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. 26/Oct 13

21st Week after Pentecost. Tone 3. Fast-free period.

Saints for Today:  

Translation to Moscow of the Iveron Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.  Hieromartyrs Carpus, bishop of Thyateira, and Papylus, deacon, and Martyrs Agathadorus and Agathonica, at Pergamus (251).Martyr Florentius of Thessalonica (1st c.-2nd c.). Hieromartyr   Benjamin, deacon, of Persia (421-424). St. Nicetas the Confessor, of Paphlagonia (ca. 838). St. Benjamin of the Kiev Caves (14th c.). New Martyr Zlata (Chryse) of Meglin, Bulgaria (1795). St. Anthony, metropolitan of Chkondidi, Georgia (1815), and his disciple James the Elder, hieromonk. Kazan Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Of the Seven Lakes” (17th c.).  St. Venantius, abbot, of the monastery of St. Martin in Tours (Gaul) (400). St. Luke of Demena, Sicily (984). Monk-martyr Jacob of Hamatoura Monastery (Lebanon) (late 13th. c.).    Repose of Monk Athanasius of Valaam (1852).



Scriptures for Today:

Colossian 1:24-29

I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.  To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.


Luke 9:7-11

Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by Him; and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the old prophets had risen again.  Herod said, "John I have beheaded, but who is this of whom I hear such things?" So he sought to see Him.  And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done. Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.  But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing.


St. Theophan on Today’s Scriptures:

Thursday. [Col. 1:24-29; Luke 9:7-11]       Hearing about the works of Christ the Saviour, Herod said, “John I beheaded; but who is This?”—and he desired to see Him. He desired to see Him and sought an opportunity for this, but was not made worthy, because he sought not unto faith and salvation, but out of empty curiosity. Inquisitiveness is the tickling of the mind; truth is not the road to it, but news, especially sensational news. That is why it is not satisfied with the truth itself, seeks something extraordinary in it. When it has contrived something extraordinary, it stops there and attracts other people to it. In our days, it is the German mind that does this. The Germans are obsessed with contriving things. They covered the whole realm of the truth of God with their contrivances as with a fog. Take dogma, ethics, history, the word of God—all are so overloaded with contrivances that you cannot get to the truth of God. Meanwhile, these things interest them and those who have the same mindset. The truth of God is simple; need a proud mind be occupied with it? It would be better off contriving its own things. This is sensational, although empty and weak like a spider’s web. To see that it is so, look at the current theories of the creation of the world: they are like a somnambulistic or drunken delirium. And yet how good they seem to those who thought of them! How much energy and time are wasted on this—and all in vain! The deed was accomplished simply: He spake and it came to be. He commanded and it was created. Nobody can think up anything better than this solution.


From the Prologue of Ohrid:


1. The Holy Martyrs Carpus and Papylus 

Carpus was Bishop of Thyateira and Papylus was a deacon. They were born in Pergamum where they finally suffered for the Christian Faith at the hands of the evil proconsul Valerius, during the reign of Decius. Valerius tied them to horses and dragged them to Sardis, where he subjected them to harsh tortures. Then an angel of God appeared to them, healed them of their wounds and encouraged them. Carpus’s servant, Agathadorus, followed his master with great sorrow. Valerius then condemned him to torture as well. The saints were again tied to horses, and were dragged from Sardis to Pergamum. They tied holy Carpus to a tree and flogged him so that his body was covered with wounds, and his blood flowed like a stream, soaking the ground; but Carpus smiled in the midst of these horrible tortures. When they asked him why he was smiling, the holy martyr replied that he saw the heavens opened and the Lord seated on His throne, surrounded by Cherubim and Seraphim. As Papylus was being tortured, by prayer he healed a man blind in one eye, and many who witnessed this came to believe in Christ the Lord. Thrown to wild beasts, the martyrs remained unharmed. Then they were thrown into a fiery furnace. Agathonica, Carpus’s sister, also leaped into the fire, but the fire did not consume them. Finally, they were all beheaded with the sword, in the year 251. Thus, after their righteous endeavors, they received a wreath of glory in the Kingdom of Christ. The Holy Martyrs Carpus and Papylus (Menologion of Basil II, 11th c.) 


2. The Hieromartyr Benjamin the Deacon 

This soldier of Christ was a Persian who zealously preached the Gospel and brought many pagans, both Persians and Greeks, to the Christian Faith. He suffered during the reign of the Persian King Yezdegeherd, circa 412. When he was cast into prison, one of the king’s nobles defended him to the king. The king then released him, under the condition that he no longer preach Christ to the people. Benjamin boldly said: “This I can never give up. For he who hides the talent given him will be given over to great suffering,” and he continued to spread the Christian Faith. The emperor had him seized, and commanded that thorns be driven under his nails, and he was further tortured until he rendered his spirit to God. 


3. The Holy Great-martyr Zlata of Meglin 

Zlata was born of poor peasant parents (who also had three other daughters) in the village of Slatina, in the province of Meglin. She was a meek and devout girl, wise in the wisdom of Christ and golden, not only in name**) but also in her God-fearing heart. Once when Zlata went out to get water, some shameless Turks seized her and took her to their home. When one of them urged her to become a Moslem and be his wife, Zlata fearlessly replied: “I believe in Christ and Him alone do I know as my Bridegroom. I will never deny Him, even though you subject me to a thousand tortures and cut me into pieces.” When her parents and sisters found her, her parents said to her: “O daughter, have mercy on yourself and on us, your parents and sisters; deny Christ in words only, so that we can all be happy, for Christ is merciful. He would forgive such a sin, committed due to the necessities of life.” Her poor parents, sisters and relatives wept bitterly. However, the noble soul of St. Zlata resisted such diabolical snares. She answered them: “When you counsel me to deny Christ the true God, you are no longer my parents or my sisters. I have the Lord Jesus Christ as my father, the Theotokos as my mother, and the saints as my brothers and sisters.” The Turks then cast her into prison for three months, flogging her every day until her blood soaked the ground. Finally, they suspended her upside down and lit a fire, to suffocate her with the smoke; but God was with Zlata, and gave her strength in suffering. At last they hanged her from a tree and cut her into small pieces. Thus, this brave virgin gave her soul up to God, and went to dwell in Paradise in the year 1796. Pieces of her relics were taken by Christians to their homes for a blessing. 


HYMN OF PRAISE The Holy Great-martyr Zlata of Meglin

The Turks tortured St. Zlata of golden heart, Tormented her to death for Christ the Living God. Golden Zlata wept not, nor did she waver, But surrendered her whole heart to the Lord of Heaven. The tears of parents and sisters were in vain: Zlata sought delight through sufferings, true delight— The delight that Christ prepares for wise virgins, The joy that the Bridegroom bestows upon faithful brides. The cage of the body of Zlata the Golden was destroyed, And her soul was freed from its fragile prison. Zlata rose up to Paradise, joyful in soul, Taking her place among the royal, holy angels. St. Zlata, once a poor peasant girl, Is now glorified in Paradise as a queen. 



There is nothing more wretched than a man who, in the hour of misfortune, abandons hope in God and resorts to a means of salvation contrary to the Law of God. Not only does such a man not succeed in righting his outward situation, but he also loses his soul. Such was the case with Emperor Michael Palaeologus. In order to save his kingdom— threatened by the Bulgars and Serbs— he sought help from the pope, and agreed to an uncanonical union. What did he gain by this? He did not save the kingdom, but did commit numerous evil crimes. Soon after, he died miserably in a military campaign against John Ducas, Prince of Epirus. The Orthodox people were so resentful toward him that his son, Andronicus, dared not bury him publicly, but buried him at night without a funeral or prayer. He was cut off from the Orthodox Church, and he was not received by the Roman Church. Michael Palaeologus died outside the Church of God. Following Michael’s death, his widow, the empress, issued the following decree: “My majesty abhors and regards as loathsome this action [the Union] that has recently occurred in the Church and created discord in it…. And, as the Holy Church of God has determined not to sanction any official commemoration of my deceased spouse, our lord and king, because of the aforementioned deed and discord, My Majesty also, submitting all things to the fear of God and obedience to the Holy Church, approve and accept this, the Church’s decision, and never will I dare to perform a memorial service for my lord and spouse.” 



Contemplate the wondrous punishment by which the Apostle Peter punished Ananias (Acts 5): 

1. How Ananias, and then his wife Sapphira, lied and concealed part of the money; 

2. How the Apostle Peter denounced them, and they fell down and died one after the other. 


HOMILY on the burden of sin and deliverance from sin

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered (Psalm 32: 1) Fear, confusion, weakness, infirmity and darkening of the mind are born of sin. By sin, a man provokes others against himself, confuses his own conscience, attracts demons to himself, and gives them weapons against himself. By sin, a man separates himself from God, estranges himself from his guardian angel, and walls himself off from the source of all good. The committing of sin signifies a declaration of war against God and all godly powers. This is more preposterous than if a withered autumn leaf were to declare war on the wind. And, indeed, the most preposterous thing of all occurs: a man declares war on God! This declaration alone guarantees ruin and destruction for a man if he does not quickly come to himself, repent and flee to God for mercy. The great King David was well aware of the terrible predicament of the sinner, and he himself experienced it. He felt inexpressible fear, confusion, weakness and loneliness; he felt the arrows of men and the arrows of demons. But, realizing his horrible situation, David acknowledged his sin, prostrated himself in ashes before God, soaked the ground with tears of repentance and words of anguish that burned like fire, and prayed to the merciful God to forgive him. And, when all was forgiven him, he felt inexpressible blessedness. This blessedness of the forgiven soul he could not express in words. He could only declare, confirm and assure us of the condition of sinfulness and the condition of forgiveness from God, based on his direct experience of both conditions: Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered (Psalm 32: 1). What is this blessing? Freedom, courage, indescribable joy, power, strength, clarity of thought, peace of conscience, hope in God, hymnody to God, love for one’s neighbors, and meaning to one’s life! In other words: light, joy and strength are the blessing. This is the blessing that one who is forgiven of sin feels here on earth. If this is so, then what is the blessing that awaits him in heaven, that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man (I Corinthians 2: 9)? O Lord our God, forgive us our transgressions by Thine infinite mercy, and cover our sins! 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. 25/Oct 12

21st Week after Pentecost. Tone 3.  Fast Day. Wine and oil allowed.

Saints for the Day:

Martyrs Probus, Tarachus, and Andronicus, at Tarsus in Cilicia (304).  St. Cosmas the Hymnographer, bishop of Maiuma (ca. 787). Martyr Domnina of Anazarbus (286). St. Martin the Merciful, bishop of Tours (397). Sts. Amphilochius (1452), Macarius (1480), and Tarasius (1440), abbots, and Theodosius, monk (15th c.), of Glushitsa Monastery (Vologda), disciples of St. Dionysius of Glushitsa. St. Arsenius, archimandrite, of Svyatogorsk Monastery (1859). St. Euphrosyne (Mezenova) the Faster, schema-abbess, of Siberia (1918). Glorification of St. Philaret, archbishop of Chernigov (2009). New Hieromartyrs Juvenal (Maslovsky), archbishop of Ryazan (1937) and Lawrence (Levchenko), hieromonk, of Optina Monastery (1937). New Hiero-confessor Nicholas (Mogilevsky), metropolitan of Alma-Ata (1955). “Jerusalem” (48) and “Kaluga” (1748) Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos. Hieromartyr Maximilian, bishop of Noricum (284). St. Mobhi of Glasnevin (Ireland) (544). Martyr Edwin, king of Northumbria (633). St. Wilfrid, bishop of York (709). Translation of the relics of St. Sabbas the Sanctified from Rome to Jerusalem (1965). Virgin-martyr Anastasia of Rome (ca. 250). St. Theodotus, bishop of Ephesus. St. Jason, bishop of Damascus. St. Symeon the New Theologian [transferred from Great Lent, March 12] (1022). St. Theosebius the God-bearer, of Arsinoe on Cyprus.


Scriptures for the Day:


Colossians 1:18-23

And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight- if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Luke 8:22-25

Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side of the lake." And they launched out. But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, "Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!"


St. Theophan on Today’s Scriptures:

Wednesday. [Col. 1:18-23; Luke 8:22-25]       When they got in the ship to sail to the other side of the lake, did the apostles think that they would meet with a tempest and expose their lives to danger? Meanwhile, a tempest suddenly arose and they did not expect to remain alive. Such is the path of our life! You do not know how or from where misfortune will sweep in, capable of destroying us. Air, water, fire, beasts, man, bird, house, in a word—everything around us could suddenly be transformed into a weapon for our death. From this comes a law: live in such a way that every minute you are ready to meet with death and fearlessly enter into its realm. This minute you are alive, but who knows whether you will be alive the next? Keep yourself according to this thought. Do everything you have to, according to the routines of your life, but in no way forget that you could immediately move to a country from which there is no return. Forgetting this will not postpone the determined hour, and intentional expulsion of this decisive upheaval from your thoughts will not lessen the eternal meaning of what will happen after it. Commit your life and all into the hands of God; spend hour after hour with the thought that each hour is the last. From this the number of empty pleasures will decrease; while at death this deprivation will be immeasurably recompensed with a joy to which there is nothing equal in the joys of life.


From the Prologue of Ohrid:

1. The Holy Martyrs Tarachus, Probus and Andronicus 

Tarachus was born in Syrian Claudiopolis, Probus was from Perga of Pamphylia, and Andronicus was the son of an eminent citizen of Ephesus. All three were martyred together by the Proconsul Numerian Maximus, in Emperor Diocletian’s time. Tarachus was sixty-five years old when he was tortured. The proconsul asked him for his name, and he answered: “I am a Christian.” The proconsul asked thrice, and received the same answer each time. These martyrs were beaten with rods, then were cast into prison bloodied and wounded. After this, they were brought out again for torture. When the proconsul advised Probus to deny Christ, promising him imperial honors and his own friendship, holy Probus replied: “Neither the emperor’s honors do I desire, nor your friendship do I wish.” When Andronicus was threatened with even greater bodily tortures, the young martyr of Christ replied: “My body is before you, do with it what you will.” After prolonged tortures in various locales, the three holy martyrs were thrown into an arena with wild beasts. Other prisoners in the same arena were torn apart by the beasts, but they would not harm the saints; a bear and a ferocious lioness fawned around them. Seeing this, many believed in Christ the Lord and cried out against the proconsul. Crazed with anger, and more furious than the beasts, the proconsul ordered his soldiers to enter the arena and chop the soldiers of Christ into pieces with their swords. Their bodies were mingled with the dead bodies of other prisoners. Three Christians, Macarius, Felix and Berius, who were present at the slaying of the holy martyrs, came that night to remove their bodies. But as the bodies were heaped in confusion, and the night was very dark, they prayed to God to help them find the saints; and suddenly three candles were manifested over the bodies of the martyrs. Thus, they were able to remove the saints’ bodies and honorably bury them. St. Martyrs Tarachus Probus and Andronicus (Menologion of Basil II, 11th c.) 


2. Saint Martin of Tours 

Martin was born of pagan parents in the Pannonian town of Sabaria in the year 316. His father was a Roman officer, and the young Martin was given over to military service against his will. By then, however, he was already a catechumen in the Christian Church. From early childhood he had loved the Church with all his heart. One winter, while traveling with his companions to the town of Amiens, he saw a beggar before the town gates, almost naked and shivering from the cold. Martin felt sorry for him, and fell behind his companions. He then removed his military cloak and cut it in two with his sword. He gave one half to the beggar and wrapped the other around himself, and left. That night, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him in a dream, wrapped in the other half of his cloak, and said to His angels: “Martin is only a catechumen, yet behold: he has clothed Me with his garment!” Leaving the army, Martin was immediately baptized, and then baptized his mother. He was then tonsured a monk in the diocese of St. Hilary of Poitiers and led a life of true asceticism. Martin was exceptionally humble, for which God endowed him with an abundant gift of working miracles, such that he raised the dead and drove out evil spirits. Martin was appointed Bishop of Tours against his will. After abundant labor in the vineyard of the Lord, and after a difficult struggle with pagans and Arian heretics, St. Martin gave his holy soul into the hands of his Lord in the year 397. St. Martin of Tours (by S. Skliris) 


3. The Venerable Cosmas of Maiuma 

He was born in Jerusalem. He was a friend of St. John Damascene, whose parents took him in as an orphan and raised him. As a monk, he assisted John in compiling the Octoechos, and he himself composed many canons to the saints. His canons on Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday and Passion Week are particularly distinguished by their beauty and profundity. He was Bishop of Maiuma, near Palestinian Gaza. He outlived St. John Damascene, and died in deep old age. 



Saint Martin, Bishop of Tours St. Martin, a child of Pannonia, And the great illuminator of Gaul, Despised the earthly emperor’s honors, And became a servant of the heavenly King. The will of a powerful giant Was in Martin’s merciful heart. Martin sprinkled himself with ashes, And on the ashes this humble one slept, Out of love for his God— Crucified for sinful men. And Martin had crucified himself to the world Solely to reach the goal! Martin led the battle against demons, Yielding to none of their temptations, And led the battle against impudent men, Against dark, dishonorable heresies. Martin was a knight of Orthodoxy, And a victor, wondrous and glorious. With the battle won, the knight rests With the angels close to Christ the King: And yet even now he lifts up prayers, And comes to the aid of those in peril. 



By what virtue have the saints been most exalted and glorified in the eyes of heaven and men? Primarily by their humility and service. Even before his baptism, while he was still an officer, St. Martin had a servant whom he considered more a brother than a servant. He often served this servant unashamedly; in fact, he even rejoiced in it. Again, when St. Hilary wanted to ordain him a priest, he refused this honor with tears, and begged the bishop to let him simply be a monk in some remote place. Once, St. Martin was traveling from France to Pannonia to visit his parents. While he was crossing over the Alps, murderous robbers captured him. When one of the robbers raised his sword to behead him, Martin showed no fear, and remained motionless; he did not beg for mercy but was completely at peace, as if nothing were happening. The robber, amazed at such behavior, lay aside his sword and asked Martin who he was. Martin replied that he was a Christian, and hence, he was not afraid— for he knew that God, according to His great mercy, is always close to men, especially in times of danger. The thieves were astonished at the rare virtue of this man of God, and he who had drawn his sword against Martin believed in Christ, was baptized, and later became a monk. When the episcopal throne in Tours became vacant, the people wanted Martin to be bishop, but Martin did not even want to hear of it. However, certain citizens of Tours craftily lured him from the monastery and carried him off. They came to the gate of Martin’s monastery and told Martin that a sick man was out there with them, and they begged him for a blessing. When Martin came out they seized him, took him to Tours, and had him consecrated bishop. In old age, he foresaw his approaching death. He told his brethren and they began to weep copiously, begging him not to leave them. The saint, seeking to comfort them, prayed to God in their presence and said: “Lord, if I am still needed by Thy people, I do not reject the labor. Let it be according to Thy holy will.” 



Contemplate the wondrous work of the Apostles Peter and John (Acts 3): 

1. How a beggar, lame from birth, asked them for alms; 

2. How Peter told him they had no silver or gold; 

3. How the apostle took him by the hand and said, In the name of Jesus Christ, rise up and walk! and the sick man was made whole. 


HOMILY on weeping in the evening and joy in the morning

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30: 5) God rebukes, and God makes glad. Just one repentant thought eases the wrath of God; for God is not angry at men as an enemy is angry, but His anger toward men is as that of a father toward his children. His anger is momentary, and His mercy is infinite. If He rebukes you in the evening, He causes you to rejoice in the morning; men know Him best in His rebuking and in His mercy. O my brethren, if men constantly knew and recognized God as the Doer of good, they would never know Him as Rebuker and Judge. Behold, God rejoices more when we recognize Him by His mercy than by His anger. However, there are very ungrateful and thoughtless people who never remember God when He grants mercy, but remember Him only when He chastises and rebukes them through sickness, death in the family, failure and shame before men, fire, the sword, earthquake or flood, or numerous other punitive rods and sticks with which He chastens the unawakened, reminds the ungrateful, brings the errant to their senses, and reminds everyone that He is the Creator and Lord, the Giver of Gifts and the Judge. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. These words also mean that the night is for weeping and prayer, for repentance and divine contemplation. The night especially is for repentance, and there is no true repentance without tears. At night a man thinks without hindrance about his deeds, his words, and his thoughts, and repents for all that he has done contrary to God’s law. If a man weeps in repentance at night, then he will rejoice during the day. He will rejoice as a newborn, as one bathed, as one alleviated from the burden of sin. But, if he spends the night in sin and senseless revelry, a sorrowful and tearful day will dawn for him. O Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Teacher, rebuke us, but forgive us; chastise us, but 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 Oct. 24/Oct 11

21st Week after Pentecost. Tone 3. No fast.


Saints of the Day:

Holy Apostle Philip of the Seventy, one of the seven deacons (1st c.).  St. Theophanes Graptus (“the Branded”), confessor and hymnographer, bishop of Nicaea (850). Synaxis of the Elders of Optina: Sts. Leonid (repose) (1841), Macarius (1860), Moses (1862), Anthony (1865), Hilarion (1873), Ambrose (1891), Anatole I (1894), Isaac I (1894), Joseph (1911), Barsanuphius (1913), Anatole II (1922), Nektary (1928), New Hieroconfessor Nikon (1931), and New Hieromartyr Archimandrite Isaac II (1938). Martyrs Zenaida (Zenais) and Philonilla, of Tarsus in Cilicia (1st c.). St. Theophanes, faster, of the Kiev Caves (12th c.). Sts. Nectarius (397), Arsacius (405), and Sinisius (427), archbishops of Constantinople. St. Cainnech (Kenneth), abbot, of Aghaboe (Ireland), and missionary in Scotland (600). St. Ethelburga, foundress of the monastery of Barking (England) (ca. 676). St. Gommar, patron of Lier (Neth.) (775). Commemoration of the Miracle from the Icon of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Beirut of Phoenicia (7th c.).


Scriptures for the Day:


Colossians 1:1-2, 7-11

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.  For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;


Luke 8:1-3

Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities-Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.


St. Theophan on Today’s Scriptures:

Tuesday. [Col. 1:1-2, 7-11; Luke 8:1-3]       The Lord preaches, the women serve Him from their substance, and are thus as participants in his very preaching. It is not given to everyone to preach the Gospels, but everyone can help spread them, and be participants in this most important matter on the earth. There were many such participants, both men and women, at the time the holy apostles preached; and then at the time of their successors, and finally, throughout the entire history of the Church. Such participants exist to this day. Our apostles in the Caucasus and in various areas of Siberia labour zealously, suffering every need and deprivation. They continue the work of the Lord and the holy Apostles. Those men and women who send them help join the ranks of the women who served the Lord, and become worthy of equal recompense. The Lord said: He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth Me (John 13:20). This means that He equates Himself with the one who is sent to preach; it would follow that He equates the service rendered to his messengers with serving Him. According to the law of His goodness and truth, the way a person receives one determines the reward he will receive (Matt. 10:41). This would seem to be sufficient incentive to keep giving alms to help in the great work of preaching of the Gospels.


