say: I shall not die? He who cleaves to the Living Lord. Who can confirm with confidence: but [I shall] live? He who sees the Living Lord before him. Enoch and Elias did not die, but were taken into eternal life. The Lord took them in His mercy, and as proof to mankind of immortal life. Jesus Christ the Lord died and resurrected in accordance with His power, and as proof to mankind of the resurrection from the dead. The apostles and saints were slain, but many of them appeared from the other world in their love for mankind, and as proof to mankind of eternal life. Thus, those who were taken up to heaven in the flesh and those whose bodies reposed, live with the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ in the Immortal Kingdom. I shall not die, but live, said King David with great certainty, even though he lived on earth before the Resurrection of the Lord, and before the announcement of the General Resurrection of the righteous. With still more certainty, each of us Christians must speak this too: I shall not die, but live, for the resurrected Lord is the foundation of our Faith, and our eyes have seen and our ears have heard more— much more— than the eyes and ears of King David. After the Cross of Christ, the devil became as smoke; and after His Resurrection, death became like a mere fog through which one passes to the sunlit field of immortality. Blessed is he, brethren, who becomes worthy to live, and declare the works of the Lord. O Living Lord, enliven us and save us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints. Nov. 11/Oct. 29

23rd Week after Pentecost. Tone 5.  No fast. 

Virgin-martyr Anastasia of Rome (ca. 250). St. Abramius the Recluse and his niece St. Mary, of Mesopotamia (360). St. Abramius, archimandrite, of Rostov (1073-1077).

Martyrs Claudius, Asterius, Neon, and Theonilla, of Aegae in Cilicia (285). St. Anna (known as Euphemianus) of Mt. Olympus in Bithynia (826). St. Serapion of Zarzma, Georgia (900). St. Abramius the Recluse, of the Near Caves in Kiev (13th- 14th c.).

St. Ermelindis, anchoress, in Meldaert (Belgium) (ca. 592). St. Colman of Kilmacduagh (Ireland) (632). Glorification of Equal-tothe- Apostles Rostislav, prince of Greater Moravia (1994). New Martyr Athanasius of Sparta, at Mountania (1653). New Monk-martyr Timothy of Esphigmenou, Mt. Athos, at Adrianople (1820). Martyr Melitena of Marcionopolis.

 

Scriptures for the Day:

 

2 Corinthians 8:1-5

Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.  And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.

 

Luke 8:16-21

No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.  Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd.  And it was told Him by some, who said, "Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You." But He answered and said to them, "My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it."

 

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

 

Saturday. [II Cor. 8:1-5; Luke 8:16-21]

   Nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. Therefore, no matter how much we hide of our bad deeds, a record of them is made independently of us, which in its time will be presented. What is the parchment on which this record is written? Our conscience. We sometimes force it to be silent—and it is silent. But although it is silent, it does its work, keeps a most precise chronicle of our deeds. What is one to do if many bad things are written there? One must wipe out what is written there. With what? With tears of repentance. These tears will wash away everything and not a single trace will remain of these bad things written. If we do not wash them away, then at the judgement we ourselves will have to read everything written. But since then the truth will reign in our consciousness, we ourselves will pronounce our judgement, and the Lord will confirm it. Then there will be a decision which cannot be appealed, because each person will condemn himself, and will have nothing to do with anyone else. All of this will occur in the twinkling of an eye: you will look and see what you are. You will immediately hear from the Lord, Who is omnipresent, a confirmation of the judgement; and then it will be the end of everything.…

 

From the Prologue of Ohrid:

 

1. The Venerable Martyr Anastasia the Roman 

She was born in Rome of noble parents, and was left an orphan at the age of three. As an orphan, she was taken to a convent near Rome where the abbess was Sophia, a nun of the highest level of perfection. After seventeen years, Anastasia was well known— among the Christians as a great ascetic, and among the pagans as a rare beauty. Probus, the pagan governor, heard of Anastasia and sent his soldiers to bring her to him. For two hours, the good Abbess Sophia counseled Anastasia how to keep the Faith, how to resist flattering deceits, and how to endure torture. Anastasia said to her: “My heart is ready to suffer for Christ; my soul is ready to die for my Sweet Jesus.” Brought before the governor, Anastasia openly expressed her faith in Christ the Lord, and when the governor tried to turn her away from the Faith— first by promises and then by threats— the martyr said to him: “I am ready to die for my Lord not only once, but— oh, if it were only possible— a hundred times!” When they stripped her naked to humiliate her, she cried out to the servants: “Whip me, cut me up and tear me apart, cover my naked body with wounds and cover my shame with blood!” She was beaten, torn and cut up. On two occasions she felt a great thirst and asked for water, and a Christian, Cyril, gave her a drink, for which he was blessed by the martyr of Christ and beheaded by the pagans. Anastasia’s breasts and tongue were severed, but an angel of God appeared and sustained her. Finally, she was beheaded outside the city. Blessed Sophia found her body and buried it honorably. Anastasia was crowned with the wreath of martyrdom during the reign of Decius. The Venerable Martyr Anastasia the Roman (Menologion of Basil II, 11th c.) 

 

2. The Venerable Abramius the Recluse and his niece Mary 

Forced to do so by his parents, he married, but on the very day of his wedding he left his bride, his parents’ home and all that he possessed, and withdrew into solitude to live a life of strict asceticism. He labored thus for fifty years, and left his cell only twice during that time. The first time, he left at the order of his bishop to convert a pagan village to the Christian Faith. The second time he came out to save his licentious niece Mary. He entered peacefully into rest in the year 360, at the age of seventy. (See “Reflection” below.) 

 

3. The Venerable Martyr Timothy of Esphigmenou 

He was from the village of Kessana in Thrace. He was married and had two daughters. His wife was seized by the Turks and became a Moslem. In order to save his wife from the harem, he pretended to become a Moslem. After rescuing his wife, he conducted her to a convent, while he went to the Great Lavra on Mount Athos and then to the Monastery of Esphigmenou. He desired martyrdom for Christ, like Agathangelus of Esphigmenou, and was beheaded in Jedrene on October 29, 1820. His body was thrown into a river, but his clothing was retrieved by Elder Germanus, the spiritual father of Esphigmenou. 

 

HYMN OF PRAISE

The Venerable Abramius the Recluse St. Abramius left his bride And dedicated his life to strict asceticism. By asceticism he worked out his salvation, And wisely directed others to salvation. Demonic power attacked the saint, But in the name of Christ he crushed it. The demon took on various, horrible guises, To scare and hinder the man of God. This man of God did not allow himself to fear, Or separate his mind from God, But shone on the world like a candle, Glorifying the One God, the Most-holy Trinity. Imprisoned, alone and not wanted by the world, Abramius became a prisoner for the sake of Christ For fifty years— fifty years! Of tears, fasting and struggle— all for the Son of God: For fifty years— fifty years! Established on Christ, the firm Foundation. Glory to Abramius, Christ’s soldier, That, on the mortal earth, he has shown us immortality! 

 

REFLECTION

But he that endureth to the end shall be saved (Matthew 10: 22), said the Lord. Faith is the only light of endurance, for endurance in and of itself implies unbearable darkness. Faith is the shining star in this darkness; faith eases the sharpness of suffering; it bears on its wings all the weight of endurance. St. Abramius gives us a beautiful example of perseverance in endurance. The vexation that the devil caused him by a multitude of temptations and terrors would have driven lesser men to leave one place for another. But Abramius did not want to move, so as not to give the evil demon a cause to rejoice; he remained in his place and defeated the devil. The bishop of that region sent Abramius to a pagan village to convert the villagers to the Christian Faith. After long hesitation, Abramius set out, saying: “Let it be as God wills— I will go out of obedience.” He first built a church in that village. Then he smashed all the idols in plain sight of the villagers. They beat him and whipped him half to death, and drove him from their village. But he prayed to God with tears for them, that the Lord would open the eyes of their hearts to know the truth of Christ. And so the pagans continually beat and abused him over the course of three years, but he constantly prayed to God for them, and was not angered with them, enduring in the Faith as a firm rock. And only after three years of labor, tears, forgiveness and faith, was he rewarded. Suddenly, the consciences of the villagers were awakened and they all came together to Abramius, bowing before him, and receiving the Christian Faith from him. 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the terrible punishment by which Paul punished the magician (Acts 13): 

1. How a certain Jewish magician held Sergius the deputy under his dark power; 

2. How Paul, by a word, blinded that magician; 

3. How the deputy saw that miracle, believed in Christ and was baptized. 

 

HOMILY on the glory of the name of God

And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen (Psalm 72: 19) From the grace-filled heart of the prophet flow words full of grace. The prophet speaks of the King and the King’s Son, the most unusual King Who has ever appeared on earth. May His name be blessed forever (Psalm 72: 17), the prophet said, and then, as if that were not enough, he said it again and added: His glorious name. The Church of Christ is the glory of Christ. Blessed is His Holy Church— the fruit of His labors, the wreath of His humiliation, the work of His hands, and the flower of His blood! Blessed is the very name of His Church— holy and salvific! And with His Church, that is, with His work and with His glory, the whole earth shall be filled. By the words, Forever and ever, the prophet foretold the immortal work of Christ, that is, His Church. She will be built in time and will be revealed in eternity. She will be built until the end of time, and will be revealed whole in eternity. O my brethren, let us strive that our souls may be built into Christ’s Church, into that living and immortal body whose life has no end, and whose beauty is indescribable. Let us strive that we are not rejected as unsuitable and useless stones, to be cast into the abyss of eternal darkness. O Lord Jesus Christ, King and Son of the King, write us also in the book of immortality, and remember us in Thy Heavenly Kingdom. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints. Nov. 10/Oct. 28

  Click here to see our icon of St. Theophan

Click here to see our icon of St. Theophan

23rd Week after Pentecost. Tone 5. Fast Day.

Wine and oil allowed.

Great-martyr Parasceva of Iconium (3rd c.). Martyrs Terence and Neonilla, of Syria, and their children Sarbelus, Photus, Theodulus, Hierax, Nitus, Bele, and Eunice (249). St. Stephen of St. Sabbas Monastery, hymnographer (807). St. Arsenius I of Srem, archbishop of Serbia (1266). Repose of St. Job, abbot and wonderworker of Pochaev (1651). St. Demetrius, metropolitan of Rostov (1709). Martyrs Terence, Africanus, Maximus, Pompeius, and 36 others, at Carthage (250). Hieromartyr Cyriacus, chorepiscopus of Jerusalem, and his mother Martyr Anna (363). Hieromartyr Neophytus, bishop of Urbnisi, Georgia (7th c.). St. John the Chozebite, bishop of Caesarea in Palestine (532). Repose of St. Theophilus, fool-for-Christ, of Kiev (1853). St. Arsenius of Cappadocia (1924). St. Nestor (not the Chronicler) of the Kiev Caves (14th c.). Righteous Virgin Parasceva of Pirimin on the Pinega River (Arkhangelsk) (16th c.). New Hieromartyr Michael Lektorsky, archpriest, of Kuban (1920). New Hieromartyr Constantine (Dyakov), metropolitan of Kiev (1937). Protection of the Mother of God. St. Firmilian, bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia (ca. 269), and St. Malchion, priest (late 3rd c.). St. Febronia, daughter of Emperor Heraclius (632). St. Athanasius I, patriarch of Constantinople (Mt. Athos) (1340). St. Hyacinth, metropolitan of Wallachia (1372). New Martyrs Angelis, Manuel, George, and Nicholas, at Rethymno on Crete (1824).  Repose of Elder Epiphanius (Theodoropoulos) of Athens (1989).

 

Scriptures for Today:

1 Thessalonians 2:14-19

For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost. But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire. Therefore we wanted to come to you-even I, Paul, time and again-but Satan hindered us.  For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?

Luke 11:23-26 (Friday)

He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters. When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Friday. [I Thess. 2:14-19; Luke 11:23-26]

   He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. It turns out that one can labour an entire age and think that all sorts of good is gathered, but it is all for nothing, if it was not gathered with the Lord. What does it mean to gather with the Lord? To labour and act according to faith in the Lord, according to His commandments, with the help of His grace, being inspired by His promises—to live so that the spirit of life is the spirit of Christ. In the world there are two domains—good and evil, truth and falsehood. Only good and truth make up a true possession which is lasting and valuable; but good and truth come only from the Lord, and are acquired only with His help. It is clear that he who gathers not with the Lord will not gather truth and goodness, he will not gather what could be called a true possession, which is lasting and valuable. No matter what such a person gathers, it all has no use, all is labour in vain, a vain waste of energy and time.

Prologue of Ohrid:

1. The Holy Martyr Parasceva 

She was born in the city of Iconium of wealthy and Christ-loving parents. After the death of her parents, the maiden Parasceva began to distribute her possessions to the poor and the less fortunate, all in the name of Christ the Lord. When a persecution began under Diocletian, Parasceva was brought to trial before the governor of that land. When the governor asked her for her name, she replied that she was called a Christian. The governor rebuked her because she did not give her usual name and Parasceva said to him: “First, I had to tell you my name in eternal life, and then my name in this temporal life.” After flogging her, the governor cast Parasceva into prison where an angel of God appeared to her, healed her of her wounds, and comforted her. By prayer, Parasceva destroyed all the idols in the pagan temple. After prolonged and harsh tortures, Parasceva was beheaded with the sword and took up her abode in eternal life. St. Parasceva (icon in St. Theodor church, Cyprus, 16th c.) 

2. Saint Arsenije, Archbishop of Peć 

Arsenije was a great hierarch of the Serbian Church and the successor of St. Sava. Arsenije was born in Srem. While still in his youth, he was tonsured a monk and devoted himself sincerely and whole-heartedly to asceticism for the salvation of his soul. Hearing of the wonderful person and work of St. Sava, Arsenije went to him in Žiča, where St. Sava received him cordially and included him among the brotherhood of Žiča. Seeing the rare virtues in Arsenije, Sava soon appointed him abbot of the Žiča monastery. When the Hungarians attacked the Serbian lands, Sava sent Arsenije to the south to look for a place more secluded than Žiča for the archiepiscopal see. Arsenije chose Peć, and built a monastery there and a church dedicated to the Holy Apostles (which was later renamed the Church of the Ascension of the Lord). Before his second departure for Jerusalem, Sava designated Arsenije as his successor to the archiepiscopal throne, and when Sava reposed in Trnovo on his way back from Jerusalem, Arsenije urged King Vladislav to translate the body of St. Sava to the Serbian land. He governed the Church prudently for thirty years and reposed in the Lord on October 28, 1266. On the wall of the altar in the church of Peć is written: “O Lord our God, hearken: visit and bless this church … and remember also me, the sinful Arsenije.” Arsenije is buried in the church at Peć. 

3. The Holy Martyr Terence 

He was from Syria and suffered for the Christian Faith with his wife Neonilla and their seven children. After many tortures, during which the power of God was manifested, they were all beheaded with the sword. 

4. Saint Stephen of St. Sava’s 

He was the composer of many beautiful canons. He lived the ascetic life in the community of St. Sava the Sanctified. He was later ordained a bishop and peacefully entered into rest in the year 807. 

5. Saint Athanasius, Patriarch of Constantinople 

He was an opponent of union with Rome, in contrast to his predecessor John Beccus (1275– 1282). He was an ascetic and a prayerful person from his childhood. Beloved by his people, Athanasius provoked the displeasure of certain priests by his moral strictness. He withdrew to his monastery on Mount Ganos, where he labored even more austerely than before. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself appeared to him and scolded him gently for leaving his flock to the wolves. When he foretold the day of the earthquake in Constantinople, Emperor Andronicus reinstated him to the patriarchal throne against his will. After that, he again secretly withdrew to the ascetic life. He entered into rest at the age of one hundred. He was clairvoyant and a miracle-worker. 6. Saint Dimitri, Bishop of Rostov Dimitri was a great hierarch, preacher, author and ascetic. He was born near Kiev in the year 1651, and reposed in the year 1709. Among his many glorious works of instruction, he was known especially for his translation and publication of The Lives of the Saints. He foresaw his own death three days in advance, and died while at prayer. Dimitri was a great light of the Russian Church and of Orthodoxy in general. He had heavenly visions during his life. He served the Lord zealously and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of Heaven. 

 

HYMN OF PRAISE

Saint Arsenije, Archbishop of Peć - The wise hierarch St. Arsenije Does not hide his wondrous power, even today. He hastens to God with gentle prayers, And helps the faithful servants of Christ; He has close access to God Most-high, For he was made worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven. When cruel Shishman, ruler of the Bulgarians, Sought to plunder the Monastery of Peć, His soldiers encamped near there, But that black night he had no peace. From the heavens, a fiery pillar appeared, And Shishman’s army was overcome by fear, And fled, without a backward glance, From the shrine of Peć, where the saint reposes. God gave a wreath of power and glory To the wonderful successor of St. Sava. He continued the work of his glorious predecessor, And thus, with St. Sava, became the pride of his people. To St. Arsenije we now pray That his grace might shine forth upon us. 

 

REFLECTION

St. Dimitri of Rostov was a saint in the ancient and true model of the early Fathers. Not only did he write beautiful and instructive books, but also shone forth as an example to his flock. He was a great ascetic and man of prayer. So humble was he that he even begged the seminarians in his seminary to pray to God for him. Whenever the clock struck the hour, he stood for prayer and recited: “O Theotokos and Virgin, rejoice!” When he was ill— which, for him, was often— he begged each of the seminarians to recite “Our Father” five times on his behalf while meditating on the five wounds of the Lord Jesus Christ. On one occasion, St. Barbara appeared to him with a smile and said, “Why do you pray in the Latin manner?”— meaning, why do you pray to God with such brief prayers? At this reproach, even though it was gentle, he became despondent, but she encouraged him, saying: “Do not be afraid!” On another occasion, St. Orestes the Martyr (November 10) appeared to him, just as St. Dimitri had finished writing the saint’s life, and said: “I endured greater tortures for Christ than those you have written.” He then showed him his left side and said: “This was pierced with a red-hot iron.” He then showed him his left hand and said: “There I was slashed.” Finally, he showed him his leg above the knee and said: “And this was cut off by a scythe.” When St. Dimitri wondered if this Orestes visiting him was one of the Five Companions (December 13), the saint discerned his thought and said: “I am not the one of the Five Companions but rather the one whose life you have just written.” 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate God’s terrible punishment of Herod (Acts 12): 

1. How, in his pride, Herod elevated himself, and the people glorified him as a god; 

2. How an angel of God struck him at once, because he gave not God the glory; 

3. How he was consumed by worms and died. 

 

HOMILY on prayer to God to save a soul from the dus

Deliver me out of the dust that I sink not (Psalm 69: 14) Brethren, our souls are clothed in dust, and our bodies of dust are given us for the service of our soul. May our souls not drown in dust! May our souls not be enslaved by dust! May the living spark not be extinguished in the grave of dust! Very spacious is the field of earthly dust that draws us to itself; but even more spacious is the immeasurable Kingdom of the Spirit that calls our soul its kin. Truly, we are related to the earth through physical dust; but we are related to heaven through the soul. We are dwellers in temporary huts and soldiers in temporary tents. O Lord, Deliver me out of the dust! Thus prayed the repentant king who initially had given himself over to dust, until he saw how dust pulls us into the abyss of destruction. Dust is the body of man with its fantasies; dust is also all wicked men who wage war against the righteous; dust is the demons with their terrors. May the Lord save us from all this dust, for He alone is able to do that. We should strive first of all to see the enemy within ourselves— the enemy who attracts other enemies. Hence, the greatest misfortune of the sinner is that he, unconsciously and unwillingly, is an ally of his own enemies! However, the righteous man has strengthened his soul in God and in the Kingdom of God, and is not afraid. He is not afraid of himself, and therefore is not afraid of his other enemies. He is not afraid, because he is neither an ally nor an accomplice of the enemies of his soul. Hence, neither men nor demons can do him any harm. God is his ally and the angels of God are his protectors— what can man do to him? What can demons do to him? What can dust do to him? O Lord our God, Three Persons and One Being, Who breathed living souls into the dust of our bodies, save us according to Thy mercy that we sink not. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints. Nov. 9/Oct. 27

  Click here to see our icon of St. Theophan

Click here to see our icon of St. Theophan

23rd Week after Pentecost. Tone 5. No fast.

