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The Prologue from Ochrid

Lives of the Saints For Every Day of the Year By Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic (Translated by Mother Maria) As Edited and Corrected By Dormition Skete Buena Vista, Colorado

September 14th - Civil Calendar September 1st - Church Calendar 1. The Beginning of the Church's Year. The First Ecumenical Council decreed that the Church's year should begin on September 1st. The month of September was, for the Jews, the beginning of the civil year (see Exodus 12:2), the month of the gathering of fruits and the bringing to God of sacrifices of thanksgiving. It was at the time of this feast that the Lord Jesus went into the synagogue in Nazareth, opened the Book of the Prophet Isaiah and read the words: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; because He hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance' (Is. 61:1-2; cf. Luke 4:16-21). This month of September is also noted in the history of Christianity because it was during September that Constantine the Great was victorious over Maxentius, the enemy of the Christian faith, a victory followed by the granting of freedom of confession of the Christian faith throughout the whole Roman Empire. For a long time, the civil year in the Christian world was reckoned in the same way as the Church's year, from September 1st, but it was later changed to January 1st, first in western Europe and then also in Russia in the time of Peter the Great. 2. Our Holy Father Simeon Stylites. Born in Syria of peasant parents, he fled from them at the age of eighteen and became a monk. He gave himself to the strictest asceticism, sometimes fasting for forty days. After that, he followed a particular ascesis, until then unknown: standing day and night on a pillar in unceasing prayer. His pillar was at first three metres high, then one of six metres was built for him, then eleven, eighteen and finally twenty. His mother, Martha, came to see him twice, but he would not receive her, saying to her from his pillar: 'Don't disturb me now, Mother dear, if we are to be worthy to meet in the next world.' St Simeon endured innumerable assaults from demons, overcoming them all by prayer. He worked great miracles, healing the sick by his prayers and his words. People from all sides gathered around his pillar: rich and poor, kings and slaves. He helped them all, restoring bodily health to some, giving comfort and instruction to others and denouncing some for their heretical faith. The Empress Eudocia was thus turned from the Eutychian heresy back to Orthodoxy. Simeon lived in asceticism during the reigns of the Emperors Theodosius the Younger, Marcian and Leo the Great. This first Christian stylite and great wonderworker, St Simeon, lived for seventy years, and entered into rest in the Lord on September 1st, 459. His relics were taken to Antioch, to the church dedicated to his name. 3. St. Joshua the Son of Nun. Joshua was the leader of the Jewish people after the death of Moses. Only he and Caleb, of the several hundred thousand Jews that left Egypt, entered the Promised Land. Read of his faithfulness to God, his works and his wonders in the Book of Joshua. He lived for a hundred and ten years, and died in about 1440 B.C. FOR CONSIDERATION We must, while we are in this world, make use of all that is at hand for the formation of our souls, for, when death plucks us out of it, we shall take nothing to the other world except our souls as they have been formed in this. St. Simeon Stylites, while still a young man of eighteen, fell flat on his face on the ground one day and breathed a prayer to God that He would show him the way of salvation. Lying there thus long in prayer, he had this vision: he was digging a trench as a foundation for something, and stopped digging to have a rest. At that, he heard a voice: 'Dig deeper!' He began to exert himself to dig deeper, but the voice came again: 'Dig deeper!', and he began again with a yet more intensive effort. The voice then said: 'Stop; that's enough. Now you must build, but you will not get anywhere without effort.' Those who make little effort and build the life of their soul on sensual shallows build their building on sand, and such a building cannot stand in this transitory world -and even less in the world that endures. September 15th - Civil Calendar September 2nd - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Mamas.
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He was born in Paphlagonia of eminent Christian parents, Theodotus and Rufina, who were thrown into prison for the name of Christ. In the prison, Theodotus was the first to die, and Rufina, after giving birth to a son, soon followed her husband, and the newborn child was left in the prison beside the bodies of his parents. God the Provider sent His holy angel to a noble widow, Ammia, whom the angel told in a dream to go to the prison and take the child. Ammia asked the city governor's permission to bury the dead and take the child into her own home. The child was dumb until the age of five, and then his first word was 'Mama', because of which he was given the name Mamas. At school, he showed an unusual brightness, and, being brought up at home in a Christian spirit, did not conceal his faith but confessed it before his contemporaries, mocking at the idols. In the time of the Emperor Aurelian, there was a vicious persecution of Christians, and the pagans did not spare even Christian children. Mamas was fifteen years old when he was taken before the Emperor. The Emperor told him to deny Christ only with his lips. To this Mamas replied: 'I shall not deny my God and King Jesus Christ either in my heart or with my lips.' The Emperor ordered that he be beaten, burned with torches and finally thrown into the sea, but an angel of God saved him and took him to a high mountain near Caesarea. There he lived in solitude and prayer, and fierce wild beasts were tamed by his holiness. He was eventually found there by the persecutors and put again to torture. Overcoming both the power of fire and the fierceness of wild beasts, holy Mamas was stabbed with a trident by a pagan priest. He thus gave his holy soul to the God to whom he had remained faithful in all his sufferings. Many of the sick have been healed by his relics. 2. St. John the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople. St. John is also commemorated on August 30th. He was a goldsmith at first, then, by God's providence and for his great virtues, was ordained priest. As a young man, St. John was once walking with an old monk from Palestine, Eusebius. Suddenly, a voice came to Eusebius from some invisible source: 'Father, don't walk on the right of great John !' This, the voice of God, was predicting the high service to which John was soon to be called. After blessed Eutychius' death, John was chosen as Patriarch of Constantinople. He was most unwilling to accept, but was overawed by a heavenly vision and thus gave his consent. He was a great faster, a man of prayer and a wonderworker right up to his death, entering into rest in 595. After his death, his only possessions were found to be a wooden spoon, a linen shirt and an old cassock. His writings on repentance and confession are well-known. 3. St. Eleazar. 'The son of Aaron and second High Priest in Israel, he helped Moses to number the Israelites and Joshua the son of Nun to apportion the Promised Land among the twelve tribes. He faithfully guarded the Ark of the Covenant in Shiloh, and died peacefully. 4. Feast of the Miracle of the Kaluga Icon of the Mother of God. This is recorded in the passage for consideration below. FOR CONSIDERATION The Orthodox Church has, within her experience, innumerable examples of almighty God's showing of His power through natural and mortal things, especially through those which serve as signs of the incarnation, life and suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ: the Cross, icons of the Mother of God and the saints, holy water, oil, myrrh and so forth. Thus was there wrought a miracle by an icon of the holy Mother of God in 1748, in the house of a boyar, Chitrov, near the town of Kaluga in Russia. Two of the boyar's serving girls, turning out junk in the attic one day, found a piece of folded linen on which was a beautiful painting of a woman's face. The face was full of light and devotion. One of these girls was modest and serious, but the other was vain and given to gossip. The former looked at the face on the linen and gave it the name `the abbess', but Evdokia, for that was the name of the gossipy one, would not have that, but jeered at her modest companion. To give more force to her words, she spat on the picture, and at that moment fell to the ground, her whole body contorted. She became blind and dumb, and began to foam at the mouth. That night, the Mother of God appeared to the parents of the afflicted girl, related to them what had happened to their daughter and told them to call the priest to pray before the discovered face and sprinkle the girl with holy water, and she would then be healed. When this had been done, Evdokia was restored to health and, from that time, her character changed and she became serious. Thus it was discovered that this was the miraculous face of the Mother of God. The icon was taken to the church in Koluga, where it is found today, still working wonders.
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September 16th - Civil Calendar September 3rd - Church Calendar 1. The Hieromartyr Anthimus. Born in Nicomedia, he was brought up from childhood as a true Christian.'His body was mortified, his spirit humble; jealousy was uprooted, anger tamed, sloth banished. ... he had love for all and was at peace with all, had a good understanding with all, was filled with zeal for the glory of God and was open to all.' It is not surprising that a man of such virtues was made a bishop. St Anthimus worked as a bishop in Nicomedia at the time of a harsh persecution of Christians under the two wicked Emperors Diocletian and Maximian. Streams of Christian blood were spilled, especially in Nicomedia. One year, on the feast of the Nativity of Christ, twenty thousand martyrs were burned in one church (see Dec. 28th). This happened during Anthimus' episcopate. The persecution did not end with this, but continued, and many Christians were thrown into prison and kept there for torture and death. St. Anthimus withdrew to a village, Omana, not to escape death but to be able thence to strengthen his flock in the path of martyrdom, that none should draw back through fear. One of his letters to the Christians in prison was seized and taken to the Emperor Maximian. The Emperor sent twenty soldiers to find Anthimus and take him. The grey-beard, discerning this, went out to meet the soldiers, brought them into his house as his guests and only then revealed that he was Anthimus. The soldiers, amazed at his kindness, urged him to hide, and said that they would tell the Emperor that they had been unable to find him, but Anthimus replied that he dared not allow God's Law to be violated by a lie in order to save his life. So he set out with the soldiers. On the way, all the soldiers came to faith in Christ and were baptised by Anthimus. Brought before the Emperor, Anthimus was submitted to harsh and long-drawn-out torture, and was finally beheaded with an axe. He glorified God and entered into rest in the Lord at the beginning of the fourth century. 2. The Holy Martyr Vasilissa. A nine-year-old girl, she suffered in Nicomedia not long after the death of Anthimus. The torturers covered her whole body with wounds, but she remained faithful to Christ. God preserved her unharmed in fire and before wild beasts. Her torturer, Alexander, seeing these wonders, repented and became a Christian. Vasilissa went out into a field, fell on her knees and prayed to God, thanking Him for her endurance under torture, and, while thus praying, gave her soul into God's hands. This was in the year 309. 3. St. Joannicius, Archbishop and First Patriarch of Serbia. Born in Prizren, he served at first as secretary to King Dusan. He became Archbishop in 1339, and in 1346 was raised to the rank of Patriarch. He was a zealous pastor, and brought order to the Serbian Church, being 'a great upholder of the Church's laws'. He entered into rest on September 3rd, 1349, and his relics are preserved at Pec. 4. Our Holy Father Theoctistus. A faster and fellow-ascetic of St. Euthymius the Great, Theoctistus was abbot of Euthymius' monastery six miles from Jerusalem, on the road to Jericho. He was in all things a disciple of Euthymius, governing the monastery under his guidance to the age of ninety. He led a godly life, and entered into rest in the middle of the fifth century, in the time of Patriarch Anastasius of Jerusalem. FOR CONSIDERATION He who desires to be saved must be absolutely obedient to his spiritual superior. Without this obedience, a man can perish, even with the greatest possible desire for salvation. The great saints, who held obedience to be a condition for salvation, themselves perfectly fulfilled obedience. When St. Simeon chose his ascesis on the pillar, this startled the other ascetics as being something new. They, not knowing if this way of asceticism was of the Spirit of God or the spirit of pride, sent various desert fathers and spiritual guides to discover this. Sending them, they told them to command Simeon in their name to come down from his pillar. If he refused, that would mean that his being raised up on the pillar was from the spirit of pride. If he heeded the command and was willing to come down from the pillar, then he must be left to stay where he was, because his readiness to obey showed that his ascesis was from the Holy Spirit. When the delegation arrived and told St. Simeon that the council of the desert fathers commanded him to come down from his pillar, Simeon immediately began to
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climb down the ladder. Seeing this, the fathers called out joyfully to him: 'Don't come down, holy Father; stay where you are! We now see that your ascesis is from God!' September 17th - Civil Calendar September 4th - Church Calendar 1. The Hieromartyr Babylas. This 'great and wonderful man, if one can call him a man', as St. John Chrysostom expresses it, was archbishop in Antioch in the time of the wicked Emperor Numerian. This Numerian made a peace-treaty with some barbarian king, who was of better character and a greater lover of peace than himself. As a sign of his sincere desire for a lasting peace, the king gave his little son to be brought up at Numerian's court. One day, Numerian butchered the boy and offered him as a sacrifice to the idols. Still hot from his wicked shedding of innocent blood, this evildoer went to a Christian church to see what was happening there. Holy Babylas was at prayer with the people. He heard that the Emperor was coming with his retinue and intended to enter the church. Babylas stopped the service, went out in front of the church and told the Emperor that, as an idolater, he was not permitted entry to the holy church where the one, true God was worshipped. Speaking of Babylas, Chrysostom says: 'Who else in the world would he fear, having with such authority withstood the Emperor? By this he taught kings not to spread their power further than the measure given them by God, and also showed the clergy how to use their authority.' The shamed Emperor turned back, but planned revenge. The following day, the Emperor summoned Babylas, and began to berate him and bid him to offer sacrifice to idols, which the saint, naturally, steadfastly refused to do. The Emperor then bound him with chains and threw him into prison. He also tortured three children: Urban, aged twelve, Prilidian, aged nine and Hippolinus, aged seven. Babylas was their spiritual father and teacher, and they had stayed near him out of love for him. They were the sons of a Christian woman, Christodoula, who herself suffered for Christ. The Emperor first ordered that each child be beaten with the number of blows that totaled his age, and then had them thrown into prison. Babylas, in bonds, was present at the beheading of the children, giving them courage, and then laid his honoured head under the sword. He was buried by Christians, in the chains in which he was bound at his death, in one grave with the three children. Their holy souls flew off to the company of heaven, and their wonderworking relics remained to be of support to the faithful, along with the enduring witness of their heroism in the Faith. They suffered in about 283. 2. The Holy Prophet Moses, who beheld God, A great leader and lawgiver of Israel, he was born in Egypt in about 1550 B.C. He spent forty years in Egypt at Pharaoh's court, forty years as a shepherd in meditation on God and the world, and his last forty years he led the people through the wilderness to the Promised Land, which he saw but did not enter, having at one time sinned against God (Numbers 20:12). He entered into rest at the age of a hundred and twenty. He appeared from the other world on Tabor at the Lord's Transfiguration, and, according to the testimony of St. John of the Ladder, appeared to the monks of Sinai. 3. The Holy Martyrs Marcellus and Cassian. The Emperor Maximian Hercules (285-305) ordered that all the army offer sacrifice to idols. Marcellus was a soldier at this time, and Cassian a notary. Marcellus, as a Christian, said: 'If a soldier's calling is tied up with the offering of sacrifice to idols, I cannot be a soldier', and he took off his military belt and weapons and threw them from him. He was immediately condemned to death. Cassian had to put this death-sentence into writing, and he refused to do so. They were beheaded together, and their souls went to the heavenly Kingdom . FOR CONSIDERATION The power of the saints after their death is much stronger than during their lifetime. 'This is why God has left us the relics of the saints' says St. Chrysostom in a matchless sermon on St. Babylas. Babylas was buried in Antioch. At that time, the Emperor Gallius, brother of Julian the Apostate, was reigning in harness along with Constantine's son, Constantius. Urged by a sense of devotion, Gallius brought Babylas' relics to the outskirts of Daphne, built a small church there and placed the martyr's relics in it. There was a famous temple of Apollo in Daphne, built on the place where, according to a pagan legend, a young girl turned into a tree (daphni -- laurel), to save herself from the god Apollo, who was pursuing her with uncontrollable lust. The idol of Apollo stood
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here, and was reputed to tell the future to all who consulted it. From the time that Babylas' relics were buried near the temple, the demon in the idol remained silent and stopped prophesying. When the Emperor Julian the Apostate later set out on his ruinous war against the Persians, he came to this temple to consult the idol on its outcome. The idol replied timidly that it could not give a clear answer 'because of the dead' buried in the vicinity.'This referred to Babylas, the presence of whose body had silenced the demon. Julian ordered that Babylas' relics be taken back to Antioch. As soon as the martyr's relics were removed, fire fell from heaven and consumed the temple of Apollo, destroying it for all time. Julian marched against the Persians, and died a terrible death in punishment for his blasphemous life. Such was the power of the martyr of Christ after his death: he silenced demons and called down fire from heaven to destroy the idolatrous temple, and the godless, apostate Emperor was punished with a dishonourable death. September 18th - Civil Calendar September 5th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Prophet Zacharias. Father of St. John the Forerunner, he was the son of Barachias, of the tribe of Aaron, a high priest in descent from Abia, and held the eighth degree of service in the Temple in Jerusalem. His wife Elisabeth was sister to St. Anna, the mother of the holy Mother of God. In the reign of King Herod, the child-slayer, Zacharias was serving one day in his turn in the 'Temple in Jerusalem. An angel of God appeared to him in the altar, and Zacharias was afraid. But the angel said to him: 'Fear not, Zacharias' (Luke 1), and informed him that his wife Elisabeth would bear a son in answer to their prayers, for Zacharias and Elisabeth were both old. When Zacharias doubted the words of the heavenly messenger, the angel told him: 'I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God', and Zacharias was made dumb from that moment, and did not speak until his son was born and he had written on a tablet: 'His name is John.' Then his mouth was opened, and he glorified God. Later, when the Lord Christ was born and Herod began killing the children in Bethlehem, he sent men to find Zacharias' son and kill him, for he had heard of all that had happened to Zacharias and how John was born. Seeing the soldiers, Elisabeth took John in her arms -- he was eighteen months old at that time -- and fled from the house with him to a rocky and desert region. When she saw where the soldiers had driven them, she cried out to the mountain: 'O mountain of God, receive a mother with her child!', and the rock opened and hid the mother and child inside itself. Herod, furious that John had not been killed, ordered that Zacharias be cut down before the altar. Zacharias's blood spilled over the marble and became as hard as stone, remaining thus as a witness to Herod's wickedness. At the place where Elisabeth hid with John, a cave opened and a spring flowed forth, and a fruit-bearing palm grew up by God's power. Forty days after Zacharias' death, blessed Elisabeth also entered into rest. The child John stayed in the wilderness, fed by an angel and guarded by God's providence, until that day when he appeared by the Jordan. 2. The Holy Martyrs Juventius and Maximus. Little is known about the lives of these two holy men, but their suffering for Christ is known from a sermon in their praise by St. John Chrysostom. They were soldiers in the time of the Emperor Julian the Apostate. In conversation at an army festival, they condemned the Emperor for his persecution of Christians. Someone told the Emperor of this, and he had them thrown into prison. Some of the Emperor's men visited them, with the intention of turning them from the true Faith, telling them how many of their friends had denied Christ. To this, these great men replied: 'We must therefore stand firm and with courage, and offer ourselves in sacrifice for their apostasy.' They were beheaded with the sword under cover of darkness, but their relics were found and discovered to have wonderworking power. 3. The Seventy Holy Martyrs of Nicomedia. Together with Urban, Theodore and Medimnus, these men were chosen by the Christians of Constantinople in the time of Valens' persecution of Orthodoxy, to go as the most honoured and eminent citizens of Constantinople to Nicomedia and beg the Emperor (an Arian) to leave at least their lives to the Orthodox Christians. The Emperor was furious and told them to go back home, but secretly ordered the sailors to set fire to the ship when they got out to sea, and save themselves in a small boat. The wicked servants of their yet more wicked master did this. The bodies of these glorious seventy were burned and drowned in the sea, but their souls swam off to the haven of eternal blessedness.
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4. Our Holy Father Athanasius. He lived in asceticism in Vilna, and was later abbot of a monastery in Brest. For his steadfastness in the Orthodox faith, he was beheaded by Catholics on September 5th, 1648. His wonder-working relics are preserved in Brest. FOR CONSIDERATION It is in vain that men try to find that which (God deliberately hides from them. If God had not permitted it, men would never have found gold and silver under the earth, nor power made from steam nor a spark of electric light. In vain did Herod slay many children in Bethlehem in an effort to kill the One, for this One was hidden from the sight and sword of Herod. In vain did Herod seek John -- and here is a mystery. The soldiers hastened after old Elisabeth, who fled with John in her arms, and could not catch her. Herod, in a rage, summoned Zacharias and shouted at him: 'Give me your son John!' But the old priest meekly replied to the king: 'I am in the service of the Lord God of Israel. As for my son John, I do not know where he is.' Maddened with rage, Herod ordered that Zacharias be murdered in place of John. The king's servants went to the Temple and asked Zacharias: 'Where have you hidden your son? Give him to us; the King demands this. If you do not give him to us, you will die yourself.' Zacharias replied: 'You may kill my body, but the Lord will receive my soul.' Zacharias was slain, but Herod was not content with that. The wicked king had no peace day or night, being tormented with the foreboding that the new-born King proclaimed by the Magi must be none other than John. But he tried in vain to find him whom God deliberately concealed from him. September 19th - Civil Calendar September 6th - Church Calendar 1. The Commemoration of the Miracles of the Holy Archangel Michael. There was in Phrygia a place called Chonae (plunging), not far from Hierapolis, and in that place there was a miraculous spring of water. When the Apostle John the Theologian, together with Philip, was preaching the Gospel in Hierapolis, he looked at this place and foretold that a spring would gush forth in it, a spring of healing water from which many would he restored to health, and that the place would be visited by Michael, the great archangel of God. This prophecy was very soon fulfilled: a spring of water appeared, which became known far and wide for its miraculous power. A pagan in Laodicea had a dumb daughter, which caused him great grief, but the Archangel Michael appeared to him in a dream and urged him to take his daughter to this spring, that she might he restored to health. The father immediately obeyed, took his daughter and there encountered many people who had come to seek deliverance from various ills. They were all Christians. The man asked how he should seek healing, and the Christians told him: 'In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, you must beg the Archangel Michael.' The father made his petition accordingly and dipped his daughter in the water, and the girl began to speak. Then this pagan was baptised along with his daughter and his whole household, and built a church to the Archangel Michael over the spring. Later, a young man called Archippus settled there. Pagans did him much malicious harm, for they did not want such power to be felt from a Christian holy place and many people be drawn to it. In their wickedness, they altered the course of a nearby river, so that it innundated the church and the spring. But, at the prayers of Archippus, the Archangel Michael appeared and opened a fissure in the rock at the end of the church, through which the flooding river plunged. So the place was saved, and became known as Chonae - plunging -- from the river's plunge through the opened fissure. St. Archippus lived there in asceticism till the age of seventy, and entered peacefully into rest in the Lord. 2. The Holy Martyr Romulus, and the 11,000 soldiers. When the Emperor Trajan was waging war in the East, he once ordered a count of the Christians in his army, and it was found that there were eleven thousand Christians in the imperial army. The Emperor ordered that they all be dismissed from the army and sent to Armenia. St. Romulus was an official at the Emperor's court. He went to the Emperor and chided him for these dismissals, acknowledging that he himself was a Christian. The Emperor ordered that Romulus be beheaded. Of the exiled soldiers, ten thousand were crucified and the others died under various tortures. 3. St. Eudoxius.
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A commander in the Roman army, he suffered for Christ in the time of Diocletian, being judged and tortured by the governor of Melitene in Armenia. With him suffered his friends Zeno and Macarius, and 1,104 other soldiers whom Eudoxius had brought to the Christian faith. After his death, he appeared to his wife Vasilissa, who was faithful to Christ till her death and entered peacefully into rest. 4. Our Holy Father David. He was a robber leader near Hermopolis in Egypt, and only in his later years came to himself, repented and became a monk. He entered peacefully into rest in the sixth century, being worthy of the Kingdom of God through his great asceticism. FOR CONSIDERATION Christianity has uprooted many barbaric customs from human society, but some of these customs, praiseworthy from the pagan point of view and shameful from the Christian, have remained to the present day as a hidden putrefaction from seemingly-healed wounds. One of these customs was the seizing and carrying-off of girls. St Basil writes strongly about this to one of his priests on the occasion of such an occurrence: 'Do all in your power, when you find this girl, to take her away and return her to her parents, and deprive the abductor of participation in worship, and also those who helped him, according to my earlier direction -- each of them with his whole house to be debarred from participation in worship for the space of three years. Any village that receives an abducted girl and hides her, and even holds her by force, is also deprived of such participation, and also anyone who encourages others to do this; that the abductor, like a snake or some such wild beast and universal enemy, may be driven from among them, and that we may show protection to the abused. September 20th - Civil Calendar September 7th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Sozon. Born in Lycaonia, Sozon was a shepherd and lived by the Law of God, teaching his brothers and sisters, and his friends, his devout faith. He learned in a vision that he would suffer martyrdom for Christ. At that time, there was a great persecution of Christians near the city of Pompeiopolis on the part of Maximian, the governor of Silicia. In the city, there was a golden idol which was worshipped by the pagans. Sozon left his sheep, went to the city, entered the pagan temple and knocked an arm off the golden idol, melting it down and giving the gold to the poor. There was a great outcry in the city because of this, and the pagans began to search for the guilty man. That no-one else should suffer for his action, Sozon went to the governor and declared himself to be a Christian and the performer of that act. The torturers first beat him, then chained him to a tree and flogged him with iron flails. When he was at his last breath, they cast him into the flames, where holy Sozon gave his soul to God. He suffered in about 304. His relics were found to be wonderworking, and a church dedicated to him was built over them. 2. The Holy Apostles Euodus and Onesiphorus. These apostles were among the Seventy. St. Ignatius the God-Bearer mentions St. Euodus in glowing terms in his Epistle to the Antiochians. Euodus was a disciple of the Apostle Peter, and his successor at his hands as Bishop of Antioch. Euodus wrote a work on the holy Mother of God, in which he expounds how the holy Virgin was taken to the Temple at the age of three, how she stayed there for eleven years and was given into Joseph's keeping at the age of fifteen, and how she gave birth to the Lord at that age. He wrote another work under the title 'The Lighthouse', but both these works were destroyed during a time of persecution of Christians. He was killed for Christ during one of the Emperor Vespasian's visits to Antioch . St. Onesiphorus is mentioned by the Apostle Paul (II Tim. 1:16- 18) as his sincere friend and helper. He suffered for Christ in Colophon, where he had been bishop. It is said that he was bound behind wild horses and torn asunder. Thus these faithful soldiers of Christ served with honour on earth and entered into the joy of their Lord. 3. The Holy Martyr Eupsychius. Son of Dionysius, a senator, he was brutally tortured for Christ, whipped and flogged and then flung half-dead into prison, where an angel of God appeared to him and healed him. Freed from prison, he gave away all his
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possessions, some to the poor and some to his slanderers. Arrested afresh, he was flogged until he gave his soul to God. Milk and water flowed from his wounds in place of blood. He suffered in the time of the Emperor Hadrian (117-38). 4. St. John, Archbishop of Novgorod. He was first a married priest and then, from 1163, bishop in Novgorod, building seven churches during his lifetime. He had a vision of the holy Mother of God and a rare power over demons, making them obey him, and he once miraculously preserved Novgorod from an attack by seventy-two princes. He suffered from diabolical temptations, but overcame them all by the power of the Cross and by prayer. Retiring to a monastery in old age, he received the Great Habit and entered peacefully into rest in the Lord on September 7th, 1185. FOR CONSIDERATION Victory over anger is one of the greatest Christian victories. We generally become angry either with those whom we desire to turn from sin or with our calumnators. In relation to this, we forget that anger is a mortal sin and that, in seeking the salvation of another, we risk losing our own, in the words of St. Macarius. Anger against an enemy usually involves some other evil sentiment, and that is the desire for revenge. St. Eupsychius had so conquered the passion of anger within himself that, in the face of death, he gave half of his possessions to the poor and half to his slanderers, because of whom he was being tortured and killed. He regarded his slanderers as his benefactors. St Chrysostom writes: 'Let us clip the wings of anger, and evil will not gain any height. Anger', he says,'is an evil sickness that can destroy our souls. Anger is a terrible fire that devours everything. If an angry man could see himself in the moment of anger, he would need no other counsel to cease from anger, because there is nothing more unpleasant than an angry face.' Abba Ammon confessed of himself: 'I spent fourteen years in Scetis, praying to God day and night to give me victory over anger.' September 21st - Civil Calendar September 8th - Church Calendar 1. The Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God. The holy Virgin Mary was born of her aged parents, Joachim and Anna. Her father was of the tribe of David and her mother of the tribe of Aaron, and so she was of royal blood from her father and priestly blood from her mother. By this, she foreshadowed Him who would be born of her as King and High Priest. Her parents were already old and had no children, and, because of this, were ashamed before men and humble before God. In their humility, they prayed with tears that God would bring joy to their old age with the gift of a child, as He had once given joy to the aged Abraham and Sarah, giving them their son Isaac. God, almighty and all-seeing, gave them a joy far exceeding all their expectations and their wildest dreams, for He gave them not just a daughter, but the Mother of God; He illumined them not only with temporal joy but with eternal. God gave them just one daughter, who later gave them just one grandson -- but what a daughter and what a grandson! Mary full of grace, blessed among women, the temple of the Holy Spirit, altar of the living God, table of living bread, ark of God's holy things, tree of the most delicious fruits, glory of the human race, praise of womanhood, fount of virginity and purity -- this was the daughter given by God to Joachim and Anna. Born in Nazareth, she was after three years taken to the Temple in Jerusalem, whence she returned again to Nazareth and shortly afterwards heard the tidings of the holy Archangel Gabriel concerning the birth of the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, from her most pure and virginal body. 2. The Feast of the Kalishto Icon of the Holy Mother of God. In the monastery of the most holy Mother of God near the village of Kalishto, to the west of Struga, the holy Mother of God revealed her power and mercy through numerous miracles. Many of the sick were miraculously healed, and robbers that intended plundering or desecrating the monastery were fiercely punished by an unseen power. The miraculous icon of the most holy Mother of God stands in the church, and nearby are two healing springs -- of St. Peter and St. Ananias. Not far from the main church, in a cave, stands the chapel of St. Athanasius. 3. The Feast of the Pochaev Icon of the Holy Mother of God.
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In the province of Volinsk there stands the famous monastery of the Mother of God in Pochaev, where she first appeared in about 1340 to two monks who were living the ascetic life in a cave. From that time, the place became an inexhaustible fount of innumerable miracles. FOR CONSIDERATION St. Dionysius the Areopagite writes of the immeasurable joy, the outer and inner radiance and the indescribable fragrance that he sensed in the presence of the holy Mother of God when he visited her in Jerusalem. In his enthusiasm, he says that if he did not acknowledge the one, true God, he would acknowledge her, the holy Virgin Mary, as God. The holy Virgin made such a strong and deep impression even during her earthly life, and she received an incomparably greater power after her physical death when, by God's will, she was exalted above the hosts of angels. Her power comes from her ceaseless prayer to God for the faithful, for all who turn to her for help. St. John of Novgorod, when he and his people prayed to her for help against an enemy army, knew that, at that moment, she was praying to God with tears for them, and Novgorod was miraculously saved. As she was in travail at the crucifixion of her Son, so she is in travail for all the weak who turn to her for help. It can be said that the whole earth is protected by the miracles of her mercy. There lives in Belgrade today a cafe proprietor, C.J., born in the village of Labunishte near Struga, whose mother took him, blind, to the monastery of Kalishto and where, after the priest had prayed over him before the icon of the holy Mother of God, he had received his sight. The first monk at Pochaev saw a flaming pillar stretching from earth to heaven, and in this flaming pillar he saw the holy Mother of God. She was standing on a rock, and a healing spring arose at that spot, and today gives healing to many of the sick. September 22nd - Civil Calendar September 9th - Church Calendar 1. Ss. Joachim and Anna. St. Joachim was of the tribe of Judah, and a descendant of King David. Anna was the daughter of Matthan the priest, of the tribe of Levi as was Aaron the High Priest. This Matthan had three daughters: Mary, Zoia and Anna. Mary was married in Bethlehem and bore Salome; Zoia was also married in Bethlehem and bore Elisabeth, the mother of St. John the Forerunner; and Anna was married in Nazareth to Joachim, and in old age gave birth to Mary, the most holy Mother of God. Joachim and Anna had been married for fifty years, and were barren. They lived devoutly and quietly, using only a third of their income for themselves and giving a third to the poor and a third to the Temple, and they were well provided for. Once, when they were already old and were in Jerusalem to offer sacrifice to God, the High Priest, Issachar, upbraided Joachim: 'You are not worthy to offer sacrifice with those childless hands.' Others who had children jostled Joachim, thrusting him back as unworthy. This caused great grief to the two aged souls, and they went home with very heavy hearts. Then the two of them gave themselves to prayer to God that He would work in them the wonder that He had worked in Abraham and Sarah, and give them a child to comfort their old age. God sent them His angel, who gave them tidings of the birth of 'a daughter most blessed, by whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed, and through whom will come the salvation of the world.' Anna conceived at once, and in the ninth month gave birth to the holy Virgin Mary. St. Joachim lived for eighty years and Anna for seventy-nine, and they both entered into the kingdom of God. 2. Commemoration of the Third Ecumenical Council. This Council met in 431 in Ephesus, in the time of the Emperor Theodosius the Younger. Two hundred fathers gathered at it. The Council condemned Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, for his heretical teaching on the most holy Virgin Mary and the birth of the Lord. Nestorius would not call the holy Virgin the Mother of God, but only the Mother of Christ. The holy fathers, in condemning Nestorius' teaching, confirmed that the holy Virgin be called the Mother of God. Besides this, it confirmed the decisions of the First and Second Councils, especially the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, laying down that no-one may add anything to, or take anything from, this Creed. 3. TheHoly Martyr Severian. He was a nobleman of Sebaste. At the time of the martyrdom of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (March 9th). he succoured them in prison, encouraging and serving them. After their glorious death, he was also arrested,
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whipped and tortured for Christ, and finally hanged from a tree with a heavy stone round his neck and another hanging from his feet. Praising God for everything, he breathed his last in the reign of the Emperor Licinius. in the year 320. 4. St. Theophanes, Confessor and Faster. After a life pleasing to God, in which he underwent much suffering for Christ, he died peacefully in the year 299. 5. St. Nicetas the Man of God. He lived in Constantinople in the twelfth century. His life was so pleasing to God that the doors of the church opened of themselves before him, and the icon-lamps lit spontaneously. At the desire of Sozon, a deacon, and at Nicetas' prayers, a priest with whom Sozon had quarrelled and with whom he remained estranged, appeared from the other world. There appeared first a row of priests robed in white, then a row in red vestments. Sozon recognised his adversary among them, and made his peace with him. This happened at night in the church at Blachernae. FOR CONSIDERATION One must give alms, not with pride but with humility, considering those to whom one gives alms as better than oneself. Does not the Lord Himself say: 'inasmuch as you did it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you did it unto Me' (Matt, 25:40)? Theophanes the Confessor, while still a boy, had a mind enlightened by the light of Christ. He was walking around the streets one day when he saw a naked child freezing in the street. He quickly took off his own clothes and wrapped the child in them, and thus warmed it and restored it to life. He returned home naked, and his astonished parents asked him where his clothes were. Theophanes replied: 'They're clothing Christ!' He was given Christ's grace, and was later a great ascetic, confessor of the Faith and wonderworker. If we give alms, whether in some other man's name or our own but not in the name of Christ, we cannot escape pride, which, as soon as it appears in the heart, brings to naught all the good works we have done. When we give to a beggar as a beggar and not as Christ, we can escape neither pride or disdain. What is the good of giving alms to a man, with the increase of one's own pride and the scorning of the man? A virtue is no virtue if it is mixed up with sin, as milk is not milk if it is mixed with petrol or vinegar. September 23rd - Civil Calendar September 10th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyrs Menodora, Metrodora and Nymphodora. They were three sisters from some place in Asian Bithynia. Brought up in a Christian spirit, they withdrew from the city into the desert, desiring to lift up their minds to God and free themselves from the illusory world, and thus to live their lives in purity and virginity as true brides of Christ. They gave themselves to fasting, prayer and toil, and God adorned them with the gift of wonderworking. When people began to bring the sick to them for healing, they became known against their will. A certain governor, Fronton, heard of them and brought them to trial. Seeing them, the governor was amazed at their beauty, for, although they were nuns and their bodies were withered, their faces were radiant, illumined by an inner peace and the grace of God. The governor at first flattered them and promised to send them to the Emperor, who would give them in marriage to his nobles, but, when he realised that his flattery and promises were having no effect on these brides of Christ the Lord, he ordered that Menodora be put to torture and her sisters be thrown into prison. After harsh torture, the governor cried to Menodora. all wounded and covered in blood: 'Offer sacrifice to the gods!' To this the holy martyr replied: 'Don`t you see that I am doing nothing but offering myself in sacrifice to my God?' When she expired under torture, the governor brought out her two sisters and stood them beside Menodora's dead body, and, pointing to it, urged them to deny Christ. As they remained steadfast, he tortured them to death. At that, a thunderbolt fell from the sky and killed the soul-less Fronton and his servants. Christians buried the bodies of these holy martyrs, who suffered some time between 305 and 311, in the time of Galerius, and entered into rest in the Kingdom of Christ. 2. St. Pulcheria the Empress.
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Daughter of the Emperor Arcadius, she vowed to remain in perpetual virginity, and, as an earnest of this vow, had a table of gold and precious stones made for the cathedral. She reigned together with her brother Theodosius the Younger, and was greatly zealous for the Orthodox faith. It was at her instigation that the Third Ecumenical Council in Ephesus was summoned, which condemned the Nestorian heresy. She built the famous church of the Mother of God at Blachernae in Constantinople. After Theodosius' death, she married Marcian, who was chosen as Emperor, and lived with him as a brother. It was she who found the relics of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. She entered into rest in the Lord on September 10th, 453, at the age of fifty-five. 3. Ss. Apollos, Lucius and Clement. Apostles among the Seventy: Apollos (Acts 18:24-25) was bishop in Smyrna before St. Polycarp. St. Lucius (Rom. 16:21) was bishop in Laodicea and St. Clement was bishop in Sardis. 4. The Three Holy Women of Constantinople. A noblewoman of Constantinople with her two handmaids, they scorned the vanity of the world and withdrew to solitude, where, after eleven years of asceticism, they entered into rest in the Lord. FOR CONSIDERATION The examples of courage and endurance that are given by the Christian martyrs -- thousand upon thousand of them -- shine with radiant glory through every page of the history of the Christian Church. But, as the examples of voluntary martyrs are given us to marvel at, so also (and no less) are the examples of the Christian ascetics, known and unknown, for asceticism is nothing other than a long-drawn-out martyrdom. Paul, Bishop of Monemvasia, has given to posterity the instructive example of a group of women ascetics. While he was still a layman and a tax-collector, he happened to stay in a monastery. Seeing ravens set about the fruit trees, stealing the fruit and carrying it off, he was curious and, together with the monks, set off after them to see where they were carrying the fruit. Going thus, they came to an impenetrable forest, into the depths of which the ravens disappeared, left their stolen fruit and quickly returned. Exploring, they found a cave and, in it, three nuns. The eldest of them told him of their life: how she had been a Constantinopolitan noblewoman whose husband had died and whom another noble had wanted to take by force as his wife. But she had decided, after her husband's death, that she would spend the rest of her life in virginity, and had therefore given her goods away to the poor and, with her two handmaids, had fled to this remote spot. They had spent eleven years there in fasting and prayer, seeing no-one and seen of no-one but God. He, in His providence, had arranged for birds to bring them fruit to eat. They then begged the abbot to bring them Holy Communion. When they had received Communion, three days later, all three holy women entered into rest, and the monks buried them. September 24th - Civil Calendar September 11th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Mother Theodora. From Alexandria, she was the wife of a young man. Urged on by a fortune-teller, she committed adultery with another man. Her conscience immediately began to trouble her, and she cut off her hair and dressed in men's garb, then went off to the men's monastery of Octodecatos under the man's name of Theodore. Her labours, fasts, vigils, meekness and tearful repentance were a source of wonder to all the brethren. Slandered by some harlot, who said that Theodora had lain with her, she would not let the truth be known, regarding it as a punishment from God for her former sin. Driven out of the monastery, she spent seven years wandering in the forests and deserts, caring for the harlot's child. She overcame all the enemy's assaults, refusing to worship Satan, to take food from the hand of a soldier or to heed her husband's demand that she return to him -- for all that was simply devilish illusion, and when Theodora made the sign of the Cross, it all vanished away like smoke. After seven years, the abbot of the monastery received her back, and she lived there in asceticism a further two years and then entered into rest in the Lord. Only then did the monks learn that she was a woman; an angel appeared to the abbot and explained everything to him. Her husband came to her funeral, and remained till his death in the cell of his former wife. St. Theodora had very great grace from God: she tamed wild beasts, healed sicknesses and brought water to a dry well. Thus God glorified this true penitent, who, with heroic endurance, spent nine years repenting of one sin. She entered into rest in the year 490.
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2. St Paphnutius the Confessor. A bishop in the Egyptian Thebaid, he suffered greatly for the Orthodox faith: heretics put out one of his eyes and broke his left leg. He took part in the First Ecumenical Council, refuting the Arian heresy with great power. The Emperor Constantine valued him greatly, and often kissed him on the missing eye, lost for the truth of Orthodoxy. At the Council, he stood in opposition to the western representatives, who proposed that secular priests be completely forbidden to marry. He was chaste throughout the whole of his life. 3. Our Holy Father Ephrosynus the Cook. A simple man and a man of God, he served as cook in a certain monastery in the ninth century. The spiritual father of this monastery dreamed one night that he was in Paradise, and there saw Ephrosynus, who chose for him three apples of Paradise. When he awoke, he saw these three lovely and fragrant apples on his pillow. He quickly found Ephrosynus and asked him: 'Where were you last night, brother?' 'Where you were, Father', the blessed man of God replied. The spiritual father then revealed the whole affair to the monks, and all knew of the holiness and godliness of Ephrosynus. But he, fearing the praise of men, immediately fled from the monastery and hid himself in the desert, where he spent the rest of his life. 4. The Holy Martyr Ia. Denounced by an idolatrous priest, she suffered for the Lord in Persia in the time of Sapor II, in 363. According to tradition, the sun was darkened at the time of her death, and the whole air was filled with a wonderful fragrance. She is glorified forever by the Lord. 5. The Holy Martyrs Diodore, Didymus and Diomedes. They were flogged for Christ's sake in Laodicea, and gave their souls into the hands of their Lord. FOR CONSIDERATION One must not hinder any man on the path of perfect self-giving and service of God. Many holy women, who determined to flee wedlock and consecrate themselves to God, were followed and hindered by their husbands. These women have usually escaped in the end, remaining steadfast in their intention, and have often, by their example, wakened their husbands' consciences and set them on the way of salvation. St. Theodora had to conceal herself from her husband with the greatest caution, and she therefore dressed herself in men's clothing and hid in a men's monastery. But there have also been husbands with godly wisdom, who, with their wives, fulfilled their desire to withdraw from the world and consecrate themselves entirely to God. The Emperor Frederick was betrothed to a maiden, Agnes Cheshka, but she would not agree to enter into wedlock, and, breaking off the betrothal, went into a monastery. Then the wise Emperor said: 'If she had left me for some mortal man, I would have had my revenge; but I dare not consider myself affronted that, in my place, she has chosen the King of heaven.' September 25th - Civil Calendar September 12th - Church Calendar 1. The Hieromartyr Autonomus. A bishop, he left Italy for Bithynia in Asia during Diocletian's persecution, going to a place called Soreoi, where he brought many to the Christian faith and built them a church dedicated to the Archangel Michael. He stayed in the house of a devout Christian, Cornelius, whom Autonomus ordained priest and then consecrated bishop. Not far from the town of Soreoi was a place called Limnae, entirely inhabited by pagans. St. Autonomus went to this place and quickly brought many to the light by the Gospel of Christ. This roused the pagans, and they hurried one day to the church of the Archangel Michael in Soreoi and, during divine service, slew Autonomus in the altar, killing also many other Christians in the church. In the time of the Emperor Constantine, a noble courtier, Severian, built a church over St. Autonomus' grave. Two hundred years after his death, St. Autonomus appeared to a soldier called John. This soldier dug up the saint's relics and found them to be completely uncorrupt, and many of the sick received healing from them. Thus God glorified him who glorified Him while in the body.
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2. The Hieromartyr Cornutus, Bishop of Iconium. Born in Nicomedia, in the village of Sarsalus, he was already very old when a persecution arose under Decius and Valerian. A torturer, Perinius, came to Nicomedia and began to seek out the Christians. They went out of the city and hid, but their aged bishop would not leave and presented himself to Perinius, proclaiming himself a Christian. The torturer bound him hand and foot and ordered that he be dragged through the town until his blood flowed. He gave his holy soul to God under the sword. 3. The Holy Martyr Julian, with his 40 companions. They all suffered in about the year 300, being first tortured and then beheaded. In the face of death, St. Julian prayed thus: 'To those who take some of my dust, grant, O Lord, the forgiveness of their sins and the subduing of their passions; may marauding birds never invade their fields, nor grasshoppers nor caterpillars, nor any other such dangerous or deadly thing; and do Thou receive my soul in peace.' 4. Our Holy Father Daniel of Thasos. An ascetic and the founder of a great monastery, he was a contemporary of St. Joannicius the Great and was present when Joannicius visited the island of Thasos, where the people besought him to free them from an infestation of snakes. The saint prayed to God, and the snakes, in large numbers, rushed into the sea and were drowned. 5. The Holy Martyrs Macedonius, Tatianus and Theodulus. They suffered for Christ the Lord in the time of Julian the Apostate at Myropolis in Phrygia. They were harshly tortured for destroying the statue of an idol, and burned on an iron grid until they gave their souls to God. While they were burning over the fire, these courageous men cried out mockingly to the torturer: 'Why not try our meat, to see if it's done!', and also, like the glorious archdeacon Laurence: 'Turn us over; we're done on this side!' Seeing and hearing the holy martyrs on the fire, the torturers were infinitely more confused and frightened than they were. FOR CONSIDERATION What sort of relationship must a man have with God? Uninterrupted and constant. 'Cleave to God as a son to his father', counsels St Antony. St Alonius says: 'If a man does not have a heartfelt sense that, besides him and God, there is no-one else in the world, he cannot find peace of soul.' The one God is enough, and more than enough, for all that the heart of man can desire. Blessed Theodora took on a strange child without a word, accepting it from her slanderers as her own. Out of love, she brought the child up in the fear of God. At the time of her death, she counselled the child thus: 'What more does a man need than God and His divine love? He is our treasure, our riches, our food and drink, our clothing and shelter, our health and strength, our mirth and joy, our hope and our confidence. Strive to find Him, my son. If you find the one God, that is enough for you, you will find more joy in Him than if you had found the whole world.' In thus saying, St. Theodora was not speaking from books or using another's words; she was speaking from her own experience. She had lived for seven years driven out and scorned by men, and during this time she had discovered by experience that God was all in all to her, and that the one God is sufficient for all that the heart of man can desire. September 26th - Civil Calendar September 13th - Church Calendar 1. The Consecration of the Church of the Resurrection of Christ. When the holy Empress Helena found the Lord's Cross in Jerusalem, she stayed longer in the city and built churches in Gethsemane, in Bethlehem, on the Mount of Olives and in other places that commemorated the life and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. On Golgotha, where she found the Precious Cross, she began to build an enormous church, under whose roof would be the places both where the Lord was crucified and where He was buried, the holy Empress wanting to bring under one roof the places of His suffering and His glory. But Helena went to the Lord before this magnificent church was completed. It was finished in the same year in which Constantine completed thirty years on the throne, and so the consecration of the church and the Emperor's Jubilee were fixed for the same day, September 13th, 335. At that time, a local Council of bishops was meeting in Tyre. These bishops, with many others, made their way to Jerusalem, to the solemn consecration of the
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Church of the Resurrection of the Lord. It was then instituted that this day, as a day of victory and triumph for the Church of Christ, should be celebrated every year. 2. The Hieromartyr Cornelius the Centurion. A Roman and an officer in Palestinian Caesarea, he was baptised by the Apostle Peter after a heavenly vision (Acts 10:1), and was the first pagan to enter the Church of God. Until then, some thought that the Church of Christ was only for the Jews and for those who received Jewish circumcision. Being baptised, Cornelius left everything and followed the Apostle Peter. The Apostle later made him bishop and sent him to the pagan town of Skepseis, where holy Cornelius suffered much humiliation and pain for the sake of Christ. But, by the power of God, he destroyed the temple of Apollo and baptised the prince of that town, Dimitrios, and two hundred and seventy seven pagans. Forewarned by God of the day of his death, he gathered all the Christians together, gave them counsel, prayed to God and peacefully went to his Lord full of years. In time, his grave was forgotten and neglected, but the saint appeared to Silvanus, the Bishop of Troas,, and showed him the whereabouts of his grave, commanding him to build a church there. The bishop did so, with the help of a wealthy citizen, Eugenius. Many miracles have been performed over his relics. 3. The Holy Martyrs Macrobius and Gordian. From Pamphlagonis, they were at first imperial cup-hearers, but, when they revealed that they were Christians, the Emperor exiled them to Sceta, where they were cast into the flames in a place called New Danube, in the year 320. 4. The Holy Martyr Ketevana, Queen of Georgia. She suffered as a Christian under Shah Abbes I, in 1624. By order of the Shah, a white-hot helmet was placed on her head. Her son Taymuraz, King of Georgia, laid her relics under the throne in the church at Alaverdsk in Georgia. 5. Our Holy Father Hierotheos. Born in the Peloponnese in the village of Kalamata, he lived in asceticism in the monastery of Iviron on the Holy Mountain. He was distinguished by great secular learning and by strict monastic asceticism, and was at pains to fulfil the rule of St. Arsenius: 'It is enough for a monk to sleep one hour out of the twenty-four.' He entered into rest in 1745 on the island of Varos, and his relics have wonderworking power. Of these relics, his head is preserved in the monastery of Iviron. On touching his holy relics in Constantinople, a blind woman received her sight. FOR CONSIDERATION What happens to the persecutors of Christ's Church? Ask Saul, the persecutor of the Church, what happened to him. 'It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks' (Acts 9:5), said the Lord to Saul, and Saul was baptised and became Paul. What happened to Herod, the first persecutor of Christians? What happened to Julian the Apostate'! They died an evil death, and their struggle against Christ dispersed into nothing, like smoke. And so throughout history: some persecutors became Christians and others had an evil end. The efforts of the one and the other against Christianity dispersed into nothing, like smoke. The Emperor Hadrian, attacking Jerusalem, meant to be revenged not only on the Jews but also on the Christians, making no distinction between the two. He scattered the Jews throughout the world and, in the place where Solomon's Temple had been, built a temple for idol-worship. He also re-named Jerusalem Aelia, after his own name, and forbade anyone to call it Jerusalem. He built a temple on Golgotha to the foul Venus, a temple to Zeus over the Lord's tomb and a temple to Adonis in Bethlehem. How distressed the Christians of that time must have been, seeing their holy places defiled in such a way! But what happened in the end? The Emperor Hadrian died an evil death, and the pagan temples were pulled down in the time of the Empress Helena and the Emperor Constantine. who in their place built beautiful churches which remain to this day. 'It is hard to kick against the pricks.' Oh, what a hopeless despair is the lot of all who struggle against Christ! September 27th - Civil Calendar September 14th - Church Calendar
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1. Holy Cross Day. On this day are commemorated two events connected with the Precious Cross of Christ: the first, the finding of the Cross on Golgotha and the second the returning of the Cross to Jerusalem from Persia. Staying in the Holy Land, the holy Empress Helena decided to look for the Precious Cross of the Lord. An old Jew called Judah was the only person who knew the whereabouts of the Cross, and, under pressure from the Empress, he revealed that the Cross was buried under the Temple of Venus that the Emperor Hadrian had built on Golgotha. The Empress ordered that this idolatrous temple be pulled down, and then, digging deep below it, she found three crosses. While the Empress was in uncertainty about how to recognise which cross was the Lord's, a funeral procession passed by. Then Patriarch Macarius told them to place the crosses one by one on the dead man. When they placed the first and second on him, the dead man remained unchanged, but when they placed the third on him, he was restored to life. By this, they knew that this was the Precious and life-giving Cross of Christ. After that, they placed it on a sick woman, and she recovered. Then the Patriarch raised the Cross aloft for all to see, and the people sang with tears: 'Lord, have mercy!' The Empress Helena had a silver casing made, and placed the precious Cross in it. Later, King Chozroes conquered Jerusalem, took the people into slavery and carried the Lord's Cross off to Persia, where it remained for fourteen years. In 628, the Greek Emperor Heraclius was victorious over Chozroes and brought the Cross back to Jerusalem with great ceremony. Entering the city, Heraclius was carrying the Cross on his back, but suddenly the aged Emperor was unable to take another step. Patriarch Zacharias saw an angel directing the Emperor to take off his imperial robes and walk beneath the Cross along the way that Christ had walked, barefoot and humiliated as He had been. He passed this vision on to the Emperor, who stripped himself of his raiment and, in poor clothing and barefoot, took up the Cross, carried it to Golgotha and placed it in the Church of the Resurrection, to the joy and consolation of the whole Christian world. 2. St Placilla the Empress. The wife of the Emperor Theodosius the Great, she was a true Christian in both thought and deed. She was especially distinguished by her help to the poor and the sick. When someone told her that this was not consistent with her imperial dignity, she replied: 'It befits the imperial state to help with money; my personal endeavours (towards the poor) I give to Him whose good will it was to give me this state.' She entered peacefully into rest in about 400. 3. Our Holy Father, the Martyr Macarius of Salonica. A disciple of Patriarch Niphon at the time that the latter was labouring in the asceticism of silence at Vatopedi, Macarius longed for martyrdom for the sake of Christ, and begged St Niphon's blessing to seek it. The discerning Patriarch, perceiving that this was God's will, blessed him for the way of martyrdom. Macarius went to Salonica and, in the midst of a crowd of Turks, began to speak of Christ as the one, true God. The Turks seized him and threw him into prison. When he was brought to trial, Macarius cried out to the Turks: 'Oh, that you would come to know the truth and be baptised in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!' The Turks beheaded him in 1527. At that moment, Niphon saw this in his spirit at Vatopedi, and told a monk of Macarius' death by martyrdom, saying: 'Know, my child, that your brother Macarius has today died a martyr, and is borne to heaven, triumphing and rejoicing in the Lord. May we be worthy of blessing by his prayers!' (From the Athonite Patrology). 4. Our Holy Mother Maria of Tarsus. She at first lived a life of harlotry. Two monks traveling through Tarsus stayed at the inn where Maria plied her trade. When she approached the monks, they rebuked her and pushed her away as unclean. She suddenly repented and vowed to sin no more from that moment. The monks took her with them to a women's monastery, where Maria lived in asceticism till old age. She had the gift of wonderworking during her lifetime and after her death. FOR CONSIDERATION As one candle is lit from another, so good works are caught from others. A nobleman decided to give a gold cross to a church, and found a young but experienced goldsmith, gave him a great measure of gold and told him to make whatever sort of cross he liked. The poor goldsmith, seeing such an offering made by the nobleman for
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the sake of his soul, was fired in his own heart with love for God, and decided to add ten gold pieces of his own to the nobleman's heap of gold. When the cross was ready, the nobleman weighed it and found that it was heavier than the gold that he had given to the young man. He immediately began to abuse him as a thief, suspecting him of having abstracted some of the gold and substituted a heavier metal. When the young man saw the nobleman in such a rage, he confessed his deed. 'I added', he said, 'some gold of my own, as the widow gave her two mites, to receive Christ's reward along with you.' Hearing this, the nobleman's heart was touched and he said to the young man: 'From this day, you are my son and the inheritor of all my goods.' September 28th - Civil Calendar September 15th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Nicetas. Nicetas was a Goth by birth, and a disciple of Bishop Theophilus of the Goths, who took part in the First Ecumenical Council. When Athenarik, Prince of the Goths, began to persecute the Christians, St Nicetas stood before the prince and denounced him for his paganism and inhumanity. Tormented by terrible tortures, Nicetas the more strongly confessed his faith in Christ, and prayed to God with thanksgiving. His mind was unceasingly lifted up to God and immersed in Him, and in his hand beneath his robe he held an icon of the holy Mother of God with the pre-eternal Christ Child standing and holding the Cross in His hands. St Nicetas carried this icon because the holy Mother of God had appeared to him and comforted him. Finally, the torturer threw Christ's martyr into the flames, in which St Nicetas breathed his last; but his body remained untouched by the fire. His friend Marianus took his body from the land of the Goths (Wallachia and Bessarabia) to Cilicia, to the town of Mopsuestia, where he built a church dedicated to St Nicetas and placed the wonderworking relics of the martyr in it. Nicetas suffered and was glorified in 372. 2. Our Holy Father Philotheus. He was from the village of Myrmix or Mravin in Asia Minor. His mother had the same name the other way round -- Theophila. He was a priest, and a wonderworker even during his lifetime. On one occasion, he turned water into wine, and on another multiplied bread. He entered into rest in the Lord in the tenth century, and myrrh was found to flow from his relics. 3. The Holy Martyr Porphyrius. An actor, he first mocked at Christians before Julian the Apostate. On one occasion, when he was mimicking the Christian mystery of Baptism, he was dipped into the water, pronouncing the words: 'In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.' When he emerged from the water, he cried out: 'Now I am a Christian!' Everyone thought that this was in jest, as always, but he held firm to it, stopped mocking Christians and finally suffered for Christ. He was beheaded in 361, and entered into the Kingdom of Christ. 4. The Holy Martyrs Theodotus, Asclepidote and Maximus. Nobles of Trachis, they suffered for Christ near Philipopolis in the village of Saltis, some time between 305 and 311, and entered into the Kingdom of heaven. 5. St Vissarion, Archbishop of Larissa, the Wonderworker. He founded the Monastery of the Saviour in the diocese of Larissa, and was glorified by his miracles both during his lifetime and after his death. He lived in the sixteenth century. 6. The Holy New Martyr John of Crete. He suffered for the Christian faith under the Turks in the city of Ephesus in 1811. 7. St Joseph, Bishop of Alaverdsk. One of the twelve Syrian fathers (see May 7th), who were sent to the Caucasus area to preach the Gospel, St John went peacefully to the Lord in 570. His wonderworking relics are preserved in the Cathedral in Alaverdsk. FOR CONSIDERATION

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God is not mocked. He either punishes mockers to correct them, or turns them to that which they mocked. St Porphyrius was at first famous among the pagans as a mocker of Christianity. On one occasion, he enacted a mock Christian baptism before the Emperor Julian the Apostate and his court. But something utterly unpremeditated happened. When Porphyrius went down into the water and spoke the words of baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity, his soul was suddenly changed within him and he indeed became a Christian. In place of his mocking of the Christian faith, he began to denounce the Emperor for his impure idolatry. For this he was tortured and beheaded. A similar thing happened with a comedian, Gennesus, probably in the time of Diocletian. This Gennesus presented the Christian Eucharist before a crowd of pagans, delighting them all with his mockery and wit. But all of a sudden he changed and cried out before the people: 'I believe, and want to be baptised!' The onlookers thought at first that this was part of the act, but he went on reiterating his faith in Christ. When, before the judge and the Emperor, he remained steadfast in his faith, he was tortured and killed. Thus do Christ's mockers become His martyrs. September 29th - Civil Calendar September 16th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy and Great Martyr Euphemia. Born in Chalcedon, her father was the senator Philophronus and her mother's name was Theodorisia, both devout Christians. Euphemia was a girl beautiful in both body and soul. When the Proconsul, Priscus, celebrated a festival of sacrifice to Ares in Chalcedon, forty-nine Christians absented themselves from the festivities and hid themselves. But they were discovered and brought before Priscus, holy Euphemia being among them. When the furious Priscus asked them why they had not carried out the imperial command, they replied: 'Both the Emperor's commands and yours must be obeyed if they are not contrary to the God of heaven. If they are, they must not only not be obeyed; they must be resisted.' Then Priscus put them to various tortures for nineteen days, from day to day. On the twelfth day, he held Euphemia apart from the others and began to flatter her beauty, hoping to bring her thus to idolatry. When all his flattery proved fruitless, he ordered that she be tortured. First, she was put on a wheel, but an angel of God appeared and broke it. Then he had her thrown into a fiery furnace, but she was preserved by God's power. Seeing this, two soldiers, Victor and Sosthenes, came to faith in Christ, for which they were thrown to the wild beasts and thus finished their earthly course with glory. After that, Euphemia was thrown into a pit filled with water and all kinds of poisonous reptiles, but she made the sign of the Cross over the water as she went into the pit, and remained unharmed. She was finally thrown to the wild beasts and, with a prayer of thanksgiving, gave her soul into God's hands. Her parents buried her body. She suffered in the year 303, and entered into eternal joy. (St Euphemia is also commemorated on July 11th.) 2. Our Holy Father Dorotheus. An Egyptian hermit of the fourth century, he lived in asceticism for sixty years in a cell in the Thebaid. He was distinguished by a rare love of labour and by wonderworking power. By day he built cells for the new monks and by night plaited mats, never interrupting his prayer and psalmody. 3. St Cyprian, Metropolitan of Kiev. Born in Trnovo and given a Serbian* upbringing on the Holy Mountain, he devoted himself especially to the translation and writing of books. His patron was Patriarch Philotheos of Constantinople, who came to know him on the Holy Mountain, took him into his service and then sent him to Kiev as Metropolitan. He lived through all this with greatness of soul and, by his fruitful labours, brought much benefit to the Russian Church, spending almost thirty years as Metropolitan. At the time of his death, he wrote a Farewell which was read at his graveside. He entered into rest on September 16th, 1406, and his wonderworking relics are preserved in the Church of the Dormition in Moscow. *Author's note: Metropolitan Philaret writes that Cyprian was a Serb. See his 'Lives'. 4. The Holy Martyr Ludmilla. The grandmother of the Czech King Vatslav (Wenceslas) and wife of the Czech Prince Borivoy, she was very zealous for the Christian faith and was greatly instrumental in freeing the Church from paganism. Her daughter18

in-law hated her, and sent men to kill the aged Ludmilla in Techino in 927. Vatslav buried her in the Church of St George in Prague, and many miracles were wrought over her relics. Holy Vatslav, a great zealot for the Orthodox faith, was murdered by his brother Boleslav. FOR CONSIDERATION Often some unexpected misfortune comes upon us, and we vainly ask why. The Church of Christ alone is able to explain the cause of every misfortune. The Church places all misfortunes in two groups: One, those that come upon sinners because of their old, unrepented sin, and two, those that come upon the righteous and serve, according to the words of Chrysostom, 'as a means of receiving a wreath, as was the case with Lazarus and Job.' The Empress Eudocia was secretly in sympathy with the Eutychian heresy, hearkening in this to the counsel of the treacherous eunuch Chrysaphius. Misfortune suddenly came upon her. One day her husband, the Emperor Theodosius, brought her a large apple. The Empress sent the apple to the sick senator Paulinus. He, out of love for the Emperor, sent this same apple to Theodosius. This gave rise in the Emperor to suspicion and uncertainty towards his wife and the senator, and he asked his wife where the apple was. She lied, and said that she had eaten it. This added to the Emperor's suspicions, and he exiled Eudocia to Palestine. In time, Eudocia recovered from her heresy and, acting on the advice of the great Palestinian spiritual teachers, returned whole-heartedly to Orthodoxy. The Empress' misfortune did not arise from any misconduct with Paulinus -- in this she was completely innocent -- but because of her heretical beliefs. Another and different example: the Emperor Marcian, as a military commander, was traveling one day near Philipopolis when he saw the dead body of a man on the highway. From simple compassion, he got off his horse and began to bury the man. Someone came upon him, and brought the commander to trial as a murderer. Marcian would have been punished by death if God had not quickly revealed who was the real murderer. This misfortune falls in the second group: 'for the receiving of a wreath'. General Marcian was soon after this chosen as Emperor. September 30th - Civil Calendar September 17th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyrs Vera, Nada and Lubov (Faith, Hope and Love), and their mother Sophia. They lived and suffered in Rome in the time of the Emperor Hadrian. The wise Sophia (as her name -- Sophia - wisdom, indicates) was left a widow and, as a Christian, steeped herself and her daughters in the Christian faith. At the time that Hadrian's persecuting hand stretched out over the virtuous house of Sophia, Vera was twelve, Nada ten and Lubov nine. The four of them were brought before the Emperor, with their arms entwined 'like a woven wreath', humbly but firmly confessing their faith in Christ the Lord and refusing to offer sacrifice to the goddess Artemis. At the moment of their passion, the mother urged her valiant daughters to endure to the end. 'Your heavenly Lover, Jesus Christ, is eternal health, inexpressible beauty and life eternal. When your bodies are slain by torture, He will clothe you in incorruption and the wounds on your bodies will shine in heaven like the stars.' The torturers inflicted harsh torture on Vera, Nada and Lubov one by one. They beat them, stabbed them and threw them into fire and boiling pitch, and finally beheaded them one after the other. Sophia took the dead bodies of her daughters out of the town and buried them, and stayed by their grave in prayer for three days and nights, then gave her soul to God, hastening to the heavenly company where the blessed souls of her daughters awaited her. 2. The Holy Martyr Agathocleia. She was a servant of one Nicolas and his wife Paulina, who were at first Christians but forsook Christianity and turned again to idol-worship. Holy Agathocleia refused to follow the example of her masters, and for this was harshly tortured both by them and by the judge. Finally, her mistress killed her by pouring burning coals on her neck, but God glorified His handmaid in His heavenly kingdom. 3. The 156 Holy Martyrs of Egypt. They were all Egyptians, and suffered for Christ the Lord in 310, some by the sword and some by fire. Among them were two old bishops, Peleus and Nilus, a priest, Zeno, and two renowned men, Patermuthius and Elias. With them also suffered Bishop Silvanus and an eminent, blind old man, John, who knew the Scriptures by heart and recited them to gatherings of Christians. They were all crowned with wreaths and entered into the eternal Kingdom of Christ.