From the Prologues of Ohrid:


1. The Holy Apostle Philip 

Philip was born in Palestinian Caesarea. He was married and had four daughters. All four were endowed by God with the gift of prophecy, and all four were vowed virgins for the sake of Christ. When the holy apostles chose deacons, Philip was chosen with Stephen and the others. He served the needy and widows with great diligence. When the persecution of Christians began in Jerusalem, Apostle Philip found refuge in Samaria, and there preached the Gospel and gave witness by many miracles: driving out demons, healing the sick, and so forth. Seeing the miracles of the holy apostle, Simon the Magician was baptized. St. Philip also baptized the eunuch of Queen Candace. After that, an angel of God suddenly and invisibly translated him to Azotus, where he taught, preached and converted many to Christ. Philip was appointed Bishop of Tralles. He reposed peacefully in deep old age, and took up his habitation in the joy of his Lord. The Holy Apostle Philip (icon in Hilandar Monastery, 1620-22) 


2. The Commemoration of the Seventh Ecumenical Council 

The Seventh Ecumenical Council was held in 787 at Nicaea during the reign of the devout Empress Irene and her son, Constantine, in the time of Patriarch Tarasius. This Council finally confirmed the veneration of icons, justifying it by Holy Scripture, by the witness of the Holy Fathers, and by the undeniable example of miracles manifested through the holy icons. Adding to examples of miracles previously cited, Bishop Constantine of Cyprus recounted this: One day, a certain shepherd from the town of Constantia drove his flock to pasture, and there saw an icon of the Most-holy Theotokos, all decorated with flowers by the faithful. “Why render so much honor to a rock?” said the shepherd, who had obviously been brought up in iconoclasm. He struck the icon with his iron shepherd’s cane, and damaged the right eye of the image of the Mother of God. As soon as he turned away, he stumbled over that same cane and gouged out his own right eye. Thus injured, he returned to the city, crying out tearfully that the punishment of the Theotokos had befallen him. This Council also decreed that the holy relics of a martyr be placed, without fail, in the Antimension.*) Three hundred and sixty-seven Fathers participated in this Council. May the Lord also have mercy on us and save us by their prayers. The Holy Seventh Ecumenical Council in Nicea, 787 (fresco in Meteora Monastery, Greece, 16th c.) 


3. The Venerable Theophanes the Branded 

Theophanes was a confessor and writer of canons. He was born in Arabia of wealthy and pious parents. With his brother Theodore (December 27), he was tonsured a monk in the Monastery of St. Sava the Sanctified. As they were very educated monks, Patriarch Thomas of Jerusalem sent them to Emperor Leo the Armenian, to justify and defend the veneration of icons. The iniquitous emperor harshly tortured these holy brothers and cast them into prison. Later, the iconoclastic Emperor Theophilus resumed their torture and commanded that words of mockery be branded on their faces, to expose them to the ridicule of the world. When the iconoclastic controversy was resolved, Theophanes was freed, and shortly thereafter was consecrated a bishop. He died peacefully in the year 847, having suffered for the holy icons for a total of twenty-five years. He wrote 145 Canons. He entered into the eternal joy of his Lord. 


4. Saint Nectarius, Patriarch of Constantinople 

As a layman and a high-ranking court official, Nectarius was unanimously chosen as patriarch in 381, succeeding St. Gregory the Theologian. He was distinguished by profound understanding, tact and zeal for the Church. He reposed peacefully in the year 397. 


5. The Holy Martyrs Zinaida and Philonilla 

Zinaida and Philonilla were sisters by birth, and were born in Tarsus. They are called the kinswomen of St. Paul the Apostle. Remaining virgins, they renounced the world for the sake of Christ, and, withdrawing to a cave, lived the ascetic life. They were knowledgeable in medicine and healed many of the sick. Because of her great fasting, Philonilla especially was vouchsafed the gift of miracle-working. Certain unbelievers attacked them one night and stoned them to death. 



The Venerable Theophanes the Branded Theophanes of St. Sava’s, a great ascetic, Profound theologian and glorious hymnographer, A sufferer for Christ, a confessor of the Faith, An adornment of the Church, a Father of Orthodoxy: He left his cell for the sake of obedience, And from his silence, stepped out into the world once again, To persuade the evil emperor of the truth; And he witnessed that truth to the emperor. St. Theophanes traded a quarter century for true happiness, Though he passed this time in suffering most dire, And in the dank prison Wore the brand of suffering on his face. But, inspired by the Spirit, this saint of God Also infused these years with chants sublime, Glorifying the Lord and the saints of God With fervent hope, love and faith. 



Just as, by God’s providence, the power of miraculous healing is given to blessed water or sanctified oil, so this same power is also given to icons. St. Athanasius the Great cites one wonderful example of the miraculous power of holy icons: In the town of Beirut, there lived a Christian in a rented house. In moving out of the house, he forgot an icon of the Savior. Then a Jew moved into that house. There were many Jews in that town who were particularly embittered against the Christian Faith. Consequently, when the icon was found in the house, the Jews carried it to their gathering place and mocked it, as their ancestors had once mocked the living Savior. The Jews also did to the icon what their ancestors had done to the Savior: they pierced the hands and feet with nails, wiped vinegar on the lips of the image on the icon, and mocked the image of the Savior in every way possible. Finally, one of them took a spear and struck the divine image under the rib. But oh, the wonder— blood and water flowed from the image’s wound as they had from the living body of the crucified Lord. The Jews’ terror cannot be described. However, they brought a vessel to catch the blood, and brought many of the sick, blind, deaf, lame and insane to the icon. As soon as the Jews anointed the ailing with this blood, they were healed. The whole town gathered to see this miracle and all glorified Jesus Christ, the true God; and all the Jews in that town came to believe in the living and life-giving Lord Jesus Christ. 



Contemplate the numerous unrighteous acts of the people of Israel, and the numerous punishments that God visited upon them (II Kings 24): 

1. How the princes of the people often turned away from God, and did that which is evil in the sight of God;

2. How God punished the people in order to correct them; 

3. How finally, under the evil King Jehoiachin, the Israelites were taken into the Babylonian captivity. 


HOMILY on the voice of the Lord upon the waters

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters (Psalm 29: 3) The voice of the Lord was heard over Jordan, when St. John baptized the Savior. On the Sea of Galilee, when there were storms and winds, the voice of the Lord was heard, and the tempest was calmed and the winds ceased. The voice of the Lord was heard at the marriage feast at Cana of Galilee, and the water was changed into wine. The voice of the Lord was heard at the Red Sea, and the sea parted and a path was opened for the people of God. The voice of the Lord was heard in the wilderness, and water flowed from a dry rock. Given all this, what does the voice of the Lord is upon the waters mean? It means that the element, water, is the work of God; and through it, God works miracles when He wills, and how He wills. No less are the other elements the work of God: fire, air and earth. And God is Lord over them all, and through them He works miracles when He wills, and how He wills. God the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of fire at Pentecost. In the furnace at Babylon, the flames lost their power at the sound of the voice of the Lord, and did not harm the blessed children. Fire was sent down from heaven to consume the sacrifice of Gideon (Judges 6). Elias brought down fire from the heavens (II Kings 1: 10). The bush burned and was not consumed (Exodus 3). Fire from heaven came down and consumed Elias’s sacrifice to God (I Kings 18: 38). A fiery pillar went before the Israelites (Exodus 13, 14). All of this was according to the word of the Lord. The earth opened up and swallowed the unrighteous Korah, Dathan and Abiram (Numbers 16: 32). The earth opened and hid Elizabeth and the infant child John from the sword of Herod. The earth quaked when the Lord breathed His last on the Cross, and the graves opened up (Matthew 27: 51– 52). The Lord ascended into the heavens through the air (Luke 24: 51). The holy apostles were carried through the air to Jerusalem, from various parts of the world. An angel took the Prophet Habakkuk to Babylon through the air in an instant (Bel and the Dragon 1: 35). And all of this was in accord with the voice of the Lord: by the Lord’s command. When will men be as obedient to the voice of the Lord as the irrational elements of nature are? Then again, “the waters” is to be interpreted as meaning “men”— men who are obedient to the voice of the Lord— the apostles and the saints. Like water, they covered the earth with the preaching of Christ our God. Like water, they assuaged the thirsty world with the effusion of the fountain of eternal life, and the world was restored and blossomed. Upon them, just as upon ordinary water, numerous miracles were manifested; for they were submissive to the will of God, obedient to the voice of God, just like water. O Lord Jesus Christ, help us to be obedient to Thy voice. Help us to be ashamed before lifeless elements that obey Thee better than we do. 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. 23/Oct 10

21st Week after Pentecost. Tone 3.    No fast.

Saints for the Day:

Martyrs Eulampius and Eulampia and 200 martyrs with them, at Nicomedia (303-311).  St. Ambrose, elder, of Optina Monastery (1891). St. Innocent, bishop of Penza (1819). Martyr Theotecnus of Antioch (3rd-4th c.). St. Bassian of Constantinople (ca. 458). St. Theophilus the Confessor, of Bulgaria (716). Blessed Andrew of Totma (Vologda), fool-for-Christ (1673). Synaxis of the Saints of Volhynia: Sts. Stephen (1094) and Amphilochius (1122), bishops of Vladimir in Volhynia; St. Yaropolk-Peter, prince of Vladimir in Volhynia (1086); St. Theodore (in monasticism Theodosius) of the Kiev Caves, prince of Ostrog in Volhynia (1483); St. Juliana, princess of Olshansk (ca. 1540); St. Job, abbot and wonderworker of Pochaev (1651); and Hieromartyr Macarius of Kanev, archimandrite, of Obruch and Pinsk (1678). New Hieromartyr Theodore (Pozdeyevsky), archbishop of Volokolamsk (1937). Zographou Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Of the Akathist.” St. Pinytus, bishop of Knossos on Crete (2nd c.). Martyrs of the Theban Legion, along the Rhine: Sts. Cassius and Florentius, at Bonn; Sts. Gereon and companions, at Cologne; and Sts. Victor and companions, at Xanten (Germany) (ca. 287). St. Paulinus, archbishop of York (644). Martyrdom of the 26 Martyrs of Zographou Monastery on Mt. Athos by the Latins: Abbot Thomas, Monks Barsanuphius, Cyril, Micah, Simon, Hilarion, Job, James, Cyprian, Sabbas, James, Martinian, Cosmas, Sergius, Paul, Menas, Ioasaph, Ioannicius, Anthony, Euthymius, Dometian, and Parthenius, and four laymen (1284).  Repose of Schemamonk Theodore, desert-dweller of Valaam (1834).


Scriptures for the Day: 

Philippians 4:10-23

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity.  Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:  I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.  For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.  Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.  Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.  And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.  Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you.  All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Luke 7:36-50

Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee's house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.  Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, "This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner."  And Jesus answered and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." So he said, "Teacher, say it." There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?  Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have rightly judged."  Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head.  You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in.  You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil.  Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.  Then He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."  And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"  Then He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."


St. Theophan on Today’s Scriptures:


Monday. [Phil. 4:10-23; Luke 7:36-50]       How could it be that although Simon the Pharisee reveres the Lord and invites Him over, he is scandalized when he sees that He shows favour toward a sinful woman and permits her to approach Him? Why does he think to himself, “If He were a prophet,” and so forth? Because he had busied himself with the entertaining, and therefore ignored a sensible understanding of how God does things. These two realms, worldly and spiritual, are completely completely different characteristics and laws. Our mind all the while judges its own preoccupations according to the laws of those preoccupations. According to worldly thinking, one must not have contact with an obviously sinful woman. Simon judges thus, forgetting that repentance makes everyone pure and puts sinners on one level with the righteous. He thinks that the sinful woman should not be there, and that if the Saviour does not chase her away, it is probably because He does not know who she is. Another thought immediately follows this one: If He does not know that she is sinful, then what kind of prophet is He? He did not say this in words, but only thought it, although there was no change in his appearance outwardly. But the Lord saw his heart and corrected him accordingly. He suggested to him that sinners also have a place beside Him, and that the sinful woman who united with Him in her heart, revered Him more than did Simon, who honoured Him with nothing but food. Externals lead a person to a feeling of self-righteousness unpleasant to the Lord, while inner things always preserve a feeling of unworthiness before the face of the omniscient Lord.


From the Prologue of Ohrid:


1. The Holy Martyrs Eulampius and Eulampia 

They were brother and sister from Nicomedia. During one of the terrible persecutions of Christians by Maximian some of the faithful fled Nicomedia and hid. The young Eulampius was sent into the city to buy bread. There he saw the imperial edict decreeing the persecution of Christians posted on a wall. He laughed at it, removed it, and tore it up. He was arrested and immediately brought before the judge. When the judge advised him to deny Christ, Eulampius counseled the judge to reject the false idols and to acknowledge Christ as the One Living God. The judge ordered that he be flogged for a long time until his blood flowed, and that he be tormented with other cruel tortures. Hearing of her brother’s suffering, the virgin Eulampia came running, and she, together with her brother, suffered for Christ. She was flogged until blood flowed from her nose and mouth. After that, they were thrown into boiling pitch, and then into a red-hot furnace, but by the power of the sign of the Cross and the name of Christ, they rendered the fire harmless. Finally Eulampius was beheaded, but Eulampia died before being beheaded. Two hundred other Christians were also slain, who had come to believe in Christ upon witnessing the power and miracles of St. Eulampius and his sister. All were crowned with martyrs’ wreaths, and passed over into their eternal heavenly homeland. The Holy Martyrs Eulampius and Eulampia (Menologion of Basil II, 11th c.) 


2. The Holy Martyrs of Zographou 

When Emperor Michael Palaeologus contracted the infamous Union of Lyons with the pope, in order to obtain help from the West against the Bulgarians and Serbs, the monks of the Holy Mountain sent a protest to the emperor against this Union, imploring him to reject it and return to Orthodoxy. The pope dispatched an army to help the emperor. The Latin army entered the Holy Mountain and committed such barbarism as the Turks had never committed in five hundred years. Having hanged the Protaton****), and having killed many monks in Vatopedi, Iveron and other monasteries, the Latins attacked Zographou. The blessed Abbot Thomas warned the brethren that whoever wished to be spared from the Latins should flee from the monastery, and that whoever desired a martyr’s death should remain. And so, twenty-six men remained: the abbot, twenty-one monks, and four laymen who served as laborers for the monastery. They all closed themselves in the monastery’s tower. When the Latins arrived, they set fire to the tower and these twenty-six heroes of Christ found a martyr’s death in the fire. While the tower was burning, they chanted the Psalms and the Akathist to the Most-holy Mother of God. They gave their holy souls to God on October 10, 1283. In December of the same year, the dishonorable Emperor Michael died in poverty, when the Serbian King Milutin rose up against him in defense of Orthodoxy. 


3. The Venerable Theophilus the Confessor 

Theophilus was a Macedonian Slav from somewhere near Strumica. He was tonsured a monk when still young, and founded his own monastery. He suffered much for the icons during the reign of Leo the Isaurian, and would have been slain on one occasion, had he not succeeded in convincing Governor Hypaticus, his judge, of the principle and need for the veneration of icons. The governor freed him. Theophilus returned to his monastery, where he reposed peacefully in the year 716, and entered into the joy of his Lord. 


4. The Holy Martyr Theotecnus 

He was a Roman officer in Antioch during the reign of Emperor Maximian. When the emperor urged him to sacrifice to the idols, he replied: “I believe in Christ God, and to Him will I offer myself as a sacrifice— a living sacrifice.” After cruel tortures, he was drowned by being thrown into the sea with a stone around his neck. He suffered honorably for Christ and was crowned with the wreath of martyrdom. 


5. The Venerable Bassian 

During the reign of the right-believing Emperor Marcian, this saint came to Constantinople from Anatolia in the year 450. Great was his asceticism, and great was the wonderworking power that God bestowed upon him. Bassian had about three hundred disciples. Among them was St. Matrona. Emperor Marcian built a church in Bassian’s name, which still exists today. HYMN OF PRAISE The Holy Martyrs of Zographou Heroes of Zographou, knights of truth, Sacrificed themselves for the Orthodox Faith, And shamed the proud, shameless Latins, As their souls rose up to the Kingdom of God. The tower’s flames mounted up to heaven, As the monks in the fire sent up praise to God! Heaven with its angels beheld that spectacle, As the criminals crawled about like worms below the tower. In the flames, Abbot Thomas, a true parent, Encouraged his brethren, and began the Psalms: He who glorifies the Lord does not fear death, And he who dies for God will not perish. The sacrifice is offered, and the altar of oblation remains: The bodies were burned, the souls flew off, And by that sacrifice, Zographou increased in glory With magnificence eternal and true. St. George the knight, cherishes his knights*****) As the Mother of God cherishes all heavenly citizens. In these knights of righteousness, the Church rejoices: They are her children, her fruitful branches. 



By God’s providence, the greatest number of miracles and heavenly manifestations occur during the martyrdom of His servants. On the day that the Latins set out for the Monastery of Zographou, an old monk had an obedience in a vineyard half an hour’s distance from the monastery. At the prescribed time, he read the Akathist before the icon of the Mother of God. However, when he began to pronounce the word “Rejoice!” a voice came to him from the icon: “Do thou also rejoice, O elder! Flee from here now, or misfortune will befall thee; go and tell the brethren of the monastery to lock themselves in, for the God-opposing Latins have attacked this, my chosen Mountain, and are already near.” The frightened elder fell to his knees and cried out in fear: “How can I leave thee here, my Queen and Intercessor?” At this he again heard the voice: “Do not worry about me, but go quickly!” The elder went to the monastery immediately. But when he reached the monastery gates he beheld that same icon of the Mother of God. In a miraculous manner, the icon had preceded him to the monastery. The amazed elder related all that had been revealed to him to the abbot and the brethren. At that, all of them glorified God and the Mother of God. Once, during the celebration of the Feast of the twenty-six martyrs of Zographou, on October 10, 1873, there was a great all-night vigil. It was a moonless night. In the middle of the night, while the monks were chanting and reading the lives of the holy martyrs in the church, a noise was suddenly heard, and over the church a fiery pillar appeared, extending from earth to heaven. It was so bright that things at a distance could be seen as though it were midday. This wondrous manifestation lasted for about a quarter of an hour and then disappeared. 



Contemplate God’s miraculous appearance to the Prophet Elias (I Kings 19):

1. How Elias, fatigued by the unrighteousness of the people, prayed to God to grant him death; 

2. How God comforted Elias by His appearing on Horeb; 

3. How there was a strong wind, then an earthquake, then fire, and finally a still, small voice— the voice of God. 


HOMILY on the sufferings of David and the prophecy of the sufferings of Christ

For many dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet (Psalm 22: 16) This is the mystical experience of the penitent David, and, at the same time, a clear prophecy of Christ’s sufferings. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (II Timothy 3: 12), says the Apostle Paul. When King David sinned, the devils did not appear to him nor did they disturb him; but when he began to repent and to direct his life on the path of God, then the devils surrounded him and tormented him. The words here are not about men but about demons, who sometimes attack the penitent directly, or torment him through other men. David would not have called God’s people, the crown of God’s creation, “dogs.” Rather, he called the demons “dogs,” who are perceived by righteous men as dogs, snakes, black men, lions, or in some other form. That he here means “dogs” as evil spirits can be proven by the written lives of the great ascetics, to whom the demons appeared in the form of dogs and other animals, to frighten them. We can also be convinced of this from the words of the Lord our Savior, that He spoke from the Cross: Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23: 34). This means that the Jews were not doing their own will but rather someone else’s: the demons’ will. For many dogs and the congregation of the wicked gathered to destroy Christ the Lord. When the devil— the tempter— could not defeat the Lord on the Mount of Temptation by his false promises, he began with all his might to destroy Him through men by a dishonorable death on the Cross. Brethren, see how clear the prophecy is! They pierced My hands and My feet. These words could not have pertained to anyone else, in the entire history of the world, but the crucified Savior. This prophecy continues in great detail: They divided My garments among them and for My vesture they cast lots (Psalm 22: 18). Everything happened as it was prophesied— everything! But the devil was deluded in his reckoning. He thought he could destroy the One mightier than death, by condemning Him to death. He thought to dishonor Him Who alone gives honor to all creation. By his glorious Resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ conquered and shamed the devil and his entire pack of dogs, and gave man power and authority over them. The whole pagan world was unable to exorcize even one single demon; but we, by the name of Christ and by the power of His Cross, are able to disperse legions of demons like smoke— for, after Christ’s victory, the demons became like whipped and frightened dogs. O Lord, Conqueror and Savior, 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. 22/Oct 9

20th Sunday after Pentecost. Tone 3.     No fast.


Saints for Today:

Holy Apostle James, son of Alphaeus (1st c.).  St. Andronicus and his wife St. Athanasia, of Egypt (5th c.). Righteous Forefather Abraham and his nephew Righteous Lot (ca. 2000 b.c.). Martyrs Juventinus and Maximinus, soldiers, at Antioch (361-363). St. Publia the Confessor, deaconess, of Antioch (361-363). St. Peter of Galatia (9th c.).Uncovering of the relics of New Hiero-confessor Sebastian (Fomin), archimandrite, of Optina and Karaganda (1997). Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos “Korsun” (Kherson) and “Assuage My Sorrow.” (988, 12th c.) St. Demetrius, bishop of Alexandria (231). Hieromartyr Dionysius (Denis) of Paris, bishop (ca. 258) Blessed Stephen Lazarevic, king of Serbia (1427). St. Stephen the Blind, king of Serbia (1468).

Scriptures for the Day:


Galatians 1:11-19

But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days.  But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord's brother.


Luke 7:11-16

Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen up among us"; and, "God has visited His people."


St. Theophan on Today's Scriptures:

Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost. [Gal. 1:11-19; Luke 7:11-16]

   The Lord sees a mother weeping over the death of her son and has compassion on her; another time he was called to a marriage, and rejoiced together with the family. By this He showed that to share ordinary everyday joys and sorrows is not contrary to His spirit. This is what true, reverent Christians do, who live their life in fear [of God]. However, they distinguish some everyday life routines from others; for much has entered into these routines which cannot be God’s good will. There are customs that come from passions, which arise for their indulgence; others are kept alive by vanity and busyness. He who has the spirit of Christ, will be able to distinguish the good from the bad: he adheres to the one and rejects the other. He who does this with the fear of God is not alienated by others, though he does not act like them, because he always acts in the spirit of love and compassion toward the infirmities of his brothers. Only a spirit of zeal beyond measure rubs people the wrong way and produces disharmony and division. Such a spirit cannot refrain from teaching and criticizing. But the [one with the spirit of Christ] is only concerned with ordering his and his family’s life in a Christian way; he does not permit himself to interfere in the affairs of others, saying to himself, “Who set me as a judge?” He quietly makes everyone well disposed to himself, and inspires respect for those routines to which he holds. A supervisor makes himself unloved, and evokes disapproval for the good routines to which he holds. Humility in such cases is needed—Christian humility. It is the source of Christian good sense, which knows how to act well in a given situation.


From the Prologue of Ohrid:

1. The Holy Apostle James 

James, the son of Alphaeus, was one of the Twelve Apostles. He was the blood-brother of the Apostle and Evangelist Matthew. He was a witness of the true words and miracles of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and a witness of His suffering, Resurrection and Ascension. After the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the lot fell to James to preach the Gospel of Christ in Eleutheropolis and the surrounding areas, and then in Egypt, where he suffered for his Savior. With great power in word and in deed, James disseminated the saving news of the incarnate Word of God, destroying idolatry, driving demons out of men, and healing every infirmity and disease in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. His labor and zeal were crowned with great success. Many pagans came to believe in Christ, churches were built and organized, and priests and bishops were ordained. James suffered in the Egyptian town of Ostracina, being crucified by the pagans. Thus, this great and wonderful apostle of Christ took up his abode in the Heavenly Kingdom, to reign eternally with the King of Glory. 


2. The Venerable Andronicus and his wife Athanasia 

Andronicus was a citizen of Antioch during the reign of Theodosius the Great. Andronicus was a goldsmith by trade. He and his wife were very devout, continually striving to follow the way of the Lord. He gave a third of his income to the poor, another third to the church, and supported his family with the last third. After two children were born to them, they agreed to live as brother and sister. However, according to God’s unfathomable providence, both of their children died on the same day, and they were in great sorrow. Then the holy martyr Julian appeared to Athanasia at the children’s grave, and comforted her with the tidings that her children were in the Kingdom of God, and were better off there than with their parents on earth. Andronicus and Athanasia left everything and went to Egypt and received the monastic tonsure— St. Andronicus with the elder Daniel at Scetis; and Athanasia in the convent in Tabennisi. Pleasing God by their long years of asceticism, they at last went to the Eternal Kingdom of Christ. St. Athanasia reposed first, and eight days later, St. Andronicus. 