Martyr Nestor of Thessalonica (306). St. Nestor the Chronicler, of the Kiev Caves (1114). Martyrs Capitolina and Eroteis, of Cappadocia) (304). Uncovering of the relics, in Pereyaslavl-Zalessky, of St. Andrew, prince of Smolensk (1539). Martyrs Mark of the island of Thasos and those with him (304). New Hieromartyr Sergius (Chernukhin), abbot, of Danilov Monastery (Moscow) (1942). St. Claudia Procula, wife of Pontius Pilate (1st c.). St. Cyriacus, patriarch of Constantinople (1390). St. Demetrius of Basarabov (1685). Repose of Hieroschemamonk Antiochus of Svir, disciple of Elder Theodore of Svir (1832).

Scriptures for Today:

1 Thessalonians 2:9-14- For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans,

Luke 11:14-23 -  And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute. So it was, when the demon had gone out, that the mute spoke; and the multitudes marveled. But some of them said, "He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons." Others, testing Him, sought from Him a sign from heaven.  But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls.  If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? Because you say I cast out demons by Beelzebub.  And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.  But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.

Thoughts for Each Day of the Year According to the Daily Church Readings from the Word of God By St. Theophan the Recluse

Thursday. [I Thess. 2:9-14; Luke 11:14-23]

   When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armor wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. This allegory explains how demonic power over souls is destroyed by the Lord. While a soul is in sin, its evil spirit possesses it, although it may not always clearly show it. The evil spirit is stronger than the soul; this is why it does not fear an uprising on the soul’s part, rules over and tyrannizes it without resistance. But when the Lord comes to a soul, attracted by faith and repentance, He tears apart all of satan’s bonds, casts out the demon and deprives it of all power over this person’s soul. And while this soul serves the Lord, demons cannot prevail over it, for the soul is strong through the Lord, stronger than they. When the soul takes a false step and roams away from the Lord, the demon again attacks and overcomes, and for the soul, the poor thing, the last state is worse than before. This is a universal, invisible order of phenomena in the spiritual world. If only the eyes of our mind would open, we would see a world-wide battle of spirits with souls: first one side, then the other side overcomes, depending upon whether the soul communicates with the Lord through faith, repentance and zeal for good deeds, or falls back from Him through carelessness, lack of concern and coolness toward good.

Prologue of Ohrid for Today:

1. The Holy Martyr Nestor 

In the time of the suffering of St. Demetrius the Myrrh-gusher, there was a young man of Thessalonica, Nestor, who learned the Christian Faith from St. Demetrius himself. At that time Christ’s enemy, Emperor Maximian, organized various games and amusements for the people. The emperor’s favorite in these games was a Vandal by the name of Lyaeus, a man of Goliath-like size and strength. As the emperor’s gladiator, Lyaeus challenged men every day to single combat and slew them. Thus, the bloodthirsty Lyaeus amused the bloodthirsty, idolatrous Maximian. The emperor built a special stage for Lyaeus’s battles, similar to a threshing floor on pillars. Spears, points upward, were planted beneath this platform. When Lyaeus defeated someone in wrestling, he would throw him from the platform onto the forest of spears. The emperor and his pagan subjects cheered as some poor wretch writhed in torment on the spears until he died. Among Lyaeus’s innocent victims were many Christians: when no one volunteered to duel with Lyaeus, by the emperor’s orders Christians were arrested and forced to duel with him. Seeing this horrifying amusement of the pagan world, Nestor’s heart was torn with pain, and he decided to come forward for a duel with the gigantic Lyaeus. But first, he went to prison to see St. Demetrius and sought a blessing from him to do this. St. Demetrius blessed him, signed him with the sign of the Cross on the forehead and on the chest and prophesied to him: “You will defeat Lyaeus, but you will suffer for Christ.” Thus, young Nestor went to duel with Lyaeus. Maximian was present with a multitude of people; everyone felt pity for the young Nestor, who would surely die, and tried to dissuade him from dueling with Lyaeus. Nestor crossed himself and said: “O God of Demetrius, help me!” and with God’s help, he overcame Lyaeus, knocked him down, and threw him onto the sharp spears, where the heavy giant soon found death. Then all the people cried out: “Great is the God of Demetrius!” But the emperor, shamed before the people and sorrowing for his favorite Lyaeus, was greatly angered at Nestor and Demetrius, and commanded that Nestor be beheaded and Demetrius run through with lances. Thus, the Christian hero Nestor ended his earthly life and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of his Lord in the year 306. The Holy Martyrs Nestor and Demetrius (icon in Hilandar Monastery, 17th c.) 

2. The Venerable Nestor the Chronicler 

At the age of seventeen, Nestor entered the Monastery of the Kiev Caves while St. Theodosius was still abbot. He wrote the first history of the Russian people, in which he intertwined the history of Russian asceticism. He was distinguished by unusual humility and meekness. In his literary work, he often referred to himself as unworthy, coarse, ignorant and full of every kind of sin. But God, Who knows the hearts of men, glorified this wonderful saint of His. When Nestor entered into rest on October 27, 1114, his relics performed many miracles. 3. Saint Andrew, Prince of Smolensk Out of love for Christ, Andrew abandoned the glory and honor of the world, hid himself in a monastery and there, disguised and unknown, served as a sacristan for thirty years. He peacefully entered into rest in the Lord in 1390; his miracle-working relics were found in 1540.*) HYMN OF PRAISE The Holy Martyr Nestor St. Nestor was outraged at evil And was zealous for the Christian Faith. The young disciple of St. Demetrius Seemed young and weak against the terrible Lyaeus, But he traced the sign of the Cross on himself And impaled the powerful Lyaeus on a spear. He had been given power from above, Like David against Goliath. “You will conquer, but you will be tortured, And will lay down your life for Christ.” Thus Demetrius prophesied to him, And as he said, so it came to pass. Nestor jubilantly went to torture, And wonderfully magnified the wondrous Christ With sweet words and sweet hymns, And fervent prayers for the Church. Great in spirit, small in years, He did not grieve over his young life; His blood strengthened the Church, And Nestor was eternally glorified. 

REFLECTION

A miracle of St. Demetrius of Thessalonica: That the saints of God live, clothed in great glory and might in the heavens, Orthodox Christians know, not by their own reasoning, but by the true help and visitations of the saints. At times the saints appear so that men may see and hear them; at times, only to be either seen or heard; at times, though unseen and unheard, they influence our thoughts, our dispositions and our actions. Among the many miracles of St. Demetrius in Thessalonica the following is recorded: A young man named Onesiphorus was appointed to the service of sacristan in the Church of St. Demetrius of Thessalonica. His primary task was to keep an account of the candles and lampadas. This young man began to steal candles, take them home, and then resell them. St. Demetrius appeared to him and said: “Brother Onesiphorus, your action is not pleasing to me, for you are stealing candles. By this, you bring harm to others and especially to yourself. Cease doing this and repent!” Onesiphorus was frightened and ashamed and, for a time, stopped stealing candles. But he eventually forgot himself, and again began to steal candles. One morning, a distinguished man brought some large candles to the tomb of the saint, lit them, prayed and left. Onesiphorus approached the candles and stretched forth his hand with the intention of taking them, but at that moment a voice like thunder roared: “Are you doing that again?!” As though struck by lightning, Onesiphorus fell to the ground, unconscious. When someone came into the church he found him and lifted him up off the floor; he gradually came to himself and related all that had happened. Everyone was astonished, and glorified God. 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate Peter’s wondrous journey with the angel of God (Acts 12): 

1. How the angel led Peter out of prison and brought him to the city; 

2. How they invisibly passed by the first and second guards; 

3. How the locked gates of the city opened to them of their own accord. 

 

HOMILY on zeal for the house of God 

For the zeal of Thy house has eaten me up and the reproaches of those who reproach Thee have fallen on me (Psalm 69: 9) The heavens are the house of God. The Church of God is the house of God. The bodies of believing people are the house of God. Wherever God is, there is the house of God; and where the house of God is, there is holiness. Men dishonor the holiness of God’s house, and the royal prophet is provoked and burns with zeal. He takes upon himself all the offenses against the holy things of God, and they fall upon him like a fire that enkindles him with even more zeal. Men desecrate the heavens when they do not believe that which God Himself revealed to mankind for the sake of their salvation. When men oppose or pervert the truth, as do the heretics, or when, of their own free will, they conceive of Christ according to their corporeal understanding, or when they have doubts about angels and saints, the Judgment, and the Eternal Kingdom of Christ, and refuse to consider the eternal punishment of unrepentant sinners— in all this and more, men attack the house of God and desecrate its holiness like savage animals. This causes zeal against the opponents and the blasphemers of God to rise in the hearts of the righteous. In the same manner, men attack the house of God’s holiness when they behave unworthily toward the Church of God, when they are negligent concerning the Church’s ordinances, when they are slothful toward ecclesiastical commandments and malicious toward the servants of the Church. Again, zeal for the holiness of the house of God is inflamed in the hearts of the righteous and the devout. Finally, the corrupting of the human body, the surrendering to passions, the service of sin, abduction, murder, brutality, drunkenness and other wicked actions, are all attacks on the holiness of God’s house. It is all blasphemy against God and against man. Again, the fervor of the zealots of holiness rises up and shines as a heavenly flame before men. O my brethren, let us look at Christ’s zeal for the holiness of God’s house, and the zeal of the apostles and the Holy Fathers of our Orthodox Church. Let us have more zeal for our salvation than the devil has, day and night, for our destruction. O Lord Jesus Christ, the Model of our zeal for holiness, grant us a spark of Thy zeal that we may be like Thee in zeal, and be saved by Thee. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

 

 

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints. Nov. 8/Oct. 26

23rd Week after Pentecost. Tone 5. Fast Day

Holy and Glorious Great-martyr Demetrius the Myrrh-gusher, of Thessalonica (306). Commemoration of the Great Earthquake at Constantinople in 740 (740).Martyr Lupus, slave of St. Demetrius of Thessalonica (306). St. Athanasius of Medikion Monastery (814). St. Theophilus of the Kiev Caves, archbishop of Novgorod (1482). St. Demetrius of Basarabov in Bulgaria (1685). St. Anthony, bishop of Vologda (1588). St. Alexander (Okropiridze), bishop of Guria and Mingrelia, Georgia (1907). St. Cedd, bishop of Lastingham (664). St. Eata, bishop of Hexham and abbot of Lindisfarne (686). New Martyr Ioasaph, monk, of Mt. Athos, disciple of St. Niphon, patriarch of Constantinople (1536). Repose of Hieroschemamonk Nilus of Kryuchi (1924), Elder Ignatius the Bulgarian, of Mt. Athos (1927), and Matushka Olga (A’rrsamquq) Michael of Kwethluk, Alaska (1979).

Today’s Scriptures:

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain. But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit. But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness-God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.

Luke 11:9-13

So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!

 

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

 

Wednesday. [I Thess. 2:1-8; Luke 11:9-13]

   The Lord convinces us to pray with the promise of His hearing, explaining this promise as the soft-heartedness of a natural father, favourably disposed to the petitions of his children. But here He hints at the reason why sometimes our prayers and petitions are not heard or are not fulfilled. A father will not give His children a stone instead of bread, or a serpent instead of a fish. If a natural father does not do this, how much more will the Heavenly Father not do it? And yet our petitions not infrequently are similar to petitions for a serpent and a stone. It seems to us that we are asking for bread and fish; while the Heavenly Father sees that what is requested will be for us a serpent and a stone—and does not give us what we ask for. A father and mother pour out before God heartfelt prayers for their son, that He arrange for him what is best, but in addition they express what they consider to be better for their son, that is, that he be alive, healthy and happy. The Lord hears their prayer and arranges for their son what is best, not according to the understanding of those asking, but as it is in reality for their son: He sends a disease from which their son dies. Those who think that everything ends with the present life will feel that the Lord has not heard them, but rather did the opposite of what they asked, or left the person about whom they pray to his own fate. But those who believe that the current life is only a preparation for the other life have no doubt that the son for whom they prayed fell sick and died precisely because their prayer was heard and because it was better for him to leave here than to remain here. You will say: then why pray? No, you must pray; but in prayers for specific things you must always keep in mind the condition: “if, O Lord, Thou Thyself deem this to be saving.” Saint Isaac the Syrian advises to shorten all prayer to this: “Thou knowest, O Lord, what is needful for me: do unto me according to Thy will.”

 

Prologue of Ohrid:

1. The Holy Great-martyr Demetrius 

This glorious and wonderworking saint was born in Thessalonica of noble and devout parents. Implored of God by childless parents, Demetrius was their only son, and so was raised and educated with great care. Demetrius’s father was a commander in Thessalonica. When his father died, Emperor Maximian appointed Demetrius as commander in his place. As he appointed him, Maximian, an opponent of Christ, particularly recommended that he persecute and exterminate the Christians in Thessalonica. Demetrius not only disobeyed the emperor but openly confessed and preached the Lord Jesus Christ in the city of Thessalonica. When the emperor heard of this he became furious with Demetrius. Then, when he was returning from battle against the Sarmatians, Maximian stopped at Thessalonica to investigate the matter. The emperor summoned Demetrius and questioned him about his faith. Demetrius openly acknowledged his Christian Faith to the emperor and also denounced the emperor’s idolatry. Maximian cast Demetrius into prison. Knowing what was awaiting him, Demetrius gave all his goods to his faithful servant Lupus to distribute to the poor, and joyfully awaited his imminent suffering for Christ the Lord. An angel of God appeared to him in prison, saying: “Peace be to you, O sufferer of Christ; be brave and be strong!” After several days, the emperor sent soldiers to the prison to kill Demetrius. The soldiers found the saint of God at prayer and ran him through with lances. Christians secretly took his body and honorably buried it. Healing myrrh flowed from the body of the martyr of Christ, curing many of the sick. Soon, a small church was built over his relics. An Illyrian nobleman, Leontius, was afflicted with an incurable illness. He hastened, with prayer, to the relics of St. Demetrius and was completely healed. In thanksgiving, Leontius erected a much larger church on the site of the old church. The saint appeared to him on two occasions. When Emperor Justinian wanted to translate the relics of the saint from Thessalonica to Constantinople, flaming sparks sprang from the tomb and a voice was heard: “Stop, and do not touch!” And thus, the relics of St. Demetrius have remained for all time in Thessalonica. As the protector of Thessalonica, St. Demetrius has appeared many times, and on many occasions has saved Thessalonica from great calamity. His miracles are without number. The Russians considered St. Demetrius to be the protector of Siberia, which was conquered and annexed to Russia on October 26, 1581. The Holy Great-martyr Demetrius (icon in Hilandar Monastery, 1631-32) 

2. The Venerable Martyr Ioasaph 

Ioasaph was a disciple of St. Niphon, Patriarch of Constantinople, and labored in asceticism on the Holy Mountain. He had so great a love for Christ that all of his ascetic works seemed inadequate, and from love he desired to suffer for his Lord. For that reason he went to Constantinople, where he openly confessed to the Turks his faith in the Holy Trinity and the Son of God. The enraged Turks beheaded him on October 26, 1536. 

 

3. The Commemoration of the Great Earthquake of Constantinople 

In the year 740, during the reign of Emperor Leo the Isaurian, there was a terrifying and prolonged earthquake in Constantinople. The people considered this a punishment from God for their sins, and prayed with great repentance to the Most-holy Theotokos and St. Demetrius, until God showed mercy and the earthquake ceased. HYMN OF PRAISE The Holy Great-martyr Demetrius Thessalonica glorifies its wonderful saint— St. Demetrius, servant of the Most-high God. Demetrius, the commander, Servant of the Creator and Lord. St. Paul bedewed Thessalonica with tears, Demetrius watered it with his blood. Demetrius, the commander, Servant of the Creator and Lord. The tears of the apostle and the blood of the martyr Are the glory, salvation and pride of Thessalonica. Demetrius, the commander, Servant of the Creator and Lord. Let us also glorify Christ’s soldier, The myrrh-gushing saint and courageous martyr. Demetrius, the commander, Servant of the Creator and Lord. 

REFLECTION

A miracle of St. Demetrius of Thessalonica: Demetrius was a commander of Thessalonica during his life and remained so after his repose. People have felt his presence in Thessalonica, especially in times of great calamities. He protects the city, wards off misfortunes, repels invaders, and helps all who invoke his name. Here is a wonderful example of his unusual aid to people in need. Once, the barbarians attacked Thessalonica and were unable to overtake it. Infuriated at this, they pillaged the countryside and bound and carried off two beautiful maidens whom they gave as a gift to their prince. These maidens knew how to embroider well. When the prince saw their handiwork, he said to them: “I hear that there is a great god in your land, Demetrius, and that he works great miracles. Embroider his face on this linen.” The maidens told him that St. Demetrius was not a god but rather God’s servant and the helper of Christians. At first, they refused to embroider the face of the saint, but when the prince threatened them with death, they carried out the command and completed the task by St. Demetrius’s Day. On the eve of the feast, they looked at their embroidery and wept sorrowfully, as they had to spend the feast day in slavery and had to give that embroidered image of their beloved saint to an impious barbarian. Both maidens prayed to St. Demetrius to forgive them. Then St. Demetrius appeared to them and took them both away, as an angel had once taken the Prophet Habakkuk. He brought them to Thessalonica and set them in his church. A solemn all-night vigil was being celebrated, and many people were there. When they learned of the miraculous rescue of these Christian maidens, all glorified God and St. Demetrius, His great servant and commander. 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the miraculous deliverance of Peter from prison (Acts 12): 

1. How Peter was sleeping in the prison bound with two chains; 

2. How the faithful prayed to God for Peter; 

3. How a radiant angel appeared in the prison, freed the shackled Peter, and led him out. 

 

HOMILY on the heart ready for God

My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready (Psalm 57: 7) Brethren, blessed is he who is able to speak like this to his Lord! Blessed is he whose heart is completely ready to follow the will of God. The readiness of the heart of man lies in this: to joyfully follow the will of God and not be confused by one’s own thoughts and desires. At first, the repentant King David had followed his own sinful thoughts and desires, and was like a boat on a stormy sea. However, when he realized that the storm was going to drown him, he turned to God with great repentance and tears, and turned the boat of his life entirely over to God. My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready! he cried out with great peace of soul, for he knew that he had given his boat into the hands of the Most-skilled Helmsman. The storm still raged and the winds and waves still assaulted him, but he was not afraid, convinced that nothing could smash his boat, and that his boat would sail safely to a calm harbor. A “ready heart” means a heart cleansed of pride and humbled before the majestic power and wisdom of God. A “ready heart” means a heart emptied of all worldly desires and illusions, and filled with nothing but aspirations toward God and love for God. A “ready heart” means a heart that is healed of all restlessness, cares and fears, and is quieted and encouraged by the presence of God’s grace. I will sing and give praise in my glory (Psalm 57: 7), continues the Psalmist. This shows that his heart is truly ready— he is not proud of his royal glory but ascribes it to God. He humbled himself before God as nothing, and now his sole pleasure is to magnify and glorify God. His personal glory only gives him a reason for glorifying His All-glorious God. O my brethren, let us endeavor that our hearts be ready before God: ready to hear the word of God, ready to follow the will of God, ready to glorify the Living God. O Lord God, our immortal Creator, help us to ready our hearts, that they may be vessels of Thy life-giving grace. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints. Nov. 7/Oct. 25

  Click here to see our icon of St. Theophan

Click here to see our icon of St. Theophan

3rd Week after Pentecost. Tone 5. No fast.