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4. The Holy Martyr Theodota. She endured eight years of harsh torture on the part of the governor, Simplicius, who finally went out of his mind. She was beheaded with the sword in the time of the Emperor Alexander Severus, in about 230. FOR CONSIDERATION A God-fearing and faithful ruler is a blessing from heaven on his whole people. King Vatslav (Wenceslas) of the Czechs was such a ruler. His zeal for the holy things of the Faith and his strictness of life are reminiscent of the ancient ascetics. He devoted his days to administrative work and his nights to prayer, and he often prepared and cooked the holy bread, most especially when he himself was to receive Holy Communion. He was concerned in the building of many churches, in which daily services were celebrated, and gave especial care to the poor and needy. He was a lover of peace, although a great and fearless hero. When the neighbouring prince, Radislav, invaded the Czech lands, Vatslav sent him a letter, asking him what had roused him to make war against him. Radislav replied haughtily that he was after the whole of the Czech lands and Vatslav's throne. Then Vatslav gathered together a large army and marched against his enemy. Then, seeing the two great armies, he mourned the coming loss of life and sent the following message to Radislav: 'The quarrel is between the two of us. You want to conquer this land, and I refuse to let you. Let us settle this matter by single combat. What purpose would be served by a bloody conflict between our two armies?', Prince Radislav agreed to single combat, and, being overcome by Vatslav, begged his forgiveness on his knees. October 1st - Civil Calendar September 18th - Church Calendar 1. St Eumenius, Bishop of Gortyna in Crete. He gave himself to Christ with his whole heart from his youth, freeing himself of two heavy burdens: the burden of riches and the burden of the flesh. He freed himself from the first by giving away all his goods to the poor and needy, and from the latter by strict fasting. He thus healed himself and was able to heal others. Passionless and filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, Eumenius shone with a radiance that could not he hidden, as it is written: 'A city set on a hill cannot be hid' (Matt. 5:14), and so holy Eumenius could not be hidden from the world. Seeing him, the people chose him as their bishop in Gortyna. As a bishop, he governed Christ's flock as a good shepherd. He was a father to the poor, riches to the needy, consolation to the sad, healing to the sick and a marvellous wonder- worker. He worked many miracles by his prayers: he killed a poisonous snake, drove out demons, healed many of the sick, and did this not only in his home city but in Rome and in the Thebaid. In the Thebaid, he brought rain from God in a time of drought, and there finally finished his earthly course and entered into the eternal presence of his Lord. He lived and worked in the seventh century. 2. The Holy Martyr Ariadne. In the town of Promisea in Phrygia in the time of the Emperor Hadrian (117-138), there lived a pagan patrician, Tertullus. The maiden Ariadne was a slave of his, and a Christian. On his son's birthday, Tertullus ordered a great sacrifice to the idols, in which Ariadne did not take part, staying at home and praying to the true God. Her owner was furious with her for this, and put pressure on her to deny Christ and worship idols. When Ariadne refused to do this, he had her whipped and tortured in other ways, then threw her into prison. He soon released her from prison and drove her from the house, but quickly changed his mind and sent servants to bring her back. Ariadne was already a long way from the town. When she saw her persecutors, she prayed to God beside a great rock, and the rock opened and hid her. The servants were nonplussed at this, quarrelled among themselves and came to blows, and so perished at one another's hands. 3. The Holy Martyr Bidzini, Prince of Georgia. He died for the Christian faith under Shah Abbas II in 1661, together with his kinsmen Elisbar and Shavel. FOR CONSIDERATION

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'Insofar as ye did it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye did it unto Me' (Matt. 25:40), says the Lord. It is the same in the giving of alms as it is in Communion: in Communion, under the form of bread and wine, we receive the living Lord Christ Himself; when giving alms, in giving to the poor we give to the living Lord Christ Himself. There was a man in Constantinople who had a rare compassion. Going through the streets of the city, he put his gift into the hands of the poor and immediately went on his way, to avoid hearing their thanks and becoming known. When one of his friends asked him how he had become so compassionate, he replied: 'One day in church, I heard the priest say that what we give to the poor we give into the hands of the Lord Christ Himself. I didn't believe this, thinking that it couldn't be so, Christ being in heaven. Once, though, on the way home, I saw a poor man standing in the beggars' place -- and the face of Christ shining over his head. Someone passed by and gave the beggar a piece of bread, and I saw the Lord stretch out His hand, take the bread and bless the giver. From that moment, I've always seen that Face over the heads of the beggars, and therefore, with great fear, I give all the alms I can.' October 2nd - Civil Calendar September 19th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyrs Trophimus, Sabbatius and Dorymedon. In the time of the Emperor Probus, in the third century, when Atticus was governing Antioch, two Christians, Trophimus and Sabbatius, both eminent and honoured men, came to that city. Just at that time, there was a pagan festival and offerings to the idol of Apollo in Daphne near Antioch. Atticus made a special effort to ensure that all the citizens took part in the festivities. When some one saw Trophimuss and Sabbatius, and told Atticus that these two old men were not taking part, Atticus summoned them for trial, and, when they refused to deny Christ, put them to torture one by one. After beating and torturing Trophimus, he sent him to Phrygia to Dionysius, a yet harsher torturer of Christians, himself taking Sabbatius from prison and trying him. When the torturer asked Sabbatius who he was and what was his rank, he replied: 'My rank and dignity, my homeland, my glory and my riches are Christ the Son of God, who is alive forever and by whose providence the whole universe is held in being.' He was therefore beaten and flogged with iron flails until his bones showed through his flesh, and he died under these tortures. The torturer put Trophimus to harsh torture, and held him in prison to inflict yet greater torture on him. Then a certain senator, Dorymedon, a secret Christian, came to the prison and ministered to Trophimus. When the torturer discovered this, he put them both to torture and finally threw them to the wild beasts. But the animals would not touch them. Holy Dorymedon even shouted into the ear of a she-bear to eat him up, but the bear only became even more docile. The torturer ordered, in consequence of this, that Ss Trophimus and Dorymedon be beheaded. The souls of these holy martyrs now reign in heaven. 2. The Holy Martyr Zossima the Hermit. A Sicilian prince, Dometian, went hunting in the mountains with his servants. In the hills, he saw an old man surrounded by wild beasts that were as tame as lambs. Asked who he was, the old man replied that his name was Zossima, and that he was a Christian and had lived a long time with the beasts, who were better than the persecutors of Christians in the city. This outraged Dometian, who was himself a harsh torturer of Christians, and he bound Zossima and sent him ahead to Nazareth, to torture him there and thus intimidate those who believed in Christ. When he had wounded him all over and left him bloodied with blows, he tied a rock round his neck and hanged him from a tree. Then the prince mocked at him: 'Command a wild beast to come, and we'll all believe!' The holy martyr prayed to God, and an enormous lion appeared. Coming up to Zossima, it took the weight of the rock with its head, to ease the martyr. With great fear, the prince freed Zossima, who soon after that gave his soul into the hands of his Lord. 3. St Theodore, Prince of Yaroslavl. A righteous and merciful man, he received the Great Habit at the time of his death, entering into rest in 1298. FOR CONSIDERATION The dead sense and know good works done for them. Of this a Christian must have no doubt. Good works flow like an electric current through the whole heavenly world. An imperial official, Magistrian, was sent by the Emperor on an important errand. On his journey, he saw a dead man lying naked. He was distressed at this and, taking off his tunic, wrapped the man in it and buried him. After a certain time, a misfortune overtook
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Magistrian: he fell from his horse and broke his leg. He lay sick in bed for a long time. At one moment, a number of doctors were gathered round him in consultation over his condition, and they decided that the leg must be amputated. That night, Magistrian could not sleep, but spent the hours sighing and weeping. At midnight, a man suddenly appeared to him and asked him: 'Why are you crying?' When Magistrian explained, the unknown man stretched out his hand to the injured leg, and it became whole. 'For God's sake, tell me who you are!', cried Magistrian.'To this the unknown man replied: 'Look carefully; isn't this your tunic? In response to your good deed, God has sent me to heal you. Give your thanks to God!' October 3rd - Civil Calendar September 20th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy and Great Martyr Eustace (Placidus). He was a great Roman military leader in the time of the Emperors Titus and Trajan. Although a pagan, Placidus (for that was his pagan name) was a righteous and merciful man, like the centurion Cornelius, who was baptised by the Apostle Peter (Acts 10). Going hunting one day, he found a stag. By the providence of God, a shining Cross appeared among the stag's antlers and the voice of God came to Placidus, telling him to go to a Christian priest and be baptised. Placidus was baptised, along with his wife and two sons. At his baptism, he received the name Eustace, his wife the name Theopiste and their sons the names Agapius and Theopistus. After his baptism, Eustace went back to the very place where the revelation through the stag had occurred, and thanked God on his knees that he had brought him to the truth. At that, the voice of God came to him again, foretelling suffering for His name and strengthening him. Then Eustace secretly left Rome with his family, with the intention of hiding among simple people and serving God in an unknown and humble way. Arriving in Egypt, he was immediately beset by trials. Some wicked barbarian carried off his wife, and his two sons were seized by wild beasts. But the barbarian quickly came to a bad end, and a herdsman saved the boys from the wild beasts. Eustace settled in the Egyptian village of Vadisis, and there lived as a village hireling for fifteen years. After this, the barbarians descended on the Roman Empire, and the Emperor Trajan was sorry that his brave commander Placidus, who had been victorious wherever he had fought, was not with him. The Emperor sent two of his officers to seek the great general throughout the Empire. By God's providence, these officers, who had been friends of Eustace, came to this village of Vadisis, found him and took him to the Emperor. Eustace gathered the army together and defeated the barbarians. On the way back to Rome, Eustace went and found his wife and sons. When he arrived in Rome, the Emperor Trajan had died and the Emperor Hadrian was on the throne. When Hadrian summoned Eustace to offer sacrifice to idols, Eustace told him that he was a Christian. The Emperor put him to torture, together with his wife and sons. When the wild beasts did them no harm, he threw them into a white-hot metal ox. On the third day, they took out their bodies, dead but untouched by the fire. Thus this glorious general gave to Caesar that which is Caesar's, and to God that which is God's, and entered into the eternal Kingdom of Christ our God. 2. The Holy Prince Michael and his Counselor Theodore. Prince Michael of Chernigov went to the Tartar horde with his counselor, Theodore, at the invitation of their ruler, Bati. When they refused to follow the Tartar custom of passing through fire and worshiping idols on being received by Bati, they were beheaded, in 1244. Their relics, the witnesses of their death by martyrdom for the sake of Christ, are preserved in the Church of the Archangel in Moscow. 3. Our Holy Father, the Martyr Hilarion A monk of the Holy Mountain, he suffered voluntarily for the Christian faith at the hands of the Turks in Constantinople on September 20th, 1804. His wonderworking relics are preserved in the Church of the Transfiguration on the island of Proti. FOR CONSIDERATION Suicide is a mortal sin against the Holy Spirit, who gives life. Suicide is a much graver sin than murder, as a man can yet repent of murder, while there is no repentance for the sin of suicide. Here are two examples of the greatest misfortune, in which a man of little soul would have committed suicide, but in which holy men of God showed themselves heroic. St Eustace found himself one day in this predicament: he had left one of his sons on one bank of the river while he carried the other to the opposite bank and returned for the second. Coming to the
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middle of the river, he looked on one bank and saw a lion seize the son that was there and carry him off; he looked at the other bank and saw a wolf grab hold of his son and carry him off. The little of soul would, in such a situation, have drowned himself in the river and made an end. Eustace, filled with grief, did not kill himself but, with hope in God, lived for fifteen years as a hireling and waited with patience to see his two sons again. And God rewarded his faith and patience. St Hilarion was constrained as a young man to embrace Islam, but his conscience began to torment him and he had no peace. He returned to the Christian faith, became a monk and gave his body to strict fasting and the harshest asceticism, but spiritual peace did not return to him. The little of soul and little of faith would have killed himself, but Hilarion chose the better path. He went to Constantinople with his spiritual father, Vissarion, and not only confessed his faith in Christ openly at the Sultan's court, but also counseled Bash Aga to go to Russia and be baptised. After ridicule and torture, this brave young man was beheaded, and God glorified him in heaven and on earth. His holy relics have wonderworking power to this day. But where is the glory of the suicide? Where are his relics? October 4th - Civil Calendar September 21st - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Apostle Codratus. One of the Seventy, he was a disciple of the Great Apostles. He preached the Gospel in Athens, and was at first bishop in Athens after St Publius, and then in the city of Magnesia. He was very learned in the secular disciplines and rich with the grace of the Holy Spirit. His biographer says of him. 'He was as a morning star among clouds', the clouds being the darkness of Hellenic paganism, lacking the light of devotion, and the holy Apostle Codratus shone to them -- the Hellenes -- as a great light, illumining the darkness, casting down the foul sacrifices and destroying demonic temples by his prayers. But darkness always hates the light, and the pagans hated holy Codratus. They first stoned him, as the Jews had earlier stoned St Stephen, and then imprisoned him, leaving him without bread until his holy soul left his body and entered into the Kingdom of Christ his God. St Codratus wrote a defence of Christianity and gave it to the Emperor Hadrian. This defence acted so strongly upon the pagan Emperor that he decreed that Christians should not he persecuted without especial cause. Holy Codratus suffered in about 130. He was buried in Magnesia, the place of his passion. 2. The Hieromartyr Hypatius, Bishop of Ephesus, and Andrew the Priest. Two childhood friends, born in Lycia, they both gave themselves with their whole souls to the service of God when they grew up, Hypatius as a strict monk and ascetic, and Andrew as a priest among the people and a preacher of the Word of God. For his great virtues, Hypatius was made Bishop of Ephesus, and Andrew was made priest in the same city. They both suffered in the time of the iconoclast Emperor Leo the Isaurian. After terrible tortures for Orthodoxy, they were beheaded in 730, and both went from this transitory world to eternal life. 3. St Dimitri, Bishop of Rostov. He is commemorated on October 28th, and on this day is commemorated the finding of his wonderworking relics in 1752. 4. The Assembly of all the Saints of the Kiev Caves. The blessed work of asceticism begun by Antony, the lover of labour and man of God, grew throughout the ages as a fruitful olive tree. The numerous saints, who shone like stars in these caves of Antony's, are each commemorated on his special day. Today, the whole assembly of them is commemorated and invoked by the faithful for aid. FOR CONSIDERATION If we begin, with firm intention, to live according to God's Law, we must not fear any sort of attack by those who do not understand, for to him who has truly begun to live according to God's Law, all that happens to him at the hands of men, happens for his help and to the glory of God. It is especially necessary not to fear a move from a place we like to a place we dislike, a place of fear and of a depressed uncertainty about God's intentions towards us. Did the wickedness of Joseph's brethren do him harm? Was not rather his involuntary departure for
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Egypt the means of his rise to glory, the saving of his brothers from famine and the establishing of the conditions for all the wonderful works of God through Moses in Egypt and in the wilderness? Pagans and heretics often chased Orthodox Christians into barbarian regions. What happened then? Did this annihilate Orthodoxy? No; it rather confirmed it in the souls that were exiled and scattered among the barbarian peoples. The evil heretic Lucius drove the famous Macarius and several of the Tabennisiot hermits out of Egypt to a barbarian island, where all the inhabitants were idol-worshipers. But these holy men, by their teaching and example, quickly succeeded in baptising the whole island, and it later became known as the Isle of Repentance. October 5th - Civil Calendar September 22nd - Church Calendar 1. The Hieromartyr Phocas, Bishop of Sinope. He exercised himself from his youth in all the Christian virtues. As bishop in his birthplace, the town of Sinope on the shore of the Black Sea, he strengthened the devout in their faith by his divine example and words, and brought many idol-worshipers to the true Faith. The stony-hearted pagans were filled with wrath against holy Phocas, and the Lord foreshowed to him in a vision his death by martyrdom . Phocas saw a shining dove fly down from heaven, carrying in its beak a beautiful wreath of flowers which it laid on his head, and a voice came from the dove: 'My cup is full, and it is for thee to drink it!' From this vision, the man of God learned that he must very soon suffer for Christ. He was not afraid, but, with thanksgiving to God prepared himself for torture. Soon after this, the Governor, Africanus, took Phocas for interrogation and inflicted harsh tortures upon him: his whole body was beaten black and blue and torn with wounds, and, after imprisonment, he was thrown into boiling water, in which this courageous soldier of Christ finished his earthly course and entered into the joy of his Lord. He suffered in the time of the Emperor Trajan (98-117). 2. The Holy Prophet Jonah. He lived more than eight hundred years before Christ. It is said that he was the widow's son of Zarephath in Sidon, whom the Prophet Elias raised from the dead. By his three-day sojourn in the belly of the whale, St Jonah foreshadowed the three-day sojourn of Christ in the tomb, and, by his deliverance from the whale's belly, the Lord's Resurrection from the dead. Everything else about this wonderful prophet is there to be read in the Book of Jonah. 3. The Holy Martyr Phocas the Gardener. A compatriot of the hieromartyr Phocas, he had a garden in Sinope, near the Black Sea, which he cultivated himself. He refreshed all the passers-by with the fruits of his garden, not neglecting to entertain their ears with the Word of God. But the governor, who was a persecutor of Christians, heard of him and sent soldiers to kill him. Phocas welcomed the soldiers so warmly that they held back from killing him, but, at his beseeching, carried out their orders and beheaded him. In that place, a church dedicated to him was soon built over his relics. St Phocas is especially venerated by seamen, and is invoked for aid by all who travel by sea. He suffered in 320. 4. Our Holy Father Cosmas of Zographou. He was of a noble Bulgarian family. When his parents wanted him to marry, he fled to the Holy Mountain. He was a solitary and a wonderworker, living in asceticism in a cave near the monastery of Zographou, and was the greatest ascetic and wonderworker of that monastery. The Mother of God appeared to him several times. The cell in which Cosmas lived in silent asceticism and wrestled with demons remains to this day to the northwest of the monastery. Being gifted with discernment, he could see in the spirit, and described happenings in far-off times and places. He died in old age, on September 22nd, 1323, and, after a life of much toil, entered into the joy of his Lord. 5. St Peter the Merciful. A man of God of the sixth century (see the passage for consideration below). 6. The Holy Priest Jonah. The father of St Theophanes the writer of Canons, and of St Theodore the Scribe, he was a wonderworker. He died in the monastery of St Sava the Sanctified in the ninth century.
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FOR CONSIDERATION When a man comes to a strong sense of God's mercy towards him, he is jerked awake as from a dull and dreary dream and is ashamed of his long blindness towards God's unceasing compassion. In the days of the Emperor Justinian, the chief imperial tax-collector in Africa was one Peter, a very rich man who was also very harsh and merciless. At one time the beggars were grumbling among themselves that not one of them had ever received alms from Peter. Then one of them bet that he would succeed in getting alms from him. He went off and pestered the flinty-hearted man for alms until, in a fury, Peter threw a loaf at him, having nothing else to hand. The beggar Joyfully grabbed the loaf and fled. Immediately after this, Peter fell ill of a sudden and dangerous illness, and had the following vision: he saw himself being weighed by a demon in the other world. On one side of the scales, the demons heaped Peter's sins, so that that side was weighed down, while on the other side stood angels, lamenting that there was not a single good deed in Peter's life to place on the other, empty side of the scales. One of the angels said: 'We've nothing at all to put in except the one loaf that he threw at a beggar a couple of days ago.' The angel quickly put the one loaf on the empty side of the scales, and that loaf balanced the other side with all Peter's sins. When the vision was over, Peter said to himself: 'Truly, that was not a hallucination, for I saw all the sins I'd committed from my youth. If one loaf could be of such help to me; a loaf, moreover, that I threw at a beggar, how much help would I have from many works of mercy, performed from the heart and in meekness? And from that time, Peter turned into the most compassionate man in his town. He gave all his goods away to the poor and, when he had parted with them all, sold himself into slavery for thirty gold pieces, and himself gave this sum away to the needy as alms in the name of Christ. He thus became known as Peter the Merciful. October 6th - Civil Calendar September 23rd - Church Calendar 1. The Conception of St John the Baptist. On this day are celebrated God's mercy, His wondrous act and His wisdom: His mercy towards the devout and righteous parents of St John, the aged Zacharias and Elisabeth, who had all their lives begged a child of God; the wonder of the conception of John in Elisabeth's more-than-aged womb; and the wisdom of the dispensation of man's salvation. For John, God had a specially great plan: that he should be a prophet and the forerunner of Christ the Lord, the Saviour of the world. Through His angels, God revealed the birth of Isaac to the childless Sarah, and of Samson to the childless Manoah and his wife, and of John the Baptist to the childless Zacharias and Elisabeth. Through His angels, God revealed the birth of those for whom He had a special plan. How could children be born of aged parents? If someone is curious to find out, let him not ask men, for men do not know, nor does natural law (it being beyond natural law), but let him turn his gaze to the power of almighty God, who made the whole world from nothing and who, far the creation of Adam, the first man, used no parents, either young or old. Instead of being curious, let us thank God that He often reveals to us His power and mercy and wisdom beyond the natural law, by which we would otherwise be fettered and, without these special wonders of God, would fall into despair and forgetfulness of Him. 2. The Holy Martyr Iraida. She is sometimes called Rais or Raida. A maiden from an Egyptian town called Batan, she was therefore probably an Egyptian. Iraida went out one day to draw water from a well near the sea, and saw a ship laden with bound Christians: priests, deacons, monks, women and maidens. Enquiring, she learned that pagan torturers were taking all this crowd to torture and death for the name of Christ the Lord. In the heart of the young Iraida, the desire flared up to suffer for the Lord. She left her pots by the well, went onto the ship and confessed that she was a Christian. She was immediately bound and taken with the others to the Egyptian town of Antinopolis. After divers tortures, Iraida was the first to be beheaded, followed by the others. She suffered with honour and was glorified at the beginning of the fourth century. 3. The Holy New Martyr Nicolas Pantopoles (The Grocer). He suffered for the Christian faith as a young man at the hands of the Turks in Constantinople in 1672; his father, a grocer, having moved there from Thessaly. He took the name of his father's trade (in Greek, pantopoles). After great pressure to become a Turk, and torture because he refused, he was beheaded and
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entered into the Kingdom of God. His relics are preserved in the monastery of Xeropotamou on the Holy Mountain. 4. The Holy New Martyr John. Born in a place called Konitsa in Albania, he was a Moslem of Moslem parents. Later, seeing the wonderful power of the Christian faith in various places and events, he was baptised. He was arrested for this and brought before the Turkish judge. Tortured for the Christian faith in Aetolia and beheaded in 1814, he cried out at the time of his death: 'Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom!' FOR CONSIDERATION He who gives to the poor gives to Christ. This is the meaning of the Gospel-teaching emphasised by the saints from their experience. Peter the Merciful, when he had repented, began to give alms to the poor whenever he had the chance. On one occasion, a shipwrecked man, who had barely saved his naked body from the wreck, met him and begged for clothing. Peter took off his costly toga and clothed the naked man in it. Shortly afterwards, Peter saw his toga in the shop of some merchant, displayed for sale. Peter was very distressed that the shipwrecked man had sold his toga instead of making use of it. 'I am not worthy', he said,'that the Lord should accept my alms.' But the Lord appeared to him in a dream in the guise of a handsome man, brighter than the sun, with a Cross on His head and wearing Peter's toga.'What are you sad about, Peter?', the Lord asked him.'How can I not be sad, Lord, when I see that what I gave to that poor wretch he went and sold in the bazaar? Then the Lord asked him: 'Do you know this garment I'm wearing?' Peter replied: 'I know it Lord; it's the toga I gave to the naked man.' The Lord then said to him: 'Don't be sad, then. You gave it to the poor man, and I received it and praise your action. October 7th - Civil Calendar September 24th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Protomartyr Thecla, Equal to the Apostles. Thecla was born in Iconium of eminent pagan parents. She was betrothed at the age of eighteen to a young man, at the time that the Apostle Paul came to Iconium with Barnabas to preach the Gospel. Listening to Paul for three days and nights, Thecla turned utterly to the Christian faith and vowed to live in virginity. Her mother, seeing that she shunned her betrothed and thought no more of marriage, first talked to her and then beat her and starved her. Finally, she gave her over to the judges and demanded, wicked mother that she was, that Thecla be burned. The judge threw her into the flames, but God preserved her unharmed. Thecla then became a follower of the Apostle Paul, and went with him to Antioch. Attracted by Thecla's beauty, an elder of the city attempted to take her by force, but Thecla tore herself out of his grasp. The elder denounced her to the governor as a Christian who was averse to marriage. The governor condemned her to death and threw her to the wild beasts, but the animals would not touch the body of this holy virgin. Amazed at this, the governor asked: 'Who are you, and what is the power that you have in you, that nothing can do you harm?' Thecla replied: 'I am a servant of the living God.' Then the governor let her go free, and she began to preach the Gospel and succeeded in bringing many to the true Faith, among whom was an eminent and honoured widow, Tryphena. After this, St Thecla, with the blessing of the Apostle Paul, withdrew to a solitary place near Seleucia. She lived a long time there in asceticism, healing the sick with miraculous power and in this way bringing many to Christianity. The doctors in Seleucia were jealous of her and sent some young men to assault her, hoping that, in losing her virginity, she would lose also her miraculous power. Thecla fled from these insolent young men and, when she saw that they would catch her, prayed to God for help in front of a rock, and the rock opened and hid the holy maiden and bride of Christ. This rock was her hiding place and her tomb. St Chrysostom says of this wonderful Christian heroine and saint: 'I seem to see this blessed virgin going to Christ with virginity in one hand and martyrdom in the other.' 2. St Stephen, King of Serbia, the First-Crowned (Simon the Monk). Crowned king at Zica, his foundation, by his brother and spiritual father, St Sava, he was a devout Christian and a wise and peace-loving ruler. Stephen, together with St Sava, raised Orthodoxy to great heights among his people. At his desire, St Sava made him a monk at the time of his death, giving him the name Simon. He entered into rest in the Lord on September 24th, 1224, and his relics are preserved at Studenica.
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3. St David (formerly Prince Dimitrije) Son of Vukan, Stephen's brother, he built the monastery at Lim, at which he himself became a monk. 4. The Holy Prince Vladislav. Son of King Stephen, he built the monastery of Mileseva, whither he took St Sava's relics from Trnovo. He was distinguished by a rare compassion for the poor. On the coinage of his time, he had inscribed: 'The servant of God Vladislav'. FOR CONSIDERATION Every saint is close to the place where he is invoked for help, or where his holiness is commemorated and glorified. Those who are gifted with insight see them; those who lack this gift believe somehow and will see them in due time. St Cosmas of Zographou, while still a young monk, was a clairvoyant. Once, on the Annunciation, he went to Vatopedi for the Feast with some other monks. Both during the service in church and during the meal in the refectory, Cosmas saw a woman of heavenly beauty and majesty, who was organising, directing and herself serving with authority. He saw her for a long time, not just for a moment, both in the church and in the refectory. Cosmas was deeply perplexed and not a little appalled at this sight, for he felt it scandalous to see a woman in a monastery of the Holy Mountain. When he recounted his vision to his fellowmonks of Zographou, saying how unseemly it was for a woman to be on the Holy Mountain, the astonished monks told him that it must have been the Queen of the Holy Mountain, the most holy Mother of God herself. In heartfelt wonder, Cosmas was filled with great joy. St Cosmas was so discerning that, later, as an old man and a solitary, he saw from his cave the abbot of Hilandar ascending up towards heaven and striving to pass through the toll-gates, tormented by demons. Cosmas immediately sent someone to the brethren at Hilandar to tell them to pray for the soul of their dead abbot. This was directly after Matins, and the monks had just come out of church with him. Hearing Cosmas' message, the monks laughed, saying that their abbot had just gone off to his cell to prepare for the Liturgy. When they went into his cell, however, they found him dead. October 8th - Civil Calendar September 25th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Mother Euphrosyne. The daughter of a rich and eminent man. Paphnutius, from Alexandria, she was besought of God by her childless parents, who brought their daughter up in the Christian faith. Not wishing to marry, the young Euphrosyne, in order to hide from her father, dressed herself in men's clothing and presented herself to the abbot of a monastery as a eunuch of the Emperor Theodosius with the name of Smaragdus. The abbot received her and placed her under the guidance of the monk Agapetus as spiritual father. By her fasting and prayers, Smaragdus quickly outstripped the other monks in the monastery. When she had spent thirty-eight years in strict asceticism, Paphnutius visited the monastery and the abbot placed him in Smaragdus' care for prayer and counsel. Smaragdus recognised Paphnutius, but Paphnutius did not recognise her. When her father confessed his grief for his lost daughter, Smaragdus told him not to lose hope, for he would see his daughter again once more in this life, and asked him to come again in three days' time. When Paphnutius returned. Smaragdus was on her deathbed. Then the dying monk said to Paphnutius: 'I am Euphrosyne your daughter; you are my father.' Her father could not for a long time collect himself, for sheer astonishment. Then Euphrosyne breathed her last and her father wept over her. After burying his daughter, Paphnutius remained in the monastery and settled in the cell of his departed, holy daughter. After ten years of asceticism, holy Paphnutius entered into rest in the Lord. 2. Our Holy Father Sergius of Radonezh. A great ascetic and light of the Russian Church, he was born in 1313 in Rostov of devout parents, Kiril and Maria. After the death of his parents, Barthlomew -- for that was his baptismal name -- became a monk and founded the community of the Holy Trinity in the forest of Radonezh. A gentle and meek servant of God, occupied only with labour and prayer, he was made worthy of the gifts of wonderworking for the purity of his heart, raising the dead in the name of Christ. The holy Mother of God appeared to him a number of times.
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Princes and bishops came to him for counsel, and he gave his blessing to Prince Dimitri of the Don and foretold his victory in Russias war of liberation against the Tartars. He had insight into men's hearts and into distant events. His community became filled with monks during his lifetime, and has served through the ages as one of the chief centres of spiritual life and of God's miracles. St Sergius entered into rest in 1392. After his death, he appeared a number of times to various people. 3. Our Holy Mother Euphrosyne of Suzdal. Her baptismal name was Theodula, and she was the daughter of Michael Vsevolodovitch and the betrothed of Menas, Prince of Suzdal. She had never desired marriage, and prayed to God to keep her in virginity till her death. When they took her as a bride to Suzdal, Prince Menas died suddenly. She did not return to her parents but retired to a monastery, where she lived in asceticism till her death. She was endowed by God with wonderworking gifts, and entered into rest in 1250. FOR CONSIDERATION A saint is not remarkable on the surface; all his riches are internal, in his soul. A peasant came a long way to the monastery to see St Sergius. When he asked for the abbot, he was told that he was working in the garden. The peasant went off to the garden and saw a man there in poor and dirty clothing, hoeing along with the other workers. The peasant returned to the monastery dissatisfied, thinking within himself that the monks were making fun of him, and repeated, that there might be no mistake, that he wanted to see the famous holy father, Sergius. Sergius arrived back at the monastery just then, and welcomed the peasant, serving him at table. The saint looked into the heart of his guest, and saw there the thoughts about himself. To quiet him, he told him that he would see St Sergius if he waited a little. Just then, a prince arrived at the monastery with his nobles. Both the prince and the nobles bowed low to Sergius and asked his blessing. The monks then removed the peasant from the room to make room for the new guests, and this peasant looked with wonder from afar, and peered to see that which he had spurned the sight of from nearby. He chided himself for his ignorance and was deeply ashamed. When the prince had departed, the peasant quickly went up to the saint, fell at his feet and asked his forgiveness. And the great saint was gentle with him, and said: 'Don't grieve, my son; you thought a true thing of me, reckoning me as nothing, while others are deluded in thinking me something great.' October 9th - Civil Calendar September 26th - Church Calendar 1. St John the Theologian, Apostle and Evangelist. John was the son of Zebedee the fisherman and Salome the daughter of Joseph, the betrothed of the holy Mother of God. Called by the Lord Jesus, John immediately left his father and the fishing nets and followed Christ with his brother James. From that time, he was not parted from his Lord until the end. With Peter and James, he was present at the raising of Jairus' daughter and at the Lord's Transfiguration, and laid his head on Jesus' breast at the Last Supper. When all the others had forsaken the crucified Lord, John stayed beneath the Cross with the holy Mother of God. In obedience to the Lord's wish, he was as a son to the holy Virgin Mary, caring for her and serving her, looking after her right up to her falling-asleep. After her Dormition, John went off with his disciple Prochorus to preach the Gospel in Asia Minor, and mainly lived and worked in Ephesus. By his inspired preaching and miracles, he brought many to Christianity and undermined the foundations of paganism. The vexed pagans bound him and sent him to Rome to the Emperor Domitian. He was tortured and flogged before the Emperor, but, when he was unharmed either by the strong poison that he was given to drink or the boiling oil into which he was put, the Emperor was afraid and, thinking he was immortal, sent him into exile on the island of Patmos. On this island, St John brought many to Christianity by his words and miracles, and strengthened the Church of God. He wrote his Gospel and the Revelation there. In the time of the Emperor Nerva, who gave liberty to all the captives, John returned to Ephesus, where he lived for some time, confirming the work that he had earlier begun. He was over a hundred years old when he went to the Lord. When his disciples later opened his grave, they found that his body was not there. Every year, on May 8th, a fine, fragrant dust, endowed with healing power rose from his grave. After a long and fruitful life of labour upon earth, this beloved disciple of Christ and pillar of the Church entered into the joy of his Lord, to peace and eternal rejoicing.
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2. Our Holy Father Nilus of Calabria. A great ascetic among the Greeks of Calabria, the founder of several monasteries, a wonderworker and defender of the purity of Orthodoxy, he undertook long Journeys simply in order to save another man trouble. He had a burning love for his neighbour, and entered into rest in 1005, leaving many disciples of real worth. The best-known among these is St Bartholomew, the writer of several Canons, who died in 1044. FOR CONSIDERATION 'He that converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins' -- thus writes the Apostle James (5:20). Christ's apostles did not only speak in this way, but confirmed their words by their actions. Of St John the Apostle, St Clement of Alexandria relates that in some place in Asia Minor he baptised a pagan youth and confided him to the care of the local bishop, then went off to continue his work of preaching the Gospel. In St John's absence, the young man became corrupt and began to drink and steal, and finally joined a band of brigands that fell on men from the forest and robbed them. After a certain time, St John returned and heard from the bishop what had happened to this young man. Then St John, without losing a moment, found a horse and a guide and hurried off to the forest where the robber band had its lair. Searching through the forest, the saint found the robbers and came before their chief. The young man, as soon as he saw him, took to his heels. The aged John went after him and, despite his age, came up with him. Seeing that he had caught him up, the young man fell at the Apostle's feet and could not, for shame, meet his eye. John embraced him and kissed him, as a shepherd does when he finds his lost sheep. John brought him back to the city and settled him afresh in a life of faith and good works, and, being pleasing to God, the young man entered into rest in due time. October 10th - Civil Calendar September 27th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Callistratus. Born in Carthage, he was a Christian from his birth, as his father and grandfather were. One of his forbears, Neochorus, served as a soldier in Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate at the time of the Passion of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Seeing the many miracles that were wrought at the time of Christ's death, Neochorus came to believe in Him, and was taught the Faith and baptised by the apostles. Returning home, Neochorus took his Christian faith to his own people, like a precious pearl. So, in time, St Callistratus was born, baptised and brought up a Christian. When he went into the army, there was no other Christian in his regiment. One of his companions, seeing holy Callistratus get up at night and pray to God, reported him to the commander, Persentinus, as a Christian -- and Persentinus was a harsh torturer of Christians. When he was convinced that Callistratus was indeed a Christian, the commander ordered him to offer sacrifice to idols, which Callistratus immediately refused to do. Then Callistratus was harshly beaten and thrown into the sea, but God's power preserved him, and he emerged from the sea unharmed. Seeing Callistratus endurance and his miracles, fortynine soldiers came to believe in Christ the Lord, and they were beaten and thrown into prison along with him. In prison, St Callistratus instructed his companions in the Faith and encouraged them. They showed great courage in suffering, and the Lord showed great power through them. The wicked torturer sent soldiers to the prison at night, and they slew Callistratus and the other forty-nine. They suffered for the truth in 304, and a church was later built over their relics. 2. The Holy Apostles Mark, Aristarchus and Zenas. They were of the Seventy. St Mark was also called John. Thee apostles gathered together for prayer at the house of his mother, Mary, in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12). He preached the Gospel with the Apostles Paul and Barnabas, and was after that bishop in Byblos. St Aristnrchus, a companion of the Apostle Paul on his travels (Acts 16:29), was bishop in Syrian Apamea. St Zenas, spoken of as a lawyer by the Apostle Paul (Titus 3:13), was bishop in Palestinian Lydda. They shone like stars in the darkness of paganism and brought many to the Christian faith, and now they shine like stars in the Kingdom of Christ their Beloved. 3. The Holy New Martyr Aquilina. From the village of Zaklivera in the diocese of Jedrene, she was a girl of eighteen. Her father embraced Islam and put pressure on his daughter to do the same, but her mother inclined her to the Christian faith. After much
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torture, all wounded and bloodied, she breathed her last in her mother's arms and received the wreath of martyrdom on September 27th, 1764. 4. Our Holy Father Sabbatius of Solovetz. Sabbatius is commemorated together with St Zossima on April 17th. He entered into rest in the Lord on September 27th, 1435. FOR CONSIDERATION All our riches and glory and honour are like a meal ended by death. From this meal, no-one takes a single crumb into the other world. Blessed is he who has grasped that the soul is the only one of his possessions that can he stolen by no one and nothing, even death. Such men think only of three realities: death. the soul and God the Judge. 'Hold constantly in your mind the remembrance of the end and of the Judgement, and keep yourself from sin', teaches Evagrius. All our bodily cares in this life are like a meal that will very soon be ended. 'Have death before your eyes every day', says St Isaiah the Solitary. 'Rehearse to yourself unceasingly the way that you will part from the body, the way you will pass through the regions of the powers of darkness, who will meet you in the air, and the way you will stand before God. Prepare yourself beforehand for the dreadful day of answering at the Judgement of God as though you already behold it.' A rich merchant called John came one day to St Sabbatius of Solovetz and brought him a large donation. Sabbatius would accept nothing, and told the donor to give it away to the poor. John was very sad and the saint, to comfort him and make clear to him why he had told him to do this, said: 'John, my son, stay here and rest until tomorrow, and you will then see the grace of God.' On the following day, John went into Sabbatius' cell and saw that the old man had died, and smelled the wonderful fragrance that permeated the cell. He who foresees the end of his life does not think of earthly goods. October 11th - Civil Calendar September 28th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Father Chariton the Confessor. Chariton was an eminent 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 harsh persecution of Christians broke out under the Emperor Aurelian, Chariton was immediately brought to trial before the governor. The judge ordered him to worship false gods, to which Chariton replied: 'All your gods are furies, which were aforetime through pride cast out from heaven into the nethermost hell.' Chariton openly showed his faith in the one, living God, the Creator of all, and in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind. Then the governor ordered that Chariton be so beaten and tortured that his whole body became covered with wounds until it was like one great wound. After the evil death of Aurelian, whose evil-doing caught up with him in the end, Chariton was released from torture and imprisonment. He traveled to Jerusalem, but on the way was seized by robbers from whom he was freed by God's providence. He did not return to Iconium, but withdrew to the wilderness of Pharan, where he founded a community and gathered a group of monks together. Having given a rule to this community and desiring to escape the praise of men, he withdrew to another desert near Jericho where, in time, he founded another community, called after him. He finally founded another community, Souka, called in Greek the Old Lavra. He died at a great age and entered into the glory of his Lord on September 28th, 350, and his relics are preserved in his first monastery. The practice of tonsuring monks is attributed to St Chariton. 2. The Holy Prophet Baruch. A disciple and faithful friend of the holy prophet Jeremiah, he foretold the return of the Jews from slavery in Babylon and the coming of the Son of God on earth. It is held that he was killed by the Jews in Egypt, as was the Prophet Jeremiah, in the seventh century before Christ. 3. The Holy Martyr Mark the Shepherd. In the time of Diocletian, Magnus, governor of Antioch, went hunting with his soldiers. Chasing a wild beast, the soldiers saw that it fled to the shepherd, Mark, who was keeping his flocks just there. The beast stood fawning around Mark, the man of God. Seeing this, thirty of the soldiers, being instructed in the Faith by Mark, came to belief in Christ and were immediately beheaded. The governor bound Mark, took him to the town,
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summoned three brothers, Alexander, Alphaeus and Zossima, and ordered them to make instruments of torture to use on Mark, but the three of them, having talked with St Mark, embraced the Christian faith and refused the governor's command. The governor condemned them to death, and ordered that molten lead be poured into their mouths. After this, holy Mark was beheaded and his body placed in the temple of Artemis, which temple was then destroyed by God's power. 4. The Holy Martyr Vatslav (Wenceslas), King of the Czechs. The grandson of St Ludmilla, he lived as king in spiritual striving in the Faith like the great ascetics, and strengthened the Orthodox faith among his people. He took care when sitting in judgement that no innocent man should suffer. In his zeal for the Christian faith and his love for his neighbor, holy Vatslav bought pagan children who had been sold as slaves and immediately baptised them, bringing them up as Christians. He translated St John's Gospel into Czech and brought the relics of St Vitus and his grandmother, Ludmilla, to Prague. His brother Boleslav invited him to stay and killed him at his court. Immediately after this, Boleslav began to make German priests and to have the Liturgy celebrated in Latin. Holy Vatslav suffered in 929. His relics are preserved in Prague. FOR CONSIDERATION Guiding the destiny of this world, and especially of His Holy Church, God often uses surprising touches, and changes the evil destiny of His servants into good. This is shown a number of times in the life of St Chariton. After harsh torture, Chariton was thrown into prison and promised certain death, but Emperor Aurelian died suddenly and, under the new Emperor, Christian captives were set free. Thus Chariton escaped death. When he was travelling to Jerusalem, robbers seized him and carried him off to their cave. They left him there and went off to plunder, intending to kill Chariton when they returned. There was in the cave a wine cask in which a poisonous snake was trapped. This snake had made itself drunk with the wine and had spat it out, with its venom, into the vessel. When the robbers returned, they, being thirsty from their journey and the broiling heat, drank the wine and one by one fell dead. And so again, on this occasion and by this extraordinary occurrence, St Chariton was delivered from death. The Lord kept sending misfortune on His servant so that, by these misfortunes, He might temper and purify him like gold in the fire, and bind him more closely to Himself; and He delivered him from death because Chariton had yet to found several monasteries and, by his labors, set many human souls on the way of salvation. October 12th - Civil Calendar September 29th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Father Cyriacus the Solitary. Born in Corinth of parents named John (a priest) and Eudoxia, he was a kinsman of the local bishop, Peter. He was made reader in the cathedral by the bishop while still a young man. Reading the Holy Scriptures, the young Cyriacus marveled at God's providence, how it glorified every true servant of the living God and ordered the salvation of the human race. At the age of eighteen, his desire for the spiritual life led him to Jerusalem. There he entered the monastery of a godly man called Eustorgius, who grounded him in the monastic life. He then went off to St Euthymius, who discerned in him future spiritual greatness, clothed him in the Great Habit and sent him to the Jordan, to St Gerasim, where Cyriacus spent nine years. After Gerasim's death, he returned to St Euthymius' monastery, where he remained in silence for ten years. After this he moved from place to place, fleeing the praise of men. He lived in ascetic labor also in the community of St Chariton, where he finished his earthly course, having lived for a hundred and nine years. A glorious ascetic and wonderworker, St Cyriacus was massive and strong of body, and stayed thus in great old age, despite strict fasts and vigils. In the desert, he sometimes lived for years only on raw vegetables. He was very zealous for the Orthodox faith, denouncing heresies, especially the heresy of Origen. Of himself he said that, while he was a monk, the sun never saw him eat or be angry with any man. According to the rule of St Chariton, the monks ate only once a day, after sunset. Cyriacus was a great light, a pillar of Orthodoxy, the boast of monks, a mighty healer of the sick and a gentle comforter of the sorrowful. Living long in ascetism and giving aid to many, he entered into the eternal joy of his Lord in 557. 2. The Holy Martyrs Dada and Gobdelas.