3. The Righteous Abraham and Lot 

Their lives can be read in the Book of Genesis. 4. Saint Demetrius, Patriarch of Alexandria Demetrius was the eleventh Bishop of Alexandria after St. Mark the Evangelist. He governed his flock long and wisely, from 189 to 231. During this time, he received a request from India and sent St. Pantaenus, the director of the famous catechetical school in Alexandria, to India to preach the Gospel. It was in India that Pantaenus found the Gospel written by St. Matthew in Aramaic. 5. Saint Stefan, Despot of Serbia Stefan was the son of the Despot George and Queen Irene. He and his sister Mara lived at the court of Sultan Murat II for a time. He was blinded at Jedrene together with his brother Grgur. He received authority as Despot over Serbia in 1458. Soon after that, he had to flee his country to Albania where he married Angelina, the daughter of Skenderbeg. Blind and unfortunate but always devoted to God, Stefan entered into rest in Italy in the year 1468. His relics repose in the Monastery of Krušedol, founded by his son St. Maxim. 



The Holy Apostle James Sent by the Lord, and obedient to Him, The all-glorious Apostle James labored, Sowing the Gospel seed everywhere, So that from it would arise men faithful to Christ. Throughout Syria and Egypt He diligently poured forth the heavenly honey, The sweet, healing words of Christ, And fed hungry men with this wondrous golden food. Wherever James traveled, he left a wonder: Spiritual vessels full and overflowing with honey, Inexhaustible, life-creating honey: Holy churches, full of pure, sweet richness. In them the eternal Creator is endlessly praised, As are the wondrous works of the Son of God. Christ is that honey given to the faithful, A life-creating manna of bread and wine. James completed his journey with a mark of red— His martyric blood, which poured down from the cross— And he gained a wreath from Christ, in heaven, As have the other of God’s apostles. 



How God both punishes and shows mercy is clearly shown to us from the lives of the last of the Serbian Despots during the Turkish conquest of the Serbian lands. The Turks did not come to the Balkans by their own power to enslave Christian peoples (Greeks, Bulgarians and Serbs) but by God’s permission, in the same way that Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and took the Hebrews into slavery, not by his own power but rather by God’s permission. Because of the sins of their princes and nobles, the Serbian people suffered bitterly; and the princes and nobles themselves suffered even more bitterly. Despot George died as an exile; two of his sons, Grgur and Stefan, were blinded by the Turks; his daughter was forced to become the wife of a sultan; his middle son rose up against his own mother, Irene, and brother Grgur, and seized the shaky throne of Smederevo by force, only to die soon thereafter. As soon as he became despot, the blind Stefan had to flee to Albania, then to Italy where, as an exile and an unfortunate, he reposed. All of this is God’s punishment. Yet where is His mercy? God glorified both Stefan and his wife Angelina and their children Maxim and John. After eight years of lying in the grave, Stefan’s body was exhumed and found to be intact, and exuded a sweet, heavenly fragrance. Many miracles were manifested from his holy relics. God graced his wife and his children in the same manner, glorifying and sanctifying them. 



Contemplate the wondrous bringing down of fire from heaven by the Prophet Elias (I Kings 18): 

1. How St. Elias prayed to God on Mount Carmel in the presence of King Ahab and the idolatrous priests; 

2. How the fire fell from heaven and consumed the sacrifice that Elias offered to God. 


HOMILY on how only the foolish deny God 

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt. They have done abominable works (Psalm 14: 1) The mind is the rudder of man’s entire being. It counsels, persuades and guides. Both the soul and the body act according to the mind. If the mind is upright before God, then the whole man is upright. If the mind is iniquitous before God, the whole man is iniquitous. Even if someone merely thinks, “There is no God,” the thought immediately manifests itself in his deeds. Evil thoughts come first and evil deeds inevitably follow. Do you see how well the inspired prophet knows the nature of man? First, he underlines the cause, then he cites the consequences. Evil deeds necessarily proceed from evil thoughts. That is why, brethren, you should not believe those who say: “I do not believe in God, but I do good deeds.” First of all, he who does not believe in God does not know what good is, nor can he differentiate good from evil. By his disbelief, a man cuts himself off from the greatest Good and the Source of every good! Furthermore, let us carefully study this: you will see that all the deeds of the ungodly are corrupt and hateful. They are corrupt because they are evil, worthless and transitory; they are hateful, because they are contrary to the will of the Living God. The godless cannot distinguish good from evil, for only in the light of God’s law can one determine precisely what is good and what is evil. However, it can also be that those who merely say they believe in God do corrupt and hateful deeds, acknowledging God with their lips but denying Him in deeds. It is good to confess God with your lips, but that is a long way from being enough! One must also acknowledge Him with the heart, and confirm one’s faith by good deeds. Even so, it does happen that a man believes in his heart, and confesses with his lips, and still sins. This happens either from the weakness of the will or from the devil’s arrows. Let such a one repent, and he will be forgiven immediately. Repentance is salvific even for the godless; how much more so for a believer? As long as a man is on earth, he has a chance for repentance. But who can be certain that his time will extend beyond this night? Hence, delaying repentance is utter foolishness. O most gracious Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God; help us to repent as Thou dost help us to breathe. 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. 21/Oct 8

20th Week after Pentecost. Tone 2.    No fast.

Saints for the Day:

St. Pelagia the Penitent, of the Mount of Olives (457). St. Dositheus, founder of Verkhneostrov (Pskov) (1482). St. Tryphon, archimandrite, of Vyatka (1612). Synaxis of the Saints of Vyatka.  Virgin-martyr Pelagia of Antioch (303). St. Thais (Taisia) of Egypt (4th c.). St. Anthony, archbishop of Novgorod (1232).  New Hieromartyrs Demetrius (Dobroserdov), archbishop of Mozhaisk, Ambrose (Astakhov), archimandrite, of Aksinyino (Moscow), Pachomius (Turkevich), abbot, of Moscow, and John Khrenov, deacon, and with them Monkmartyr Barlaam, Nun-martyr Tatiana, and Martyrs Nicholas, Maria, and Nadezhda (1937). New Hieromartyr Jonah (Lazarev), bishop of Nevel (Pskov) (1937). New Monk-martyr Ignatius of Bulgaria and Mt. Athos, at Constantinople (1814). St. Triduana of Scotland (4th c. or 8th c.)


Today’s Scriptures:


2 Corinthians 1:8-11

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.


Luke 5:27-32

After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me."  So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.  Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them.  And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, "Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?"  Jesus answered and said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.


St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Saturday. [II Cor. 1:8-11; Luke 5:27-32]       I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. What a consolation for sinners! But it is necessary to leave sins and do only good; and when doing good, to continue to call oneself a sinner not only on the tongue, but in the heart. Do not sin, but as a true sinner repent and call to the Lord for forgiveness. When you will be disposed in such a way, it means that you stand in the truth; as soon as you give way to self-righteousness and start considering yourself sinless, know, that you are turning aside from the right path and have headed toward those for whom there is no salvation. How we can combine a proper life with feelings of sinfulness is something only scribes ask. They write, but do not do. For the one who follows the path of action this is so clear that he cannot understand how it could be any other way.


From the Prologue of Ohrid

1. The Venerable Pelagia 

Pelagia was a repentant sinner. She was born to pagan parents in Antioch, and was endowed by God with great physical beauty. Pelagia used her beauty to the destruction of her own soul and those of others. She became very wealthy as a result of her prostitution. Once, while walking past the Church of the Holy Martyr Julian, in which Bishop Nonnus was preaching, she stopped in and heard a sermon on the Dread Judgment and the punishment of sinners. Those words so shook her and changed her that she immediately felt revulsion for herself, acquired true fear of God, repented of all her sins and fell down before St. Nonnus with the plea that he baptize her: “Have mercy on me, a sinner, holy Father. Baptize me and teach me repentance— I am a sea of iniquity, an abyss of destruction, a net and weapon of the devil.” Thus this penitent begged the hierarch of Christ with tears, and he baptized her. At her baptism, Blessed Romana, the deaconess of the church, was her godmother. Romana, as her spiritual mother, grounded her well in the Christian Faith. But Pelagia was not satisfied with baptism alone. She was keenly aware of the multitude of her sins and, pricked by her conscience, decided on a great ascetic labor. She left her enormous, sinfully gained wealth to the poor, and secretly went to Jerusalem as the monk Pelagius. There, she shut herself up in a cell on the Mount of Olives, and began the difficult ascesis of fasting, prayer and all-night vigils. After three years, St. Nonnus’s deacon, James, visited her and found her still alive, but when he visited her again several days later, he found that she had reposed, and he honorably buried her body. St. Pelagia entered into rest in about the year 461. Thus, this formerly terrible sinner pleased God by her repentance and labor, was forgiven of her sins, and became sanctified. And her purified and enlightened soul was deemed worthy of the Kingdom of God. The Venerable Pelagia (Menologion of Basil II, 11th c.) 


2. The Venerable Thais 

Thais was a repentant sinner. She was an Egyptian by birth. Like St. Pelagia, Thais also spent her youth in unrestrained fornication. Thais was directed in this evil way of life by her shameless mother. But the merciful God, Who does not desire the death of a sinner, but salvation, found a way in His wondrous providence to save the sinner Thais. One of the disciples of St. Anthony the Great, Paphnutius the Sindonite, heard of Thais’s sinful life, and the spiritual poison with which she was poisoning the souls of many men. He decided to save her, with God’s help. Clothed in secular clothing, St. Paphnutius took one gold coin and went to the city. He found Thais and gave her the gold coin. Thais, thinking that this man gave her the gold coin for an impure act, took Paphnutius into her room. Then Paphnutius opened his blessed mouth and denounced Thais’s sins and called her to repentance. Thais’s soul and conscience were both awakened, and she burst into tears of profound, sincere repentance. Distributing all her goods to the poor, she entered a convent at the instruction of St. Paphnutius, and remained there for about three years, closed off in a cell, living only on bread and water. St. Paphnutius visited her before her death, and brought her out of her cell against her will. She soon fell ill, and after a brief illness gave up her purified and sanctified soul to God. St. Paul the Simple, another disciple of St. Anthony, saw in a vision a most beautiful habitation in Paradise, prepared by God for St. Thais the penitent. This holy soul entered into rest in the year 340. 


3. The Holy Martyr Pelagia 

Pelagia was a maiden from an eminent family in Antioch. During the reign of Emperor Numerian, the governor of Antioch sent soldiers to bring Pelagia to trial as a known Christian. The soldiers surrounded the house and called the holy maiden to come to the door. She greeted them, and when she heard that they were taking her before the judge, she pretended to be happy, and told the soldiers to wait for a moment while she went back into the house to change clothes. Then she climbed to the roof of the house, raised her hands to heaven and prayed to God for a long time that He receive her soul and not permit her virginal purity be defiled. God received her soul, and her body fell dead before the soldiers. St. John Chrysostom wrote: “Her death came about not by natural causes but rather by the command of God.” And he continues: “Thus, this virginal body, more pure than any gold, lay on the ground; angels surrounded it, archangels honored it and Christ Himself was beside her.”***) 



The Venerable Pelagia Pelagia the sinner repented, And with knowledge of the true Faith, illumined her soul. The world beckoned her, the world enticed her, but she hearkened not. Her conscience was awakened, her soul began to shine. How much effort she applied, how many struggles She endured, wrestling with her sinful body— Itself like a decaying apple. So much effort, so much suffering she invested, Until she deified her unhappy soul through faith. In the heavens, God’s sun shone, But Pelagia’s soul shone more. Repentance— God has left us repentance. By repentance, Pelagia was glorified. 



Oh, if only we would invest as much effort in our souls as we invest in our bodies! Oh, if only we could become as desirous of adorning ourselves with virtue before God and His glorious angels, as we do with the vain, transitory, external displays of appearances! At first, both Pelagia and Thais were only aware of their bodies, while their souls were slaves bound in the prison of the body. Both were adorned with nothing but vanity: clothed in vanity, arrayed with vanity, surrounded by vanity, and flattered by vanity. But what a sudden change! What a divine turn of events in their lives! More wondrous than if a wild apple were to be grafted and begin to bring forth sweet fruits; or if a turgid, fetid swamp were suddenly to become clear, pure potable water. When Bishop Nonnus, in the company of other bishops, first saw the sinner Pelagia in her outward splendor— clothed in the most expensive garments, adorned and bedecked with rings, necklaces and baubles, perfumed, and surrounded by slaves— Bishop Nonnus began to weep, and said to his companions: “In truth, I have learned much from this woman. The Lord will set her before His Dread Judgment and will rebuke us through her. How many hours does this woman spend in her room bathing herself, clothing herself, adorning herself, and looking at herself in the mirror— and for what? Only to appear more beautiful to men. And we, who have the immortal Bridegroom in heaven, do not strive to adorn our souls with repentance; we do not hasten to bathe them with the tears of repentance and clothe them in the beauty of the virtues, that they might appear more beautiful before the eyes of God!” 



Contemplate the unrighteousness of King Ahab, and God’s punishment of him through the Prophet Elias (I Kings 16, 17): 


1. How Ahab gave himself up totally to idolatry, and did that which is evil in the sight of the Lord; 


2. How the Prophet Elias shut the heavens by his prayer, and there was no rain for three years. 


HOMILY on how the weapons of the enemy will vanish in the end

O thou enemy, thy destructions are come to a perpetual end, even as the cities which thou hast destroyed; thy memorial is perished with a roar (Psalm 9: 6) The enemy of the human race, the murderer of men from the very beginning, has used every weapon and intrigue against man. He thinks up new weapons and new intrigues day and night, in order to destroy someone as a roaring lion, … seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5: 8). He hides like a poisonous snake and awaits his prey; he stretches his webs everywhere, like a spider, with the sole purpose of ensnaring some human soul and entrapping it in his foul kingdom. Pagan peoples were his cities. Until the coming of Christ, he ruled untroubled and absolutely in them. When they served idols, they served him; the practices of soothsaying and fortune-telling served him; he protected, directed and enhanced men’s unbridled licentiousness; human sacrifice, fiery passions, discord, war, evildoings of all descriptions— this was all pleasure for him. But in the end, no weapons remained in him; his “cities” were destroyed and his memorial is perished with a roar. This “end” of which the prophet speaks is the coming of Jesus Christ the Lord into the world. The Lord manifested His power over the devil when He overcame his temptations on the mountain. He manifested His authority in driving demons out of men, commanding them to go this way or that; He manifested His invincible lordship over sin and death by His suffering and Resurrection. And, what is perhaps most important, He harrowed hell and scattered the demonic power. He did not desire to utterly destroy the demons, but to disperse them and smash their weapons; He smashed them and scattered them as He later did the Jews, but more terribly than He did the Jews. He freed the people from their domination; and even more importantly, He gave men authority over the demons, such that they can drive the demons out by the power of His name. Do you see how the Lord linked His victory over the demons with His mercy toward men? He so weakened and broke them, He so confused and dispersed them, that He placed them under the authority of men. Even so, the Lord did not grant authority over demons to all men, but only to those who believe in Him and who follow His commandments. He gave them authority, and He also gave them a weapon. That weapon is the Cross. O Lord our God, our Savior from the dominion of the devil, help us also to do that “least part” that Thou hast left us to do. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 20/Oct 6

Click here to see our icon of St. Theophan the Recluse.

Click here to see our icon of St. Theophan the Recluse.

20th Week after Pentecost. Tone 2.   Fast Day.      Wine and oil allowed.


Saints for the Day:

Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus, in Syria (290-303). St. Jonah, bishop of Hankou, Manchuria (1925).  Hieromartyrs Julian, presbyter, Caesarius, deacon, Eusebius, presbyter, and Martyr Felix, at Terracina (268). Virgin-martyr Pelagia of Tarsus in Asia Minor (287). Hieromartyr Polychronius, priest, of Gamphanitus (4th c.). St. Sergius the Obedient, of the Kiev Caves (13th c.). St. Sergius, founder of Nurma Monastery (Vologda), disciple of St. Sergius of Radonezh (1412). Uncovering of the relics of St. Martinian, abbot, of Belozersk (White Lake) (1514).  New Hieromartyr Valentine Sventsitsky, archpriest, of Moscow (1931).  St. Mark, pope of Rome (336). St. Dubtach, bishop of Armagh (Ireland) (513). Martyr Osyth, princess of Chich (England) (ca. 700). St. Joseph, elder and wonderworker, of Khevi, Georgia (1763). St. John the Hermit and 98 Fathers, of Crete, St. Leontius the governor.

Today’s Scriptures:

Philippians 3:8-19

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.  Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.  For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:  whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame-who set their mind on earthly things.

Luke 7:31-35

And the Lord said, "To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like?  They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying:'We played the flute for you, And you did not dance; We mourned to you, And you did not weep.'  For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.'  The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'  But wisdom is justified by all her children.


St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:


Friday. [Phil. 3:8-19; Luke 7:31-35]

   Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? That is, unbelievers. If the Lord poses this question as if in perplexity, is it not even more proper for us to be perplexed by acts of unbelief? One might ask: how can people go against something that is obvious in every respect? And yet they do. The fact that Satan resists is not surprising—such is his name: the enemy of truth and goodness. He clearly sees that God exists, that God will judge him and condemn him, that death for him is already prepared, but is nevertheless defiant, and not for the sake of anything but evil, and consequently, for greater ruin to himself. Are not unbelievers being controlled by this spirit of fighting against God? At least according to the understanding we have about the soul and its operations, unbelief, given the obviousness of the foundations of faith, is as inexplicable as a sinner’s slavery to sin after he has clearly seen that sin is destroying him. And here is another contradiction! Only unbelievers and lovers of the passions deny the existence of Satan and unclean spirits. Those who should have stood up for them most of all totally renounce them. Does not this teaching come from them? Those who are of the darkness love the darkness, they teach people to say that they do not exist, and that moral life takes shape by itself, without their snares and deceit.


From the Prologue for Today:


1. The Holy Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus 

These holy and wonderful martyrs and heroes of the Christian Faith were at first noblemen at the court of Emperor Maximian. The emperor himself esteemed them greatly because of their courage, wisdom and fidelity. But when the emperor heard that his two noblemen were Christians, his love for them turned into rage. Once, when there was a great sacrificial offering to idols, the emperor demanded that Sergius and Bacchus offer sacrifices with him, but they openly refused to obey the emperor in this. Beside himself with rage, the emperor commanded that their military garments, rings and emblems be stripped from them and that they be dressed in women’s clothing. He then placed iron hoops around their necks and paraded them through the streets of the city of Rome, to be mocked by everyone. Afterward, he sent them to Antiochus, his deputy in Asia, for torture. Antiochus had risen to his position with Sergius and Bacchus’s help, as they had at one time recommended him to the emperor. When Antiochus implored them to deny Christ and save themselves from dishonorable suffering and death, these saints replied: “Both honor and dishonor, both life and death— all are the same to him who seeks the Heavenly Kingdom.” Antiochus cast Sergius into prison and ordered that Bacchus be tortured first. His minions took turns beating the holy Bacchus until his whole body was broken. Bacchus’s holy soul departed his broken and bloodied body, and in the hands of angels was borne to the Lord. St. Bacchus suffered in the town of Barbalissos. Then St. Sergius was led out and shod in iron shoes with inward-protruding nails. He was driven, on foot, to the town of Rozapha, in Syria, and was beheaded there with the sword. His soul went to Paradise where, together with his friend Bacchus, he received a crown of immortal glory from Christ, his King and Lord. These two wondrous knights of the Christian Faith suffered in about the year 303. The Holy Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus (icon in Hilandar Monastery, 17th c.) 


2. The Holy Martyr Polychronius 

Polychronius was born in the district of Gamphanitus, of peasant parents. As a young man, he worked as a day-laborer in the vineyard of a certain Constantinopolitan. But even as a day-laborer Polychronius devoted himself to the ascetic life of prayer and fasting day and night. Seeing his life, angelic in its purity and abstinence, the vintner was amazed, and gave him much more money than he earned. St. Polychronius took the money and built a church. At the time of the Nicaean Council (325), Polychronius was a church reader. He showed such zeal in the defense of Orthodoxy against the Arians that he was ordained a priest. Later, these evil heretics sought revenge, and attacked St. Polychronius inside the church itself, and chopped him into pieces. Thus, this great defender of the truth and purity of Orthodoxy suffered and received a wreath of glory from his Most-glorious Lord.**)



The Holy Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus The royal men, Sergius and Bacchus Served the King, but not the earthly one— Rather, Jesus, the Immortal King. The earthly king mocked the saints And removed the belts from their waists, But the Lord girded them with strength. The emperor removed their noblemen’s togas, But the Savior clothed them more beautifully In an incorrupt garment of immortality; The emperor removed their rings from their right hands, But the Lord gave them far more glorious ones, In betrothing their souls to Himself. The emperor banished them from his court, But God welcomed them into the heavenly courts. The earth tortured these knights of Christ, The earth tortured them, but heaven gave them repose. Decay rejects purity, Evil rejects goodness, But Saints Bacchus and Sergius Returned all earthliness to the earth, And gave their holy souls over to God! Though exiled from the earthly kingdom, They illumine the earth even now; By their suffering, they conquered malice; By their death for the Cross, they are glorified. As victors over the powers of darkness, They show us the path to victory. 



A vision of St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ: Once, St. Andrew was sitting with his disciple Epiphanius, talking about the salvation of the soul. Just then, a demon approached Epiphanius and began setting traps to distract his thoughts, but did not dare to approach Andrew. Andrew cried out: “Depart from here, impure adversary!” The devil drew back and replied maliciously: “You are my adversary, such as no other in all of Constantinople!” Andrew did not drive him away immediately, but permitted him to speak. And the devil began: “I feel that the time is coming when my work will be finished. At that time, men will be worse than I, as children will be even more wicked than adults. Then I will rest and will not teach men anything anymore, since they themselves will carry out my will in everything.” Andrew asked him: “In what sins do your kind rejoice the most?” The devil replied: “The service of idols, slander, malice against one’s neighbor, the sodomite sin, drunkenness and avarice— in this we rejoice the most.” Andrew further asked him: “And how do you tolerate it when someone who first served you rejects you and your works?” The devil replied: “You know that better than I do; we find it difficult to tolerate, but we are comforted by this: we will probably bring them back to us— for many who have rejected us and turned to God have come back to us again.” After the evil spirit had said this and much more, St. Andrew breathed on him and he disappeared. 