 

Martyrs Marcian and Martyrius the Notaries, of Constantinople (355). St. Tabitha, the widow resurrected by Apostle Peter (1st c.). Martyr Anastasius the Fuller, at Salona in Dalmatia (3rd c.). St. Martyrius, deacon, and St. Martyrius, recluse, of the Kiev Caves (13th-14th c.). St. Matrona (Vlasova) the Confessor, of Diveyevo (1963).  St. Front, bishop of Perigueux (2nd c.). Martyr Miniatus of Florence (251). Sts. Crispinus and Crispinianus, Romans, martyred under Diocletian at Soissons (289). St. George, bishop of Amastris (ca. 805). St. Macarius, bishop of Paphos on Cyprus.

 

Scriptures for Today:

 

1 Thessalonians 1:6-10

And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.  For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

 

Luke 11:1-10

Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples."  So He said to them, "When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread.  And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one." And He said to them, "Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; 'for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him';  and he will answer from within and say, 'Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you'?  I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.  So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

 

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

 

Tuesday. [I Thess. 1:6-10; Luke 11:1-10]

   The Lord gave a common prayer for everyone, combining in it all of our needs, spiritual and bodily, inner and outer, eternal and temporal. But since it is impossible to include everything which one has to pray to God about in life in only one prayer, a rule is given after the common prayer for private requests about something: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. So it is done in the Church of God: Christians pray in common about common needs, but each privately sets his own needs and requirements before the Lord. We pray in common in churches according to established rites, which are nothing other than the Lord’s Prayer which has been explained and presented in various ways; while privately, at home, everyone asks the Lord about his own things in whatever way he can. Even in church one can pray about one’s own concerns, and at home one can pray with a common prayer. We must concern ourselves about only one thing: that when we stand at prayer, at home or in church, we have true prayer in our soul, true turning and lifting up of our mind and heart to God. Let everyone do this as he is able. Do not stand like a statue, and do not mutter the prayers like a street organ wound up, playing songs. As long as you stand like that, and as long as you mumble the prayers, you are without prayer, the mind wandering and the heart full of vain feelings. If you already stand in prayer and are adjusted to it, is it difficult for you to draw your mind and heart there as well? Draw them there, even if they have become unyielding. Then true prayer will form and will attract God’s mercy, and God’s promise to prayer: ask and it will be given, it will be fulfilled. Often it is not given because there is no petition, but only a posture of petitioning.

 

Prologue of Ohrid for Today:

 

1. The Holy Martyrs Marcian and Martyrius 

These saints of God were clergymen under Paul, the Patriarch of Constantinople, during the reign of Emperor Constantius. With the death of the great Emperor Constantine, the Arian heresy, which until then had been suppressed, revived and gained momentum. Even Emperor Constantius himself leaned toward this heresy. There were two influential noblemen at the emperor’s court, Eusebius and Philip, both of whom were ardent Arians. Under their influence, Patriarch Paul was ousted from the patriarchal throne and banished to Armenia, where the Arians strangled him. Then the dishonorable Macedonius seized the patriarchal throne. At that time Orthodoxy had two bitter struggles: against the pagans and against the heretics. Marcian and Martyrius interceded with all their strength and determination on the side of Orthodoxy. Marcian was a reader and Martyrius was a subdeacon at the cathedral church of Hagia Sophia; under Patriarch Paul they had been patriarchal notaries (secretaries). The Arians at first tried to bribe them, but when these holy men rejected this with scorn, the heretics condemned them to death. When they were brought to the executioner, they raised their hands and prayed to God, giving Him thanks for a martyr’s end to their lives: “Lord, we rejoice that we depart from this life by such a death. Make us worthy to be partakers of eternal life. Thou art our life!” They placed their necks beneath the sword and were beheaded in the year 355. Later, St. John Chrysostom built a church in their name over their miracle-working relics. The Holy Martyrs Marcian and Martyrius (by N. Kacuros)

 

 2. The Holy Martyr Anastasius 

He was a cloth-maker and a zealous Christian. During Diocletian’s persecution of Christians, this man of God appeared before the judge in the Dalmatian town of Solin, and confessed his faith in Christ. He was inhumanly tortured and slain, and his body was thrown into the sea but was later found and honorably buried. 3. Saint Tabitha St. Tabitha (which means “gazelle”) was a disciple of the apostles and lived in Joppa. She was full of good works and almsdeeds (Acts 9: 36), but suddenly became weak and died. The Apostle Peter was then in the town of Lydda, and the grieving disciples sent for him, imploring him to comfort her kinsmen. Upon his arrival, the great Apostle of Christ told everyone to leave the room where the corpse lay, then knelt in prayer. Then, turning to the body, he said: Tabitha, arise (Acts 9: 40) and Tabitha opened her eyes and stood up. Many believed in the Lord Jesus Christ because of this wonderful miracle. 

 

HYMN OF PRAISE Saint Tabitha

Tabitha died, not that she might no longer live, But that the world might be astonished at the miracle which came to pass. Beside her deathbed Peter humbly knelt, And uttered fervent prayer unto the Lord. She was resurrected in body! And the unbelievers heard How the Lord hearkened to the apostle’s prayer And returned the living soul to the dead body. And Peter turned the unbelievers to the Faith. O wondrous miracle, of a kind unknown in the world! By the name of Christ, death was conquered. Death was conquered, and life rejoices. The young Tabitha rejoices in life; And, more than in her own life, She rejoices that she served as a wonder to the unbelieving world. She was resurrected in body! The unbelievers heard, And their own souls were raised from the dead. O great Peter, servant of Christ, Pray to our Savior for us; Resurrect our souls, buried in the mud— You, who revived Tabitha by the power of God. 

 

REFLECTION

Among other mysterious perceptions from the world of spirits, the saints also had perceptions of sweet fragrances from good spirits and foul stenches from impure spirits. During every appearance of luminous, pure spirits, a life-giving and sweet fragrance wafted about; and during every appearance of dark and impure spirits, a suffocating, unbearable stench filled the air. The saints were able to discern which passion possessed a man by the kind of stench he emanated. Thus it was that St. Euthymius the Great recognized the stench of the passion of adultery in the monk Emilian of the Lavra of St. Theoctistus. Going to Matins one morning, Euthymius passed by Emilian’s cell and smelled the stench of the demon of adultery. Emilian had not committed any physical sin, but had adulterous thoughts that were being forced into his heart by the demon, and the saint already sensed it by its smell. The power of this perception once revealed itself even more wondrously in St. Hilarion the Great. A certain avaricious miser had sent some of his vegetables to Hilarion. When they were brought to Hilarion for a meal, the saint said: “Take these away from here. I cannot stand the stench that comes from these vegetables! Do you not smell how they reek of avarice?” When the brethren were amazed by these words, Hilarion told them to take the vegetables to the oxen, and they would see that not even the oxen would eat them. Indeed, the oxen merely sniffed at them, and turned their heads away in disgust. 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate God’s miraculous revelation to the Apostle Peter (Acts 11): 

1. How Peter saw the heavens open and a sheet full of all kinds of animals, beasts, creeping things and birds, being lowered to him; 

2. How he heard a voice: Arise, Peter; slay and eat! (Acts 11: 7); 

3. How this admonished him to attend even to the pagans and preach the Gospel to them. 

 

HOMILY on fleeing the world and dwelling in the wilderness

Lo, then would I flee afar off, and remain in the wilderness (Psalm 55: 7) Brethren, from whom did the prophet flee into the wilderness? From evil adversaries, from passions, and from vanity. Why did he flee into the wilderness? Because that is the way of victory over wicked adversaries, passions, and the vanity of the world. Very few choose the wilderness: that is why he fled into the wilderness. Men fight over cities and lands, over authority and wealth, but not over the wilderness. In the cities, the inner adversaries of man— the passions and diverse vanities— constantly are aroused with new fire, while in the wilderness they fade and vanish. Before he spoke of fleeing, the prophet said, And the terrors of death have fallen upon me (Psalm 55: 4); this is the reason to flee into the wilderness. One should prepare his soul for the other world, for the encounter with God. Not even a king can save himself from death or avoid judgment. Living in constant luxury and merriment, man is indeed as if lulled to sleep by the strong drink of this world. But then, in the midst of luxury and merriment, the thought of death tugs at him and awakens him. Oh, I must die! I must leave this world! I must come before God and before the angels! Where is my soul? Where are my deeds? With what shall I leave this world, and with what shall I enter into the next world? Thousands upon thousands of those who have been awakened from sinful sleep by such questions have fled to the wilderness and, day and night, they amend their souls and purify their hearts by repentance, prayer, fasting, vigils, labor and other proven means by which man kills the fear of death, and becomes adopted by God. O Lord Jesus Christ, our Most-wise and Most-gracious Teacher, Who Thyself at times withdrew from men into solitude, help us to be collected in soul and prepare ourselves for Thy Most-glorious Kingdom. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints. Nov. 6/Oct. 24

 23rd Week after Pentecost. Tone 5.  No fast.

Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “The Joy of All Who Sorrow” (Moscow) (1688).   Martyr Arethas of Omir and 4,299 martyrs with him, including Martyr Syncletica and her two daughters (523). St. Zosima (Verkhovsky), elder, of Siberia (1833).  Blessed Elesbaan, king of Ethiopia (553-555). St. Arethas, recluse, of the Kiev Caves (1190). St. Sisoes of the Kiev Caves (13th c.). St. Theophilus the Silent, of the Kiev Caves (12th c.-13th c.). St. Athanasius, patriarch of Constantinople (1311). St. John, recluse, of the Pskov Caves (1616).  New Hieromartyrs Lawrence (Knyazev), bishop of Balakhnin, and Alexis Porfiriev, archpriest, and with them New Martyr Alexis Neidhardt (1918). New Hieromartyr Arethas (Mitrenin), hieromonk of Valaam (1932).  St. Senoch, abbot, of Tours (Gaul) (576).    Repose of Blessed Eudocia of Ryazan (1890) and Hieroschemamonk Barsanuphius of Valaam (1910).

 

Scriptures for Today:

1 Thessalonians 1:1-5

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers,  remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father,  knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the  Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.

Luke 10:22-24

All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.  Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, "Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see;  for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.

 

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Monday. [I Thess. 1:1-5; Luke 10:22-24]

           No man knoweth…who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. The Son was on the earth and revealed everything necessary for us Himself and through the Holy Spirit which acted in the apostles. Consequently, what you find in the Gospels and the apostolic writings is all you will and can know about the Father and Godly things. Do not seek more than this, and do not think to find apart from this anywhere else the truth about God and God’s plans. What a great treasure we possess!… Everything has been said already. Do not rack your brains, just accept with faith what has been revealed. It has been revealed that God is one in essence and triune in persons—the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; accept this with faith and uphold it. It has been revealed that the thrice-hypostatical God created all through the word, preserves all in His right hand, and is providential toward everything; accept this with faith and uphold it. It has been revealed that we were in a blessed state and fell, and that for our restoration and redemption the Son of God, the second person of the Most Holy Trinity, was incarnate, suffered, died on the cross, was resurrected and ascended into heaven—accept this with faith and uphold it. It has been revealed that one who desires to be saved must believe in the Lord, and accepting divine grace in the holy mysteries, live, with its help, according to the Lord’s commandments, struggling with the passions and lusts, by means of corresponding spiritual endeavours—accept this with faith and do it. It has been revealed that whosoever lives according to God’s direction enters after their death into bright dwelling places, the pre-beginning of eternal bliss; while whosoever does not live thus, upon death will pre-begin to experience the torments of hell—accept this [revelation] with faith and thus give yourself understanding, and inspire yourself for good and spiritual endeavours. Thus accept all with faith and keep it faithfully. There is no need to rack your brains over your own invented things. Do not listen to those who show off their intelligence—they do not know where they are going.

From the Prologue of Ohrid

1. The Holy Martyr Arethas 

This holy martyr suffered for the Christian Faith with over four thousand Christians— priests, monks and nuns, men, women and children. Arethas was the eparch in the town of Nagran, in the southern Arabian land of Omir. He was ninety-five years old when he suffered. Dunaan, a cruel Jewish persecutor of Christians, then governed Omir. Determined to eradicate all Christians from his land, he surrounded the Christian town of Nagran, and sent a message to the people saying he would put them all to death unless they renounced Christ. The citizens closed the gates, and Dunaan attacked the city wall for a long time without success. Then the iniquitous governor swore to the citizens that he would do nothing to them, if only they would open the gate for him to enter and receive the tribute that they owed him— and that he would take it and immediately withdraw. The Christians believed him and opened the gate. Then the oath-breaking Jew summoned the aged Arethas, the clergy and other distinguished citizens and beheaded them all with the sword. He then perpetrated a horrible slaughter in the town. Learning of this, the Byzantine Emperor Justin was greatly grieved, and wrote a letter to the Ethiopian Emperor, Elesbaan, requesting him to set out with an army against Dunaan to avenge the innocent blood of the Christians. Elesbaan obeyed Justin, attacked the governor of Omir with his army, defeated him, slew his entire army, and beheaded him. By a revelation from God, a certain devout man named Abramius was installed as governor of Omir, and again by God’s revelation, St. Gregory of Omir (December 19) was installed as archbishop. Christians rebuilt the Church of the Holy Trinity in Nagran that Dunaan had burned, and also built a church to the Holy Martyr Arethas and the other martyrs of Nagran. St. Arethas and the others suffered and received martyr’s wreaths from the Lord in the year 523. St. Arethas (fresco in Protat, Mount Athos, 14th c.) 

 

2. Saint Elesbaan, King of Ethiopia 

Inflamed with zeal for the Christian Faith, this pious king raised an army against the governor Dunaan, the wicked persecutor of Christians in the land of Omir. However, at the battle’s outset, Elesbaan had little success and much of his army perished in the arid desert. He then wept bitterly before God, and vowed to become a monk if God would help him conquer the mortal enemy of Christianity. Defeating Dunaan, Elesbaan returned to Ethiopia, immediately left the imperial court and entered a monastery, where he lived a strict life of asceticism as a true monk for fifteen full years. God endowed him with the grace of miracle-working before and after his death. He entered into rest in the year 555. 

 

3. The Icon of the Holy Theotokos, “Joy of All Who Sorrow” 

This name is given to one of the wonderworking icons of the Most-holy Theotokos. On this day the icon is celebrated for the miraculous healing in Moscow, of Euphemia, the sister of Patriarch Joachim, in the year 1688. Euphemia had a serious wound in the side and as the doctors failed in their treatments, she prayed with tears to the Most-holy Theotokos. Then, she heard a voice: “Euphemia, go to the Church of the Transfiguration of my Son; there you will find the icon, ‘Joy of All Who Sorrow.’ Have the priest pray for you before this icon and you will be healed.” Euphemia did so, and was immediately made well. 4. The Venerable Arethas of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves He reposed in the year 1190. (See “Reflection” below.)*****) 

 

HYMN OF PRAISE to the Icon of the Most-holy Theotokos, “Joy of All Who Sorrow” 

O Most-holy Mother of God, “Joy of All Who Sorrow,” Grant thy mercy to us sinners. Thy Son now sits on the throne of the Eternal Kingdom, And all our troubles thou seest; thou knowest them as they occur. Thou hast always prayed to Christ God for the faithful, And hast relieved much pain and misery of the sorrowful. O Holy Virgin, never cease, to the end of time, To pray for the salvation of our race. God hast made thee even more glorious than the Seraphim: O hasten to us, O Joy of all who sorrow! REFLECTION When a consecrated person commits a transgression, a greater punishment awaits him than awaits a layman, less enlightened in the mystery of the will of God than he, who commits the same sin. St. Arethas was a monk in the Monastery of the Kiev Caves, and was very avaricious. He would give nothing to anyone of the piles of possessions in his cell, not even a kopeck. But once, he became very seriously ill and saw, as if in a vision, devils snatching his soul from the angels, screaming, “He is ours, he is ours!” and citing as their proof Arethas’s greed and miserliness. Upon his recovery Arethas amended his life, and from then on counted all earthly goods as nothing. Our benevolent God forgave him, and later endowed him with abundant grace. Again, in the monastery where the blessed Emperor Elesbaan reposed, a monk developed the habit of visiting a tavern often, getting drunk there, and even committing immoral acts with women. One day, returning from the tavern, a terrifyingly huge snake began chasing him and gained on him rapidly. In great torment and anguish, the monk cried out: “Depart from me, as you would from the holy and righteous Elesbaan!” Suddenly, the snake stopped. And the monk heard as it were a human voice from the serpent: “An angel of God commanded me to consume you because of your impurity and foulness, for you vowed to serve God in purity, but now you soil your body and anger the Holy Spirit.” The monk vowed never to sin again, returned to the monastery, and sinned no more up to his death. Thus, God rebuked, and showed mercy, by the prayers of the Holy Emperor Elesbaan. 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate Cornelius the Centurion’s wondrous visitation by the angel of God (Acts 10): 

1. How, though it was daytime, Cornelius saw in a vision an angel of God who called him by name; 

2. How Cornelius was afraid and replied, What is it, Lord? 

3. How the angel instructed him to send to Joppa for the Apostle Peter, who would speak to him the words of salvation. 

 

HOMILY on the clear coming of God 

Our God shall come and shall not keep silent (Psalm 50: 3) The vocation of a commander is different than the vocation of a judge. The commander does not show himself to his enemy immediately, but allows his enemy to think whatever he wants about him; for the main purpose of the commander is to conquer. The judge, however, immediately shows himself to those whom he has to judge. Then, too, the vocation of a teacher is different than the vocation of a judge. For the teacher, the main purpose is to teach his pupils. That is why he often lowers himself to the level of his students and speaks to them as their friend. A judge, however, from beginning to end, is bound to show himself as nothing other than a judge. The vocation of a physician is different than the vocation of a judge, and the difference in these two vocations can be compared as in the first two instances cited above. Brethren, God appeared to the world in the body of a man. He appeared as a Commander, as a Teacher and as a Physician, but He has not yet appeared as a Judge. In the first instance, He chose to remain silent, and not to openly express His greatest dignity, but rather left His enemies, His pupils and His patients to make their judgments about Him from what they knew. Those who had sound judgment would know Him as God in the flesh by the evidence of His words and by His deeds, by His love for mankind and by the heavenly signs at His birth, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension. However, those whose minds were darkened by evil passion would not recognize Him or acknowledge Him as God. But when He comes as Judge, then no one will ask “Art Thou He?” or “Who art Thou?” because everyone will know, without any doubt, Who He is. The angels will blow their trumpets before Him; His Cross will shine in the heavens before Him: A fire goes before Him and burns up His enemies round about (Psalm 97: 3). Then both the believers and the unbelievers, the righteous and the unrighteous, will recognize the Judge. Then, only they who recognized Him beforehand as God, in the cave and on the Cross, will rejoice. Truly, they will rejoice: for they shall recognize in the Judge Him for Whom they waged war, Him from Whom they learned, and Him by Whom they were healed. O Most-glorious Savior, have mercy on us and set us aright before Thy Second Coming. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen. *****) In the Greek Synaxarion, the Holy Martyr Sebastiana is also commemorated. She was a disciple of the Apostle Paul and suffered in the reign of Emperor Dometian, in the year 82. She was first tortured in the town of Marcianopolis, where the Apostle Paul appeared to her and said: “Rejoice and do not sorrow, for from here you will go to your town to confess your faith in Christ!” And, indeed, the judge sent her to Heraclea, her place of birth, where she was tortured and finally beheaded. Her relics were placed in a sack and thrown into the sea, but an angel of God carried them to a place called Rhaidestos, where Ammia, the wife of a senator, received and honorably buried them. Sebastiana’s relics streamed myrrh and had the power of healing.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints. Nov. 5/Oct. 23

22nd Sunday after Pentecost. Tone 5.