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Dada was a Persian noble and a kinsman of King Sapor, and Gobdelas was the son of the same king. When St Dada openly confessed his faith in Christ, King Sapor ordered that he be harshly tortured. During these tortures, Dada worked great miracles in Christ's name, which made such an impression on Gobdelas that he also embraced the Christian faith. The pagan king did not spare his son, but gave him over to harsh torture. Both Dada and Gobdelas glorified God in their patient endurance and many miracles, and gave their souls to God under the tortures. They suffered in the fourth century. With them there suffered -- for they had also come to faith in Christ -- Gobdelas' sister Kasdoa and Gargal, the chief of the pagan priests. 3. St Theophanes the Merciful. A wealthy citizen of Gaza, he was so merciful that he gave away his goods to the poor and himself became one of them. Near the end of his life, he was stricken with dropsy and died of this sickness. A healing myrrh flowed from his body, by which many of the sick were healed. 4. St Mary of Palestine. She was at first a reader of the Psalter in the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem, but, being beautiful, she was a source of scandal to the sinful-minded. In order not to be a cause of sin in others, Mary withdrew to the wilderness of Souka with a basket of beans and a flask of water. She spent eighteen years in the desert and, by God's power, never lacked either beans nor water. Disciples of St Cyriacus found her during her lifetime, and later buried her. FOR CONSIDERATION Many people, from ignorance, exert themselves to avoid suffering in old age and terminal illness rather than to avoid the pains of hell in the life after old age and death. There was once an unmarried miser who, from year to year, strove to acquire for himself superfluous riches. When he was asked the point of so much toil and acquisition of goods, which were too much for his lifetime, he replied: 'I'm gathering them for my old age. My goods will tend and feed me in old age and sickness'. His presentiment was soon realized. In old age, a serious and long-lasting sickness fell upon him. He distributed the money he had saved to doctors to heal him, and to servants to look after him and feed him, but the money ran out and the illness continued. His doctors and servants left him, and he fell into despair. His neighbors brought him bread until he died, and he was buried at public expense. Of what use were those goods to him to whom they were given? God did His will in him, and sent upon him that sickness of which he had spoken and for which he had prepared his goods. However, all his goods were unable to ease his sufferings in this world -- and by what could he be eased of them in the world to come? By what, if he took with him neither faith nor hope, nor works of mercy, prayer or repentance? Someone saw a departed man in the glory of Paradise, and asked him by what he had become worthy of that glory. The man replied: 'I was, in my earthly life, the hireling of an evildoer, who never paid me my hire; but I endured everything and served him to the end with hope in God.' He saw another in eternal glory and, when he asked him, the other replied: 'I was a leper, and to the end rendered God thanks for that.' The one, though, who heaped up riches for sickness in his old age, will never be seen by any man in the glory of Paradise in the other world. October 13th - Civil Calendar September 30th - Church Calendar 1. St Gregory the Enlightener, Bishop of Armenia. Gregory was of a noble family, kin to the imperial house of Persia (to King Artaban) and Armenia (King Khosrov). When these two houses made war between themselves, Gregory withdrew to Caesarea in Cappadocia, where he first came into contact with the Christian faith, received baptism and married. He had two sons of this marriage, Rostanes and Aristanes, and dedicated them both to the service of the Church. After his wife's death, he returned to Armenia and entered the service of King Tiridates. Gregory served his king faithfully, and the king loved him, but when he discovered that Gregory was a Christian, he was greatly enraged and put pressure on him to reject the Christian faith and worship idols. Having no success whatever in this, Tiridates put Gregory to harsh torture and, after cruel torment, threw him into a deep pit filled with every kind of poisonous reptile, meaning thus to kill him. But God, who is all-seeing, preserved Gregory alive in that pit for fourteen whole years. Tiridates continued the persecution of Christians in his kingdom, and attacked a women's monastery of thirty-seven nuns with their abbess, Gaiane. When he had slain them with terrible
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tortures, Tiridates went mad and was like a monstrous wild boar. A man appeared to the king's sister in a dream and told her that her mad brother would not be restored to sanity until Gregory was taken out of the pit. This being done, Gregorv healed and baptised Tiridates. Then Gregory, at the king's desire, became Bishop of Armenia and with the king's help and, above all, God's help, enlightened the whole of Armenia and the surrounding area with the Christian faith. St Gregorv finished his life of great toil in old age, in about 335. In his place, his son Aristanes was consecrated bishop, and he continued his father's work. Aristanes was one of the 318 fathers at the First Ecumenical Council. 2. The Holy Martyrs Gaiane, Rhipsimia and 35 other nuns. They were all slain by Tiridates for their faith in Christ. Holy Rhipsimia was of rare beauty, and the Emperor Diocletian therefore wanted her for his wife. This was the cause of the suffering of all thirty-seven of them. Rhipsimia refused to go to the Emperor, because she was already consecrated to Christ her bridegroom. Then Tiridates began to urge her to go with him, for the king was as though intoxicated by her beauty, but Rhipsimia resisted the pagan king with all her strength, 'and he who was victorious over the princes of the Goths and routed the Persians could not overcome one virgin of Christ'. The furious king put her to harsh torture (her tongue was cut out, her stomach cut open and her entrails spilled out), during which Rhipsimia gave her soul into God's hands. After that, the other nuns were seized and beheaded with the sword. The famous monastery of Echmiazdin, near Erivan, was built over their relics, and became the chief spiritual center of Armenia for many centuries. 3. St Michael, First Metropolitan of Kiev. He was sent by the Patriarch of Constantinople to Russia at the request of the great Prince Vladimir, to baptise the pagan people and to establish and organise the Church. St Michael baptised the people in Kiev, Novgorod, Rostov and many other towns and villages, set the Church in order, establishing the episcopate and priesthood, laid the foundations of the monastery of St Michael in Kiev, and sent missionaries to the Bulgars and Tartars, bringing many of them to Christ. This saint accomplished all this and much else in a mere four years. He entered peacefully into rest in 992, and his relics are preserved in the Monastery of the Caves. FOR CONSIDERATION Strange changes take place in the destinies of men, today as in former times. Those who have abased themselves for the sake of God's righteousness are raised up to great heights, and scoffers at the Faith of God turn into servants of that same Faith. King Tiridates threw St Gregory into a deep pit, where he spent fourteen years, forgotten by the entire world but not forgotten by God. Who among men could imagine that the greatest light of the Armenian people was to be found in the darkness of a pit? And who could ever imagine the powerful and tyrannical King Tiridates one day saving the life of this Gregory, whom he had condemned to death, and giving him more help than the whole world could give him? After fourteen years, Gregory was shown by God to be alive, and miraculously healed the mad king. King Tiridates, an unrestrained persecutor of Christians, was baptised and became the greatest zealot for the Christian faith. One could say that, by God's help, both Gregory and Tiridates were brought out of a deep pit: Gregory a physical one and Tiridates a spiritual. Oh, the infinite wisdom of God in the directing of the destinies of men! The sometime bestial and passionate Tiridates became so softened by repentance that he became in character more like Gregory than like himself before his baptism. October 14th - Civil Calendar October 1st - Church Calendar 1. The Protecting Veil of the Most Holy Mother of God. The Church has always glorified the most holy Mother of God as the Protectress and Defender of the Christian people, entreating, by her intercession, God's loving-kindness towards us sinners. The Mother of God's aid has been clearly shown times without number, both to individuals and to peoples, both in peace and in war, both in monastic deserts and in crowded cities. The event that the Church commemorates and celebrates today proves this constant protection of the Christian people by the Mother of God. On October 1st, 911, in the time of the Emperor Leo the Wise (or the Philosopher), there was an all-night vigil at the Blachernae church of the Mother of God in Constantinople. The church was crowded. St Andrew the Fool for Christ was standing at the back of
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the church with his disciple Epiphanius. At four o'clock in the morning, the most holy Mother of God appeared above the people with a veil spread over her outstretched hands, as though to protect them with this covering. She was clad in gold-encrusted purple and shone with an unspeakable radiance, surrounded by apostles, saints, martyrs and virgins. Seeing this vision, St Andrew gestured towards it and asked Epiphanius: 'Do you see how the Queen and Lady of all is praying for the whole world?' Epiphanius replied: 'Yes, Father; I see it and stand in dread.' As a result, this commemoration was instituted to remind us both of this event and of the Mother of God's constant protection whenever we prayerfully seek that protection, that shelter, in distress. 2. The Holy Apostle Ananias. One of the Seventy, he was bishop in Damascus. In response to a vision from God, he baptised Saul, the future Apostle Paul (Acts 9), and courageously preached the Gospel in the face of all persecution, for which he was stoned to death in the city of Eleutheropolis. His holy relics were taken to Damascus, and later to Constantinople. 3. Our Holy Father Romanus the Melodist. Born in the Syrian town of Emesa, he served as a verger first in Beirut and then in Constantinople at the cathedral, in the time of Patriarch Euphemius (490-96). Illiterate and with no musical training, he was despised by certain educated clergy. St Romanus prayed weeping to the Mother of God, and she appeared to him in a dream, held a piece of paper out to him and told him to swallow it. The following day was Christmas Day, and Romanus went up to the ambo and, with an angelic voice, sang: 'Today the Virgin ...', which has come down to us as the Kontakion of the Feast. All marvelled at the words of the hymn and at the singer's voice. Receiving thus the gift of song from the Mother of God, Romanus composed more than a thousand kontakia. He died as a deacon of the Great Church in Constantinople in 530, and went to join the angelic choir. 4. Our Holy Father John Kukuzelis. A Slav from Dyrrachium, he was taken as a young man to the School of Music in Constantinople where he became a popular singer at the imperial court. Fearing the flattery and praise of men, he fled to the Holy Mountain and presented himself at the Great Lavra as a shepherd. As shepherd and monk, he lived in rare asceticism, and the Mother of God appeared to him twice. He entered into rest in the twelfth century. 5. Our Holy Father Gregory. A monk of the Great Lavra in the fourteenth century. FOR CONSIDERATION The most holy Mother of God often appears to holy men at the time of some need, such as to encourage them in asceticism, to heal them of sickness or to reveal some mvstery to them. Two wonderful and somewhat similar happenings took place at the Great Lavra on the Holy Mountain, to St John Kukuzelis and St Gregory, at different times. During the great Akathist in the Great Fast, while it was being sung, John was very tired and sat down on a chair near the icon of the Mother of God. Sitting there, he fell asleep. The All-Pure appeared to him at that moment in heavenly splendour, and said to him: 'Greetings, John! Sing, and don't stop singing; and for this I will never leave you.' With these words, she put a gold piece into John's hand. When he woke from the dream, he found himself clutching the gold piece. Comparable wonders took place after this, both connected with the icon of the Mother of God and the gold piece she gave him. The second happening concerned the monk Gregory. He, like Kukuzelis, was a singer in church. Patriarch Kallistos had instituted the practice, in the Liturgy of St Basil, of singing: 'All creation in thee rejoices ..., in place of 'It is meet ...'. His successor, Patriarch Philotheus, had rescinded this and said that, for brevity, 'It is meet ...' should always be sung. Once, though, on the Eve of the Theophany, in the presence of Patriarch Gregory of Alexandria, Gregory sang : 'All creation ...'. Immediately after this, the All Pure appeared to him, as she had to Kukuzelis, put a gold piece in his hand and said: 'I am very grateful to you for your singing in my honour.' So, from that time, the practice was that 'All creation ...' should always be sung instead of 'It is meet ...' when the Liturgy of St Basil was celebrated. October 15th - Civil Calendar
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October 2nd - Church Calendar 1. St Andrew the Fool for Christ. By birth a Slav, he was bought as a slave by Theognostus, a rich man in Constantinople, in the time of the Emperor Leo the Wise, son of the Emperor Basil the Macedonian. Andrew was a handsome young man, both in body and soul. Theognostus took a fancy to him and allowed him to learn to read and write. Andrew prayed fervently to God and attended church services with great devotion, and, in obedience to a heavenly revelation, resolved on the ascesis of folly for Christ's sake. Once, when he went to the well for water, he cast off his clothes and cut them to pieces, feigning madness. Saddened by this, his owner Theognostus put him in chains and took him to the church of St Anastasia the Deliverer from Bonds, that prayers be read for him. But, as Andrew did not recover as far as his owner could see, he was freed as being sick in mind. Holy Andrew feigned madness all day and spent the nights in prayer. He lived without a roof over his head, spending the nights in the open and going about half-naked in a single, tattered garment and eating a little bread when kindly people shared theirs with him. Whatever he received, he gave away to beggars, and when he gave it to them he would mock them to avoid their thanks, for holy Andrew looked only for the reward from God. Therefore great grace from God abode in him, and he was able to discern men's secrets, see angels and demons, drive demons from men and turn men from sin. He had a most wonderful vision of Paradise and the exalted powers of heaven; he saw the Lord Christ on His throne of glory; he, with his disciple Epiphanius, saw the most holy Mother of God in the Blachernae church sheltering the Christian people with her veil (see Oct. 1st); he heard in heaven unspeakable words which he dared not recount to men. After unprecedentedly harsh asceticism, he entered into rest and the eternal glory of his Lord in 911. 2. The Hieromartyr Cyprian and the Virgin Justina. Cyprian moved from Carthage to Antioch, where Justina lived with her parents, Edesius and Cleodonia. Edesius was an idolatrous priest and his whole household was pagan, but when Justina, going round the Christian churches, came to know the true Faith, she brought both her father and mother to Christ the Lord and all three were baptised by the bishop, Optatus. Cyprian was a magician, and had links with unclean spirits and powers of divination. A dissolute youth Aglaidas, a pagan, tried to lead Justina astray, being enraptured by her beauty, and, when the holy maiden firmly rejected him, sought Cyprian's help. Cyprian invoked evil spirits, one after the other, on Justina, to set alight in her the passion of impurity towards Aglaidas, but they were totally unsuccessful in this, for St Justina, with the sign of the Cross and prayer to God, drove out the evil spirits. Then Cyprian came to know the power of the Cross, and was himself baptised, in time becoming priest and bishop. The wicked pagans seized both him and Justina, and they were sent for trial to Damascus, and then tortured and beheaded in Nicomedia at the end of the third century. 3. The Holy Martyrs David and Constantine. Christian princes of Argueti, they were condemned to death for Christ in Imereti by Caliph Emil-el-Mumenim and drowned in a river in 730. At the time of their death they prayed to God that He would forgive the sins of all who invoked them in prayer for help. After their prayer was finished, a thunderbolt fell and a voice came from heaven saying that their prayer was heard. Their relics are preserved in Georgia in the monastery of Modzameta. FOR CONSIDERATION A vision of St Andrew the Fool for Christ: There was a monk in Constantinople who was known as an ascetic and spiritual guide, and many people sought his prayers. But this monk had the secret vice of love of money. He collected money, and gave to no-one. St Andrew met him in the street, and saw a terrible snake coiled round his neck. St Andrew pitied him for this, and began to exhort him: 'Why, my brother, are you destroying your soul? Why have you coupled yourself with the demon of love of money? Why have you given it a resting-place within you? Why do you gather gold, as though it will go to the grave with you and not pass into the hands of others? Why do you make yourself a miser? While others hunger and thirst and die of cold, you gloat over your heap of gold. Is this the way of repentance? Is this the monastic life? Do you see what we have here?' At that moment, the monk's eyes were opened, and he saw the black demon and was filled with horror. The demon leapt off the monk and fled, driven by Andrew's power. At this, a glorious angel of God came to the monk, for
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his heart was changed and turned towards good, and he went immediately and gave all his hoarded gold to the poor and needy. After that, he was pleasing to God in everything, and became more famous than before. October 16th - Civil Calendar October 3rd - Church Calendar 1. The Hieromartyr Dionysius the Areopagite. He is counted among the seventy lesser apostles. This wonderful man was of a noble, pagan family in Athens. Finishing his education in Athens, he went to Egypt to learn more. One day while he was there, the Lord Christ breathed His last on the Cross, and the sun was darkened and it was dark in Egypt for the space of three hours. Then Dionysius cried out: 'Either God the Creator of the world is suffering, or the world is ending.' Returning to Athens, he married a woman called Damaris and had sons by her. He was a member of the highest court in Greece, the Areopagus, and was always thereafter known as the Areopagite. When the Apostle Paul preached the Gospel in Athens, Dionysius was baptised with his whole household (Acts 17:34). Paul consecrated him bishop of Athens (he having left his wife and children and status from love of Christ), and he travelled widely with Paul, coming to know all the other apostles. He went especially to Jerusalem, to see the most holy Mother of God, and wrote of his meeting with her in one of his works, being at the burial of the Most Pure along with the other apostles. When his teacher, St Paul, suffered martyrdom, Dionysius desired to die such a death himself, so he went off to Gaul to preach the Gospel among the barbarians, accompanied by Rusticus, a priest, and a deacon called Eleutherius. They endured much but met with great success. By their labours, many were turned to the Christian faith and Dionysius built a small chapel in Paris* where he celebrated divine service. When he was ninety years old, he was seized and tortured for Christ, together with Rusticus and Eleutherius, until they were all three beheaded with the sword. The severed head of St Dionysius jumped a long way and fell in front of a Christian woman, Catula, who buried it with his body. He suffered in the time of Domitian, in the year 96. He wrote several famous works: on the names of God, on the heavenly and ecclesiastical hierarchies, on mystical theology and on the most holy Mother of God. *Author's note: Some historians think that Dionysius of Paris was other than St Dionysius the Areopagite. 2. Our Holy Father John the Chozebite, the Egyptian. He lived in asceticism in the community of Chozeba in the time of the Emperor Justinian. Whenever he served the Liturgy, he saw a heavenly light in the altar. Ananias, an elder, lived the ascetic life not far from him, and the humility of these two saints was wonderful. A man brought his mad son to Ananias to be healed by his prayers. Ananias sent him to St John, as being greater than he. John could not disobey the elder, but cried out: 'In the name of Jesus Christ, it is Ananias, not I, who commands you to come out of this boy!' And the boy was healed immediately. 3. Our Holy Father Dionysius of the Kiev Caves. He was a hieromonk and an anchorite. The following occurred on Pascha in 1463: he was going round the graves with Cross and censer to cense the relics and graves of the saints buried there. With overflowing joy in the Resurrection, he cried out on going into the caves: 'My holy fathers and brethren, Christ is risen!' At that, a voice like thunder rose from the tombs: 'He is risen indeed!' 4. St Hesychius the Chorebite. He was at first careless for his soul's salvation, but he became seriously ill and died, and came back from the dead and was healed. This wrought a profound change in him. He shut himself in a cell on the Holy Mountain and spoke not a single word to anyone for twelve years. Before his death, the monks opened his cell and begged him to give them some instruction. He only said: 'He who ponders on death cannot sin.' From him descended those known as the 'hesychasts', who held silence, pondering on God and mental prayer to be the chief works of the true monk. They had a skete, known as the Hesychast or Silent, on the Holy Mountain. It is said of Gregory the Theologian that he was a hesychast during the great Fast. St Hesychius lived in the sixth century. FOR CONSIDERATION
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A vision of St Andrew the Fool for Christ: Holy Andrew, walking one day along the streets of Constantinople, saw a great and splendid funeral. A rich man had died, and his cortege was magnificent. But when he looked more closely, Andrew saw a host of little black men capering merrily around the corpse, one grinning like a prostitute, another barking like a dog, a third grunting like a pig, a fourth pouring something filthy over the body. And they were mocking the singers and saying: 'You're singing over a dog!' Andrew, marveling, wondered what this man had done. Turning round, he saw a handsome youth standing weeping behind a wall. 'For the sake of the God of heaven and earth, tell me the reason for your tears', said Andrew. The young man then told him that he had been the dead man's guardian angel, but that the man had, by his sins, greatly offended God, casting his angel's counsel from him and giving himself over utterly to the black demons. And the angel said that this man was a great and unrepentant sinner: a liar, a hater of men, a miser, a shedder of blood and a dissolute man who had turned three hundred souls to immorality. In vain was he honored by the Emperor and respected by the people. In vain was this great funeral. Death had caught him unrepentant, and the harvest had come without warning. October 17th - Civil Calendar October 4th - Church Calendar 1. The Hieromartyr Hierotheos. He was a friend of Dionysius the Areopagite, and received the Christian faith from the Apostle Paul a little after Dionysius. This Apostle later made him bishop in Athens. At the time of the Dormition of the most holy Mother of God, Hierotheos arrived in Jerusalem and took part in the funeral. With his divine singing, he brought heartfelt joy to many and showed himself to be greatly inspired. He labored greatly for the sake of the Gospel, brought many pagans to the truth, governed his flock well and finally ended a martyr for Christ, who gave him a twofold wreath in His heavenly Kingdom: of the hierarch and of the martyr. 2. St Stephen Stiljanovic. A Serbian despot, born of the Pastrovic family, he governed the Serbian people during a most difficult period, struggling courageously against the Turks and the Latins. A righteous and godly man and a patriot, this great prince can be compared with St Alexander Nevsky or with the holy king John Vladimir. He entered into rest at the beginning of the sixteenth century (according to some, in 1515). A light appeared at his grave at night, by means of which his holy relics were found, being kept for a long time in the monastery of Sisatovac in the Fruska Gora* and then, during the Second World War, taken to Belgrade and placed in the Cathedral beside the body of Prince Lazar. His wife Helena, seeing Stephen's uncorrupt relics and the miracles wrought by them, became a nun and gave herself to asceticism till her death. * Translator`s note: A mountain range in north-east Yugoslavia. 3. Our Holy Father Ammon of Nitria. An Egyptian and a wine-grower by profession, he was forced by his kinsmen to marry against his will, but he would not live with a woman. On the first day, he called his bride his sister and counseled her, together with him, to guard her virginity for the sake of greater good things from heaven, and they lived thus for a whole eighteen years. Later, by mutual arrangement, his wife founded a womens' monastery in their house and Ammon went off to the Nitrian desert, where he gave himself to the ascesis of solitude. He received great gifts of insight and wonderworking from God for the purity of his heart. A man and woman brought him their insane son that he might heal him by his prayers, but Ammon would not do so. After long pestering on the part of the parents, Ammon said: 'The sickness and health of your son are in your hands. Return the stolen ox to the widow (and he named her), and your son will be healed.' The parents, amazed at such insight on the saint's part, acknowledged their sin and promised that they would return the stolen ox as soon as they got home. Then holy Ammon prayed to God, and the child was healed. Ammon was a close friend of St Antony the Great. When Ammon died in Nitria in about 350, St Antony saw from his cell window the soul of Ammon in the heights, and said to the brethren: 'Abba Ammon has today moved on, and I see his holy soul being borne by the angels into heaven. 4. Our Holy Father Paul the Simple.
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He lived in the world as a married man to the age of sixty. Catching his wife in sin, he left everything and went to St Antony in the desert, becoming a monk at his hands. Although he was simple and unlettered, he achieved such spiritual perfection that he saw every man's soul as ordinary men see each other's bodies. He was a great wonderworker and, in some things, outstripped St Antony himself. He died in great old age, in 340, and went to angelic joy. FOR CONSIDERATION A vision of St Andrew the Fool for Christ: St Paul was not the only one to be caught up into Paradise and hear 'unspeakable words' (II Cor. 12:4). Over eight hundred and fifty years after St Paul, this happened to St Andrew. One winter night, holy Andrew was lying among the dogs on a dunghill, to warm his frozen body. An angel appeared to him and caught him up to Paradise (whether in the body or out of the body, Andrew himself was unable to explain) and kept him for two weeks in the heavenly world, bearing him to the third heaven. 'I saw myself clad in shining garments like lightning, with a wreath of flowers on my head and girt with a kingly girdle, and I rejoiced greatly at this beauty, and marveled in mind and heart at the unspeakable loveliness of God's Paradise, and I walked around it with great gladness.' After that, Andrew writes of how he saw Christ the Lord: 'And when a flaming hand drew aside the curtain, I saw my Lord as the Prophet Isaiah saw Him aforetime, sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up and surrounded by seraphim. He was clad in a red garment, His face shone and His eyes rested on me with great kindness. Seeing Him, I fell down before Him, worshipping before the awesome throne of His glory. I have no words for the joy that gripped me at the sight of His face; and now, remembering this vision, I am filled with unspeakable joy. And I heard my most merciful Creator speak three words to me with His most sweet and pure lips, which so sweetened my heart and inflamed it with love for Him that I melted as wax at such spiritual warmth.' When St Andrew asked also after this if it would be possible to see the most holy Mother of God, it was said to him that she was for the moment not in heaven, but had gone down to earth to be of help to the poor and needy. October 18th - Civil Calendar October 5th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Charitina. Orphaned young, she was adopted by an eminent Christian man called Claudius, who brought her up as his own daughter. Charitina was meek, humble, obedient and silent. She studied the law of God day and night and vowed to live in perpetual virginity as a true bride of Christ. But, Charitina having brought others to the Christian faith, the Emperor Diocletians' governor, Dometius, heard of her and sent soldiers to take her from her foster-father for trial. The judge asked her: 'Is it true, little girl, that you are a Christian, and that you delude others by bringing them to this dishonorable faith?' Charitina courageously replied: 'It is true that I am a Christian, and a lie that I delude others. I lead those in error to the way of truth, bringing them to my Christ.' The wicked judge ordered that her hair be cut off and live coals put on her head, but the maiden was preserved by God's power. They threw her into the sea, but God delivered her from it. She was bound to a wheel which began to turn, but an angel of God stopped the wheel and Charitina remained unharmed. Then the wicked judge sent some dissolute youths to rape her. Fearing this dishonor, St Charitina prayed to God to receive her soul before these dissolute men could foul her virginal body and so, while she was kneeling in prayer, her soul went out from her body to the immortal Kingdom of Christ. 2. The Hieromartyr Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria. Born in Alexandria of eminent, pagan parents, he was educated in Hellenic philosophy and then studied with Origen. As a young man, he read St Paul's epistles, came to faith in Christ and was baptised by Dimitrios, the then Bishop of Alexandria. He himself became bishop there in 247, and served God and the people of God as a true pastor in very difficult circumstances. The Church was outwardly persecuted by pagans and inwardly split by heretics. There were also the effects of a plague, that weakened the people for several years. He lived for three years outside Alexandria. hidden by the faithful, that he should not be killed before his time. In those three years, he wrote many epistles and other works for his flock, instructing them and encouraging them in the upholding of Orthodoxy. Among his writings are a few canons which were adopted by the Church, and his
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letter against Novatius is also regarded as a canonical writing. He governed the Church for seventeen years, and entered into rest in 265. 3. Our Holy Father Eudocimus of Vatopedi. In 1841, when the bone-chapel at Vatopedi was being restored, workmen found the relics of a man kneeling and holding an icon of the Mother of God. Not knowing who this man could have been and when he had lived, the monks gave him the name Eudocimus and transferred his relics to the church, where they are preserved to this day. Many miracles of healing have been performed by them. Today the following words are carved on his coffin: 'This coffin was made for the honored head of St Eudocimus by the monk Gabriel, whom the saint healed of great sickness. 4. Our Holy Fathers Damian, Jeremiah and Matthew. Seers and wonderworkers of the Kiev Caves, they lived in the eleventh century. FOR CONSIDERATION Whenever men strive earnestly to see the truth, and when they put nothing else before the truth, God, in His gentle way, comes to meet them. 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 literature of Greece in order to come to the truth. But, being dissatisfied with that, he began to read everything that came to hand. One day, by God's providence, a poor woman met him and offered to sell him a manuscript containing several of St Paul's epistles. Dionysius joyfully bought them and read them. They so captivated him that he sought out the woman again and asked if he could get anything else like that from her. The woman sent him to a Christian priest, who gave him all of Paul's epistles. Reading them all carefully, Dionysius came to faith in Christ and received baptism without the slightest hesitation. The Millenarian heresy had taken root in Arsinoe and was spreading the false teaching that Christ would soon come and found on earth an earthly kingdom that would last a thousand years. At the forefront of this heresy was one Korakion, a disciple of Nepos of Arsinoe. Dionysius was at pains to go to Arsinoe and disillusion the Millenarians, and put an end to the spread of this heresy among the faithful. At a great gathering of Millenarians and Orthodox, Dionysius disputed with Korakion and other of the leaders of the Millenarians. The debate continued for three whole days. See what zeal the Christians of former times showed for the examination of the truth! And God blessed their labours and their zeal because of the prayers of St Dionysius. At the end of the debate, Korakion and his followers cast off their false teaching and accepted the Orthodox teaching of St Dionysius. October 19th - Civil Calendar October 6th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Apostle Thomas. He was one of the twelve Great Apostles. Through his doubt of the Resurrection of the Lord Christ, a new confirmation was given of that wonderful and saving event, for the risen Lord appeared again to His disciples, to convince Thomas. The Lord said to Thomas: 'Reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side; and be not faithless, but believing', and Thomas cried: 'My Lord and my God! (John 20). After the descent of the Holy Spirit, when the apostles cast lots to see who would go where to preach the Gospel, it fell to Thomas to got to India. He was somewhat saddened at having to go so far away, but the Lord appeared to him and comforted him. In India, St Thomas converted many, both rich and poor, to the Christian faith, and founded a Church there, making priests and bishops. Among others, St Thomas converted two sisters, Tertiana and Mygdonia, wives of Indian princes. Both sisters were ill-treated for their faith by their husbands, who would not live with them after their baptism, and divorced them. Being freed from their marriages, they lived godly lives till their deaths. Dionysius and Pelagia, a couple at first betrothed to each other, heard the Apostle's teaching and did not live together, but devoted themselves to the ascetic life. Pelagia died a martyr for the Faith and Dionysius was made bishop by the Apostle. Prince Misdaeus, the husband of Tertiana, whose wife and son Iuzanes Thomas baptised, condemned the Apostle to death, and sent five soldiers who ran him through with their lances, and thus the holy Apostle Thomas gave his soul into the hands of his Christ. Before his death, he, with the other
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apostles, was miraculously borne to Jerusalem for the funeral of the most holy Mother of God. Arriving late, he grieved bitterly and, at his request, the tomb of the Most Pure was opened, but the body was not there: the Lord had taken His Mother to His heavenly home. Thus St Thomas first, by his unbelief, confirmed the faith in the Resurrection of the Lord and then, by his late arrival, revealed to us the wondrous glorification of the Mother of God. 2. Our Holy Father, the New Martyr Macarius. Born in Cion in Bithynia, of Christian parents Peter and Anthusa, he was baptised with the name Manuel. His parents had him taught tailoring as a trade, then his father embraced Islam and moved to Brussa. Once, when Manuel went to Brussa in the course of his work, his father found him and put great pressure on him to follow his example. Manuel refused, but in vain: the Turks circumcised him by force. Then Manuel fled to the Holy Mountain and became a monk in the skete of St Anne, receiving the name Macarius. He was a model monk for twelve years, but his soul could find no peace. 'Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father' (Matt. 10:33) -- these words of Christ's were constantly ringing in Macarius' ears. He therefore resolved, with his elder's blessing, to go to Brussa and openly confess his faith in Christ before the Turks, calling Mahomet a false prophet. After being flogged for a hundred and thirty days and enduring even harsher tortures, he was beheaded with the sword in Brussa on October 6th, 1590. A part of his wonderworking relics is preserved in the skete of St Anne on Mount Athos. FOR CONSIDERATION 'We have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens' (II Cor. 5:1), says the discerning Apostle Paul. All our labour on earth for God has this one aim: to strive with all our strength to attain to that eternal home not made with hands in the heavens. An Indian king, Gundafor, decided to build himself a magnificent palace, the like of which had never been seen on earth. When his envoy, Havan, sought skilled workers capable of building such a palace for the king, they came, by God's providence, to meet the Apostle Thomas, who told them that he was skilled in such work and that no-one could build the king what he wanted without his, Thomas', help. Thomas therefore received a great sum of gold from the king to build this palace. As soon as he left the king's presence, he gave all the gold away to the poor. After two years, the king sent servants to ask Thomas if the palace was ready, as it was being built at some distance from the capital. Thomas replied: 'All is ready except for the roof', and he asked for more money from the king and was given it. Thomas again gave it all away to the poor and went around the kingdom doing his own work, which was the preaching of the Gospel. The king discovered that Thomas had not even begun to build the palace, so he seized him and threw him into prison. That night, the king's brother died, and the king was grief-stricken. An angel took the dead man's soul and carried it to Paradise, and showed him a wonderful palace such as the mind of man could not imagine. The soul of the dead man wanted to go into that palace, but the angel told him that he could not, as it was the palace that the Apostle Thomas had built for his brother with the alms he had given. Then the angel returned the man's soul to his body. When the man came to himself, he said to the king, his brother: 'Swear that you will give me anything I ask of you.' And the king swore that he would. His brother then said: 'Give me the palace you have in heaven.' The king was amazed, and doubted greatly that there could be any such palace in heaven, but, when his brother explained it all to him, he was convinced and immediately released Thomas from prison. When they heard from the Apostle's lips the words of salvation and eternal life, the king and his brother were both baptised. The king gave himself to further almsgiving, that he might build himself a yet more wonderful palace in heaven. October 20th - Civil Calendar October 7th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus. These holy and wonderful martyrs and heroes of the Christian faith were at first nobles at the court of the Emperor Maximian. The Emperor himself valued them greatly for their courage, wisdom and zeal, but, when he heard that these great nobles of his were Christians, his love for them turned to fury. And once, when there was a great offering of sacrifices to idols, the Emperor summoned Sergius and Bacchus to offer sacrifice together with him, and they openly refused to obey him in this. Beside himself with anger, the Emperor ordered that their robes, rings and marks of eminence be stripped from them and they be dressed in women's clothing.
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He then put iron yokes on their necks and led them thus through the streets of Rome, to be mocked by each and all. The Emperor then sent them to Asia, to Antiochus the governor, for torture. Antiochus had achieved his distinguished rank with the help of Sergius and Bacchus, who had at one time recommended him to the Emperor. When Antiochus began to urge them to deny Christ and save themselves from dishonourable suffering and death, the two saints replied: 'Both honour and dishonour, both life and death -- all are one to him who seeks the heavenly Kingdom. Antiochus threw Sergius into prison and ordered that Bacchus be tortured first. The servants took turns in beating holy Bacchus until his whole body was broken into fragments. His holy spirit went forth from his broken and bloodstained body and was borne to the Lord by angels. St Bacchus suffered in the town of Varvallis. Then holy Sergius was led out. Iron shoes studded with nails were put on his feet, and he was driven out into the Syrian town of Resapha, and there beheaded with the sword. His soul went to Paradise where, together with his friend Bacchus, he received the wreath of immortal glory from Christ his King and Lord. These two glorious knights suffered for the Christian faith in about 303. 2. The Holy Martyr Polychronius. Born in the district of Gampnanitus of peasant parents, he worked as a young man in the vineyard of a Constantinopolitan man, giving himself to fasting and prayer day and night. Seeing his way of life, angelic in its purity and restraint, the overseer was amazed and gave him far higher wages than they had agreed. St Polychronius used the money to build a church. At the time of the Council of Nicaea in 325, Polychronius was a reader and showed such zeal in the defence of Orthodoxy against the Arians that he was ordained priest. Later, these wicked heretics, out of revenge, fell on St Polychronius in the church itself and cut him to pieces. Thus suffered this great defender of the truth and purity of Orthodoxy, and received the wreath of glory from his most glorious Lord. In the Greek Synaxarion there are also commemorated today the ninety-nine ascetics of Crete. It is said that the hundredth never joined them, which was interpreted as meaning that the hundredth was Christ the Lord Himself, their leader. The most renowned among them was St John, a great man of prayer and a wonderworker. He prayed so much kneeling that he was in the end unable to stand, but moved around on his knees. Seeing him going about like this, a woodcutter thought that he was a wild beast and shot him with an arrow. Then a very great wonder was wrought, for all the rest of the ninety-nine ascetics breathed their last on the selfsame day. It is not known when they lived. FOR CONSIDERATION A vision of St Andrew: Once holy Andrew was sitting with his disciple Epiphanius and talking with him of the salvation of the soul. At that time, a demon came to Epiphanius and began to set a trap for him, to turn his thoughts in another direction, but he dared not approach Andrew. Andrew then cried to him in fury: 'Get away from here, you impure adversary!' The devil recoiled and replied wickedly: 'You're the greatest enemy I have in the whole of Constantinople!' Andrew did not drive him away at once, but let him speak. And the devil began: 'I feel that the time is coming when my trade will be destroyed. At that time, men will be worse than I am now, and children more adept at wickedness than those who are full-grown. And I shall then take my rest and shall do nothing more to men, for they will do my will of themselves.' Andrew asked him. 'At what sins do your people most rejoice?' The devil replied: 'The service of idols, slander, evil against one's neighbour, the Sodomite sins of drunkenness and love of money -- these give us most joy.' Andrew asked again: 'And how do you bear it when someone who has served you denies you and your works?' The devil replied: 'You know that better than I do. We find it hard to bear, and do our utmost to bring him back, for many who have denied us and turned to God have come back to us.' When the evil spirit had said this and much else, holy Andrew breathed on him and he disappeared. October 21st - Civil Calendar October 8th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Mother Pelagia. A repentant sinner, she was born a pagan in Antioch and endowed by God with great physical beauty, but she used this beauty to destroy her own soul and those of others, acquiring great wealth from her prostitution. One
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day, walking past the church of the holy martyr Julian, where Bishop Nonnus was preaching, she turned into the church and listened to the sermon, which was about the Dreadful Judgement and the punishment of sinners. These words so shook her, and wrought so great a change in her, that she was of a sudden filled with selfloathing and fear of God, and, repenting of all her filthy sins, fell down before St Nonnus, begging him to baptise her: 'Holy father, be merciful to me, a sinner; baptise 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 implored Christ's hierarch with tears. And he baptised her. Blessed Romana, a deaconess of that church, stood sponsor to her at her baptism and, after that, as her spiritual mother, grounded her well in the Christian faith. But Pelagia was not content just to be baptised. Feeling the weight of her many sins and the pricking of her conscience, she decided on a great ascesis. She gave away to the poor the enormous wealth she had amassed by her immorality and went secretly to Jerusalem, where, under a man's name as the monk Pelagius, she shut herself in a cell on the Mount of Olives and there began a strict ascesis of fasting, prayer and vigils. Three years later. St Nonnus' deacon, James, visited her and found her still alive, but when he went to her again a few days later, he found her dead body and gave it burial. St Pelagia entered into rest in about 461. Thus that sometime great sinner, by repentance and striving, received the mercy of God, the forgiveness of her sins and sanctification, and her purified and sanctified soul was made worthy of the Kingdom of God. 2. Our Holy Mother Thais. A repentant sinner, she was an Egyptian by birth. Like St Pelagia, Thais spent her youth in prostitution, being set on the way of evil living by her shameless mother. But God the merciful, who desires not that sinners should perish but that they should be saved, found a way in His wonderful providence to save the sinful Thais. One of the disciples of St Antony the Great, Paphnutius the Sindonite, heard of Thais, of her sinful life and the spiritual poison with which she was poisoning the souls of many, and he decided, with God's help, to save her. Holy Paphnutius, therefore, dressed himself in ordinary clothes, took a gold piece and went to the town. He found Thais and gave her the coin. Thais, thinking that the man had given her the gold piece with evil intent, took Paphnutius off to her room. Then Paphnutius opened his blessed lips and denounced Thais' sin, calling her to repentance. Thais' soul and conscience were roused, and she gave herself to tears of heartfelt repentance. Giving away all her goods to the needy, she went to a monastery of virgins, near to Paphnutius' hermitage, and stayed there for about three years, shut in a cell and living only on bread and water. Just before her death, St Paphnutius visited her, and made her leave her cell against her will. She quickly fell ill and, after a short illness, gave her purified and sanctified soul to God. St Paul the Simple, another disciple of St Antony, saw in a vision in Paradise a most beautiful dwelling prepared for the penitent Thais. This holy soul entered into rest in about 340. 3. The Holy Martyr Pelagia. She was a virgin of an eminent family in Antioch. In the time of the 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 the door. She appeared, and when she heard that they had come to take her for trial, she pretended delight and asked the soldiers to wait a moment or two while she got herself ready. She then climbed up onto the roof of the house, raised her hands to heaven and prayed for a long time, begging God to receive her soul and not let her virginity be fouled. God did so, and her dead body fell in front of the soldiers. 'Her death', writes Chrysostom, 'came about not as a natural occurrence but by the command of God', and he continues: 'And thus this virginal body, purer than any gold, lay on the earth: angels surrounded it, archangels paid it honour and Christ Himself was with her.' In the Slavonic Prologue, there is recorded the following occurrence with an unrepentant sinner: A deacon, Raphael, was sick unto death. This was told to St Epiphanius, who loved Raphael, and the elder came to him at once. Recognising his spiritual father, Raphael began to weep and wail bitterly. Epiphanius also wept, then asked the deacon why he was in such grief. The deacon replied: 'Woe is me, devils have snatched away my works, and the angels of God have withdrawn themselves from me!' After that, he began to bleat like a goat, and then bark like a dog. And at that he gave up his soul. St Epiphanius said that this was because of some great sin, unconfessed and unrepented. FOR CONSIDERATION
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Oh, when shall we get to the point of making as much effort over our souls as we do over our bodies? When shall we come to the desire to bedeck ourselves with virtues before God and His glorious angels as much as we bedeck ourselves with vain and transitory outward gauds? Pelagia and Thais were, in the beginning, only aware of their bodies, while their souls were like slaves lying bound in the prison of their flesh. They were both bedecked with vanity, clothed in vanity, adorned with vanity, surrounded by vanity and flattered by vanity. But what a sudden change! What a divine step in their lives! Stranger than if a wild apple tree were to change its nature and begin to bear sweet apples, or if some turgid and stinking pool somehow cleared itself and became pure drinking water. When Bishop Nonnus, with the other bishops, first saw Pelagia the sinner in her external resplendence, clad in the costliest garments, ornamented, adorned, bedecked with rings, necklaces and baubles, perfumed, surrounded by slaves -- when the bishop saw her, he burst into tears and said to his companions: 'I have indeed learned much from this woman. God will bring her before His Dreadful Judgement and will rebuke us through her. For think: how many hours does this woman spend in her room washing herself, dressing herself, titivating herself, preening herself in the mirror -- and what for? Only to appear lovelier in men's eyes. And we, who have an immortal Bridegroom in heaven -- we do not exert ourselves to bedeck our souls with repentance, we do not hasten to bathe them in tears of repentance or to clothe them in the beauty of the virtues, that they may appear lovelier in God's eyes.' October 22nd - Civil Calendar October 9th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Apostle James. The son of Alphaeus and one of the twelve Great Apostles, he was the brother of the Apostle and Evangelist Matthew. He was a witness of the true words and miracles of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and a witness of His Passion, Resurrection and Ascension. After the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, it fell to the lot of the Apostle James to preach Christ's Gospel in Eleutheropolis and the surrounding area, and then in Egypt, where he suffered for his Saviour. With great power both in word and act, James spread abroad the saving news of the incarnate Word of God, rooting out idol worship, driving demons out of men, healing all manner of sickness and disease in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. His labours and his zeal were crowned with great success. Many pagans came to belief in Christ the Lord, churches were founded and set in order and priests and bishops were made. He suffered in Egypt in the town of Ostracina, being crucified by the pagans. Thus this great and wonderful apostle of Christ went to the heavenly Kingdom, to reign forever with the King of glory. 2. Our Holy Father Andronicus and his wife Athanasia. A citizen of Antioch in the time of Theodosius the Great (379-95), Andronicus was a goldsmith by profession. Both he and his wife were very devout, striving without ceasing to walk in the ways of the Lord. They gave a third of what they earned to the poor, another third to the Church and kept the last for their own use. When they had had two children, they agreed to live in future as brother and sister. Then, by God's unfathomable providence, both their children died on the same day. They grieved deeply until the martyr Julian appeared to Athanasia by their grave and comforted her with the tidings that their children were in the Kingdom of God, and that they were better off there than with their parents on earth. After this, they left everything and went to Egypt, there receiving the monastic habit: Andronicus with the elder, Daniel, at Scetis and Athanasia in a women's monastery in Tabennisi. Being pleasing to God by many years of asceticism, they entered into the eternal Kingdom of Christ: first Athanasia and then, eight days later, Andronicus. 3. Holy and Righteous Abraham and Lot. Read about them in the Book of Genesis. 4. St Dimitrios, Patriarch of Alexandria. The eleventh Bishop of Alexandria after St Mark the Evangelist, he governed his flock long and wisely from 189 to 231. During his time, at the request of the Indians, he sent St Pantaenus, the director of a famous catechetical school in Alexandria, to preach the Gospel in India. Pantaenus found in India the Gospel that St Matthew wrote in Aramaic. 5. St Stephen, Despot of Serbia.
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Son of the Despot George and Queen Irene, he lived for a time with his sister Mara at the court of Sultan Murat II and was blinded at Jedrene together with his brother Grgur. He began to reign over the Serbs in 1458, but was forced almost at once to flee to Albania, where he married Angelina, the daughter of Skenderbeg. Blind and unhappy, but utterly given to God, he died in Italy in 1468. His relics are preserved in the monastery of Krusedol, the foundation of his son Maxim. FOR CONSIDERATION How God both punishes and has mercy is clearly shown to us in the last despots of Serbia, in the time of the Turkish conquest of the Serbian lands. It was not of their own power and will that the Turks came into the Balkans and subjugated the Christian peoples -- Greeks, Bulgars and Serbs -- but by God's permission; in the same way that Nebuchadnezzar, not by his own power but by God's permission, conquered Jerusalem and took the Jews off into captivity. The Serbian people suffered greatly for the sins of the princes and nobles, and these latter themselves suffered even more greatly. Despot George died an exile; his sons, Grgur and Stephen, were blinded by the Turks; his daughter was forced into marriage with the Sultan; his middle son rose up against his mother Irene and brother Grgur, and by force took the insecure throne at Smederevo, but died suddenly. Blind Stephen had barely become Despot when he had to flee to Albania, and then to Italy, where he died, in that foreign place, as an exile and a refugee. This was all God's punishment. Where, then, does mercy come in? God glorified with eternal glory both this Stephen and his wife Angelina, and their children Maxim and John. After lying eight years in the grave, Stephen's body was dug up and found to be intact and filled with a fragrant scent, and many miracles were wrought over his holy relics. So also, by the grace of God, both his wife and his sons were glorified and sanctified. October 23rd - Civil Calendar October 10th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyrs Eulampius and Eulampia. They were brother and sister from Nicomedia. At the time of a vicious persecution of Christians by the Emperor Maximian (286-305), some of the faithful of Nicomedia fled the city and hid. The young Eulampius was sent into the city for bread. Entering it, he saw the imperial decree on the persecution and killing of Christians stuck onto a wall, and, laughing at it, took it down and tore it up. He was immediately brought to trial for this. When the judge urged him to deny Christ, Eulampius began in return to urge the judge to deny the false idols and accept Christ as the one, living God. Then the judge ordered that he be flogged until the blood flowed, and tortured in other ways. Hearing of the torture of her brother, the maiden Eulampia ran to join him in suffering for Christ, and she was likewise beaten till the blood flowed from her nose and mouth. After that, they were thrown into boiling pitch then into a red-hot furnace, but they, by the power of the sign of the Cross and the name of Christ, rendered the fire harmless. Finally, St Eulampius was beheaded, but St Eulampia breathed her last before the same could be done to her. Two hundred other Christians, who had come to faith in Christ by seeing the power and miracles of St Eulampius and his sister, were slaughtered. All were crowned with wreaths of martyrdom and entered into their immortal, heavenly home. 2. The Holy Martyrs of Zographou. When the Emperor Michael Palaeologus contracted the ill-famed Union of Lyons with the Pope, to receive his help against the Bulgars and Serbs, the monks of the Holy Mountain sent the Emperor a protest against this Union, and urged him to set it aside and return to Orthodoxy. The Pope sent an army to Michael's aid, and this Latin army went onto the Holy Mountain and set about such barbarism as the Turks never perpetrated in five hundred years. Hanging the members of the Council and slaughtering many of the monks in Vatopedi, Iviron and other monasteries, the Latins attacked Zographou. The blessed Abbot Thomas told the brethren by inspiration that those who desired to save themselves from the Latins should flee the monastery, and those who desired a martyr's death should stay. Twenty-six men stayed: twenty-two monks with their abbot and four laymen who worked for the monastery. They all shut themselves in the monastery tower. When the Latins arrived, they set the tower alight, and these twenty-six heroes found a martyr's death in the flames. While the tower was burning, they sang hymns and the Akathist to the Mother of God, and gave their holy souls into God's hands on October 10th, 1282. In December of the same year, the dishonourable Emperor Michael died in poverty, the Serbian King Milutin having risen up against him in defence of Orthodoxy.
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3. Our Holy Father Theophilus the Confessor. By birth a Macedonian Slav from somewhere near Strumica, he became a monk very young and built himself a monastery. He suffered much for the sake of the holy icons in the time of Leo the Isaurian, and would have been killed then if he had not been able to convince the judge Hypaticus, governor of the area, of the principle and necessity of the veneration of icons. The governor freed him, and he returned to his monastery, where he died peacefully and entered into the joy of his Lord. 4. The Holy Martyr Theotecnus. He was a Roman officer in Antioch in the time of Maximian (286-305). When the Emperor pressed him to offer sacrifice to idols, he replied: 'I believe in Christ my God, and shall offer myself to Him as a living sacrifice.' After terrible torture, he was drowned in the sea with a stone round his neck and, suffering with honour for Christ, was crowned with the wreath of martyrdom. 5. Our Holy Father Bassian. In the time of the devout Emperor Marcian, in 450, this saint came from Syria to Constantinople. His asceticism was great, and the power that he received from God was great and miraculous. He had about three hundred disciples, among whom was St Matrona. The Emperor Marcian built a church in his honour, which remains to this day. FOR CONSIDERATION By God's providence, the greatest number of miracles and heavenly visions occurred at times of the martyrdom of His servants. On the day on which the Latins were making their way to the monastery of Zographou, one of the old monks had an obedience in a vineyard half an hour away from the monastery, and, at the time ordained, read the Akathist before the icon of the Mother of God. When he began to pronounce the word: 'Rejoice', a voice came from the icon: 'Rejoice also, old man. Flee from here without delay, that misfortune may not come upon you, or go and tell the brethren in the monastery to lock themselves in, for the godless Latins have fallen upon this mountain that I have chosen, and are already close at hand.' The terrified old man fell flat on the ground and cried out in fear: 'How can I leave you here, my Queen and Advocate?' At that, the voice came again: 'Don't worry about me, but hurry!' The old man went at once to the monastery, and saw this same icon of the Mother of God before the doors when he arrived; the icon, by some miraculous means, had arrived at the monastery before him. The amazed old man related all that had been revealed to him to the abbot and the brethren, and all of them, hearing this, gave glory to God and to His Mother. On one occasion, during the feast of the twenty-six martyrs of Zographou, on October 10th, 1873, there was a great night-vigil. The night was moonless. Halfway through the night, while the monks were singing and reading the lives of the holy martyrs in the church, a slight noise was heard, and a burning pillar, stretching from earth to heaven, appeared over the church. So brilliant was it that night was turned to day. This wonder lasted for about a quarter of an hour, and then disappeared. October 24th - Civil Calendar October 11th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Apostle Philip of the Seventy. Born in Palestinian Caesarea, he was married and had four daughters, all four endowed by God with the gift of discernment and all four vowed virgins for the sake of Christ (Acts 21:8-9). When the holy apostles chose deacons, Philip was chosen along with Stephen and the others (6:5). Philip served the poor and the widows with great fervour. When persecution fell on the Christians in Jerusalem, he fled to Samaria and there preached the Gospel and witnessed to it by many miracles, driving out demons, healing the sick and so forth. Seeing the miracles of the holy apostle, Simon the Magician was baptised. St Philip also baptised the eunuch of Queen Candace. After that, an angel of God suddenly and invisibly bore him away to Azotus, where he taught and preached, bringing many to Christ (Acts 8). He was later made bishop in Tralles. He died peacefully in great old age, and entered into the joy of his Lord.
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2. Commemoration of the Seventh Ecumenical Council. This Council was held in 787 in Nicaea. in the reign of the devout Empress Irene and her son Constantine, and in the time of Patriarch Tarasius. This Council finally upheld the veneration of icons, expounding it from Holy Scripture, the witness of the holy fathers and the examples of miracles in connection with the holy icons. Among other examples cited, the Cypriot bishop, Constantine, brought forward this one: A herdsman from the city of Constantia, driving his flock out to pasture one day, saw an icon of the Mother of God adorned with flowers by the devout. 'Why give so much honour to a rock?', said the herdsman, obviously brought up in iconoclasm, and threw his iron stave at the icon, damaging the right eye of the Mother of God. As soon as he had left that spot, he stumbled over the same stave and put out his own right eye. Returning blinded to the city, he cried out tearfully that it was a punishment from the Mother of God. This Council also decided that the relics of the martyrs be placed in the antimins.* Three hundred and sixtyseven fathers took part in the Council. May the Lord have mercy on us and save us by their prayers. *Antimins: a cloth containing relics of the saints that is spread on the Holy Table for the celebration of the Liturgy -- Tr. 3. Our Holy Father Theophanes the Hymnographer (the Branded). A confessor and writer of Canons, he was born in Arabia of wealthy and devout parents. With his brother Theodore (see Dec. 27th), he became a monk in the monastery of St Sava the Sanctified. Being very welleducated monks, they were sent by Patriarch Thomas of Jerusalem to Leo the Armenian, to explain things to the Emperor and defend the veneration of icons. The wicked Emperor inflicted harsh torture on these two holy brothers and threw them into prison. Later, the iconoclast Emperor Theophilus continued their torture, and, to expose them to the world's ridicule, commanded that derisory words be branded on their faces. At the end of the iconoclast controversy, Theophanes was freed and quickly made bishop. He suffered for the holy icons for twenty-five years, writing a hundred and forty-five Canons in that time. He died peacefully in 847, and entered into the joy of his Lord. 4. St Nectarius, Patriarch of Constantinople. As a layman and a high-ranking court official, he was chosen as Patriarch after St Gregory the Theologian, in 381. He was distinguished by a deep understanding, tact and zeal for the Church. He entered peacefully into rest in 397. 5. The Holy Martyrs Zinais and Philonilla. They were sisters, born in Tarsus, kinswomen of Paul the Apostle. As virgins, they scorned the world for the sake of Christ and withdrew to a cave to live in asceticism. They were skilled in medicine, and helped many of the sick. Philonilla especially, for her great fasting, was made worthy of the gift of wonderworking. But unbelievers fell on them one night and stoned them to death. FOR CONSIDERATION As, by God's providence, the power of healing is given to blessed water and blessed oil, so these same powers are given to icons. One marvellous example of the wonderworking power of the holy icons is cited by St Athanasius the Great. In the town of Beirut there lived a Christian in a rented house. Moving from this house, he left behind by mistake an icon of the Saviour. A Jew moved into the same house. There were many Jews in that house, and they were particularly ill-disposed towards the Christian faith. When the icon was found, the Jews carried it to their meeting-place and began to mock it, as their forbears had once mocked the living Saviour. The Jews did to the icon as their forbears had done to Him: they pierced the feet and hands with nails, put vinegar on the icon's lips and, in all possible ways, mocked the Saviour's face. Finally, one of them took a spear and pierced the divine image under the rib. And, wonder of wonders, blood and water flowed from the pierced spot as it had aforetime from the body of the crucified Lord. The fear and horror of the Jews was indescribable. Then they found a vessel in which to catch the blood, and brought many of the sick -- the blind, deaf, lame and mad, who, as soon as they were anointed with that blood, were healed. The whole town gathered to see the miracle, and all glorified Christ our God. All the Jews in the town came to belief in Christ, the living and life-giving Lord.