Contemplate the righteousness of King Josiah, and God’s reward to him (II Chronicles 34): 

1. How King Josiah rooted out the idols, and did all that which is good in the sight of the Lord; 

2. How God’s blessing was poured out upon him and his people during his long reign. 


HOMILY on children and their praise of the Lord

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast ordained strength, because of Thine enemies (Psalm 8: 2) At the glorious Entry of the Lord Jesus into Jerusalem, and even in the Temple itself, the children cried out: Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord! (Matthew 21: 9). It seems that nothing irritated the Jewish elders so much as this praising of Jesus by young children. Hearest thou what these say? (Matthew 21: 16), they asked Him maliciously. And Jesus answered them meekly: Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? (Matthew 21: 16). Thus, it is as clear as day that these prophetic words of David pertain to the wonder that occurred at the Entry of the Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem: this wondrous praising of the Lord by little children. It is obvious that, as this event was prophesied, so it was literally fulfilled. It is also obvious from this that the Lord Himself was then referring to that prophecy of King David: Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise. There can be no doubt that it was a great wonder, inspired by the Spirit of God and carried out by the power and will of God. While the princes, scribes, elders and priests were not able to recognize Christ the Lord, the little children both recognized and proclaimed Him! In truth, this is a miracle, unique throughout the Old and New Testaments; and no less of a miracle than the resurrection of the dead. In fact, during the first miracle [Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem] and during the second [Christ’s Resurrection], the same power of God was acting— the same Spirit and the same providence of God. And the prophet wanted especially to emphasize this power and majestic glory of God by the event with the little children, which event he places parallel with the wonders of the starry universe, created by the same power of God. When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained (Psalm 8: 3). Besides this, among those little children should be numbered the apostles themselves— and many saints, ascetics, martyrs for Christ, and virgins— thousands, thousands and thousands of those who, with innocence and open hearts, recognized Christ as the Son of God and their Savior, who embraced Him with wholehearted love and endured difficult suffering for Him. Why, exactly, did the Lord ordain praise for Himself from their mouths, and not from the mouths of nobles, philosophers and rhetoricians? He accepted their praise because of their meekness, and rejected the others because of their pride; for the proud are the greatest enemies of God. That is why Christ miraculously loosed the tongues of children, simple fisherman and peasants— to proclaim the truth contrary to their enemies, that is, the proud and empty princes and scribes of the Jews. O Lord Most-powerful, Almighty God; loose our tongues also, that with strong faith and childlike joy we too may proclaim Thine endless glory. 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. 19/Oct 6

20th Week after Pentecost. Tone 2.    No fast.

Today’s Saints:

Holy Apostle Thomas (1st c.). Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “O All-Hymned Mother.”  St. Cindeus of Cyprus, monk.

Today’s Scriptures:

Philippians 3:1-8

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:  circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.  But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.  Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.

Luke 7:17-30

And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.  Then the disciples of John reported to him concerning all these things.  And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?"  When the men had come to Him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?' "  And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight. Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.  And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.  When the messengers of John had departed, He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?  But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings' courts.  But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.  This is he of whom it is written: 'Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.'  For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.  And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John.  But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.


St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures


Thursday. [Phil. 3:1-8; Luke 7:17-30] - Saint John the Forerunner sends his disciples to ask the Lord: is He the One That should come? Or should they look for another? He did not ask this for himself but for his disciples, for he knew precisely who Jesus Christ was, being informed about this from heaven. The disciples sought an answer to this question not out of empty inquisitiveness, but out of a sincere desire to know the truth. To such as these there is no need to say much; the Lord does not speak, only indicates what had been accomplished by Him at that time. Divine deeds witnessed to His divinity. It was so obvious, that the questioners no longer questioned. This is the way it always is. The power of God lives in the Church; a sincere seeker of the truth immediately feels it and is sure of this truth. This sureness through experience puts an end to all questions and completely soothes. He who does not want to believe, and, having lost his faith, begins to seek in the Church and Christianity not the foundations of faith, but grounds to justify his unbelief, will find no indications satisfactory. He considers his unbelief well-grounded, although its foundations are petty and insignificant. His heart wants this—that is why it is all tolerable.


From the Prologue of Ohrid:


1. The Holy Apostle Thomas 

Thomas was one of the Twelve Apostles. Through his doubt in the Resurrection of Christ the Lord, a new proof was given of that wonderful and saving event. The resurrected Lord appeared to His disciples a second time, in order to convince Thomas. The Lord said to Thomas: Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas replied: My Lord and my God (John 20: 27– 28). After the descent of the Holy Spirit, when the apostles cast lots to see where they would each go to preach, the lot fell to Thomas to go to India. He was a little saddened that he had to go so far away, but the Lord appeared to him and encouraged him. In India, St. Thomas converted many, both aristocrats and poor, to the Christian Faith, and established the Church there, appointing priests and bishops. Among others, Thomas converted two sisters to the Faith— Tertiana and Migdonia— both wives of Indian princes. Because of their faith, both sisters were ill-treated by their husbands, with whom they no longer wanted to live after their baptism. Eventually, they were allowed to go. Being freed of marriage, they lived God-pleasing lives until their repose. Dionysius and Pelagia were betrothed, but when they heard the apostolic preaching they did not marry, but devoted themselves to the ascetic life. Pelagia ended her life as a martyr for the Faith, and Dionysius was ordained a bishop by the apostle. Prince Mazdai, Tertiana’s husband, whose son, Azan, was also baptized by Thomas, condemned the apostle to death. Mazdai sent five soldiers to kill Thomas. They ran him through with their five spears, and thus the Holy Apostle Thomas rendered his soul into the hands of Christ. Before his death, he and the other apostles were miraculously brought to Jerusalem for the burial of the Most-holy Theotokos. Arriving too late, he wept bitterly, and the tomb of the Holy Most-pure One was opened at his request. The Theotokos’ body was not found in the tomb: the Lord had taken His Mother to His heavenly habitation. Thus, in his tardiness St. Thomas revealed to us the wondrous glorification of the Mother of God, just as he had once confirmed faith in the Resurrection of the Lord by his unbelief. St. Apostle Thomas (icon in Hilandar Monastery, 14th c.) 


2. The Venerable New Martyr Macarius 

Macarius was born in the town of Kios, in Bithynia. His parents, Peter and Anthusa, were Christians, and he was baptized with the name of Manuel. In his youth, he was sent to learn tailoring as a trade. In the meantime, his father embraced Islam and moved to Brussa. There came a time when Manuel came to Brussa on business, and his father found him and exerted great pressure on him to become a Moslem. Manuel resisted in vain: the Turks circumcised him by force. Manuel then fled to the Holy Mountain and was tonsured a monk in the Skete of St. Anna. His monastic name was Macarius. For twelve years he was an excellent monk, but he never had peace of soul. Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven (Matthew 10: 33)— Christ’s words continually echoed in Macarius’s mind. Finally, with the blessing of his elder, he went to Brussa and openly confessed his Faith in Christ before the Turks, calling Mohammed a false prophet. After being flogged for 130 days and enduring other harsh tortures, he was beheaded there, on October 6, 1590. A part of his miracle-working relics is preserved in the Skete of St. Anna on Mount Athos. 



The Holy Apostle Thomas The Apostle Thomas, by his unbelief, Strengthened his faith: the Lord appeared to him. Thomas witnessed Him and rejoiced, And joyfully glorified Christ. India became Thomas’s vineyard, And he cultivated that land with the Cross: Preaching Christ to the mighty and the lowly, Preaching His wisdom and His works. O wise sons of India, Your wisdom is but a snake in the grass. Lo, true Wisdom has descended from heaven for you— The Wisdom of God has appeared in the flesh! Thomas spoke and worked miracles, And a multitude of people followed him, In hearing his wisdom, and beholding the wonders That Thomas worked in the name of the Lord. Thomas endured great torments, But shattered the gates of the darkness of idolatry, And suffered, like Christ, five cruel wounds, Which he received in his body for the sake of the truth. Five bitter wounds, for the number of the senses— Which is a lesson in mystical wisdom: He who subdues not all his senses Will taste of no spiritual sweetness. 



We have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (II Corinthians 5: 1), says the discerning Apostle Paul. All our efforts for God on earth have this purpose: to merit, according to our power, this eternal house in the heavens not made by hands. The Indian King Gundafor decided to build himself a magnificent palace, unlike any other on earth. When Abban, his envoy, sought a skilled craftsman to build the king’s palace, he met the Apostle Thomas by God’s providence. St. Thomas told him that he was a craftsman, and that no one else could build what the king wanted. Thomas therefore received much gold from the king for the building of this palace. As soon as he departed from the king, he distributed all the gold to the poor. The palace site was some distance from the king’s capital, and after two years the king sent servants to ask Thomas if the palace was completed. Thomas replied: “Everything is ready except the roof,” and he sought more money from the king; and the king gave it to him. Again, Thomas distributed it all to the poor, and went throughout the kingdom doing his work, preaching the Gospel. The king, learning that Thomas had not even begun to build the palace, seized him and threw him into prison. That night, the king’s brother died, and the king fell into great sorrow. An angel took the soul of the deceased and, leading him through Paradise, showed him a magnificent palace, such as the mind of man could not imagine. The soul of the deceased wished to enter that palace, but the angel told him that he could not, for it was his brother’s palace, which the Apostle Thomas had built with his alms. Then the angel returned the brother’s soul to his body. When he came to himself, he said to the king: “Swear to me that you will give me anything I ask.” And the king swore. Then the brother said: “Give me the palace that you have in the heavens.” The king was amazed that he had a palace in the heavens. When the brother described everything in detail, the king believed and immediately released Thomas from prison. Then, when he heard the apostle’s preaching of salvation and eternal life, the king and his brother were baptized. King Gundafor undertook new works of charity, and built an even more magnificent palace in the heavens for himself. 



Contemplate the injustice of King Amon and God’s punishment of him (II Chronicles 33): 

1. How Amon, the son of Manasseh, turned from God and did that which is evil in the sight of the Lord; 

2. How he reigned for only two years, and was slain by his servants. 


HOMILY on the king’s repentance

I am weary with my groaning; all night I wash my bed; I water my couch with my tears (Psalms 6: 6) Day replaces night, and night replaces day. Let our daily repentance be succeeded by nightly repentance, and our nightly repentance by daily repentance. Daily repentance is shown primarily in good works; and nightly repentance in prayer, sighing and weeping. Thus, we repay our debt both day and night, by filling them with that which is most worthwhile before the Lord, and that which will go with us to the Judgment of God. Look at King David and behold an example of true repentance. It is not enough to confess one’s sin before a priest and consider it forgiven. Behold, even David acknowledged his sin before the Prophet Nathan, saying: I have sinned against the Lord (II Samuel 12: 13). However, the great king did not consider this enough, but continually sighed in prayer before God, and washed away his sin every night with tears of repentance. Even lying in bed did not serve as rest for him, but as exhaustion from tearful repentance and tearful sighing. Do not say: “David committed murder and adultery, and therefore he had much to repent for.” Do you not kill men by your hatred, and commit adultery by your impure thoughts and desires? Brethren, this life is not to justify ourselves but to condemn ourselves. Blessed is he whom God will justify at the Dread Judgment. Repentance is not a matter for one hour or for one day. Repentance should be our inner occupation to the end of life. All night I water my couch, said King David. That does not mean that there is no need for repentance during the day, but that the outpouring of spiritual repentance is more suited to the night than the day. In the stillness of the night, both our sins and God’s judgment come more clearly into focus. Doesn’t the night remind us more clearly of death than the day? Doesn’t the bed remind us of the nearness of the grave? O Lord, just and wonderful, truly we cannot repent without Thy help. Help us, O All-good One, that we might see our sinful wounds, and smell the stench from them, and weep over ourselves— before our kinsmen begin to weep over our dead bodies, and before our guardian angels begin to weep over the carrion of our souls, when they are cast into the unquenchable fire. Help us and save us, O our God. 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. 18/Oct 5  

20th Week after Pentecost. Tone 2. Fast Day.    Wine and oil allowed.


Saints of the Day:

Martyr Charitina of Amisus (304). Sts. Peter (1326), Alexis (1378), Jonah (1461), Macarius (1563), Philip (1569), Job (1607), Hermogenes (1612), Philaret (1867), Innocent (Veniaminov) (1879), Tikhon (1925), Macarius (Nevsky) (1926), and Peter (Polyansky) (1937), hierarchs of Moscow. Hieromartyrs Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, and the deacons Gaius and Faustus (264-265). Martyr Mamelta (Mamelchtha) of Persia (ca. 344). St. Gregory (Grigol), archimandrite, of Khandzta in the Klarjeti desert, Georgia (861). St. Damian the Healer, priest (1071), and Sts. Jeremiah (ca. 1070) and Matthew (ca. 1085), clairvoyants, of the Kiev Caves. St. Charitina, princess of Lithuania (1281). St. Varlaam, desert-dweller, of Chikoysk (1846). St. Seraphim (Amelin), schema-archimandrite, of Glinsk Hermitage (1958). Uncovering of the relics of New Hiero-confessor Basil (Preobrazhensky), bishop of Kineshma (1985). New Hiero-confessor Gabriel (Igoshkin), archimandrite, of Melekess (Saratov) (1959).  Synaxis of the holy fellow-strugglers of St. Gregory of Khandzta (9th c.). St. Cosmas, abbot, in Bithynia (10th c.). St. John (Mavropos), metropolitan of Euchaita (1100). St. Sabbas of Vatopedi, Mt. Athos, fool-for-Christ (1350). St. Methodia, recluse, of Cimola (1908).  Repose of Nun Agnia (Countess Anna Orlova-Chesmenskaya) of Novgorod (1848) and Hieroschemamonk Paisius (Olaru) of Sihastria, Romania (1990).


Scriptures for Today:

Philippians 2:24-30

But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly. Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.  Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem;  because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.


Luke 6:46-7:1

But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.

But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.  Now when He concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum.



St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Wednesday. [Phil. 2:24-30; Luke 6:46-7:1]

   And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Why do they call Him Lord, but do not do the Lord’s will; that is, why do they not acknowledge His lordship in their deeds? Because they only call with their tongue, and not with their heart. If their heart were to utter: “Lord, Thou art my Lord,” then complete readiness would abide in it to submit to the one whom they confess as their Lord. But since they do not have this, their deeds do not match their tongue; whereas deeds always match the heart. All right, so there is no point in calling: “Lord, Lord”? No, not so. But it is necessary to make the external word match the inner word, which is the feeling and disposition of the heart. Sit and reflect upon the Lord and yourself: what is the Lord and what are you? Think about what the Lord has done and still does for you, why you live and how it will end. You immediately will come to the conviction that there is no other way than to steadfastly fulfil the Lord’s entire will; there is no other path for us. This conviction gives birth to a readiness to fulfil in deed what is expressed by the word “Lord.” With such readiness a need for help from above will be awakened, and from it the prayer: “Lord, Lord! Help me and give me strength to walk in Thy will.” And this call will be pleasing to the Lord.


From the Prologue of Ohrid:

1. The Holy Martyr Charitina - Having been orphaned in infancy, Charitina was adopted by an eminent Christian man named Claudius, who raised her as his own daughter. Charitina was meek, humble, obedient and quiet. She studied the Law of God day and night, and vowed to live her life in chastity, as a true bride of Christ. Since Charitina also brought others to the Christian Faith, Dometius, Emperor Diocletian’s eparch, heard of her, sent soldiers to take her from her foster father, and brought her to trial. The judge questioned her: “Is it true, young maiden, that you are a Christian, and that you deceive others, leading them to this profane Faith?” Charitina courageously replied: “It is true that I am a Christian, but it is a lie that I deceive others; rather, I lead those in error to the true path, by leading them to my Christ.” The evil judge condemned her. Her hair was shorn and hot coals were poured onto her head. Even so, she was saved by the power of God. They threw her into the sea, but God delivered her again. They tied her to a wheel and began to turn it, but an angel of God stopped the wheel, and Charitina remained unharmed. Then the depraved judge sent some dissolute young men to defile her. Fearing this dishonor, St. Charitina prayed to God to receive her soul before those degenerates could defile her virginal body. While she knelt, praying to God, her soul departed from her and was translated to the Immortal Kingdom of Christ. The Holy Martyr Charitina (by N. Kacuras) 

2. The Hieromartyr Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria - Dionysius was born in Alexandria of eminent pagan parents. He was educated in Greek philosophy, and then studied with Origen. As a young man, he read the epistles of the Apostle Paul, came to believe in Christ and was baptized by Demetrius, Bishop of Alexandria. In the year 247, Dionysius became Bishop of Alexandria, and served God and God’s people as a true shepherd under very difficult circumstances. Externally, the Church was persecuted by pagans, while from within it was rent by heretics. In addition, a plague decimated the population for several years. Dionysius lived, hidden by the faithful, outside Alexandria for three years so as not to be slain before his time. During those three years, he wrote many epistles and other compositions to his flock, instructing and encouraging them to uphold Orthodoxy. Among his writings are several canons that the Church adopted. His epistle against Novatian is also considered a canonical writing. He governed the Church for seventeen years, and reposed in the year 265. 

3. The Venerable Eudocimus of Vatopedi - In the year 1841, when the ossuary at Vatopedi was being restored, the workmen found the relics of a man in a kneeling posture. He had an icon of the Most-holy Theotokos in his hands, resting on his bosom. A wondrous fragrance exuded from these relics. Not knowing who this holy man was or when he lived, the monks gave him the name Eudocimus, and transferred his relics into the church, where they remain today. Many miracles of healing have occurred over these relics. Even now, one can read these words, carved on his silver coffin: “This coffin was made for the honorable head of St. Eudocimus by the monk Gabriel, whom this saint healed from a grave illness.” 

4. The Venerable Damian, Jeremiah and Matthew - They were clairvoyants and miracle-workers of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves. They all lived in the eleventh century. 



The Holy Martyr Charitina Tortured Charitina, covered with blood, Prayed on her knees to the Most-high God: “O Most High, All Merciful— my Creator— Among Thy martyrs, number me also! Sweet Christ, Thou didst suffer on the Cross for me, And now for Thee I desire to suffer. Be near to Thy virgin, O Savior, And protect me, lest the evil ones defile me. Better that they burn my body with cruel fire, Better that they drown it in the azure sea, Than that they profane it by a shameful deed, Before the heavenly angels and the righteous saints.” The Lord did according to Charitina’s prayer, And immediately received her soul into Paradise. 



Whenever men exert great effort in seeking the truth, and prefer nothing else to the truth, God comes to meet them in His gentle way. This is shown to us in the life of St. Dionysius of Alexandria. Even as a young man and a pagan, Dionysius read all the Greek literature, seeking the truth. When he was not satisfied with this, he read everything that came into his hands. And, in accord with God’s providence, he met a poor woman who offered to sell him several hand-copied epistles of the Holy Apostle Paul. Dionysius gladly purchased and read them. They so overcame him that he sought out this woman and asked her if there were more such writings to be had. The woman directed him to a Christian priest who gave him all of Paul’s epistles. Having read all carefully, Dionysius came to believe in Christ, and was baptized without any hesitation. Here is another incident: In the town of Arsinoe, the Millenarian heresy had spread. This heresy taught that Christ would soon come, and He would establish an earthly kingdom on earth for a thousand years. At the head of this heresy was a certain Korakion. St. Dionysius went to Arsinoe to change the minds of the millenarians and to prevent the spread of this heresy. At a large gathering of millenarians and true Orthodox, Dionysius debated with Korakion and other leaders of the millenarians. This debate lasted for three whole days. (Such zeal did the ancient Christians show in the examination of the truth!) God blessed their labor and zeal, through the prayers of St. Dionysius. At the end of the debate, Korakion and all the other millenarians rejected their false teaching and accepted the Orthodox teaching of St. Dionysius. 



Contemplate the repentance of King Manasseh and God’s forgiveness of him (II Chronicles 33): 

1. How Manasseh, living as a slave in a foreign land, recognized his sin, repented, and prayed to God for forgiveness; 

2. How God forgave him, and freed him from bondage; 3. How, after that, Manasseh did that which is good in the sight of the Lord unto the day of his death, and reigned peacefully. 


HOMILY on the good that is shown

There be many who say, Who will show us any good? (Psalm 4: 6) My brethren, great is God’s goodness. What words can express that goodness? Great is the goodness of the Heavenly Kingdom with its fiery angels, wonderful saints, and the sweetness of Paradise. Who can describe this goodness? Immortal life, close to God and the angels of God, in the company of the saints and the righteous, is a great good. Another great good will be our meeting with our kinsmen and friends in the heavenly world; with our parents, our children, and our most beloved ones, who by their departure left us in sadness and grief. Who will show us all that good? Many asked this in King David’s time, and many ask even today. Who will show it to us, so that we may believe and hope? That good is shown to us Christians, and we wait for nothing higher, for no one but the Lord Christ— the true Witness to all this good, the true Witness and Lord, brethren, of all this good. The compassionate Lord showed this good to His chosen prophets even before His coming to earth. That is why David says to God: Lord, lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us (Psalms 4: 6). This is the reply to those who ask: Who will show us any good? God Himself showed us that good. The light of the Lord’s countenance is marked upon us, inscribed and etched in our hearts, and in that light we recognize that good which only heaven can give. Brethren, is there a cure for those who have heard about the coming of Christ on earth, but nevertheless asked: Who will show us any good? If Christ had not shown and revealed all that is good by His glorious birth, His glorious miracles, His glorious Resurrection, and His Holy Church, the dark earth would not show it, for it cannot; men would not show it, for they do not know. However, there is a cure for everyone— even for the most incorrigible unbelievers— up to the moment of death. This cure is in repentance of one’s evil, in the cleansing of one’s heart, and in the fulfilling of Christ’s commandments. The healthy can see the light of the countenance of the Lord; but not the sick in soul, the impure in heart or the wrong-minded. O our Lord God, light of angels and men; help us that we not darken the light that Thou hast given us— and by which we see the heavenly good— by the darkness of our sin. Do not deprive us of these good things, O Most-merciful One. 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. 17/Oct 4  

20th Week after Pentecost. Tone 2.     No fast.

Hieromartyr Hierotheus, bishop of Athens (1st c.). Uncovering of the relics (1595) of St. Gurias, first archbishop of Kazan, and St. Barsanuphius, bishop of Tver (1595). Synaxis of the Saints of Kazan. Martyrs Gaius, Faustus, Eusebius, and Chaeremon, of Alexandria (3rd c.). Hieromartyr Peter of Capitolia, bishop of Bostra in Arabia (715). Martyrs Domnina and her daughters Berenice (Bernice) and Prosdoce, of Syria (302). Martyr Adauctus (ca. 312) and his daughter St. Callisthene (ca. 318), of Ephesus. Sts. Paul the Simple (ca. 339) and Ammon (350), of Egypt, disciples of St. Anthony the Great. St. Vladimir Yaroslavich, prince of Novgorod (1052), and his mother St. Anna of Novgorod (1050). Sts. Helladius and Onesimus of the Near Caves in Kiev (12th c.-13th c.). St. Ammon, recluse, of the Far Caves in Kiev (13th c.). St. Stephen Stiljanovic, despot of Srem, Serbia (1540) and his wife St. Helen (Elizabeth in monasticism) (ca. 1543). Sts. Jonah and Nectarius, monks, of Kazan (16th c.). St. Peter (Michurin) of Kuznetsk (Siberia) (1820). New Hieromartyr Basil (Tsvetkov), archimandrite, of Stary Kelets (Ryazan) (1937). New Hiero-confessor Barsanuphius (Yurchenko) of Kherson (1954). St. Theodore the Wonderworker, bishop of Tamassos, Cyprus (2nd c.). St. John (Lampadistes) of Cyprus (10th c.). Hieromartyr Evdemoz, catholicos of Georgia (1642).


Scriptures for the Day:

Philippians 2:16-23 (Tuesday) - holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.  Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.  For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.  But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state.  For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.  For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.  But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.  Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me.

Luke 6:37-45 - Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. And He spoke a parable to them: "Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?  A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.  For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.


St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Tuesday. [Phil. 2:17-23; Luke 6:37-45]       Judge not, forgive, give… It seems like nothing but expenses, without any profit. But behold what is promised: if you do not condemn, you will not be condemned; if you forgive, you will be forgiven; if you give, you will be given to. Right now the profit is not visible, but it will undoubtedly come for the one who makes these expenditures from the heart—it will come precisely at that time when he needs non-condemnation and forgiveness the most. How he will rejoice when he is suddenly made worthy to receive such good gifts as if for nothing! And on the contrary, how another will sorrow and grieve, because he did not know how to profitably manage his property! He would now forgive everything and give away everything, but it is too late: everything has its time. Not everyone pursues the profit that comes directly into one’s hands, almost right after the expenditure. A Russian proverb says, throw bread and salt behind you, and you will find it in front of you. This kind of action really is like throwing something, but in this case it is not thrown underfoot to be trampled, but into the hands of God. These hands are true, and sure to return what they receive. Just hold to faith and hope.