Holy Apostle James, the Brother of the Lord (63). Translation of the relics of Blessed James of Borovichi (Novgorod) (1544).  St. Ignatius, patriarch of Constantinople (877-878). St. Elisha of Lavrishevo, Belorussia (1250). New Hieromartyrs Eusebius (Rozhdestvensky), archbishop of Shadrinsk, and Vladimir Ambartsumov, priest, of Moscow (1937).  St. Petronius of Egypt, disciple of St. Pachomius the Great (346). St. Oda of Amay, foundress of churches (Neth.) (723). St. Nicephorus of Charsianos, Constantinople. St. Macarius the Roman, of Mesopotamia.

Scriptures for Today:

Galatians 6:11-18 - See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand! As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.  For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.  But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.  And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.  From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.  Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Luke 16:19-31 - There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.  But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate,  desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.  So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.  And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.'  But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.  'And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.'  Then he said, 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house,  for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.'  Abraham said to him, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' But he said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.'

St. Theophan on Today’s Scriptures:

Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost. [Gal. 6:11-18; Luke 16:19-31]

   The parable about the rich man and Lazarus shows that those who do not live as they should will suddenly wake up to reality, but they will no longer have the opportunity to correct their state. Their eyes will open and they will clearly see where the truth lies. Remembering that on the earth there are many who are blind as they were, they would like someone to be sent from the dead for the assurance that one must live and understand things only according to the indication of the Lord’s Revelation. But they will be denied even this, because for those who desire to know the truth, Revelation alone is a witness. But for those who do not desire it, and do not love the truth, even the resurrection of the dead will not be convincing. The feelings of the rich man in this parable are probably felt by everyone who departs this life. Consequently, according to the conviction of that world which will be the conviction of us all, the only guidance for us on the path of life is the Lord’s Revelation. But there, for many, this conviction will have come too late—it would have been more useful here, but not everyone had it. We will believe, at least, the testimony of those there, putting ourselves into their state. Those who are in torments do not lie; pitying us they want our eyes to be opened, that we not come to the place of their torment. We cannot say of this subject as we often do of current affairs, “Maybe somehow things will go all right.” No; it will not just go all right somehow. We must be fundamentally certain that we will not find ourselves in the place of the rich man.

 

Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Saints:

1. The Holy Apostle James, Brother of the Lord James is called the Lord’s brother because he was the son of the righteous Joseph, the betrothed of the Most-holy Theotokos. When the righteous Joseph was near death, he divided his estate among his sons, and wanted to leave a portion to the Lord Jesus, the son of the Most-holy Virgin, but all the other brothers opposed this, not regarding Jesus as their brother. James greatly loved Jesus and declared that he would include Jesus in his share. That is why he is called the Lord’s brother. From the beginning, James was devoted to the Lord Jesus. According to tradition, he traveled to Egypt with the Most-holy Virgin and Joseph, when Herod sought to slay the newborn King. Later, as soon as he heard Christ’s teaching, James lived by it. It is said of him that he never ate fat or oil, but lived on just bread and water, and was a virgin to the end of his life on earth. He often kept vigil at night and prayed to God. The Lord numbered him among His Seventy Apostles. Following His glorious Resurrection, the Lord appeared to him especially, as the Apostle Paul testifies (I Corinthians 15: 7). He was Bishop of Jerusalem for thirty years and zealously governed the Church of God. At the instruction of the Lord, James compiled the first Liturgy, which seemed very long for later Christians, and St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom shortened it. He converted many Jews and Greeks to the Christian Faith, and even the unbelieving Jews were amazed at his righteousness, referring to him as “James the Just.” When Ananias became High Priest, he and other Jewish elders determined to kill James for being a preacher of Christ. Once, during the feast of Passover, when many people had gathered in Jerusalem, the elders forced James to climb onto the roof of the Temple, and tried to make him speak against Christ. He climbed up and spoke to the people of Christ as the Son of God and the true Messiah, of His Resurrection and His eternal glory in the heavens. The infuriated priests and elders pushed him off the roof; he fell and was severely injured, but was still alive. Then, one man ran up and struck him on the head with a fuller’s club with such force that his brains spilled out. Thus, this most glorious apostle of Christ died a martyr’s death, and went to live eternally in the Kingdom of his Lord. James was sixty-six years old when he suffered for Christ. The Holy Apostle James, Brother of the Lord (icon in St.John Theologian Monastery, Patmos, Greece, 13th c.) 

 

2. Saint Ignatius, Patriarch of Constantinople - Ignatius was the son of Emperor Michael Rangabe. He became patriarch after St. Methodius in 846. Then Ignatius was deposed in 858 and exiled. Photius, the chief secretary to the emperor, was made patriarch in his place. However, when Emperor Basil the Macedonian ascended the throne, he re-instated Ignatius to the patriarchal throne. St. Ignatius governed the Church with great zeal and wisdom. He built the Monastery of the Holy Archangels in which he reposed in the Lord in the eighty-ninth year of his life. 

 

3. The Holy Martyr James of Borovichi - All that is known of this saint is what he revealed in a vision to people from the town of Borovichi after his repose. One day in 1540, his body floated down the river Meta, and washed ashore near Borovichi. Many miracles took place from his relics. 

 

HYMN OF PRAISE The Holy Apostle James, Brother of the Lord

James, the Brother of the Lord, a most beautiful righteous one, Explained the teaching of Christ with his life, And when they tortured him, he meekly knelt, And prayed to God for his enemies. In a most difficult place, at a most difficult time, He patiently bore the episcopal yoke. He governed the Church as a good shepherd, And glorified the Lord in word and deed. He taught men to love Jesus, And taught the faithful to pray to God. “Vainglorious man, what is faith alone? Faith without works is as empty straw. Whoever has hearing, let him hear the teaching: Faith without works is a body without spirit. Whence come wars, abhorrent to all? From the impure passions of your body. Men always war and have no peace, For their hearts desire evil, then shed blood. Whoever turns a sinner away from error Will receive the Lord’s gift of eternal life in reward.” The Jews slew the righteous James— But they have murdered themselves, and glorified him! O wonderful James, holy apostle, Help the faithful who pray to you. REFLECTION From God comes grace, but from us comes labor. Therefore, let no one even think that the holy apostles relied solely on the God-given grace, or that it was easy for them, or that they performed their great work in the world without effort. Does not the Apostle Paul say: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (I Corinthians 9: 27)? And still, in another place, does he not say that he spent his life in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren, in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness (II Corinthians 11: 26– 27)? St. James fed only on bread and that not to satisfaction. He slept very little, and spent his nights in prayer. He knelt so much in prayer that the skin on his knees became as hard as the skin on the knees of a camel. This brother of the Lord prayed with tears and sighs not only for the Church, which he governed, but also for the whole world. Even when he was pushed from the temple roof by the malicious Jews, and thus was completely broken, the holy apostle never forgot his debt to God and to men. Gathering his last strength, he raised himself to his knees, stretched forth his hands toward heaven and fervently prayed to God saying: “Lord, forgive them this sin, for they know not what they are doing.” While he was praying thus, wicked men struck him with stones from all sides. Seeing this, one of the sons of Rechab cried out: “Stop! What are you doing? The righteous one is praying to God for you, and you are killing him!” However, that shout of a compassionate soul could not deter the murderers, accustomed to evildoing, from killing the saint of God. So it was that the apostles did not rely on grace alone, but also put forth nearly superhuman effort to show themselves worthy of God’s grace. 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the miraculous resurrection of Tabitha (Acts 9): 

1. How Tabitha lay dead on her bed; 

2. How the Apostle Peter prayed to God for her and said: Tabitha, arise; 

3. How Tabitha regained life, and arose. 

 

HOMILY on the beauty of the king’s daughter

The king’s daughter is all glorious within (Psalm 45: 13) The Church of God is the daughter of the King. However poor and unattractive to the physical eye it may seem on the outside, no matter how persecuted and humiliated, it is filled with royal radiance and beauty from within. The King, He Who is fairer than the sons of men (Psalm 45: 2), imparts beauty to His royal daughter. The Church of God is like a vesture for Christ; Christ lives in her. No outer beauty can be compared with inner beauty, that is, the beauty of Christ. The Most-holy Theotokos is the daughter of the King: Her vesture is woven with gold (Psalm 45: 13). This vesture is the virtue of her soul. That we understand “vesture” as virtue is clear in the parable of the marriage of the king’s son. The man who was not clothed in a wedding garment was driven from the king’s table and punished (cf. Matthew 22: 11– 13). True faith in God was the golden vesture of the Most-holy Virgin. Virginity, meekness, compassion, sanctity, piety, devotion to God’s will, and all other virtues, were like embroideries on this golden garment. However, her beauty was the work of the Lord Christ, hidden within her and born of her. The soul of every faithful Christian is like the daughter of the King. All the beauty of that soul is in Christ and of Christ, Who is within the soul. A soul without Christ the Sun of Righteousness is in darkness, without form and comeliness, as the universe would be without form and comeliness without the material sun. O great and gracious Lord, our true God and our man-loving Provider, help us to clothe ourselves in the garment of the virtues, that we may not be found naked at Thy Dread Judgment. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints. Nov. 4/Oct. 22

22nd Week after Pentecost. Tone 4. No fast.

The Kazan Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (commemorating the deliverance from the Poles in 1612).  Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Abercius, bishop and wonderworker, of Hierapolis (167).  The Holy Seven Youths (“Seven Sleepers”) of Ephesus (see August 4) (250 and ca. 446). Hieromartyr Alexander, bishop, and Martyrs Heraclius, Anna, Elizabeth, Theodota, and Glyceria, at Adrianople (2nd-3rd c.). Sts. Theodore and Paul, abbots, of Rostov (1409). New Hieromartyrs Seraphim (Samoilovich), archbishop of Uglich, Menas (Shelaev) and Herman (Polyansky), archimandrites, and Alexander Lebedev, Vladimir Sobolev, Basil Bogoyavlensky, and Alexander Andreyev, priests (1937). New Hieromartyr Gregory (Vorobiev), abbot, of Koprino (Yaroslavl) (1937).  Martyr Theodoret, at Antioch (362). Sts. Lot and Rufus, of Egypt (5th c.). St. George the New Confessor, of Drama (Greece) (1959).  Repose of Monk Joseph the Silent, of Kuban (1925), Metropolitan Nestor of Kamchatka and Petropavlovsk (1962), and Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky (1988).

Today's Scriptures:

2 Corinthians 5:1-10 - For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Luke 7:2-10 - And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die. So when he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving,  for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue.  Then Jesus went with them. And when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, "Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof.  Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it.  When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, "I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!"  And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick.

St. Theophan on Today’s Scriptures:

Saturday. [II Cor. 5:1-10; Luke 7:2-10]          What a bright person the centurion is! How did he reach such faith that he surpassed with it all Israelites, raised with revelation, prophesies and miracles? The Gospels do not indicate how, but only describe his faith and tell of how the Lord praised him. The path of faith is a secret, concealed path. Who can even explain within himself how the convictions of faith are composed in the heart [cf. Lk. 2:19]? Best of all, the holy Apostle resolved this by calling faith God’s gift. Faith truly is God’s gift, but unbelievers are not without responsibility, and, consequently, they themselves are at fault for the fact that this gift is not given them. If there is no recipient for this gift, it is not given, for there is nothing to receive it with; while in such a case to give is the same as to spend in vain. How a soul is made a worthy recipient of the gift of faith is difficult to determine. Extreme humility could be seen in the centurion, despite the fact that he was a man of power, virtuous and sensible. Is it not through humility in general that this great mercy, which gives faith, is attracted? This is not at all surprising. At the very least it is known to everyone that unbelievers always are of a proud spirit, and that faith most of all requires the submission of the mind beneath its yoke.

 

Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Saints:

1. Saint Abercius, Equal to the Apostles 

During the reigns of Emperor Antoninus and his son, Marcus Aurelius, St. Abercius was the bishop of the city of Hierapolis in Phrygia. The great majority in this city were pagans, and St. Abercius governed his sparse flock, sorrowing in his heart because of the great number of pagans and idolaters, and diligently praying to God that He would bring them to the light of truth. During a boisterous idolatrous festival, Abercius became inflamed with God’s zeal and entered the idolatrous temple, smashing all the idols. When the enraged pagans sought to kill him, three young madmen, foaming at the mouth and howling, fell down before this man of God, and he drove the demons from them. The young men became sane and calm. This turned the pagans’ anger into amazement at the wonderworker of Christ, and five hundred of them immediately desired baptism. Little by little, all of Hierapolis came to believe in Christ and were baptized. The proconsul of the province, Publius, had a mother who was blind. Abercius restored her sight by prayer, and Publius, his mother and many others believed in Christ. In old age, Abercius was summoned to Rome, where he healed the emperor’s daughter of insanity. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared several times to His faithful follower. People from near and far came to him for miraculous help when they suffered from incurable illnesses. The demons not only feared him, but also served him at his command. At the guidance of the Lord Himself, Abercius preached the Gospel throughout Syria and Mesopotamia. In great old age, St. Abercius presented himself to his beloved Lord in Hierapolis, at the end of the second century. Saint Abercius, Equal to the Apostles (Menologion of Basil II, 11th c.) 

2. The Venerable Lot 

Lot was a great Egyptian ascetic and a contemporary of St. Arsenius the Great and St. Agathon. He lived a life of asceticism in his monastery near a lake at the town of Arsinoe, and directed many brethren on the path to salvation. His close friend and advisor was Abba Joseph. Lot once said to Joseph: “Abba, I fast as much as I can, hold fast to prayer, keep silence and contemplate, and also, through abstinence, guard myself from impure thoughts. Therefore, what else can I do?” The elder stood up, raised his hands to heaven, and his ten fingers shone like ten flaming candles. He then replied: “If you desire, you can be all aflame!” Having pleased God and set many on the path to salvation, St. Lot entered peacefully into rest in the fifth century. 

3. Commemoration of the Miraculous Deliverance of Moscow from the Lithuanians with the help of the Most-holy Theotokos 

During the reign of Prince Basil Ivanovich, the Lithuanians occupied Moscow and the Russians were in great despair. Then St. Sergius of Radonezh appeared in a vision to the captured Bishop Arsenius, and promised him that Moscow would be cleansed of the Lithuanians the very next day, by the power and prayer of the Holy Most-pure One. Indeed, the Lithuanians fled the city, and the Russian army re-entered Moscow. The entire populace glorified God and the Most-holy Theotokos with tears of joy. HYMN OF PRAISE Saint Abercius, Equal to the Apostles St. Abercius, a model of meekness, Is a most beautiful example of Christian zeal. He zealously toppled the dumb idols And joyfully exposed himself to death. But God protects the servant who strives for Him, And shields him from evil with His right hand. Against the saint, demons and men rose up, But became shamefully silent before the power of the Cross. What the saint desired, the Lord granted, And though he was in much sorrow, he gladdened many. St. Abercius was as a fiery pillar, A light and an enlightener of men. He preached Christ to many peoples— From powerful emperors to the poor— And witnessed Christ through many miracles. He poured miracles out like living water; By the life-creating word he assuaged the thirsty, And with the teaching of Christ he fed the hungry. St. Abercius, a model of meekness, Gave himself to God in honorable old age, And was crowned with eternal youth in Paradise, Surrounded by the joy and glory of heaven. O wonderful holy one, strive yet a little more: Protect the remaining flock on earth, Implore Christ’s mercy on us through prayer, That the Church will boast in you to the end. 

 

REFLECTION

As much as the strictness of holy men toward themselves is a cause for amazement, so also is their compassion toward others. They have disinterest for themselves, and concern for others. St. Hilarion the Great, unable to pay his fare to Sicily, offered the owner of the ship his Gospel (which he, in his youth, had copied with his own hands). When he had cured a certain prince of an unclean spirit, the prince wanted to present him with ten liters of gold. The saint would not accept the gold, but showed him barley bread and said: “Those who feed on this kind of bread look upon gold as mud!” When men begged him to pray to God for rain, or to save them from floods or poisonous snakes, St. Hilarion helped them by his prayer. This is how St. Abercius acted as well. Seeing many people in pain and sickness, he knelt in a certain place and prayed to God that He would open up a spring of warm, healing water there, that the infirm might be healed and glorify God. God then opened a spring of warm water on that spot. When Abercius healed the emperor’s daughter of insanity, the emperor offered him gold, silver and other gifts, but St. Abercius said: “Riches are not needed for one who considers bread and water a royal meal.” Not seeking anything for himself, Abercius nevertheless begged the emperor to do two favors for his flock in Hierapolis: to build a bath over those healing waters, and to give sufficient wheat each year to the poor of Hierapolis. The emperor agreed and did according to the saint’s request. 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the miraculous healing of Aeneas of Lydda (Acts 9): 

1. How Aeneas had lain paralyzed for eight years; 

2. How the Apostle Peter healed him in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; 

3. How Aeneas arose healthy. 

 

HOMILY on the beauty of Christ above all other beauty

Thou art fairer than the sons of men (Psalm 45: 2) Holy Scripture does not ascribe any particular value to physical beauty, and in general to anything transient. That is why everyone who reads Holy Scripture should take care to be sufficiently attentive and wise to transfer the praise of physical beauty to the soul and to spiritual values. Without a doubt, spiritual beauty gives a wondrous attractiveness to the most unattractive body, just as an ugly soul makes even the most attractive body repulsive. The Prophet David, pouring forth good words (Psalm 45: 1), says to his King, the Lord Jesus Christ: Thou art fairer than the sons of men. The Lord Himself created His bodily cloak as He wanted. Had He wanted to appear in the world as the physically fairest of men, He could have done so. But there is nothing in the Gospel to indicate that He drew followers to Himself or influenced men by His appearance. He Himself said: the flesh profiteth nothing (John 6: 63). Therefore, it is clear that David was not speaking of the physical beauty of Christ, but of His spiritual, divine beauty. This is clearly seen in the following words of the Psalmist: Grace is poured forth upon thy lips (Psalm 45: 2). So it is that the unsurpassed beauty of the Son of God is not in the form and shape of His lips, but rather in the stream of grace that flows from His mouth. Again, the Prophet Isaiah speaks of Christ: He had no form or comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him (Isaiah 53: 2-3). Do Isaiah and David agree? Perfectly well. David speaks of Christ’s inward beauty, and Isaiah speaks of Christ’s external abasement. Isaiah said that He would not be seen as a king or a rich man, but as a servant and sufferer. O Lord Jesus Christ, Thou art fairer to us than all men and angels: glory to Thine immortal and unending beauty. O gracious Lord, correct the ugliness of our souls, which are disfigured by sin, we pray Thee. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints. Nov. 3/Oct. 21

22nd Week after Pentecost. Tone 4. Fast Day.