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October 25th - Civil Calendar October 12th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyrs Tarachus, Probus and Andronicus. Tarachus was born in Syrian Claudiopolis, Probus in Pamphylian Side, and Andronicus was the son of an eminent citizen of Ephesus. They were all three martyred together by the proconsul, Hymerius Maximus, in the time of the Emperor Diocletian (284-305). Tarachus was sixty-five years old when he was martyred. When the proconsul asked him three times for his name, he answered all three times: 'I am a Christian.' They were first beaten with rods, then, all bloody and wounded, thrown into prison. After that, they were brought out again for further torture. When the proconsul urged Probus to deny Christ, promising him honours from the Emperor and his own friendship, holy Probus replied: 'I neither desire imperial honours nor seek your friendship.' When he put St Andronicus to even greater physical torture, Christ's young martyr replied: 'My body is before you; do with it what you will.' After long-drawn-out torture in various places, these three holy martyrs were thrown into the theatre before the wild beasts. Before them, others were torn to pieces by the animals in this same theatre, but the beasts would not touch the saints; both the bear and the ferocious lioness fawned around them. Seeing this, many people believed in Christ the Lord and cried out against the proconsul. Wild with anger, and more ferocious than the beasts, the proconsul ordered soldiers to go in and cut Christ's soldiers to pieces, and their bodies lay mingled with the bodies of the others who had been slain. Three Christians: Macarius, Felix and Verianus, who witnessed the slaughter of the holy martyrs, came that night to take their bodies. All the bodies being mixed up and the night being very dark, they, in uncertainty about how to distinguish the martyrs' bodies, prayed to God, and three lights suddenly appeared above the bodies of the saints. They then took them and gave them burial. 2. St Martin, Bishop of Tours. Born in 316 in Pannonia, in a town called Sabaria, he was the son of pagan parents. His father was a Roman officer, and the young Martin was therefore put, against his will, into the army. He was, however, already a catechumen in the Christian Church, which he had loved with all his heart from his early youth. Travelling one winter with his companions to the town of Amiens, he saw a beggar, almost naked and freezing with cold, in front of the gates. Martin was distressed and, parting from his companions, took off his soldier's cloak and, with his sabre, cut it in half. He gave half to the beggar and wrapped himself in the other, and went on his way. That night, the Lord Jesus appeared to him in a dream, clad in the other half of his cloak, and said to His angels: 'Martin is only a catechumen, and see, he clothes Me in his garment!' Leaving the army, Martin was immediately baptised, and baptised his mother. After that, he became a monk in the diocese of St Hilary of Poitiers, and spent his life in true asceticism. He had a rare meekness, and for this God gave him abundant wonderworking gifts, so that he could raise the dead and drive out evil spirits. He was made Bishop of Tours against his will. After abundant toil in the Lord's vineyard and after a mighty struggle with both pagans and Arian heretics, St Martin gave his holy soul into the hands of his Lord in 397. 3. Our Holy Father Cosmas of Maiuma. Born in Jerusalem, he was a friend of St John Damascene, whose parents took him in as an orphan and educated him. As a monk, he helped St Damascene to compile the Octoechos*, and he himself composed many Canons to the saints. The especially lovely Canons for Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday and the Sunday of the Judgement are ascribed to him. He was bishop of the town of Maiuma, near Gaza. He outlived St Damascene and died in great old age. * The Octoechos: the book of the Eight Tones, which change weekly and comprise the basis of the Offices -Tr. FOR CONSIDERATION In what have the saints been most exalted and glorified by heaven and by men? Chiefly in their humility and service. St Martin, even as an officer before his baptism, had one servant whom he regarded more as a brother than a servant. He often served his servant, feeling no shame at this, but rather joy. When St Hilary wanted to make him a priest, he refused this honour with tears, and begged the bishop to let him be a monk in some remote place. St Martin was once travelling from France to Pannonia, to see his parents. When he was crossing
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the Alps, brigands seized him and made to kill him. When one of the brigands took up a sword to behead him, Martin was unafraid and stayed motionless without asking for mercy, being utterly at peace as though nothing were happening. The brigand was astonished at such a reaction, put his sword away and asked Martin who he was. Martin said that he was a Christian, and that it was because of this that he was not afraid, knowing that God, in His great mercy, is near to men, and especially in the hour of danger. All the brigands were amazed at the rare virtues of this godly man, and he who had drawn his sword against Martin came to faith in Christ, was baptised and later became a monk. When the episcopal seat in Tours became vacant, everyone wanted to have St Martin as bishop, but Martin was unwilling. Some citizens of Tours got him out of his monastery by craft, and took him off. This was how they did it: they came to the gate of Martin's monastery and told the abbot that a sick man was waiting outside, asking that he come out and give him his blessing. When St Martin came out, they seized him and carried him off to Tours, and made him bishop. Foreseeing his approaching death in old age, he told his brethren and they, with many tears, begged him not to leave them. The saint, to comfort them, prayed to God in their presence, saying: 'Lord, if I am still needed by Thy people, I do not refuse the toil. May Thy holy will be done.' October 26th - Civil Calendar October 13th - Church Calendar 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 wicked governor, Valerius, in Decius' reign. Valerius bound them behind horses and dragged them off to Sardis, where he put them to harsh torture; but an angel of God appeared to them, healed them of their wounds and strengthened them. Carpus' servant, Agathodorus, followed his master with great sorrow until he also was taken for torture. After that, Valerius again bound them behind horses and dragged them from Sardis to Pergamum. When holy Carpus was tied to a tree and so terribly flogged that his whole body was laid open and his blood streamed down onto the ground, he smiled in the midst of these tortures. When they asked him why he smiled, the holy martyr replied that he saw the heavens open and the Lord sitting on his throne, surrounded by cherubim and seraphim. At the time of Papylus' martyrdom, this holy martyr healed a man, blind in one eye, by his prayers. Many, seeing this, came to believe in Christ the Lord. Thrown before wild beasts, the martyrs remained unhurt. When they were thrown into a fiery furnace, Agathonica, Papylus' sister, saw this and leapt into the flames. But the flames did not burn them. Finally, they were all beheaded with the sword in 251. Thus, after great spiritual endeavour, they received the wreath of glory in the Kingdom of Christ. 2. The Hieromartyr Benjamin the Deacon. This soldier of Christ was a Persian, and, zealously preaching the Gospel, brought many pagans, both Persians and Greeks, to the Christian faith. He suffered in the time of the Persian King Yezdegeherd, in about 412. When he was thrown into prison, one of the king's nobles pleaded for him to the king. The king was willing to let him go free, on condition that he kept silent and spoke no more to the people about Christ. To this, Benjamin replied: 'I cannot possibly do that. Those who hide the talent they have received will be given over to greater suffering', and he continued to spread the Christian faith. The king then ordered that thorns be driven under his nails, and had him tortured until he gave his soul into God's hands. 3. The Holy Martyr Zlata of Meglin. Born in the village of Slatina in the Meglin region, of poor peasants who had three other daughters, St Zlata was a meek and devout girl, wise with Christ's wisdom and golden ('zlata' means 'gold') not only in name but also in her God-fearing heart. When Zlata went out one day to get water, some shameless Turks seized her and carried her off to their house. When one of them urged her to embrace Islam and become his wife, Zlata answered fearlessly: 'I believe in Christ, and know Him alone as my bridegroom; I shall never deny Him even if you put me to a thousand tortures and cut me into pieces. Her parents and sisters then arrived, and said to her: 'O our daughter, have mercy on yourself and us. Deny Christ publicly, that we can all be happy. Christ is merciful: He will forgive your sin, committed under the pressure of life.' Her poor parents and kinsfolk wept bitterly. But Zlata's heroic soul would not be overcome by devilish seduction. She replied to her parents: 'When you urge me to deny Christ, the true God, you are no longer parents or sisters to me; I have the Lord Jesus Christ as father, the Mother of God as mother and, for brothers and sisters, the saints.' Then the Turks threw her
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into prison, where she lay for three months, and they took her out every day and flogged her until her blood flowed onto the ground. Finally, they hanged her upside-down and made a fire to choke her to death with the smoke. But God was with Zlata, and gave her strength in her suffering. At the very end, they hanged her from a tree and cut her into small pieces. Thus this martvr-maiden gave her soul into God's hands, and entered into the realm of Paradise, in 1796. Pieces of her relics were taken by Christians to their homes, that they might bring a blessing to them. FOR CONSIDERATION There is nothing more wretched than a man who, in the hour of need, abandons hope in God and flees to a means of safety contrary to God's Law. Such a man not only cannot put right his outward circumstances, but also loses his soul. This is what happened to the Emperor Michael Palaeologus. In order to safeguard his kingdom, terrorized by the Bulgarians and Serbs, he sought help from the Pope and made a Union with him in 1274. What did this gain? The kingdom was not saved and he did innumerable evil deeds, coming rapidly to an unhappy end in a campaign against Prince John Ducas of Epirus in 1282. The Orthodox people were so resentful towards him that his son Andronicus dared not bury him openly, but put him in the ground at night without funeral or prayers. He was rejected by the Orthodox Church and not received by the Roman, and Michael died outside the Church of God. His wife the Empress, after his death, issued the following statement: 'My Majesty hates and regards as loathsome this action (the Union) that has recently come about in the Church and has caused such discord ... . As the holy Church of God has determined not to sanction any official commemoration of my departed spouse, our Lord and King, on account of his aforementioned actions and intrigues, my majesty also, bowing in all things to the fear of God and submitting to the holy Church, approves and accepts her decree, and will never presume to commemorate the soul of my lord and spouse in any way. October 27th - Civil Calendar October 14th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Mother Petka (Paraskeva). This glorious saint was of Serbian birth, from the town of Epibata, between Silinaurius and Constantinople. St Petka's parents were wealthy and devout Christians, and had one son, Euthymius, who became a monk during his parents' lifetime and later became Bishop of Madytos. After her parents' death, the maiden Petka, always desirous of the ascetic life for the sake of Christ, left her home and went first to Constantinople and then to the Jordan wilderness, where she lived to old age in asceticism. Who can describe all the labours, the sufferings, the temptations from demons that Petka endured for many years? In her old age an angel of God appeared to her and said: 'Leave the wilderness and go back to your home.' St Petka obeyed the voice from heaven, left her beloved wilderness and returned to Epibata. She lived a further two years there, still in ceaseless fasting and prayer, and then gave her spirit into God's hands and went to join the company of Paradise. She entered into rest in the eleventh century. Her wonderworking relics were, in the course of time, taken to Constantinople, Trnovo, Constantinople again and then Belgrade. They are now in Romania, in the town of Jassy. St Petka's spring is to he found in Belgrade. The waters miraculously heal all the sick who, with faith in God and love for this saint, hasten to ask her aid. Author's note: In the Greek Synaxarion, there is recorded this miraculous happening with St Petka's help on the island of Chios in 1442: A hieromonk, Ambrose, was celebrating Vespers in the church of St Petka. No-one else was in the church. At the end of the service, rain suddenly began to pour down in torrents with a great roar, and this continued all night. Ambrose was unable to leave the church. Thinking that the island would be completely flooded by the storm, he began to pray to St Petka to save his homeland and soothe God's righteous anger. He had a dream at dawn and saw the church roofless, and, in the heights, a cloud of light within which stood the form of a beautiful woman in prayer to God. After her prayer, she said to the priest: 'Ambrose, don't be afraid: your homeland is saved.' And the rain stopped at once. From that time, the island of Chios has celebrated St Petka's day with great solemnity. 2. The Holy Martyrs Nazarius, Gervasius and Protasius. Nazarius was born in Rome of a Jewish father and a Christian mother. His mother, Perpetua, was baptised by the Apostle Peter himself. Receiving his mother's faith, Nazarius of his own volition gave himself to the
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fulfilling of all the Church's precepts. Fearlessly preaching the Gospel, he went to Milan. There he found Gervasius and Protasius in prison, and ministered to them with great love. Discovering this, the local governor ordered that Nazarius be whipped and driven out of the city. His mother appeared to him in a vision and told him that he must go to Gaul (France) and preach the Gospel there, and Nazarius did so. After several years, Nazarius came again to Milan, now with the young Celsus, his disciple, whom he had baptised in Gaul. The brothers Gervasius and Protasius were still in prison, and Anulius the governor soon had Nazarius thrown in with them. Christ's martyrs rejoiced greatly at the providence of God that had brought them together again. The Emperor Nero ordered that Nazarius be killed, and the governor took him and Celsus out of prison and beheaded them. Gervasius and Protasius were also beheaded very soon after that by a General Astacius, who was passing through Milan to wage war against the Moravians. The general heard that these two brothers would not offer sacrifice to idols, and, being afraid that he might lose the war because of this, he ordered that they be beheaded at once. Gervasius and Protasius were twins, the sons of godly parents Vitalis and Valeria, who were also martyred for the Faith. The relics of St Nazarius were taken from a garden outside the city to the Church of the Holy Apostles by St Ambrose, and those of St Gervasius and St Protasius were revealed to him in a strange vision. FOR CONSIDERATION Examples of how the saints themselves reveal their hidden relics to men are a justification of the respect that should be paid to these relics, not to mention their miraculous properties, which is a second justification. St Petka's grave was known by no-one for a long time. It so happened that a sailor died and his body was thrown near to the saint's grave. When the body became carrion and began to give off an unbearable stench, a monk who lived in the vicinity called the villagers to bury the body. It came about that they buried it in St Petka's very grave. That night, St Petka appeared in a dream to one of the villagers, George by name, who had buried the corpse. She appeared as a beautiful and resplendent queen, surrounded by many glorious warriors, and said: 'George, dig up my relics at once and take them to some other place. I can't bear the stench of that corpse!', and St Petka told him who and whence she was. The same night another villager, Euphemia, had the same vision. The following day, the villagers went and began digging, and indeed found the relics of St Petka, retaining a rare fragrance and, which was quickly demonstrated, having wonderworking power. About the relics of St Gervasius and St Protasius, St Ambrose relates how, in a similar way, they were revealed to him. One night, two youths and an old man appeared to the wakeful Ambrose. He thought that the last was the Apostle Paul. While the young men kept silent, the old man told Ambrose that they were Christ's martyrs, that their relics lay in the precise place in which Ambrose was at prayer, and that everything else about them could be learned from a little book that would be found in their grave. The next day, Ambrose recounted his vision, began to dig and indeed found the relics of two men, of whom it was learned from the discovered book that they were Gervasius and Protasius. In Ambrose's presence, a blind man, Servirus, touched these holy relics and immediately received his sight. October 28th - Civil Calendar October 15th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Father, the Martyr Lucian, Priest of Antioch. Born of noble parents in Syrian Samosata, he received in his youth a very wide education, both secular and spiritual, and was a man eminent both for his learning and for his strict ascetic life. Giving his goods away to the poor, he supported himself by the writing of works of instruction, feeding himself thus by the work of his hands. He did a very great service to the Church in the work which he undertook of the correcting of the Hebrew text of the Scriptures in many places, texts which heretics had taken the opportunity to twist and corrupt according to their wicked teaching. Because of his learning and his great spirituality, he was ordained priest in Antioch. In the time of Maximian's persecution, when St Anthimus of Nicomedia and St Peter of Alexandria were put to torture, St Lucian was also on the list of those whom the Emperor wanted to have killed. Lucian fled the city and hid, but a jealous heretic priest, Pancratius, revealed his whereabouts. The persecution was terrible at that time, and not even tiny children were safe. Two boys, who would not eat food offered to idols, were thrown into a bath of boiling water, where, under torture, they gave their holy souls into God's hands. A disciple of Lucian's, Pelagia (see Oct. 8th), to preserve her virginal purity from the dissolute authorities, gave her soul into God's hands, and her body fell from the roof of her house. Lucian was taken to
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Nicomedia to appear before the Emperor. On the way, he managed to bring forty soldiers to Christ by his counsel, and they all died a martyr's death. After interrogation and flogging, St Lucian was thrown into prison, where he was tortured by hunger. 'He scorned hunger', writes St John Chrvsostom of Lucian. 'Let us also scorn luxurv and destroy the lordship of the stomach; that we may, when the time comes for us to meet such torture, be prepared beforehand, by the help of a lesser ascesis, to show ourselves worthy of glory in the hour of battle.' He received Communion in prison on the Theophany, and on the following day gave his soul into God's hands, on January 7th, 312. 2. Our Holy Father Euthymius the New. Born in Ancyra in 824, of righteous parents Epiphanius and Anna, he served in the army, married and had one daughter, Anastasia. He lived for a long time in asceticism in the monasteries of Olympus and then on the Holy Mountain, and also lived for some time as a stylite near Salonica, where he founded monasteries for men and women. He entered into rest on an island near the Holy Mountain at the end of the ninth century. His holy and wonderworking relics are preserved in Salonica. FOR CONSIDERATION The saints of God set great store on receiving Communion before their death. Even the martyrs, although they sacrificed their lives for Christ the Lord and washed all their sins in their own blood, yearned to receive the Holy Mysteries whenever possible. St Lucian was in prison with several of his disciples and other Christians. When the Eve of the Theophany came, he longed on that great Christian feast to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, for he knew that his death was near. Seeing the heartfelt desire of His suffering servant, God the almighty brought it about that some Christians came to the prison with bread and wine. When the Theophany dawned, Lucian called all the Christians in the prison to stand in a circle round him: 'Surround me, and be the Church.' He had in the prison neither table nor stool, neither stone nor wood on which to celebrate the Holy Liturgy. 'Holy Father, where shall we put the bread and wine?', they asked Lucian, and he lay down in their midst and told them to put the bread and wine on his chest: 'Place them on my chest: let it be a living throne for the living God.' And so the Liturgy was celebrated, meetly and prayerfully, on the martyr's breast, and all received Communion. On the following day, the Emperor sent soldiers to take Lucian out for torture. When the soldiers opened the door of the prison, holy Lucian cried out three times: 'I am a Christian!', and gave his soul into God`s hands. October 29th - Civil Calendar October 16th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Longinus. The divine Matthew the Evangelist, describing the Passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, says: 'Now when the centurion and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that were done, they feared greatly, saying: "Truly this was the Son of God" ' (Matt. 27:54). That centurion was this blessed Longinus, who, with two other of his soldiers, came to believe in Jesus as the Son of God. He was the officer in command both at the Lord's crucifixion on Golgotha and in the watch that guarded the tomb. When the Jewish elders learned of Christ's Resurrection, they bribed the soldiers to spread the falsehood that Christ had not risen, but that His disciples had stolen His body. The Jews tried to bribe Longinus also, but without success. Then the Jews resorted to their usual practice: they conspired to kill Longinus. Discovering this, Longinus took off his army belt, received baptism from the apostles together with his two friends, and with them secretly left Jerusalem and went to Cappadocia. There he gave himself to fasting and prayer and, as a living witness of the Resurrection of Christ, turned many pagans to the true Faith by his testimony. He then went off to a village where his father had property, but the wicked Jews would not even there leave him in peace. In response to slander on their part, Pilate sent soldiers to behead Longinus. Holy Longinus foresaw in his spirit the approach of his executioners and, going out to meet them, took them to his home without telling them who he was. The soldiers lay down to sleep, and St Longinus spent the whole night preparing for death. In the morning, he went and brought his two friends, dressed himself in white grave-clothes, told the others in the house what was happening and showed them a place on a hillock to bury him. He then revealed himself to the soldiers as the Longinus whom they were seeking. The soldiers were embarrassed and ashamed, and would not think of beheading Longinus, but he laid it on them to carry out their superior's command, and he and his two friends
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were beheaded. Longinus' head was taken by the soldiers to Pilate; Pilate gave it to the Jews and they flung it onto a dung-heap outside the city. 2. Our Holy Father Longinus the Lover of Labour. A monk of the Kiev Caves in the eleventh century, he was doorkeeper in the monastery and had such a pure and grace-filled heart that he knew the disposition of everyone who went into the monastery, and with what disposition others left it. His wonderworking relics are preserved in the cave of St Theodosius. FOR CONSIDERATION The first appearance of the holy martyr Longinus: A long time had elapsed since St Longinus' death by martyrdom when it happened that a widow in Cappadocia became blind. Doctors were able to do nothing more for her. Suddenly, the thought came to her to go to Jerusalem and venerate the holy places, hoping that she might be helped there. She had an only son, a lad who served her as a guide. As soon as they arrived in Jerusalem, the boy fell ill and died. The grief of the blind mother was without measure: having lost her eyes, she had now lost her only son, whose eyes had guided her till then. In her pain and grief, St Longinus appeared to her, and comforted her with the promise that he would both restore her sight to her and show her her son in heavenly glory. Longinus told her all about himself, then told her to go outside the walls of the city to the rubbish heap and dung-hill and dig up his head, and then she would see what would happen next. The woman got up and groped her way out of the city, then called out to someone to take her to the biggest dung hill and leave her there. When she was led to the dung-hill, she bent down and began to dig with her hands, having a strong faith that she would find what the saint had told her to search for. Digging thus, her fingers came upon the head of the holy martyr and, at that moment, her eyes were opened and she saw a man's skull under her hands. Filled with great joy and thanksgiving to God, she took the head of St Longinus, washed it, fumigated it and put it in her home as the most precious thing in all the world. October 30th - Civil Calendar October 17th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Prophet Hosea. The son of Beeri of the tribe of Issachar, he lived and prophesied more than eight hundred years before the birth of Christ. His inspired words are found in his book, which contains fourteen chapters. He strongly rebuked Israel and Judah for their idolatry, foretold God's punishment for their sin, the destruction of Samaria and Israel for their apostasy but the showing of God's mercy on the tribe of Judah. He foresaw the end of the sacrifices of the Old Covenant, and the coming of the Lord and the rich gifts that He would bring to earth. He lived to great old age, and entered peacefully into rest. 2. The Holy Martyrs Cosmas and Damian, the Unmercenaries. There were three pairs of holy brothers called Cosmas and Damian. The first entered peacefully into rest on November 1st, the second were stoned to death in Rome on July 1st, and the third were Arabs -- and it is of these that we are thinking today. They were doctors by trade and, when they embraced the Christian faith, they healed the sick in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, becoming known on all sides for their miraculous healings. The wicked pagans seized them and took them before the governor, Lysias, in the town of Aegae. These holy brothers would not deny Christ at any price, so they were first thrown into the sea and then into fire, but God almighty saved them from drowning and from the flames, an angel of God appearing to them and saving them. The pagan governor ascribed this to some magical power of theirs, but they replied: 'We have no sort of magic, nor use any, but we have the power of Christ to save us and all who call upon His holy name.' They were then stoned, but the stones bounced off them, and they were finally beheaded with the sword. Ss Leontius, Anthimus and Euprepius also suffered with them and received wreaths of glory. They suffered in the time of Diocletian and Maximian, in the early fourth century. Many miracles were wrought by their holy relics, such as they had themselves also wrought while living on this earth. 3. Our Holy Father, the Martyr Andrew. He was a Cretan by birth, and a Christian priest. At the time of the iconoclast persecution, he showed himself a great fighter for their veneration and went to Constantinople to denounce the wicked Emperor Copronymos for
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his iconoclasm. The Emperor was one day in the Church of the Holy Martyr Mamas. Andrew went into the church, stood before the Emperor and began to rebuke him openly, before all who were present: 'You would do better, O King, to look to the work of the army and the governing of the people, than to the persecuting of Christ and His servants.' For this he was harshly flogged and tortured, and dragged through the streets, where a heretic attacked him with an axe and killed him. Thus Andrew gave his holy soul into God's hands, in the year 767. His relics had healing power. 4. St Lazarus the Four-Days-Dead. His chief feasts are on March 17th and Lazarus Saturday at the end of the Great Fast. Today we commemorate the translation of his relics from the island of Cyprus to Constantinople. The Emperor Leo the Wise built a church to St Lazarus in Constantinople, and translated his relics there in 890. When, after almost a thousand years, Lazarus' grave in the town of Kition on Cyprus was dug up, a marble tablet was found with the inscription still legible: 'Lazarus the Four-Days-Dead, the friend of Christ'. FOR CONSIDERATION The second appearance of the holy martyr Longinus: When Saint Longinus appeared to the blind widow whose son had died, he promised to restore her sight and to show her her son in great glory. Finding the relics of the holy martyr and touching them with her hands, the widow immediately saw plainly, and thus one promise was fulfilled. The following night, St Longinus appeared to the widow, bathed in light and holding her son by the hand, he also being clad in shining robes. Caressing the child like a father, he said to the widow: 'See, woman, the son for whom you're shedding so many tears! Look at the honour and glory that are his! Look, and be comforted, for God has raised him up into that heavenly company that live in His Kingdom. I have now brought him from the Saviour, and he will never be separated from me. Take my head and your son's body, and bury them in one coffin, and then mourn no longer for your only son, and let not your heart be troubled, for God has given him great glory and endless rejoicing.' Seeing and hearing all this, the woman was filled with great joy and returned to her home, saying to herself: 'I asked for bodily sight, and have been given spiritual sight also. I was in grief for the death of my son, and now I have him in heaven, where he stands in glory with the prophets and rejoices unceasingly with them. October 31st - Civil Calendar October 18th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke. Born in Antioch, he applied himself in his youth to the study of Greek philosophy, medicine and art. At the time that the Lord Jesus was at work upon earth, Luke came to Jerusalem, where he saw the Saviour face to face, heard His saving teaching and was a witness of His wonderful works. Coming to belief in the Lord, St Luke was included among the Seventy and sent forth to preach the Gospel. Together with Cleopas, he saw the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus (Lk. 24). After the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, Luke returned to Antioch and there became a fellow-worker with the Apostle Paul, with whom he traveled to Rome, bringing Jews and pagans to the Christian faith. 'Luke the beloved physician salutes you', writes the Apostle Paul to the Colossians (4:14). At the request of the Christians, he wrote his Gospel in about the year 60. After the death by martyrdom of the great Apostle, Luke preached the Gospel all over Italy, Dalmatia, Macedonia and elsewhere. He painted three icons of the most holy Mother of God and also icons of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and is regarded as the founder of Christian iconography. In old age, he visited Libya and Upper Egypt, and thence returned to Greece, where he set himself with great zeal to preach the Gospel and bring men to Christ, disregarding his great age. St Luke wrote both his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, and dedicated them both to Theophilus, governor of Achaia. He was eighty-four years old when wicked idol-worshippers put him to torture for the sake of Christ and hanged him from an olive tree in the town of Thebes in Beothia. The wonderworking relics of this wonderful saint were taken to Constantinople in the time of the Emperor Constantius, son of St Constantine. 2. St Peter of Cetinje, Metropolitan of Montenegro. Born on April 1st, 1749, in the village of Njegusi, he became a monk at the age of twelve. After the death of Metropolitan Sava in 1782, Peter became Metropolitan and Governor of Montenegro. This holy man devoted
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his whole life to his people. Within Montenegro, he worked with his whole strength to pacify the warring tribes, and externally he defended the land and the people against plundering onslaughts, succeeding in both the one and the other. He is especially famed for his victory over Napoleon's army in Dalmatia. He was strict with himself, and just and humble towards others. He lived in one tiny cell as a simple monk, although he was governor of a people. He entered into rest on October 18th, 1830, and his wonderworking relics are preserved uncorrupt in the monastery of Cetinje. The Lord glorified him in heaven and on earth as His true and patient servant. 3. Ss Julian and Didymus the Blind. St Julian, called 'the Hermit', was a Persian, an unlettered peasant, and was in the purity of his heart a vessel of the Holy Spirit. He lived in asceticism near the Euphrates in Mesopotamia, and had the gift of insight. At the moment at which Julian the Apostate perished, St Julian saw him in spirit and told his disciples. His contemporary, St Didymus the Blind, living in Alexandria, also saw in his spirit the death of the wicked Emperor. He was at prayer during the night when a voice came to him from heaven: 'Today the Emperor Julian is no more; give these tidings to Patriarch Theophilus.' St Antony the Great valued this wonderful man, the blind Didymus with his gift of insight, very highly, and stayed with him whenever he left the desert for Alexandria, taking the opportunity to pray together with him. Both St Julian and St Didymus, these wonderful servants of God, entered into rest some time after the year 362. FOR CONSIDERATION Can a sinner, in the space of ten days, make full repentance of his sin? By the immeasurable grace of God, he can. In the time of the Emperor Maurice, there was a well-known bandit in the region around Constantinople. Both in the countryside and in the capital itself, he inspired fear and trembling. Then the Emperor himself sent him a Cross, as a pledge that he would not punish him if he gave himself up. The bandit took the Cross, and did indeed give himself up. Arriving in Constantinople, he fell at the Emperor's feet and begged his forgiveness. The Emperor kept his word, had mercy on him and let him go free. Immediately after that, the bandit fell gravely ill and sensed that death was near. He began to repent bitterly of all his sins, and implored God with tears to forgive him as the Emperor had. He shed many tears in his prayer, so that the handkerchief with which he wiped them became soaked, and he died after ten days of prayerful weeping. The night of his death, the doctor who had been attending him had a strange vision in a dream: when the bandit on the bed breathed his last, a number of little black men gathered round him, flourishing bits of paper on which his sins were written, and two glorious angels also appeared. A pair of scales was placed in the middle, and the little black men gleefully put all the bits of paper on it, and their side of the scales was loaded while the other was empty. 'What can we put in?', the angels asked each other. 'Let's look for something good in his life.' Then there appeared in the hand of one of the angels the handkerchief soaked with tears of repentance. The angels quickly placed it on their side of the scales, and it at once outweighed the other with all its papers. Then the little black men fled, howling in anguish, but the angels took the man's soul and carried it to Paradise, glorifying God's love for mankind. November 1st - Civil Calendar October 19th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Prophet Joel. The second in order of the Minor Prophets, Joel was the son of Phanuel, of the tribe of Reuben. He lived eight hundred years before Christ, and foretold the misfortunes of the Israelites and their captivity in Babylon for the sins that they had committed against God. He called the people to fasting and the priests to penitent and tearful prayer that God would have mercy on them: 'Sanctify ye a fast and cry unto the Lord' (l:14); 'Let the priests weep between the porch and the altar' (2:17). Joel also prophesied the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, and the outpouring of His grace on all the faithful (2:28). He foretold and described the Dreadful Judgement of God, and also the glory of God's holy Church. 2. The Holy Martyr Varus. He was a Roman officer in Egypt and a secret Christian. When seven Christian teachers were thrown into prison, Varus kept visiting them there, supplying their needs and serving them with great devotion. He
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marveled at the martyrs, and grieved that fear would not let him stand up as a martyr for Christ. These men of God gave him courage, and Varus made up his mind to go and be tortured with them. One of these godly men died in prison, and when the wicked governor had the martyrs brought before him and saw that there were only six of them, he asked where the seventh was. 'I am the seventh!', cried Varus. The furious governor had him tortured first. He ordered that he be flogged with dry thongs, then that he be tied to a tree and hacked to pieces bit by bit with knives until he gave his holy soul to God. His body was then thrown onto a dung-heap. A woman of Palestinian birth, Cleopatra, the widow of an officer, was there with her son John. She secretly took the relics of the holy martyr off the dung-heap and buried them in her house. She then asked the governor's permission to take the body of her dead husband back from Egypt to Palestine. As she was an officer's widow, the governor at once gave her permission. This blessed Christian woman, Cleopatra, however, took the body, not of her husband but of the holy martyr Varus, taking it to her village of Edra, near Tabor, and burying it there. She then built a church dedicated to St Varus, and he appeared to her often from the other world, resplendent as an angel of God. 3. Our Holy Father Prochorus of Pchinja. He was a contemporary and friend of St John of Rila and St Gabriel of Lesnov. In response to his prayers, God showed him the place where he was to live in asceticism -- a wooded area near the river Pchinja. There St Prochorus lived till old age, and there he died. Only the one, all-seeing God can know all the labors and temptations that he endured throughout his asceticism, but one can judge from his relics, from which myrrh flows forth, and the miracles of healing wrought by him to this day, both the greatness of his asceticism and the greatness of God's grace given to him as a reward for his great labors. St Prochorus entered into rest and went to the heavenly Kingdom in the eleventh century. FOR CONSIDERATION An appearing of the holy martyr Varus: When the devout widow Cleopatra had built a church to St Varus, she invited the bishop and clergy to consecrate it. A great many Christians gathered for the festivities, for St Varus was venerated in the whole neighborhood as a great healer and wonderworker. After the service, the devout benefactress went up to the relics of St Varus in the church and prayed to him thus: 'I beg you, you who endured such suffering for Christ, ask of God that which is pleasing to Him and of help to me and my only son.' Cleopatra had a son, John, who had just gone into the army. As soon as she had left the church, her son, who had been in good health till then, fell ill. He was seized with a burning fever and his state became worse and worse, until he died at about midnight. The angry and grief-stricken mother came to St Varus' grave and spoke sharply to him: 'O man of God, do you call this helping me?', and she said much more in her bitter grief, then, being greatly exhausted, fell into a light sleep. Suddenly St Varus appeared to her, accompanied by her son John. They both shone like the sun, clad in raiment whiter than snow, girded with golden girdles and wearing splendid wreaths on their heads. The saint said to her: 'Didn't you yourself pray to me to beg of God whatever was pleasing to Him and of help to you and your son? I prayed to God and He, of His unspeakable goodness, has taken your son into his heavenly army. If you want him, here he is; take him and put him in the army of some earthly king.' Hearing these words, the young John embraced St Varus and said to him: 'My Lord, don't listen to my mother, and don't send me back into the world, that sink of unrighteousness and iniquity, from which you have taken me.' Rousing from the dream, Cleopatra felt a great joy in her heart, and went joyfully out of the church. She lived for seven years near the church, and St Varus, together with John, appeared to her often. November 2nd - Civil Calendar October 20th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy and Great Martyr Artemius. This glorious saint was Egyptian by birth, and the commander-in-chief of the army of the Emperor Constantine the Great. When the victorious Cross, encircled by stars, appeared to the Emperor, Artemius also saw it, came to faith in Christ the Lord and was baptised. Later, in the time of the Emperor Constantius, Constantine's son, he was sent to Greece to take the relics of St Andrew and St Luke from Patras and Thebes respectively to Constantinople, which charge Artemius carried out with joy. After that, he was appointed governor and imperial representative in Egypt, in which appointment he remained throughout the reign of Constantius and
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for a certain time under Julian the Apostate. When this renegade Emperor went to war against the Persians, he stopped for a time in Antioch and summoned Artemius and his army to join him there. Artemius went. At that time, the Emperor gave two Christian priests, Eugenius and Macarius, over to torture. Seeing this, St Artemius was profoundly alarmed, went to the Emperor and said to him: 'Why are you so inhumanly torturing these innocent and dedicated men, and why are you putting pressure on them to turn back from the Orthodox faith?' He also prophesied to the Emperor that his end was near. The furious Emperor sent the two priests into exile in Arabia, where they soon died, and stripped Artemius of his military rank, ordering that he be flogged and whipped. All wounded and covered with blood, Artemius was thrown into prison, where the Lord Christ Himself appeared to him, healing and comforting him. After that, the Emperor ordered that he be laid on a flat stone and that another stone be put on him, so crushing his body like a board. Finally, he was beheaded, in 362. The Emperor Julian then went out against the Persians and perished in a dishonorable way, as St Artemius had foretold. 2. Holy and Righteous Artemius. Born in 1532, he was the son of Russian peasants, Cosmas and Apollinaria, from the village of Verkol near Dvinsk. Even at the age of five he was different from other children in his rare piety and meekness. When he was thirteen years old he went with his father through a great forest, and died there of exposure. His grieving father, unable to dig a grave, covered the body with branches and went on his way. Twenty-eight years later, a man saw a strange light in the forest, went over to it and found the body of Artemius, whole and uncorrupt. It gave healing to many of the sick when they touched it. His holy relics are preserved in a monastery near Pinega, not far from Archangel. 3. Our Holy Father Gerasim the New. From Trikala in the Peloponnese, of the Notaras family, he was born in 1509. He lived in asceticism on Athos and then in Palestine, where he once fasted for forty days. He then settled on the island of Kephallenia, where he founded a monastery for women. He brought rain by his prayers, healed the sick and had insight into the future. He entered into rest in the Lord on August 15th, 1579, being a wonderworker both during his lifetime and after his death. 4. Our Holy Father, the New Martyr Ignatius. From Zagora in Bulgaria, that famous Zagora that has given the Church so many holy ascetics and martyrs, he lived in asceticism in the skete of St John the Forerunner on Athos. He voluntarily put himself into the hands of the Turks to be tortured for Christ, and was hanged in Constantinople on October 8th, 1814. His relics have wonderworking power, and his head is preserved in the monastery of St Panteleimon. FOR CONSIDERATION God guides with a marvelous compassion those who give themselves over to His holy will and His care. As a candle-maker uses the soft wax to make whatever sort of candle he wishes, so God in His wisdom makes from His consecrated servants immortal lights in His heavenly Kingdom. St Ignatius the New Martyr was utterly given to God even as a boy, and yearned to become a monk and be a martyr for the Faith. In the time of the Karageorge uprising, the Turkish army assembled all over Bulgaria against Serbia, and came to the house of Ignatius' father, George, to see if there was anyone there that they could take for the army. George was a strong man and well-grown, and they wanted to take him, but he said to them firmly: 'I cannot go to war against my fellow-Christians.' The furious Turks killed him on the spot. Young Ignatius hid in a neighboring house and then fled to Romania, but his desire for monasticism took him on to the Holy Mountain. He wanted something still more than monasticism -- he wanted martyrdom. Praying one night with tears before an icon of the most holy Mother of God, begging her to open the path of martyrdom to him, he heard a sound in front of him, and looked up to see the golden halo detach itself from the icon and fall onto his head. Very soon after that, he suffered martyrdom at the hands of the Turks, and received the wreath of eternal glory. November 3rd - Civil Calendar October 21st - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Father Hilarion the Great.
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As a rose growing among thorns, so was this great saint born of pagan parents in the village of Tabatha near Gaza in Palestine. His parents sent him to study in Alexandria, where the gifted youngster quickly assimilated both secular learning and spiritual wisdom. Coming to know Christ the Lord and receiving baptism, he desired to serve the Lord with his whole heart. With this desire, Hilarion visited St Antony the Great in the desert and became his disciple. He then returned to his homeland and lived in asceticism near Maiuma, not far from Gaza. Demons tried to frighten him with various terrors, but he, with prayer to God and the sign of the Cross, overcame them all and drove them away. A great many who were desirous of the spiritual life gathered around him, and St Hilarion became for Palestine what St Antony was for Egypt. A divine teacher, a strict ascetic, a marvellous wonderworker, Hilarion was revered not only by Christians but also by pagans. He, though, fearing the praise of men and crying out through his tears: 'Woe is me, for I am getting my reward in this life!', fled from place to place simply to hide from men and remain alone with his soul and God. He therefore settled and lived for a time in Egypt, Sicily, Dalmatia and finally in Cyprus, where his life of great toil came to an end in about 372, when he had reached the age of eighty. Hilarion's wonderworking relics were taken by Ezekiel, one of his disciples, to Palestine and laid in the monastery that he had founded. 2. St Hilarion, Bishop of Meglin. He was born of eminent and devout parents. His childless mother had long prayed to God to give her a child and, when she was at prayer, the most holy Mother of God appeared to her and comforted her with the words: 'Don't cry; you will have a son, and he will bring many to the light of truth.' When Hilarion was only three years old, the hymn: 'Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabaoth' was constantly heard on his lips. Well-educated, he became a monk at the age of eighteen and founded a monastery based on the rule of St Pachomius. In 1134, he was consecrated Bishop of Meglin by Eustathius, Archbishop of Trnovo. St Hilarion had an almost lifelong struggle against the Bogomils and the Armenian heretics, but by his spiritual learning and unequalled holiness, he put them all to shame and brought many of them to Orthodoxy. He entered peacefully into rest and went to the Kingdom of his Lord in 1164. 3. Our Holy Father Philotheus. Born in Crysopolis in Macedonia, he was taken from his mother, a widow, by the Turks and thrown into prison along with one of his brothers. They were miraculously delivered from prison by the most holy Mother of God and taken to a monastery in Neapolis in Asia Minor. Their mother later found her sons as monks, and herself became a nun. Philotheus went to the Holy Mountain, where he lived first in the monastery of Dionysiou and then in the wilds. A wonderful ascetic and a great conqueror of demonic powers, he entered peacefully into rest at the age of eighty-four. He left instructions that he was not to be buried, but that his body was to be thrown into the forest for the birds and wild beasts. Later, a fisherman saw a great light in the forest at night, and, being frozen, went to warm himself at it, thinking it was a fire. The light was, however, coming from the wonderworking relics of St Philotheus. FOR CONSIDERATION The all-seeing eye of God looks on all men and, in a wonderful way, guides the faithful to salvation. That which may seem to the faithful at first to be a great loss shows itself in time to be a great gain. The case of St Philotheus and his brother, who were lost to their mother, is similar to that of St Xenophon (January 26th), and to that of St Eustathius Placidus and his wife and sons (Sept. 20th). When St Philotheus and his brother were sitting in the Turkish prison in Macedonia, the most holy Mother of God appeared to them, in the form of their mother, and said to them: 'Get up, my dear children, and follow me', and the young men suddenly found themselves in a monastery in the city of Neapolis in Asia Minor. When the young men told the abbot what had happened to them, he understood that this was of God, and he received them and made them monks. A long time passed, and their mother was in bitter grief. She finally decided to enter a women's monastery and consecrate herself to God. The providence of God led her to the neighborhood of the monastery where her sons were. Once, when the monastery was keeping its festival, she came with some of the other nuns for the Feast. She saw her sons in church, but did not recognize them. Then one of the brothers called the other by his secular name. The mother was touched to the heart by that beloved name, and looked carefully into his face. Then their mother recognized her sons and they her, and their joy was very great, and they thanked God with overflowing hearts. Believing Christians must not despair at even the greatest apparent loss.
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November 4th - Civil Calendar October 22nd - Church Calendar 1. St Abercius, Equal to the Apostles. In the time of the Emperor Antoninus (138-161), St Abercius was bishop in the city of Hierapolis in Phrygia. The great majority of the town's inhabitants were pagans, and St Abercius governed his little flock with a heart greatly saddened by the great number of pagans and idolaters, and with fervent prayer to God that He would bring them to the true Light. At the time of a rowdy idolatrous festival, Abercius became inflamed with godly zeal and went into the temple, smashing all the idols. When the furious pagans tried to kill him, three young madmen fell down before the man of God, foaming at the mouth and bellowing. The man of God drove the demons out of them, and they were healed and became calm. Seeing this, the fury of the pagans turned to marveling at Christ's wonderworker, and five hundred of them were immediately baptised. Little by little, everyone in the city of Hierapolis came to believe in Christ and was baptised. The proconsul of the region, Publius, had a blind mother whose sight Abercius restored by prayer, and both Publius and his mother came to faith in Christ, along with many other people. In old age, Abercius was summoned to Rome, where he healed the Emperor's mad daughter. The Lord Christ appeared to His faithful follower several times. People from far and near came to him for help in chronic sickness, and the demons not only feared him, but were obedient to his commands. At the order of the Lord Himself, he preached the Gospel throughout Syria and Mesopotamia, and went to his beloved Lord in great old age, in the city of Hierapolis at the end of the second century. 2. Our Holy Father Lot. A great Egyptian ascetic, he was a contemporary of Arsenius the Great and Agathon. He lived in asceticism in his monastery near a lake not far from the town of Arsinoe, and set many brethren on the way of salvation. His closest friend and adviser was Abba Joseph. Lot once said to Joseph: 'Father, I fast as much as I can, keep to prayer and silence and pondering, and also force myself to keep from evil thoughts. What more can I do?' Then the elder stood up and raised his hands to heaven, and his ten raised fingers sprang to flame like ten candles. He then replied to Lot: 'If this is your desire, you can become all of flame!' Being pleasing to God and putting many onto the way of salvation, St Lot entered peacefully into rest in the fifth century. 3. Commemoration of the Miraculous Deliverance of Moscow from the Lithuanians with the help of the Most Holy Mother of God. In the time of Prince Vasilii Ivanovitch, Moscow was occupied by the Lithuanians and Russia was in great despair. Then St Sergius of Radonezh appeared to a captured bishop, Arsenius, and promised him that Moscow would, on the following day, be cleansed of Lithuanians by the power and prayers of the Most Pure. And so it came about. The following day, the Lithuanians fled from the city, and the Russian army entered Moscow. The whole people, with tears of joy, glorified God and His most holy Mother. FOR CONSIDERATION The strictness of holy men towards themselves is a cause for wonder, as is also their compassion towards others. Selfless where they themselves are concerned, they have infinite care for others. St Hilarion the Great, having nothing with which to pay for his journey to Sicily, offered his Gospel, that he had copied with his own hands as a young man, to the owner of the ship. When he had healed some prince of an evil spirit, the prince wanted to make him a present of ten litres of gold. The saint would not accept the gold, but showed the prince a piece of barley-bread and said: 'Those who feed themselves on this sort of bread look on gold as mud.' When men begged him to bring rain from God by his prayers, or to save them from flood or from poisonous snakes, St Hilarion always responded and helped them by his prayers. This was also St Abercius' way. Seeing many of the people in pain and sickness, he knelt in one place and begged God to open there a spring of healing water, that all the infirm might be healed and glorify God. God, by His power, opened there a spring of warm water. When Abercius healed the Emperor's daughter of madness, the Emperor offered him much gold and silver, and other gifts, but St Abercius said to him: 'Wealth is not necessary to those who regard bread and water as a kingly feast.' Seeking nothing for himself, Abercius begged two boons of the Emperor for his flock in Hierapolis: that baths should be built over the healing water, and that each year a goodly quantity of corn should be given to the poor of the city. The Emperor agreed, and did as the saint requested.
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November 5th - Civil Calendar October 23rd - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Apostle James, the Lord's Brother. He is called 'the Lord's brother' because he was the son of righteous Joseph, the betrothed of the most holy Mother of God. When Joseph was dying, he shared out his goods among his sons and wanted to leave a share to the Lord Jesus, the Son of the most holy Virgin Mary, but his sons opposed this, not reckoning Jesus to be a brother of theirs. James, though, loved Jesus greatly and announced that he would include Him in his share, counting himself to be indeed brother to the Lord. James was, from the first, devoted to the Lord Jesus. According to tradition, he went to Egypt with the most holy Virgin and Joseph when Herod tried to kill the new-born King. As soon as he heard Christ's teaching, he began to live by it. It is said that, during the whole of his life, he ate neither fat nor oil, but lived only on bread and water, and he was chaste to the end of his days. He often kept a vigil of prayer at night. The Lord included him among his Seventy apostles, appearing to him after His glorious Resurrection, as the Apostle Paul testifies (I Cor. 15:7). He was bishop in Jerusalem for thirty years, and governed the Church of God with zeal. On the Lord's instructions, he composed the first Liturgy, which was far too long for later Christians and was shortened by St Basil and St John Chrysostom. He brought many Jews and Greeks to the Christian faith, and even unbelieving Jews marveled at his justice, nicknaming him James the Just. When Ananias became High Priest, he decided, along with other of the Jewish elders, to kill James as a preacher of Christ. One day, on Pascha, when many people were gathered in Jerusalem, the elders told him to climb up onto a roof and speak against Christ. St James climbed up there, and began to speak to the people about Christ as the Son of God and the true Messiah, and of His Resurrection and eternal glory in heaven. The infuriated priests and elders cast him down from the roof, and he was badly injured though still alive. A man then ran up and gave him such a vicious blow on the head that his brains spilled out. Thus this glorious apostle of Christ died a martyr's death and entered into the Kingdom of his Lord. James was sixty-three years old when he suffered for Christ. 2. St Ignatius, Patriarch of Constantinople. Son of the Emperor Michael Rangabe, he became Patriarch after St Methodius, in 846, but was deposed in 858 and sent into exile. Photius, the Emperor's chief secretary, was made Patriarch in his place, but, when the Emperor Basil the Macedonian came to the throne, he re-instated Ignatius. St Ignatius governed the Church with great zeal and wisdom, and built a monastery of the Holy Archangels, in which he entered into rest in the Lord in 877, at the age of eighty-nine. 3. The Holy Martyr James of Borovitz. About this saint, there is only known that which was revealed after his death in a vision to some people in Borovitz. His body was floating on a river near that town one day in 1540, and came to rest there. Many miracles were worked by his relics. FOR CONSIDERATION God's is the grace and ours is the toil. Let no-one, then, think that, as the holy apostles relied solely on the grace of God, it was easy for them: that they were able without effort to accomplish their great task in the world. Does not the Apostle Paul say, 'I subdue my body ... lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway' (I Cor.9:27)? And, in another place, does he not describe how he spent his life in 'perils, in weariness, in painfulness, in watchings, in hunger and thirst, in fastings, in cold, in nakedness' (II Cor. 11:26-27)? The holy Apostle James ate only bread, and very little of that: he slept very little, and spent his nights in prayer. He knelt so much in prayer that the skin of his knees became as hard as that on the knees of a camel. This brother of the Lord prayed with tears and sighs, not only for the Church that he governed, but for the whole world. Even when he was thrown down from the roof of the Temple by the wicked Jews and terribly injured, the holy Apostle did not for one moment forget his debt to God and man. Summoning his last strength, he pulled himself to his knees, stretched out his hands to heaven and prayed to God with all his heart, saying: 'Lord, forgive them this sin; they don't know what they are doing.' While he was thus praying, evil men began stoning him on all sides. Seeing this, one man cried out: 'Stop it; what are you doing? This just man is praying to God
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for you, and you're killing him!', but that shout from a single goodly soul could not hold back the accustomed evil-doing of the butchers from slaying the saint of God. The apostles, then, did not just lean on grace but, alongside it and interwoven with it, invested almost superhuman efforts in showing themselves worthy of God's grace. November 6th - Civil Calendar October 24th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Arethas. This holy martyr suffered for the Christian faith with more than four thousand other Christians: priests, monks and nuns, townsmen and women and children. Arethas was the local governor of the town of Negran, in the land of Omir in southern Arabia, and was ninety-five years old when he suffered. The land of Omir was governed by a Jew called Dunaan, a vicious persecutor of Christians. Resolving to exterminate Christianity completely in his land, he laid siege to the Christian town of Negran and told the citizens that if they did not deny Christ, he would put them all to death. The citizens closed the gates, and Dunaan attacked the city wall for a long time without success. Then the iniquitous governor swore to the citizens that he would do nothing to them if they opened the gate for him to enter and take the tribute owing to him, saying that he would then go away at once. The Christians believed him, and opened the gates. Then the bloodthirsty Jew summoned the aged Arethas to him, along with his clergy and other eminent citizens, and slew them all with the sword, and then indulged in a riot of butchery through the town. Hearing of this, the Byzantine Emperor, Justin, was greatly distressed and wrote a letter to the Ethiopian Emperor Elesbaan, urging him to set out with an army against Dunaan and avenge the Christian blood that had been spilled. Elesbaan obeyed Justin, attacked the governor of Omir, overcame him, slaughtered his entire army and put him to the sword. A devout man called Abramius was installed as ruler of Omir by God's revelation and, as archbishop, also by God's revelation, St Gregory (see Dec. 19th). In Negran, the Christians rebuilt the Church of the Holy Trinity that Dunaan had burned, and built a church to the holy martyr Arethas and the other martyrs of that city. They suffered and received wreaths of martyrdom from the Lord in 523. 2. St Elesbaan, Emperor of Ethiopia. Inflamed with love for Christ, this devout Emperor raised an army against Dunaan, the wicked persecutor of Christians in the land of Omir, but he was unsuccessful in the early stages of the battle and many of his soldiers perished in the arid desert. He then lamented bitterly to God, and promised to become a monk if God would help him overcome the shedder of Christian blood. Defeating Dunaan, Elesbaan returned to Ethiopia and immediately left the imperial court and went to a monastery, where he lived in strict asceticism as a true monk for a whole fifteen years, God giving him wonderworking gifts both before and after his death. He entered into rest in 555. 3. The Icon: 'Joy of all who Sorrow'. This is the name given to one of the wonderworking icons of the most holy Mother of God, and today is especially the commemoration of the miraculous healing of Euphemia, sister of Patriarch Joachim, in Moscow in 1688. Euphemia had a dangerous wound in the side and, when the doctors were unsuccessful in their treatment of it, she fell down in prayer before the most holy Mother of God. She then heard a voice: 'Euphemia, go to the Church of the Transfiguration of my Son; there you will find the icon "Joy of all who Sorrow". Ask the priest to pray before that icon, and you will be healed.' Euphemia did this, and was immediately completely healed. 4. Our Holy Father Arethas of the Kiev Caves. He went to the Lord in 1190 (see the passage for consideration below). Author's note: In the Greek Synaxarion, the holy martyr Sebastiana, a disciple of the Apostle Paul, who suffered for the Faith in the year 82, in the time of the Emperor Domitian, is also commemorated. She was first tortured in the city of Marcianopolis, where the Apostle Paul appeared to her and said: 'Rejoice, and do not be sad, for you will go from here to your own town to confess your faith in Christ.' And so it came to pass: the judge sent her to her birthplace, Heracleia, where she was tortured and finally beheaded. Her remains were put
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in a sack and thrown into the sea, but an angel of God took them to a place called Risiston, where Ammia, the wife of a senator, found them and gave them burial. Her relics had healing power and gave off myrrh. FOR CONSIDERATION When a holy man commits a transgression, a greater punishment descends on him than would on an ordinary man, who is less dedicated to the hidden will of God, when he does the same thing. St Arethas was a monk in the monastery of the Caves in Kiev, and was very avaricious. Heaps of possessions stood in his cell, of which he would give away not one scrap to anyone. But he once fell very seriously ill and saw, as if in a vision, how the devils snatched his soul from the angel, saying: 'It's ours! It's ours!', and presenting Arethas' avarice and commercial bent as proof of this. Recovering from his illness, Arethas changed his way of life, and from that time counted earthly goods as nothing. God, in His love, forgave him and later gave him great grace. Another monk, in the monastery to which the blessed Emperor Elesbaan went, liked to go often to the tavern, where he got drunk and even had immoral relations with women. One day, returning from the tavern, enormous snakes fell on him and took turns in chasing him. In great pain and anguish, the monk cried out: 'As you would flee from holy and righteous Elesbaan, go away from me.', and the snakes suddenly stopped. Then the monk heard what seemed to be a human voice coming from the snakes: 'An angel of God commanded me to bite you because of your impurity and foulness, for you have promised to serve God in purity, but now you foul your body and anger the Holy Spirit.' The monk swore to sin no more, returned to the monastery and did not sin again right up to his death. Thus God chides and has mercy at the prayers of the holy Emperor Elesbaan. November 7th - Civil Calendar October 25th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyrs Marcian and Martyrius. These saints were clergy with Patriarch Paul of Constantinople in the time of the Emperor Constantius. After the death of the great Emperor Constantine, the Arian heresy, which had till then been kept under, sprang up again and began to spread, and the Emperor Constantius himself inclined towards it. There were two influential nobles at the imperial court, Eusebius and Philip, both ardent Arians. Through their influence, Patriarch Paul was dethroned and driven out to Armenia, where the Arians strangled him, and the patriarchal throne was seized by the dishonorable Macedonius. At that time, when Orthodoxy had two fierce struggles on hand, against both the pagans and the heretics, Marcian and Martyrius ranged themselves decisively and with all their strength on the side of Orthodoxy. Marcian was a reader and Martyrius a sub-deacon at the Cathedral, and had been secretaries to Patriarch Paul. The Arians first tried to bribe them, but, when the two holy men refused this with scorn, the heretics condemned them to death. When they were led to the scaffold, they raised their hands and prayed to God, thanking Him that they were finishing their lives as martyrs: 'Lord, we rejoice that we are leaving this world by such a death. Make us worthy to be partakers of eternal life, O Thou our Life!' They then laid their heads under the sword and were beheaded, in 355. A church was later built to them over their relics by St John Chrysostom. 2. The Holy Martyr Anastasius. He was a maker of cloth and a zealous Christian. In the time of Diocletian's persecution of Christians at the beginning of the fourth century, this godly man went and presented himself to the judge of the Dalmatian town of Solin and confessed his faith in Christ. He was inhumanly tortured and then killed, and his body was thrown into the sea, from which it was later taken out and given burial. 3. St Tabitha. Tabitha (which means 'doe') was a disciple of the apostles and lived in Joppa, the present Jaffa. She was 'full of good works and almsgiving' (Acts 9:36). She suddenly weakened and died at the time that the Apostle Peter was in the city of Lydda, and the grieving disciples sent to Peter, asking him to come and comfort his people. The great Apostle of Christ, on his arrival, told everyone to leave the room where the corpse lay, then knelt in prayer. When he had finished praying, he called to the dead body: 'Tabitha, arise!', and Tabitha opened her eyes and arose. Drawn by this wonder, many came to faith in Christ the Lord. FOR CONSIDERATION
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Among other mysterious perceptions by the holy souls of the saints, they had the perception of a fragrance from good spirits and a foul stench from impure spirits. A spirit that is pure and filled with light gives off a lifegiving and fragrant scent, and a darkened and impure spirit gives off a suffocating and unbearable stench. Guided by a particular stench, the saints were able to tell what passion a man was possessed by. Thus St Euthymius the Great recognized the stench of the passion of lust in a monk, Emilian, in the monastery of St Theoctistus. Going one day to Matins, Euthymius passed by Emilian's cell and smelled the stench of the demon of lust. Emilian had committed no sin, except that he had at that moment lustful thoughts, which were crowding into his heart from an unclean demon, a demon whose presence the saint had already sensed within this monk. The power of this perception was even more wonderfully seen once in St Hilarion the Great. A certain man, a niggard and a miser, had sent Hilarion some of his vegetables When they were set before him, the saint said: 'Take it away! I can't stand the stench that's coming from these greens! Can't you smell it: the stench of avarice?' When the monks marveled at these words, Hilarion told them to take the greens and give them to the oxen, and see if they would eat them. The oxen sniffed at them, and turned their heads away in disgust. November 8th - Civil Calendar October 26th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy and Great Martyr Dimitrios. This glorious and wonderworking saint was born in the city of Salonica of well-born and devout parents. Begged of God by these childless parents, Dimitrios was their only son and was, because of this, most carefully cherished and educated. His father was the military commander of Salonica, and, when he died, the Emperor made Dimitrios commander in his place. In doing this, the Emperor Maximian, an opponent of Christ, particularly recommended him to persecute and exterminate the Christians in Salonica. Dimitrios not only disobeyed the Emperor: he openly confessed and preached Christ the Lord in the city. Hearing of this, the Emperor was furious with Dimitrios and, at one time, on his way back from a war against the Sarmathians, went to Salonica especially to look into the matter. The Emperor, therefore, summoned Dimitrios and questioned him about his faith. Dimitrios proclaimed openly before the Emperor that he was a Christian, and, furthermore, denounced the Emperor's idolatry. The enraged Emperor cast him into prison. Knowing what was awaiting him, Dimitrios gave his goods to his faithful servant, Lupus, to give away to the poor, and went off to prison, glad that suffering for Christ was to be his lot. In the prison, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: 'Peace be with thee, thou sufferer for Christ; be brave and strong!' After several days, the Emperor sent soldiers to the prison to kill Dimitrios. They came upon the saint of God at prayer, and ran him through with their spears. Christians secretly took his body and gave it burial, and there flowed from it a healing myrrh by which many of the sick were healed. A small church was very soon built over his relics. An Illyrian nobleman, Leontius, became sick of an incurable illness. He ran prayerfully up to the relics of St Dimitrios and was completely healed, and in gratitude built a much larger church in place of the old one. The saint appeared to him on two occasions. When the Emperor Justinian wanted to take the saint's relics from Salonica to Constantinople, a spark of fire leapt from the tomb and a voice was heard: 'Leave them there, and don't touch!', and thus the relics of St Dimitrios have remained for all time in Salonica. As the defender of Salonica, St Dimitrios has many times appeared and saved the city from calamity, and there is no way of counting his miracles. The Russians regarded St Dimitrios as the protector of Siberia, which was overcome and annexed by Russia on October 26th, 1581. 2. Our Holy Father, the Martyr Joasaph. A disciple of St Niphon, Patriarch of Constantinople, he lived in asceticism on the Holy Mountain. He had such great love for Christ the Lord that all his asceticism seemed to him inadequate, and he longed to suffer for love of his Lord. He therefore went to Constantinople, where he openly confessed the Holy Trinity and the Son of God before the Turks. The furious Turks beheaded him on October 26th, 1536. 3. Commemoration of the great Earthquake in Constantinople. In the time of the Emperor Leo the Isaurian, in 740, there was a terrifying and long-lasting earthquake in Constantinople. The people realised that this was God's punishment for their sins, and entreated the most holy Mother of God and St Dimitrios with great penitence, until God had mercy and the earthquake ended.