From the Prologue of Ohrid:

1. The Hieromartyr Hierotheus 

Hierotheus was a companion of St. Dionysius the Areopagite and received the Christian Faith from the Apostle Paul a short time after Dionysius did. Later, the Apostle appointed him bishop of Athens. At the time of the Dormition of the Most-holy Theotokos, Hierotheus arrived in Jerusalem and took part in her burial. With his divine chanting he inspired heartfelt worship in many, revealing himself as a man inspired from on high. He labored much in the work of evangelism, converted many pagans to the truth and governed well his rational flock. He finally died a martyr for Christ, Who granted him a twofold crown in His Heavenly Kingdom: the crown of a hierarch and the crown of a martyr. St. Hierotheus (by F. Kontoglu) 

2. Saint Stefan Štiljanović 

Stefan was a Serbian despot, born of the Pastrović clan. He governed the Serbian people during a most difficult period, struggling courageously against the Turks and the Latins. A righteous man and a patriot, this wonderful prince could be compared with St. Alexander Nevsky, or with the holy King Jovan Vladimir. He entered into rest in the sixteenth century (according to some, in 1515). Over his grave a light appeared at night, by which means his holy relics were discovered. They were brought to the Monastery of Šišatovac in Fruška Gora, where they reposed for a long time. During the Second World War, St. Stefan’s relics were transported to Belgrade and placed in the Cathedral Church beside the body of Prince Lazar. The prince’s wife, Helena, seeing Stefan’s incorrupt relics and witnessing miracles arising from the relics, was tonsured a nun, and gave herself over to asceticism until death. Saint Stefan Štiljanović (mosaic in St. George church, Oplenac, Serbia, 1930) 

3. The Venerable Ammon 

Ammon was an Egyptian wine grower. His kinsmen forced him to marry against his will, but he did not wish to live with the woman as husband and wife. From the first day he called her his sister, and counseled her to join him in preserving their mutual chastity for the sake of the greater good in heaven. He lived with his wife this way for a full eighteen years. Later, by mutual agreement, his wife established a convent in her home, and Ammon went to the Nitrian desert, where he gave himself up to the ascesis of hermitic life. Because of his purity of heart, God granted him the great gifts of clairvoyance and miracle-working. A husband and wife brought their insane son to Ammon for healing by his prayer, but Ammon in no way desired to do this. After prolonged insistence by the parents, Ammon said: “The illness and health of your child is in your hands. Return the stolen ox to that widow (and he spoke her name) and your son will be healed.” The parents, amazed at the saint’s clairvoyance, admitted their sin and promised to return the stolen ox as soon as they arrived home. Then St. Ammon prayed to God and the child was healed. Ammon was a close friend of St. Anthony the Great. When Ammon died in Nitria, in approximately 350, St. Anthony saw Ammon’s soul in the heights from his cell and said to the brethren: “Today Abba Ammon died; behold, I see his holy soul as the angels bear it to heaven.” 

4. The Venerable Paul the Simple 

Until the age of sixty, Paul lived in the world as a married man. Catching his wife in sin, he left everything and went to St. Anthony in the wilderness, receiving the monastic tonsure from him. Even though he was simple and illiterate, he achieved such spiritual perfection that he perceived every man’s soul just as ordinary men see each other’s bodies. He was a great miracle-worker, and in some instances, surpassed even St. Anthony. Paul died in deep old age in the year 340, and took up his joyful habitation with the angels. 



The Venerable Ammon Someone once begged Ammon: “Show me, the wretched one, the path to salvation.” To him, the saint said: “Through your entire life You must be as a prisoner who awaits judgment, As the prisoner who fears the judge, And counts the hours to his trial, Listening carefully for the voice that will say: ‘The judge is calling for you!’ He does not value food and shelter, Cares not whether he stands or sits: He simply listens and listens For the call of the judge. My dear brother, we are like that— It is true for me, and it is true for you.” And another asked him: “The narrow path, what is it? And the sorrowful path, how long does it last?” Ammon said to him: “The narrow path is Constraining your thoughts, so that they do not stray. The sorrowful path is the binding of your desires, So that your desire is naught but seeking salvation in Christ.” O all-wise Ammon, knight of asceticism; Patient bearer of the yoke of Christ Who pleased God, and tamed men— God has rewarded your labors with Paradise! 


REFLECTION A vision of St. Andrew: 


St. Paul was not the only one who was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words (II Corinthians 12: 4). Over 850 years after St. Paul, this also occurred to St. Andrew. One wintry night, St. Andrew was lying among the dogs on a dung heap in order to warm his frozen body, when an angel of God appeared to him and raised him up to Paradise (whether in the body or outside the body, St. Andrew himself could not explain), and kept him in the heavenly world for two weeks, eventually leading him to the third heaven. “I saw myself clothed in the most dazzling garments— they were as if woven from lightning— with a wreath of flowers on my head, and girt with a royal girdle. I rejoiced greatly at this beauty, and was amazed in both mind and heart, at the inexpressible beauty of God’s Paradise, as I walked around it and rejoiced.” Andrew also wrote that he saw Christ the Lord: “And when a flaming hand drew the curtain, I saw my Lord— as once did the Prophet Isaiah— sitting upon a high and exalted throne, with Seraphim standing all around Him. He was clothed in a crimson garment. His face was most radiant, and His eyes gazed most kindly upon me. Seeing Him, I prostrated before Him, worshiping the brilliant and awesome throne of His glory. How much joy overcame me during the vision of His face cannot be expressed; and now, calling to mind this vision, I am filled with inexpressible joy…. I heard my Most-merciful Creator when, with His most sweet and pure lips, He spoke three words to me, which so sweetened my heart and inflamed it with love for Him, that I melted as warm wax from spiritual warmth…” When St. Andrew also desired to see the Most-holy Theotokos, he was told that she was not in heaven just then, but had descended to earth to help the poor and to comfort those in need. 



Contemplate the injustice of King Manasseh and God’s punishment (II Chronicles 33): 

1. How Manasseh restored idol worship, enchantments and witchcraft, and did everything that is evil in the sight of the Lord; 

2. How God permitted the Chaldeans to capture Manasseh. 


HOMILY on useful anger

Be angry and sin not (Psalm 4: 4) Be angry with yourself, brethren, and sin no more. Be angry at your sins of thoughts and deeds, and sin no more. Be angry with Satan the father of lies (John 8: 44), and no longer do his will. Be angry at sin in the world and the trampling of God’s holy Church by godless men, but beware that you do not cure sin by sin. Be angry with your friends when they sin; but be angry with the intention to correct them, and not to embitter them even more. The anger of a friend toward a friend, and the anger of parents toward their children— and of God toward men— is not a storm that uproots the tree but a wind that strengthens the tree, and rids it of rotten fruit so that the healthy fruit will increase in number and beauty. But let your anger have measure, so that it may be healing and not poisonous. In order to have this kind of control, keep God before you in your anger. There is no stronger containment for anger than God. All anger that is not in the name of God and God’s righteousness is a sin. Do not become angry for the sake of idleness, but become angry for that at which God is angered. If your will is firmly set in God’s law, you will always know when it is necessary to be angry, and how much is needed. This cannot be expressed entirely in words, nor can it even be explained to the uneducated. Anger, in its place, acts as mercy does in its place. O my brethren, do you see how various powers are placed in our souls, and man, by his free will, can utilize them for life or death? Anger toward oneself can never be recommended enough. Here is a wonderful example: the more a man learns to be angry with himself, the less he is angry with others. Carried away with anger at his own weaknesses, he either does not see the weaknesses of others, or when he does see them, he judges them kindly. O Lord God, Thou only righteous One, implant in us the remembrance of the Day of Thy righteous anger, so that we may protect ourselves from spiritual sin. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.



St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 16/Oct 3  

Click here to see our icon of St. Theophan

Click here to see our icon of St. Theophan

20th Week after Pentecost. Tone 2.  No fast.


Saints of the day:

Hieromartyrs Dionysius the Areopagite (96), bishop of Athens, the priest Rusticus, and the deacon Eleutherius (96). St. John the Chozebite, bishop of Caesarea in Palestine (532). Blessed Hesychius the Silent, of Mt. Horeb (6th c.). St. Dionysius, recluse of the Kiev Caves (15th c.). Uncovering of the relics of St. Joseph, elder, of Optina Monastery (1988).New Hiero-confessor Agathangelus (Preobrazhensky), metropolitan of Yaroslavl (1928). St. Jerome of Aegina (1966). Hieromartyrs Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, and the deacons Gaius and Faustus (ca. 265). Repose of Blessed Olga, fool-for-Christ, of Bogdanoya Bari and St. Petersburg (1960).


Today’s Scriptures:

Philippians 2:12-16 (Monday)- Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.  Do all things without complaining and disputing,  that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

Luke 6:24-30 (Monday) - But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation.  Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets.  But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.  To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.  Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.


St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Monday. [Phil. 2:12-16; Luke 6:24-30]  - Woe to those who are rich, who are full, who laugh, and who are praised. But good shall come to those who endure every wrongful accusation, beating, robbery, or compulsory difficulty. This is completely opposite to what people usually think and feel! The thoughts of God are as far from human thoughts as heaven is from the earth. How else could it be? We are in exile; and it is not remarkable for those in exile to be offended and insulted. We are under a penance; the penance consists of deprivations and labours. We are sick; and most useful for the sick are bitter medicines. The Saviour Himself all of His life did not have a place to lay His head, and He finished his life on the cross—why should his followers have a better lot? The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of preparedness to suffer and bear good-naturedly all that is sorrowful. Comfort, arrogance, splendour, and ease are all foreign to its searching and tastes. Its path lies in the fruitless, dreary desert. The model is the forty-year wandering of the Israelites in the desert. Who follows this path? Everyone who sees Canaan beyond the desert, boiling over with milk and honey. During his wandering he too receives manna, however not from the earth, but from heaven; not bodily, but spiritually. All the glory is within.


From the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Saints:

1. The Holy Hieromartyr Dionysius the Areopagite 

Dionysius is numbered among the Seventy Lesser Apostles. This wonderful man was the scion of a distinguished pagan family in Athens. Having completed the school of philosophy in Athens, he went to Egypt to study further. While he was there the Lord Christ died on the Cross, the sun was darkened, and there was darkness in Egypt for three hours. Then Dionysius cried out: “Either God the Creator of the world is suffering, or this world is coming to an end.” Returning to Athens, he married a woman named Damaris and had sons by her. He became a member of the highest court among the Greeks, the Areopagus, and thereafter he was known as the “Areopagite.” When the Apostle Paul preached the Gospel in Athens, Dionysius was baptized with his entire household. Paul consecrated him Bishop of Athens. He left his wife, children and his position for the love of Christ. He traveled with Paul for a long time and met all the other apostles of Christ. He traveled to Jerusalem especially to see the Most-holy Theotokos, and described his encounter with her in one of his written works. He was present at the burial of the Holy and Most-pure One. When his teacher, St. Paul, suffered martyrdom, Dionysius also desired such a death for himself, and went to Gaul, with his presbyter Rusticus and the deacon Eleutherius, to preach the Gospel among the barbarians. He suffered much but also succeeded much. By his labors many pagans were converted to the Christian Faith. Dionysius built a small church in Paris, where he celebrated the divine services.*) When he was ninety years old, he, Rusticus and Eleutherius were seized and tortured for Christ; then all three were beheaded. The severed head of St. Dionysius rolled a long distance, to the feet of Catula, a Christian, who honorably buried it with his body. Dionysius suffered during the reign of Dometian in the year 96. He wrote several famous works: on the Divine Names of God, on the Celestial and Ecclesiastical Hierarchies, on Mystical Theology, and on the Most-holy Theotokos. St. Dionysius the Areopagite (fresco in Protat, Mount Athos, 14th c.) 

2. The Venerable John the Chozebite 

John was an Egyptian who lived the ascetic life in the Chozeba community during the reign of Emperor Justinian. Whenever he celebrated the Liturgy, he perceived a heavenly radiance in the sanctuary. Ananias, an elder, labored ascetically not far from him. Wondrous was the humility of these two saints. A man brought his insane son to the elder Ananias to heal him by prayer. Ananias sent him to St. John as being greater than he. John could not help but obey the elder; however, he cried out: “In the name of Jesus Christ, it is Ananias, not I, who commands you to come out of this young man!” And the young man was healed immediately. 

3. The Venerable Dionysius of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves 

Dionysius was a hieromonk and a recluse. The following incident occurred to him on the Feast of the Resurrection in 1463. With a cross and censer, Dionysius visited the caves in order to cense the relics and graves of the saints reposing there. Filled with the joy of the Resurrection, as he approached the caves, he cried out: “Holy fathers and brethren— Christ is Risen!” And a voice resounded from the graves as powerful as thunder: “Indeed, He is Risen!” 

4. Saint Hesychius the Chorebite 

At first, Hesychius was negligent about his soul’s salvation, but then he became gravely ill and died. However, he came back from the dead and regained health. This completely changed him. He shut himself up in a cell on the Holy Mountain, and spoke to no one for twelve years. Before his death, the monks opened his cell and begged him to give them some instruction. He said only: “He who contemplates death cannot sin.” From Hesychius descended the so-called hesychasts, who stress silence, divine contemplation, and mental prayer as the chief works of a true monk. There was even a hesychast skete on the Holy Mountain. It is said that St. Gregory the Theologian was a hesychast during the Lenten season. St. Hesychius lived in the sixth century. 



The Holy Hieromartyr Dionysius the Areopagite Glorious saint Dionysius, Wondrous theologian and lucid scribe! His mind, gathered in his heart, he directed to God; He witnessed heavenly mysteries and revealed them to us. He perceived the glory of the heavenly orders And described the hierarchy of heaven: Principalities, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Wondrous Thrones, Seraphim, Cherubim and Archangels, Golden-winged Angels of God, And the Mother of God.— He beheld all with fear, And also that which shines above the dust of the earth: Heavenly powers of infinite strength, Immortal suns and stars most brilliant! All that he witnessed, Dionysius made clear And told to the Church. Thus he adorned and enriched the Church, And his accomplishments were made golden By his bloody death for his Christ. Now he shines in heaven; And the angelic hosts, blazing with the glory of God, Call Dionysius “Brother.” REFLECTION A vision of St. Andrew: Walking one day along the streets of Constantinople, St. Andrew saw a large, splendid procession. A rich man had just died, and his funeral procession was majestic. However, when Andrew looked more closely, he saw many black figures capering around the corpse with joy: some laughing like prostitutes, others barking like dogs, others grunting like swine, and others pouring a foul liquid over the body of the deceased. They all mocked the processional chanters, saying: “You are chanting over a dog!” Astonished, Andrew wondered what this man had done in his life. Glancing around, he saw a handsome youth standing by a wall and weeping. “For the sake of the God of heaven and earth, tell me the reason for your weeping!” he said, and the youth replied that he was the guardian angel of the deceased. The dead man had grievously offended God by his sins, and had rejected the counsels of his angel. He had completely given himself over to the black devils. The angel said that that man had been a great and unrepentant sinner: he had been a liar, a despiser of men, a miser, a perjurer and a libertine, who had defiled three hundred souls by his debauchery. He had been honored by the emperor and respected by men, but all in vain. The great funeral retinue was also in vain. Death had caught up with the rich man in his unrepentant state, and the harvest had come to him suddenly. 



Contemplate the miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrians (II Chronicles 32): 

1. How Sennacherib and his mighty army surrounded the walls of Jerusalem and mocked the God of Israel; 

2. How Hezekiah and the Prophet Isaiah fervently prayed to God for deliverance; 

3. How an angel slew 185,000 Assyrians by night; how Sennacherib was slain by his sons; and how Jerusalem was saved. 


HOMILY on fear and joy in God

Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice in Him with trembling (Psalm 2: 11) The prophet of God speaks these words to earthly kings and judges, for they are inclined to pride and lasciviousness born out of the power and riches that are given to them. O you kings and judges— clods of dust beneath the feet of God— do not forget that you are only the servants of God, hirelings from today until tomorrow! Of what does a hireling think, digging in the field all day? About the pay that he will receive in the evening. Of what is the hireling proud? Not of his labor, but rather his pay. In what does the hireling rejoice? In his labor, his sweat, or his pay? Naturally, in his pay. O kings and judges, your service in the field of this life is the labor of a hireling. Therefore, with fear serve your Lord, who hired you: for you know not how your Lord will evaluate your labor in the end, or what pay He will render unto you. Serve with great humility, saying to yourself: We are unprofitable servants (Luke 17: 10). Whether you will receive a reward or punishment when you go down into the grave and come before the King and Judge is uncertain. Therefore, fear must fill all the days of your service. Rejoice in Him with trembling. Rejoice with a pure and holy joy, as the angels rejoice in the living and unapproachable God. The joy of Paradise is fragrant with purity and sanctity; but the malicious joy of hades is accompanied by rebellious laughter. Therefore the joy of Paradise is eternal, while the laughter of hades is turned to rage and groans. Serve with fear, for the Lord is just; rejoice with trembling, for the Lord is exalted and holy. O Lord our God— just and exalted, awesome and holy— all of our life on earth is service to Thee and joy in Thee. If we do not serve Thee, we serve our own destruction; and if we do not rejoice in Thee, we rejoice in our own evil works. We worship Thee and pray Thee to help us, that our service be directed by fear of Thee, and that our joy be purified by our trembling before Thee. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen. 

(*) Some historians believe that Dionysius [Denis] of Paris was someone other than Dionysius the Areopagite.

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. 15/Oct 2  

19th Sunday after Pentecost. Tone 2.     No fast.

Hieromartyr Cyprian and Virgin-martyr Justina, of Antioch, and with them Martyr Theoctistus, at Nicomedia (304).  Blessed Andrew, fool-for-Christ, of Constantinople (911). St. Theodore Ushakov, admiral of the Russian Navy (1817). Martyrs David and Constantine, princes of Argveti, Georgia (740). St. Anna, princess of Kashin (Euphrosyne in monasticism) (1368). St. Cassian the Greek, monk, of Uglich (1504). Blessed Cyprian of Suzdal, fool-for-Christ (1622). St. Damaris of Athens (1st c.). Hieromartyr Leodegarius (Leger), bishop of Autun (679). Great-martyr Theodore (Gavra) of Atran in Chaldia of Pontus (1180). Repose of Hieroschemamonk Theodosius of Karoulia, Mt. Athos (1937), Monk Roman the Soldier, of Valaam (1994), and Schema-archimandrite Alexander (Vasiliev) of the Pskov Caves Monastery (1998).


Today’s Scriptures:


2 Corinthians 11:31-19 (Epistle)

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.  It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago-whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows-such a one was caught up to the third heaven.  And I know such a man-whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows-  how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.


Luke 6:31-36 (Gospel)

And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.  And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.  But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.  Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.


St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost. [II Cor. 11:31-12:9; Luke 6:31-36]       The fundamental, original commandment is: love! It is a small word, but it expresses an all-encompassing thing. It is easy to say: you must love, but it is not easy to attain love to the necessary degree. It is also not exactly clear how to attain it; this is why the Saviour surrounds this commandment with other explanatory rules: love as thyself; and as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. Here is shown a degree of love that one can call boundless; for is there any limit to one’s love for oneself? And is there any good which one would not want for himself from others? Meanwhile, however, the instructions are not impossible to fulfil. The matter depends upon having perfect compassion toward others, to fully transfer their feelings to yourself, to feel the way they feel. When this occurs, there will be no need to point out what you must do for others in a given situation: your heart will shw you. You must only take care to maintain compassion, otherwise egoism will immediately approach and return you to itself and confine you in itself. Then you will not lift a finger for another, and will not look at him, though he might be dying. When the Lord said: love thy neighbor as thyself, He meant that our neighbour should be in us, that is, in our heart, instead of our own selves. If our “I” remains in there as before, we cannot expect anything good to come of it.


Prologue of Ohrid

1. Saint Andrew the Fool-for-Christ Andrew was a Slav by birth. As a young man, he was enslaved; and was bought by Theognostus, a wealthy man in Constantinople, during the reign of Emperor Leo the Wise (son of Emperor Basil the Macedonian). Andrew was handsome in body and soul. Theognostus took a liking to Andrew, and allowed him to become literate. Andrew fervently prayed to God, and with love attended church services. Obeying a heavenly revelation, he adopted the ascesis of foolishness for Christ. Once, when he went to the well for water, he tore off his clothes, and slashed them with a knife, feigning insanity. Saddened by this, his master Theognostus bound him in chains and brought him to the Church of St. Anastasia the Deliverer from Bonds, so that prayers would be read for him. But Andrew did not improve, and his master freed him as mentally ill. Andrew pretended insanity by day, but prayed to God all night long. He lived without shelter of any kind. He even spent the nights outside, walked around half-naked in a single tattered garment, and ate only a little bread when good men would give it to him. He shared all that he received with the beggars, and would mock them— to avoid being be thanked by them— for holy Andrew wanted all his reward to come from God. Therefore, the great grace of God entered into him and he was able to discern the secrets of men, perceive angels and demons, exorcize demons from men, and correct men from their sins. Andrew had a most beautiful vision of Paradise and the exalted powers of heaven. He also saw the Lord Christ on His throne of glory; and he, with his disciple Epiphanius, saw the Most-holy Theotokos in the Church of Blachernae as she covered the Christian people with her omophorion. This occurence is celebrated as the Feast of the Protection of the Most-holy Theotokos (October 1). In a vision he also heard ineffable, heavenly words that he dared not repeat to men. After a life of almost unparalleled harshness of ascesis, Andrew entered into rest in the eternal glory of his Lord in 911. Saint Andrew the Fool-for-Christ (fresco in Iviron Monastery, Mount Athos, 14-15th c.) 


2. The Hieromartyr Cyprian and Justina the Virgin

Cyprian moved from Carthage to Antioch, where Justina lived with her parents, Edesius and Cleodonia. Edesius was a pagan priest, and his entire household was pagan. But when Justina visited a Christian church and learned the true Faith, she converted both her father and mother to the Christian Faith. All three received baptism by Optatus the bishop. Cyprian, however, was a magician, who consorted with impure spirits and practiced sorcery. A certain dissolute pagan youth named Aglaidas was willing to pay any price to charm Justina, for she was beautiful. The holy virgin Justina rejected him adamantly, and he sought help from Cyprian. Cyprian invoked one evil spirit after another, to inflame Justina with impure passion for Aglaidas, but did not succeed. By the sign of the Cross and prayer to God, she drove the evil spirits away. After this futile effort, Cyprian recognized the power of the Cross and was baptized. Eventually, he was made a presbyter, then a bishop. Embittered pagans denounced him and Justina; both were tried in Damascus, tortured, and then beheaded in Nicomedia. They entered into rest at the end of the third century. 


3. The Holy Martyrs David and Constantine 

David and Constantine were Christian princes from Argveti (Georgia). They were condemned to death by Caliph Emil-el Mumenim, and were drowned in a river in Imereti in the year 730. Before their death, they prayed to God that He forgive the sins of all who would invoke them in prayer for help. After their prayers were completed, lightning struck, and a voice from heaven said that their prayers had been heard. The saints’ relics repose at the Monastery of Motsameta in Georgia. HYMN OF PRAISE Saint Andrew the Fool-for-Christ Fool-for-Christ Andrew stood at night Under the starry firmament, praying: “O Most-high God, three Persons in one Essence, Salvation and Revival of souls that slumber! O sweet Jesus, sweeter than life, Treasury of joy and eternal beauty, Cleanse the shepherds, enlighten the kings, Console the troubled and sanctify the whole world. Do not separate even me, the sinner, Andrew the Fool-for-Christ, From Thy holy people, O Lord!” O Saint Andrew, full of God’s wisdom, You who taught the world by words of foolishness— With the language of the world you spoke to the world, And by feigned foolishness you glorified Christ. Men despised you for your foolishness, And their dogs rose up from their lairs and chased you! You were God’s altar on the rubbish heap of the world. You censed the world with your prayers— And the world is not worthy of this marvel. Glory to you, Andrew, holy Fool-for-Christ!” 