St. Hilarion the Great, of Gaza (371-372). Translation of the relics of St. Hilarion, bishop of Meglin, Bulgaria (1206). Martyrs Dasius, Gaius, and Zoticus, at Nicomedia (303). St. Hilarion, metropolitan of Kiev (ca. 1055). Sts. Theophilus and James, monks of Konevits, founders of Dormition Monastery at Omutch (Pskov) (ca. 1412). St. Hilarion, founder of Pskovoezersk Monastery (Gdov) (1476). New Hieromartyrs Paulinus (Kroshechkin), archbishop of Mogilev, and Arcadius (Yershov), bishop of Ekaterinburg, and with them Anatole Levitsky and Nicander Chernelevsky, priests, and New Martyr Cyprian Annikov (1937). New Hieromartyr Damian (Voskresensky), archbishop of Kursk (1937). New Hieromartyrs Constantine Chekalov, Sergius Smirnov, Basil Kozyrev, Theodore Belyaev, Vladimir Vvedensky, Nicholas Raevsky, John Kozyrev, Basil Nikolsky, Alexander Bogoyavlensky, Demetrius Troitsky, and Alexis Moskvin, priests, and Sergius Kazansky and John Melnitsky, deacons, all of the Tver diocese (1937). New Hieromartyr Alexis (Bui), bishop of Voronezh (1930). New Hieromartyrs Neophytus (Osipov), archimandrite, of Moscow, and Sophronius (Nesmeyanov), hieromonk, of Lozeva (Tver) (1937). Hieromartyr Socrates, priest, and Martyr Theodote, of Ancyra (ca. 230). St. Ursula and her companions, martyrs at Cologne (beg. of 4th c.). St. Fintan Munnu of Teachmunnu (Ireland) (635). The 63 Martyrs of Jerusalem: Pegasus, Neophytus, Acacius, Dorotheus, Stephen, Dometius, Herman, Dionysius, Epiphanius, Stratonicus, Leontius, Emmanuel, Theophilus, Elias, John, Samuel, Eulampius, Alexius, Photius, Eutrepius, Methodius, Chariton, Theophylactus, Anastasius, Andronicus, Symeon, Theoktistus, Romanus, Paul, Agathonicus, Minas, Athanasius, Jacob, Nicephorus, Porphyrius, Timothy, Irenarchus, Auxentius, Joseph, Gregory, Callinicus, Aaron, Cyriacus, Theodosius, Eustathius, Isaac, Alexander, Eleutherius, Adrian, Christophor, Antiochus, Isidore, Parthenius, Sergius, Euplus, Ignatius, Theophanes, Cyril, Zachariah, and Anthimus (724). St. Malathgeny of Cluain-Edneach (Ireland) (767). Translation of the relics of St. Christodulus the Wonderworker, of Patmos (1093). St. Philotheus of Neapolis and Mt. Athos (14th c.). Sts. Bessarion (Sarai), hieromonk (1745), and Sophronius of Ciorara, monk (ca. 1765), confessors, and St. Oprea of Salistie (18th c.), martyred by the Latins in Romania. New Martyr John of Monemvasia, at Larissa (1773). Hiero-confessors John of Gales, and Moses (Macinic), priests, of Sibiel (Transylvania) (18th c.). Repose of Schema-archimandrite Herman (Bogdanov) of New Valaam Monastery in Siberia (1938) and Schemanun Seraphima (Bobkova) of Shamordino Convent (1990).

Today's Scriptures:

Colossians 4:10-18 (Friday)

Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him), and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me.  Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.  For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis.  Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you.  Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house.  Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.  And say to Archippus, "Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it."  This salutation by my own hand-Paul. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Amen.

 

Luke 10:1-15

After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.  Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.  Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road.  But whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house.'  And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you.  And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house.  Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you.  And heal the sick there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.'  But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city.  Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.  But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you.  And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades.

 

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

 

Friday. [Col. 4:10-18; Luke 10:1-15]- Will there be such indulgence in the other world toward those who do not accept the Lord as He showed toward those living on the earth? No, there will not be. Sending “the seventy” to preach, the Lord commanded them, that they when they are not received, they should say on the crossroads: Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding, be ye sure of this, that the Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. That is, we do not need anything of yours—not with self-interest do we walk and preach, but for the proclamation unto you of peace and the Kingdom of God. If you do not want to receive this good—as you like; we will go on. Thus it was commanded for the present time; but how will it be in the future? It shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Therefore, it is useless for unbelievers to hope for the Lord’s indulgence. While on the earth they only do as they like; but as soon as death comes, the entire storm of God’s wrath will come down on them. It is great unhappiness to be as the unbelievers! They do not even have joy on the earth, because without God and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer, even here all is dismal and dreary; what will be there is impossible to describe in words or to imagine. It would be more tolerable to be destroyed, but even that will not be given to them.

Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Saints:

 

1. The Venerable Hilarion the Great 

Like a rose growing among thorns, this great saint was born of pagan parents in the village of Tabatha near Gaza in Palestine. His parents sent him to study in Alexandria, where the gifted youngster quickly assimilated both secular learning and spiritual wisdom. Coming to know the Lord Christ, he was baptized, and desired to dedicate himself completely to the service of the Lord. With this desire in his heart, Hilarion visited St. Anthony in the desert and became his disciple. Then he returned to his homeland and lived a life of asceticism near Maiuma, at Gaza. Demons tried to terrify him in various ways, but by prayer to God and the sign of the Cross he always overcame them and drove them away. Many lovers of the spiritual life gathered around him. Hilarion became for Palestine what St. Anthony was for Egypt. A divine teacher, a strict ascetic and a wonderful miracle-worker, Hilarion was revered not only by Christians but also by pagans. However, fearing the praise of men and tearfully lamenting, “Woe is me, I have received my reward on earth!” he fled from place to place, to hide from men and remain alone with his soul and with God. Thus, he traveled and lived in Egypt, Sicily, Dalmatia and finally in Cyprus, where his life of great labor came to an end in about the year 372, at the age of eighty. The miracle-working relics of St. Hilarion were translated to Palestine by his disciple Hesychius, and were placed in the monastery founded by him. St. Hilarion the Great (fresco in Staro Nagoričino, 1317-18) 

 

2. Saint Hilarion, Bishop of Meglin 

He was born of eminent and devout parents. His childless mother had long prayed to God that He grant her a child, and in accordance with her prayer, the Most-holy Theotokos appeared to her and comforted her with the words: “Do not grieve, you will give birth to a son and he will turn many to the light of truth.” When Hilarion was three years old, the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth!” was constantly on his lips. He was well-educated, was tonsured a monk at age eighteen, and founded a monastery based on the Rule of St. Pachomius. In 1134, he was consecrated Bishop of Meglin by Eustathius, Archbishop of Trnovo. St. Hilarion led a great, nearly lifelong struggle against the Bogomils and the Armenian heretics. However, by his spiritual learning and unequaled sanctity he put them all to shame, and drew many of them to Orthodoxy. He reposed peacefully, and took up his abode in the Kingdom of His Lord in the year 1164. 

 

3. The Venerable Philotheus 

He was born in Crysopolis in Macedonia. The Turks took him from his mother, a widow, and threw him and one of his brothers into prison. The Most-holy Theotokos miraculously saved them from prison and brought them to a monastery at Neapolis in Asia Minor. Later, their mother found both of her sons as monks, and she herself was tonsured a nun. Philotheus went to Mount Athos, where he lived a life of asceticism in the Monastery of Dionysiou, and later in the desert. He was a wondrous ascetic and a great conqueror of demonic powers. He reposed peacefully at the age of eighty-four. He willed that he not be buried, but that his body be thrown into the forest for the birds and wild beasts. Later, a fisherman saw a great light in the forest on a cold night and went to warm himself, thinking it was a fire. However, the light was not from a fire, but was emanating from the wonderworking relics of St. Philotheus. HYMN OF PRAISE The Venerable Hilarion the Great Holy Hilarion, like a brilliant comet, Fleeing from men, traveled half the world. But such a star hides in vain: Its own light reveals it to the world. Hilarion wished to escape earthly glory, But from glory the saint could not flee. Where God did not proclaim him, the demons did, Being terrified by the saint, who cast them out. Wherever he settled, Hilarion the Wonderful Worked miracles and healed the sick, Conquered his weakness and passions. A conqueror of the world, he subdued the demons. He hid in caves, yet was proclaimed by all. He shunned all, but was glorified by all. The Lord glorifies His glorifiers, And crowns victorious runners with wreaths. When the race of earthly life passes, The wreaths of everlasting life are given. The aged Hilarion, ever young in spirit, Now takes delight in the Lord face to face. Even now his prayers wage war for us, That in His compassion the Lord would have mercy on us. 

 

REFLECTION

The All-seeing eye of God watches over all men and, in a wondrous manner, guides the faithful to salvation. That which seems to the faithful a great loss can show itself over time to be a great gain. The case of St. Philotheus and his brother, who were lost to their mother, is similar to the case of St. Xenophont (January 26), and the case of St. Eustathius and his wife and sons (September 20). When St. Philotheus and his brother were sitting in a Turkish prison in Macedonia, the Most-holy Theotokos appeared to them in the form of their mother and said, “Arise, my dear children, and follow me!” and suddenly the young men found themselves in a monastery in the town of Neapolis in Asia Minor. When the young men related to the abbot what had happened to them, he understood that this was from God, and he received the young men and tonsured them. A long time passed after this. Their mother grieved for them but overcame her loss. Finally, she decided to enter a convent and dedicate herself to God. God’s providence brought her near the monastery where her sons were. Once, during the patronal celebration of this monastery she came with the other nuns for the celebration. She saw her sons in church but did not recognize them. Just then, one of the brothers called the other by his secular name. The mother’s heart was touched by that name, which was dear to her, and she looked carefully into their faces. Then she recognized them and they recognized her. Their joy was exceedingly great, and they gave heartfelt thanks to God. Believing Christians should not despair over even the greatest loss. 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the wondrous healing of the blind Saul by Ananias (Acts 9):

1. How Ananias placed his hands on Saul, mentioning the name of the Lord Jesus;

2. How the blindness departed from Saul like scales falling from his eyes, and he saw and was baptized, and became Paul.

HOMILY on the God-inspired heart and tongue

My heart will pour forth good words; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer (Psalm 45: 1) Behold the inspiration of the Spirit of God! The prophet wants to speak of Christ the Lord and his heart swells with power and wisdom. That is why the prophet does not say: “My heart will speak or will pronounce good words, but rather will pour forth as though a part of his own heart rushes out like a torrent of water from an overflowing well. A torrent of water is narrow underground, but when it reaches the opening of the spring, it bursts out in a large stream. Such is the heart of the prophet when he wants to speak of Christ. Such is the power of grace confined in the heart of man. If it does not manifest itself in powerful words or if it does not manifest itself in miraculous works, it will shine within man and work wonders. But when it comes out in words, the tongue of the prophet will become as a reed, as a pen of a ready writer. For such a man does not struggle to formulate his thoughts, nor does he struggle to clothe his thoughts in the garment of words, but grace itself pours out thoughts and words, already prepared, through his tongue. Where does such a power in man come from? From God the Holy Spirit. Why does such a power exist? The prophet wants to speak to the King about Himself: I speak of things which I have made touching the King (Psalm 45: 1). Actions and words here are identical, as it often happens in Holy Scripture. Where the Spirit speaks, He also acts; and where He acts, He also speaks. One speaks most powerfully through action. The prophet takes from Christ the King, and gives to Christ the King. He speaks enthusiastically of love for the Savior of the world; he speaks from a heart burning with the zeal of divine love. From the distance of time, he sees the Incarnate Son of God, and his heart dances with joy like a weary night-traveler when he sees the beautiful dawn in the east! O Lord God, the Holy Spirit, do not deny us Thy holy and powerful grace, that we may be cleansed from sins and made worthy of the Kingdom of Christ. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints. Nov. 2/Oct. 20

22nd Week after Pentecost. Tone 4.  No fast.

Great-martyr Artemius, at Antioch (362). St. Artemius of Verkola (1545). St. Theodosius, hieromonk of Svyatogorsk Monastery (1850). St. Gabriel (Urgebadze), archimandrite, of Mtskheta (Georgia) (1995). New Hieromartyr Nicholas Lyubomudrov, priest, of Latskoye village, Yaroslavl (1918). New Hieromartyr Herman (Kokel), bishop of Alatyr (1937). Uncovering of the relics of New Hieromartyr Nikodim (Kononov), bishop of Belgorod (2012). Martyr Zebinas of Caesarea in Palestine (308). Martyrs Aborsam and Senoe, of Persia (ca. 341). St. Acca, bishop of Hexham (England) (ca. 740). St. Matrona of Chios (1462). Translation of the relics of New Monk-martyr Ignatius of Bulgaria and Mt. Athos from Constantinople to Mt. Athos (1814). Repose of Abbot Theodosius (Popov) of Optina Monastery (1903) and Metropolitan John (Snychev) of St. Petersburg (1995).

Today’s Scriptures:

Colossians 4:2-9 - Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.  Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.  Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts, with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you all things which are happening here.

Luke 9:49-56 (Thursday) - Now John answered and said, "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us."  But Jesus said to him, "Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side."  Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem,  and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him.  But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem.  And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?"  But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.   For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them. And they went to another village.

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:  

Thursday. [Col. 4:2-9; Luke 9:49-56]

How should one relate to unbelievers who do not confess the Lord? The same way as the Lord related to the village that did not receive Him. Youthful zeal, full of heat, would want to send down fire from heaven on them; but the Lord Himself restrains it: Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of… The Lord and Saviour did not do anything to those who did not receive Him, though receiving Him is what salvation itself consists of; but passing them by, He went to another village, leaving them to themselves. The same applies now: let unbelievers go their way, and believers go theirs. God exists, Who will sort everyone out in good time. It is necessary to pity and pray for them; one must desire that they know the truth and try to find opportunities to hint to them about it; but when they openly start attacking the truth, give them a rebuff which is loving and yet brings them to their senses—and that is enough.

Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Saints: 

1. The Holy Great-martyr Artemius 

This glorious saint was an Egyptian by birth and the chief commander under Emperor Constantine the Great. When the victorious Cross, surrounded by stars, appeared to Emperor Constantine, Artemius also saw that Cross, believed in the Lord Christ and was baptized. Later, during the reign of Emperor Constantius, this emperor sent him to Greece to remove the relics of St. Andrew from Patras and St. Luke from Thebes, and to take them to Constantinople. Commander Artemius carried this out with joy. After that, Artemius was appointed as augustalis****) and imperial prefect in Egypt. He remained in this position during the reign of Constantius, and for a period of time under Emperor Julian the Apostate. When the apostate emperor went to war against the Persians, he came through Antioch and commanded Artemius to come to Antioch with his army. Artemius came. Then the emperor subjected two Christian priests, Eugenius and Macarius, to torture. Seeing this, Artemius became greatly disturbed and, facing the emperor, said: “Why, O Emperor, why do you inhumanly torture these innocent and dedicated men of God, and why do you force them to renounce the Orthodox Faith?” Artemius continued, prophesying: “Your death is near.” The enraged emperor sent those two honorable priests into exile to Arabia, where they died shortly thereafter. He then stripped Commander Artemius of his military rank and ordered him to be flogged and torn asunder. Thoroughly wounded and bloodied, Artemius was thrown into prison, where the Lord Jesus Christ Himself appeared to him, and healed and comforted him. Then the emperor commanded that he be spread out on a stone, and that another heavy stone be placed upon him, so that his body would be smashed flat as a board. Finally, St. Artemius was beheaded. It was the year 362. Emperor Julian went out against the Persians and perished dishonorably, as St. Artemius had foretold. The Holy Great-martyr Artemius (frecso in Protat, Mount Athos, 14th c.) 

2. The Holy Righteous Artemius 

Artemius was born in 1532, the son of Russian peasants Cosmas and Apollinaria, from the village of Verkola in the region of Dvina. Even at the age of five, he differed from other children by his rare piety and meekness. When he was thirteen, the child walked with his father through a great forest in severe weather and reposed there. Unable to dig a grave, his grieving father covered his body with branches and departed. Twenty-eight years later, a man saw an unearthly light in the forest. Upon approaching the light, he found the body of Artemius intact and incorrupt. Many of the sick were healed of illnesses as soon as they touched the body of St. Artemius. His holy relics repose in a monastery near Pinega, in the Province of Archangelsk. 

3. The Venerable Gerasimus the New 

Gerasimus was from Trikala in the Peloponnese of the prominent Notaras family. He was born in 1509. He lived a life of asceticism on Mount Athos, and then in Palestine, where he fasted for forty days. After that, he settled on the island of Cephalonia, where he founded a convent. By his prayer he brought down rain, healed the sick, and foretold the future. He rested in the Lord on August 15, 1579. Gerasimus was a miracle-worker both during his life and after his repose. The Venerable Gerasimus the New (icon in his Monastery in Cephalonia, Greece) 

4. The Venerable New Martyr Ignatius 

Ignatius was from the Bulgarian region of Eski-Zagora. This is that glorious region of Zagora that has given the Church of God many holy ascetics and martyrs. He lived a life of asceticism in the Skete of St. John the Forerunner on Mount Athos. He willingly gave himself to the Turks to be tortured for Christ, and was hanged in Constantinople on October 8, 1814. His relics are miracle-working, and his head is honorably preserved in the Monastery of St. Panteleimon on Mount Athos. HYMN OF PRAISE The Holy Great-martyr Artemius St. Artemius the commander Did not hide his faith before the emperor, But proclaimed his faith with great courage And glorified Christ God before the emperor. This apostate emperor forgot God, And subjected his commander to torment. The saint dedicated his mind to God And little felt the cruel tortures, Since there is a greater suffering for the sinner who tortures Than for the righteous one being tortured! The emperor beheaded this glorious commander But the Lord glorified His servant And raised him up to the Heavenly Kingdom. He gave him power to drive out demons, Grace to heal every sickness and suffering— All by the power of God, without labor or word. Whoever loves and believes in Christ, Has a champion in St. Artemius. 

REFLECTION

The compassionate God wonderfully guides those who give themselves over to His holy will and care. Just as a candle-maker makes whatever kind of candle he wants from soft wax, so the All-wise God makes immortal lights in the Heavenly Kingdom of His devoted servants. St. Ignatius the New Martyr was totally devoted to God, even as a child. He yearned to become a monk and to be a martyr for the Faith. During the Karageorge uprising, the Turkish army was conscripting men throughout Bulgaria to fight against the Serbs, and even came to the house of Ignatius’s father, George, to see if anyone there was fit for military service. Seeing that George was a well-built and strong man, they wanted to take him into the army. But George resolutely said: “I cannot fight against my fellow Christians.” The infuriated Turks killed him on the spot. The young Ignatius hid in a neighboring house, then fled to Romania, but his desire for monasticism took him to the Holy Mountain. Even so, he wanted something more than monasticism— he desired martyrdom. He prayed with tears one night before the icon of the Most-holy Theotokos, imploring her to grant him the path of martyrdom. He heard a sound in front of him, and opened his eyes to see the glowing halo detach itself from the icon and rest upon his head. Shortly after that, he suffered martyrdom at the hands of the Turks, and received the wreath of eternal glory. 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the Lord’s wondrous appearance to the Apostle Ananias and to Saul (Acts 9): 1. How the Lord appeared to Ananias and directed him to Saul in the street called Straight; 2. How, at that very moment, in a vision, Saul saw Ananias healing him of his blindness. HOMILY on old and new tales of God’s wonders We have heard with our ears, O God; Our fathers have told us, what work Thou didst in their days, in the times of old (Psalm 44: 1) Thus King David speaks in the name of his people, and enumerates several great works that God performed for Israel. We, brethren, have also heard of all these works, from Holy Scripture, and of many more works and kinds of works than those of which David had heard, for they took place after him! Have we not heard of incomparably more miraculous and greater works of God’s providence and God’s love for mankind than all that David heard? The Son of God became incarnate of the Most-pure Virgin and lived as a man among men, poured out wisdom, worked miracles, destroyed death, put the devil to shame, and gave power to His followers. David did not hear of these things, but we have heard, for they have been revealed to us by our spiritual Fathers: the apostles and evangelists, martyrs and righteous ones, and all the ranks of saints from ancient times to the present day. Not only did they reveal it to us, but the Holy Spirit reveals it to us every day through the Holy Church, through the grace-filled Mysteries and through countless miracles. Behold, here is a reason for great joy, but also for great fear, for much is given to us and much will be required of us. We have been given more spiritual riches than all those who lived before Christ— more wisdom and understanding, more of God’s glory and power, and more, many more examples of God’s love for man and man’s love for God. Ask yourselves, you richest of the rich, what have you given and what are you giving to God for all of this? You should strive to not be put to shame at God’s Judgment. As a dream soon slips away, so will all your days on earth soon slip away, and the sound of the angel’s trumpet will soon summon all nations and people to the Dread Judgment of God. Strive that you not then be ashamed, for you will not be able to excuse yourself with “We did not know,” or “We did not have!” You know, and you have had more revealed to you, than even David and Solomon had; and more will be required of you than of them. O Son of God, our great and wonderful Lord, God and Savior, remind us every day and every hour of Thy Precious Blood, shed for us, that we do not forget, O Lord, and that we not be eternally condemned. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints. Nov. 1/Oct. 19

22nd Week after Pentecost. Tone 4. Fast Day.    Wine and oil allowed.