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FOR CONSIDERATION A miracle of St Dimitrios of Salonica: St Dimitrios was, in his lifetime, miltary commander of Salonica, and he did not lay down this office at his death. People felt his presence in Salonica especially at times of great need. He defended the city, kept misfortune at a distance, repelled invaders and helped all who called upon his name. Here is a wonderful example of his help to people in need: the barbarians once invaded Salonica, but could not take it. Infuriated by this, they plundered the whole area and took two beautiful maidens into captivity, giving them to their prince. The girls were skilled in embroidery, and, when the prince saw some of their handiwork, he said to them: 'I hear that there is in your land a great god, Dimitrios, who works great wonders. Embroider his face on linen for me.' The girls told him that St Dimitrios was not a god, but a servant of the true God and the helper of Christians, and they at first refused to embroider the saint's face, but, when the prince threatened them with death, they promised to do it and finished the work by St Dimitrios' Day. On the Eve of the Feast, therefore, they both looked at their work and wept with sorrow, one of them because they had to spend the Feast in slavery and the other because they had to give the embroidered likeness of their beloved saint to an unclean barbarian, and the two maidens prayed to St Dimitrios to forgive them. Then the saint appeared, and took both maidens as an angel had once taken the Prophet Habakkuk; he took them to Salonica and set them down in his church. There, the all-night Vigil Service was in progress, and a great many people were gathered in the church. Learning of the miraculous saving of these two Christian girls, everyone glorified God and His great servant and commander Dimitrios. November 9th - Civil Calendar October 27th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Nestor. At the time of the martyrdom of St Dimitrios the Outpourer of Myrrh, there was in Constantinople a young man, Nestor, who had learned the Christian faith from St Dimitrios himself. At that time, the Emperor Maximian, an opponent of Christ, ordered various games and amusements for the people. The Emperor's favorite was a Vandal called Lyaeus, a man of Goliath-like size and strength. As the imperial gladiator, Lyaeus challenged men every day to a duel and slew them, and this blood-letting of his delighted the blood-lust of the idolatrous Emperor. He built a special arena, like a terrace on pillars, for Lyaeus' duels. Underneath this terrace were planted spears with sharp cutting-edges pointing upwards. When Lyaeus had overcome someone in the duel, he would push him from the terrace above onto the whole forest of prepared spears. The pagans stood around with their Emperor, and were delighted when some poor wretch writhed in torment on the spears until he died. Among Lyaeus' innocent victims were a large number of Christians, for, when there was a day when no-one came forward voluntarily to duel with Lyaeus, then, by the Emperor's orders, Christians were compelled to fight with him. Seeing this horrifying enjoyment of the pagan world, Nestor's heart swelled with pain and he resolved to go himself to the arena of the gigantic Lyaeus. He first went to the prison where St Dimitrios was kept, and asked his blessing to do this. St Dimitrios blessed him, signed him with the sign of the Cross on forehead and breast, and said to him: 'You will overcome him, but you will suffer for Christ.' The young Nestor then went to Lyaeus' arena. The Emperor was there with a large crowd, and they all bewailed the probable death of the young Nestor, trying to dissuade him from fighting Lyaeus, but Nestor crossed himself and said: 'O God of Dimitrios, help me!' With God's help, Nestor overcame Lyaeus, felled him and threw him down onto the sharp spears, where the heavy giant soon found death. Then the whole people shouted: 'Great is the God of Dimitrios!' But the Emperor had lost face before the people, and, mourning his favorite, became filled with wrath against Nestor and Dimitrios, and the wicked Emperor ordered that Nestor be beheaded with the sword and Dimitrios run through with spears. Thus this glorious Christian hero, Nestor, left behind his young, earthly life in 306, and entered into the Kingdom of his Lord. 2. Our Holy Father Nestor the Chronicler. He arrived at the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev at the age of seventeen, while St Theodosius was still abbot. He wrote the first history of the Russian people, into which he interwove the history of Russian asceticism. He was distinguished by a rare humility and meekness. In his glorious literary works, he often refers to himself as unworthy, vulgar, ignorant and filled with every sin. But God, who knows the heart of man, glorified this wonderful man who was so pleasing to Him. When Nestor entered into rest, on October 27th, 1114, his relics performed many miracles.
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3. St Andrew, Prince of Smolensk. From love of Christ, he set aside worldly glory and honor, hid himself in a monastery and there, disguised and unknown, served as verger for thirty years. He entered peacefully into rest in the Lord in 1390, and his wonderworking relics were found in 1540. Author's note: In the Greek Great Synaxarion, St Procula Claudia is also commemorated on this day. She was that wife of Pilate to whom the Lord appeared in a dream at the time of His condemnation. Because of this, she tried to turn her husband from the shedding of innocent blood, but in vain (Matt. 27:19). She later became a disciple of Christ, and was baptised. She suffered greatly for the name of Christ, but finally entered into rest peacefully. FOR CONSIDERATION A miracle of St Dimitrios of Salonica: That the saints of God live clothed in great glory and power in heaven is known to Orthodox Christians, not by some reasoning of their own, but by the help and revelation of the saints. They appear sometimes in order to be seen and heard by men, sometimes either to be seen or heard and sometimes, unseen and unheard, they have influenced our thoughts, our circumstances and our actions. Among many of St Dimitrios' miracles, this one is noted: In the Church of St Dimitrios in Salonica, a young man called Onesiphorus was given the job of verger. His main task was to keep an account of the candles and lamps. This young man began to steal candles and take them home, then sell them again. St Dimitrios appeared to him and said: 'Brother Onesiphorus, your action is displeasing to me, for you are stealing candles, and are by this bringing trouble on others and especially on yourself. Stop this, and repent.' Onesiphorus was terrified and ashamed, and for a time stopped stealing candles. But this was later forgotten, and he again began to steal. One morning, an eminent man took some large candles to the saint's tomb, lit them, prayed a moment and then went out. Onesiphorus came up to the candles and put out his hand to take them. At that moment, a voice like thunder was heard: 'Are you doing that again?' As though struck by a thunderbolt, Onesiphorus fell to the ground unconscious. When some people came into the church, they lifted him up and he came to himself little by little, and related all that had happened to him, and they were all amazed and glorified God. November 10th - Civil Calendar October 28th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Paraskeva (Petka). She was born in the city of Iconium of rich and Christ-loving parents. After their death, the maiden Paraskeva began to give her goods away to the poor and needy, all in the name of Christ the Lord. When a persecution arose under Diocletian (284-305), Paraskeva was taken for trial before the governor of that area. When the governor asked her name, she said that she was called a Christian. The governor rebuked her for not giving her ordinary name, but Paraskeva said to him: 'I had first to tell you my name in eternal life, and can then give you my name in this transitory life.' After flogging her, the governor threw her into prison, where an angel of God appeared to her and, healing her of her wounds, comforted her. She destroyed all the idols in the pagan temple by her prayers. After long and harsh torture, she was beheaded with the sword and entered into eternal life. 2. St Arsenius, Archbishop of Pec. A great hierarch of the Serbian Church and the successor of St Sava, Arsenius was born in Srem. He became a monk while still a young man, and gave himself to wholehearted asceticism for his soul's salvation. Hearing of the wonderful personality and deeds of St Sava, Arsenius went to him at Zica, where the saint received him with kindness and drew him into the brotherhood at the monastery. Seeing rare virtues in Arsenius, Sava soon installed him as abbot of the Zica community. When the Hungarians over-ran the land of Serbia, Sava sent Arsenius south to find a more secluded spot for the archiepiscopal seat. Arsenius chose Pec, and there built a monastery and church to the Holy Apostles, which later became dedicated to the Lord's Ascension. Before his second departure for Jerusalem, Sava designated Arsenius to succeed him on the archiepiscopal throne and, when Sava died at Trnovo on his way home, Arsenius urged King Vladislav to take Sava's body onto Serbian soil. He governed the Church wisely for thirty years, and entered into rest in the Lord on October 28th 1266.
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On the wall of the altar at Pec is written: 'O Lord our God, hearken; visit and bless this church ... remember it, and me, the sinner Arsenius'. He was buried there in the church at Pec. Translator's note: St Arsenius' relics are now in the monastery of Zhrebaonik in Montenegro. 3. The Holy Martyr Terence. A Syrian, he suffered for the Christian faith together with his wife and their seven children. After many tortures, during which the power of God was shown, they were all beheaded with the sword. 4. St Stephen of St Sava's. The writer of many beautiful Canons, he lived in the community of St Sava the Sanctified near Jerusalem. He later became a bishop, and entered peacefully into rest in 807. 5. St Athanasius, Patriarch of Constantinople. An opponent of union with Rome, in contrast to his predecessor, John Beccus (1275-1282), he was an ascetic and a man of prayer from his childhood. Beloved of the people, he incurred the displeasure of some of the clergy for his moral strictness. He withdrew to his monastery on Mount Ganos, where he lived in even stricter asceticism than formerly. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself appeared to him and chided him gently for leaving his flock to the wolves. When he had prophesied the day of the earthquake in Constantinople, the Emperor Andronicus called him back to the patriarchal throne, much against his will, and he later secretly withdrew again to his asceticism, entering into rest at the age of a hundred. He was a wonderworker and a clairvoyant. 6. St Dimitri, Bishop of Rostov. A great hierarch, preacher, writer and ascetic, he was born near Kiev in 1651, and died in 1709. Among many other glorious works of instruction that he wrote, especially noteworthy is the translation and publication of the Lives of the Saints. He foresaw his own death three days before, and died while at prayer. He was a great light of the Russian Church, and of Orthodoxy in general. He had heavenly visions during his life; he served the Lord with zeal and entered into the heavenly Kingdom. FOR CONSIDERATION St Dimitri of Rostov was a saint in the classical pattern of our first fathers. He not only wrote beautiful books of instruction but also illumined his flock by his example, being a great faster and a man of prayer. He was so humble that he even asked the students in his seminary to pray for him. Whenever the clock struck the hour, he stood in prayer and recited 'Mother of God and Virgin, rejoice!' When he was ill -- which often happened to him -- he asked the seminarians each to recite the 'Our Father' for him five times, keeping in mind the five wounds of the Lord Jesus Christ. St Barbara then appeared to him, and asked him: 'Why do you pray in the Latin way?' At this rebuke, the saint fell into despair, for at that time, many Latin false traditions had crept into Russia, and the righteous were endeavoring not to be influenced by them. St Barbara appeared to him again to comfort him because of his despair, saying to him, 'Don't be afraid.' On another occasion, St Orestes the Martyr (Nov. 10th) appeared to him, just as Dimitri was writing his life, and said: 'I endured greater sufferings for Christ than you have recorded.' He then showed him his left side, and said: 'This was pierced with a white-hot iron.' He went on to show him his left arm, saying: 'This was cut off', and his thigh, saying: 'The flesh was cut away here.' When St Dimitri began to wonder whether this Orestes was one of the Five Companions (Dec. 13th), the saint answered his query, saying: 'I'm not the one among the Five Companions, but the one whose Life you're now writing.' November 11th - Civil Calendar October 29th - Church Calendar 1. Our -Holy Mother, the Martyr Anastasia the Roman. She was born in Rome of well-born parents and left an orphan at the age of three. As an orphan, she was taken into a women's monastery near Rome, where the abbess was one Sophia, a nun of a high level of perfection. After seventeen years, Anastasia was known in the whole neighborhood, to the Christians as a great ascetic and to the pagans as a rare beauty. The pagan administrator of the city, Probus, heard of her and sent soldiers to
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bring her to him. The good Abbess Sophia counseled Anastasia for two hours on how to keep the Faith, how to resist flattering delusion and how to endure torture. Anastasia said to her: 'My heart is ready to suffer for Christ; my soul is ready to die for my beloved Jesus.' Brought before the governor, Anastasia openly proclaimed her faith in Christ the Lord and, when the governor tried to dissuade her from the Faith, first with promises and then with threats, the holy maiden said to him: 'I am ready to die for my Lord, not once but - oh, if it were only possible! - a thousand times.' When they stripped her naked, to humiliate her, she cried to the judge: 'Whip me and cut at me and beat me; my naked body will be hidden by wounds, and my shame will be covered by my blood!' She was whipped and beaten and cut about. She twice felt a great thirst and asked for water, and a Christian, Cyril, gave her a drink, for which he was blessed by the martyr and beheaded by the pagans. Then her breasts and tongue were cut off, and an angel of God appeared to her and upheld her. She was finally beheaded with the sword outside the city. Blessed Sophia found her body and buried it, and Anastasia was crowned with the wreath of martyrdom under the Emperor Decius (249-251). 2. Our Holy Father Abraham the Recluse and his niece Maria. Under pressure from his parents, Abraham married, but on the very day of his wedding, he left his bride, his parents, his home and all that he had and went off into solitude to live in strict asceticism. He lived thus for fifty years, only leaving his cell twice in the whole of that time. Once it was at the command of the local bishop, to convert a pagan village to the Christian faith, and the other was to save his dissolute niece Maria. He entered peacefully into rest in 360, at the age of seventy. 3. Our Holy Father, the Martyr Timothy of Esphigmenou. From the village of Paraora, in the province of Kessana in Thrace, he was married and had two daughters. His wife was seized by the Turks and converted to Islam, and, in order to save her from the harem, he also pretended to become a Turk. Saving his wife, he gave her to a women's monastery and went off to the Holy Mountain, first to the Lavra and then to Esphigmenou. He desired martyrdom for Christ, like Agathangelos of Esphigmenou, and was beheaded in Jedrene on October 29th, 1820. His body was thrown into a river, but his clothing was taken back to Esphigmenou by the elder Germanus, his spiritual father. FOR CONSIDERATION 'He that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved' (Matt. 10:22), said the Lord. Faith is the one light that can truly illumine endurance, as endurance for its own sake becomes an unbearable darkness. Faith is a star shining in this darkness; faith softens the sharpness of suffering and bears on its wings all the weight of endurance. St Abraham offers us a beautiful example of perseverance in endurance. The devil simulated to him various sorts of temptation and terror, plunging him into a tedium that almost got him to the point of leaving the place in which he had settled and moving elsewhere, but Abraham did not want to move and become like an evil demon; he remained in his own place and overcame the devil. The bishop of that area sent Abraham to a pagan village to try to bring it to the Christian faith. After long resistance, Abraham set off, saying: 'Let God's will be done; I'm going under obedience.' He first built a church in the village and then pulled down the idols before the eyes of the villagers. They thrashed him, and beat him black and blue, leaving him almost dead, and then drove him out of their village, but he prayed to God for them with tears, that God would open the eyes of their hearts to know the truth of Christ. Thus the pagans beat and mocked him without remission for three years, but he prayed constantly to God for them and was not angered against them, 'enduring in his faith like a firm rock'. Only after three whole years did his toil and tears, his beseeching and faith have their reward, for suddenly the villagers were awakened and went in a group to Abraham. Bowing down before him, they begged him to instruct them in the Christian faith. November 12th - Civil Calendar October 30th - Church Calendar 1. The Hieromartyr Zenobius and his sister Zenobia. From the town of Aegae in Cilicia, they inherited the true Faith and great material wealth from their parents. Inflamed with zeal for the Faith, they, with great love, gave away their riches to the poor. Because they were so open-handed, God shielded these hands from every evil intent by men or demons. The merciful hands of Zenobius, which gave to the poor, were endowed by God with the gift of wonderworking, so that Zenobius was
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able to heal the sick of every sort of infirmity simply by the touch of his hand, and he was made Bishop of Aegae. At a time of persecution, the judge Licius seized him and said: 'I offer you the two: life and death - life if you bow down to the gods, and death if you do not.' Holy Zenobius replied: 'Life without Christ is not life, but death; and death for Christ's sake is not death, but life.' When Zenobius was put to harsh torture, his sister presented herself before the judge and said: 'I also want to drink this cup of suffering and be crowned with that wreath.' After torture by fire and in boiling pitch, they were both beheaded with the sword in about 285, and thus brother and sister entered into the immortal Kingdom of Christ the King. 2. The Holy Apostles Cleopas, Tertius, Mark, Justus and Artemas. They were of the Seventy. The risen Lord appeared to Cleopas on the road to Emmaus (Lk. 24:13-33). Tertius wrote down Paul's Epistle to the Romans for him (Rom. 16:22), and died a martyr as Bishop of Iconium, after the Apostle Sosipater (Nov. 10th). St Mark (or John, see Acts 12:12) was the son of the devout Mary in whose house the apostles and the early Christians found shelter, and the nephew of Barnabas. He was bishop in the Samaritan town of Apollonia. Justus was a son of Joseph the Betrothed. Together with Matthias, he was selected for the lot to be cast to replace Judas the betrayer, but was not chosen (Acts 1:23-26). As bishop in Eleutheropolis, he suffered for the Gospel. St Artemas was bishop in Lystra in Lycaonia, and died peacefully. 3. The Holy King Milutin. The son of Uros I and Queen Helena and brother of Dragutin, he fought fiercely to defend his faith and his people. He fought against Michael Palaeologus because the latter had accepted union with Rome and was putting pressure on the whole Balkan people and the monks of Athos to accept the Pope. He fought against Shishman, King of Bulgaria, and Nogai, King of the Tartars, to defend his country from them. All his wars were successful, for he prayed constantly to God and put himself in His hands. He built more than forty churches, both in his own land (Treskavac, Gracanica, St George in Nagoric, the Holy Mother of God in Skoplje, Banjska and so forth) and in Salonica, Sophia, Constantinople, Jerusalem and on the Holy Mountain. He entered into rest in the Lord on October 29th, 1320, and his body was soon seen to be uncorrupt and wonderworking. It is still preserved in that state today in the Church of the Holy King in Sophia. Author's note: Milutin was married twice, not four times as his detractors would have it; first to Elisabeth, a Hungarian princess, and then to Simonida, a princess of Byzantium. FOR CONSIDERATION That great son of the Orthodox Church, King Milutin, saved the Balkans from Uniatism. At the moment when the Byzantine Emperor's conscience was weakened, this knightly and godly Slav stood decisively, and with God's help saved Orthodoxy, not only in his own land but throughout the Balkans. He who examines the life of this holy king closely will understand why God gave him success after success throughout his life in all that he did. When Milutin came to the throne, he immediately vowed to God that he would build as many churches as the years he reigned. He reigned for forty-two years, and built forty-two churches. Beside some of his churches, as in Salonica and Constantinople, he built hospitals for the poor, where they received everything without payment. Apart from that, he took pleasure in giving to the poor out of his own enormous wealth. This powerful and wealthy king often dressed himself in simple clothing and, at night, with two or three of his servants, walked among the people, enquiring for the needy and generously helping the poor. In the midst of his great wealth, he lived a very simple family life, though he never showed this side of himself to outsiders. He had become accustomed to a simple way of life when still in the house of Uros, his father. It is told how the Emperor Michael Palaeologus sent his daughter Anna with a delegation to the court of King Uros, offering her to Milutin in order to win the Serbian king to union with Rome. But King Uros, seeing the senseless Byzantine luxury of the princess and her entourage, exclaimed: 'What is all this, and what is it for? We are not accustomed to this sort of life!' He indicated a Serbian princess with a distaff in her hand: 'See', he said, 'this is the sort of thing we expect in our daughter-in-law.' November 13th - Civil Calendar October 31st - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Apostles Stachys, Amplias, Urban, Narcissus, Apelles and Aristobulus.
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They were of the Seventy. St Stachys was a helper of St Andrew the First-Called, who made him bishop of Byzantium. He built a church in Argyropolis, and governed his flock with faithfulness and zeal. After sixteen years as bishop, he entered peacefully into rest in the Lord. Amplias and Urban were also fellow-workers with St Andrew, and were made bishop by him, Amplias in Lydda and Urban in Macedonia. They both died as martyrs for Christ the Lord. Narcissus was made Bishop of Athens by the Apostle Philip, and holy Apelles was Bishop of Heraklion in Trachis. Aristobulus, the brother of the Apostle Barnabas, preached the Christian faith in Britain and died peacefully there. He is also commemorated on March 16th. 2. The Holy Martyr Epimachus. Born in Egypt, he lived there in asceticism, and there finished his earthly course a martyr. In imitation of St John the Baptist, he went off as a young man into the desert. In response to his great love for God, the Spirit of God instructed him in all truth and, with no other teacher, taught him how to live the ascetic life. Epimachus discovered how the pagans were torturing and slaughtering the Christians in Alexandria, so, all afire with zeal for the Faith, he went to the city and knocked down the idols. When the pagans began to torture him for this, he cried out: 'Smite me, spit on me, put a crown of thorns on my head and a reed in my hand; give me gall to drink, crucify me and pierce me with a spear. The Lord endured all that, and I want to endure it!' In the vast crowd that was watching the martyrdom of holy Epimachus, there was one woman with a blind eye. She wept bitterly on witnessing the soul-less torture of the man of God, and, when the torturers flayed his holy body, blood spurted from it and a drop fell on her eye. Suddenly she could see, and her blind eye became as whole as the other. Then the woman cried out: 'Great is the God in whom this sufferer believes!' After that, St Epimachus was beheaded and his soul entered into eternal joy, in about 250. 3. The Holy Martyr Nicolas of Chios. A devout young man and a great zealot for the Christian faith, Nicolas was born in the village of Karyes on the island of Chios. He was tortured and beheaded by the Turks in 1754, and gave his righteous soul into God's hands. 4. Our Holy Fathers Spiridon and Nicodemus. They were monks and prosfora-makers in the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev. Spiridon was illiterate, but he knew the whole Psalter by heart and worked miracles during his lifetime. He entered into rest in 1148. FOR CONSIDERATION 'He that taketh not his Cross and followeth after Me is not worthy of me' (Matt. 10:38), says the Lord. Our holy father, the martyr Timothy of Esphigmenou (Oct. 29th) was at first a married man with two daughters. Later, as a monk, he resolved to suffer for Christ and, being already prepared for the road to suffering, asked his abbot's blessing to return to his village of Kessana, to see his daughters and take leave of them. The abbot did not permit this, fearing that Timothy's meeting with his daughters would soften him and turn him back from martyrdom for the Faith. But Timothy's village lay on the way to Propontis, his destination. When he got to his village, he met one of his neighbors, chatted with him and sent greetings to his daughters through him. The neighbor urged him to turn back and see his daughters, and rest a little, but in vain; Timothy took his leave and hurriedly escaped, continuing on his way. His daughters, hearing from the neighbor about their father, hurried after him. And now a rare sight was seen: the daughters were hurrying to overtake and embrace their father, and the father was fleeing from his daughters in order not to sin against the abbot's command. The daughters moved quickly, but he yet more quickly. The daughters hastened to embrace their father, and Timothy, fleeing from them, hastened to embrace death. The daughters became exhausted and turned back in despair, and the father slipped away. At the time of his death, Timothy asked his spiritual father, Germanus, to return to his village and tell his daughters of their father's death by martyrdom. Germanus carried out the errand. The Turks beheaded Timothy and threw his body into a river, and Germanus managed to save only one of the martyr's garments, which he took to Kessana. He found Timothy's daughters and recounted to them the heroic death of their father, showing them the garment. November 14th - Civil Calendar November 1st - Church Calendar
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1. Ss Cosmas and Damian. Unmercenaries and wonderworkers, they were brothers in the flesh and in the spirit, born somewhere in Asia of a pagan father and a Christian mother. After their father's death, their mother, Theodota, devoted all her time and energy to the bringing-up of her sons as true Christians. God helped her, and her sons grew as two choice fruits and as two holy lamps. They were skilled in medicine and ministered to the sick without payment, and so fulfilled Christ's command: 'Freely have ye received; freely give' (Matt. 10: 8). They were so strict in their unpaid ministry to men that Cosmas became greatly enraged with his brother Damian when he took three eggs from a woman, Palladia, and gave orders that, after his death, he should not be buried with his brother. In fact, holy Damian had not taken those eggs as a reward for healing Palladia's sickness, but because she had sworn by the Most Holy Trinity that he should have them. However, after their death in Fereman, they were buried together in obedience to a revelation from God. These two holy brothers were great wonderworkers both during their lifetime and after their death. A farm laborer, on lying down to sleep at one time, was attacked by a snake, which entwined itself around his mouth and stomach. This poor man would have breathed his last in the greatest torment had he not at the last moment invoked the help of Saints Cosmas and Damian. Thus the Lord glorified forever by miracles those who glorified Him here on earth by their faith, purity and mercy. 2. The Holy Martyr Hermenegild the Heir. He was the son of the Gothic King Luvigeld, who held the Arian heresy. Hermenegild, however, did not turn from Orthodoxy, in spite of the flattery and threats of his brutal, heretic father. His father threw him into prison and, on Pascha, sent a heretic bishop early in the morning to give him Communion. This man of God would not receive Communion at the hands of a heretic; a fact that the bishop passed on to the king. The king was furious, and ordered the executioners to cut off Hermenegild's head, which came to pass in 586. Luvigeld later repented of having killed his son, abjured his heresy and returned to Orthodoxy. 3. Our Holy Father, the Martyr James, with his disciples James and Dionysius. He was born in the diocese of Kastoria, of parents called Martin and Paraskeva. Working as a shepherd, James became rich and thus incurred the envy of his brother, who reported him to the Turks as having found some money in the ground. James fled to Constantinople, where he became poor. He was once the guest of a Turkish Bey. The Turks were eating meat, but James was fasting. The Bey said: 'Your Christian faith is indeed great!', and he related how his wife had been sick in mind and how, after trying all doctors and medicines, he had taken her to the Patriarch for prayers to be read over her. As soon as the Patriarch opened the book to read, a heavenly light filled the church. When the prayer was ended, his wife was made whole. James, hearing how the Bey extolled the Christian faith, gave away all that he had and went to the Holy Mountain, where he became a monk in the monastery of Iviron. He lived in asceticism on the Holy Mountain, and suffered for the Faith at the hands of the Turks in Jedrene on November 1st, 1520. His wonderworking relics and those of his disciples are preserved in the monastery of St Anastasia near Salonica. FOR CONSIDERATION St Hilarion of Meglin waged a fierce battle against the Bogomils. At one time, the leaders of the Bogomils came to Hilarion and began to dispute with him about faith. The Bogomils taught that God created the spiritual world, but that the material world was the work of the devil. Hilarion replied to this that it is written in the Scriptures: 'God is the King of all the earth' (Ps. 46:7), and also: 'The earth is the Lord's, and all that therein is' (Ps. 23:1). The Bogomils asserted that the Old Testament was of the devil. To this the saint replied: 'If the Old Testament indeed came from the devil, could Christ have said: "Search the Scriptures: they testify of Me" (John 5:39), and could He have stated that the greatest Commandments are those on love of God and one's neighbor that were aforetime given by Moses?' The Bogomils also asserted that Christ brought His body with Him from heaven. To this St Hilarion replied that, had it been thus, then the body of Christ would not have felt hunger or thirst, nor weariness and suffering, nor would it have undergone death. The Bogomils then showed their disapprobation of the sign of the Cross that Orthodox Christians make. To this, the saint replied: 'And what will you do when the sign of the Son of Man, the Cross, appears in the heavens, and when all the nations of the world who did not believe in the Cross will lament?' And he added: 'How can you say that all evil is material evil, and will not do reverence to that Wood by which the whole material world was sanctified?' November 15th - Civil Calendar
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November 2 - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyrs Acyndinus, Pegasius, Anempodistus, Aphthonius, Elpidephorus and others with them. They were Persian Christians, and suffered in the time of King Sapor, in 355. The first three were servants at the court of this king, but secretly served Christ their Lord. When they were arrested and brought to trial before the king, he asked them whence they came. To this they replied: 'Our paternity and life is the most holy Trinity, consubstantial and undivided, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God.' The king gave them over to harsh torture, and they endured it all courageously, singing psalms and with prayer on their lips. At the time of their torture and imprisonment, angels of God appeared to them several times, and once the Lord Christ Himself, as a man 'with a face radiant as the sun'. When one of the torturers, Aphthonius, saw with wonder that boiling lead did no harm to the martyrs, he believed in Christ and cried out: 'Great is the Christian God!' He was then immediately beheaded, and many others saw and believed. Then the King commanded that Acyndinus, Pegasus and Anempodistus be sewn into goat-skins and thrown into the sea. Then St Aphthonius appeared from the other world with three shining angels, and they bore the martyrs to dry land and set them free. Elpidephorus was a courtier. When he revealed that he was a Christian, and denounced the king for his slaughter of innocent Christians, the king condemned him to death, and Elpidephorus was beheaded along with about seven thousand other Christians. Then the three first-named martyrs were finally thrown into a burning furnace, along with twenty-eight soldiers and the king's mother, who had also come to faith in Christ. And so, in the flames, they gave their righteous souls into the hands of the Lord. 2. Our Holy Father Marcian of Cyrus. He was from the town of Cyrus in Syria, and was distinguished by gentle birth and physical beauty. He left all for Christ, and withdrew to the desert of Halkis as a solitary. He was a contemporary of Patriarch Flavian of Antioch and the Emperors Constantius and Valens. A divine light, by which he read the Holy Scriptures, shone in his cell at night, and he never had need of any other light, being a great wonderworker both during his lifetime and after his death. At the time of his death, he commanded his disciple Eusebius to conceal his body and bury it in secret, to avoid veneration. He entered into rest in the Lord in the year 387. 3. The Hieromartyr Victorinus, Bishop of Patav. Many assert that he was a Slovene. Blessed Hieronymus cites him as a man learned and devout. He knew Greek better than Latin, and wrote commentaries on several books of the Old and New Testaments. He suffered for the Christian faith in about 303. FOR CONSIDERATION How shall he attain to love for his enemies who sets aside love for his parents? Love for one's parents is the chief and fundamental school of love. Without this schooling, one cannot go further. The Serbian King Dragutin stood in arms against his father in order to seize his throne. But it so happened that he broke his leg, and this awakened his conscience, which tormented him till his death, giving him no peace. Dragutin relinquished his throne, and made over his power to his younger brother Milutin. He embarked on great works of mercy, built churches and performed other good deeds. He also lived an intensive, secret ascetic life. He girded his naked body with a belt of reeds, dressed in coarse sackcloth and prayed to God at night in a secretlyprepared grave. The repentant king did all this only to gain God's forgiveness for his lack of love towards his parents, and God forgave him. Many holy martyrs, whom their executioners had come to seek out, welcomed them with joy and entertained them in their homes until the time came for them to be put to death. To entertain the man who is to shed one's blood is indeed a great expression of love for one's enemies. When King Sapor put Acyndinus, Pegasius and the others to harsh torture, he suddenly went out of his mind and became dumb, being unable to speak, and clawed at his face in his great fury. Seeing his tormentor in such despair, St Acyndinus wept, and prayed to God for the king, saying: 'In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, speak!', and the king was loosed from his dumbness and began to speak. Here is an example of true love for one's enemies. November 16th - Civil Calendar
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November 3rd - Church Calendar 1. The Hieromartyr Acepsimas, Bishop of Naeson, and others with him. The eighty-year-old Acepsimas, filled with every Christian virtue, was sitting one day in his house with his guests when a child, filled with the Spirit of God, ran up to the aged bishop, kissed him on the head, and said: 'Blessed is this head, for it will be martyred for Christ!' This prophecy was soon fulfilled. King Sapor raised a fierce persecution of Christians throughout Persia, and St Acepsimas was seized and taken before a prince who was also a pagan priest. When the bishop had been arrested and bound, he was approached by one of his household, who asked him what he wanted done about his house. The saint replied: 'It's no longer my house; I'm going to a higher home, and shall not return.' After long interrogation, he was thrown into prison, whence, the next day, were brought a seventy year-old priest called Joseph and a deacon, Aeithalas. After three years' imprisonment and many sufferings, Acepsimas was beheaded, and Joseph and Aeithalas were buried up to the waist in the ground, being stoned by a group of men who were without mercy towards Christians. Joseph's body, by God's providence, disappeared that night, and above Aeithalas's body there grew a tree, which healed all manner of disease and pain. Five years passed, then the wicked and jealous pagans cut down this tree. These soldiers of Christ suffered in Persia in the fourth century, in the time of the pagan King Sapor. 2. The Holy and Great Martyr George. On this day we celebrate the translation of St George's relics from Nicomedia to the city of Lydda in Palestine, where he suffered in the time of the Emperor Diocletian (284-305). The sufferings of this wonderful saint are recorded on April 23rd. At the time of his death, St George asked his servant to take his body and carry it to Palestine, to the place where his mother was born, and where he had much land that he had given away to the poor. His servant did this. In the time of the Emperor Constantine (305-337), a beautiful church was built in Lydda by devout Christians. On the occasion of the consecration of that church, the saint's relics were translated and buried there. Innumerable miracles have been wrought by the relics of St George, Christ's great martyr. 3. Our Holy Father Elias of Egypt. He lived in asceticism near Antinoe, the capital of the Thebaid. He spent seventy years on arid and inaccessible rocks in the wilderness. He ate only bread and dates and, as a young man, fasted whole weeks at a time. He healed all manner of pains and weaknesses. He became very shaky in old age, and entered into rest at the age of 110, going to the joy of his Lord. 'Keep your mind from malicious thoughts of your neighbours, knowing that such thoughts are hurled by diabolical power, to keep your mind from your own sins and from seeking God', he said. FOR CONSIDERATION Among many miracles of St George, this one is recorded: on the island of Mytilene, there was a church dedicated to St George the great and victorious martyr. The inhabitants of the whole island flocked to this church on the saint's annual feast. Learning of this, Cretan Saracens descended one year on the island, laying it waste and enslaving the inhabitants, and then returned to Crete. On that occasion, a handsome young man was taken captive, and was presented by the pirates to their prince in Crete. The prince took him and made him his butler. The boy's parents were in great distress for their son and, when a year had passed and St George's Day came round again, the grieving parents, following the ancient custom, prepared their table and entertained many guests. Remembering her son, the poor mother went to the icon of the saint, fell to the ground and began to beg St George to release her son from slavery. The mother then returned to her guests at table. The host raised his glass and drank to St George, and at that moment their son appeared among them bearing a decanter in his hands. When they all asked him, in wonder and fear, whence and how he had come there, the young man replied that, just as he was about to serve his owner with wine in Crete, a knight on horseback appeared before him, lifted him onto the horse and carried him in a flash to his parents home. All were amazed and glorified God, and this wonderful saint, George the victorious commander.

November 17th - Civil Calendar


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November 4th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Father Joannicius the Great. This great spiritual light was born in the village of Marykata in the province of Bithynia, of his father Myritrices and his mother Anastasia. He was a shepherd as a youth. Whilst tending his sheep at pasture, he would often retreat into solitude and remain in prayer the whole day, having encircled his flock with the sign of the Cross so that it should not wander off and get lost. After that, he was called into the army, and caused men to marvel at his courage, particularly in the wars against the Bulgarians. After his military service, Joannicius withdrew to Olympus in Asia Minor, where he became a monk and gave himself entirely over to asceticism, persevering in it till his death in great old age. He laboured in the ascetic life for over fifty years in various places, and had from God most abundant gifts of wonderworking: he healed all sicknesses and pains, drove out demons, tamed wild beasts, possessing a particular power over snakes; he walked dryfoot through water, became invisible to men when he so desired and foretold future events. He was distinguished by an outstanding humility and meekness. In outward appearance, he was like a giant, huge and strong. He took an active part in the destiny of God's Church, for, during the iconoclast period he was at first deluded, but then tore himself away and became an ardent defender of reverence towards the icons. He had a great friendship with Patriarch Methodius of Constantinople. Joannicius lived for ninety-four years, and entered peacefully into rest in the Lord in 846. He was a great wonderworker both during his lifetime and after his death. 2. The Hieromartyrs Nicander, Bishop of Myra, and Hermas the Priest. Both were ordained by the Apostle Titus. They were distinguished by their great zeal for the Faith and their great labours in winning pagans for Christ the Lord. Because of this, a complaint was brought against them before a certain magistrate, Libanus, and he gave them over to fierce torture. They were stoned and dragged over stones; they underwent imprisonment and suffered hunger, and endured many other tortures which no mortal man could endure without God's special aid. The Lord appeared to them in various ways and, when they were thrown into a fiery furnace, sent them His angel to soothe the flames for them. They were finally buried alive by their soul-less tormentors and covered with earth. But it is in vain that men put others to death when the Lord gives life, and they dishonour in vain those whom the Lord glorifies. FOR CONSIDERATION Mercy is a fruit of faith. Where there is true faith, there is true mercy. St Joannicius was walking one day past a women's monastery in which, among the nuns, there lived a mother and her daughter. An evil spirit of fleshly temptation had fallen upon the daughter and inflamed the vice of lust in her to such an extent that she desired to leave the monastery and marry. In vain did her mother urge her to remain; her daughter would not listen to her. When the mother saw St Joannicius, she begged him to advise her daughter not to leave the monastery and expose her soul to perdition. Joannicius summoned the girl and said to her: 'My daughter, put your hand on my shoulder'. The girl did so. Then the compassionate Joannicius prayed to God in his heart that He would deliver the girl from temptation and transfer her bodily passion to him. And so it came to pass: the girl became completely calm and remained in the monastery, and the saint of God went his on way. As he went, a passionate vice fell on him and his blood began to boil as though in fire. He desired to die rather than let the passion enter his will, so, seeing a great snake, he ran to it in the hope that it would bite him and he would die. He began to provoke it but, as soon as he touched it, it died and the flame of lust disappeared. November 18th - Civil Calendar November 5th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Father Galaction and our Mother Episteme, Martyrs. They were born in the city of Edessa in Phoenicia, both of pagan parents. Galaction's mother was barren until she was baptised. After her baptism, she brought her husband also to the true Faith and baptised her son Galaction, bringing him up a Christian. When the time came for Galaction to marry, his devout mother Leucippe died, and his father betrothed him to a maiden called Episteme. Galaction did not wish to enter into marriage at all, and he quickly urged Episteme to be baptised and then to become a nun at the same time as he became a monk. Both went away to the mountain of Publion, Galaction to a men's monastery and Episteme to a
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women's, and each of them became a true light in the monastery. They were first in labours, in prayer, in humility and obedience, and first in love. They did not leave their monasteries, and neither saw the other until the time of their death. A fierce persecution arose, and they were both brought to trial. While they were mercilessly whipping Galaction, Episteme was weeping, and they then whipped her also. They cut off their hands and feet, and finally their heads. One Eutolius, a man who had been a servant of Episteme's parents and then a monk together with Galaction, took their bodies and buried them. He also wrote the Lives of these two wonderful martyrs for Christ, who suffered and received their heavenly crowns in 253. 2. The Holy Apostles Patrobus, Hermes, Linus, Gains and Philologus. They were of the Seventy. Patrobus was bishop of Neapolis; Hermes was in Philipopolis (Rom. 16:14), Linus in Rome (II Tim. 4:21), Gaius in Ephesus (Rom. 16:23) and Philologus in Synope (Rom. 15:16). All of them fulfilled the Law of Christ with love and went to His Kingdom. 3. St Jonah, Archbishop of Novgorod Born in Novgorod and orphaned early, he was taken and educated by a God-fearing woman. Michael the Fool for Christ of Klops saw him once as a young boy and said to him prophetically: 'Ivan, my little one, be diligent in your studies, for you will be archbishop in Novgorod the Mighty'. And so it came to pass, for later, after the death of Archbishop Euthymius, this Jonah was elected and consecrated to the throne of Novgorod. Jonah was God-fearing and merciful, such as is rare in a mortal man. He built churches and monasteries and cared for his flock as a true and good shepherd. He was offered the throne of Moscow as Metropolitan but declined, excusing himself because of his great age. He entered into rest peacefully on November 5th, 1570, and went to the joyful, heavenly mansions. One hundred years after his death, a great fire broke out in Novogorod. The relics of this holy hierarch did not catch fire among the flames, but on the contrary, began to show healing powers and to give off a sweet and wonderful fragrance. FOR CONSIDERATION As shadow is to reality (although even this is too weak a comparison), so is physical love to spiritual. Brotherhood and sisterhood of blood is nothing compared with the same relationship in the spirit. Galaction was betrothed by his father to the maiden Episteme. He baptised her, and then they both received the monastic habit. Their physical love was transformed into spiritual, a love as strong as death. Galaction's spiritual love for Episteme was so great that he had no need to see her with his bodily sight; for, with spiritual love, neither physical contact or even meeting are necessary. Episteme's spiritual love for Galaction was so great that, when she heard that he had been taken for martyrdom, she ran after him, begging him not to cast her away but, as a spiritual father and brother, let her share his martyrdom. When Galaction was flogged on his naked body by his merciless torturers, holy Episteme wept. When the torturers cut off their hands and feet for Christ's sake, they both rejoiced and glorified God. Such was the power of their love for Christ the Lord and such was the mutual spiritual love with which they loved each other. Truly, physical love is like a gaudy butterfly that passes in a moment, but spiritual love is enduring. November 19th - Civil Calendar November 6th - Church Calendar 1. St Paul the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople. When the blessed Patriarch Alexander was lying on his deathbed, the lamenting faithful asked him whom he would leave to follow him as chief pastor of the flock of Christ. Then the sick Patriarch said to them: 'If you want to have a shepherd who will teach you and whose virtues will illumine you, choose Paul; but, if you want a suitable man as a figurehead, choose Macedonius.' The people chose Paul. This was not acceptable to the Arian heretics, nor to the Emperor Constantius, who was at that time in Antioch, and so Paul was quickly deposed and fled to Rome together with St Athanasius the Great. There, both Pope Julian and the Emperor Constans gave them a warm welcome and upheld them in their Orthodoxy. The Emperor and the Pope sent letters which restored Paul to his episcopal throne, but, after the death of Constans, the Arians raised their heads again and drove the Orthodox Patriarch off to Cucusus in Armenia. While Paul was celebrating the Liturgy one day in exile, he was set on by the Arians and strangled with his pallium. This was in the year 351. In the time of the Emperor Theodosius, in 381, his relics were translated to Constantinople, and, in 1236, to Venice, where
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they still lie. * His beloved priests and secretaries, Marcian and Martyrius, suffered soon after their Patriarch, on October 25th, 355 (see their lives on that day). *A small piece of their relics is kept at the Russian Cathedral in London -Tr. 2. Our Holy Father Varlaam of Chutinsk, the Wonderworker. Born and brought up a Christian in Novgorod the Great, he became a monk on the death of his parents and devoted himself to strict asceticism. He founded a monastery on the bank of the Volkhov river, on a site shown to him by a heavenly light. He was a great wonderworker both during his lifetime and after his death, being able to penetrate human secrets, to drive out unclean spirits and to heal all sicknesses. A servant of Prince Vasilii Vasilievitch was taken seriously ill, and he asked to be carried to the grave of St Varlaam, and further asked that, if he should die on the way, they should take his dead body to the saint. And so it came to pass: he died on the road, and they brought him dead into the monastery, where he was restored to life, stood up and prostrated himself before the tomb of the saint. In 1471, Tsar Ivan the Terrible gave orders that the saint's grave be dug up. As soon as they had begun to uncover it, a flame sprang from the grave and blazed along the walls of the church. The Tsar was so terrified that he fled from the church and, in his haste, forgot his staff, which is kept to this day beside the saint's tomb. In commemoration of this wonder, St Varlaam is also remembered on the Friday after the Sunday of All Saints. 3. Commemoration of the falling of ash from the air. This occurred in Constantinople in 472 (or 475, according to the Greek Synaxarion), during the reign of the Emperor Leo the Great and Patriarch Gennadius. FOR CONSIDERATION If God can bring water from a rock to sustain men, He can also call down fire from heaven as a punishment. The fate of Sodom and Gomorrah presents a classic example of God's punishment of incorrigible sinners. That God can repeat this punishment in other places, He demonstrated over Constantinople in the time of Leo the Great and Patriarch Gennadius, in 472. On November 6th, at mid day, the sky suddenly became darkened by thick, dark clouds, which caused darkness to cover the land. These clouds glowed now and then like live coals, and then became dark again, and this phenomenon remained over Constantinople for a full forty days. The terrified people fell to repentance and prayer, and, together with the Emperor and the Patriarch, went in procession through the streets from church to church, praying to God with tears and lamentations. On the final day, hot black ash began to fall from the clouds, and fell from noon till midnight, when it ceased. The following day was clear and fresh, but a hand-high layer of ash lay all over the ground. The people worked to clear their houses and streets of this sooty ash, but all their crops were destroyed. All who had understanding recognised God's punishment in this event -- a gentle punishment because of the speedy repentance of the people before the Lord God. If this had not been so, who knows what would have happened in Constantinople in those days? But timely repentance on the part of sinners, and the prayers of the most holy Mother of God together with the numberless saints and martyrs of Constantinople, greatly mitigated the punishment. November 20th - Civil Calendar November 7th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Hieron with his Companions. He was born in the Cappadocian city of Tijane of a good and God-fearing mother, Stratonica, who was blind. Hieron was a very zealous Christian, and cared for his blind mother with a truly filial love. Because of both his faith and his mother, he refused to go into the army, and fended off and drove away those who were sent to take him, for he was loth to leave his helpless, blind mother and be forced as a soldier to bow down and offer sacrifice to idols. Finally, Hieron was seized and taken before the governor of the city of Melitene, along with other Christians. While they were on the road, a man in white apparel appeared one night to Hieron and said to him: 'Behold, Hieron, I reveal to thee thy salvation: thou shalt not wage war for any earthly king, but shalt engage in a battle for the King of heaven, and quickly shalt thou come to Him and receive from Him both honour and glory.' Hieron's heart was filled with ineffable joy at these words. When they reached Melitene, they were all thrown into prison, where Hieron strengthened them all in their faith with great ardour, exhorting them that not one should fall away but that all should freely give their bodies over to torment and death for
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Christ. To a man, they all confessed their faith in Christ the Lord before the judge, except for one kinsman of Hieron's called Victor, who repudiated his faith. Hieron's hands were cut off , then he was flogged and tortured in various ways, until he was finally beheaded with the sword together with the others. Going out to the place of execution, the thirty-three martyrs sang the psalm: 'Blessed are those that are undefiled in the way, and walk in the Law of the Lord' (Ps. 1:1). Let us remember by name these honourable martyrs, who are inscribed in the Book of Life: Hesychius, Nicander, Athanasius, Mamas, Barachius, Callinicus, Theogenes, Nikon, Longinus, Theodore, Valerius, Xanticus, Theodulus, Callimachus, Eugene, Theodochus, Ostrichius, Epiphanius, Maximian, Ducitius, Claudian, Theophilus, Gigantius, Dorotheus, Theodotus, Castrichius, Anicetas, Themilius, Eutychius, Hilarion Diodotus and Amonitus. A certain man called Chrysanthus found Hieron's severed head and gave it burial, and he later built over it a church in honour of St Hieron. One of the martyr's hands was taken to his blind mother. St Hieron suffered with his companions in 298, and entered into the glory of Christ. 2. The Holy Martyr Thessalonica, with Auctus and Taurion. This maiden was the daughter of Cleon, a pagan priest, a rich and arrogant man. Because of her faith in Christ, her father drove her from the house and the city. Two respected citizens, Auctus and Taurion by name, reproached Cleon for his inhuman treatment of his daughter, and Cleon thereupon denounced them as Christians. They were savagely tortured and beheaded for Christ, and the maiden Thessalonica was tortured and killed soon after. They suffered in the Macedonian city of Amphipolis, near present-day Kavala, and so these martyrs were found worthy, by their sufferings, of the immortal Kingdom. 3. Our Holy Father Lazarus of Mount Galesius. A pillar of light appeared above the house where he was born. He left his village in Magnesia and went to Jerusalem on pilgrimage to the holy places, becoming a monk there in the monastery of St Sava the Sanctified. After ten years, he settled on Mount Galesius and toiled in asceticism upon a pillar as a stylite, and was a wonderworker both during his lifetime and after his death. The Emperor Constantine Monomachus had great respect for him. St Lazarus entered into his eternal home at the end of the eleventh century. FOR CONSIDERATION There are decisive moments in life, on which depend a man`s eternal life or eternal death. We do not know when such a decisive moment is upon us -- it may come today, for which reason we must be constantly vigilant. A nephew of St Hieron's, Victor, was arrested with him. On the eve of the day of their martyrdom, Victor was frightened of the coming torments and went to the governor of the prison, begging him to remove his, Victor's, name from among the condemned and let him go, promising to give him his own land. The governor crossed him off and let him go. On returning home, Victor suddenly died -- died a natural death at the same moment as St Hieron and his companions died in torment for Christ. Thus Victor turned in vain from the moment of decision, lost his land, lost his friends and lost his life, both in this world and the world to come. But Hieron, in that decisive moment, gained all. No one vied for Victor's body, but many vied for the body of Hieron. When Christians were seeking Hieron's head from the governor, he demanded gold to the measure of its weight. Chrysanthus, a rich and devout man, paid the required amount of gold for the martyr's precious head. Antony and Matronian concealed one of Hieron's severed hands from the governor and took it to his blind mother, and she took hold of her son's hand, lamenting bitterly: 'O my beloved son, I bore the whole of you, and now have only this one little bit!' November 21st - Civil Calendar November 8th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Archangel Michael and all the Bodiless Powers of Heaven. The angels of God have been commemorated by men from the earliest times, but this commemoration often degenerates into the divinization of angels (IV Kings 23:5; A.V. II Kings). Heretics always wove fantasies round the angels. Some of them saw the angels as gods and others, if they did not so regard them, took them to be the creators of the whole visible world. The local Council in Laodicea, that was held in the fourth century, rejected in its 35th Canon the worship of angels as gods, and established the proper veneration of them. In the time of Pope Sylvester of Rome and the Alexandrian Patriarch Alexander, in the fourth century, this Feast of the Archangel Michael and the other heavenly powers was instituted, to be celebrated in November. Why in
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November? Because November is the ninth month after March, and it is thought that the world was created in the month of March. The ninth month after March was chosen because of the nine orders of angels that were the first created beings. St Dionysius the Areopagite, a disciple of the Apostle Paul (that Apostle who was caught up to the third heaven), writes of these nine orders in his book: 'Celestial Hierarchies'. These orders are as follows: six-winged Seraphim, many-eyed Cherubim, godly Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels and Angels. The leader of the whole angelic army is the Archangel Michael. When Satan, Lucifer, fell away from God, and carried half the angels with him to destruction, then Michael arose and cried to the unfallen angels: 'Let us give heed! Let us stand aright; let us stand with fear!', and the whole angelic army sang aloud: 'Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabaoth; heaven and earth are full of Thy glory!' (See on the Archangel Michael: Joshua 5:13-15 and Jude v.9). Among the angels there rules a perfect unity of mind, of soul and of love; of total obedience of the lesser powers to the greater and of all to the holy will of God. Each nation has its guardian angel, as does each individual Christian. We must keep in mind that, whatever we do, openly or in secret, we do in the presence of our guardian angel and that, on the Day of Judgement, a great multitude of the holy angels of heaven will be gathered around the throne of Christ, and the thoughts, words and deeds of every man will be laid bare before them. May God have mercy on us and save us at the prayers of the holy Archangel Michael and all the bodiless powers of heaven. Amen. FOR CONSIDERATION That the angels are constantly involved in this world is testified to, clearly and unmistakably, in Holy Scripture. Both from the Scriptures and from Holy Tradition, the Orthodox Church has learned the names of the seven leaders of the heavenly powers: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Salathiel, Jegudiel and Barachiel (and to these is sometimes added an eighth, Jeremiel). 'Michael' in Hebrew means 'Who is like God?', or 'Who is equal to God?'. St Michael was depicted in the earliest Christian times as a leader, bearing a spear in his right hand with which he attacks Lucifer, Satan, and holding in his left hand a branch of green palm. At the top of the spear is a plaited braid with a red Cross. The Archangel Michael is considered especially to be the guardian of the Orthodox faith and a fighter against heresy. 'Gabriel' means 'man of God' or 'power of God'. He is the herald of the mysteries of God, especially the mystery of the Incarnation and all those that are linked with it. He is depicted bearing a lantern with a burning candle in his right hand, and in his left a mirror of green jasper. The mirror signifies the wisdom of God as a hidden mystery. 'Raphael' means 'God's healing', or 'God the Healer' (Tobias 3:17; 12:15). He is depicted leading Tobias by the right hand (Tobias carrying a fish caught in the Tigris), and holding a physician's jar in his left. 'Uriel' means 'fire' or 'light of God' (II Esdras 4:1; 5:20). He is depicted holding a sword against the Persians in his right hand and a burning brand in his left. 'Salathiel' means 'one who prays to God' (II Esdras 5:16). He is depicted with his head bowed and his eyes lowered, and his hands placed together in the attitude of prayer. 'Jegudiel' means 'one who glorifies God'. He is depicted bearing a golden wreath in his right hand and a threethonged whip in his left. 'Barachiel' means 'the blessing of God'. He is depicted wearing a white rose on his breast. 'Jeremiel' means 'God's exaltation'. He is venerated as an inspirer and awakener of those higher thoughts that raise a man towards God. November 22nd - Civil Calendar November 9th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyrs Onesiphorus and Porphyrius. These two wonderful men were martyred for the name of Christ in the time of the Emperor Diocletian (284305). They were harshly beaten, and then burned in iron coffins, and after that tied to horses' tails and dragged over stones and thistles. They were thus broken to pieces and gave their holy souls into God's hands. Their relics were buried in Pentapolis. 2. Our Holy Father John the Dwarf (Kolobos).