A vision of St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ: A monk in Constantinople was distinguished as an ascetic and spiritual father, and many people came to him for prayers. But this monk had the secret vice of avarice. He collected money and gave it to no one. St. Andrew met him on the street one day, and saw a terrible snake coiled around his neck. St. Andrew took pity on him, approached him, and began to counsel him: “Brother, why have you lost your soul? Why have you bound yourself with the demon of avarice? Why have you given him a resting place within yourself? Why are you amassing gold as though it will go to the grave with you, and not into the hands of others? Why are you strangling yourself by stinginess? While others hunger and thirst and perish from cold, you rejoice looking at your heap of gold! Is this the path of repentance? Is this the monastic rank? Do you see your demon?” At that, the spiritual eyes of the monk were opened, and he saw the dark demon and was greatly horrified. The demon dropped away from the monk and fled, driven by Andrew’s power. Then a most radiant angel of God appeared to the monk, for his heart was changed for the good. Immediately, he went about distributing his hoarded gold to the poor and needy. From then on, he pleased God in everything and was more greatly glorified than before. 



Contemplate the righteousness of Hezekiah, and God’s reward to him (II Chronicles 30, 31): 

1. How Hezekiah did that which was good and right and truth before the Lord his God (II Chronicles 31: 20); 

2. How he restored holiness to the Temple of the Lord, and rooted out idols and idol-worshiping among the people; 

3. How God had mercy on him, and he was prosperous in everything. 


HOMILY on the will of the righteous in the will of God 

But his delight is in the Law of the Lord and on His Law doth he mediate day and night (Psalm 1: 2) Brethren, blessed is that man— thrice blessed is he— whose will is submitted to the will of God; whose mind thinks of nothing contrary to the counsel of God; and whose heart desires nothing contrary to the will of God. The mind is the rudder of both the will and the heart. If the mind is permanently directed toward God, then it will eagerly meditate day and night on the Law of God, and will not walk in the counsel of the ungodly (Psalm 1: 1) but will seek the truth and the revelation of all that is in God’s Law. If the mind is so directed to God, then, swiftly, the heart and will of man will also be directed toward God. Then the will, as the implementing organ of the inner man, will carry out only what is in accordance with the will of God and what is written in the Law of God. Then man will not stand in the way of the sinners (Psalm 1: 1), and will not sit in the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1: 1); he will not commit sin, nor will he draw other men to sin. At the beginning of this Psalm, the Prophet David praises the man who does not commit three specific evils, and now he continues to praise him when he does two good things. The three evils are: to seek wisdom of a sinner, to live the life of a sinner and to corrupt others by one’s evil example. The two good things are: to conform one’s will completely to the Law of God; and to direct one’s mind to meditate day and night on God’s Law. O my brethren, how lamentably shallow are the minds of all those who do not know the Law of God! The depth of man’s mind is measured by the depth of his knowledge of God’s law. The mind of him who meditates on the mysteries of God’s law is deep, wide and exalted; and the mind is the rudder of the heart and will. O my brethren, how shallow, unstable and dissolute is the will of him who does not subordinate his will to the will of God! Indeed, it is lamentably shallow, unstable and dissolute. What is the Law of God, brethren? It is the expression of God’s will. Where is that expression to be found? In Holy Scripture and in the Tradition of the saints of the Church of God. Blessed is he who knows the will of God and fulfills it. O Lord God, great and powerful, merciful and just; enlighten our minds by Thy holy law, so that we may conform our wills to Thy man-loving and saving will. 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. 14/Oct 1

19th Week after Pentecost. Tone 1.    No fast.

The Protection of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. Apostle Ananias of the Seventy (1st c.).  St. Romanus the Melodist, of Constantinople (556). St. Sabbas, founder of Vyshera Monastery (Novgorod) (1461). Martyr Domninus of Thessalonica (4th c.). Hieromartyr Michael, abbot, of Zovia Monastery near Sebaste, and 36 Monk-martyrs with him (ca. 790). Miracle of the Pillar over the Robe of the Lord at Mtskheta, Georgia (ca. 330). New Hieromartyr Archpriest Ismael Rozhdestvensky of Strelna (St. Petersburg) (1938).  Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos “Pokrov” (Pskov) and Lublin (1581). King Mirian and Queen Nana of Mtskheta, St. Abiathar of Mtskheta, and St. Sidonia, disciple of St. Nina (4th c.). St. Remigius of Rheims, apostle to the Franks (533). St. Bavo, hermit, of Ghent (654). St. Melchizedek, catholicos-patriarch of Georgia (ca. 1030). Saint Melor the Breton, Prince and Martyr (6th c.). St. Joseph of Bisericani Monastery (Moldavia) (late 15th c.). Repose of Hieroschemamonk Euthymius of Valaam (1829).

Scriptures for today:

Luke 1:39-49, 56 (Matins Gospel) - Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.  Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord. And Mary said: "My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name. And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.


Hebrews 9:1-7 (Epistle, Theotokos) - Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people's sins committed in ignorance;


Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28 (Gospel, Theotokos) - Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word.But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."  And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her. And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, "Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!" But He said, "More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"


Luke 5:17-26 - And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.  And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?  But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?  Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?  But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.  And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.


1 Corinthians 15:58-16:3 - Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.  Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Saturday. [I Cor. 15:58-16:3; Luke 5:17-26]       But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralytic, I say unto thee, Arise, and take up they couch, and go into thine house. Remisson of sins is an inner, spiritual miracle; healing from paralysis is an outer miracle—the natural acting of God in the world, a physical miracle. The flowing in of God’s power is justified and confirmed by this event in the moral realm, and in the movement of phenomena in the physical world. The latter is in view of the former, for in the former lies the goal of everything. The Lord does not coerce one’s freedom, but gives understanding, inspires, and amazes. One of the best means for this is an outer miracle. This came to be when man became a rational creature, ruled by freedom. This connection is so essential, that those who reject the supernatural action of God in the world also reject the freedom of man, along with the recognition that the latter must necessarily call forth the former. On the other hand, those who confess the truth of God’s influence in the world beyond a natural flow of events can say boldly: we can feel that we are free. The recognition of freedom is as strong and irresistible as the recognition of one’s existence. Freedom urgently demands direct providential actions of God: consequently the acknowledgement of these actions stands as firmly as the recognition of freedom.

From the Prologue of Ohrid:


1. The Protection of the Most-holy Theotokos - From time immemorial, the Church has celebrated the Most-holy Theotokos as the patroness and protectress of the Christian people, who, by her intercessory prayers, implores God’s mercy for us sinners. The help of the Most-holy Mother of God has been clearly shown numerous times, to individuals and to nations, in peace and in war, in monastic deserts and in densely populated cities. The event that the Church commemorates and celebrates today confirms the Theotokos’ consistent protection of Christian people. On October 1, 911, during the reign of Emperor Leo the Wise, there was an All-night Vigil in the Blachernae Church of the Mother of God in Constantinople. The church was full of people. St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ was standing in the rear of the church with his disciple Epiphanius. At four o’clock in the morning, the Most-holy Theotokos appeared above the people, holding her omophorion outstretched as a protective covering for the faithful. She was clothed in gold-encrusted purple, and shone with an ineffable radiance, surrounded by apostles, saints, martyrs and virgins. St. Andrew said to Blessed Epiphanius: “Do you see, brother, the Queen and Lady of all praying for the whole world?” Epiphanius replied: “I see, Father, and am struck with amazement!” The Feast of the Protection was instituted to commemorate this event, and to remind us that we can prayerfully receive the unceasing protection of the Most-holy Theotokos in any time of difficulty. 

2. The Holy Apostle Ananias - Ananias was one of the Seventy Apostles. He was bishop in Damascus. In accordance with God’s revelation (Acts 9: 10– 17), he baptized Saul (the Apostle Paul). Because of his courageous preaching of the Gospel he was stoned to death in the town of Eleutheropolis. His holy relics were taken to Damascus and later to Constantinople. St. Apostle Ananias (mosaic in St. George Church, Thesaloniki, Greece, 9th c.) 

3. The Venerable Romanus the Melodist - Romanus was born in the Syrian town of Emesa. He was, at first, a sexton in Beirut, and later served in the cathedral church in Constantinople in the time of Patriarch Euthymius (490– 504). Romanus was not well educated and was untrained in chanting, for which he was ridiculed by some of the more educated clergy. St. Romanus tearfully prayed to the Most-holy Theotokos, and she appeared to him in a dream, gave him a scroll, and told him to swallow it. The following day was the Feast of the Nativity. Romanus took his place as a chanter at the ambo, and with an angelic voice sang the hymn “Today the Virgin….” All were amazed at both the content of this hymn and at the magnificent singing of the chanter. Having received the poetic gift from the Theotokos, Romanus composed over a thousand Kontakia. Romanus entered into rest as a deacon of the Great Church, Hagia Sophia, in Constantinople. He joined the angelic choirs in the year 510. 

4. The Venerable John Koukouzelis - John was a Slav from Dracha (Dyrrachium). As a young man, he was taken to the school of music in Constantinople, where he became the favorite singer at the imperial court. Fearing the flattery and praise of men, John fled to the Holy Mountain and presented himself at the Great Lavra as a simple shepherd. He lived an exceptional life of asceticism. The Most-holy Theotokos appeared to him on two occasions. He reposed in the twelfth century. 

5. The Venerable Gregory - Gregory was a monk of the Great Lavra on Mount Athos in the fourteenth century. 



The Venerable Romanus the Melodist St. Romanus, in mid-service, Appeared on the ambo And sang a wondrous hymn In a sweet angelic voice: “Today, the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, And the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One. Angels and Shepherds glorify Him, And the wise men journey with the star— For unto us the Eternal God is born As a little Child.” Hearing this hymn, All were filled with gladness; And on the faces of all the people Was great astonishment. Glory to the Mother of God! Who hearkens to tearful prayers, And gloriously fulfills The prayerful supplications of the devout! 



 The Most-holy Theotokos has often appeared to holy men in need: sometimes to encourage them in asceticism, or to heal them from sickness, or to reveal a certain mystery to them. Two similar, wonderful events took place in the Great Lavra on the Holy Mountain. In Great Lent, during the chanting of the Great Akathist, St. John Koukouzelis was tired and sat down, facing the icon of the Theotokos. As he sat, he fell asleep. Just then, the Holy Most-pure One appeared to him in heavenly light and said: “Rejoice, O John! Chant and do not stop chanting, and for this I will not abandon you.” With this, she placed a gold coin in John’s hand. When he awoke from sleep, the gold coin was still in his hand. After this, many wonderful miracles were worked from the icon of the Theotokos, as well as from the gold coin. The second incident involved St. Gregory the monk, who, like John Koukouzelis, was a church cantor. Patriarch Kallistos had established that in the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, “All Creation Rejoices in Thee” be sung in place of “It Is Truly Meet.” His successor, Patriarch Philotheus, rescinded this, reinstating “It Is Truly Meet” because of its brevity. But then, on the eve of the Theophany, and in the presence of Patriarch Gregory of Alexandria, St. Gregory sang “All Creation Rejoices in Thee” instead. Immediately after this, the Holy Most-pure One appeared to him, and, as she had done to John Koukouzelis, placed a gold coin in his hand. She said: “I am very grateful for your singing in my honor.” Because of this, it was instituted that all Liturgies of St. Basil would thereafter include “All Creation Rejoices in Thee.” 



Contemplate the injustice of King Ahaz and God’s punishments of him (II Chronicles 28): 

1. How, throughout his life, Ahaz did that which was evil before the Lord; 

2. How he set up idols in every corner of Jerusalem and throughout the entire land, and worshiped them; 

3. How he waged many wars and was defeated in them all; his land was laid waste; a hundred thousand of his people were slain; and just as many were taken into bondage. 


HOMILY on the blessed man

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1: 1) Brethren, most blessed is he who is not so hardened by sin that he can hear and fulfill this counsel of God that has come through the prophet. The ungodly are those who, in every way, think contrary to God and His will. The sinners are those who walk the path of their own desires, and their thoughts are contrary to the will of God and His law. The scornful are those who destroy themselves and others by their evil deeds. The danger is this: first comes the ungodly counsel (either from wicked men or from sinful thoughts); then the actual committing of sin; then the unrepentant sinner becomes a scandalous example of evil to others. Therefore, blessed is the man who neither heeds the counsel of ungodly men or thoughts, but finds sufficient counsel for his salvation in the Law of God. Blessed is the man who has not even once walked in the way of sinners, or, if he has walked on that path, he has repented and returned to the path of life that is the Lord’s. Blessed is the man who has not sat in the presence of the scorner of innocent souls who, by his seductive example, corrupts such souls. For it is said of the corrupter: It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea (Matthew 18: 6). O my brethren, blessed be all of you, men and women, who cautiously avoid these three evils: ungodly thoughts and counsels, sinful deeds, and the corrupting of others. These three evils are like one poisonous serpent that grows from a small snake into a giant serpent. O Blessed Lord our Creator, help us by Thy power and Thy goodness, that we may be saved from the cruel serpent that Thou, O Lord Christ, didst defeat by the weapon of Thine invincible and honorable Cross. Help us to hearken only to Thy counsel, that we may walk only on Thy path, and shine by Thine example. 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. 13/Sept. 30

Click here to see our icon of St. Theophan the Recluse

Click here to see our icon of St. Theophan the Recluse

19th Week after Pentecost. Tone 1. Fast Day. 

Wine and oil allowed.


Today's Saints:

Hieromartyr Gregory, bishop and enlightener of Greater Armenia (ca. 335).  St. Gregory, founder of Pelshma Monastery (Vologda) (1442).  Translation of the relics of St. Michael, first metropolitan of Kiev (c. 1103). Martyrs Rhipsima and Gaiana and companions, in Armenia (beg. of 4th c.). St. Michael, great prince of Tver (1318). New Martyr Alexandra (Chervyakova), schemanun, of Moscow (1937). New Hiero-confessor Seraphim (Zagorovsky), hieromonk, of Kharkov (1943). Blessed Jerome (Hieronymus) of Stridonium (420). St. Honorius, archbishop of Canterbury (653). St. Meletius, patriarch of Alexandria (1601).



Philippians 1:27-2:4 - Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.  Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,  fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.


Luke 6:17-23 - And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed.  And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.  Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh.  Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man's sake.  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.


St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Friday. [Phil. 1:27-2:4; Luke 6:17-23]

   The Lord blesses the poor, those who hunger and weep, and the persecuted under the condition that it is all for the sake of the Son of Man; this means that He blesses a life which is surrounded by every kind of need and deprivation. According to this saying, pleasures, ease, honour are not something good; this is the way it is indeed. But while a person rests in these things, he does not realize this. Only when he frees himself from their spell does he see that they are not the good, but only phantoms. A soul cannot do without consolations, but they are not of the senses; it cannot do without treasures, but they are not in gold and silver, not in luxurious houses and clothes, not in this external fullness; it cannot get by without honor, but it lies not in human servility. There are other pleasures, there is other ease, other honour—spiritual, akin to the soul. He who finds them does not want the external ones; not only does he not want them, but he scorns and hates them because they block off the spiritual, do not allow one to see it, they keep a soul in darkness, drunkenness, and phantoms. This is why such people prefer with all their soul poverty, sorrow and obscurity, feeling good within them, like behind some safe fence against the spell of the deceptions of the world. What about those people who have all these things without trying? They should relate to all of these things, according to the word of the holy Apostle, as one who possesses not (cf. 1Cor. 7:30).


From the Prologue of Ohrid

1. Saint Gregory the Enlightener, Bishop of Armenia

Gregory was born of a prominent family which was related to the royal houses of Persia (King Arteban) and Armenia (King Khosrov). When these two houses made war against each other, Gregory withdrew to Caesarea in Cappadocia. It was there that he first learned of the Christian Faith, was baptized and married. He had two sons of this marriage, Bardanes and Aristakes, and dedicated them both to the service of the Church. After the death of his wife, Gregory returned to Armenia and placed himself in the service of King Tiridates. He faithfully served him, and Tiridates loved Gregory. But when the king learned that Gregory was a Christian, he became greatly enraged and pressured him to deny Christ and worship idols. Not succeeding in this, Tiridates subjected Gregory to many harsh tortures, then threw him into a deep pit full of poisonous reptiles to kill him. However, the All-seeing God preserved St. Gregory’s life in that pit for fourteen full years. After that, Tiridates set out to persecute all Christians in his kingdom, and attacked a convent where there were thirty-seven nuns, including the abbess, Gaiana. When he had killed all of them by terrible tortures, Tiridates went insane and was like a wild boar. His sister had a dream in which a man, dazzlingly bright, told her that Tiridates would only become well when Gregory was removed from the pit. Taken from the pit, Gregory healed and baptized Tiridates. Then, at the wish of Tiridates, Gregory became Bishop of Armenia. Through God’s providence, Tiridates also helped him in enlightening all of Armenia and its surrounding regions with the Christian Faith. St. Gregory ended his earthly life of great labor in old age, in about the year 335. Meanwhile, his son Aristakes had been consecrated a bishop, and he continued the work of his father, both physically and spiritually. Aristakes was one of the 318 Holy Fathers at the First Ecumenical Council.


2. The Holy Martyrs Gaiana, Rhipsimia, and thirty-five other nuns

They were all slain by King Tiridates because of their faith in Christ. Rhipsimia was of unusual beauty, which tempted Emperor Diocletian to take her for his wife. This was the cause of their martyrdom. Rhipsimia refused to go with the emperor, as she had betrothed herself to Christ, her Bridegroom. Then Tiridates too was tempted and wanted to claim her for himself, for he was intoxicated by her beauty. St. Rhipsimia resisted the pagan king with all her strength, “And he who defeated the Princes of the Goths and destroyed the Persians was unable to overcome one virgin of Christ.” The enraged king gave her over to cruel tortures—her tongue was cut out, her stomach cut open, and her entrails pulled out—and Rhipsimia gave up her soul to God. After this, the other nuns were seized and beheaded. The famous Monastery of Echmiadzin was built over the relics of these holy martyrs. Situated near Yerevan, it was the main spiritual center of Armenia for many centuries.

3. Saint Michael, First Metropolitan of Kiev

St. Michael was sent to Russia by the Patriarch of Constantinople at the request of the great Prince Vladimir, to baptize the pagan people and establish and organize the Church. St. Michael baptized the people in Kiev, Novgorod, Rostov and many other towns and villages. He organized the Church, appointed bishops and priests, laid the foundation for the Monastery of St. Michael in Kiev, and sent missionaries among the Bulgarians and Tartars, winning many of them for Christ. This saint accomplished all this, and much more of great benefit, in only four years. He went to his reward peacefully, in the year 992. His relics repose in the Monastery of the Kiev Caves.


HYMN OF PRAISESaint Gregory the Enlightener

Gregory was a great light

To his people and his nation.

He spurned glory and riches

For the poverty of Christ the Crucified,

Preferring eternal riches in heaven.

He raised his mind to heaven and thoughts of God,

And endured much physical torture,

As if it all were painless.

He was strong with the power of God’s grace,

And nourished by God’s heavenly food,

And armored against evil by God’s providence.

He was lowered into the pit from his glory,

And from the pit he was elevated to the heights—

The heights of eternal glory.

Gregory, great and holy,

Enlightened Armenia with Jesus.

Even the wild boar, Tiridates,

Was baptized under the Cross and became a lamb.

With great glory, the land of Armenia glorifies

Its miracle-worker, St. Gregory.



Marvelous changes occur daily in the destiny of men—in the present, as in times past. Those humiliated for the sake of God’s righteousness are raised to great heights, and the blasphemers of the Faith are converted to servants of the Faith. King Tiridates threw St. Gregory into a deep pit. The saint spent fourteen years in that pit, forgotten by the entire world, but not by God. Who among men could have thought that the greatest light of the Armenian people was to be found in the darkness of a pit? And who would have ever thought that the powerful and tyrannical King Tiridates would one day save the life of that same Gregory, whom he had condemned to death, and would help him more than the rest of the whole world could help him? After fourteen years, God revealed Gregory as still alive.  Gregory then miraculously healed the insane king. King Tiridates, the unrestrained persecutor of Christ, was baptized and became the greatest zealot for the Christian Faith! It could be said that, with God’s help, Gregory and Tiridates were both drawn out of the pit of darkness—Gregory a physical one, and Tiridates a spiritual one. Oh, the infinite wisdom of God in governing the destinies of men!

The formerly wild and passionate Tiridates was softened and ennobled so much by repentance and the Christian Faith, that he came to resemble St. Gregory more than his old, unrepentant self.



Contemplate the righteousness of King Jotham and God’s reward for him (II Chronicles 27):

1. How Jotham did that which is right in the sight of the Lord, and cared for the Temple of the


2. How God helped him, so that he was successful in war and in peace: in war he conquered, and

in peace he enriched and strengthened his people.


HOMILY on the Kingdom not of this world

My Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36)

He who has great wealth also has little wealth. Therefore, let no one think that Christ the Lord does not have royal authority over this world, even though He told Pilate: My Kingdom is not of this world. He who possesses the eternal also rules over the temporal. Here, the Lord speaks of His Eternal Kingdom, independent of time, decay, injustice, illusion and death. It is as if someone were to say: “My wealth is not in paper but rather in gold.” If he has gold, can he not afford paper? Is not gold worth more than paper? Therefore, the Lord does not tell Pilate that He is a king, but on the contrary says that He is a higher King than all earthly kings, and that His Kingdom is greater, more powerful and more enduring than all earthly kingdoms. He is indicating His principal Kingdom, upon which all earthly kingdoms depend, in time and in space. My Kingdom is not of this world. This does not mean that He has no power over this world, but on the contrary confirms His awesome power over this world. All His works on earth manifest His unparalleled, lordly power over the world. Tell me, in what other king’s presence is the wind quieted and the sea calmed? And have you forgotten His words in Gethsemane? Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53). And just one angel has greater power than all the universe! The Lord of the soul is also the Lord of the body. The Lord of eternity is also the Lord of time. The Lord of the greatest good is also the Lord of the lesser good. Brethren, nothing can escape the power of the Almighty Jesus Christ our Lord, Who by His own will suffered for us, and by His own power rose from the grave. O Lord Jesus Christ, our Almighty Savior, help us to seek Thy Heavenly Kingdom, and to beeternally with Thee where there is neither sin nor death, but life and joy and peace. 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. 12/Sept. 29

19th Week after Pentecost. Tone 1.    No fast

St. Cyriacus the Hermit, of Palestine (556).

Martyrs Dada, Gabdelas, and Casdoe, of Persia (4th c.). St. Theophanes the Merciful, of Gaza. St. Cyprian, abbot, of Ustiug (Vologda) (1276). St. Onuphrius the Wonderworker, of Gareji, Georgia (1733). Uncovering of the relics of St. John (Maximovitch), archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco (1993). Synaxis of the Saints of Poltava. New Hieromartyr John (Pommer), archbishop of Riga (Latvia) (1934). Holy Martyr Gudelia of Persia (4th c.). 80 Holy Martyrs of Byzantium (364- 378). Martyrs Tryphon, Trophimus, and Dorymedon, and 150 Martyrs, in Palestine. Repose of Blessed Anthony Alexeyevich, fool-for-Christ, of Zadonsk (1851), and Archimandrite Gerasim (Schmaltz) of Alaska (1969).