Righteous John, Wonderworker of Kronstadt (1908).  Prophet Joel (800 b.c.). Martyrs Warus and seven others with him, in Egypt (ca. 307).  First translation of the relics of St. John, founder of Rila Monastery in Bulgaria (1187). Blessed Cleopatra (327) and her son John (320), in Egypt. Hieromartyr Sadoc (Sadoth), bishop of Persia, and 128 martyrs with him (342). St. Anthony (Abashidze), schema-archbishop, of the Kiev Caves Lavra (1942). New Hieromartyr Alexis Stavrovsky, priest, of Petrograd (1918).

St. Leontius the Philosopher, of St. Sabbas Monastery (624). St. Frideswide of Oxford, abbess (ca. 735). St. Prochorus, abbot, in the Vranski Desert on the river Pchinja in Bulgaria (10th c.). New Monk-martyr Nicholas Dvali of Jerusalem (1314). St. Gabriel, archimandrite, of St. Elias Skete, Mt. Athos (1901).

Today’s Scriptures:

Colossians 3:17-4:1

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.  Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.  Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God.  And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.  But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.  Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

Luke 9:44-50

Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men. But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying.  Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest.  And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him,  and said to them, "Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great."  Now John answered and said, "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us."  But Jesus said to him, "Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side."

 

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Wednesday. [Col. 3:17-4:1; Luke 9:44-50]

           Whosoever shall receive Me, receiveth Him that sent Me, said the Lord, while He that sent Him is God. Consequently, whosoever confesses the Lord, confesses God; whereas whosoever does not confess Him, does not confess God. You will say: I confess Christ to be a great, most wise, universal teacher. No, confess Him as He Himself speaks of Himself, that He and the Father are one, persons of one Divine nature, separate, but one in honour and coreigning. If one does not confess thus, no matter how much he has honoured the Lord, it is the same as if he does not confess Him; while not being His confessor, he does not confess the Father either, he does not confess God. That is why, no matter what displays you make of honouring God, you do not honour Him if you do not confess the Lord Jesus Christ as the Only-Begotten Son of God, incarnate for our sake, and Who saved us through His death on the cross. It is not all the same which God one confesses as long as one confesses: those who worship the sun and stars, or invented creatures, are not called honourers of God, because they did not consider as God what is God. Thus, whosoever does not confess the Lord is not an honourer of God, because he does not confess the God who is the true God. The true God does not exist without the Son co-eternal and co-unoriginate. Therefore, once you cease to confess the Son, you no longer confess the true God. Only God will discern what your confession is worth; but since for us God is revealed as the true God, apart from this revelation one cannot have the true God.

 

Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Saints:

1. The Holy Prophet Joel 

Joel is second in the line of the minor prophets. St. Joel was the son of Phanuel, from the tribe of Reuben. He lived eight hundred years before Christ. Joel prophesied the misfortunes of the people of Israel, and the Babylonian Captivity because of the sins they had committed in the sight of God. He called the people to fasting and the priests to tearful penitential prayer, that God would have mercy on them: Sanctify ye a fast … and cry unto the Lord (Joel 1: 14); Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar (Joel 2: 17). Joel also foretold the Descent of the Spirit of God upon the apostles and the pouring out of the grace of the Spirit of God upon all Christians: Then afterward I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2: 28). He prophesied and described the Dread Judgment of God, and also prophesied the glory of God’s Holy Church. The Holy Prophet Joel (fresco in Ormilia Monastery, Halkidiki, Greece) 

 

2. The Holy Martyr Varus 

Varus was a Roman officer in Egypt and also secretly a Christian. When seven Christian teachers were cast into prison, Varus visited them, supplying them with necessities and ministering to them zealously. He was amazed at these martyrs and grieved that because of his fear he could not become a martyr for Christ. The men of God encouraged him, and Varus decided that he would go with them to be tortured. One of these men of God died in prison, so that when the wicked eparch had the martyrs brought before him, there were only six remaining. He inquired as to the seventh. Varus said to him: “I am the seventh.” The enraged governor tortured Varus first. He commanded that he be flogged with dry rods naked, and after that had him tied to a tree and sliced apart piece by piece until the saint gave his holy soul to God. His body was thrown on a dung heap. A Palestinian woman named Cleopatra, the widow of an officer, was there with her son John. She secretly took Varus’s holy relics from the dung heap and buried them in her house. Then she begged permission from the eparch to take the body of her deceased husband from Egypt to Palestine. As she was the wife of an officer, the eparch immediately gave his permission. However, the blessed Christian Cleopatra did not take the body of her husband but the relics of the Holy Martyr Varus instead. Thus, she brought the martyr’s relics to Edras (the village of her birth) near Mount Tabor, and buried them with honor there. Afterward, she built a church to St. Varus and he often appeared to her from the other world, resplendent as an angel of God. 

 

3. The Venerable Prochorus of Pchinja 

St. Prochorus was a contemporary and friend of Saints John of Rila and Gabriel of Lesnov. According to his prayer, God showed him the place where he would live a life of asceticism. This place was a wooded area near the River Pchinja. Here Prochorus labored in asceticism to his old age and repose. Only the One All-seeing God knows the extent of Prochorus’s labors and the temptations he endured in the course of his asceticism. But one can judge by his myrrh-gushing relics and his numberless miraculous healings— which have continued up to today— the greatness of his asceticism and the greatness of God’s grace which was given to him because of his great labors. St. Prochorus entered into rest and took up his abode in the Kingdom of God in the eleventh century. 

 

HYMN OF PRAISE

The Venerable Prochorus of Pchinja

From his early youth, holy Father Prochorus Hid from the world and from vanity, Diligently working with fasting and sweat, Until his soul was raised up and bound to God. His companions were beasts of the forest; Resplendent angels were his protection; The saints of God were astonished at him, For St. Prochorus attained all that they had attained. God gave him abundant grace: Great and powerful authority over demons, Power over infirmity and varied sufferings, Help for the sorrowing by his prayers. By labors, Prochorus seized heaven, And of the Heavenly Kingdom he became worthy. He made himself worthy, and helps others Who seek to enter into the Kingdom. The temporal he cast off; the eternal he embraced; And he paid a small price for the precious treasure. The wonderworker Prochorus is in Paradise— In heavenly splendor, now entirely aglow. And he helps those who pray to him, Those who believe in and love Christ our God. 

 

REFLECTION

An appearance of the Holy Martyr Varus: When the devout widow Cleopatra built a church to him, she summoned the bishop and priests to consecrate it. A large number of Christians gathered for this celebration, for the entire countryside venerated St. Varus as a great healer and miracle-worker. Following the divine services, this pious benefactress went before the relics of St. Varus and prayed: “I beseech you— you who endured much suffering for Christ— implore God for that which is pleasing to Him; and for me and my only son, ask that which is beneficial.” Cleopatra’s son John was ready for the army. Just as she left the church, John became ill. He was seized with a burning fever that grew steadily worse until, around midnight, John died. The grief-stricken, furious mother came before the tomb of St. Varus and spoke sharply: “O saint of God! Is this the way you help me?” and she said much more in her bitter lamentation until, utterly exhausted, she fell into a light sleep. St. Varus appeared to her with her son John. Both were radiant as the sun in garments whiter than snow, bound with golden girdles, and had magnificent wreaths on their heads. God’s saint said to her: “Did you not pray to me to implore God for whatever was pleasing to Him, and beneficial to you and your son? I prayed to God and He, in His unspeakable goodness, took your son into His heavenly army. If you so desire, here he is: take him and place him in the army of the earthly king.” Hearing this, the young John embraced St. Varus and said: “No, my Lord, do not listen to my mother and do not send me back into the world— full of unrighteousness and iniquity— from which you have delivered me.” Awakening from the dream, Cleopatra felt great joy in her heart and left the church. She lived near the church for seven years, and St. Varus often appeared to her with John. 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate Saul’s wondrous conversion to the Christian Faith (Acts 9): 

1. How Saul set out to persecute Christians in Damascus; 

2. How a light shone down from heaven and He heard the voice of Christ. 

 

HOMILY on the soul’s thirst for God

My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God: When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42: 2) When only a spark of love for God shines in the heart of man, he should not extinguish it but let it burn, and he will see a miracle. That spark will flare up into a torch of unseen radiance, and the light and its warmth will be very great. In the light of his love for God, a man will feel his life in this world to be as darkness; and from the warmth of his love for God, he will feel an unquenchable thirst for God, a thirst to be closer to God, a thirst for seeing God. David, the lover of God, compares this thirst to the thirst of a deer who races to springs of water. My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God. Is not everything around us infirm? Does not everything around us quickly decay? We grab at shadows, we embrace corpses. We pay today for tomorrow’s stench— we pay with gold and silver, sometimes with our honor and conscience, and at times even with our life— for the stench of tomorrow’s decay! This is not love but animal lust. A great soul seeks a subject worthy of love, seeks a subject not susceptible to destruction, decay, decomposition and the filth of transient bodies. That is why King David, the lover of God, emphasizes the Living God. For who, in truth, is mighty and alive save God? God endowed His angels and saints with strength and life: yet all of it is His, and from Him. When shall I come and appear before God? Here is the irresistible yearning of true love for God. Shame on all who say that they believe in God, and love God, while the very thought of death— of leaving this world— drives them wild with fear. O Lord our God, holy, mighty and living— the Source of holiness, the Source of strength, the Source of life— illumine us and warm us with love for Thee. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

 

 

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints. Oct. 31/18

 22nd Week after Pentecost. Tone 4.    No fast.

Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke (1st c.).  St. Joseph, founder of Volokolamsk (Volotsk) Monastery (1515). Martyr Marinus the Elder, at Anazarbus (4th c.). St. Julian the Hermit, of Mesopotamia (4th c.). St. David, abbot, of Serpukhov (1520). Hieromartyr Mnason, bishop of Cyprus (1st c.). Sts. Symeon, Theodore (monks), and Euphrosyne, who found the Icon of the Mother of God in the Great Cave of the Peloponnese (9th c.). New Martyrs Gabriel and Cirmidol, of Egypt (1522). St. Peter of Cetinje, metropolitan of Montenegro (1830).    Slaying of Jose Muñoz-Cortes (in monasticism Monk Ambrose), guardian of the myrrh-streaming “Montreal” Iveron Icon of the Theotokos (1997).

 

Scriptures of for Today:  

Colossians 2:20-3:3

Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations- Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle, which all concern things which perish with the using-according to the commandments and doctrines of men?  things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.  If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

 

Luke 9:23-27

Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels.  But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God.

 

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures: 

Tuesday. [Col. 2:20-3:3; Luke 9:23-27]    Do not be ashamed to confess the Lord Jesus Christ as the incarnate Son of God who redeemed us through His death on the cross, who through His resurrection and ascension opened for us the entrance into the Kingdom of heaven. If you shall be ashamed, then He shall be ashamed of you, When he shall come in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy Angels. Now in society there is a trend to not talk at all about the Lord and about salvation, whereas in the beginning these dear subjects were all that people talked about. One’s talk more readily flows from the place where the heart abides. Can it really be that people’s hearts abide less with the Lord? Judging from the talk, this must be the case. Some do not know Him at all, others are cold towards Him. Fearing encounters with such people, even those who are warm towards the Lord do not direct the conversation towards Him, and the priesthood is silent. Now, talk about the Lord and Saviour and about our main concern—salvation—is excluded from the circle of talk acceptable in society. What, you say, are we really supposed to talk only about that? Why only about that? One can talk about anything, but in a way that is shaded by the spirit of Christ. Then it would be possible to guess whether the speaker is Christian or pagan. Now, however, it is impossible to guess what they are, neither by their talk, nor by their writings. Look through all the periodicals—what don’t they write there? But nobody wants to make Christian conversation. What a complicated time!

 

Prologue Ohrid for Today:

 

1. The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke

Luke was born in Antioch. In his youth, he excelled in his studies of Greek philosophy, medicine and art. During the ministry of the Lord Jesus on earth, Luke came to Jerusalem, where he saw the Savior face to face, heard His saving teaching and was witness to His miraculous works. Coming to belief in the Lord, St. Luke was numbered among the Seventy Apostles, and was sent out to preach. With Cleopas, he saw the resurrected Lord on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24). After the descent of the Holy Spirit, Luke returned to Antioch and there became a fellow worker of the Apostle Paul and traveled to Rome with him, converting Jews and pagans to the Christian Faith. Luke, the beloved physician, … greets you, writes the Apostle Paul to the Colossians. (Colossians 4: 14). At the request of Christians, he wrote his Gospel in about the year 60. Following the martyrdom of the great Apostle Paul, St. Luke preached the Gospel throughout Italy, Dalmatia, Macedonia and other regions. He painted icons of the Most-holy Theotokos— not just one, but three— and icons of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. Hence, St. Luke is considered to be the founder of Christian iconography. In old age, he visited Libya and Upper Egypt. From Egypt he returned to Greece, where he continued to preach and convert many with great zeal despite his old age. In addition to his Gospel, St. Luke wrote the Acts and dedicated both works to Theophilus, the governor of Achaia. Luke was eighty-four years old when the wicked idolaters tortured him for the sake of Christ and hanged him from an olive tree in the town of Thebes, in Boethia. The miracle-working relics of this wonderful saint were transported to Constantinople in the reign of Emperor Constantius, the son of Constantine. The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke (icon in Hilandar Monastery, 16th c.)

 

2. Saint Peter of Cetinje, Metropolitan of Montenegro

Peter was born on April 1, 1749, in the village of Njeguš. He entered the monastic order at the age of twelve. Following the death of Metropolitan Sava in 1782, Peter became the Metropolitan and ruler of Montenegro. This glorious man dedicated his entire holy life to his people. He worked with all his strength to reconcile the quarreling clans of Montenegro, and strove mightily to defend the land and people from greedy aggressors. He succeeded in both tasks. He is especially glorified for his victory over Napoleon’s army in Boka and Dalmatia. He was very strict with himself, and with everyone else he was just and condescending. Peter lived in a small cell like a simple monk even though he was a prince over the people. He reposed on October 18, 1830. His miracle-working relics repose, incorrupt, in the Monastery of Cetinje. The Lord glorified him in the heavens and on earth as His faithful and long-suffering servant.

 

3. Saints Julian and Didymus the Blind

St. Julian, called the “Hermit,” was a Persian and an unlearned peasant, but because of the purity of his heart he was a vessel of the grace of the Holy Spirit. He lived a life of asceticism beside the Euphrates River in Mesopotamia, and possessed the gift of clairvoyance. In the same moment that Julian the Apostate perished, St. Julian discerned this in the spirit, and declared it to his disciples. St. Didymus the Blind was his contemporary. He lived in Alexandria, and also perceived in the spirit the death of Julian. St. Didymus was at prayer during the night when a voice came to him from heaven, saying: “Today the Emperor Julian is no more, inform Patriarch Athanasius of this.” St. Anthony the Great greatly respected this wondrous blind saint who had the spirit of discernment. He stayed with him and prayed to God with him whenever he came to Alexandria from the desert. Both St. Julian and St. Didymus, wonderful servants of God, entered into rest some time after the year 362.

 

HYMN OF PRAISE

Saint Luke the Apostle and Evangelist The divine Luke, both wise and learned, Was tortured willingly for the Lord. He could have avoided mockery and torture, But the world would not have had the great Luke. The young Luke beheld God’s truth And surrendered his heart to the Son of God. He hearkened to the Teacher, beheld the Wonderworker, And in Him he recognized the Immortal Creator. He beheld the Resurrected One, and spoke with Him, And worked miracles in His name. Christ became his only joy, And Luke sacrificed his mind, wealth and youth to Him. When Luke became old, he was young in Christ, And gave to the world what he received from the Lord. And when he had given the world all he could give, Then the world, fulfilling the Scripture, repaid him with contempt. From an old olive tree the aged Luke hung, With a smile on his face and his arms folded crosswise. And the hand of Christ came down from heaven And received the soul of His Evangelist. Now, in radiant Paradise with the other apostles, St. Luke prays for the Holy Church.

 

REFLECTION

Can a sinner repent of his sins in ten days? According to the immeasurable compassion of God he can. During the reign of Emperor Maurice, there was a well-known bandit in the vicinity of Constantinople. He inspired fear and trembling both within the capital and without. One day, the Emperor Maurice himself sent the robber a cross as a sign of faith that he would do him no harm if he surrendered. The robber took the cross and surrendered. Arriving in Constantinople, he fell before the feet of the emperor and begged for forgiveness. The emperor kept his word, had mercy on him and released him. Immediately after that, the robber became gravely ill and sensed that death was drawing near. He bitterly repented of all his sins and tearfully prayed to God that He forgive him, as the emperor had forgiven him. He shed so many tears at prayer that his handkerchief was completely soaked. After ten days of weeping and praying, the repentant man reposed. The same night he passed away, his physician saw a wondrous vision in a dream: when the robber had given up his soul, there gathered around him black, manlike demons with pieces of paper on which were written all his sins. Two radiant angels also appeared. The angels set a scale between them, and the joyful demons placed all those papers on it, weighing down their side of the scale; but the other side was empty. The angels held counsel: “What shall we place on it? Let us seek something good in his life!” And then that handkerchief soaked with tears of repentance appeared in the hands of one angel. The angels quickly placed it on their side of the scale and it outweighed all the demons’ papers. Then the black demons fled, howling sorrowfully, and the angels took the soul of the repentant thief and carried it to Paradise, glorifying the man-loving God.

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the miracle of the Apostle Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8):

1. How an angel guided Philip from Samaria to the road into Gaza;

2. How Philip saw the eunuch of Queen Candace, explained to him the prophecy of Isaiah, and baptized him;

3. How an angel made Philip invisible to the eunuch, and transported him instantly to the town of Azotus.

 

HOMILY on the sins of the tongue

I said, I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue (Psalm 39: 1) The sin of the tongue is the most common and most frequent sin. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, says the Apostle James (James 3: 2). When a penitent sets out on God’s path— when he begins to live according to God’s commandments— he should first strive to avoid sin with the tongue. That was the rule that the penitent David laid down for himself. He vowed especially to remain silent before his adversaries: I will restrain my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked are before me (Psalm 39: 1). Behold a most wonderful rule for one who is being healed of sin. When he is accused, he does not reply; when he is slandered, he remains silent. In truth, what does it help to speak with an enraged, unrighteous man who does not love God more than himself? If you speak to him of evil, you will enrage him even more. If you speak to him of good, you will make him a mocker of holy things. Before Pilate Christ remained silent. Pilate said: Answerest Thou nothing? (Mark 15: 4). What can He reply to you, when you do not have ears to hear or a mind to understand? Behold, the silence of the righteous one before the unrighteous one can still have the best influence on the unrighteous one. Left to interpret the silence of the righteous one by himself, the unrighteous one can interpret it for the benefit of his soul; while any other answer, good or bad, will be interpreted for evil, to the condemnation of others and to the justification of himself. Blessed is he who learns to govern his tongue. O Lord Jesus Christ our God, Thou Who hast shown us by example how and when to speak, Thou hast shown us by example how and when we should be silent. Help us, by Thy Holy Spirit, that we not sin with the tongue. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints. Oct. 30/17  

22nd Week after Pentecost. Tone 4.    No fast.