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He is counted among the greatest of the Egyptian ascetics. 'Kolobos' means 'little' or 'dwarf, for he was little of stature. He came to Scetis with his brother Daniel, and, with surpassing zeal, gave himself to asceticism, such that his brother had to urge him to moderation. He was a disciple of St Pambo, and later the teacher of St Arsenius the Great. One of his fellow-disciples with St Pambo was St Paisius the Great. One day, when he was in conversation with St Paisius about what sort of asceticism to adopt, an angel of God appeared to them, and ordered John to stay where he was and gather companions, and Paisius to go into the desert and live as a solitary. To test John's obedience, Pambo ordered him to water a dry stick that he had stuck in the ground until it bore leaves. With no hesitation or doubt, John watered this dry stick for three whole years, from day to day, until, by God's power, it put forth leaves and bore fruit. Then Pambo gathered the fruits from this tree, took them to the church and shared them out among the brethren, saying: 'Come and taste of the fruits of obedience!' John the Dwarf had many disciples, and some of his wise sayings have been preserved. He entered peacefully into rest and the joy of his Lord early in the fifth century. 3. Our Holy Mother Matrona of Constantinople. She was from Perga in Pamphylia. Quickly finding marriage to Dometian, a Constantinopolitan nobleman, unbearable, she fled, dressed herself in men's clothing and, under the name of Babylas, went to the monastery of St Bassian in Constantinople. As her husband searched for her unremittingly, she was forced to move constantly from place to place: Emesa, Sinai, Jerusalem, Beirut, finally returning to Constantinople. She received the monastic habit at the age of twenty-five, and lived in asceticism for seventy-five years. Living a hundred years in all, she died peacefully as abbess of a monastery in Constantinople, and entered into the joy of her Lord in the year 492. 4. Our Holy Father Euthymius of Docheiariou, and his disciple Neophytus. They were Serbs by descent and kinsmen of high-ranking aristocrats in Byzantium. Euthymius was a friend of St Athanasius and his steward Laurus, and later founded the monastery of Docheiariou. He entered peacefully into rest in 990. His nephew Neophytus succeeded his uncle as abbot of Docheiariou, increasing the number of brethren and building a great church. He entered into rest at the beginning of the eleventh century. 5. St Simeon Metaphrastes. A gifted Constantinopolitan, he had both worldly and spiritual learning. He became the Emperor's chief administrator, and the first among the nobles at court. But he lived a life pure and unstained as a true ascetic. He was distinguished by a rare military courage and diplomatic wisdom, and was for this greatly valued by the Emperor Leo the Wise, who once sent him to Crete to make peace terms with the Arabs, who had at that time seized the island. Succeeding in this mission, he returned to Constantinople and soon withdrew from the world and all secular occupation. He wrote lives of the saints, adding 122 new 'biographies' and correcting 539 others. He entered into rest in about 960, and a fragrant and healing myrrh flowed from his body. 6. Our Holy Mother Theoctista of Paros. She was born on the island of Lesbos, and became a nun at the age of seventeen. Savage Saracens descended on the island and enslaved all who fell into their hands, including Theoctista and her sister. When the Saracens carried the slaves off to the bazaar on the island of Paros, Theoctista escaped from the crowd and hid herself. She hid in an abandoned church in the middle of the island, where she lived in asceticism for thirty-five years. She entered into rest in 881. FOR CONSIDERATION After a long separation from his friend Paisius, John the Dwarf visited him and talked with him. They asked each other what virtues they had, in the intervening time, brought to fruition. Paisius said: 'The sun never sees me eat', and John the Dwarf replied: 'and it never sees me angry'. Teaching the brethren in Scetis, John used this story about the repentance of the human soul: 'In one town, there lived a beautiful woman, a harlot who had many lovers. A prince suggested to this woman that he would take her to wife if she would promise to live honourably and faithfully in wedlock. She promised, and the prince took her to his court and married her. Discovering this, her former lovers plotted to bring her back to her old ways with them. They did not dare to confront the prince, but gathered behind the palace and began whistling. The woman heard the whistling and recognized it. She quickly blocked her ears and hid herself in an inner room of the palace, locking the door
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behind her, and was thus preserved from the new temptation.' St John explained this story thus: the harlot is the soul, her lovers are the passions, the prince is Christ, the inner room is the heavenly court and the lovers who whistle and entice her are the demons. If the soul is constantly turned from its passions and flees God-ward, the passions and demons will take flight and flee from it. November 23rd - Civil Calendar November 10th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Apostles Olympas, Erastus, Quartus, Herodion, Sosipater and Tertius. They were all among the Seventy. The last three are also commemorated elsewhere: Herodion on April 8th, Sosipater on April 28th and Tertius on October 30th. Ss Olympas and Herodion were followers of the Apostle Peter and, when Peter suffered, they suffered too, being beheaded at Nero's command. Erastus was steward of the Church in Jerusalem, and later became Bishop of Paneas in Palestine. Quartus was bishop in Beirut; he suffered greatly and brought many to the Christian faith. Sosipater was bishop in Iconium, and Tertius followed him as bishop there. They strove in spirit, became victors and were crowned with wreaths of glory. 2. The Holy Martyr Orestes. From the town of Tyana in Cappadocia, St Orestes was a cradle Christian and a doctor by profession. He was harshly interrogated by a wicked governor, Maximinus, in the reign of Diocletian (284-305). When the governor urged him to deny Christ and worship idols, Orestes replied: 'If you knew the power of the Crucified, you would reject idolatrous lies and worship the true God.' For this he was harshly beaten, then flayed and cut about, then burned in boiling lead and finally thrown into prison to die of hunger. The young Orestes spent seven days without bread or water. On the eighth day, he was brought before the governor, who began to threaten him with terrible tortures. To this Orestes replied: 'I am ready to undergo every torture, having the sign of my Lord Jesus Christ inscribed on my heart.' Then the governor ordered that twenty nails be hammered into his legs and that he be bound behind a horse and dragged through thistles and rocks until he expired. In the place where Orestes' body was thrown, a man radiant as the sun appeared, gathered the bones and took them to a hill near Tyana, burying them there. This great saint, Orestes, appeared to St Dimitri of Rostov and showed him all his wounds. 3. St Nonnus, Bishop of Heliopolis. He was renowned as a great ascetic in the Tabennisiot monastery in Egypt, because of which he was chosen as bishop in 448, in the diocese of Edessa. He was later translated to the diocese of Heliopolis, and there brought thirty thousand Arabs to the Christian faith. After the death of Bishop Ibo, St Nonnus returned to Edessa, where he remained till his death in 471. Through his prayers, the notorious sinner Pelagia was brought to the Christian faith. She was later glorified for the holiness of her life (see Oct. 8th). FOR CONSIDERATION The strange paths of God's providence are demonstrated in an exceptional and strange event in the monastery of Docheiariou in the time of Blessed Neophytus, the nephew of St Euthymius. When, after Euthymius' death, Neophytus began to build a new, bigger church to St Nicolas the Wonderworker, he ran out of funds and prayed to God for help, and God helped him in a strange way. Near the monastery of Docheiariou there lay a peninsular called 'Longos'. On this peninsular, Neophytus had a smallish patch of monastic land, near which there was a stone statue of a man. On the sculpture was written: 'He who smites me on the head will find much gold.' Many had struck at the statue's head but had found nothing. Neophytus sent a novice, Basil, off on some task. This Basil was standing one day in front of the statue, ruminating on the mystery of this inscription. At that moment, the sun came out and the statue's shadow was thrown to the west. Basil took a stone and smote the head of the shadow, then began to dig there, finding a metal pot of gold. He immediately ran and told Abbot Neophytus. The abbot told three trusted monks to go with Basil in the monastery's boat and bring the gold. The monks set off, loaded the gold into the ship and started for home. But while they were on the sea, the devil put it into their heads to keep the gold for themselves. The three older monks, deluded by the devil, bound Basil with cords, tied a rock round his neck and threw him into the sea. When Basil had sunk into the depths of the sea, the Archangels Michael and Gabriel suddenly
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appeared to him in the form of two resplendent youths and, taking hold of him, carried him to the church at Docheiariou, depositing him in front of the Royal Doors of the locked church. The next day, when the monks went into the church, they found Basil lying bound before the altar. The abbot questioned him, and learned of the strange thing that had happened to him. The three monks then arrived and, seeing Basil alive, were thunder struck. The abbot punished them fittingly, took the gold and completed the church. He dedicated it, not to St Nicolas, but to the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. This is the reason why Euthymius' old church at Docheiariou is dedicated to St Nicolas, but the new one to the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel. November 24th - Civil Calendar November 11th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy and Great Martyr Menas. An Egyptian by birth and a soldier by profession, St Menas, as a true Christian, could not bear to look upon the foul offering of sacrifice to idols, so he left the army and the town, the society of men and everything else, and went to a deserted mountain. It was easier for Menas to live with the wild beasts than with pagans. One day, Menas looked from afar in spirit at a pagan festival in the town of Cotyaeus, then went to the town and, before them all, confessed his faith in Christ the living God, denouncing idolatry and paganism as falsehood and darkness. The governor of that town, one Pyrrhus, asked who and what he was. The saint replied: 'My fatherland is Egypt; my name is Menas. I was an officer, but, seeing the worship of idols, I rejected your honours. I have come now to proclaim my Christ before you all as the living God, that He may reveal me as His servant in the Kingdom of God.' Hearing this, Pyrrhus put holy Menas to harsh torture. He was flogged, flayed with iron flails, burned with torches and tortured in many other ways, finally being beheaded. His body was burned to prevent Christians taking it, but they did succeed in rescuing some bits from the flames. They buried these remains with care, and they were later taken to Alexandria and buried there. A church was built over them. St Menas suffered in about 304, and entered into the Kingdom of Christ. He was and remains a great wonderworker in both lives: both on earth and in heaven. Whoever has glorified Menas or invoked his aid with faith in time of need has received help. He has often appeared as a soldier on horseback, to help the faithful or to punish the faithless. 2. The Holy Martyr Stephen of Decani, King of Serbia. He was the son of King Milutin and father of King Dusan. At the command of his ill-informed father he was blinded, and at the command of his light-minded son was, in old age, drowned. At the time of his blinding, St Nicolas appeared to him in the church at Ovce Polje (the Sheep-Pasture) and gestured towards his own eyes, saying: 'Stephen, don't be afraid; your eyes have been given to me and I will return them to you in due course.' He spent five years in Constantinople, as an exile in the monastery of the Pantocrator. By his wisdom and ascesis, his meekness and devotion, his patience and greatness of soul, Stephen surpassed not only the monks in that monastery, but those in the whole of Constantinople. When five years had passed, St Nicolas appeared to him again and said to him: 'I have come to fulfill my promise.' He then made the sign of the Cross over the blind king, and he received his sight. Out of gratitude to God, he built the monastery of Decani, a rare example of the finest Byzantine work and one of the most famous memorials of Serbian devotion. The holy King Stephen, St Sava and the holy Prince Lazar make a trio of holiness, nobility and self-sacrifice; the gift of the Serbian people. He lived his time on earth as a martyr, and died a martyr in 1336, receiving the wreath of immortal glory from the Almighty whom he had served so faithfully. 3. The Holy Martyrs Victor and Stephanis. Victor was a Roman soldier, and was tortured for Christ in the time of the Emperor Antoninus (138-161). During his torture, a young woman, Stephanis, revealed that she also was a Christian. Victor was beheaded and Stephanis was torn in half, being tied by the hands and feet to the tops of palm trees. 4. The Holy Martyr Vincent the Deacon. From the diocese of Saragossa in Spain, he was terribly tortured for Christ the Lord, and finally burned on an iron grid. He gave his soul into God's hands in 304. His body is preserved in Rome, in the church bearing his name. 5. Our Holy Father Theodore the Studite.
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The famous abbot of Studium, he suffered greatly for the sake of the icons. He was a wise organizer of the monastic life, an inspired teacher of Orthodoxy and wonderful ascetic. He entered into rest in Constantinople in 826, at the age of sixty-eight. 6. St Urosica, Prince of Serbia. He was son of King Dragutin. He preserved his chastity and purity in marriage, and myrrh flowed from his tomb. FOR CONSIDERATION If ever there was a holy king on the throne of an earthly kingdom, that king was Stephen of Decani. The Greeks, who regarded the Slavs as barbarians, marveled at the beauty of Stephen's soul, as one of the rarest wonders of that age. When the Emperor John Cantacuzene sent the abbot of the Pantocrator monastery to King Milutin on business, the king, among other things, asked after his son Stephen. 'Are you asking me about that second Job, your Majesty?', the abbot replied. 'Know that his godliness exceeds your royal majesty.' The Greek Emperor was at first very harsh towards Stephen, shutting him in an isolated palace and forbidding him any visitors, and then transferring him to the Pantocrator monastery in the hope that the strict asceticism would weaken and kill him. But God preserved blessed Stephen, and he bore the ascesis of fasting and prayer like a perfected monk. His wisdom began to be talked of throughout Constantinople, and the Emperor began to value him and turn to him for advice. Thus, for example, St Stephen contributed to the downfall of the notorious heresy of Barlaam, against which St Gregory Palamas fought. Barlaam was in Constantinople at that time and, by skillful intrigues, had brought many of those eminent in the Church and the court to his way of thinking. In perplexity, the Emperor summoned Stephen and asked him what was to be done with Barlaam. The wise Stephen answered in the words of the Psalmist: 'I hated them, O Lord that hate Thee', and he added: 'Dangerous men must be driven from our company.' Hearing this, Emperor John Cantacuzene drove Barlaam with dishonor from the capital. November 25th - Civil Calendar November 12th - Church Calendar 1. St John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria. Born on the island of Cyprus of a princely family. His father, Epiphanius, being the governor, brought him up from childhood as a true Christian. Under pressure from his parents, he married and had children. But, by the providence of God, both his wife and children went from this world to the next. Famed for his compassion and devotion, John was chosen as Patriarch of Alexandria in the time of the Emperor Heraclius. He governed the Church in Alexandria for ten years as a true pastor, guarding it from pagans and heretics, and was a model of meekness, compassion and love for his fellow men. 'If you seek nobility', he said, 'seek it not in blood but in virtue, for in virtue lies true nobility.' All the saints are distinguished by compassion, but St John was utterly dedicated to this great virtue. Celebrating the Liturgy one day, the words of Christ: 'If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there remember that thy brother hath aught against thee ...' (Matt. 5:23), came into the Patriarch's mind, and he remembered that one of the clergy in the church there had a grudge against him. He left the holy gifts, went up to the priest, fell before his feet and begged his forgiveness. As soon as he had made his peace with that man, he returned to the Table of Preparation. Another time, on the way to the Church of Ss Cyrus and John, it happened that he was met by a poor widow, who started speaking to him of her poverty. The Patriarch's companions were bored by the woman's lengthy lamenting, and urged the bishop to hurry to the church for the service, and listen to the woman when it was over. St John replied: 'And how will God obey me, if I don't obey Him?', and he would not move from the spot until he had heard the widow out. When the Persians invaded Egypt, Patriarch John took ship to flee from the assault. He fell ill on the voyage and, arriving in Cyprus, died at his birthplace in 620, entering into the immortal kingdom of his Lord. His wonderworking relics were first taken to Constantinople, then to Budapest and finally came to rest in Presburg. 2. The Holy Prophet Ahijah, from Siloam. He prophesied a thousand years before Christ, and foretold to Jeroboam, Solomon's servant, that he would reign over ten of the tribes of Israel (I Kings 11:29).
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3. Our Holy Father Nilus of Sinai. He was at first a prefect in the capital, Constantinople. A married man, he had a son and a daughter. Seeing the vice-ridden life of the capital, he and his wife agreed to withdraw from the world. This they did. His wife and daughter went to a women's monastery in Egypt, and Nilus and his son Theodulus went to Mount Sinai. St Nilus lived for sixty years in asceticism on Sinai, writing beautiful books on the spiritual life. He entered peacefully into rest in about 450, at the age of eighty, and went to the blessed life of heaven. These holy words are his: 'Physical passions have their origin in physical desires, and, against them, restraint is necessary; but spiritual passions originate in spiritual desires, and against them prayer is required.' 4. Our Holy Father Nilus, the Outpourer of Myrrh. He was born in the Morea. As a hieromonk, he went with his uncle to the Holy Mountain and lived as a solitary in a barren place called 'the Holy Rocks'. When he entered into rest, myrrh flowed from his body in such abundance that it ran from the top of the hill right down to the sea. This wonderworking myrrh drew the sick from all sides. One of his disciples was disturbed by the press of visitors, and complained in his prayers to his spiritual father, and the flow of myrrh stopped on the instant. St Nilus lived in asceticism utterly in the spirit of the early fathers. He entered into rest in the seventeenth century. FOR CONSIDERATION The time of their death and passing from this life has in the past been revealed to many holy men and women. This is a great gift from heaven, but having no expectation of this gift, we unworthy ones must repent daily to prepare ourselves for our departure. One can flee from men, but not from God. When St John the Merciful fled from the Persians in Egypt, a man bathed in light, with a golden sceptre in his hand, appeared to him in the ship and said to him: 'The King of kings is calling you to Himself.' John understood these words and began to prepare for death, which quickly came to him. The holy King Stephen of Decani was often visited in visions by his beloved St Nicolas, who appeared to him before his death and said to him: 'Stephen, prepare for your departure; you will soon come before God.' In their compassion, these two saints were very alike. Of the immeasurable goods that John had at his disposal as Patriarch of the Alexandrian Church, he had, at the time of his death, only a few pence, and he left instructions that these be given to the poor. When Stephen was in the Pantocrator monastery in Constantinople, a generous Serbian noble sent him a substantial sum of money. 'I am grateful to the good gentleman for his love,' Stephen replied to those who brought it, 'but it would have given me more joy if the money that he intended for me had been given to the poor. November 26th - Civil Calendar November 13th - Church Calendar 1. St John Chrysostom (the Golden-Tongued), Patriarch of Constantinople. He was born in Antioch in the year 347, his father's name being Secundus and his mother's Anthusa. Studying Greek philosophy, John became disgusted with Hellenic paganism and turned to the Christian faith as the one and all-embracing truth. John was baptised by Saint Meletius, Patriarch of Antioch, and, after that, his parents were also baptised. After their death, John became a monk and began to live in strict asceticism. He wrote a book: 'On the Priesthood', after which the holy Apostles John and Peter appeared to him, prophesying for him great service, great grace and also great suffering. When the time came for him to be ordained priest, an angel of God appeared at the same time to Patriarch Saint Flavian (Saint Meletius' successor) and to Saint John himself. When the Patriarch ordained him, a shining white dove was seen above Saint John's head. Renowned for his wisdom, his asceticism and the power of his words, Saint John was, at the desire of Emperor Arcadius, chosen as Patriarch of Constantinople. He governed the Church for six years as Patriarch with unequalled zeal and wisdom, sending missionaries to the pagan Celts and Scythians and purging the Church of simony, deposing many bishops who were given to this vice. He extended the Church's charitable works, wrote the service for the Divine Liturgy which bears his name, put heretics to shame, denounced the Empress Eudoxia, interpreted the Scriptures with his golden mind and tongue and left to the Church many precious books of sermons. The people glorified him; the jealous loathed him; the Empress twice had him sent into exile. He spent three years in exile, and died on the day of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, September 14th,
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407, in a place called Comana in Armenia. The holy Apostles John and Peter again appeared to him at the time of his death, and also the holy martyr Basiliscus (see May 22nd), in whose church he received Holy Communion for the last time. 'Glory to God for all things!', were his last words, and with them the soul of Saint John Chrysostom the Patriarch entered into Paradise. Of his relics, the head is preserved at the monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos. 2. The Holy Martyrs Antoninus, Nicephorus, Herman and Manetha. The first three were watching one day how the pagans, at one of their feasts, were worshipping idols with shouts and dancing, and they came out before the crowd and began to preach the one God in Trinity. Firmilian, the governor of Palestinian Caesarea, where this took place, was so enraged at the action of these three Christians that he ordered that they be beheaded forthwith. Manetha was a Christian maiden. She followed the martyrs when they were taken to the scaffold, and was herself seized and burned to death. They all suffered in the year 308, and entered into the eternal joy of God eternal. 3. Our Holy Father, the Martyr Damascene. Born in Galata in Constantinople, he was first named Diamantis. He led a dissolute life in his youth, even embracing Islam. Then a bitter repentance grew in him, and he went to the Holy Mountain where, as a monk, he lived for twelve years in strict asceticism in the Lavra of St Athanasius. Desiring martyrdom, to cleanse him from his sin, he traveled to Constantinople and went into the mosques, making the sign of the Cross and calling out to the Turks that their faith was false, and that Jesus Christ is God and Lord. He was beheaded before the gateway of the Phanar on November 13th, 1681. His relics are preserved on Halki, in the monastery of the Holy Trinity. FOR CONSIDERATION Both punishment and reward are in the hands of God. But, as this earthly life is but a shadow of the true life of heaven, so punishment and reward here on earth are but a shadow of that true, eternal punishment and reward. The greatest persecutors of God's holy hierarch Chrysostom were Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria and the Empress Eudoxia. After Chrysostom's death by martyrdom, harsh punishment fell on them both. Theophilus went mad, and the Empress Eudoxia was driven from the court by the Emperor Arcadius. Eudoxia soon fell ill of an incurable disease, sores opening all over her body and worms coming out of the wounds. There was such a stench from them that people in the street could scarcely pass in front of her house. Doctors made use of the most fragrant perfumes, unguents and incenses in an attempt to mitigate the stench from the stricken Empress, but with little success, and she finally died in filth and agony. But God's hand was even heavier upon her after her death. The coffin containing her body shook day and night for thirty whole years, until the Emperor Theodosius translated Chrysostom's relics to Constantinople. But what happened to Chrysostom after his death? He was rewarded with a reward such as God alone can give. Adeltius, the Arab bishop who received the exiled Chrysostom into his house in Cucusus, prayed to God after the saint's death that He would reveal to him where Chrysostom's soul was. Once, when he was at prayer, he was as though taken out of himself, and saw a youth bathed in light. The youth led him to heaven and showed him the ranks of the hierarchs, pastors and teachers of the Church, naming each of them, but they did not see John there. Then the angel of God led him to the way out from Paradise, and Adeltius was very downcast. When the angel asked the cause of his sadness, Adeltius replied that he was very distressed not to have seen his teacher, John Chrysostom, among those there. The angel answered him: 'No man who is still in the flesh can see him, for he stands beside the throne of God, together with the angelic company of the cherubim and seraphim.' November 27th - Civil Calendar November 14th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Apostle Philip. He was born in Bethsaida near the Sea of Galilee, as were Peter and Andrew. Instructed in the Holy Scriptures from his youth, Philip immediately responded to the call of Christ and followed Him (John 1:43). After the descent of the Holy Spirit, Philip preached the Gospel with zeal in many regions of Asia and in Greece, where the Jews sought to kill him but the Lord saved him by the might of His wonders. The Jewish leaders, whose aim it was to kill Philip, were suddenly blinded, and found themselves in total darkness. There was a great
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earthquake, and the earth opened and swallowed up Philip's wicked persecutors. Many other wonders were wrought, especially the healing of the sick, by which many of the pagans came to faith in Christ. In the Phrygian town of Hierapolis, St Philip worked for the Gospel with John the Theologian, his own sister Mariamna and the Apostle Bartholomew. There was in that place a dangerous snake, which the pagans fed with care and worshipped as a god. God's Apostle destroyed the snake with prayer as though with a spear. This called forth the fury of the benighted people, and the wicked pagans seized Philip and crucified him upsidedown on a tree, and then crucified Bartholomew also. At this, the earth opened and swallowed up the judge and many others with him. The terrified people ran to take the crucified apostles down, but they succeeded only in taking Bartholomew down alive; Philip had already breathed his last. Bartholomew made Stachys bishop for those baptised in the city. Stachys had been cured of blindness and baptised by Philip, having been blind for forty years. St Philip's relics were later taken to Rome. This wonderful Apostle suffered in the year 86, in the time of the Emperor Domitian. 2. St Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Salonica. Gregory's father was an eminent official at the court of the Emperor Andronicus II Palaeologus. The gifted Gregory, completing his secular studies, did not want to go into imperial service at court, but withdrew to the Holy Mountain and became a monk, living in asceticism at Vatopedi and the Great Lavra. He waged war against the heretic Barlaam, and finally overcame him. He was consecrated Metropolitan of Salonica in 1347, being glorified both as an ascetic and a theologian, both as a hierarch and a wonderworker. The most holy Mother of God, St John the Theologian, St Dimitrios, St Antony the Great, St John Chrysostom and angels of God all appeared to him at different times. He governed the Church in Salonica for twelve years, of which he spent one year in slavery to the Saracens in Asia. He entered peacefully into rest in 1359, and entered into the Kingdom of Christ. His relics are preserved in Salonica, where there is a beautiful church dedicated to him. 3. St Justinian, Emperor of Byzantium. A Slav by birth, he was probably a Serb from the Skoplje region. He succeeded his uncle, Justin, on the throne in 527. Justinian's great kingship is inseparably linked with his deep Orthodox faith: he believed, and lived according to his belief. In the Great Fast, he neither ate bread nor drank wine, but ate only vegetables and drank water. He made war against the barbarians of the Danube only because they castrated their captives. This reveals his high sense of love for his fellow men. He was successful in both his wars and his deeds, and built a great many beautiful churches, of which by far the finest was St Sophia in Constantinople. He collected and published the Laws of Rome, and himself published strict laws against immorality and licentious behavior. He composed the hymn: 'O only-begotten Son and Word of God', which was first sung in the Liturgy in 536. He summoned the Fifth Ecumenical Council in 553, and died peacefully on November 14th, 565, at the age of eighty, entering into the Kingdom of the heavenly King. FOR CONSIDERATION St Gregory Palamas learned much through heavenly revelations. When he had spent three years in silence in a cell near the Great Lavra, the time came for him to go among men and help them from his amassed knowledge and experience. God made this clear to him in a strange revelation: One day, being half-asleep, Gregory saw himself holding in his hands an overflowing bowl of milk which, little by little, became changed into wine that spilled over the lip of the bowl and soaked his hands and clothing. A youth then appeared, bathed in light, and said to him: 'Why do you not share with others that wonderful drink that you are wasting so carelessly, or are you not aware that it is a gift of God's grace?' To this, Gregory replied: 'But, if there is no one in these days who knows the need of such a drink, to whom should I give it?' Then the young man said to him: 'Even if there are none thirsty for such a drink, you must pay your debt and not neglect such a gift.' Gregory interpreted the milk as signifying the ordinary knowledge of the mass of the people with reference to moral life and conduct, and the wine as signifying the knowledge of dogma. Gregory shut himself in a monastery a second time, and there studied and wrote. On the Eve of the Feast of St Antony the Great, the monks called him to the Vigil service but he stayed to work in his cell, while the brethren all went to church. St Antony suddenly appeared to him and said: 'Perfect silence is good, but to be with the brethren is sometimes necessary.' Convinced by this vision, Gregory at once went to the church, to the joy of all the monks.
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November 28th - Civil Calendar November 15th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyrs Gurias, Samonas and Abibus. Gurias and Samonas were eminent citizens of Edessa. At the time of a persecution of Christians, they hid outside the city and lived in fasting and prayer, giving courage to the faithful who came to them for counsel. They were seized and taken before the judge, who threatened them with death if they refused to observe the imperial decree on the worship of idols. Christ's holy martyrs replied: 'If we observe the imperial decree, we shall be lost even if you do not kill us.' They were thrown into prison after harsh torture, and were there confined from August 1st to November 10th, enduring hunger, darkness and great hardship. They were then brought out again and tortured afresh, and, as they remained steadfast in the Christian faith, were condemned to death and beheaded with the sword in the year 322, under the wicked Emperor Licinius (who ruled the eastern half of the Empire until 324). Later Abibus, a deacon in Edessa, was tortured for Christ his Lord and, in the flames, gave his spirit into God's hands. His mother took his unharmed body from the fire and buried it together with those of Gurias and Samonas. When the persecution had ended, Christians built a church in honor of these three martyrs, and placed their wonderworking relics in one coffin. Of the manifold miracles of these wonderful saints of God, one is especially remembered: A widow in Edessa had a young daughter, who was to marry a Goth serving in the Greek army. As the mother was concerned at the thought of sending her daughter to a distant land, the Goth swore over the grave of the martyrs that he would do no ill to the girl, but take her as his legal wife. He was, though, in fact, already married. When he took the girl back to his own land, he treated her, not as his wife, but as a slave, until his lawful wife died. He then agreed with his kinsman that he should bury his living slave along with his dead wife. The slave implored the holy martyrs with tears to save her, and they appeared to her in the grave, took hold of her and, in an instant, carried her from the land of the Goths to Edessa, to their church. On the following day, when the church was opened, the girl was found by the tomb of the saints, and the story of her miraculous deliverance was heard. 2. The Holy Martyrs Elpidius, Marcellus and Eustochius. They suffered for Christ in the time of Julian the Apostate (361-363). Elpidius was a senator. Seeing the way he was tortured and the miracles he wrought, six thousand pagans came to belief in Christ the Lord. 3. The Feast of the Icon of the Mother of God of Kupyatich. This icon first appeared to a girl called Anna in the village of Kupyatich, in the Minsk region, in 1182. While keeping the sheep, Anna saw a light in the forest. When she drew near to that light, she caught sight of a smallish Cross on a tree, carrying the image of the most holy Mother of God. Anna took this Cross home, and returned to her flock. To her utter amazement, she again saw the selfsame Cross in exactly the same place. She took it down, tucked it into her bosom and carried it home. When she went to show the Cross to her father, she put her hand into her bosom to bring it out, but it was not there. She told her father what had happened, and he went out, saw the Cross in the forest and took it home, but, on the following day, the Cross was yet again missing from the house. They alerted the whole village, and all the villagers went off to see the Cross and do it reverence. The people quickly built a church there, and many wonders were performed by this Cross bearing the image of the Mother of God. This icon is now to be found in the Church of St Sophia in Kiev. FOR CONSIDERATION God most often gives victory in battle to the peacemakers. One example of this is the great Emperor Justinian, and another the holy King Stephen of Decani. After the death of his father, King Milutin, Stephen took the bandages off his eyes and was joyfully proclaimed king by both the nobles and the people. But Constantine, Simonida's son and Stephen's younger brother on his father's side, raised an army against Stephen. Stephen then wrote to him in the following terms: 'You have heard what has happened to me; how I received my sight by God's providence, that works in all things for good. Receiving God's mercy, I have inherited my father's throne, to reign over the people in the fear of God and with justice, after the tradition I have inherited. Setting aside your resolve, come and let us meet face to face; take second place in the kingdom as the second son, and do not be a stranger to your paternity; there is room in this land for us both. I am not Cain, the slayer of his brother, but a friend of Joseph, the lover of his brethren. In the words of this latter, I say to you: "You thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good" (Gen. 50:20).' Thus wrote the holy king. But Constantine took no
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notice, and was beaten in battle by Stephen. So also was Vladislav, Dragutin's son, another pretender to the Serbian throne. But the worst of all happened with Michael Shishman, King of Bulgaria. Stephen wrote to him: 'Remember the meaning of Christian love; calm your wrath and let there be love between us as there was between our parents. Stop shedding Christian blood. Turn your weapons on the enemies of the name of Christ, and not on Christians. Bear in mind how hard you will find it to answer for innocent blood. Know also, that he who robs another loses that which he has.' Michael scoffed at this letter from the holy king, and was utterly routed at Velbuzhd in 1330. 'God is with the righteous, not with the mighty.' November 29th - Civil Calendar November 16th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Apostle Matthew the Evangelist. Matthew the son of Alphaeus was at first a tax-collector, and it was as such that the Lord saw him in Capernaum and said to him: 'Follow Me!' Leaving everything, he followed Him (Matt. 9:9). After that, Matthew prepared a feast in his house, and there provided an opportunity for the Lord to voice some great truths about His coming to earth. After receiving the Holy Spirit, Matthew preached the Gospel among the Parthians and Medes and in Ethiopia, the land of the negroes. In Ethiopia, he consecrated as bishop one Plato, a follower of his, and himself withdrew to prayerful solitude on a mountain, where the Lord appeared to him. Matthew baptized the wife and son of the prince of that land, at which the prince was greatly enraged and sent a guard to bring Matthew before him for trial. The soldiers went off, but returned to the prince, saying that they had heard Matthew's voice, but had been unable to set eyes on him. The prince then sent a second guard. When this guard drew near to the Apostle, he shone with a heavenly radiance so brilliant that the soldiers were unable to look at him, but threw down their weapons in terror and returned home. The prince then went himself. When he approached Matthew, such radiance shone forth from the saint that the prince was blinded on the instant. But the Apostle had a kind heart: he prayed to God and the prince's sight was restored - unfortunately, only on the physical plane, his spiritual eyes remaining closed. He seized St Matthew and put him to harsh torture, twice lighting a fire on his chest, but the power of God kept him alive and unharmed. Then the Apostle prayed to God, and gave his spirit into His hands. The prince commanded that the martyr's body be put into a leaden coffin and cast into the sea. The saint appeared to Bishop Plato and told him where to find his body in its coffin, and the bishop went and brought them back. Seeing this new marvel, the prince was baptized and received the name Matthew. He then set aside all earthly vanity and became a priest, serving the Church in a manner pleasing to God. When Plato died, the Apostle Matthew appeared to this Matthew and counseled him to accept the episcopate. So he became a bishop, and was a good shepherd for many years, until God took him to His immortal Kingdom. St Matthew the Apostle wrote his Gospel in Aramaic, and it was very soon translated into Greek. It has come down to us in Greek, the Aramaic original being lost. Of this Evangelist, it is said that he never ate meat, but fed only on vegetables and fruit. 2. Our Holy Father Sergius of Malopinega. He was a Russian parish priest. As a priest, he lived a godly life and served for twenty-two years in the Vologda region. He entered peacefully into rest on November 16th, 1585, at the age of ninety-two. FOR CONSIDERATION Does the Lord's commandment about unceasing prayer (Lk.18:1) apply only to monks, or to all Christians? If it applied only to monks, the Apostle would not have written to the Christians in Salonica: 'Pray without ceasing' (I Thess. 5:17). The Apostle, then, reiterates the Lord's command word for word, and gives it to all Christians without distinction of monk or layman. St Gregory Palamas lived for some time as a young man in a monastery in Beroea. There lived in those parts a well-known ascetic, the elder Job, who was venerated by all. It happened at one time that St Gregory, in the elder's presence, quoted the Apostle's words, asserting that unceasing prayer was a necessity for all Christians, not only for monks. The elder Job replied to these words, saying that the Jesus prayer is a necessity only for monks, and not for all Christians. Gregory, being a young man, ceded the argument, not wishing to quarrel, and withdrew in silence. When Job had returned to his cell and was standing in prayer, an angel of God appeared to him in great heavenly glory, and said to him: 'Old man, don't doubt the truth of Gregory's words; he spoke truly. So, hold your peace and advise others to do the same.' Thus, then, both the Apostle and the angel underlined the commandment that all Christians must pray to God without
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ceasing. If not unceasingly in church, then unceasingly in every place and at every time, in the depths of your heart. If God does not for a moment tire of giving us good things, how can we tire of thanking Him for these good things? If He is constantly thinking of us, why do we not think constantly of Him? November 30th - Civil Calendar November 17th - Church Calendar 1. St Gregory the Wonderworker, Bishop of Neocaesarea. Here is a man of God and a mighty wonderworker, who was called a second Moses! Born of wealthy and eminent pagan parents, Gregory at first studied Hellenic and Egyptian philosophy, but, seeing its barrenness and insufficiency, he turned to Christian teachers, particularly Origen of Alexandria, with whom he studied for several years and by whom he was baptized. Pure in soul and body, he desired to consecrate himself utterly to Christ, to which end he withdrew to the desert, where, in painful asceticism, he spent many years. His fame spread abroad everywhere, and Phaedimus, the bishop of Amasea, wanted to make him Bishop of Caesarea. The discerning Gregory was warned of Phaedimus' intention, and he hid in the wilderness from those sent to find him so that they failed in their quest. Finally, Phaedimus consecrated him by devious means, and Gregory had to accept the work of a shepherd. The most holy Mother of God appeared to him, together with St John the Theologian, and, at her command, St John gave him the Creed that is known by Gregory's name.* Who can enumerate the miracles of this second Moses? He commanded evil spirits, commanded mountains and waters, healed every sort of pain and ill, became invisible to his persecutors and had insight into both distant events and men's thoughts. He finished his earthly course in the year 270, in great old age. When he arrived in Caesarea as bishop, the whole town was composed of pagans, with just seventeen Christians. When he departed this life, the whole town was Christian, with just seventeen pagans. He therefore received a wreath of glory from his Lord in the heavenly Kingdom. *The Nicene Creed, that Gregory was instrumental in establishing at the Second Ecumenical Council in 381 Translator. 2. Our Holy Father Nikhon of Radonezh. He was a disciple of St Sergius of Radonezh, and followed him as abbot. When the barbarians fell on Russia, he prayed to God to preserve the Russian people from this misfortune. St Sergius appeared to him, together with St Peter and St Alexis, the departed Metropolitan of Moscow, and told him not to be downcast, for the invasion was by God's permission for the good of the people, but that it would pass and peace would reign once more. He entered into rest on November 17th, 1426. 3. Our Holy Father Gennadius of Vatopedi. A monk of Vatopedi, he had the obedience of steward. By his agency, a dry well was miraculously filled with oil. This miracle was ascribed to the most holy Mother of God, to whom the monastery is dedicated, and to an icon of hers that stood nearby. FOR CONSIDERATION The following examples from the life of St Gregory show how God guards and preserves the righteous from assaults. While he was still at the school of philosophy in Alexandria, St Gregory kept his purity of both soul and body, as he kept and preserved it to the end of his life. In this, he was exceptional among the dissolute youngsters of those days, and this called forth envy and hatred among his peers. To bring Gregory down, they found a harlot and sent her to carry out their evil designs. One day, when Gregory was standing in the market place with the most famous teachers and philosophers, this harlot came up to him and began to shout demands for payment by Gregory of debts incurred by immoral relations with her. The bystanders, hearing this, were divided into two camps: some being scandalized and others infuriated at the shameless woman, and they chased her away. But she began to shout even more loudly in her demand for money. The innocent Gregory blushed, as would any innocent man in the face of such coarse slander, but showed neither resentment nor hatred, and asked a friend who was with him to give her what she asked, so that she would go away at once. His friend did so, and gave the woman the money she demanded. At that moment, God sent an evil spirit upon that woman, and she began to writhe on the ground in convulsions, gnashing her teeth and foaming at the mouth. All the
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bystanders, seeing this, were filled with fear, but holy Gregory, kindly as a lamb, prayed to God for her, and the woman was healed and got to her feet. Far from being humiliated, Gregory thus received the greater glory. When a fierce persecution of Christians arose, St Gregory advised the Christians to hide, and he, together with his deacon, hid on a hill. The imperial soldiers caught sight of them and followed them. Gregory prayed to God for help, and God immediately made them invisible to their persecutors. The soldiers searched the vicinity in vain, then, being unable to find them, returned empty handed. December 1st - Civil Calendar November 18th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Plato. From the town of Ancyra in Galatia, he was born and brought up a Christian. Even in his youth, he showed great perfection in every virtue. Plato did not conceal his faith in Christ the Lord, but preached it openly, denouncing idolaters for their bowing down to dead creatures in place of the living Creator. For this, he was brought before the governor, Agrippinus, for trial, and was harshly tortured by him. When the governor began to urge him to escape death and save his life by worshipping idols, Plato replied: 'There are two deaths: the temporal and the eternal; and there are two lives: the one transitory and the other without end.' Then Agrippinus put him to harsher torture. Among other tortures, he commanded that red-hot cannon balls be placed on his naked body, and that his flesh be cut into strips. 'Torture me more harshly', cried the martyr to the torturers, 'that your inhumanity and my endurance may be the more clearly seen.' When the torturer spoke to the martyr about the philosopher Plato, saying that he was a pagan philosopher, he replied: 'I am not like Plato, nor he like me, except in our names. I learn and teach the wisdom that is of Christ, while he teaches the wisdom that is folly before God.' After that, Plato was thrown into prison, where he spent eighteen days without bread or water. When the warders marveled that Plato could live without food for so long, he said to them: 'You are satiated by food, but I by holy prayer; you rejoice in wine, but I in Christ the true Vine.' He was finally beheaded with the sword in about 266, and received a wreath of eternal glory. 2. The Holy Martyrs Romanus and Barulas. Holy Romanus was a deacon of the Church in Caesarea, and at one time preached the Gospel in Antioch. When there was an idolatrous feast, and the governor of Antioch, Asclepiades, was going into a pagan temple to offer sacrifice, Romanus stood in front of him and said: 'You sin, O Governor, when you go to the idols. They are not gods, for Christ is the only, true God.' The furious governor put Romanus to torture, and he was flogged and flayed without mercy'. At that moment, he saw a child called Barulas, and said to Asclepiades: 'This little child has more understanding than you, old man, for he knows the true God, and you do not.' The governor began to question Barulas about his faith, and he confessed his faith in Christ the Lord as the one, true God, and his unbelief in the false idols. Then Asclepiades commanded that little Barulas be beheaded with the sword, and Romanus be strangled in the prison, which came to pass in the year 303. Thus both these martyrs inherited the Kingdom of Christ. FOR CONSIDERATION 'Whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also' (Matt. 5:39), commanded the Lord. This is the briefest and dearest teaching on humility. Wicked demons fear no one so greatly as the man filled with the Lord's commandments. There was a rich nobleman in Alexandria who had a young daughter into whom an evil spirit entered, and the girl went out of her mind. Someone told the despairing father that no one would be able to heal his daughter but monks, solitaries, who lived in the desert and came to Alexandria from time to time to sell the baskets that they had woven: but that none of them would go into the house of a rich nobleman in case he was asked why he was there. It would be best for him to buy their baskets and invite them to his house to be paid; then, when they went to the house, he could ask them to pray to God for all its occupants, and especially that God would help and heal the mad girl. The father did this: he went to the bazaar on the agreed day, and found one of St Macarius' disciples selling baskets. He quickly bought the baskets and asked the monk to go to his house for payment. When the monk entered the house, the mad girl suddenly leapt in front of him and struck him a blow on the cheek. The monk silently presented the other cheek. At this, the evil spirit cried out with a great shout and left the girl, and she became calm and rational. When the monk
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returned to the desert, he told the elders what had happened, and they all glorified God, who gives such great power to those who fulfil His commandments. December 2nd - Civil Calendar November 19th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Prophet Obadiah. Obadiah lived at the court of King Ahab, but, when the king turned away from true worship and bowed down to idols, Obadiah did not follow the king's example, but continued to serve the one, true God. When the wicked Queen Jezebel, because of her feud with Elias, hunted down all the prophets of God, Obadiah took a hundred of them and hid them in two caves, feeding them till the persecution was over (I Kings 18:4). A contemporary of the great Prophet Elias, Obadiah revered him greatly and hearkened to him in all things, being a follower and pupil of his. He lived nine hundred years before Christ, and entered peacefully into rest. 2. The Holy Martyr Barlaam. He was born in Antioch, and was harshly tortured by the dishonorable judge for his faith in Christ the Lord. The judge decided to use ridicule, and to put such pressure on him that he would offer sacrifice to idols. He accordingly took him to the temple and applied fire to his palm, putting incense on the fire with the thought that the martyr would be forced by the pain to throw the fire and incense from his hand in front of the idols, and thus involuntarily offer them incense. But this heroic soldier of Christ held the fire on his palm, and would not cast it before the idols, until his fingers were burned and fell off, and his palm was burned through and fell to the ground with the fire. 'He had a right hand stronger than fire', said St Basil the Great, 'for, though the flames consumed it, still the hand held the fire as ash.' Chrysostom writes: 'The angels looked from the heights; the archangels beheld, for the scene was majestic, surpassing in truth all human nature. Lo, who would not wish to see a man who made such an ascetic endeavor and did not feel that which it is common to man to feel; a man who was himself the altar of sacrifice, and the sacrifice, and the priest?' When his hand had burned off, his body fell dead to the ground and his soul went to the eternal rest of his Lord and Saviour. This glorious and heroic elder suffered in the year 304. 3. Our Holy Fathers Barlaam and Joasaph the Heir. They were Indian ascetics. Joasaph was son and heir to King Abenner. By God's providence he was visited by the elder Barlaam, who taught him the Christian faith and baptized him. After that, the elder went off into the mountains to live in asceticism, and Joasaph remained to wrestle with many temptations in the world and to overcome them by the grace of God. Joasaph finally succeeded in bringing his father to Christ. When he had been baptized, King Abenner lived a further four years in deep repentance (for he had committed grave sins in his persecution of Christians) and then finished his earthly course and went to the better life. The young Joasaph entrusted the kingdom to his friend Barachias, and himself went off into the desert to live in asceticism for the sake of Christ. His one desire on earth was to see his spiritual father, Barlaam, once more. God, in his mercy, fulfilled his desire, and, one day, Joasaph stood before Barlaam's cave, and called: 'Bless me, Father!' The elder Barlaam lived in asceticism in the desert for seventy years, living a hundred years in all. St Joasaph handed over his kingdom at the age of twenty-five and went into the desert, where he lived a further thirty-five years. They both had great love for the Lord Jesus, brought many to the true Faith and entered into the eternal joy of their Lord. 4. The Holy Martyr Heliodorus. He was from the town of Magidus in Pamphylia, and was tortured for the Christian faith in the time of the Emperor Aurelian (270-75). While undergoing harsh torture, he heard a voice from heaven: 'Fear not; I am with thee!' Thrown into a white-hot copper ox, he prayed fervently to God, and God saved him. The white-hot ox was suddenly cooled, and Heliodorus emerged alive. The judge cried to him that some sort of magic had done that, but to this the martyr replied: 'My magic is Christ!' He was then beheaded and went to the Lord. FOR CONSIDERATION A tale by the elder Barlaam to Joasaph: A man was fleeing from a unicorn. Fleeing thus, he fell into a pit and grabbed hold of a tree. Thinking he was out of danger, he looked down and saw two bears, one black and one
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white, gnawing alternately and with great persistence at the roots of the tree in an attempt to gnaw them through and bring the tree crashing down. Looking even further down, he saw a huge and deadly snake, which, with jaws wide open, was waiting to devour him when the tree had been felled. He then saw four smaller, poisonous snakes around his feet. Looking upwards through the tree, he saw a small honeycomb in the branches, and, forgetting all the danger that encompassed him, stretched out his hand to reach that small sweetness in the tree. The interpretation is this: the unicorn represents death, which from Adam till now pursues a man to kill him; the pit filled with all sorts of dangers is this world; the tree is the path of our life; the white and black bears are day and night, which alternate in order to shorten our days; the huge and terrible snake is hell; the four poisonous snakes are the four elements of which our bodies are composed; the small honeycomb in the tree is that small sweetness that life offers to man. Oh, when will men learn not to be enraptured by this empty sweetness, and forgetful of the terrible dangers that surround them and draw them down to eternal ruin? December 3rd - Civil Calendar November 20th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Father Gregory of Decapolis. He was born in Isaurian Decapolis of eminent and devout parents, Sergius and Maria. When he had finished his schooling, his parents desired him to marry, but he fled to the desert and became a monk. He lived in various places: in Byzantium and Rome, and on Mount Olympus. Wherever he found himself, he made men marvel by his asceticism and miracles. It happened at times that his face was lit up with heavenly light, and that angels of God appeared to him; he looked upon the beauty of the angels and heard their blessed singing. He lived a long and godly life, and died peacefully in Constantinople in the ninth century, his soul entering into the joy of his Lord. 2. St Proclus, Patriarch of Constantinople. A disciple of St John Chrysostom, he was consecrated Bishop of Cyzicus in 426, and in 435 was chosen as Patriarch of Constantinople. He governed the Church of God as a wise hierarch. In his time, two unusual events occurred. The first was the translation of the relics of St John Chrysostom from Comana to Constantinople, at the desire of both the Emperor and the Patriarch (the Emperor Theodosius the Younger was on the throne at that time, with his sister Pulcheria). The second event was the earthquake in Constantinople and the surrounding country. Many of the greatest and most beautiful buildings fell in the terrible earthquake. Then the Patriarch, together with the Emperor and many of the clergy, the nobles and the people, made a procession. While they were praying in this procession, a child was miraculously lifted up high into the air, finally becoming invisible to the eye. It then returned, and landed gently on the ground. Asked where it had been, the child replied that it had been lifted up to heaven among the angels, and had heard them sing: 'Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us!' Hearing this song, all the people in the procession began to sing it, and the earthquake ceased at once. From that time, this wonderful hymn was adopted by the Church. The child soon died and was buried in the Church of St Irene. St Proclus served as hierarch for twenty years, and entered peacefully into rest in the Lord in 446. 3. The Holy Martyrs Eustace, Thespesius and Anatolius. These three were brothers from Nicomedia, of pagan parents, Philotheus and Eusebia, who, together with their three sons, later received the true Faith from Anthimus, Bishop of Nicomedia. Philotheus was ordained priest. When he and his wife had died, a terrible persecution broke out under the Emperor Maximian, and Philotheus' three sons were taken for trial. Tried, interrogated and tortured in various ways, they were finally condemned to death. Angels appeared to them many times in the prison, giving them manna for food and filling their youthful hearts with strength and courage in endurance. When they were led out to the scaffold, two of their friends, Palladius and Acacius, came up to them and began to speak with them. While they were still talking, the holy martyrs gave their souls into God's hands. The soldiers then beheaded their dead bodies, and carried them off to show the judge. They suffered for Christ the Lord in about 313, and entered into the eternal Kingdom of Christ. 4. St Isaac, Archbishop of Armenia. He was born in Constantinople at the time that his father was an envoy from the King of Armenia to the Byzantine court. He was the tenth Archbishop of Armenia, and as such governed the Church for fifty years. His
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episcopate was distinguished, among other things, by the translation of the Scriptures into Armenian. He was told in a vision that Armenia would, one day, fall away from the pure, Orthodox faith. This great hierarch entered peacefully into rest in 440, and went to the Lord. 5. The Three Holy Persian Maidens. In the days of King Sapor, these three maidens were persecuted as Christian and finally beheaded with knives. Three fig trees grew over their graves, the fruits of which healed all manner of pains and ills. FOR CONSIDERATION No other mortal man has interpreted the Epistles of the Apostle Paul with so much depth and love as St John Chrysostom. If Paul had interpreted them himself, he could have done no better. Lo, history tells us that it was Paul himself who interpreted them through the mind and pen of Chrysostom. When St Proclus was a novice with Patriarch Chrysostom, his obedience was to keep him informed of visitors. A certain noble was slandered to the Emperor Arcadius, and the Emperor drove him from the court. This nobleman came to beg St John to be an intermediary between himself and the Emperor. Proclus went to inform the Patriarch, but, looking through the open door, he saw a man leaning over the Patriarch and whispering in his ear while he was writing. This went on throughout the night. Proclus told the nobleman to come again the next evening, and himself wondered how that man managed to be with the Patriarch, and how he could have got to him unannounced. The same thing happened the next night, and Proclus wondered the more. It continued a third night, and he was utterly astounded. When Chrysostom asked him if such and such a nobleman had come, Proclus replied that he had been waiting three nights already, but that he, Proclus, had not dared to disturb him because of the elderly, bald stranger who had been whispering in the Patriarch's ear for the whole three nights. The astonished Chrysostom said that he had been unaware of anyone's having been with him the preceding three nights. When he asked the novice for a description of the old man, Proclus indicated the icon of the holy Apostle Paul, and said that the man had been like him. It had obviously been the Apostle Paul himself, directing the pen of his great interpreter. December 4th - Civil Calendar November 21st - Church Calendar 1. The Entry into the Temple of the Most Holy Mother of God. When the most holy Virgin Mary had reached the age of three, her parents, holy Joachim and Anna, took her from Nazareth to Jerusalem to give her to the service of God in fulfillment of their promise. It was three days journey to Jerusalem, but, going as they were on God's work, they did not find the journey difficult. Many of Joachim and Anna's kinsmen gathered to take part in this celebration, in which the invisible angels of God also took part. Maidens went ahead with lighted candles in their hands, followed by the most holy Virgin, led on either side by her father and mother. The Virgin was clad in royal and beautiful garments, like those of the 'king's daughter', the Bride of God (Ps. 44:9,10). Behind them walked many of their kinsfolk and friends, all bearing lighted candles. There were fifteen steps leading to the Temple. Her parents stood the Virgin on the first step, and she ran quickly to the top on her own, where the High Priest, Zacharias, the father of St John the Forerunner, met her and, taking her by the hand, led her not only into the Temple, but into the Holy of Holies, the holiest place of all, into which none could enter except the High Priest, and that only once a year. St Theophylact of Ochrid says that Zacharias was 'transported in mind and moved by God' when he led the Virgin into the chief place in the Temple, beyond the second curtain - otherwise there could be no explanation of his action. Her parents then offered sacrifices to God according to the Law, received the priest's blessing, and returned home, leaving the most holy Virgin in the Temple. She dwelt in the Temple for nine whole years. While her parents were alive, they visited her often. When they departed this life, the holy Virgin was left an orphan, and longed to remain in the Temple for the rest of her days, without entering into marriage. This being contrary both to the Law and Israelite custom, she was confided at the age of twelve to St Joseph, a kinsman of hers in Nazareth, so that she might, under the protection of betrothal, live in virginity and thus fulfil both her desire and the demands of the Law, for it was unknown in Israel at that time for a girl to vow perpetual virginity. The holy Virgin Mary was the first to do this, and was later followed by thousand upon thousand of virgin men and women in the Church of Christ.