Today's Scriptures:

Philippians 1:20-27 - according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again. Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,

Luke 6:12-19 - Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor. And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Thursday. [Phil 1:20-27; Luke 6:12-19] - And He continued all night in prayer to God. Here is the foundation and beginning of Christian all-night Vigils. A prayerful heat chases away sleep, and exhilaration of the spirit does not allow one to notice the passing of time. True men of prayer do not notice this; it seems to them that they had just begun to pray, meanwhile day has already appeared. But until one reaches such perfection, he must take on the labour of vigils. Solitaries have borne this and bear it; cenobitic monastics have borne this and bear it; reverent and God-fearing laypeople have borne this and bear it. But though vigil comes with difficulty, its fruit remains in the soul, directly and constantly present—peace of soul and contrition, with weakening and exhaustion of the body. It is a state very valuable for those who are zealous about prospering in the spirit! That is why in places where vigils are established (on Athos), they do not want to give them up. Everyone realizes how difficult it is, but nobody has a desire to rescind this order, for the sake of the profit which the soul receives from vigils. Sleep, more than anything, relaxes and feeds the flesh; vigils more than anything humble it. One who sleeps abundantly is burdened by spiritual deeds and is cold towards them; he who is vigilant is quick in movement, like an antelope, and burns in the spirit. If the flesh must be taught to be good, like a slave, then there is no better way to succeed in this than through frequent vigils. Here the flesh fully feels the power of the spirit over it, and learns to submit to it; while the spirit acquires the habit of reigning over the flesh.

From the Prologue of Ohrid:

1. The Venerable Cyriacus the Recluse - Cyriacus was born in Corinth, to John and Eudoxia. His father John was a presbyter and Peter, Bishop of Corinth, was his kinsman. In his early youth, the bishop ordained Cyriacus a reader in the cathedral church. Reading the Holy Scripture, the young Cyriacus marveled at God’s providence: how God glorified all His true servants and how He arranged the salvation of the human race. At age eighteen, Cyriacus’s desire for the spiritual life led him to Jerusalem. There, he entered the monastery of a godly man Eustorgius, who gave him his first instruction in the monastic life. After that, he went to St. Euthymius, who foresaw that he would be a great spiritual father. He clothed him in the schema and sent him to St. Gerasimus at the Jordan, where Cyriacus spent nine years. Following the death of Gerasimus, he returned to the Monastery of St. Euthymius, where he remained in stillness for ten years. Then, fleeing the praise of men, he moved from place to place. He finally lived a life of asceticism in the community of St. Chariton, where he ended his earthly sojourn of 109 years. A celebrated ascetic and miracle-worker, St. Cyriacus was massive and strong in body, and remained such in deep old age, despite strict fasts and vigils. In the wilderness, he sometimes ate only raw greens for years. He was very zealous for the Orthodox Faith, denouncing all heresies, especially that of Origen. He said of himself that, since he became a monk, the sun had neither seen him eat nor become angry with anyone. According to the Rule of St. Chariton, the monks ate only once a day, after the setting of the sun. Cyriacus was a great light, a pillar of Orthodoxy, the adornment of monks, a mighty healer of the sick, and a gentle comforter of the sorrowful. Having lived long for the benefit of many, he took up his habitation in the eternal joy of his Lord in the year 557. St. Cyriacus the Recluse (fresco in St. Neophytus Monastery, Pafos– Cyprus, 1195) 

2. The Holy Martyrs Dada and Gabdelas - Dada was a great Persian nobleman and a kinsman of King Sapor, and Gabdelas was Sapor’s son. When St. Dada openly confessed his faith in Christ, King Sapor ordered that he be cruelly tortured. During these tortures, Dada worked great miracles in the name of Christ, and these so strongly influenced Gabdelas that he also believed in Christ. The pagan King did not even spare his own son, but subjected him also to harsh tortures. Both Dada and Gabdelas glorified God with their patient endurance and many miracles, and gave up their souls to God under torture. They suffered in the fourth century. Gabdelas’s sister Casdoa, and Gargal the chief pagan priest, suffered with them— for they, too, had come to believe in Christ. The Holy Martyrs Gabdelas (fresco in Kalenić Monastery, Serbia, 15th c.) 3. Saint Theophanes the Merciful Theophanes was a wealthy citizen from Gaza. He was so merciful that, in distributing his possessions to the poor, he impoverished himself. Toward the end of his life, he was afflicted with dropsy and died from that illness. Thereafter a healing myrrh flowed from his body, by which the sick were healed. 4. Saint Mary of Palestine At first, Mary was a reader of the Psalter in the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem. Because she was of beautiful countenance, many who gazed upon her were tempted by lustful thoughts. So that she would no longer be a cause of temptation for men, Mary withdrew into the wilderness of Souka with a basket of beans and an earthenware jug of water. St. Mary lived in the wilderness for eighteen years. By God’s power, neither the beans nor the water ran out. The disciples of St. Cyriacus found her during her lifetime, and later buried her. HYMN OF PRAISE Saint Mary of Palestine The beautiful Mary was born beautiful, And, faithful to Christ, she prayed to Him: “Help me, my Lord, a helpless woman, Show me, the lowly one, the path to salvation. With Thy help, I struggle not to sin, But my face is a temptation to the weakness of others.” Mary bowed with tears to the Living God, And hid in the wilderness from the eyes of men. Mary conversed with God, and that was her reward. Her soul shone brighter than pure gold. Her body withered with the passing years, And an angel raised the heavenly woman up to Paradise. She now rejoices, radiant among the angels, And Saint Mary prays to God for us. 


In ignorance, many people labor more to avoid suffering in old age and terminal illness than to avoid the torments of hell in the life after old age and death. Such was the case of an unmarried and avaricious man who, from year to year, and with ever greater passion, amassed for himself unnecessary wealth. When asked why he strove so much to pile up excess wealth he replied: “I am gathering it for my old age. This wealth will heal and feed me in old age and sickness.” And indeed, his foreboding came true. In old age, a grave and long-lasting illness befell him. He distributed his accumulated wealth to physicians so they would heal him, and to servants so they would care for him and feed him. His wealth was soon spent, and the illness continued. The physicians and servants abandoned him, and he fell into despair. His neighbors brought him bread until his death, and he was buried at the expense of the community. He had used his wealth for that which he had intended it. God had even done for him according to the man’s will. God had sent him the illness that he had, in a sense, desired, and for which he had prepared great wealth. Nevertheless, all his wealth was unable to alleviate his sufferings in this world— so with what would he be able to alleviate his sufferings in the other world? Nothing, if he took with him neither faith, nor hope, nor charitable deeds, nor prayers, nor repentance! Someone saw a departed man in the great glory of Paradise, and asked him how he had become worthy of that glory. The man replied: “In my earthly life I was the hireling of an evil-doer who never paid me. But I endured all and served him to the end, with hope in God.” Then the onlooker saw another man in even greater glory, and when he asked him, that one replied: “I was a leper, and to the very end I offered gratitude to God for that.” But no one saw in the glory of Paradise the man who had amassed money for illness in old age. 


Contemplate the punishment with which God punished King Uzziah (II Chronicles 26): 

1. How, in his conceit, Uzziah unlawfully approached the sanctuary of God; 

2. How leprosy suddenly appeared on his forehead. 

HOMILY on knowing the Father through the Son

O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee: but I have known Thee (John 17: 25) An equal knows his equal best. The lower does not know the higher, or the mortal the immortal. The Old Testament prophets and some of the wise men of ancient times knew God as the Creator and the Provider, but no one knew Him as the Father of the Son. Those who knew Him in ancient times knew Him through creation, and not through birth. Through creation they knew something of the righteousness, wisdom and power of God; but they did not know His love, for love is known through birth. A father knows the mystery of the one born, and the one born knows the love of the parent. It could be put this way: “The world hath not known Thee, for the world looked at Thee as Lord and itself as a slave; But I have known Thee, for I see Thee as Father and feel Thine inexpressible love. The world looks at Thee through the veil of Thy works; but I look at Thee face to face, in the eternal beauty of Thy love.” The Lord brought this illuminating flame of eternal filial and paternal love among men, so that men could see God in this flame, in this new and hitherto unknown light. The Lord passed this new knowledge of God’s love to His apostles, and through them to us. Oh, may this flame of divine eternal love burn in us! May we thus know God as our Father, and ourselves as His children, adopted through the sacrifice of the Only-begotten Son of God. O God of Triune Flame, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: illumine us also, darkened as we are by sin, with the eternal glory of Thy love. 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 SaintsOct. 11/Sept. 28

19th Week after Pentecost. Tone 1.  Fast Day.    Wine and oil allowed.

St. Chariton the Confessor, abbot, of Palestine (350). Sts. Cyril, schemamonk, and Maria, schemanun, parents of St. Sergius of Radonezh (ca. 1337). Prophet Baruch (6th c. b.c.). Martyrs Alexander, Alphius, Zosimas, Mark the Shepherd, Nicon, Neon, Heliodorus, and 24 others, in Pisidia and Phrygia (4th c.). Martyr Wenceslaus (Vyacheslav), prince of the Czechs (935). St. Chariton, abbot of Syandema Monastery (Vologda) (1509). St. Herodion, founder of Iloezersk Monastery (Belozersk) (1541). Synaxis of the Holy Fathers of Kiev whose relics lie in the Near Caves of St. Anthony. New Hieromartyr Hilarion (Gromov), hieromonk., of Petushki (Vladimir), and New Martyr Michaela (Ivanova), schemanun, of Aksinyino (Moscow) (1937). St. Faustus, bishop of Riez (495). St. Alkison, bishop of Nicopolis (Preveza) in Epirus (561). Hieromartyr Annemund, archbishop of Lyons (658). St. Leoba, abbess of Tauberbischofsheim, English missionary to Germany (779). St. Auxentius the Alaman, wonderworker, of Cyprus (12th c.). Martyr Eustace of Rome. Translation of the relics of St. Neophytus the Recluse, of Cyprus (1214).


Philippians 1:12-20 - But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.  Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill:  The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.  What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.  For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.

Luke 5:33-39 (Wednesday) - Then they said to Him, "Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?"  And He said to them, "Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them?  But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days. Then He spoke a parable to them: "No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old.  And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined.  But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.  And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better.'

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Wednesday. [Phil. 1:12-20; Luke 5:33-39]       It is indecent for the children of the bridechamber to fast while the bridegroom is with them, said the Lord, and thus pronounced the law that even with virtues and spiritual endeavours everything has its place and time. And this is so pressing that an untimely and inappropriate deed loses its value, either entirely, or in part. The Lord arranged everything in visible nature with measure, weight and number; He also wants everything in the moral realm to be in good form and order. Inner good form amounts to a combination of every virtue with all virtues in totality, or a harmony of virtues, so that none protrude without need, but are all harmonious like voices in a choir. Outer good form gives each deed its place, time and other points of contact. When all of this is properly arranged, it is like a beautiful lady dressed in beautiful clothes. Virtue which is in good form both on the inside and outside is decent; it is Christian good sense that makes it this way, or according to spiritual elders: it is discernment acquired through experience and sensible examination of the lives of saints in the light of the word of God.

From the Prologue of Ohrid:

1. The Venerable Chariton the Confessor - Chariton was a distinguished and devout citizen of the city of Iconium. Imbued with the spirit of his compatriot, St. Thecla, Chariton openly confessed the name of Christ. When a bitter persecution of Christians began during the reign of Emperor Aurelian, Chariton was immediately brought to trial before the eparch. The judge ordered him to worship the gods, but Chariton replied: “All your gods are demons, and were cast from the heavens into the nethermost hell.” Chariton clearly proclaimed his faith in the One Living God, the Creator of all, and the Lord Jesus, the Savior of mankind. The eparch ordered that he be tortured and beaten, until his whole body was like one great wound. When Aurelian’s evil deeds caught up with him and he died an evil death, Chariton was freed from torture and prison. He then set out for Jerusalem. On the way he was seized by robbers, but escaped from them by God’s providence. Chariton, not wanting to return to Iconium again, withdrew to the wilderness of Pharan, where he founded a monastery and gathered monks. He established a rule for the monastery and then, to avoid the praise of men, withdrew to another wilderness near Jericho. There he founded another monastery called the Monastery of Chariton. Finally, he founded a third monastery, Souka, which the Greeks called the Old Lavra. Chariton died at a great old age, and took up his abode in the glory of his Lord on September 28, 350. His relics repose in his first monastery. The composition of the rite of monastic tonsure is attributed to St. Chariton. The Venerable Chariton the Confessor (fresco in St. John Evangelist Monastery, Patmos, 12th c.) 

2. The Holy Prophet Baruch - He was a disciple and faithful friend of the great prophet Jeremiah. He prophesied the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity, the destruction of Babylon, and the coming of the Son of God to earth. It is held that he was slain by the Jews in Egypt, as was the Prophet Jeremiah, in the seventh century before Christ. 

3. The Holy Martyr Mark the Shepherd - At the time of Diocletian, Magnus, the magistrate of Antioch, went hunting with his soldiers. Pursuing a wild beast, the soldiers saw that it fled to the shepherd Mark, who was tending his flock there. The beast fawned around Mark, a man of God. Seeing this, thirty soldiers listened to Mark’s explanation of the Faith, and believed in Christ. They were soon beheaded. The magistrate then bound Mark, took him to town and summoned three brothers, Alexander, Alphaeus and Zosimas, who were blacksmiths. He ordered them to make instruments of torture with which to torment Mark. All three of them, after conversing with St. Mark, confessed the Christian Faith, and ignored the magistrate’s order. The magistrate sentenced them to death, and ordered that molten lead be poured into their mouths. After this, the saintly Mark was beheaded, and his head was mockingly placed in the temple of Artemis. Because of this, that temple was destroyed by the power of God. 

4. The Holy Martyr Vatslav [Wenceslaus], King of the Czechs - Vatslav was the grandson of St. Ludmilla. As king, he labored in the Faith like the great ascetics, and strengthened the Orthodox Faith among his people. He was strict in ensuring that no innocent person suffer in the courts. In his zeal for the Christian Faith and in his love for his fellow man, St. Vatslav purchased pagan children who were being sold as slaves, and immediately baptized them and raised them as Christians. He translated the Gospel of St. John into the Czech language, and transported the relics of St. Vitus and St. Ludmilla to Prague. His brother Boleslav invited him to be his guest, and then killed him in his court. Immediately after this, Boleslav brought in German priests and had the services celebrated in Latin. St. Vatslav suffered in the year 935 and his relics repose in Prague. 


The Holy Martyr Vatslav, King of the Czechs From a wicked mother, good fruit was born: St. Vatslav, who pleased God. His wicked mother gave him only a body, But his grandmother— light and faith and hope. The glorious grandmother, pious Ludmilla, Nurtured Vatslav’s soul. As a white lily, Vatslav grew, And adorned himself with innocence. As the king reigned, the people rejoiced, And with their king they honored God. Yet the adversary of man never sleeps or dozes, Laying sinful snares for every soul, And he incited Boleslav against Vatslav. “For what, my brother, do you want my head?” Vatslav asked, but was still beheaded! But the evildoer did not escape God. The soul of St. Vatslav went Before the Most-high God, the Just, The One he had always adored, And with Ludmilla, Vatslav now prays For his people, that they be strengthened in faith. St. Vatslav, beautiful as an angel! REFLECTION In guiding the dispensation of this world, and especially of His Holy Church, God often makes unexpected moves, and changes the evil destiny of Hisservantstothe good.Thisoccurred many timesinthe life of St. Chariton. Following cruel tortures, Chariton was thrown into prison and was promised certain death. Then, Emperor Aurelian died unexpectedly, and the new emperor freed the Christian captives. Thus, Chariton escaped death. Then, when he was traveling to Jerusalem, robbers seized him and took him to their cave. They left him there, and went off to rob and plunder, with the intention of killing him when they came back. In this cave there was a wine cask into which a poisonous snake had crawled, drunk of the wine, and vomited its venom into the cask. When the robbers returned, tired and thirsty from the heat, they drank the venomous wine and, one by one, fell dead. And thus, St. Chariton was saved from death by yet another unexpected event. The Lord heaped misfortunes upon His servant, in order that by these misfortunes He would temper and purify him as gold is tempered and purified by fire, and that He might bind him even more securely to Himself. He delivered him from death, because Chariton had yet to establish several monasteries where, by his ascetic example, he would direct many human souls on the path of salvation. 


Contemplate King Uzziah’s turning to evil (II Chronicles 26): 

1. How Uzziah became proud and corrupt when, with God’s help, he became strong; 

2. How he violated the Law, took the censer, and strove to serve in the Temple against the protests of the priests. 

HOMILY on Christ’s last prayer for the faithful

Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am (John 17: 24) Behold the recompense of God’s laborers! Behold the glorious reward of the followers of Christ! That which the Son of God desires, the Father desires and the Holy Spirit also desires. And that which the Holy Trinity desires, comes to pass. What does the Lord, the Son of God, desire? He desires that His disciples be together with Him in the Heavenly Kingdom— and not only His twelve disciples, but also all those which shall believe on Me through their word (John 17: 20). My brethren, we who are baptized and who have received the Faith of the apostles and have kept it, are also numbered among these— but only under the condition that we ourselves do not disown that great treasure by our misdeeds, by apostasy from the Faith, by the impurity of sin, or by blasphemous words and thoughts. The Lord further says: Father I will… that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me (John 17: 24). No one should conclude from these words that the Son is less than the Father. For the Lord Himself said to His Father: I have glorified Thee (John 17: 4). Do you see the equality of the Father and the Son, and the boundlessness of Their mutual love? I have glorified Thee … and now, O Father, glorify Thou Me (John 17: 4,5). But the fact that Christ’s glory did not begin on earth or in time is shown by these words of the Lord Christ: the glory which I had with Thee before the world was (John 17: 5). Therefore, this is not an earthly or temporal glory: it is not worldly and human glory, but rather a heavenly, eternal, lasting and inexpressible glory. How does the Son of God want the Father to glorify Him? In such a way that He will show the heavenly and eternal glory to all those who have obeyed His Son, and who have followed after Him, and who have fulfilled His commandments. The man-loving Lord wills that, not only the apostles, but all of us who are called by His name, participate in this glory. Oh what mercy! Oh what love for mankind! Brethren, the dogma of our immortality, eternal life and eternal glory is not of men, but of our Lord and Savior Himself. May bodily cares, slothfulness at prayer, and mutual strife not separate us from this glory of Christ, from eternal life! O gracious and merciful Lord, forgive us our sins, and grant us Thine Eternal 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 Oct. 10/Sept 27

19th Week after Pentecost. Tone 1.    No fast.

Martyrs Callistratus and 49 companions, of Carthage (304). St. Sabbatius, wonderworker of Solovki (1435). Apostles Mark, Aristarchus, and Zenas, of the Seventy (1st c.). Martyr Epicharis of Rome (3rd c.-4th c.). St. Ignatius, abbot, of the monastery of the Deep Stream (963-975). St. Archippus, schemamonk of Glinsk Hermitage (1896). St. Rachel, schemanun of Borodino Convent (1928). New Hieromartyr Peter (Polyansky), metropolitan of Krutitsa (1937). New Hieromartyr Herman (Kosolapov), bishop of Volsk (1919). St. Flavian I, archbishop of Antioch (404). Martyr Sigebert, king of the East Angles (635). New Hieromartyr Anthimus the Georgian, metropolitan of Wallachia (1716). New Virgin-martyr Aquilina of Thessalonica (1764).

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Tuesday. [Phil. 1:8-14; Luke 5:12-16]

   The leper fell down before the Lord and besought: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. The Lord said: I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. So does every moral leprosy immediately depart as soon as one falls down before the Lord with faith, repentance, and confession—it truly departs and loses any power over him. Why does the leprosy sometimes return again? For the same reason that bodily diseases return. One who has recovered is told, “do not eat that, do not drink this, do not go there.” If he does not obey, the disease again flares up. So it is in the spiritual life. One must be sober, vigilant, and pray—then the disease of sin will not return. If you are not attentive toward yourself, if you allow yourself to see, hear, say, and do everything indiscriminately, how can sin not flare up and take power once again? The Lord charged the leper to fulfil all according to the law. This means that upon confession one must receive a penance and faithfully fulfil it; within it is concealed great preventive strength. But why do some say: this sinful habit has overcome me, I cannot handle myself. Either because repentance and confession were not complete, or because after making precautionary changes he adheres only weakly to them, or indulges himself. He wants to do everything without toil and self-coercion, and is laughed at by the enemy. Resolve to stand unto death and show [this resolve] in deed, and you will see what power there is in this. It is true that in every insurmountable passion that comes up the enemy possesses the soul, but this is no justification; for he immediately flees as soon as you produce an inner change, with God’s help.


Philippians 1:8-14 - For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.


Luke 5:12:16-And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."  Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately the leprosy left him.  And He charged him to tell no one, "But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded."  However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities.  So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.

Prologue of Ohrid for Today:

1. The Holy Martyr Callistratus - Callistratus was born in Carthage. He was a Christian from birth, for his father and grandfather were Christians. One of Callistratus’s ancestors, Neochorus by name, was a soldier in Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate, at the time of the Crucifixion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Witnessing the many miracles at the time of Christ’s death, Neochorus believed in Him, and was instructed in the Faith and baptized by an apostle. Returning home to Carthage, Neochorus brought his Christian Faith with him as a precious pearl. So it was that in time Callistratus was born, baptized and raised a Christian. While he was in the army there were no other Christians in his regiment besides him. One of his companions, seeing how St. Callistratus arose at night and prayed to God, reported him as a Christian to the commander, Persentinian. Persentinian was a cruel torturer of Christians. In order to confirm that Callistratus was indeed a Christian, the commander ordered him to offer sacrifice to the idols, which Callistratus straightway refused to do. He was then severely beaten and thrown into the sea. However, the power of God saved him, and he emerged from the sea in sound health. Seeing Callistratus’s endurance and miracles, forty-nine other soldiers came to believe in Christ. They were beaten and thrown into prison with Callistratus. In prison Callistratus taught his companions the Faith, and strengthened them. They displayed great bravery in suffering, and the Lord manifested great power through them. Then the evil torturer sent soldiers to the prison by night, and they slew St. Callistratus and his forty-nine companions. They suffered for the truth in the year 304. A church was later built over their relics. St. Callistratus (fresco in Dečani Monastery, 1345-50) 

2. The Holy Apostles Mark, Aristarchus and Zenas - Mark, Aristarchus and Zenas were apostles of the Seventy. St. Mark was also known as John. The holy apostles gathered for prayer at the house of his mother Mary in Jerusalem (Acts 12: 12). He preached the Gospel with the Apostles Paul and Barnabas (Acts 12: 25). After that, Mark was bishop in the town of Byblos. St. Aristarchus, a fellow traveler of the Apostle Paul, was bishop in Syrian Apamea (Acts 19: 29). St. Zenas (or Zena) was described as a lawyer by the Apostle Paul (Titus 3: 13). He was bishop in Palestinian Lydda. They shone as stars in the darkness of paganism, and brought many to the Christian Faith. Now they shine as stars in the Kingdom of Christ, their Beloved. 

3. The Holy New Martyr Aquilina - was from the village of Zaklivera, in the Diocese of Jedrene. She was a girl of eighteen. Her father embraced Islam, and even pressured her to become a Moslem, but her mother supported her in the Christian Faith. After many torments, totally wounded and bloodied, she breathed her last on her mother’s lap, and received the victor’s wreath of martyrdom on September 27, 1764. 

4. The Venerable Sabbatius of Solovki - Sabbatius is commemorated together with St. Zosimas on April 17. Today is commemorated the fact that he reposed in the Lord on September 27, 1435. 