Saints for Today:  

Prophet Hosea (Osee) (820 b.c.).  Monk-martyr Andrew of Crete (767). Holy Martyrs and Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian, and their brothers Martyrs Leontius, Anthimus, and Eutropius in Cilicia (4th.c.). Translation to Constantinople of the relics of St. Lazarus “of the Four Days” (in the tomb), bishop of Kition on Cyprus (898). St. Anthony, founder of Leokhnov Monastery (Novgorod) (1611). St. Joseph the Wonderworker, catholicos of Georgia (1770). New Monk-martyrs Jacinthus and Callistus, of the St. Nicholas Monastery (Verkhoturye) (1918). New Hieromartyr Alexander (Shchukin), archbishop of Semipalatinsk (1937). Icon of the Mother of God the “Deliveress.” (ca. 1889) Martyr Queen Shushanik (Susanna) of Georgia (475). Martyrs Ethelred and Ethelbert, princes of Kent (ca. 640). Repose of Elder Athanasius (Zakharov) of Ploshchansk Hermitage (1825), disciple of St. Paisius (Velichkovsky), and Nun Alypia, fool-for-Christ, of Goloseyevo (Kiev) (1988).

Today’s Scriptures:

Colossians 2:13-20

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.  So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.  Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations-

Luke 9:18-22

And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, "Who do the crowds say that I am?"  So they answered and said, "John the Baptist, but some say Elijah; and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again."  He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said, "The Christ of God."  And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, "The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day."

 

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Monday. [Col. 2:13-20; Luke 9:18-22]

   Whom say the people that I am? the Lord asked. In answer to this the Apostles related the current opinions among the people concerning Him, formed according to the nature of people’s views at that time. Some said that He was John the Baptist, others that He was Elias, others that he was one of the ancient prophets resurrected. How do they answer today? Also in various ways, each according to his own way of thinking. What sort of answers could be given by materialists, atheists, and the soulless who believe we are descended from the apes, when they have neither God nor a soul? Spiritualists, like the Arians, have the same response that was denounced at the first ecumenical council. Deists see God as being very far from the world, and since they do cannot contain in their system the mystery of the incarnation, they answer like the Ebionites,[1] Socinians[2]. You will hear similar answers in Russian society, for the aforesaid three types of identities exist and are multiplying among us. But thanks to the Lord, we still have a boundlessly predominating number of sincere believers and those who strictly maintain the apostolic confession that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only-begotten Son of God incarnate, the Saviour and Redeemer of the human race who even in paradise was promised to our forefathers. Which party will overcome is known only to God. Let us pray that we preserve within us the light of Christ, and that darkness of false teachings be driven away. We have a weakness for bad things; that is why it is not surprising that a lie comes out on top. Now it is already walking the streets of town openly, while in the past it cautiously hid from the gaze of Christian believers.

[1] An early Judaizing, heretical sect of Jewish Christians originating in Palestine, who did not believe in the virginal birth of Christ, or that He is the Son of God.

[2] An antitrinitarian Protestant sect begun by Lelio Sozzini (1525-62) and his nephew Fausto Sozzini.

 

Prologue of Ohrid:

Saints for Today:

1. The Holy Prophet Hosea 

Hosea was the son of Beeri of the tribe of Issachar. Hosea lived and prophesied more than eight hundred years before the birth of Christ. His divinely inspired words are found in his book, which contains fourteen chapters. He strongly rebuked Israel and Judah for their idolatry and also foretold God’s punishment for their sins, the destruction of Samaria and Israel for their apostasy, and God’s mercy on the tribe of Judah. He foretold the abolition and the end of the sacrifices of the Old Testament. He foretold the coming of the Lord, and the richness of gifts that He would bring with Him to earth. He lived to a very old age and entered peacefully into rest. The Holy Prophet Hosea (fresco in Dečani Monastery, 14th c.) 

2. The Holy Martyrs Cosmas and Damian, the Unmercenaries 

There are three pairs of holy physicians by the name of Cosmas and Damian. The first entered into rest peacefully on November 1, the second pair was stoned in Rome on July 1, and the third was from Arabia; and it is these that we speak of under today’s date. They were physicians by profession, and when they received the Christian Faith, they healed the sick in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. They became widely known for their miraculous healings. The malicious pagans seized them, and took them before Governor Lysias in the town of Aegea. Since neither of these brothers would renounce Christ at any cost, they were cast into the sea, then into fire, but the omnipotent God saved them from both the water and the fire. An angel of the Lord appeared to them and saved them. The pagan governor ascribed this to their alleged sorcery but they answered: “We know nothing of sorcery nor do we need sorcery, but we possess the power of Christ— which saves us and all who invoke His Most-holy Name.” The pagans struck them with stones but the stones bounced off them; they shot them with arrows, but the arrows rebounded as well. Finally, they were beheaded with the sword. Saints Leontius, Anthimus and Eutropius also suffered with them, and received heavenly wreaths of glory. They suffered in the time of Diocletian and Maximian. Many miracles were manifested from their holy relics, even as miracles abounded from them during their life. 

3. The Venerable Martyr Andrew 

St. Andrew was a Cretan by birth and a Christian priest. In the time of the iconoclastic persecution, he showed himself to be a great defender of the veneration of icons. Andrew went to Constantinople to denounce the wicked Emperor Copronymus. As the emperor stood in the Church of the Holy Martyr Mamas, Andrew entered the church, stood before him, and openly rebuked him before all. “It would be better for you, O Emperor, to attend to military matters and to govern the people, than to persecute Christ and His servants.” For this, St. Andrew was beaten severely, tortured and dragged through the streets, where a heretic struck him with an axe and killed him. Thus, Andrew rendered his holy soul to God in the year 767. His relics gave healing to the sick. 

4. Saint Lazarus the Four-days-dead 

Lazarus’s principle feasts are on March 17 and Lazarus Saturday during Great Lent. Under today’s date is commemorated the translation of his relics from the island of Cyprus to Constantinople. This occurred when Emperor Leo the Wise built the Church of St. Lazarus in Constantinople, and translated Lazarus’s relics there in the year 890. When, after almost a thousand years, Lazarus’s grave in the town of Kition on Cyprus was unearthed, a marble tablet was found with the inscription: “Lazarus of the Four Days, the friend of Christ.” 

HYMN OF PRAISE 

The Holy Prophet Hosea

The discerning Prophet Hosea cried out And prophesied tribulation to the sinful nation: “The Lord, the Lord saith: Mercy is dear to Me, But sacrifices, filthy and rotten, are not dear. Ye transgress the Law, as did Adam of old, Ye worship lies, and a falsehood is lord over you. Your sacrifices are finished; I will not accept them. Now I shall prepare the greatest sacrifice for Myself. Ye have planted godlessness; iniquity have ye reaped. Ye have sown wind, and harvested a storm. But if ye now plant righteousness, ye will reap mercy— And to Me, ye will be a holy people again. But ye are ashamed of Me and love idols. Ye encourage adultery, ye encourage sin! That is why ye shall wander throughout the world, And every nation shall be more powerful than you. And I will raise up a New Israel: A new Kingdom— a Kingdom of saints. It will be as the dew and as a blossoming lily, And its most wondrous fragrance shall fill the world. I am the Lord, the Lord; whatever I desire I can do! Blessed are those who worship Me, the Living God.” 

 

REFLECTION

The second appearance of the Holy Martyr Longinus: When Longinus appeared to the blind widow whose son had died, he promised to restore her sight and to reveal her son in great glory. Finding the relics of the holy martyr and touching them with her hands, the widow immediately regained her sight, and thus, one promise was fulfilled. The following night, St. Longinus appeared to the widow in radiant attire, holding her son by the hand, who was also clothed resplendently. Caressing the child like a father, Longinus said: “Woman, behold your son for whom you weep so much! Look at the honor and glory given him; look and be comforted. God has numbered him among the heavenly ranks who live in His Kingdom. I have now brought him from the Savior, and he will never be parted from me. Take my head and your son’s body, and bury them together in one coffin. Mourn your son no longer, and let not your heart be troubled, for great glory, joy, and endless rejoicing is given him from God.” Seeing and hearing all this, the woman was filled with great joy, and she returned to her home, saying to herself: “I asked for bodily eyes and I found spiritual eyes. I was saddened at the death of my son, and now I have him in heaven, where he remains in glory with the prophets and rejoices with them unceasingly.” 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the wondrous vision of St. Stephen the Archdeacon and Protomartyr (Acts 7):

1. How Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, saw the heavens opened;

2. How he said: Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God (Acts 7: 56);

3. How the Jews stoned him.

HOMILY on the festering wounds of sin

My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness (Psalm 38: 5) The prophet speaks of the wounds of sins that he himself committed, and from which he sensed in himself the stench of sin. As much as this acknowledgment reveals the impurity of previous sins, so is the subsequent purity of the repentant one also shown. For as long as man follows the corrupt path of sin, he does not sense its suffocating stench; but when he withdraws from this path and sets off on the pure path of righteousness, he senses the inexpressible difference between purity and impurity, between the path of virtue and the path of vice. Imagine a man who has spent the night in a stinking tavern and finds himself in a garden of roses the next morning. In the former there was stench, poison, debasement of soul and body, anger, discord, and the tormenting of himself and others. In the latter is God’s great sun overhead, beautiful flowers everywhere, fresh air, wondrous fragrance, serenity and health. Imagine this, and understand that there is an even greater difference between the path of sin and the path of God. My wounds are foul and festering. Thus the great king describes the fruits of his sinful past. Nothing is as foul as sin, nothing festers as much and nothing spreads as much as sin. The stench of bodily wounds suggests, in only a small way, the unbearable stench of a sinful soul. That is why every holy thing distances itself from such a soul. The pure heavenly spirits hide from such a one, and the impure spirits of hades seek its company. Every new sin is a fresh wound on the soul; every sin is corruption and stench. How does sin arise? From my foolishness explains the prophet. A mind derailed from its divine track leads man to sin. Until the mind is cleansed, man cannot be cleansed. But we have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2: 16), says the Apostle. In other words, we have a mind put back on track, as was Adam’s mind before the sinful stench. Hence brethren, all Orthodox teaching on asceticism concentrates on one main point: on the mind of man; on the cleansing and correcting of the mind. O Lord Jesus Christ, Purity and eternal Source of purity, help us to reject our foolishness; help us to reason according to Thy mind. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 29/Oct 16

21st Sunday after Pentecost. Tone 4.    Fast-free period.  

Saints for Today:

Martyr Longinus the Centurion, who stood at the Cross of the Lord (1st c.). St. Longinus the Gate-keeper, of the Kiev Caves (13th c.-14th c.). Sts. John and Longinus of Yarenga, monks of Solovki (1561). St. Eupraxia, abbess, in the world Princess Euphrosyne, of Pskov (1243). St. Domna, fool-for-Christ, of Tomsk (1872). Martyrs Isaurus and Aphrodisius, who suffered with St. Longinus (1st c.). St. Gall, monk of Bangor Monastery and enlightener of Switzerland (ca. 646).  Repose of Patriarch Adrian of Moscow (1700) and Abbot Neonil of Neamts, Romania (1853).

 

Scriptures for Today:

Galatians 2:16-20 (Epistle)

knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. But if, while we seek to be justi fied by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not!  For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.  For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.  I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

 

Luke 8:5-15 (Gospel)

A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it.  Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture.  And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it.  But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold. When He had said these things He cried, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"  Then His disciples asked Him, saying, "What does this parable mean?"  And He said, "To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that 'Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.'  Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.  Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.  But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.  Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.  But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.

 

 

St. Theophan on Today’s Scriptures:

The Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost. [Gal. 2:16-20; Luke 8:5-15]

   The thorns and thistles which choke the word of Divine truth, in addition to being riches, pleasures and cares of this life, at the current time must also be understood to be various false teachings, spread by scholars who have lost the truth and have been knocked off the path to it. Among us such theories differ much: some publicly and openly go against the truth; others do so by oblique hints that are nevertheless understood by those toward whom they are directed. In essence they act like carbon monoxide poisoning—they enter unnoticeably, and cloud the head, leading to a loss of clear consciousness of everything around. He who gets this carbon monoxide poisoning begins to rave like one who is asleep, for everything already appears to him entirely not as it is, not as it appears to one who is in his right mind. When you meet such a person you see that not only is all truth is suppressed in him, but any feeling for the truth is also stifled, and a lie has penetrated all the components of his mind. How should one be? Do not listen to these ravings or read them; and when they are unwillingly heard or read, throw them out of your head. When they are not thrown out—submit them to reason, and they all will scatter like smoke.

 

From the Prologue of Ohrid:

1. The Holy Martyr Longinus 

The divine Matthew the Evangelist, in describing the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, says: Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God (Matthew 27: 54). That centurion was this blessed Longinus, who with two other of his soldiers came to believe in Jesus, the Son of God. Longinus was chief of the soldiers who were present at the Crucifixion of the Lord on Golgotha, and was also the chief of the watch that guarded the tomb. When the Jewish elders learned of the Resurrection of Christ, they bribed the soldiers to spread the false news that Christ did not resurrect, but rather that His disciples stole His body. The Jews also tried to bribe Longinus, but he did not allow himself to be bribed. Then the Jews resorted to their usual strategy: they decided to kill Longinus. Learning of this, Longinus removed his military belt, was baptized with his two companions by an apostle, secretly left Jerusalem and moved to Cappadocia with his companions. There, he devoted himself to fasting and prayer and, as a living witness of Christ’s Resurrection, converted many pagans to the true Faith by his witness. After that, he withdrew to a village on the estate of his father. Even there, however, the malice of the Jews did not leave him in peace. Due to the calumnies of the Jews, Pilate dispatched soldiers to behead Longinus. St. Longinus foresaw in the spirit the approach of his executioners and went out to meet them. He brought them to his home, not telling them who he was. He was a good host to the soldiers, and soon they lay down to sleep. But St. Longinus stood up to pray, and prayed all night long, preparing himself for death. In the morning, he called his two companions to him, clothed himself in white burial clothes, and instructed the other members of his household to bury him on a particular small hill. He then went to the soldiers and told them that he was that Longinus whom they were seeking. The soldiers were perplexed and ashamed, and could not even contemplate beheading Longinus, but he insisted that they fulfill the order of their superior. Thus, Longinus and his two companions were beheaded. The soldiers took Longinus’s head to Pilate, and he turned it over to the Jews. They threw it on a dung heap outside the city. The Holy Martyr Longinus (fresco in Studenica Monastery, Serbia, 1208-9) 

 

2. The Venerable Longinus, the Lover of Labor 

Longinus was a monk of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves in the fourteenth century. He was the gatekeeper of the monastery, and had such a pure and grace-filled heart that he always knew the thoughts of those who were entering the monastery and of those who were leaving the monastery. The miracle-working relics of Longinus repose in the Cave of St. Theodosius. 

 

HYMN OF PRAISE

The Holy Martyr Longinus St. Longinus stood beneath the Cross When, on the Cross, Christ breathed His last. Longinus beheld the wrath of the mild sky, Witnessed the earth as it shook, And the bright sun as it lost its rays And clothed the whole world in darkness. The tombs of many were opened, And many of the dead appeared alive. Brave Longinus was filled with fear, And exclaimed with a remorseful sigh: “This Man was the Son of God! Sinful men have crucified the Innocent One!” Next to him, two other soldiers Echoed the exclamation of their centurion. Longinus was a witness of the Resurrection, And he could attest to His humiliation as well. An eyewitness, a true witness, Longinus desired to not conceal the truth, But proclaimed it everywhere he went, And glorified the resurrected Christ God! To his death he remained Christ’s soldier; And for Christ, Longinus gave his head. 

 

REFLECTION

The first appearance of the Holy Martyr Longinus was as follows: Much time had passed since his martyrdom when it happened that a widow in Cappadocia became blind. The doctors were unable to do anything at all for her. Suddenly, the thought came to her to go to Jerusalem and venerate the holy places there, hoping that she might find help. She had an only son, a boy, who served as her guide, but as soon as they arrived in Jerusalem, her son died of an illness. Oh, how immeasurable was her sorrow! Having lost her eyes, she now lost her only son, whose eyes had guided her. But in her pain and sorrow, St. Longinus appeared to her and comforted her with the promise that he would restore her sight and reveal to her the heavenly glory in which her son now dwelt. Longinus told her everything about himself, and told her to go outside the city walls to the dung heap, and there to dig up his head, and that she herself would see what would happen next. The woman arose and, stumbling, somehow managed to get out of the city. She cried out for someone to lead her to the dung heap and to leave her there. When she was led to the dung heap, she bent down and began to dig with her hands, having a strong faith that she would find that for which the saint asked. As she was digging, she touched the holy martyr’s buried head, and her eyes were opened, and she saw a man’s head beneath her hands. Filled with gratitude to God and great joy, she took the head of St. Longinus, washed it, censed it, and placed it in her home as the most precious treasure on earth. 

 

CONTEMPLATION 

Contemplate the courage of St. Stephen the Archdeacon in confessing Christ (Acts 7): 

1. How St. Stephen enumerated the miracles and mercies of God toward the people of Israel throughout the ages; 

2. How he denounced the opposition to God and the evil doings of the Jewish elders; 

3. How he called them betrayers and murderers of Christ. 

 

HOMILY on the mountains and depths of God

Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; Thy judgments are a great deep (Psalm 36: 6) The mountains of God’s righteousness cut through all the distances of time and space, rising up from earth to heaven; and from the clouds of time they ascend to the clearness of eternity. Are not the saints the bearers of God’s righteousness? See how they cut through time and space! Born in time, they now rejoice in eternity. Living in eternity, they come down to us in time, and help us like strong brothers help their weaker brothers. They lived on earth in a finite space and now the whole universe glorifies them. On all five continents of the world, churches are built in honor of the apostles, martyrs, and the rest of God’s righteous ones. Such are the mountains of God’s righteousness: you cannot limit them, you cannot encompass them, and you cannot measure them with any measure in this world. What other mountains can compare with the mountains of God? What other men can compare with the men of God? What other glory can compare with the glory of those whom God glorifies? O my brethren, let us rejoice in the righteousness of God and let us make glad in the lofty mountains of God’s righteousness! Thy judgments are a great deep. That is, the judgments of Thy providence are as unfathomable as a great deep. Thou didst cast Job upon a dung heap in order to glorify him; Thou didst raise Saul on the throne, that he might plunge himself into destruction; Thou hast mercy on the sinner, and Thou givest him abundance and health, that he may repent; Thou chastenest the righteous, in order to strengthen him in faith and hope! Thy Holy Church is the greatest mountain of Thy righteousness, the source of many mountains. Thy Holy Church, O God, searches Thy judgments and Thy ways, and her wisdom is great and as sweet as a honeycomb filled with honey. O Lord, disperse the clouds of malice from our hearts, that we may know Thy judgments and see Thy ways. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 28/Oct 15

21st Week after Pentecost. Demetrius’ Saturday. Commemoration of the Dead. Tone 3.    Fast-free period.