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FOR CONSIDERATION Submit yourself to the will of God, and do not pry too closely into His judgements, for that can send you out of your mind. The judgements of God are innumerable and unfathomable. A monk in the desert, thinking he had achieved perfection, prayed to God that He would reveal to him His various judgements in the lives of men. God put the thought into his head to go a long way to visit an aged spiritual guide and ask him about this. While the monk was on the way, he met an angel of God, in the semblance of an ordinary man, who accompanied him and told him that he, too, wanted to visit the elder. Travelling thus together, they came upon the house of a God-fearing man, who welcomed them warmly, giving them food on a silver platter. When they had eaten, the angel took the plate and threw it into the sea. This was something strange and wrong in the monk's eyes, and he asked the angel why he had done such a thing. The angel answered him gently: 'The man was pleasing to God in all things, and had nothing in his house that he had acquired unjustly except that silver plate. By God's judgement, I threw away that stolen plate, that the man might be righteous in all things before God. Such things are the mysterious and unfathomable judgements of God. And you, old man, go back to your cell and don't exercise yourself foolishly in trying to examine that which is in the power of the one God.' December 5th - Civil Calendar November 22nd - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Cecilia. Born in Rome of rich and eminent parents, she had a firm faith in Christ the Lord and a great zeal for the Faith. Vowing life-long virginity to God, holy Cecilia wore a rough hair-shirt underneath the costly raiment that her parents gave her. When they forced her into marriage with a pagan, Valerian, she spent the first night urging her newly-wedded bridegroom to go to Bishop Urban for baptism, and then himself to live a life of virginity. Embracing the Christian faith, Valerian also brought his brother Tibertius to it. Both brothers were very soon condemned to death for their faith, but their zeal did not falter in the face of death itself. Taken to the scaffold, these two brothers succeeded in bringing the captain of the guard, Maximus, to the Faith, and they all three suffered together for Christ the Lord. St Cecilia buried their bodies together and was then herself taken for trial, having unwearyingly won over many pagans to the Christian faith. In one evening, she had won over four hundred souls. When the judge asked her whence came her daring, she answered: 'From a pure conscience and an unquestioning faith.' After harsh torture, she was condemned to be beheaded with the sword. The executioner brought the sword down on her neck three times, but failed to kill her; he only wounded her and the blood ran down from her wounds, being caught in kerchiefs and bowls by the faithful to use for healing. Three days later, Christ's martyr and virgin gave her spirit into the hands of her Lord, to rejoice with him in eternity. St Cecilia suffered with the others in about the year 230. Her relics are preserved in the church dedicated to her name in Rome. In the Orthodox Church, St Cecilia is regarded as the patron of Church Music because, during those three days that she suffered for Christ, she sang praises to the Lord. 2. St Kallistos, Patriarch of Constantinople. He was named 'Xanthopoulos' after the cell of that name on Mount Athos, where he lived for a long time in asceticism with his friend Ignatius. Together with this Ignatius, St Kallistos wrote of his personal experience of a life of silence in a book containing a hundred chapters. This book holds a very important place in ascetic literature. Kallistos was greatly influenced by his teacher, St Gregory the Sinaite, whose life he recorded. 3. The Holy Martyr Menignus. Born on the Hellespont, he worked as a linen-bleacher, and so was called 'the Bleacher'. In the time of the Emperor Decius (249-251), he tore up the imperial decree on the persecution of Christians, and was consequently thrown into prison. There, the Lord Himself appeared to him and encouraged him, saying: 'Fear not; I am with thee.' At that moment, his shackles melted like wax, the prison opened of itself and he went out. He was again seized and brought to trial. He was inhumanly tortured: his fingers and toes were cut off, and then he was beheaded. His severed head glowed at night like a lamp. 4. Holy and Righteous Michael the Soldier.
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He was a Bulgarian by birth. With his friends, he went into the Greek army to fight against the Hagarenes in Ethiopia, there displaying an extraordinary fearlessness. He killed a poisonous snake and freed a maiden. Very soon after that, this righteous man entered into eternal life. He was first buried somewhere in Thrace, but in 1206 the Emperor Kalo-John translated his relics to Trnovo. He lived and died in the ninth century. 5. The Holy Apostles Philemon, Archippus and Apphia. Their lives are recorded on February 19th. FOR CONSIDERATION In vain does one strive to learn if one does not strive for purity of faith and life. The heavenly world is revealed not to the learned, but to the pure. When St Cecilia had been led to the bridal chamber with her new-wedded husband on the first night, she said to him: 'I want to show you a mystery. There is standing here an angel of God, the guardian of my virginity, whom you cannot see. He is standing here ready to defend me, his handmaid, from assault. If you only touch me, he will kill you.' Hearing this, Valerian begged Cecilia to show him the angel, that he too might see it. The maiden replied: 'You are a man that does not know the true God, and you cannot see His angel until you are cleansed of the foulness of your unbelief.' When Valerian had been baptized, he saw the angel in great light and unspeakable beauty. So also Tibertius, Valerian's brother, when he had been baptized and had changed his way of life from impurity to purity, saw holy angels and spoke with them. Maximus also, their fellow-sufferer, at the time that these two brothers were beheaded, called down imprecations on himself from the executioner and the assembled people, saying: 'I see angels of God bathed in light like the sun, taking their souls from the bodies of the martyrs, like beautiful maidens from the bridal chamber, and carrying them to heaven with great glory.' But that which he saw was invisible to the unbelievers and the impure. December 6th - Civil Calendar November 23rd - Church Calendar 1. St Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium. A fellow-countryman and friend of St Basil the Great and other great saints of the fourth century, Amphilochius early forsook the bustle of the world and withdrew to a cave where, as a solitary, he lived in asceticism for forty years. The episcopal throne in Iconium then fell empty, and Amphilochius was chosen in a wonderful way and consecrated as Bishop of Iconium. He was a marvelous shepherd and a great defender of the purity of the Orthodox faith, and took part in the Second Ecumenical Council in 381. He fought zealously against Macedonius, and against the Arians and the Eunomians. He personally begged Theodosius the Great to drive the Arians out of every city in the Empire, but the Emperor did not comply with his request. After a few days, Amphilochius came before the Emperor again. When the bishop was taken into the presence-chamber, the Emperor was sitting on his throne with his son Arcadius, whom he had taken as co-Emperor, sitting at his right hand. Entering the room, Amphilochius did reverence to Theodosius, but ignored Arcadius as though he were not there. Infuriated by this, the Emperor Theodosius commanded that Amphilochius be instantly driven from court. The saint then said to the Emperor: 'Do you see, O Emperor, how you do not tolerate a slight paid to your son? In the same way, God the Father does not tolerate dishonor paid to His Son, turning with loathing from those who blaspheme against Him, and being angered at that accursed Arian heresy.' Hearing this, the Emperor understood the reason for Amphilochius' seeming disrespect towards his son, and marveled at his wisdom and daring. Among many other works, Amphilochius wrote several books on the Faith. He entered into rest in 395 in great old age, and went to immortal life. 2. St Gregory, Bishop of Agrigentum. He was born in Sicily, near the town of Agrigentum (where he was later bishop), of his devout parents Chariton and Theodota. His whole life was woven through with God's wonders. He went to Jerusalem in a wonderful way, was chosen as bishop in a wonderful way and was saved from slander in a wonderful way. He himself was a great wonderworker, for he was greatly pleasing to God, and was a great spiritual guide and ascetic. He took part in the Fifth Ecumenical Council in Constantinople in 553. After severe temptations, he entered peacefully into rest at the end of the sixth century or the beginning of the seventh.
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3. St Alexander of the Neva (Nevsky). The son of Prince Yaroslav, his heart was drawn to God from his youth. He overcame the Swedes on the river Neva on July 15th, 1240, whence he took the name 'of the Neva'. On that occasion, Ss Boris and Gleb appeared to one of Alexander's generals and promised their aid to the great prince, their kinsman. Among the Golden Horde of the Tartars, he refused to sacrifice to idols or pass through fire. The Tartar Khan valued him for his wisdom, and his physical strength and beauty. He built many churches, and performed innumerable works of mercy. He entered into rest at the age of forty-three, on November 14th, 1263, today being the commemoration of the translation of his relics to the city of Vladimir. 4. St Mitrophan, Bishop of Voronezh. A famous Russian hierarch, ascetic and patriot, he was first a friend and then a strong critic of Peter the Great. He entered into rest on November 23rd, 1703. His wonderworking relics were discovered in 1832. FOR CONSIDERATION God permits misfortune to come upon the righteous, to their greater glorification; for misfortune overcome reveals both the glory of God and the glory of the righteous. Holy Gregory of Agrigentum was in all things righteous and pleasing to God. God let misfortune come upon him, a like misfortune to that which overtook St Athanasius and St Macarius: two priests, Sabinus and Crescens, to whom Gregory had done much good, could not abide his virtue (for such is the nature of guilt, that it cannot abide virtue). Sabinus and Crescens, then, found a notorious harlot and bribed her to slander Gregory, saying that he had had immoral relations with her. Once, when Gregory was in church, the woman hid in his bedroom and, when he came out of church with the people, this woman appeared from his room. These two priests then began to revile Gregory as an immoral man. Gregory was calm, and prepared for whatever suffering might come. They shut him up in prison, and then took him under escort to Rome. The Pope believed his slanderers, and kept Gregory in prison for two years without trial. A Council was then summoned to look into the affair, but, before judgement was given by men, God gave His. The woman became mad, and was brought before the Council as one demented. As a madwoman, she was not able to testify. Gregory the wonderworker prayed to God for her and she was healed, the evil spirit leaving her forthwith. She testified through her tears that she had been bribed to slander the man of God and that, after this slander, an evil spirit had taken up residence in her and put her in its power. Sabinus and Crescens, along with the other slanderers -- more than a hundred of them -- suddenly found their faces turned coal-black, and they were punished with exile. Holy Gregory was returned to his diocese, and received with great exultation by his people. December 7th - Civil Calendar November 24th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy and Great Martyr Katherine. The daughter of King Constus, she lived with her mother in Alexandria after her father's death. Her mother was secretly a Christian and, through her spiritual father, brought Katherine to the Christian faith. In a vision, St Katherine received a ring from the Lord Jesus Himself as a sign of her betrothal to Him. This ring remains on her finger to this day. Katherine was greatly gifted by God, exceptionally well-educated in Greek philosophy, medicine, rhetoric and logic, and added great physical beauty to this. When the wicked Emperor Maxentius offered sacrifice to idols and ordered everyone to do the same, St Katherine came with daring before him and denounced his idolatrous errors. The Emperor, seeing that she surpassed him in wisdom and learning, summoned fifty of the wisest men, to dispute with her about faith and put her to shame, but Katherine was wiser than they, and put them to shame. The furious Emperor commanded that all fifty wise men be burned. These wise men, at St Katherine's prayers, all confessed the name of Christ at the moment of death, and proclaimed themselves Christians. When the martyr was in prison, she brought Porphyrius the general, with two hundred of his soldiers, to the Faith, and also the Empress, Augusta-Vasilissa. They all suffered for Christ. At St Katherine's martyrdom, an angel of God appeared to her, stopping and breaking the wheel on which she was being tortured, and after that the Lord Christ Himself appeared to her, strengthening her. After many tortures, Katherine was beheaded with the sword at the age of eighteen, on November 24th, 310. Milk flowed from her body in place of blood. Her wonderworking relics are preserved on Sinai.
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2. The Holy and Great Martyr Mercurius. When the Emperor Decius was once making war on the barbarians, there was in the army the commander of an Armenian regiment called the Martesians. This commander was called Mercurius. In the battle, an angel of God appeared to Mercurius, put a sword in his hand and told him that he would overcome the enemy. Mercurius displayed a wonderful courage, mowing the enemy down like grass with his sword. After this glorious victory, the Emperor made him supreme commander of his army, but some jealous men denounced him to the Emperor as a Christian. Mercurius did not deny this before the Emperor, but openly acknowledged it. He was most terribly tortured: cut with knives in strips and burned in a furnace, but an angel of God appeared in the prison and healed him. Finally the Emperor pronounced the sentence that General Mercurius be beheaded with the sword in Cappadocia. When they beheaded him, his body became as white as snow, and from it there arose a wonderful, incense-like fragrance. Many of the sick were healed by his wonderworking relics. This glorious soldier of Christ suffered for the Faith some time between 251 and 259. 3. The Holy Maiden Mastridia. She lived in Alexandria and led a solitary life of prayer and handwork. A young man became consumed with lustful passion towards her, and pestered her incessantly. Determined not to sin against God, and seeing that it would not be easy to shake off this dissolute youth, St Mastridia once asked him what it was in her that most attracted him. He replied: 'Your eyes!', and Mastridia took the needle with which she was sewing and put out her eyes. Thus she preserved her own peace and the young man's soul, who repented deeply and became a monk. Author's note: This Mastridia is apparently not the same as the one who is commemorated on February 7th. The latter is from Jerusalem, while this one is from Alexandria. The latter fled from scandal to the desert, and this one put out her eyes. FOR CONSIDERATION A tale of the elder Barlaam to Joasaph: In a certain town there was a local custom, namely the choosing as king a stranger who did not know their laws and customs. When they had crowned him king, they arrayed him in exquisite and costly robes, fed him sumptuously and surrounded him with every luxury. When a year had passed, they deposed their king, stripped him of all his goods and his royal robes and drove him, completely naked, off to a distant island, where he had neither bread nor roof nor companionship, and where, in want and abasement, he would end his days. The citizens would then choose another king, also a stranger and also for only a year, then a third, then a fourth and so on. It came to pass at one time that they chose a very wise and prudent man. He discovered from his servants what happened to the king of the town at the end of a year and therefore, during the course of the year, zealously collected food and goods and all sorts of everyday necessities together on the island. When the year had passed, and he was stripped naked and cast onto the island, he found himself in the midst of an enormous quantity of food, silver, gold and precious stones, and continued to live there in an even better way than he had as king of the town. The interpretation is this: the town represents the world; the inhabitants represent the evil spirits; the foolish and wise kings are men. The foolish think only of their comfort in this life, counting it eternal and losing all in the end in death, going naked of all good works to hell. The wise, on the contrary, do many good works, that they then send, like goods, into the other world to await them there, and where they reign in greater splendor and beauty than they did on earth. December 8th - Civil Calendar November 25th - Church Calendar 1. The Hieromartyr Clement, Bishop of Rome. Born in Rome and of royal blood, he was a contemporary of the apostles. His mother and two brothers were caught by a storm on a voyage and driven to different places. His father then went off to find his wife and sons, and himself disappeared. Clement, being then twenty-four years old, set off eastwards to look for his parents and brothers. In Alexandria, he made the acquaintance of the Apostle Barnabas, and afterwards became a friend of the Apostle Peter, who was already being followed by his two brothers, Faustinus and Faustinian. By God's providence, the Apostle Peter found Clement's aged mother, who was living as a beggar-woman, and then his father also. Thus the whole family was reunited, and they all returned to Rome as Christians. Clement remained
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linked with the great apostles, who made him bishop before their death. Linus was bishop in Rome, then Cletus - both of them only for a short time - and then Clement. He governed the Church of God with burning zeal and, from day to day, brought large numbers of unbelievers to the Faith. He set seven scribes to record the lives of the Christian martyrs who were at that time suffering for their Lord. The Emperor Trajan drove him out to Cherson, where Clement found about two thousand exiled Christians, who were all put to the hard toil of cutting stone in an arid region. The Christians welcomed Clement with great joy, and he was to them a living source of comfort. By his prayers, he brought water from the dry ground and converted so many of the pagan inhabitants to Christianity that there were seventy-five churches built in that place in one year. To prevent the further spreading of the Christian faith, Clement was condemned to death, and drowned in the sea with a stone round his neck in the year 101. His wonderworking relics were taken out of the sea only in the time of Ss Cyril and Methodius. 2. The Hieromartyr Peter, Archbishop of Alexandria. He was the disciple and successor of St Theonas, Archbishop of Alexandria, and was for a time a teacher at Origen's famous school of philosophy. He came to the archiepiscopal throne in 299, and died a martyr by the grave of the holy Apostle Mark in 311. He governed the Church in an acutely difficult period, when unbelievers were attacking the faithful from without and heretics from within. Six hundred and seventy Christians suffered in Alexandria in his time; whole families often perishing on the scaffold. At this time, Arius was troubling the faithful with his false teaching. St Peter drove him from the Church and anathematized him in both this world and the next. The Lord Himself appeared to this great and wonderful saint in prison. 3. Our Holy Father Paphnutius. He never drank wine. He was once seized by robbers, and the chief of the band forced him to drink a cup of wine. Seeing Paphnutius' goodness, the robber chief repented and forsook his brigandage. FOR CONSIDERATION It is related of St Peter of Alexandria that he never sat on the patriarchal throne, but sat at the foot of the steps up to it. When the faithful expressed their disapproval of the fact that their hierarch never sat in his own place, he replied: 'Whenever I come up to the throne, I see a heavenly light upon it, and so I do not dare to go up and sit on it.' Besides this vision, St Peter had another, yet more wonderful. While he was lying in prison, the infamous heretic Arius pretended that he had repented of his heresy and sent word to the captive Peter that he had rejected his errors and asked to be received back into the Church. Arius did this solely because he counted on Peter's being killed and himself inheriting the patriarchal throne, thereby giving him the opportunity of spreading and confirming his heresy. Before giving him any answer. Peter prayed to God in the prison. While he was praying, a strange light illumined the prison, and the Lord Jesus appeared to him as a twelve-year-old boy, in light more resplendent than the sun, so brilliant that He could not be gazed upon. The Lord was clad in a white garment that was torn down the front from neck to hem. He was clutching the garment round Himself, as though to hide His nakedness. Seeing this, St Peter was greatly troubled and horrified, and cried out: 'My Saviour, who has torn Thy garment?' The Lord replied: 'That madman Arius. He has torn it, because he is turning My people from Me, the people whom I bought with My blood. Be careful not to receive him into communion with the Church, for his thoughts are evil and devilish about Me and My people.' Hearing this, St Peter replied to his priests Achilles and Alexander that they should not accede to Arius' request, for he was false and evil, and the saint anathematized Arius in both worlds. He also prophesied that first Achilles and then Alexander would follow him as Patriarch, and this came to pass. December 9th - Civil Calendar November 26th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Father Alypius the Stylite. Born in Hadrianopolis, a city in Paphlagonia, he was from his youth dedicated to the service of God. As a deacon, he served in the church in that city with Bishop Theodore. But, desiring a solitary life of prayer and meditation, Alypius withdrew to a Greek cemetery outside the city, from which people fled as from a place of terror, as demonic visions had been seen there. Here he erected a Cross, and built a church in honor of St Euphemia, who had appeared to him in a dream. Near the church, he built a high pillar, climbed up onto it and
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spent fifty-three years there in fasting and prayer. Neither the mockery of men nor the evil demons could drive him away or shake his purpose. This saint endured endless assaults from the demons. They not only tried to terrify him with demonic apparitions, but also stoned him and gave him no peace day nor night for a long time. But Alypius courageously defended himself against this diabolical power with the sign of the Cross and the name of Jesus. Finally, the vanquished demons left him and fled, and men began to revere him and to come to him for his prayers, comfort, teaching and healing. Two monasteries were built beside his pillar, on one side for men and on the other for women. His mother and sisters lived in the women's monastery. St Alypius guided the monks and nuns from his pillar by word and example, and shone like the sun in the sky for them all, showing them the way of salvation. This man of God had such grace that he was often bathed in heavenly light, and a pillar of this light stretched above him to heaven. Alypius was a great and mighty wonderworker, both in his lifetime and after his death. Living for a hundred years, he entered into rest in the year 640, in the time of Emperor Heraclius. Of his holy relics, the head is preserved in the monastery of Koutloumousiou on the Holy Mountain. 2. Our Holy Father James the Solitary. A Syrian, he was a disciple of St Maron (Feb. 14th) and a contemporary of St Simeon Stylites. He lived in asceticism under the open sky and fed on soaked lentils. He performed great wonders, even raising the dead in the name of Christ. The Emperor Leo asked him for his thoughts on the Council of Chalcedon. He entered peacefully into rest in the year 457. 3. Our Holy Father Stylianus. From Paphlagonia, he was a fellow-countryman and contemporary of St Alypius. He had a great love for the Lord Jesus and, because of this, gave himself to strict asceticism. He rejected all things, only to have an undivided love for his Lord. At the time of his death, an angel appeared to take his soul, and his face became radiant like the sun. He was a great wonderworker both before and after his death, and was of special help to sick children and childless parents. 4. Our Holy Father Nikon, the Preacher of Repentance. He was born in Armenia. Drawn by the Lord's words: 'He who forsakes father or mother will receive a hundred-fold, and inherit eternal life' (Matt. 19:29), Nikon indeed left all for the sake of Christ and went to a monastery, where he became a monk. When he had become perfected in all the virtues, he left the monastery and went to preach the Gospel to the people. He incessantly cried: 'Repent!', and thus became known as 'the Preacher of Repentance'. As a preacher, he covered the whole of Anatolia and the Peloponnese, performing many wonders in the name of Christ. He went peacefully to his beloved Lord in Sparta in 998. 5. St Innocent of Irkutsk. He died in 1731, and his wonderworking relics were discovered in 1804. FOR CONSIDERATION Many learned pagans have come into the Church of Christ and received baptism because the Church preaches immortal life as an established fact and not as some conjecture of man's understanding. St Clement of Rome studied the whole of Greek philosophy, and his soul remained empty and unsatisfied. As a young man of twenty-four, he desired with his whole soul to discover if there was another, better life than this. Philosophy had given him the thinking of various people, but no certain proof. He mourned for his lost parents and brothers, and constantly tormented himself with the question: Would he see them again in another life? The allseeing God so guided him that he met a man who spoke to him of the Christians and their belief in life beyond the grave. This roused the young Clement to set off at once from Rome for Judea, that he might, there in the very cradle of the Christian faith, come to positive knowledge concerning life beyond the grave. When he heard the preaching of the Apostle Peter, based entirely on Christ risen from the dead, Clement scorned all the conjecture of philosophy and sincerely embraced the Christian faith, receiving baptism and giving himself utterly to the service of the Church of God. As then, so today: he who has a firm faith in the risen Christ and a clear certainty of life beyond the grave will endeavor to fulfill all of God's commandments. December 10th - Civil Calendar
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November 27th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr James the Persian. Born in the Persian town of Elapa, or Vilat, of Christian parents, he was brought up in the Christian faith and married a Christian wife. The Persian king, Yezdegeherd, loved James for his gifts and for his skill, and made him a noble at his court. Flattered by the king, James was deluded and offered sacrifice to idols, which the king also worshipped. His mother and wife, hearing of this, wrote him a reproachful letter in which they grieved over him as an apostate and one spiritually dead, begging him at the end of the letter to repent and return to Christ. Moved by this letter, James repented bitterly, and courageously confessed his faith in Christ the Lord before the king. The furious king condemned him to death, and added that his body was to be cut to pieces, little by little, until he changed his faith. The executioners fulfilled this command of the accursed king to the letter, and first cut off James' fingers, then his toes, his legs and arms, his shoulders and finally his head. During the entire process, the repentant martyr gave thanks to God. A fragrance came from his wounds as of cypress. Thus this wonderful man repented of his sin, and his soul went to Christ his God in the heavenly Kingdom. He suffered in about 400. His head is to be found in Rome, and a part of his relics in Portugal, where he is commemorated on May 22nd. 2. The Seventeen Holy Fathers Martyred in India. These Christian monks suffered in India under King Abenner. Inflamed with anger against the elder Barlaam for having baptized his son Joasaph, King Abenner sent men in pursuit of Barlaam. The pursuers did not catch him, but seized seventeen other monks and brought them before the king. The king condemned them to death, and their eyes were first put out, their tongues cut out and their arms and legs broken before they were beheaded with the sword. But the Christian faith in the Indian kingdom was only the more strengthened by the blood of these glorious soldiers of Christ the Lord. 3. Our Holy Father Romanus the Wonderworker. He lived in asceticism in the vicinity of Antioch. He never kindled a fire in his cell, or lit a candle. He died peacefully, and was a wonderworker both during his lifetime and after his death. He helps childless women when they ask his aid. 4. Our Holy Father Pinuphrius. A contemporary of St Cassian (Feb. 19th), he was a great Egyptian ascetic. He lived in the fourth century and followed the ascetic life in various places, fleeing the praise of men. He had many disciples, who strove to emulate the lofty example of their teacher. 5. Our Holy Father Nathanael. A Nitrian monk, he prayed to God both day and night, and was enlightened by pondering on the things of God. He did not cross the threshold of his cell for thirty-eight years. He entered into rest in the Lord in the second half of the sixth century. FOR CONSIDERATION When the executioner cut off St James' right thumb, he said: 'A vine is pruned thus, that new growth may come in its time.' When they cut off the next finger, he said: 'Receive, O Lord, the second branch of Thy sowing.' As the third was cut off, he said: 'I bless the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.' As the fourth was cut off: 'Thou who acceptest praise from the four beasts, accept the suffering of these four fingers.' At the fifth: 'May my rejoicing be as great as that of the five wise virgins at the marriage.' At the sixth: 'Praise be to Thee, O Lord, who didst at the sixth hour stretch out Thy most pure arms on the Cross, and hast made me worthy to offer Thee my six fingers.' At the seventh: 'Like David, who glorified Thee seven times a day, so do I today glorify Thee with these seven fingers, cut off for Thy sake.' At the eighth: ' Thou Thyself, O Lord, didst rest on the eighth day.' At the ninth: 'At the ninth hour, O Lord, Thou didst give Thy spirit into the hands of Thy Father, O my Christ, and I offer Thee thanks for the suffering of this ninth finger.' At the tenth: 'I sing to Thee, O Lord, upon a ten-stringed lute, and I bless Thee that Thou hast made me worthy to endure the cutting-off of the fingers of my two hands for the Ten Commandments written on the tablets of stone.' Oh, what wonderful faith and love! Oh, the princely soul of this prince of Christ's!
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December 11th - Civil Calendar November 28th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Father, the Martyr Stephen the New. As aforetime Hannah the mother of Samuel, so Anna the mother of Stephen prayed God to give her a son. Praying thus at one time in the Blachernae church in front of the icon of the most holy Mother of God, a light sleep fell on her in which she saw the holy Virgin, radiant like the sun, and heard her voice: 'Woman, go in peace; in fulfillment of your prayer, you have a son in your womb.' Anna indeed conceived and bore a son, this holy Stephen. He received the monastic habit at the age of sixteen on Mount St Auxentius near Constantinople, at the hands of the elder John, from whom he learned divine wisdom and asceticism. When John entered into rest in the Lord, Stephen remained on that mountain in strict asceticism, taking on himself labor upon labor. His holiness drew many disciples to him. When the Emperor Constantine Copronymos began to persecute the icons even more ferociously that his foul father, Leo the Isaurian, Stephen showed himself to be a zealous defender of the veneration of the holy icons. The demented Emperor listened to various slanders against Stephen, and himself devised a number of intrigues, solely to break Stephen and to get him out of the way. Stephen was exiled to the island of Proconnesus, and then taken to Constantinople, put in chains and cast into prison. There he met three hundred and forty-two captive monks, brought from all ends of the kingdom and thrown into prison for their veneration of icons. In the prison, they followed the whole order of church services as in a monastery. The wicked Emperor condemned Stephen to death. The saint foresaw his death forty days before, and took his leave of the brethren. The Emperor's servants took him from the prison and, beating and buffeting him, dragged him through the streets of Constantinople, calling on all who were on the Emperor's side to stone this 'enemy of the Emperor'. One of the heretics aimed a blow at the saint's head with a piece of wood, and the saint breathed his last. As Stephen the Protomartyr had suffered at the hands of the Jews, so this Stephen suffered at the hands of the iconoclast heretics. This glorious soldier of Christ suffered in the year 767, at the age of fifty-three, and was crowned with unfading glory. 2. The Holy Martyr Christos. He was an Albanian Christian living in Constantinople, and was a gardener by profession. In the course of selling his fruit, he incurred the resentment of a Turk who slandered him to the judge, saying that he had promised to embrace Islam and then retracted. After interrogation, he was put in chains and thrown into prison. In prison, he was urged to eat, but he refused, saying: 'It is better for me to go before my Christ fasting.' After that, he took out some money that he had concealed under his belt, and gave it to one of the captives with the request that he use it for several liturgies to be celebrated for his soul. He was beheaded by the Turks in 1748, and was glorified forever in the Kingdom of Christ our God. 3. Our Holy Mother Anna. A woman of gentle birth, she was tonsured as a nun after her husband's death by St Stephen the New. The Emperor Copronymos urged her to say that she had had physical relations with St Stephen, in order to humiliate him before the people, but this holy woman refused to become involved in the Emperor's intrigues against the saint, whom she venerated as her spiritual father. She was whipped for this, and then thrown into prison, where she gave her holy soul into God's hands. 4. The Holy and Devout Emperor Maurice. He was murdered along with his six sons by the Emperor Phocas in 602. FOR CONSIDERATION The reading of examples of steadfastness in the Faith and the greatness of soul of the saints of God makes us steadfast in faith and great of soul. When Copronymos' men urged St Stephen to reject the veneration of icons and thus please the iconoclast Emperor, Stephen stretched out his hand, clenched his fist and said: 'If I had in myself only a fistful of blood, I would shed it for the icon of Christ!' The Emperor Maurice had six sons, of which the sixth and youngest was not yet weaned. For this youngest son, the Emperor kept a wet-nurse at the court to feed it. A harsh fate overtook the Emperor Maurice: Phocas dethroned him and condemned him to death together with all his six sons. The six boys were flogged one after
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the other before their father's eyes. When the nurse had to hand over the youngest to be murdered, she, with true greatness of soul, mourned over the fate of the unhappy Emperor and his children, and at that moment resolved to preserve one of them alive. So, when they went to drag the child from her breast, she handed over her own son, and he was beheaded. Finally, the Emperor Maurice was himself beheaded. The Emperor's youngest son grew up believing his nurse to be his mother. When she revealed the secret to him, he became very serious, then deliberately left the world and withdrew to Mount Sinai, where he became a monk and consecrated himself to God, that he might in this way requite the innocent baby that had been put to death in his place. December 12th - Civil Calendar November 29th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Paramon, and 370 others with him. In Asian Bithynia, the governor, Aquilinus, was ferociously persecuting Christians. He once seized three hundred and seventy Christians and took them with him in bonds to some place where there was a temple to the god Poseidon. Here, the wicked governor tried to force them to offer sacrifice to idols. Although he threatened with death any who refused to obey his command, not a single one of the Christians submitted to it. At that time, there passed along the road running beside the temple a respected man called Paramon. He stopped beside the group of bound men and learned what was happening, then cried out: 'Oh, how many innocent and righteous men does this foul governor desire to slaughter because they will not bow down to his dumb and dead idols?' Paramon then continued on his way, and the furious governor sent servants to kill him. They caught up with him and seized him, first piercing his tongue with a thorn and then stripping him and stabbing him all over. Holy Paramon, with prayer in his heart, gave his soul into God's hands. After that, these three hundred and seventy martyrs, great sons of God and innocent lambs, were beheaded with the sword and thus entered into the immortal Kingdom of Christ the Lord. They suffered in the year 250. 2. Our Holy Father Acacius of Sinai. In his famous book, 'The Ladder', St John Climacus records the life of this saint. The young Acacius was a novice with an evil elder in the monastery on Sinai. The foul-tempered elder daily groused and grumbled at Acacius, and often beat him, tormenting and ill-treating him in every possible way. Acacius did not complain, but bore it all patiently and with trust that it would work for his salvation. When people saw his bruises and asked him how he survived, he replied : 'Well, as before the Lord God'. After nine years of obedience and illtreatment, Acacius died. The elder buried him and then went off to lament to another elder, a holy man, saying: 'Acacius, my disciple, is dead.' 'I don't believe it,' replied the holy elder, 'Acacius is not dead.' They then both went to the dead man's grave, and the holy elder called out: 'Brother Acacius, are you dead?' The obedient Acacius, obedient even in death, replied: 'I am not dead; the obedient cannot die.' Then the evil elder repented and shut himself in a cell near Acacius' grave, where he spent the rest of his life in repentance and prayer. 3. The Holy Martyr Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth. A well-known pastor and teacher, he was beheaded for Christ the Lord in 182. 4. St Tiridates, King of Armenia. He was a contemporary of Diocletian. He at first persecuted Christians with great ferocity, but God's punishment fell on him and he went mad and became like a beast, as happened aforetime to Nebuchadnezzar. St Gregory miraculously healed him of his madness (see Sept. 30th). From that time until his death, Tiridates spent his life in repentance and devotion. He died peacefully in the fourth century. 5. The Holy Martyr Apollonius. He was a Roman senator. Denounced for his faith, he confessed it before the entire senate, for which he was beheaded in the year 186. FOR CONSIDERATION God's punishment often falls on sinners immediately after they have sinned, that the sinners may fear and the righteous be encouraged. However, it sometimes falls much later, suddenly and unexpectedly, that sinners may
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know that God forgets nothing. The earth swallowed up Dathan and Abiram immediately after they had sinned, but King Balthazzar saw the hand that wrote his deadly fate at a time when he felt himself at ease at a wedding feast, among friends and admirers. A gravely-sick soldier was brought to St Stephen the New, to be healed by his prayers. Stephen told him to venerate the icons of Christ and the Mother of God. The soldier did this, and was immediately healed, and this wonder was spoken of on all sides. Hearing of it, the iconoclast Emperor Copronymos summoned this soldier and questioned him. When the soldier acknowledged that he had received healing from the holy icons, the Emperor furiously began to rebuke him for his veneration of them. The terrified soldier repudiated his veneration before the Emperor, and was ashamed of his faith in the icons. When this soldier left the court and mounted his horse, it became maddened under him, threw him off and trampled him with its hooves until he gave up the ghost. This is an example of a punishment that follows immediately on the sin. King Tiridates, a persecutor of Christians, threw St Gregory into a deep pit and killed thirty-seven holy nuns, and he went unpunished. Later, when the king and his entourage had gone hunting for pleasure, madness suddenly fell on him. The reason for his madness and the means of restoring him to sanity were revealed to his devout sister in a dream. St Gregory was taken out of his pit, and at his prayers, King Tiridates was healed, repented and received baptism. Punishment sometimes follows as quickly on sin as day does night, and sometimes as slowly as year follows year. But it never fails to come, except at those times when repentance takes the place of punishment. December 13th - Civil Calendar November 30th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called. He was the son of Jonah and brother of Peter, born in Bethsaida and a fisherman by profession. He was first a disciple of St John the Baptist, but, when John pointed to the Lord Jesus and said: 'Behold the Lamb of God' (Jn. 1:36), St Andrew left his first teacher and followed Christ. After that, Andrew brought his brother Peter to the Lord. After the descent of the Holy Spirit, it fell to the lot of the first of Christ's apostles, St Andrew, to preach the Gospel in Byzantium and Thrace, then in the lands along the Danube, in Russia and around the Black Sea, and finally in Epirus, Greece and the Peloponnese, where he suffered. In Byzantium he installed St Stachys as its first bishop; in Kiev he raised the Cross on high and prophesied a Christian future for the Russian people; in Thrace, Epirus, Greece and the Peloponnese, he brought many people to the Faith and gave them bishops and priests. In the city of Patras he performed many wonders in the name of Christ and brought many to the Lord, among whom were the brother and wife of the imperial governor, Aegeatus. Aegeatus, infuriated by this, put Andrew to torture and then crucified him. While he was still alive on the cross, the Apostle of Christ taught the Christians who were gathered round him. The people wanted to take him down from the cross, but he would not let them. Finally, the Apostle prayed to God and a strange radiance surrounded him. This light lasted for half an hour and, when it disappeared, the Apostle gave his holy soul into God's hands. Thus the firstcalled Apostle, who first of the twelve Great Apostles came to know the Lord and followed Him, finished his earthly course. St Andrew suffered for his Lord in the year 62. His relics were translated to Constantinople, but his head was later taken to Rome and one hand to Moscow. 2. St Frumentius, the Enlightener of Abyssinia. In the time of the Emperor Constantine the Great, a learned man from Tyre called Meropius traveled to India. He took with him two young Christians, brothers called Edessius and Frumentius. On the journey, the ship foundered in a storm on the Abyssinian coast, and the wild Abyssinians killed all the people from the ship except these two brothers, Edessius and Frumentius. They lived in Abyssinia for several years and succeeded in entering the service of the king. Frumentius began to preach the Christian faith, at first fairly cautiously, and became convinced that the land was ripe for such preaching. The two brothers then took ship, Edessius to Tyre to his parents and Frumentius to Alexandria, to Patriarch Athanasius the Great. Frumentius described the situation in Abyssinia to the Patriarch and sought pastors to bring the people to the Faith. St Athanasius consecrated Frumentius bishop, and he returned to Abyssinia where, by his zeal and his miracles, he brought the whole of Abyssinia to the Faith during his lifetime. This great pastor of Christ's flock and enlightener of Abyssinia died peacefully in the year 370, and entered into the Kingdom of his Lord. FOR CONSIDERATION
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'All is given to the apostles', says St John Chrysostom. This means: all gifts, all powers, all the fullness of the grace that God gives to all the faithful is given to the apostles. We see this in the life of the great Apostle Andrew the First-Called: how he is apostle and evangelist, prophet, pastor and teacher (Eph. 4:11). As an evangelist, he carried the good news of the Gospel to the four corners of the earth; as a prophet he prophesied the baptism of the Russian people and the greatness of Kiev as a city and as a center of Christianity; as a pastor he founded and organized many churches; as a teacher he tirelessly taught right up to his crucifixion, and then on the cross till his last breath. And, on top of this, he was a martyr. This was by a gift of the Holy Spirit that is not given to all. We see in this apostle, as in all the others, the fullness of the grace of the Holy Spirit. That every act performed by a follower of Christ must be supported by grace is testified to by St Frumentius. When he returned to Abyssinia from Alexandria as a consecrated bishop, he began to perform great wonders, thus bringing the people to the Faith in great masses. The envious king then asked him: 'You lived among us for so many years, and we never saw you work such wonders. Whence is it that you do so now?' To this blessed Frumentius replied: 'This is not my action, but that of the grace of the priesthood', and the saint then explained to the king how he had, for the sake of Christ, forsaken his parents, marriage and the whole world, and how he had, through consecration at the hands of Athanasius, received the grace of priesthood, the grace of wonderworking. December 14th - Civil Calendar December 1st - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Prophet Nahum. Born of the tribe of Simeon in a place called Elkosh, on the further side of the Jordan, he lived seven hundred years before Christ and foretold the fall of Nineveh two hundred years after the Prophet Jonah. The people of Nineveh had repented after hearing Jonah's preaching, and God had protected them and not destroyed them. But, with the passage of time, they came to forget God's mercy and turned again to evil. Nahum foretold their doom, warning them that, if they showed no repentance, they would receive no protection. The entire city was so utterly destroyed by earthquake, flood and fire that its location is no longer known. Holy Nahum lived for forty-five years before going to his rest in the Lord, leaving us a small book of his true and genuine prophecies. 2. St Philaret the Merciful. From the village of Amnia in Paphlagonia, Philaret was at first a man of some substance, but, as a result of his constant almsgiving, he became utterly destitute. He was not afraid of poverty, and went on with his charitable works with trust in the Lord who has said: 'Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy', paying no attention to the disapproval of his wife and children. Once, when he was ploughing in his meadow, a man came to him with the news of the death of his ox in harness, and of his inability to plough with only one ox, so Philaret unharnessed his own and gave it to him. He gave away his remaining horse to a man who was called away to battle, and the calf from his remaining cow - and, when he saw how the cow pined after her calf, gave the man the cow as well. And so the aged Philaret was left hungry in an empty house. But he prayed to God, entrusting himself to Him. God does not abandon the righteous man, allowing him to be shamed in his hope. At that time, the Empress Irene was on the throne with her young son Constantine and, in accordance with the custom of the time, the Empress sent men through the whole Empire to find the best and most distinguished maiden to wed her son. By divine Providence, these men happened upon Philaret's home and beheld his very beautiful and modest grand-daughter Maria, the daughter of Hypatia, and they took her to Constantinople. The Emperor was well-pleased with her and took her to wife, and brought Philaret and all his family to the capital, showering honor and wealth upon them. Philaret did not become proud in this change of fortune but, with gratitude to God, performed still greater deeds of charity than before, remaining thus for the rest of his days. At the age of ninety, he called all his children to him and, having blessed them and instructed them to cleave to God and His Law, foretold to each of them how their lives would develop, just as our forefather Jacob did aforetime. When he had done this, he went to a monastery and there gave his soul into God's hands. At his death, his face shone like the sun and a sweet fragrance arose from his body, and miracles were worked over his relics. This righteous man of God went to his rest in 797. His wife and all his children and grandchildren lived and died in the Lord. FOR CONSIDERATION
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Virtue is like a thirst. When a man begins to drink, he becomes yet more thirsty and seeks to drink more and more often. Whoever begins to practice the virtue of compassion knows and acknowledges no limit. St Philaret was no less generous in poverty than he was in wealth. When his grand-daughter became Empress, he became a rich man once again, and not a wit less generous. One day, he told his wife and children to prepare the most lavish feast they could, and said: 'Let us invite our King and Lord and all His great men to our feast'. Everyone thought that the old man meant to invite his son-in-law, the Emperor, and so they worked especially hard to prepare the feast. However, Philaret went around the streets and gathered all the poor, the wretched, the despised, the lame and the enfeebled, and brought them to the feast. He sat them down at table and told his wife and sons to serve them. At the end of the feast, he gave each guest a gold coin. Then everyone understood that by 'the King', he meant the Lord Christ Himself, and by the 'great men', the poor and helpless. He used to say that one must not decide beforehand what money to give to the poor, but to give whatever was in the hand when it came out of one's pocket, for the hand would find whatever God in His providence had given. December 15th - Civil Calendar December 2nd - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Prophet Habakkuk. The son of Sapnat, of the tribe of Simeon, he prophesied six hundred years before Christ, in the time of King Manasseh, and foretold the devastation of Jerusalem. When Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, attacked Jerusalem, Habakkuk went into the land of the Ishmaelites, whence he returned to Jerusalem and made his living working on the land. One day, when he was carrying lunch to the workers in the fields, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him and said: 'Go, carry the meal that thou hast into Babylon, unto Daniel who is in the lion's den.' Habakkuk replied: 'Lord, I never saw Babylon, neither do I know where the den is' (Daniel 14:33 in the Greek text. It is omitted in the Hebrew Bible, and is to be found in the Apocrypha under Bel and the Dragon). Then the angel seized him by the hair and carried him straight to Babylon, over an immense distance, to the lion's den where Daniel had been cast by King Cyrus because he would not worship idols. 'O Daniel, Daniel,' cried Habakkuk, 'take the dinner which God hath sent thee!' And Daniel took it and ate. Then the angel of God again took hold of Habakkuk and carried him back to his field in Judea. Habakkuk preached and prophesied about the liberation of Jerusalem and the coming of Christ. He entered into rest in great old age and was buried at Keilah. His relics were discovered during the reign of Theodosius the Great. 2. The Holy Martyr Myrope. Myrope was born in Ephesus of Christian parents. After the death of her father, she went to the island of Chios with her mother, and there suffered for Christ. The passion of this holy virgin took place soon after the passion and death of the soldier-martyr Isidore (May 14th). When the torturers had beheaded Isidore, the courageous Myrope took the body away secretly and buried it in a special place. The wicked prince Numerian heard that the martyr's body had been stolen, and threatened to execute the guards. Hearing that innocent people were to suffer for her act, blessed Myrope came before the authorities and confessed that it was she who had taken the martyr's body and buried it. On the prince's orders, Christ's holy virgin was savagely beaten, and cast into prison covered with wounds. But the Lord did not leave His martyr comfortless. A heavenly light illumined the prison in the dead of night, and many angels, with St Isidore in their midst, appeared to her. 'Peace to thee, Myrope', St Isidore said to her, 'thy prayer has ascended to God, and thou shalt soon be with us and receive the crown prepared for thee'. The holy martyr was filled with joy, and at that moment surrendered her soul into God's hands. A sweet fragrance came forth from her body and filled the whole prison. One of the guards who witnessed all this was moved to belief in Christ and was baptized, and soon thereafter suffered a martyr's death. St Myrope entered into eternity in the year 251. 3. St Uros, King of Serbia. The son of King Dusan, he ruled during the difficult time of the fall of the Kingdom of Serbia. Humble, pious and gentle, he refused to attempt to restrain the power of the powerful nobles by force. Amongst these was Vukasin, who brought about his death. Good King Uros suffered a martyr's death on December 2nd, 1367, at the age of thirty-one. Killed by men, he was glorified by God. His wonderworking relics were preserved in the monastery of Jazak in the Fruska Gora, whence they were taken to Belgrade in 1942, during the Second World War, and placed in the Cathedral beside the bodies of Prince Lazar and Despot Stephen Stiljanovic. During the
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reign of this benevolent king, the monastery of St Nahum was built beside Lake Ochrid by one of Uros' nobles, Grgur. 4. Our Holy Father Athanasius, the Recluse of the Kiev Caves. After a long life of asceticism, this holy man died and was washed, attired and prepared for burial. He lay dead for two days, then suddenly returned to life. When they came to bury him, they found him sitting up and weeping. He shut himself in his cell and lived a further twelve years on bread and water. He entered into rest in the Lord in 1176. 5. St Jesse, Bishop of Tsiklan. One of the thirteen Syrian fathers (May 7th), he was a great wonderworker. He changed the course of a distant river by his prayers, and caused it to flow close to the city of Tsiklan. His relics are preserved in the church dedicated to him in that Syrian city. FOR CONSIDERATION 'Who has ever come with tidings of the other world?' This is a frequent question on the lips of unbelievers. One should reply: 'Repent of your sins if you wish to find out; make yourselves worthy, and you will see.' The Prophet Habakkuk journeyed with an angel; St Myrope saw a host of angels, with St Isidore the Martyr among them. St Athanasius of the Caves was dead to the world for two days and alive only in the next. Upon the return of his soul to his body, they all gathered round him, asking him: 'How have you come back to life? What have you seen? What have you heard?' He would say nothing about it, being deeply amazed at what he had seen in the other world, and would only say: 'Save yourselves!' When many of them pressed him hard to say what he had seen in the other world after his death, he replied: 'If I should tell you, you would not believe me or want to listen to me.' When they urged him yet further, he said: 'Repent every moment, and pray to the Lord Jesus Christ and to His most pure Mother. Even in our own time, cases of seeming death occur. The visions and reports of those who have seemed to die and have then returned to life are not contradictory, but complement and augment one another. For example: every person who 'dies' sees some part of that other world that is vast, immeasurably larger than this world. Many see their lone-dead kinsfolk and talk with them -- this being quite a common occurrence. In 1926, in the village of Vevcani, Meletije P. was on his deathbed. He was talking with his children who had died twenty years earlier. When his living relatives said to him: 'You're rambling!', he replied: 'I'm not; I'm talking with them just as I'm talking with you, and I can see them just as clearly as I can see you!' December 16th - Civil Calendar December 3rd - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Prophet Zephaniah. Born on the mountain of Savarat and of the tribe of Simeon, he lived and prophesied in the seventh century before Christ, in the time of Josiah the pious King of Judah, and was a contemporary of the Prophet Jeremiah. With his great humility, pure mind and constant striving after God, he was found worthy of seeing into the future. He foretold the day of the wrath of God and the punishment of Gaza, Ashkalon, Ashdod, Ekron, Nineveh, Jerusalem and Egypt. He looked upon Jerusalem as 'a filthy, polluted and oppressing city ... her princes within her are like roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves ... her prophets are light and treacherous persons; her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the Law' (Zeph. 3:1-4). Foreseeing the coming of the Messiah, he cried out with rapture: 'Sing, O daughter of Sion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all thy heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!' (3:14). This clairvoyant of secrets and mysteries went to his rest in the place where he was born, there to await the general Resurrection and his reward from God. 2. St John the Silent (the Hesychast). Born in Nicopolis in Armenia, he was the son of Encratius and Euphemia. He became a monk at the age of eighteen and gave himself to asceticism, thoroughly cleansing his heart with tears, prayer and fasting. After ten years, he was made Bishop of Colonia. The example of his life drew his brother, Pergamius, and his uncle, Theodore, both noted members of the court of the Emperors Zeno and Justinian, to lead lives pleasing to God. Seeing the evil and intrigues of the world and his inability to put matters right, he abandoned the episcopal
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throne and went to the monastery of St Sava near Jerusalem, disguised as a simple monk. He remained there a number of years quite unknown, conscientiously and capably performing whatever service the abbot gave him. Thereupon St Sava suggested to the Patriarch that he be ordained priest. When the Patriarch came to do this, John confessed that he already bore the rank of bishop. Then St John shut himself into his cell and spent year after year in silence and prayer. Afterwards, he spent nine years in the desert, sustaining himself with wild herbs, and then he returned to the monastery. He wrested the faithful away from the heresy of Origen, and made a great contribution to the struggle against that heresy and its condemnation. He was able to perceive the spiritual realm with clarity, and heal the sick. He could easily subdue demons, having already conquered himself. He entered peacefully into rest in 558 at the age of a hundred and four, being great in humility, power and godly wisdom. 3. The Hieromartyr Theodore, Archbishop of Alexandria. After serving as Patriarch for two years, he was tortured by the pagans. They put a crown of thorns on his head, and finally beheaded him for the Faith in 606. 4. Our Holy Father Theodulus. A noted patrician at the court of Theodosius the Great, he abandoned the vanity of this world after the death of his wife, and left Constantinople for a pillar near Ephesus, on which he spent a good thirty years in asceticism. 5. Our Holy Father Sava of Storozhev. He was a disciple of St Sergius of Radonezh and a great wonderworker. After his death, he appeared to many people, sometimes to instruct, sometimes to warm and sometimes to heal. He went from this life to the better one in 1406. FOR CONSIDERATION God hearkens to the prayers of the just and answers them sometimes at once and in full, and at other times only later, at the proper time and according to the needs of the Church. In other words, in answering the prayer of a righteous man, God has in mind either that man's salvation or the well-being of the whole Church. St John the Silent prayed to God to reveal to him how the soul takes leave of the body, and, while still at prayer, he was taken out of himself and had the following vision: A good man died in front of the church in Bethlehem, and angels took his soul from his body and bore it up to heaven with sweet singing. Coming out of his ecstasy, St John set out at once on the road from St Sava's to Bethlehem. When he reached Bethlehem, he saw the dead body in front of the church, just as it had been in his vision. When the great Sava the Sanctified died, John was in great grief and anguish. St Sava appeared to him in a vision and said: 'Do not grieve, Father John, because, although I am separated from you in the body, I am still with you in the spirit.' Then John begged him. 'Father, pray to the Lord to take me with you!', and Sava replied: 'That is impossible for now, for a great tribulation has yet to come on the monastery. God desires you to remain to comfort and strengthen the faithful against the heretics.' John did not realize at once the sort of heretic to which the holy father was referring, but he found out later, when the Origenists began to shake the Church of God. December 17th - Civil Calendar December 4th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy and Great Martyr Barbara. This famous follower of Christ was betrothed to Him from her early years. Her father, Dioscorus, was a pagan in the city of Heliopolis in Egypt, and was famed for his wealth and standing. Dioscorus shut up his only daughter, who was both intelligent and beautiful, in a high tower, surrounded her with all possible comforts, gave her a host of attendants, set up idols for worship and built her a bath house with two windows. As she gazed through the windows of the tower upon the earth below and the starry sky above, Barbara's mind was opened by the grace of God, and she came to know Him as the one, true God and Creator, although she had no human teacher to bring her to the knowledge of Him. Once, when her father was away from the city, she came out of the tower and, by God's providence, met some Christians who told her about the true Christian faith. Barbara's heart was set on fire with love for Christ. She had a third window cut in the bath house as a symbol of
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the Holy Trinity, and traced a Cross with her finger on one wall of it, which etched itself deep in the stone as if cut by a chisel. A spring of water gushed forth from the bath house floor from her footprint, and it later gave healing from sickness to many. When Dioscorus found out about his daughter's faith, he beat her harshly and drove her from the tower, chasing after her to kill her, but a cliff opened and hid Barbara from her irate father. When she appeared again, Dioscorus took her to Marcian, the governor of the city, who handed her over for torture. The innocent Barbara was stripped and beaten until her entire body was covered in bloody wounds, but the Lord Himself appeared to her in the prison with many angels, and healed her. A certain woman, Juliana, beheld this and conceived a desire for martyrdom herself. Both of them were fearfully tortured and taken around the city to be mocked, then their breasts were cut off and much blood flowed from them. They were finally led out to the place of execution, and Juliana was slain by soldiers while Barbara was killed by her own father. On the same day, lightning struck Dioscorus' house, killing both him and Marcian. St Barbara suffered in 306, and her wonderworking relics are preserved in Kiev. Greatly glorified in the Kingdom of Christ, she has appeared many times down to our own days, sometimes alone and sometimes in the company of the most holy Mother of God. St Barbara is the protectress from sudden death. 2. St John Damascene. He was first a minister of Caliph Abdul-Malek, and then became a monk in the monastery of St Sava the Sanctified. For his ardent advocacy of the veneration of icons while still a courtier during the reign of the iconoclast Emperor Leo the Isaurian, he was slandered by the Emperor to the Caliph, who had his right hand cut off. John fell down in prayer before the icon of the most holy Mother of God, and his hand was rejoined to his arm and miraculously healed. When he beheld this wonder, the Caliph repented, but John no longer desired to remain at court as a nobleman, but to withdraw to a monastery. There, he was from the beginning a model of humility and obedience and of all the works of asceticism prescribed for monks. He wrote the hymns for the Parting of the Soul from the Body, put together the Octoechos, the Irmologion, the Menologion and the Pascha Canon, and wrote many theological works of an inspired profundity. A great monk, hymnographer and theologian, and a great warrior for the truth of Christ, Damascene is counted among the great Fathers of the Church. He entered peacefully into rest in about 749, being seventy-five years old. 3. St Gennadius, Archbishop of Novgorod. A writer of note, a champion of truth and one who suffered for the truth of Christ, he brought the various books of Sacred Scripture together in one book and composed a system to find the date of Pascha (the Pachalia) for the next five hundred and thirty-two years. He entered into rest in the Lord in 1505. His wonderworking relics are preserved in the Chudov monastery in Moscow. FOR CONSIDERATION Obedience, coupled with humility, is the basis of the spiritual life and the foundation of salvation -- and the foundation also of the whole edifice of the Church of God. The great John Damascene, great in every virtue, left as a monk a deep impression on the history of the Church by his extraordinary example of obedience and humility. His elder and spiritual father, wishing to test him, one day handed him some woven baskets and told him to take them into Damascus and sell them there. The elder laid down a very high price for the baskets, thinking that they would not sell at such a price and would have to be brought back. John had, then, firstly to undertake a very long journey; secondly, to enter as a poor monk the city where he had earlier been the man next to the Caliph; thirdly, to ask an absurdly high price for the baskets; and, fourthly, should the baskets not be sold, he had to endure the long journey there and back for nothing. The elder wished, in this way, to test the obedience, the humility and the patience of his famous disciple. John silently prostrated before the elder and, without a word, took up the baskets and set out. When he came to Damascus, he stood in the market-place and waited for customers. When he told interested passers-by the price of his goods, they began to laugh and mock him as a lunatic. He stood there the whole day, exposed to mockery and ridicule, but God, who sees all things, did not abandon His patient servant. A passing citizen happened to glance at John, and although John was wearing a monk's poor habit and his face was shrunken and pale from fasting, the man recognized him as the former nobleman and first minister of the Caliph, in whose service he also had been. John also recognized him, but they began to deal as strangers. Even though John told him the ridiculously high price of the baskets, the
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man bought them and paid the price without comment, mindful of the good deeds that Damascene had once done for him. Then holy John returned singing triumphantly to the monastery, and brought joy to his elder. December 18th - Civil Calendar December 5th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Father Sava the Sanctified. The unknown village of Mutalaska, in the province of Cappadocia, became famous through this great light of the Orthodox Church, for St Sava was born there. He left the home of his parents, John and Sophia, at the age of eight and became a monk in a nearby monastery called 'Flavian's'. After ten years, he moved to the monasteries of Palestine, staying longest in the monastery of St Euthymius the Great (Jan. 20th) and Theoctistus. Euthymius, who had the gift of discernment, foretold that he would be a famous monk and leader of monks, and that he would found a monastery that would be greater than any other of that day. After St Euthymius' death, Sava went into the desert, where he lived for five years as a hermit in a cave which an angel of God showed him. After that, when he had become a perfected monk, he began by divine providence to gather round him many desirous of the spiritual life. They very quickly grew in number, so that Sava had to build both a church and many cells. Some Armenians also came to him, and he set aside a cave for them, and they celebrated the services there in their own language. When his father died, his aged mother Sophia came to him and he made her a nun and gave her a cell away from the monastery, where she lived in asceticism till her death. This holy father endured many attacks from those close to him, from heretics, and from demons. But he overcame them all in these ways: those close to him he won over by his goodness and forbearance, the heretics by an unshakable confession of the Orthodox faith, and the demons with the sign of the Cross and the invocation of God's aid. He had a particularly severe battle with the demons on the mountain of Castellium, where he founded the second of his seven monasteries. He and his neighbor, Theodosius the Great, are considered to be the greatest lights and pillars of Orthodoxy in the East. Kings and Patriarchs were brought to the right Faith by them, and these holy and wonderful men, strong in the power of God, served each and every man as an example of humility. St Sava entered into rest in 532 at the age of ninety-four, after a life of great labor and great reward. Among all his other great and good works, let this be remembered above all: that he compiled the first Order of Services for use in monasteries, now known as the Jerusalem Typikon. 2. Our Holy Fathers, the Martyrs of Karyes. They suffered at the time of the Union of Lyons, at the hands of the Papists. The Union was the work of the Pope and the Emperor Michael Palaeologus (1260-81). The Protos of the Holy Mountain was hanged, and the others were beheaded with the sword. For details of this, see October 10th. 3. Our Holy Father Nectarius of Bitola. Born in Bitola, he lived in asceticism in the monastery of the Holy Physicians Cosmas and Damian, together with his father who was also a monk. He later went to Karyes, where he continued his asceticism in the cell of the Holy Archangels, under the direction of the elders of Philotheou and Dionysiou. After conquering human envy, demonic attacks and painful illnesses, he entered into the Kingdom of Christ on December 5th, 1500. His incorrupt and fragrant relics are preserved in his cell. 4. Our Holy Fathers Karyon and Zachariah. Father and son, they were great Egyptian ascetics. Karion left his wife and their two children and went off to become a monk. The young Zachariah was taken into the monastery as a child, and he outstripped in asceticism both his father and many other notable ascetics. When they asked Zachariah: 'Who is truly a monk?', he replied: 'He who constantly exercises himself in the fulfilling of God's commandments.' FOR CONSIDERATION A man may be great in some skill, as a statesman or a military leader, but no one amongst men is greater than the man great in faith, hope and love. The greatness of the faith and hope in God held by St Sava the Sanctified is best shown by the following incident: One day the monastery treasurer came to Sava and said he would not be able to sound the semantron* the following Saturday and Sunday to summon the brethren for the common
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service and meal, because there was not a trace of flour in the monastery, nor anything at all to eat or drink. For the same reason, even the Divine Liturgy was impossible. The saint replied without hesitation: 'I shall not cancel the Liturgy because of a lack of flour. He who commanded us not to be concerned for bodily things is faithful to His word, and is able to sustain us in a time of hunger.' And he placed all his trust in God. In this extremity, he was prepared to send some of the church vessels and vestments to be sold in the city, so that the divine services might not be foregone, nor the brothers a customary meal. But, before Saturday dawned, some men, moved by divine Providence, brought thirty mules laden with wheat, wine and oil to the monastery. 'What do you say now, my brother?', Sava asked the treasurer. 'Shall we not strike the semantron and gather the fathers?' The treasurer was ashamed of his lack of faith, and begged the abbot's forgiveness. Sava's biographer called him 'severe with demons, but mild with men'. Some monks rebelled against St Sava, and were driven from the monastery by order of Patriarch Elias. They built themselves huts on the bed of the Tekoa river, and lived there in dire straits without the bare necessities of life. Hearing that they were starving, St Sava loaded mules with flour and took them to them himself. Seeing that they had no church, he built them one. At first the monks received him with hatred, but afterwards they returned his love with love, and repented of their former evil towards him. *Semantron (in Serbian, klepalo) -- a long piece of wood, shaped for resonance, which is struck rapidly with a mallet. It became widely used in place of a bell under Turkish rule, when Christians were forbidden to ring bells because the Turks held the superstition that bells call demons. -- Translator. December 19th - Civil Calendar December 6th - Church Calendar 1. St Nicolas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia. This saint, famed throughout the entire world today, was the only son of his eminent and wealthy parents, Theophanes and Nona, citizens of Patara in Lycia. They dedicated to God the only son He gave them. St Nicolas was instructed in the spiritual life by his uncle Nicolas, Bishop of Patara (see below), and became a monk at 'New Sion', a monastery founded by his uncle. On the death of his parents, Nicolas distributed all the property he inherited to the poor and kept nothing back for himself. As a priest in Patara, he was known for his charitable works, fulfilling the Lord's words: 'Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth' (Matt. 6:3). When he embraced a life of solitude and silence, thinking to live in that way until his death, a voice from on high came to him: 'Nicolas, set about your work among the people if you desire to receive a crown from Me.' Immediately after that, by God's wondrous providence, he was chosen as archbishop of the city of Myra in Lycia. Merciful, wise and fearless, Nicolas was a true shepherd to his flock. He was cast into prison during the persecutions of Diocletian and Maximian, but even there continued to instruct the people in the Law of God. He was present at the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 325, and, in his zeal, struck Arius with his hand. For this act, he was removed from the Council and from his episcopal duties, until some of the chief hierarchs had a vision of our Lord Christ and His most holy Mother showing their sympathy with Nicolas. This wonderful saint was a defender of the truth of God, and was ever a spirited champion of justice among the people. On two occasions, he saved three men from undeserved sentences of death. Merciful, trustworthy and loving right, he walked among the people like an angel of God. People considered him a saint even during his lifetime, and invoked his aid when in torment or distress. He would appear both in dreams and in reality to those who called upon him for help, responding speedily to them, whether close at hand or far away. His face would shine with light as Moses' did aforetime, and his mere presence among people would bring solace, peace and goodwill. In old age, he sickened of a slight illness, and went to his rest in the Lord after a life full of labor and fruitful toil. He now enjoys eternal happiness in the Kingdom of heaven, continuing to help the faithful on earth by his miracles, and to spread the glory of God. He entered into rest on December 6th, 343. 2. St Nicolas, Bishop of Patara. The uncle of the great St Nicolas, he set his nephew on the spiritual path and ordained him priest. 3. The Holy Martyr Nicolas of Karamanos. He was harshly tortured by the Turks, and was hanged in Smyrna in 1657. 4. St Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch.