HYMN OF PRAISE The Holy Martyr Callistratus 

St. Callistratus prayed to God, He prayed to God and gave thanks to Him. During torture for the Christian Faith, The torturer mocked Callistratus: “You believe in Christ the Crucified One! When I send you from this world, There will not remain one Christian In all of this great city.” St. Callistratus prayed to God, He prayed to God, and said to the judge: “You will crush my sinful body, And stain the earth with my blood, But a church will be built upon that blood. By your sword I will attain my goal!” As St. Callistratus spoke, so it happened: His blood, like a clear trumpet-call Quickly awakened the conscience of men. The city was baptized, the church was built, And the martyr achieved his goal. Now in heaven, in the heavenly army, The soldier of Christ, St. Callistratus And his companions, among the angels, Pray to God to deliver us as well, That through us too the Lord would be glorified! REFLECTION All our riches, glory and honor are as a brief repast that ends at death. No one takes a single crumb of this meal into the other world. Blessed is the one who understands that the soul is his only possession that is not diminished by anything, not even by death. Such a one thinks only of three realities: death, the soul, and God the Judge. Abba Evagrius teaches: “Hold your approaching death and the Judgment constantly in your mind, and you will preserve your soul from sin.” All our bodily cares in this life are like cares about a meal which must soon be cut short. St. Isaiah the Solitary says: “Have death before your eyes every day: think constantly about how you will separate from the body, how you will pass through the region of the powers of darkness who will meet you in the air, and how you will present yourself before God. Prepare yourself for the Dread Day of answering to the Judgment of God, as though you already behold it now.” One day, John, a rich merchant, came to St. Sabbatius of Solovki and brought him many alms. Sabbatius did not accept any of it, but rather told the donor to distribute all of it to the needy. John became very sad at this, and the saint, in order to comfort him and make everything clear to him said: “John, my son, stay here and rest until tomorrow, and then you will see the grace of God.” John obeyed. The next day, John entered the cell of Sabbatius and saw the elder in final repose, and sensed a wonderful fragrance in the cell. He who foresees the end of his life does not think of worldly goods. 


Contemplate the righteousness of King Uzziah, and God’s reward (II Chronicles 26): 

1. How the king did that which is right in the sight of the Lord; 

2. How, as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper. 

HOMILY on Christ’s last prayer for the faithful

That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee (John 17: 21) Brethren, God’s mercy is great. When a righteous man feels it, he weeps; but when a sinner feels it, he is ashamed. By the mercy of God, we are cleansed, illumined, saved, adopted and united with God Himself. However, no one should construe that, by this unity with God, we become of the same Essence with God and equal to God. We will never be of one Essence with God, nor equal to God, in the way in which the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are of one Essence and equal in being. That they all may be one the Savior says to His Father on behalf of His disciples, as Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee, and here He is thinking of the unity of love and not of the unity of nature. From love flows mutual obedience, mutual help, mutual mercy, meekness, humility, goodness, good will and sacrifice. And when the Lord says, Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5: 48), He does not mean that men can be equal to God, but means to show them the supreme example of perfection in every good thing. For many teachers of men have pointed to examples of perfection in some thing or some person, but not in God. Often enough, they have taught men evil, and pointed to it as an example of perfection. That is why the Lord teaches men to take the Heavenly Father as an example of every perfection, and to labor and strive for that true perfection, and not some other. By the grace of God, we are all adopted of God and become one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3: 28). However, we do not become gods; we do not become equal with the Persons of the Holy Trinity. Do not forget that it is said in the Scriptures: The heavens are not clean in His sight (Job 15: 15). The majestic powers of the heavens are not even equal to Him, so what then of man? However, by the grace of God, and because of the sufferings of the Lord Jesus, the faithful are raised up into unity with God, in love and spirit. Therefore, let us make an effort to do the will of God, that we in truth may be raised up to such majestic heights. O Lord Jesus Christ our God, Who art the God of every mercy and goodness; uphold us in Thy mercy to the end, and be not angry with us, but rather forgive us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.


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

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 8/Sept 25

18th Sunday after Pentecost. Tone 1.   Fast-free period.

St. Euphrosyne, nun, and her father St. Paphnutius, monk, of Alexandria (5th c.). Repose of St. Sergius, abbot, of Radonezh (1392). Monk-martyr Paphnutius and 546 companions, in Egypt (ca. 303). St. Euphrosyne, nun, of Suzdal (1250). Translation of the relics of St. Herman, archbishop of Kazan (1595). St. Dosithea the Recluse, of the Kiev Caves (1776). Commemoration of the earthquake in Constantinople in 447. St. Cadoc, abbot, of Llancarfan (577). St. Finbarr (Barry), bishop of Cork (ca. 633). St. Ceolfrith (Geoffrey), abbot, of Wearmouth-Jarrow Monastery (716). St. Arsenius the Great, catholicos of Georgia (887). Martyrs Paul and Tatta and their children Sabinian, Maximus, Rufus, and Eugene, of Damascus.  Repose of philosopher Alexei Stepanovich Khomiakov (1860).

St. Theophan on the Today’s Scriptures:

Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost. [II Cor. 9:6-11; Luke 5:1-11]       The fishermen toiled for an entire night and took nothing; but when the Lord entered their ship, and, after preaching commanded them to cast their net, they took so many that they could not pull them out and the net broke. This is an image for all work without God’s help, and for work with God’s help. When one person works, wanting to achieve something through his strength alone—he is all thumbs. When the Lord draws near to him, then one good thing after another flows in from somewhere. In the spiritual-moral sense the impossibility of success without the Lord is tangibly visible: Without Me ye can do nothing, said the Lord. And this law acts in all things. Just as a branch not grown onto a tree not only does not bear fruit, but dries up and loses its life as well, neither can people bring forth fruits of truth valuable for eternal life if they are not in living communion with the Lord. Any good that they might have is only an appearance of good, but in essence it is faulty—like a forest apple that appears red but if you taste it, it is sour. It is also tangibly clear in an external, worldly sense: one struggles and struggles, and all in vain. When God’s blessing descends, all comes out well. Those who are attentive toward themselves and the paths of life know these truths through experience.


2 Corinthians 9:6-11 (Epistle)

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: "He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever." Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.


Luke 5:1-11

So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets.  Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.  When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."  But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net."  And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.

So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men."  So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.


Galatians 5:22-6:2 (St. Sergius)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.  Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.  Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.


Luke 6:17-23 (St. Sergius)

And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed.  And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all. Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh.  Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man's sake.  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.

From the Prologue of Ohrid

1. The Venerable Euphrosyne

Euphrosyne was the daughter of Paphnutius, a wealthy and distinguished man of Alexandria. Her childless parents had besought God with prayer for the birth of a child, and they were given her. Her devout parents raised their daughter in the Christian Faith. Not wanting to enter into marriage, the young Euphrosyne hid from her father, changed into men’s clothing, and presented herself to the abbot of a monastery as a eunuch of Emperor Theodosius, giving the name Smaragdus. The abbot received her, and turned her over to the spiritual father Agapitus for guidance. By her fasting and prayerful asceticism, Smaragdus quickly surpassed all the monks in that monastery. When she had completed thirty-eight years of strict asceticism, her father Paphnutius visited that monastery, and the abbot directed him to Smaragdus for prayer and counsel. Smaragdus recognized Paphnutius, but Paphnutius did not recognize Smaragdus. When the father confessed his grief for his lost daughter, Smaragdus told him not to lose hope, for he would see his daughter again in this life, and besought him to come again within three days. When Paphnutius came again, Smaragdus was on her deathbed. The dying one said to Paphnutius: “I am Euphrosyne, your daughter; you are my father!” For a long time, the father was unable to come to himself due to his severe shock. Then, the Blessed Euphrosyne breathed her last, and her father wept over her. After burying her, Paphnutius himself entered the monastery, and settled in the cell of his holy, reposed daughter. After ten years of asceticism, Paphnutius also entered into rest in the Lord. The Venerable Euphrosyne (by S. Skliris) 


2. The Venerable Sergius of Radonezh 

Sergius was a great ascetic and light of the Russian Church. He was born in 1313, in Rostov, of devout parents, Cyril and Maria. After his parents’ deaths, Bartholomew— for that was his baptismal name— became a monk, and founded the Monastery of the Holy Trinity in the forests of Radonezh. As a quiet and gentle servant of God, he knew only labor and prayer. Because of the purity of his heart he was made worthy of the gift of miracle-working, even resurrecting the dead in the name of Christ. The Holy Theotokos appeared to him many times. Princes and bishops came to him for advice. He blessed Prince Dimitri Donskoy, and foretold his victory in the battle for the liberation of Russia from the Tartars. He saw into the hearts of men as well as future events. His monastery was full of monks, even during his lifetime and, century after century, has been one of the most important centers of spiritual life and God’s miracles. St. Sergius entered into rest in the year 1392. Following his repose, he appeared many times to various people. 


3. The Venerable Euphrosyne of Suzdal 

Euphrosyne’s baptismal name was Theodula. She was the daughter of Michael Vsevolodovich, and the betrothed of Menas, the Prince of Suzdal. She did not at all desire to marry, and prayed to God to preserve her as a virgin until death. When they took her to Suzdal to be married, her betrothed, Menas, suddenly died. Euphrosyne did not return to the home of her parents but entered a convent, where she labored in asceticism until her repose. God endowed her with the gift of working miracles. She entered into rest in the year 1250. 



The Venerable Sergius of Radonezh An example of prayerful meekness From his youth, holy Sergius Loved God and God’s beauty, And instilled serenity and goodness in himself. He filled the wilderness with ceaseless prayer, And transformed the forest into a holy place of God. He cared not for worldly vanity, Nor was he ever angered. He was utterly quiet and meek with everyone, Yet not meek toward the wicked adversary. With the foe of God, the father of all lies, Who seeks to devour the souls of men, Sergius bravely waged a bitter struggle, Tireless and powerful unto the final victory. Thus the elder reposed, but the saint remained As a fiery pillar for the Russian people, Beseeching God for every blessing And bringing blessings down from heaven to his people. Holy Sergius, do not cease to shine, Do not cease to pray to the Most-high God For the good of the Church, for the good of Russia, In the glory of Christ, O Saint Sergius! REFLECTION A saint does not shine outwardly. All of his riches are within, in his soul. A peasant came from afar to the monastery to see St. Sergius. When he asked the monks for the abbot, they told him he was working in the garden. The peasant went to the garden, and there saw a man in poor, ragged clothes, digging like any other peasant on a farm. The peasant returned to the monastery dissatisfied, thinking that the monks had made fun of him. So, to make things clear, he asked again for the glorious holy father, Sergius. Just then, Sergius returned to the monastery, and welcomed the peasant, serving him at the table. The saint saw into the heart of his guest, and knew the low opinion he had of his appearance. He consoled him by promising that he would see Sergius in a little while. A prince and his boyars then arrived at the monastery, and they all bowed low to St. Sergius, and asked his blessing. The monks then removed the peasant from the room in order to make room for the new guests. In amazement the peasant looked on from a distance, to see that the one he had sought had been nearby all the time. The peasant rebuked himself for his ignorance, and was greatly ashamed. When the prince departed, the peasant quickly approached the saint, fell at his feet and began to beg his forgiveness. The great saint embraced him and said to him: “Do not grieve, my son, for you are the only one who knew the truth about me, considering me to be nothing— while others were deluded, taking me for something great.” 



Contemplate the righteousness and sin of King Joash, and God’s reward and punishment (II Chronicles 24): 

1. How, at first, Joash hearkened to the high priest Jehoiada, and did that which is right in the sight of the Lord; 

2. How God blessed Joash with a long and peaceful reign; 

3. How Joash changed, and slew the righteous son of Jehoiada, and committed other evils; 4. How a small Syrian army defeated Joash, and plundered the land; and, how Joash, gravely ill, was slain in bed by his servants. 


HOMILY on the shared riches of the Father and the Son

All things that the Father hath are Mine (John 16: 15) These are some of the last words of Christ the Lord before His passion. They are the weightiest words— for they reveal the divinity of Christ the Savior to the world, and in connection with the words, He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you (John 16: 14), also reveal the equality of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son. That which the Spirit will receive of Mine cannot be different or contrary to that which is the Father’s, for All things that the Father hath are Mine. Why did our Lord not say, “He will take Mine,” but rather, He shall receive of Mine? Because the Holy Spirit will not reveal everything to men, but only a part of everything— as much as men can bear, and as much as is necessary for them. One part of God’s gifts are given to the faithful on earth, and another part will be given to them in the Heavenly Kingdom. This heavenly part is that which the visionary Apostle describes: Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him (I Corinthians 2: 9). All this, and incomparably more, is part of Christ’s possession. His possession encompasses not only this world, but also the other world, and it is incomparably greater and more precious than both worlds. Eternity is His, immortality is His, perfect might is His, perfect wisdom is His, perfect love is His, and perfect goodness is His, as are mercy and justice and truth. What else can we think of or express that is good? All perfection is His, and it transcends everything that earthly man can ever conceive of. The Father has all this, the Son has all this, and the Holy Spirit has all this. All things that the Father hath are Mine. By these words, the indescribably wealthy One, the unequaled Son of the King, Jesus Christ, revealed His boundless and inconceivable riches to His disciples on the dark night when He was about to stand barefoot before the Jewish elders to be scourged and spat upon. O our God, Most-holy and Most-abundant Trinity, have mercy on us sinners, and save us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.


Velimirovic, Saint Nikolai. The Prologue of Ohrid (Kindle Locations 20104-20179). Sebastian Press Publishing House. Kindle Edition. 


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. 7/Sept 24

Protomartyr and Equal-to-the-Apostles Thecla of Iconium (1st c.).

St. Coprius, monk, of Palestine (530). Sts. Stephen the First-Crowned (in monasticism Simon) (1224), David (13th c.), and Stephen Vladislav (1243), of Serbia. St. Nicander, hermit, of Pskov (1582). Monk-martyr Galacteon of Vologda (1612). St. Abramius, first abbot of Mirozh Monastery (Pskov) (1158). St. Theodosius, abbot, of Manyava Skete (Ukraine) (1629). St. Dorothea, schemanun, of Kashin (1629). St. Gabriel of Seven Lakes Monastery (Kazan) and Pskov-Eleazar Monastery (Pskov) (1915).

Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos “Of Mirozh” and “Of the Myrtle Tree” (ca. 1160).

St. Isarnus of Toulouse, abbot (1048). New Hiero-confessor Leontius, archimandrite, of Vilnius (1620). Arrival in America of the first Orthodox Mission: Sts. Herman, Juvenaly, and others (1794). New Martyr Peter (Cungagnaq) the Aleut (1815).

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures

Saturday. [I Cor. 15:39-45; Luke 4:31-36]

   If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins (John 8:24). There is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). We must receive remission of sins, but there is no way to receive it other than by faith in the Son of God, crucified in the flesh for our sake, on the condition that we do not desire to indulge in sinful habits and deeds; for when we sin, we have only Him as an intercessor before the Father. He who gives his word to abstain from sins must accept the helping grace of the Most-Holy Spirit; but this grace descended to the earth after the Lord ascended to sit at the right hand of God the Father, and is only given to those who believe in this marvellous economy of our salvation, and who approach the Divine mysteries with this faith—mysteries which were established in the holy Church of the Lord through the Apostles. Thus, he who does not believe in the Lord as He is cannot be pure of sins. Because he has not been cleansed of sins he shall die in them, and shall be judged of them according to their weightiness. When you want to do someone good that is of eternal value, guide him in true faith in the Lord, not allowing philosophizing or wavering. Those who directly or indirectly disrupt faith in the Lord must be considered everlasting evil-doers, for they wreak an evil that nothing can correct, and its power stretches to all eternity. Their ignorance does not justify them, for how can they not know that truth which is known to the whole world? Their opposing beliefs do not justify them, for if you should only start strictly testing them you would immediately shake their strength; a person cannot rely on anything other than faith in the Lord. Those who do not properly examine the foundations, faith, and teachings to which they adhere go astray in the faith. An exact investigation of the conditions for salvation will lead to the conviction that they can only be met through God incarnate, who died on the cross, and who sent the Holy Spirit down to the earth. In this lies the essence of the Christian faith. He who sincerely believes this way will not die in his sins, for he bears within himself the power which brings forgiveness. The unbeliever is already condemned, for he bears this condemnation within himself.

1 Corinthians 15:39-45

All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.  There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.  And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

Luke 4:31-36

Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority. Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are-the Holy One of God!"  But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!" And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him.  Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, "What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out."

From the Prologue of Ohrid

1. The Holy Protomartyr Thecla, Equal to the Apostles 

Thecla was born in Iconium of eminent but pagan parents. As a girl of eighteen, she was betrothed to a young man at the same time that the Apostle Paul arrived in Iconium with Barnabas to preach the Gospel. Hearing Paul’s testimony for three days and nights, Thecla converted to the Christian Faith, and vowed to live in virginity. Her mother, seeing that she was now ignoring her betrothed and no longer thought of marriage, tried to dissuade her, and then beat her and tortured her by starvation. Finally, this wicked mother turned Thecla over to the judge and demanded that Thecla be burned. The judge threw her into the fire, but God preserved her unharmed. Then, Thecla followed the Apostle Paul, and went to Antioch with him. Attracted by Thecla’s external beauty, a certain elder of the city wanted to take her for himself by force, but Thecla escaped his grasp. The pagan elder accused her to the eparch as a Christian who disdained marriage. The eparch condemned her to death, and had her thrown to wild beasts, but the wild beasts did not touch the body of this holy virgin. Amazed by this, the eparch asked her: “Who are you and what kind of power is in you, that nothing can harm you?” Thecla replied: “I am a servant of the Living God.” The eparch then released her, and she departed to preach the Gospel. She succeeded in converting many to the true Faith, among whom was Tryphena, a prominent and honorable widow. Then, having received the blessing of the Apostle Paul to do so, Thecla withdrew to a secluded place near Seleucia. There she lived a life of asceticism for a long time and, by healing the sick with wonderworking power, she converted many to Christianity. The doctors and soothsayers in Seleucia were envious of her, and sent some young men to defile her, hoping that the loss of her virginity would also mean the loss of her miraculous power. Thecla fled from these arrogant young men, but as they were about to catch her, she prayed to God for help. A large rock opened up and hid this holy virgin and bride of Christ. This rock was her refuge and her tomb. St. John Chrysostom says of this wonderful Christian heroine and saint: “It seems to me that as I see this blessed virgin, in one hand she offers Christ virginity, and in the other hand, martyrdom.” The Holy Protomartyr Thecla (мозаик у Еуфразијевој базилици у Поречу, Истра, 6 век) St. Sava, St. Simeon and Saint Stefan, the First-crowned King of Serbia (fresco in Bogorodica Ljeviška Monastery, Prizren, Serbia, about 1310) 

2. Saint Stefan, the First-crowned King of Serbia 

Stefan was crowned at his royal foundation Žiča by St. Sava, his brother and spiritual father. He was a devout Christian and a wise and peace-loving ruler. Stefan, with St. Sava, elevated Orthodoxy to great glory among his people. According to his wish, St. Sava tonsured him a monk before his death, and gave him the name Simon. He entered into rest in the Lord on September 24, 1224, and his miracle-working relics repose in Studenica Monastery. St. David, (formerly Prince Dimitrije) the son of Stefan’s brother Vukan, built the Monastery of Lim where he himself was tonsured a monk. The holy King Vladislav, son of King Stefan, built the Monastery of Mileševa, to which he translated the relics of St. Sava from Trnovo. He distinguished himself by a special compassion for the poor. On the coinage of his time, he had inscribed: “Vladislav, the servant of Christ.” 


The Holy Protomartyr Thecla, Equal to the Apostles St. Thecla, Equal to the Apostles, The first martyr of the virgins, Submitted her body to her spirit, And her spirit and body to Almighty Christ. Therefore all things submitted to her. Terrible fire and fierce beasts, Demons and the infirmities of men— All submitted to faith and purity, All were obedient to holy innocence, The innocence of Christ’s bride. Is not a mother a most great treasure? Yet what is a mother compared to Christ? And the betrothed, made of the earth, Is as dust before the glory of Christ. Riches and earthly beauty— A passing dream and wind that blows away. Only one Rock stands forever, And fears neither tempest nor time, And is the Bridegroom of Thecla the martyr: He is Christ, the King of kings. Holy Thecla, illumined in Paradise, Pray to Christ the Savior, And save us sinners from our sins. 


Every saint is close to the place where he is invoked for help, or where his sanctity is commemorated and glorified. Those who are clairvoyant see the saints. If those who are not clairvoyant truly believe, they will see them in due time. Even as a young monk, St. Cosmas of Zographou had this gift. Once, on the Feast of the Annunciation, he went with several other monks to the Monastery of Vatopedi for this, their main feast. During the church service, and during the meal in the refectory, Cosmas saw a woman of royal beauty and majesty, who authoritatively organized, directed, and even served. This was not a momentary vision, but continued for a long time, both in the church and in the refectory. Cosmas was perplexed and startled by this vision. It was not at all proper for a woman to be in a monastery of the Holy Mountain. When he related this vision to his brother monks at Zographou, all the while protesting the presence of women on the Holy Mountain, the astonished monks explained to him that she was the Queen of the Holy Mountain, the Most-holy Theotokos. Then the perplexed heart of Cosmas was filled with great joy. St. Cosmas was so gifted with spiritual sight that, later, as an old hermit in his cave, he saw the soul of the abbot of Hilandar ascending to heaven, struggling to pass through the tollhouses, tormented by demons. Cosmas immediately sent someone to ask the brethren at Hilandar to pray to God for the soul of their reposed abbot. Matins had just been dismissed, and the monks and the abbot had just left the church. Hearing Cosmas’s message, the monks laughed, saying that their abbot had just gone to his cell to prepare for Divine Liturgy. But when they entered the cell they found their abbot dead. 


Contemplate the sin of King Ahaziah and God’s punishment of him (II Chronicles 22): 

1. How Ahaziah did that which is evil in the sight of the Lord, and associated with the sinful house of Ahab;

 2. How Ahaziah was slain with many of his kinsmen. 

HOMILY on God the Holy Spirit, the Glorifier

He [the Holy Spirit] shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you (John 16: 14) The Holy Spirit is equal in might with the Father and the Son. All that the Father can do, the Son can do, and so can the Holy Spirit. All that the Father knows, the Son knows, and so does the Holy Spirit. But, according to Their infinite love for one another, and according to Their infinite wisdom with regard to the dispensation of man’s salvation, They appear in turn to men from the point of view of time. As the Father glorifies the Son, so the Son glorifies the Father, and the Holy Spirit glorifies the Son. He shall glorify Me. Did not the Son glorify Himself? Yes, He did, but not to the extent that He could have; rather only to the extent that men of that time could receive and endure it. In time, the Holy Spirit will reveal an even greater glory of the Son of God, when He, the All-gracious One, will fill the faithful with His gifts of grace. He shall glorify Me. Brethren, the Lord also speaks these words as a lesson to us, so that if we perform some good work, we shall leave it to others to glorify us, and not seek to glorify ourselves. For He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you. With these words, the Lord revealed the unity of the Spirit of God with Him, and not the subordination of the Spirit. Before this, He said: He will guide you into all truth (John 16: 13). So that the disciples would not think that the Spirit knows more of the truth than the Son, or that the Spirit is greater than the Son, He revealed that the Spirit shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you. Christ was able to guide the disciples into all truth, but at the time, the disciples were not prepared to receive all truth. Therefore, the Holy Spirit will guide them into all truth, at the proper time. Yet, in revealing all truth to them, the Spirit will reveal nothing that is not known to the Son, let alone anything that is contrary to the knowledge and will of the Son. That is why the Lord said: For He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you. O wondrous unity of the Holy Trinity, O power of the Triune Flame, light and love from one and the same fire! O Holy and Most-holy Trinity, kindle divine love in our hearts. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.


Velimirovic, Saint Nikolai. The Prologue of Ohrid (Kindle Locations 20026-20103). Sebastian Press Publishing House. Kindle Edition.