 

Saints for the Day:

St. Euthymius the New, of Thessalonica, confessor (889).  Hieromartyr Lucian, priest, of Antioch (312).  New Hiero-confessor Athanasius (Sakharov), bishop of Kovrov (1962).Martyrs Sarbelus (Thathuil) and his sister Bebaia, of Edessa (98-138). St.  Sabinus, bishop of Catania (760). Hieromartyr Lucian, hieromonk of the Kiev Caves (1243). St. John, bishop of Suzdal (1373). St. Dionysius, archbishop of Suzdal (1385). New Hieromartyr Valerian Novitsky, priest, of Telyadovich (1930). Synaxis of New Hieromartyrs of Belorussia: Archimandrite Seraphim, Priests Vladimir (5), Basil, Sergius, Michael (2), Porphyrius, Dimitry (2), John (3), Leonid, Alexander, Matthew, Peter, Valerian, Nicholas, and Deacon Nicholas. Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “She Who Ripens the Grain.” (19th c.) St. Barses the Confessor, bishop of Edessa (378). St. Aurelia of Strasbourg (Alsace, Gaul) (ca. 383). St. Thecla, abbess, of Ochsenfurt (Germany) (ca. 790).

 

Today’s Scriptures:

2 Corinthians 3:12-18

Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech- unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Luke 6:1-10

Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first that He went through the grainfields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands. And some of the Pharisees said to them, "Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?" But Jesus answering them said, "Have you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him:  how he went into the house of God, took and ate the showbread, and also gave some to those with him, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat?  And He said to them, "The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath." Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the synagogue and taught. And a man was there whose right hand was withered.  So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him.  But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, "Arise and stand here." And he arose and stood.  Then Jesus said to them, "I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?"  And when He had looked around at them all, He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he did so, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.

 

St. Theophan on Today’s Scriptures:

Saturday. [II Cor. 3:12-18; Luke 6:1-10]

   The Lord’s disciples pluck the ears of grain, rub them in their hands and eat them on the Sabbath—a deed very unimportant both in appearance and in essence; meanwhile the Pharisees could not restrain themselves and rebuked them. What made them raise this issue? In appearance—unreasoning zeal, but in essence—the spirit of judgmentalness. This sticks to everything and presents all in a sombre form of unlawfulness and destructiveness. This infirmity, to a greater or lesser degree, is common to almost all people who do not watch themselves. Not everyone will express judgmental thoughts in word, but it is rare for a person to refrain from them. Someone sits beside the heart and stirs up judgmentalness—it pours forth. But at the same time the judge himself is prepared to do deeds which are not good, as long as nobody sees, and he is unfailingly in a state that is not so good in some way. It is as though he judges and condemns for that very reason—in order to satisfy his inwardly insulted and suppressed feeling of righteousness with attacks on others, groundless as they may be. He who loves righteousness and stands in it, knowing how difficult it is to attain correctness in deeds and even more so in feelings, will never judge; he is ready sooner to cover with leniency not only small, but also great transgressions of others. The Lord does not judge the judging Pharisees, but indulgently explains to them that the disciples did something that anyone would excuse if they thought about it rightly. And it almost always is this way: think reasonably about your neighbor’s actions and you will find that it does not at all have that serious, ghastly character which you saw at first.aught. And a man was there whose right hand was withered.  So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him.  But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, "Arise and stand here." And he arose and stood.  Then Jesus said to them, "I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?"  And when He had looked around at them all, He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he did so, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.

 

From the Prologue of Ohrid:

1. The Venerable Martyr Lucian, Presbyter of Antioch 

Lucian was born of noble parents in the Syrian city of Samosata. In his youth, he acquired a very broad education, both secular and spiritual. He was a man distinguished in learning, as well as in the austerity of his ascetic life. Having distributed his goods to the poor, Lucian supported himself by compiling instructive works, and thus fed himself by the work of his hands. He performed a great service to the Church in that he corrected many Hebrew texts in Holy Scripture (that heretics, in accordance with their own false teaching, had distorted). Because of his learning and spirituality, he was ordained a presbyter in Antioch. During Maximian’s persecution, when St. Anthimus of Nicomedia and St. Peter of Alexandria were tortured, St. Lucian was on the list of those the emperor wanted to kill. Lucian fled the city and hid, but an envious heretical priest, Pancratius, reported him. The persecution was horrible and not even young children were spared. Two boys who did not want to eat food sacrificed to idols were thrown into a boiling bath, where in torments they gave up their holy souls to God. A disciple of Lucian named Pelagia (October 8) preserved her virginal purity from dissolute attackers by praying to God on her roof-top: she gave up her soul to Him, and her body fell from the roof. Lucian was brought to Nicomedia before the emperor. Along the way, his counsels converted forty soldiers to the Christian Faith, and all died a martyr’s death. Following interrogation and flogging, St. Lucian was cast into prison where he suffered starvation. St. John Chrysostom writes of St. Lucian: “He scorned hunger: let us also scorn luxury and destroy the power of the stomach that we may, when the time that requires such courage comes for us, be prepared in advance by the help of a lesser ascesis, to show ourselves glorious at the time of battle.” He received Holy Communion in prison on the Feast of Theophany, and on the following day rendered his soul to God. St. Lucian suffered on January 7, 311. St. Martyr Lucian (Menologion of Basil II, 11th c.) 

2. The Venerable Euthymius the New Euthymius was born in Ancyra in 824 of righteous parents, Epiphanius and Anna. He served in the army, married and had one daughter, Anastasia. He lived a strict and long ascetic life in monasteries on Mount Olympus and Mount Athos. For a time he also lived as a stylite near Thessalonica. He founded a monastery for men and a convent for women, near Thessalonica. He entered into rest on an island near the Holy Mountain toward the end of the ninth century. His holy and miracle-working relics repose in Thessalonica. 

 

HYMN OF PRAISE

The Venerable Martyr Lucian Lucian the most wise ascetic and scribe Boldly walked on the path of Christ. Against heretics and idolatrous darkness Lucian the victor waged a bitter struggle. Planted firmly on the foundation of the Most-holy Trinity— The Father without beginning, with the Spirit and the Son— Lucian glorified God in word and deed, And he confirmed this by his innocent blood. Savage Rome collapsed, the heresies died; Works immoral and shameful perished; The Church raised martyrs up to heaven; And the Church, great and glorious, outlived all. This is the Kingdom of saints, the Kingdom without end That Daniel foretold and Christ founded— O desired Kingdom, of earthly origin, With golden domes atop the heavenly roofs! And holy Lucian, a builder of that Kingdom, Labored much, and gave all for it. He now gloriously reigns beside his Jesus, Borne by God to the angelic flock. 

 

REFLECTION

The saints of God place great importance on receiving Holy Communion before their death. Even though they were sacrificing their lives for Christ the Lord and washing away all their sins by the blood of martyrdom, the martyrs longingly received the Holy Mysteries whenever it was possible. St. Lucian was in prison with several of his disciples and other Christians. On the eve of Theophany, Lucian longed, on such a great Christian feast, to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, for he knew that his death was imminent. Seeing the sincere desire of His sufferer, God Almighty arranged that some Christians pass bread and wine into the prison. When the Feast of Theophany dawned, Lucian called all the Christian prisoners to stand in a circle around him and said to them: “Surround me and be the Church.” He had no table, chair, stone or wood in the prison upon which to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. “Holy Father, where shall we place the bread and wine?” they asked Lucian. He lay down in their midst and said: “Place them on my chest, let it be a living altar for the Living God!” And thus the Liturgy was celebrated correctly and prayerfully on the chest of the martyr, and all received Holy Communion. The next day, the emperor sent soldiers to bring Lucian out for torture. When the soldiers opened the door of the prison, St. Lucian cried out three times: “I am a Christian! I am a Christian! I am a Christian!” and with that, he gave up his soul to his God. 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the wondrous freeing of the apostles from prison (Acts 5): 

1. How the elders of the Jews cast the apostles into prison; 

2. How an angel of God appeared at night, opened the prison, led the apostles out and ordered them to enter the temple and preach the Gospel. 

 

HOMILY on how the Lord watches over the bones of the righteous

He watches over all his bones; not one of them shall be broken (Psalm 34: 20) Let not the righteous be afraid. The All-seeing God watches over them. Can the All-seeing lose or forget something? On the Day of Resurrection, He shall gather all their bodily parts and gloriously resurrect them. The persecutors hurled the bodies of the martyrs into the sea, buried them in deep pits, or left them in fields for the birds to devour. But the Lord, by His divine providence, so guided events that these holy relics came into the hands of the faithful. They were laid honorably in costly reliquaries, churches were built over them, and wonderworking power emanated from them. God wanted to show the faithful by this that He watches over the bones of the righteous, and that He has glorified them in the Heavenly Kingdom. And the Church on earth has affirmed this through the miraculous power of their glorified bodies. Wonderworking relics are like forerunners of the general and glorious resurrection of the righteous. But what if some of the bones of the righteous are burned or ground up— could that be an obstacle to the almighty power of God? Can He not, in the Day of Resurrection, reassemble and enliven them from the scattered ashes? There shall not an hair of your head perish (Luke 21: 18), assures the Lord. Nevertheless, if you want to understand “bones” as “works,” know then that the works of the unrighteous are as smoke, and the works of the righteous are powerful and as lasting as hard bones. Not even one righteous deed will fade away or disappear in the course of time. God knows them and God watches over them, so that He may reveal them like precious pearls before the assembly of angels and men on that Day. O All-seeing Lord, Master and Protector of the righteous, multiply our righteous deeds by Thy Holy Spirit, without whom nothing good can be done; and save us by Thy mercy, not according to our deeds. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 27/Oct 14

1st Week after Pentecost. Tone 3. Fast Day. Wine and oil allowed.

 

Saints for the Day:

Martyrs Nazarius, Gervasius, Protasius, and Celsus, of Milan (54-68).  St. Parasceva (Petka) of Epibatima, Thrace, whose relics are in Iasi, Romania (11th c.). Hieromartyr Silvanus, priest, of Gaza, and with him 40 martyrs (311). St. Nikola Sviatosha, prince of Chernigov and wonderworker, of the Kiev Caves (1143). St. Cosmas, founder of Yakhromsk Monastery (Vladimir) (1492). Yakhromsk Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (15th c.). Martyr Peter Apselamus of Eleutheropolis in Palestine (309). St. Burchard, first bishop of Wurzburg, English missionary to Germany (754). St. Ignatius, metropolitan of Mithymna (1566). St. Cosmas the Hymnographer, bishop of Maiuma (787).


Scriptures for Today:

Colossian 2:1-7

For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.  For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.  As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

 

Luke 9:12-18

When the day began to wear away, the twelve came and said to Him, "Send the multitude away, that they may go into the surrounding towns and country, and lodge and get provisions; for we are in a deserted place here." But He said to them, "You give them something to eat." And they said, "We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we go and buy food for all these people."  For there were about five thousand men. Then He said to His disciples, "Make them sit down in groups of fifty."And they did so, and made them all sit down. Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude.  So they all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets of the leftover fragments were taken up by them.  And it happened, as He was alone praying, that His disciples joined Him, and He asked them, saying, "Who do the crowds say that I am?"

 

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Friday. [Col. 2:1-7; Luke 9:12-18]       The miraculous filling of the multitude in the desert is an image of the filling of the faithful in holy communion with the Most Pure Body and Most Pure Blood of the Lord. The Lord is sitting apart; the multitude is made to sit in groups; the apostles are intermediaries—they receive the bread and give it out. So it is now: believers are all divided into groups—small individual churches in which the Lord, invisibly present, gives out His Body and Blood through the apostolic successors. As He did to the apostles then, so now to their successors does He say, Give ye them to eat. As then, so now do the believing multitudes stand steadfastly before the Lord in fasting, hearing the word, and a prayerful desire be healed from sins as they prepare to approach the Divine Mysteries. Thus the mystery begun by the Lord’s appearance continues until now and will continue until the end of the world. And in the world to come there will be a communion of its own sort, for the Lord promises to give to eat of the hidden manna and of the tree of life (Rev. 2:7,17). Our forefathers’ own mystical communion was also arranged in the earthly paradise—eating from the tree of life. In the Old Testament Church its image is the eating of the paschal lamb. Thus, mystical communion began with the human race, was and will be with it until eternal ages, in various forms, but in the one meaning of the most true communion with the Lord; for In Him was life; and the life was the light of men (John 1:4). It is fitting for those who are created according to the image of God to be in such communion with Him, Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person (Heb. 1:3).

 

From the Prologue of Ohrid:

1. The Venerable Parasceva [Petka] 

This glorious saint was of Serbian descent, and was born in the town of Epivat between Selymbria and Constantinople. St. Parasceva’s parents were wealthy, devout Christians. They also had a son, Euthymius, who was tonsured a monk during his parents’ lifetime, and later became the famous Bishop of Madytos. The virgin Parasceva always yearned for the ascetic life for the sake of Christ. After her parents’ repose, she left her home and went first to Constantinople, then to the wilderness of Jordan, where she lived the ascetic life until old age. Who can express all the labors, sufferings and demonic temptations that St. Parasceva endured in the course of her many years? In her old age, an angel of God once appeared to her and said: “Leave the wilderness and return to your homeland; it is necessary that you render your body to the earth there, and your soul to the habitation of the Lord.” St. Parasceva obeyed, and returned to Epivat. There she lived for two years in ceaseless fasting and prayer, then gave up her soul to God and took up her abode in Paradise. St. Parasceva entered into rest in the eleventh century. Over the course of time her relics were translated to Constantinople, to Trnovo, again to Constantinople, and then to Belgrade. Her relics now repose in Romania, in the town of Iasi. In Belgrade, the well of St. Petka miraculously heals the sick who draw near with faith in God and love for this saint.***) The Venerable Parasceva [Petka] (icon in Hilandar Monastery, 1631-32) 

 

2. The Holy Martyrs Nazarius, Gervasius and Protasius 

Nazarius was born in Rome of a Jewish father and a Christian mother. His mother, Perpetua, was baptized by the Apostle Peter himself. Confessing his mother’s Faith, Nazarius sincerely fulfilled all the precepts of the Church. Fearlessly preaching the Gospel, Nazarius went to Milan. There, he found the Christians Gervasius and Protasius in prison, and ministered to them with great love. Learning of this, the local eparch ordered Nazarius to be beaten and driven from the city. His mother came to him in a vision and told him to go to Gaul, and to preach the Gospel there; and this is what Nazarius did. After several years, Nazarius returned to Milan— this time with a disciple, the young man Celsus, whom he had baptized in Gaul. There he found the brothers Gervasius and Protasius still in prison, and he was soon thrown in with them by the governor Anulinus. Christ’s martyrs rejoiced because of this reunion brought about by God’s providence. Emperor Nero ordered Nazarius slain, and the governor brought Nazarius and Celsus out of prison and beheaded them. Soon after that, General Astazius, passing through Milan en route to battle against the Moravians, beheaded St. Gervasius along with St. Protasius. He had heard that these two brothers would not sacrifice to idols, and fearing that he might lose the battle by losing favor with his false gods, he commanded that they be executed immediately. Gervasius and Protasius were twins, born of the blessed parents Vitalius and Valeria, who were also martyred for the Faith. The relics of St. Nazarius were translated by St. Ambrose from a garden outside the city to the Church of the Holy Apostles. The relics of St. Gervasius and St. Protasius were revealed to him in a miraculous vision. 

 

HYMN OF PRAISE The Venerable Parasceva— Saint Petka

“The Lord desires a pure heart”: Thus says the Gospel. A pure virgin you remained, And you gave your pure heart to God— O most wonderful saint, Saint Parasceva, our ideal! The Lord seeks a most pure mind, Without fancy and without falsehood; And you presented Him your most pure mind, Like that of an angel, of the same kind. O most wonderful saint, O Saint Parasceva, hearken to our petitions! The Lord seeks a pure soul, As a heavenly shrine; You perfected such a soul, And now shine in heaven. O most wonderful saint, Parasceva, help us! By your prayers, help us In the misfortunes of life. Through the clouds of earthly sorrow Bring us light, like a rainbow— O chaste virgin, most wonderful, Holy Mother Parasceva! 

 

REFLECTION

Examples of how the saints themselves reveal their hidden relics to men justify the honor rendered to the relics of the saints— not to mention the miraculous action of these relics, which doubly justifies them. For a long, long time, no one could locate the grave of St. Parasceva. Then it happened that a sailor died, and his body was carelessly laid in the proximity of the saint’s grave. When the body turned into carrion and began to emit an unbearable stench, a monk who lived nearby summoned the peasants to help him bury the corpse. It happened that they buried him in St. Parasceva’s own grave. That night, St. Parasceva appeared in a dream to one of those peasants (George by name) who had buried the corpse. She appeared as a beautiful and exquisitely-adorned queen, surrounded by many glorious soldiers. She said: “George, exhume my relics at once, and lay them in another place; for I can no longer endure the stench from that corpse.” Then she told him who she was, and where she was from. The same night a local peasant woman named Euphemia had the same dream. The next day, the peasants began to dig and in fact found the relics of St. Parasceva. They were extraordinarily fragrant, and soon proved to be miracle-working. Concerning the relics of St. Gervasius and St. Protasius, St. Ambrose relates how their relics were discovered in a similar manner. One night, two handsome youths and an old man appeared to Ambrose, who was awake. He thought that the old man was the Apostle Paul. While the young men remained silent, the old man spoke to Ambrose concerning them, saying that they were Christ’s martyrs, and that their relics lay in the very place where Ambrose was praying to God at that time. He went on to say that everything else concerning them would be revealed in a book that Ambrose would find in their grave. The following day, Ambrose recounted his vision and began to dig, and found the relics of both men. From the book that he found he learned that their names were Gervasius and Protasius. In the presence of St. Ambrose, a certain blind man named Severus touched these holy relics and immediately received his sight. 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the wondrous healings worked by the holy apostles (Acts 5): 

1. How many signs and miracles were performed through the hands of the apostles; 

2. How many of the sick were healed just by the shadow of the Apostle Peter. 

 

HOMILY on how the angels do battle for the righteous

The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him and delivers them (Psalm 34: 7) The angel of the Lord will do battle for those who fear God. This has been clearly shown many times, as has been recorded; and it has occurred numberless times that have not been recorded. The Archangel Michael took up arms for Joshua, the Son of Nun. An angel did battle for the righteous King Hezekiah and, in one night, destroyed the army of the Chaldeans. How many times have angels visited the Christian apostles and martyrs in prison, strengthened them, and caused them to rejoice? The consolation of the righteous one comes from knowing that God is All-seeing, and sees his misfortune; that God is Omnipotent, and has power to save him from misfortune; that God is All-merciful, and will save him from misfortune. God will send His radiant angel to the aid of the righteous. The righteous one will not have to struggle against his tyrant, for the angel of God will do battle in his place. When God’s angel takes up arms, what army dares confront him? What empire will wage war against him? In an earlier Psalm, the Prophet David says: No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety (Psalm 33: 16– 17). Hence, it does not help at all if the unjust, the worldly, are allies. When God’s angel takes up arms— all will burst as a bubble of water. Even when he was king, David remembered how, as a mere shepherd boy, he killed Goliath, a giant who was armed to the teeth, with a slingshot. On many occasions, David sensed the assistance of God’s angel. That is why he could with confidence console the oppressed but righteous ones with these words of comfort and strength: the angel of the Lord encamps around all who fear the Lord, and who serve Him, and an angel of God will deliver them. O my brethren, let us not doubt these words, but carefully consider, on a daily basis, how the angel of God leaves us in sorrow when we sin, and how he hastens to our assistance with joy and unspeakable power when we repent and implore God’s mercy. O Lord God, our Creator, the King of myriads of angels: forgive us, and save us, and protect us by Thy holy angels. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.