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A man well-versed in Hellenistic philosophy, he became a Christian through reading the Holy Scriptures and became a great champion of the Christian faith. His work 'On the Faith' is extant today. He governed the Church in Antioch for thirteen years, and went to his rest in the year 181. FOR CONSIDERATION On icons of St Nicolas, our Lord and Savior will often be seen on one side with the Gospels in His hand, and the most holy Mother of God on the other with an episcopal stole in hers. This has a twofold historical significance: it denotes, firstly, Nicolas' calling to episcopal office, and secondly his vindication and reinstatement following the punishment for his clash with Arius. St Methodius, Patriarch of Constantinople, writes: 'One night, St Nicolas saw our Savior in glory, standing by him and holding out to him the Gospels adorned with gold and pearls, and the Mother of God standing on his other side and placing a omophorion on his shoulders. Shortly after this vision, John, the then Archbishop of Myra, died, and Nicolas was installed as Archbishop of that city.' That was the first occasion. The second occurred at the time of the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea. Unable to put a stop by argument to the senseless blasphemy of Arius against the Son of God and His most pure Mother, St Nicolas struck Arius in the face. The holy fathers at the Council strongly disapproved of such behavior, and they banned Nicolas from the Council and stripped him of all marks of his episcopal rank. That very night, several of the fathers had the selfsame vision: how the Lord stood on one side of Nicolas with the Gospels and the Mother of God on the other with a omophorion, offering to the saint those marks of rank that had been stripped from him. Seeing this, the fathers were amazed, and quickly returned to Nicolas that which they had taken from him. They began from that time to respect him as a great man, and to interpret his action against Arius not as some senseless rage but as the expression of great zeal for God's truth. December 20th - Civil Calendar December 7th - Church Calendar 1. St Ambrose, Bishop of Mediolanum (Milan). This great Father of the Orthodox Church was of eminent parentage. His father was the imperial governor of Gaul and Spain, and a pagan, while his mother was a Christian. While he was still in his cradle, a swarm of bees once settled on him, left some honey on his lips and flew off; and, while still a child, he thrust out his hand and said prophetically: 'Kiss it, for I shall be a bishop!' On the death of his father, the Emperor made him governor of Liguria, of which province Milan was the chief city. When the bishop of Milan died, there was great dissention between the Orthodox Christians and the heretical Arians about the choice of a new bishop. Ambrose went into the church to keep order, this being his responsibility. Thereupon, a child at its mother's breast cried out: 'Ambrose for bishop!' All the people took this to be the voice of God, and unanimously elected Ambrose as their bishop, although it was against his will. Ambrose was baptized, and passed through all the necessary ranks in one week, and was consecrated bishop. In this capacity, he strengthened the faith of the Orthodox, restrained heretics, adorned churches, spread the Faith among the pagans, wrote many instructive books and was an example of a true Christian and a true shepherd. He also composed the Te Deum, the great hymn of thanksgiving. This renowned hierarch, who was visited by people from distant lands for his wisdom and gracious words, was very austere in his personal life, being no stranger to toil and full of good works. He slept little, worked and prayed constantly and fasted every day except Saturday and Sunday. God therefore permitted him to witness many of His wonders, and to perform many himself. He discovered the relics of Ss Protasius, Gervasius, Nazarius and Celsus (see Oct. 14th). Humble before lesser men, he was fearless before the great. He reproached the Empress Justina for heresy, cursed Maximus for tyranny and murder and forbade the Emperor Theodosius to enter a church until he had repented of his sin. He refused to meet the powerful Eugenius, the self-styled Emperor. God granted this man, who was so pleasing to Him, such grace that he could raise the dead, drive demons from men, heal the sick of every ailment and see into the future. He died peacefully at daybreak on the day of Pascha in the year 397. 2. Our Holy Father Gregory the Hesychast. A Serb by birth, he was the founder of the monastery of St Nicolas on the Holy Mountain, which is known by the name of Grigoriou after him. He built himself a cell about four hours' journey from the monastery, where he wept over his sins and prayed. In 1761, a serious fire broke out in the monastery, and at that time some of the monks took his relics to Serbia. This man of God entered into eternal rest in 1406.
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3. Our Holy Father Nilus of Stolobnoye. A worker on the land, born in Novgorod, he went off into a lonely place and survived on plants and gleanings. He was instructed by a voice from on high to move to the island of Stolobnoye (Table Island). Once, some robbers burst into his cell, and were immediately blinded. He dug his own grave close to his cell, and wept over it every day. He entered into eternal rest in the kingdom of Christ in 1554, and his wonderworking relics are preserved in the place where he led his life of fasting. FOR CONSIDERATION God repays a hundred-fold that which is loaned to him by the poor. There was once a Christian woman married to a pagan, and they lived together in love and poverty. When the husband had put by fifty pieces of silver, he remarked to his wife that they should lend the money out on interest, because their savings would otherwise be frittered away coin by coin, and they would be left with nothing. His wife replied: 'If you want to lend the money, lend it to the Christian God.' 'And where is this Christian God?', he asked. His wife took him to the church and told him to distribute all the money to the beggars in front of it, saying: 'The God of the Christians will accept it from them, for they all belong to Him.' So, giving every single one of the fifty coins of silver to the poor, they went home. After a while, they were left without bread in the house, and the woman told her husband to go to the church for the money that he had lent to God. Off the husband went to the church, but he saw only beggars there, and, in doubt about who would give him the money, he paced around the church building. Suddenly, he saw a silver coin lying before him. He picked it up, bought a fish with it and took it home, where he complained to his wife that he had not seen anybody, and nobody had given him anything at all, but that he had come upon a single coin on the ground quite by chance. His wife replied: 'God is invisible, and works in an unseen way.' When she opened the fish, she found a glittering stone in it. She gave it to her husband, who took it to a merchant to see what he could get for it. The merchant offered him five silver pieces, and the man began to laugh, thinking the merchant was joking in offering so high a price. However, the merchant thought that the man was laughing on account of the meanness of his offer, and offered him first ten, then fifteen, thirty and finally fifty silver pieces. The man then realized that it was a precious stone, and began to demur. The merchant raised his price higher and higher, until he reached three hundred pieces of silver. Then the man accepted the three hundred pieces and went off home full of joy. 'Do you see how good the Christian God is?', asked his wife. The amazed husband was baptized straight away, and lived to glorify God together with his wife. December 21st - Civil Calendar December 8th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Father Patapius. Born and brought up in the Faith and in the fear of God by pious parents in the Egyptian city of Thebes, he early perceived and rejected the empty vanity of the world and went into the Egyptian desert, where he devoted himself to cleansing his heart from every worldly thought and desire for the sake of divine love. When his virtues became known among the people, they began to come to him and seek relief from their troubles. Afraid of human glory, which darkens a man's mind and separates it from God, Patapius fled from the desert to Constantinople, for this wonderful saint thought that he could more easily hide himself from men in the heart of a city than in the desert. He built himself a hut close to the Blachernae church and there, enclosed and unknown, took up again his interrupted life of asceticism. But the light cannot be hidden. A child, blind from birth, was led by divine Providence to St Patapius and begged him to offer a prayer that he might be given his sight and look upon God's creation, and praise God all the more. Patapius had pity on the suffering child and prayed to God, and the child saw. Through this miracle, Patapius' godly life became known throughout the entire capital, and people began to turn to him for healing, comfort and teaching. Patapius healed one eminent man of dropsy after blessing him with a cross and anointing him with oil. Making the sign of the Cross in the air, he freed a youth from an unclean spirit which had cruelly tormented him, and the evil spirit went out of God's creature like smoke, uttering a great cry. He made the sign of the Cross over a woman who had sores on her breasts all filled with worms, and she was healed. St Patapius worked many other miracles, all through prayer in the name of Christ and by the power of the Cross. He entered into rest in great old age, going to the Kingdom of God in the seventh century.
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2. The Holy Apostles Sosthenes, Apollos, Tychicus, Epaphroditus, Onesiphorus, Cephas and Caesar. All these are commemorated on January 4th with the other lesser apostles. St Apollos is also commemorated on September 10th, St Onesiphorus on September 7th, and Cephas and Caesar on March 30th. St Sosthenes was Bishop of Caesarea and Tychicus succeeded him in the same city. Epaphroditus was bishop in Colophon in Pamphylia, Cephas in Iconium and Caesar in the Peloponnese. They all preached the Gospel of Christ with burning love, and endured suffering for His name's sake before they entered into the Kingdom of eternal joy. 3. The Holy Martyrs in Africa. They suffered for the truth of Orthodoxy in the reign of Gunerik of the Vandals (477-484), at the hands of the heretical Arians. Two priests were burned, sixty had their tongues torn out and three hundred laymen were beheaded. All of them suffered terribly, but they overcame falsehood by their deaths, and Orthodoxy was strengthened and was handed down to us pure and untarnished. The Lord crowned them with crowns of glory in His immortal Kingdom. FOR CONSIDERATION He who entrusts himself completely to God is led by Him towards salvation, and is used by Him for the good of many others. St Nicolas, entrusting himself to the will of God, fled from human vanity, from his town of Patara, and came to the city of Myra in Lycia, where he knew no-one and was known by none. With no means at all of supporting himself (for, although he had been rich, he had abandoned everything), without acquaintance and without any plan, he went unnoticed about the city, waiting for God to direct his footsteps. At that time, John, the archbishop of the city, died and the Synod that was assembled for the election of a new archbishop could not agree on any one candidate. Finally, the members of the Synod decided to fast and pray that God would show them who was most worthy of the position. God heard the prayers of His servants, and disclosed to them who was the most worthy. While the presiding bishop was standing at prayer, a man appeared to him, clothed in white, and told him to go out early and stand in front of the church, awaiting the first man to arrive for morning prayer. 'Make him archbishop; he is called Nicolas', he said. The bishop informed the others of what he had heard and seen, and he went to the church early the next morning and waited. St Nicolas, who was accustomed to rising early to pray, came to the church. Seeing him, the bishop asked: 'What is your name, my son?' Nicolas was silent. The bishop asked him again, and this time he answered: 'I am called Nicolas, and am your lordship's servant.' Then the bishop took him by the hand and, leading him into the Synod, said: 'Receive, my brethren, your pastor, whom the Holy Spirit has anointed and who has been elected not by a human Synod, but by divine Providence.' December 22nd - Civil Calendar December 9th - Church Calendar 1. The Conception by St Anna of the Most Holy Mother of God. Righteous Joachim and Anna were childless for fifty years of their married life. In their old age, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to them, to each one separately, and told them that God had heard their prayer and that a daughter would be born to them. Then St Anna conceived by her husband and, after nine months, bore a daughter blessed by God and all generations of men: the most holy Virgin Mary and Mother of God. There is a fuller account of all this on September 9th. 2. St Hannah, Mother of the Prophet Samuel. Hannah was the wife of Elkanah from Ramathaim-Zophim, or Arimathea (I Sam. 1). She had had no child, being barren, and she wept and grieved bitterly for this. But God in His mercy took pity on her, and removed her barrenness in response to her ceaseless prayers and sighs. Hannah bore a son, Samuel, and dedicated him to God from his childhood. Samuel was a great leader of the nation of Israel, and a prophet who anointed two kings, Saul and David. St Hannah sang a hymn of thanksgiving to God, a hymn wonderful in its wisdom and beauty, which is used to this day in church services (I Sam. 2:1). 3. Our Holy Father Stephen the New Light.
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This godly man was born and brought up in Constantinople in the house of his parents Zacharias and Theophano, his father being a priest at the Great Church in the time of Patriarch Methodius. When she was carrying him in her womb, his mother fed only on bread and water, and, when the child was born, a cross of light shone on his breast. Because of this, and because of his pure and godly way of life, he is named 'the New Light'. At the age of eighteen, Stephen shut himself up in a cell attached to the church of St Peter the Apostle, and devoted himself to prayer and fasting. Once St Peter appeared to him, and said: 'Peace be to thee, my child; thou hast made a good beginning. May the Lord strengthen thee.' After that, he spent many years in a cell by the church of the holy martyr Antipas. This saint also appeared to him, encouraging him: 'Know that I will not abandon thee.' Stephen took greater and greater labors upon himself. He ate only twice a week, and that unsalted cabbage. In all, this holy man spent fifty-five years in asceticism for the sake of the kingdom of Christ, and went to his rest in the Lord in 879, at the age of seventy-three. 4. St Sophronius, Archbishop of Cyprus. He was born and brought up in Cyprus. Because of his great spiritual erudition and his many virtues, in particular his compassion, he was made archbishop after St Damian. Having faithfully served the Church and led a life pleasing to God, he died peacefully in the sixth century. FOR CONSIDERATION Fear of God drives all fear of men from the heart. In all the great hierarchs of the Orthodox Church, we notice a wonderful combination of humility and fearlessness. St Nicolas seized the sword of an executioner so that he could not execute innocent men. St John Chrysostom castigated the Empress Eudoxia for her misdeeds, with no consideration for the unpleasantness and danger to his life to which he exposed himself in consequence. There are many other similar examples: when the Emperor Valentinian the Elder had listened to the stern criticism of St Ambrose, he said to him: 'I knew of your fearlessness when I helped in your election as bishop. Correct our faults, teach the Law of God and cure our unrighteousness.' When Valentinian the Younger, at the instigation of his mother Justina (who was an Arian), ordered that the cathedral in Milan be opened for heretics, Ambrose shut himself in the church with the faithful, and would not come out for three days. He sent word to the Emperor and Empress that, if they desired his death, he was prepared at any time 'here in the church to be run through, either by a sword or a spear'. Hearing this, the Emperor and Empress rescinded their order. When a quarrel broke out in Salonica, and the Emperor Theodosius the Great had more than seven thousand people beheaded, Ambrose was so furious with the Emperor that, when he visited Milan and wished to enter the church, the saint forbade him to do so. The Emperor said to Ambrose: 'David sinned, and yet was not deprived of God's mercy.' The bishop replied: 'As you have imitated David in sin, so now imitate him in repentance also.' The Emperor was ashamed and turned back, and repented bitterly of the sin he had committed. December 23rd - Civil Calendar December 10th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyrs Menas, Hermogenes and Eugraphus. Both Menas and Hermogenes were born in Athens. They both lived in Constantinople, where they enjoyed the high favor of the Emperor and the honor of the people. Menas was known for his great learning and gift of speech and, although he acted outwardly as a pagan, he was in his heart a convinced Christian. Hermogenes was Eparch of Constantinople, and was a pagan through and through. He was, however, a merciful man and performed many good deeds. When dissention broke out between the Christians and the pagans in the city of Alexandria, the Emperor Maximian (285-305) sent Menas to calm the turmoil and drive the Christians from the city. Menas went and restored peace, but he also declared himself to be a Christian and brought many of the pagans to the true Faith by the power of his words and the witness of his many miracles. When the Emperor heard this, he sent Hermogenes to punish Menas and to liquidate the Christians. Hermogenes brought Menas to trial, and he cut off his feet and his tongue, gouged out his eyes and then threw him into prison. The Lord Jesus himself appeared to him there, to heal and console His suffering servant. When he saw Menas miraculously healed, Hermogenes was baptized and began to preach the mighty Faith of Christ, being made Bishop of Alexandria. Then the furious Emperor Maximian came himself to Alexandria and put Menas and Hermogenes to harsh torture, which they endured courageously with the help of God's grace. Beholding the fortitude of these soldiers of Christ and the miracles God wrought upon them, Eugraphus, Menas' secretary, went into the
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judgement-hall and shouted to the Emperor's face: 'I too am a Christian!' The Emperor flew into a rage, took a sword and beheaded Eugraphus himself, and then he commanded the executioner to behead Menas and Hermogenes. Their holy relics, thrown into the sea, floated in a miraculous way to Constantinople, where the bishop, forewarned in a dream, met them with great ceremony and buried them with honor. 2. Our Holy Mother Angelina and St John the Despot. The daughter of Prince George Skenderbeg of Albania and the wife of Stephen, Despot of Serbia and son of Despot George, she endured exile with her husband and shared with him all the vicissitudes of life in Serbia, and also in Albania and Italy. She brought up her two sons, Maxim and John, in a truly Christian spirit. Becoming a nun on her husband's death, she devoted herself to prayer, works of charity and the building and repair of churches. A faithful wife, a good mother and a perfect Christian, she indeed merited the title 'Mother Angelina' given her by the people. Her wonderworking relics are preserved, along with the relics of her righteous husband Stephen and her devoted sons Maxim and John, in the monastery of Krusedol, though some of them were destroyed by the Turks. She entered into rest and into life eternal at the beginning of the sixteenth century. 3. The Holy Martyr Gemellus. An honored citizen of Ancyra, Gemellus appeared before the Emperor Julian the Apostate when he visited the city, and openly reproached him for his apostasy. For this, he was tortured and crucified in the year 361. While he was enduring his passion on the cross, a voice was heard from heaven: 'Blessed art thou, Gemellus!' 4. Our Holy Father Thomas of Bithynia. A great faster, a conqueror of demons and a clairvoyant, he once received a letter from the Emperor Leo the Wise, and replied without opening it. He entered into rest in the Lord in great old age, in the ninth century. FOR CONSIDERATION The living Lord has innumerable ways of knowing when to be gentle and when to chastise, to deliver the faithful from temptation, to bring unbelievers to the Faith and to punish its incorrigible persecutors. When the wicked Maximian had slain Christ's martyrs Menas, Hermogenes and Eugraphus, he set sail with his retinue from Alexandria en route for Constantinople. He was at that moment blinded, as his soul and mind had long been blind, and began to complain to those around him of invisible hands that were beating him. He soon died an evil death, as he had lived an evil life. In the time of St Ambrose, the following incident occurred: The heretical Empress Justina had persuaded Euthymius, a great Milanese landowner, to seize the bishop she hated and take him somewhere far off into exile. Euthymius prepared a cart, and found lodgings in a house close to the church, the more easily to keep watch on Ambrose and bear him off in the cart. On the very day on which he had everything prepared to seize Ambrose, an imperial order arrived, sending Euthymius into instant exile for some crime. The soldiers came, seized the wicked man and took him off to exile in the very cart that he had prepared for Ambrose. On another occasion, an Arian came into the church where Ambrose was celebrating, bent on hearing Ambrose say something for which they could condemn him. Looking around, the heretic saw God's saint teaching the people, and an angel of light alongside him, whispering in his ear. This made the Arian greatly afraid and ashamed, and, casting off his heresy, he returned to Orthodoxy. December 24th - Civil Calendar December 11th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Father Daniel the Stylite. Born in the village of Maroutha, near the city of Samosata in Mesopotamia, of Christian parents, Elias and Martha, he was a gift of God through the tearful prayers of his mother, who was barren, and was dedicated to God in his youth. He embraced the monastic state at the age of twelve and visited Simeon Stylites, receiving his blessing. Desirous of solitude, Daniel left his monastery and withdrew to an abandoned pagan temple on the shore of the Black Sea. He endured many assaults from demons, but overcame them all by prayer, endurance and the sign of the Cross. After that, he climbed up onto a pillar, where he remained till his death, enduring with equanimity both heat and cold, and attacks from both men and demons. Many disciples gathered around his pillar, and he led them towards eternal life by his example and his words. God rewarded His devoted
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servant with great grace in this life, and he worked many miracles of help to men, and foretold future events. People came to his pillar from all parts, seeking help and advice from the saint of God. Kings and patriarchs came to him, as well as simple folk. The Emperor Leo the Great used to bring his foreign guests, princes and nobles, and show them Daniel on his pillar: 'Here is the wonder of my empire!' Daniel foretold the day of his own death, taught his disciples as a father would his children, and took leave of them. At the time of his death, his disciples saw angels, prophets, apostles and martyrs around the pillar. Having lived in asceticism for eighty years, this angelic man entered into rest, and into the Kingdom of Christ, in 489. 2. Our Holy Father Luke the Stylite. Luke lived in Constantinople during the reign of the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus. He fought as a soldier in the war against the Bulgars and witnessed the slaughter of many thousands, but he himself emerged from the war alive and unharmed. Seeing the finger of God in his deliverance, he scorned all the vanity of this world, took himself off to a pillar near Chalcedon and there spent forty-five years in asceticism, cleansing his soul from every sinful thought and desire. He entered into rest after a life pleasing to God, some time between 970 and 980, and went to the better life. 3. Our Holy Father Nikon the Dry. He was enslaved by the Tartars as a monk of the Kiev Caves, and spent three years in captivity, fettered, tortured and abused. When his kinsmen brought the money to ransom him from his owner, he refused, saying: 'If the Lord had wanted me to be free, He would not have given me into the hands of these lawless men.' Once he told his owner that Christ would free him in three days. The Tartar thought that this meant that his slave was going to run away, so he cut his tendons below the knee. On the third day, though, Nikon was indeed carried by invisible hands to Kiev. After a time, the Tartar came to Kiev and recognized his former slave. He repented and was baptized, and the former owner became the servant and disciple of his erstwhile slave. Nikon, called 'the Dry' because of the great emaciation of his body, was a great visionary and wonderworker. He entered peacefully into rest in the Lord on December 11th, 1101. 4. The Holy Martyr Meirax. An Egyptian, he was tricked by the Mohammedan Emir into accepting Islam. He later repented, went into a mosque bearing a cross, declared himself a Christian and called upon the Moslems to forsake their errors and turn to the Truth. He was tortured and martyred in about 640. FOR CONSIDERATION 'The Lord preserveth all them that love Him' (Ps. 144:21). The lives of the saints affirm this with sun-like clarity. Certain envious priests complained to Patriarch Anatolius about St Daniel, slandering him and saying that he was a magician. This sprang from their jealousy of the young ascetic, who had outstripped them in every virtue and had drawn many to himself by his manner of life. The Patriarch summoned Daniel, and examined him in his faith and his way of life. Daniel having laid all before him, the Patriarch rose from his seat and embraced him, speaking highly of him and sending him away in peace. Several days later, Patriarch Anatolius fell ill, and he called Daniel and asked him to pray to God for his recovery. Daniel prayed, and the Patriarch was instantly restored to health. When the Patriarch sought to reward Daniel in some way, the young saint asked, as his reward, that his slanderers be pardoned. The Patriarch said: 'How could I not forgive them when they are the means of such a great blessing -- that I should come to know you and obtain healing through you?' Indeed, 'the Lord preserveth all them that love Him', and turns to good the evil that men devise. While St Nikon the Dry was a slave among the Tartars, his master became sick and was at the point of death. Realizing that he was in this state, he ordered his sons to crucify Nikon on his grave. St Nikon foresaw the future baptism of his cruel master, and prayed to God for his recovery. Against all expectation, the Tartar recovered. Thus, through prayer, Nikon saved himself from physical death and his master from the death of his soul. December 25th - Civil Calendar December 12th - Church Calendar 1. St Spiridon the Wonderworker, Bishop of Tremithus.
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The island of Cyprus was both the birthplace of this famous saint, and the place in which he spent his life in the service of the Church. He was of simple farming stock, and remained simple and humble to the end of his days. He married young and had children, but, when his wife died, he devoted himself entirely to the service of God. He was chosen for his devotion as Bishop of Tremithus, and even as a bishop did not change his simple style of life, taking charge of his cattle himself and tilling his own land. He consumed very little of his own produce, giving the greater part to the poor. He performed great wonders by God's power, making rain fall in a drought, stopping the course of a river, raising several of the dead, healing the Emperor Constans of a grave sickness, seeing and hearing angels, foreseeing future events and penetrating the secrets of the human heart. He turned many to the true Faith, and did much else. He was present at the first Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 325, and, by his simple and clear expositions of the Faith, as well as by convincing miracles, brought back many heretics to Orthodoxy. He dressed so simply that once, when he was invited by the Emperor to the imperial court, a soldier took him for a beggar and struck him a blow. The meek and guileless Spiridon turned him the other cheek. He glorified God with many miracles, and was of great aid both to individuals and to the whole Church of God. He entered into rest in the Lord in 348, and his wonderworking relics now lie on the island of Corfu and continue to glorify God with many wonders. 2. The Hieromartyr Alexander, Bishop of Jerusalem. He was at first bishop in Cappadocia, but, during the persecution under Severus in 203, was thrown into prison and then exiled. After that, he accepted the see of Jerusalem, and there founded a famous library that was of great use to Eusebius when he was writing his Ecclesiastical History. He was tortured in various ways during the reign of Decius, and was thrown to the wild beasts. Alive and unharmed, he was cast back into prison, where he finished his earthly course and went to the Lord in the year 251. 3. The Holy Martyr Synesius. He boldly preached the truth of Christ as a young reader in Rome, and denounced the idolaters. He was beheaded for his outspokenness during the reign of Aurelian, towards the end of the third century. FOR CONSIDERATION Nothing will help us if we are not generous and forgiving towards human weakness in others. If we do not forgive others, how can we hope that God will forgive us? St Spiridon once sold a merchant a hundred goats at a given price, and told the buyer to produce the money. Knowing that Spiridon himself would never count it, he put down enough for ninety-nine goats and secreted the money for the hundredth. Spiridon then counted out a hundred goats for him, but, when the merchant and his servant started driving them away, one of them returned bleating. It was driven off again, and again returned. It kept returning to the flock, and would not go with the other goats. The saint then whispered into the merchant's ear: 'You know, my son, that animal is not acting like this without a reason. Have you, perhaps, withheld the price?' The merchant was ashamed and acknowledged his sin, and, as soon as he had paid the full amount, the goat immediately went off and joined the rest of the flock. On another occasion, some thieves went into Spiridon's pasture. When they had seized as many rams as they wanted, they tried to leave the field, but an invisible force riveted them to the earth and they could not move from the spot. At dawn, the bishop came to the pasture, and, seeing the thieves, reproached them mildly and told them to try, in future, to live by their own labor and not by thieving. He then caught a ram and gave it to them, saving: 'Take this, so that your trouble and night vigil should not have been in vain', and he sent them away in peace. December 26th - Civil Calendar December 13th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyrs Eustratius, Auxentius, Eugene, Mardarius and Orestes. These five courageous men shone like five resplendent stars in the dark days of the anti-Christian Emperors Diocletian and Maximian. St Eustratius was a Roman general in the city of Satalios, Eugene was one of his comrades in arms and Orestes likewise a respected soldier. Auxentius was a priest and Mardarius a simple citizen who came, like Eustratius, from the town of Aravraca. The imperial governors, Lysias and Agricola, tortured Auxentius first as he was a priest. Beholding the innocent suffering of the Christians, Eustratius
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presented himself before Lycias and declared that he also was a Christian. While Eustratius was being tortured, Eugene stood up before the judge and cried out: 'I am a Christian too, Lycias!' When they were driving Eustratius and the other martyrs through the town, Mardarius saw them from the roof of his house, and he took leave of his wife and two frail daughters and hastened after them, shouting into the faces of their tormentors: 'I am a Christian too, like the Lord Eustratius!' Orestes was a young and handsome soldier, who stood head and shoulders above all the other soldiers. One day, when he was at target practice in Lycias' presence, the Cross he was wearing fell from his breast, and Lycias realized that he was a Christian. Orestes openly confessed his faith, and was martyred with the others. Auxentius was beheaded, Eugene and Mardarius died under torture, Orestes was exposed on a red-hot iron grid and Eustratius died in a flaming furnace. St Blaise (see Feb. 11th) gave Communion to St Eustratius in prison before his death. Their relics were later taken to Constantinople, and are preserved in the church dedicated to them -The Holy Five Companions. They were seen alive in that church, and St Orestes appeared to St Dimitri of Rostov (see Oct. 28th). A beautiful prayer by St Eustratius is extant, which is read at the Midnight Service on Saturdays: 'I glorify Thy majesty, O Lord for Thou hast regarded my lowliness and hast not shut me up in the hands of my enemies, but hast saved my soul from want...' 2. The Holy Martyr Lucy the Virgin. With her mother, Lucy visited the grave of St Agatha in Catania, and the saint appeared to her. Her mother, who had an issue of blood, was miraculously cured in the church at that time. Lucy gave away all her goods to the poor, and this embittered her betrothed, who denounced her to Paschasius the judge as a Christian. The wicked judge ordered that she be taken to a brothel and defiled, but, by the power of God, she remained immovable, as if rooted to the earth, and not even a vast number of people was able to move her from the spot. An enraged pagan then ran her through the throat with a sword, and she commended her soul to God and entered into the Kingdom of eternity. She suffered in the year 304. 3. The Hieromartyr Gavrilo, Patriarch of Serbia. In the fearful period of Turkish rule in Serbia, this great hierarch went to Russia, where he took part in the Moscow Synod of 1655. When he returned to Serbia, he was denounced as a traitor. Certain wicked Jews also brought against him the charge of having converted several Jews to the Christian faith. These Jews, in order to stir up the Turkish authorities, made a special point of the fact that he had worked for the baptism of Turks. He was tried, and sentenced to forcible conversion to Islam. Since Gavrilo would have none of this, he was, after a period of imprisonment, sentenced to death and hanged in Brussa in 1659, and so went to his beloved Christ, to receive at His hands the double wreath of hierarch and martyr. FOR CONSIDERATION To give alms out of one's own need is true almsgiving. Not even the most hardened sinner sins then, for it is an act precious before God. When St Lucy had seen her sick mother miraculously healed, she suggested to her that her possessions be used as alms to the needy. Her mother replied that she was not willing to relinquish her goods until her death, but agreed that, when that happened, Lucy should use them in whatever way she wished. 'First cover my eyes with earth', she said, 'and then do what you will with them.' Lucy said: 'He who gives to God only what he cannot take with him into the grave, or make use of in this life, is not very pleasing to God. If you want to do something pleasing to Him, give Him that which you yourself need. In death, you can use nothing at all, and need from Him things that you cannot take with you. It is better to give to Christ that which you have while you are alive and well. Give to Him all that you have set aside for me, and do it now!' The devout mother hearkened to her wise daughter, and did so. When the torturer Paschasius was trying to force this holy maiden into carnal sin, Lucy tried to keep the thought of it from entering her will. When the torturer threatened that his men would defile her by force, saying with a smirk: 'When you have been defiled, the Holy Spirit will flee from you', Lucy, full of grace, replied: 'The body cannot be defiled without the consent of the mind', and holy Lucy went to her death having given away all her goods and having preserved her pure young body from defilement. December 27th - Civil Calendar December 14th - Church Calendar
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1. The Holy Martyrs Thyrsus, Leucius and Callinicus. Saints Thyrsus and Leucius were eminent citizens of Bithynian Caesarea; the latter being baptized and the former still a catechumen. Callinicus, however, was a pagan priest who offered sacrifice to idols. When Cumbricius, heir to the Emperor Decius, began to torture and murder the Christians, the intrepid Leucius stood before him and reproached him: 'Why have you begun to make war on your own soul, Cumbricius?' The enraged judge ordered that he be flogged and tortured, and then beheaded with the sword. In terrible torment, Leucius went to his execution as joyfully as if he were going to a wedding. When he beheld Leucius' courageous death, blessed Thyrsus was inflamed with divine zeal and, like Leucius, went before the judge and rebuked him for his crimes and his lack of belief in the one, true God. He was therefore beaten and cast into prison. He was healed of his wounds by the invisible hand of God, which also opened the prison doors and led him forth. Thyrsus went at once to Phileas, the Bishop of Caesarea, to be baptized by him. After his baptism, he was again seized and tortured, but he endured all the torments as if in a dream and not in reality. Many idols fell down through the power of his prayer. When he saw this, Callinicus, a pagan priest, was converted to the Christian faith, so both he and Thyrsus were condemned to death. Callinicus was beheaded with the sword, and Thyrsus was placed in a wooden coffin to be sawn asunder, but God's power prevented this and the saw could not penetrate the wood. Then Thyrsus arose from the coffin, praying and thanking God for his sufferings, and he peacefully gave his soul into the Lord's hands. At the end of the fourth century, the Emperor Flavian built a church to St Thyrsus near Constantinople, and placed his holy relics in it. The saint appeared in a vision to the Empress Pulcheria, and suggested that she bury the relics of the Forty Martyrs beside his own. 2. The Holy Martyrs Philemon, Apollonius, Arrian and others. During the reign of Diocletian, Arrian, a judge in Egypt, cruelly persecuted the Christians there. He seized Apollonius and threatened him with torture. Apollonius became afraid of the tortures, and bribed an unknown musician, Philemon, a pagan, to offer sacrifice to the idols in his place, dressed in his clothes. When Philemon went before the idols, the light of the Christian faith suddenly shone in his heart, and he made the sign of the Cross. He then went out of the temple and began to shout: 'I am a Christian, a servant of Christ the living God!' Hearing this, the judge laughed, thinking that Philemon was mocking the Christians. Later, Philemon was subjected to fearful tortures. Finally, both Philemon and Apollonius were beheaded by Arrian the judge. Then Arrian himself became a Christian, because his blind eye was healed in a miraculous way at Philemon's grave. He was condemned to death by the Emperor, and perished together with four soldiers who had likewise declared themselves to be Christians. FOR CONSIDERATION There are three sorts of praiseworthy zeal: zeal in cleansing oneself from sinful desires and thoughts, zeal for the truth of the Faith and zeal for God's justice among men. All three were perfectly present in the soul of St Nicholas the Wonderworker. He showed zeal in self-purification through his whole life, keeping a careful watch over his heart. His zeal for the truth of the Faith was especially evident at the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, where he entered into a fearful conflict with Arius. His zeal for God's justice among men was seen especially in two notable events, when on each occasion he saved three innocent men from the death penalty. Once, in his absence from Myra, the avaricious military governor, Eustathius, sentenced three men to be beheaded, he having accepted a bribe from their enemies. When he was informed of this, St Nicholas returned to Myra in the greatest haste. The condemned men had been led out to the place of execution, and the executioner had already raised his sword over them. At that instant, Nicholas seized the sword, pulled it out of the executioner's hand and set the condemned men free. He then rebuked Eustathius and brought him to shame and repentance. In a similar way, three generals, Nepotianus, Ursus and Erpilionus, were slandered before Eulavius the governor of Constantinople and the Emperor himself. The Emperor signed the death-warrant. On the eve of their execution, the three men prayed to God, saying: 'O God of Nicholas, deliver us innocent men from death!' That night, Nicholas appeared to both the Emperor and the governor in their sleep, denounced them for their injustice and ordered them to free the three men from prison at once. The next day, the Emperor and the governor each related to the other the selfsame nocturnal vision, and they set the generals free both from their death-sentence and from prison. December 28th - Civil Calendar December 15th - Church Calendar
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1. The Hieromartyr Eleutherius. A good fruit of a good tree, this wonderful saint had noble and eminent parents. He was born in Rome, where his father was in imperial service. His mother, Anthea, heard the Gospel from the great Apostle Paul himself, and was baptized by him. Being early left a widow, she entrusted her only son to the education and service of the Bishop of Rome, Anacletus. Seeing how greatly Eleutherius was gifted and illumined by the grace of God, the bishop ordained him deacon at the age of fifteen, priest at eighteen and bishop at twenty. Endowed by God with wisdom, he made up for what he lacked in years. This godly man was made bishop in Illyria, with his seat at Valona in Albania. He kept his flock like a good shepherd, adding to their number from day to day. The Emperor Hadrian, a persecutor of Christians, sent a commander, Felix, with soldiers, to seize Eleutherius and take him to Rome. When the furious Felix arrived in Valona and went into the church, and heard and saw God's holy hierarch, his heart was suddenly changed and he became a Christian. Eleutherius baptized him and set off with him for Rome, as merrily as though he were going to a feast, not to trial and torture. The Emperor put the gently-born Eleutherius to harsh torture, flogging him, burning him on an iron grid, boiling him in pitch and burning him in a fiery furnace. But, by God's power, Eleutherius was delivered from all these deadly torments. Seeing all this, Choribus the governor proclaimed that he himself was a Christian. Choribus was tortured and then beheaded, and so also blessed Felix. Finally, the imperial executioners cut off the honored head of St Eleutherius. When his mother, holy Anthea, came and stood over the dead body of her son, she was also beheaded. Their bodies were taken to Valona, where St Eleutherius glorifies the name of Christ to this day by many wonders. He suffered in the time of Hadrian, in the year 120. 2. St Stephen the Confessor of Sourozh. Born in Cappadocia and educated under the care of the Patriarch, St Germanus, he went off into solitude and lived hidden from the world. An angel appeared to St Germanus and told him to make Stephen bishop of the town of Sourozh (now Sudak in the Crimea), and this the Patriarch did. Stephen brought many to the Christian faith by his zeal, and suffered much at the hands of the Emperor Leo the Isaurian because of his, Stephen's, struggle against the iconoclasts, prophesying to the Emperor his imminent decease. After the evil death of this evil ruler, Stephen returned to his diocese and was pastor to his flock as a true man of God, departing this life peacefully at the end of the eighth century. 3. Our Holy Father Paul of Latros. Born in Pergamum, he lived in asceticism on a mountain called Latros in Asia Minor. He was glorified by his asceticism and his many miracles, and entered peacefully into rest in old age, going to the Lord in the year 950. 4. Our Holy Father Pardus the Solitary. In his youth, he was a wagoneer, but because of an unintentional sin, he left the world and withdrew to the desert to live in asceticism. He lived in Palestine in the sixth century. FOR CONSIDERATION For unintentional murder, earthly law frees the murderer. The Church lays penance on the unintentional murderer, a penance much lighter than that for a willful murderer, but does not leave him without a penance. If a priest kills unintentionally, for instance, the Church forbids him to serve as a priest for the rest of his life. Christians with sensitive souls and sharpened consciences take on themselves a harsher penance than the Church lays down. St Pardus, as a waggoner, once arrived in Jericho. Leaving his ass in front of an inn, he went in. At that moment, a child fell in front of the ass, and the animal trampled on it and killed it. When Pardus saw the dead and trampled child, killed by his ass, his heart was so burdened that he felt as though he were himself guilty of the child's death. This conscience-stricken man laid on himself the harshest penance: he abandoned his trade, forsook the world although he was very young, and went off into the arid desert for strict bodily asceticism and spiritual toil and repentance. With many tears, he offered God his repentance for the murder of the child. He desired to give his life for that of the child, and prayed to God that He would somehow bring this about. He searched out a lion, hoping that it would eat him, but the lion fled from him. He lay in the narrow track that the lion had taken, hoping the beast would kill him, but the lion leapt over him and would not touch him. Seeing, therefore, that it was God's will that he live and not perish, he calmed down, but remained to his death a lowly penitent. Is this not a sensitive, loving and God-fearing soul? Is not this the refined and sharpened
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conscience of a true Christian? December 29th - Civil Calendar December 16th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Prophet Haggai. Born in Babylon in the time of the captivity of Israel, he was of the tribe of Levi. He prophesied in 520 B.C., and visited Jerusalem as a young man. He urged Zerubbabel and Joshua the priest to restore the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, prophesying for this Temple greater glory than the former Temple of Solomon: 'The glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former, saith the Lord of Hosts' (2:9), for the Lord, the Saviour, would appear in the new Temple. He lived to see the first half of the new Temple completed by Zerubbabel, and died in old age, and rested with his fathers. 2. St Nicholas Chrysoverges, Patriarch of Constantinople. He governed the Church from 984 to 996, and ordained the great Symeon the New Theologian priest when this spiritual giant was chosen as the superior of the monastery of the holy martyr Mamas in Constantinople. In his days, there came to pass a wonderful revelation of the Archangel Gabriel at Karyes, when he at that time taught the monk to praise the Mother of God with the hymn 'It is meet', writing the hymn on tablets in a chapel of one of the cells, which has been known from that time by the name 'It is meet' (see June 13th). He was a great and eminent hierarch, and entered peacefully into rest in the Kingdom of God. 3. St Theophano the Empress. She was born of eminent parents, Constantine and Anna, who were kin to several Emperors. Her parents were for a long time childless, and besought the Mother of God to give them a family. God gave them this daughter, Theophano. Imbued with a Christian spirit right from her youth, Theophano outstripped her companions in every Christian virtue. When she had grown up, she entered into marriage with Leo, the son of the Emperor Basil the Macedonian, and endured much misfortune alongside her husband. Reacting to the slander that Leo carried a knife in his breast with which, at the right opportunity, to kill his father, the gullible Basil shut his son and daughter-in-law up in prison, and these two innocent souls spent three years there. Then, one day, on the feast of the holy prophet Elias, the Emperor summoned all his nobles to court for a feast. At one moment, the Emperor's parrot suddenly spoke these words: 'Alack, alack, my Lord Leo!', and it repeated these words a number of times. This caused great confusion among the courtiers, and they all begged the Emperor to release his son and daughter-in-law. The Emperor was touched, and did so. After his father's death, this Leo became Emperor, being called 'the Wise'. Theophano did not consider her imperial dignity to be of much account, but, being utterly given to God, she gave thought to the salvation of her soul, fasting and praying and giving alms, founding monasteries and churches. No lying word ever passed her lips, nor any unnecessary speech or the least slander. At the time of her death, she called together her closest friends and took leave of them, then gave her soul to God, in 892. The Emperor Leo wanted to build a church over her grave, and, when the Patriarch refused to allow this, built the church of All Saints, saying that, if Theophano were a saint, she would be glorified together with the others. At that time, the feast of All Saints was introduced, to be celebrated on the Sunday after the feast of the Holy Trinity. FOR CONSIDERATION The saints devoted immense labor to the killing of pride and selfishness in themselves, and to the accustoming of themselves to total obedience and consecration, be it by their own preference when they had the choice or by the direct act of God. The monastery of St Sava the Sanctified was distinguished by a particular discipline, order and willing obedience. When St John Damascene arrived at this monastery, none of the eminent spiritual guides would venture to take this famous nobleman and writer as his cell-servant. Then the abbot gave him to an elder who was simple and strict. The elder forbade John to write any hymns, and told John to do nothing without his knowledge and permission. It happened, however, that one of the monks, who had a brother in the same monastery, died, and the monk was in unspeakable grief for his dead brother. To comfort this desolate monk, John wrote stichera for the departed for the dead man -- the hymns at a funeral that the Church uses today. Having composed them, John began to sing them. When his elder heard the hymns, he was furious and drove John away. Hearing of John's banishment, the brethren plucked up courage and, going to the elder,
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begged him to forgive John and receive him back, but the elder remained unmoved. John wept bitterly, and lamented at having transgressed his elder's command. The brethren once more besought the elder for John, to lay some penance on him and then forgive him. Then the elder laid this penance on his disciple: to clean the lavatories of every cell in the monastery with his own hands if he desired forgiveness. The sorrowful brethren told John of this, thinking that he would leave the monastery rather than do it, but, when John received the elder's message, he rejoiced greatly and, with joy, carried out his command. Seeing this, the elder burst into tears, embraced John and said through his tears: 'Oh, what a sufferer for Christ have I fathered! Oh, what a true son of holy obedience this man is!' After this, the elder was rebuked by an angel for stopping John from writing his beautiful hymns glorifying Christ and His Holy Mother. John thereafter wrote many of the hymns that the Church uses today. December 30th - Civil Calendar December 17th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Prophet Daniel and the Three Children: Ananias, Azarias and Misael. All four of them were of the royal tribe of Judah. When Nebuchadnezzar destroyed and plundered Jerusalem, Daniel, as a boy, was taken off into slavery together with Jehoiachin, King of Judah, and many other Israelites. The account of his life, sufferings and prophecies can be found in detail in his book. Utterly given to God, Daniel from his early youth received from God the gift of great discernment. His fame among the Jews in Babylon began when he denounced two lecherous and unrighteous elders, and saved the chaste Susannah from an unjust death. But his fame among the Babylonians stemmed from the day when he solved and interpreted the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. For this, the king made him a prince at his court. When the king made a golden idol in the Plain of Dura, the Three Children refused to worship it, for which they were cast into the burning fiery furnace. But an angel of God appeared in the furnace and soothed the flames, so that the Children walked in the furnace untouched by the fire, and sang: 'Blessed art Thou, Lord God of our fathers!' The king saw this marvel, and was amazed. He then brought the Children out of the furnace and did them great honor. In the time of King Belshazzar, when the king was eating and drinking with his guests at a feast out of consecrated vessels taken from the Temple in Jerusalem, an invisible hand wrote these three words on the wall: 'Mene, Tekel, Upharsin'. No one could interpret these words but Daniel. That night, King Belshazzar was killed. Daniel was thrown into a den of lions for his faith in the one, living God, and God preserved him alive. Daniel saw God on His throne with the angelic powers, often saw angels, had insight into the future of certain people, of kingdoms and of the whole human race, and prophesied the time of the coming of the Saviour on earth. According to St Cyril of Alexandria, Daniel and the Three Children lived to great old age in Babylon, and were beheaded with the sword for the true Faith. When Ananias was beheaded, Azarias held out his robe and caught his head, then Misael caught Azarias' head and Daniel Misael's. An angel of God carried their bodies to Judea, to Mount Gebal, and placed them under a rock. According to tradition, these four men arose at the time of the death of the Lord Jesus and appeared to many, then fell asleep again. Daniel is counted as one of the four Great Prophets (with Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel). He lived and prophesied halfway through the thousand years before Christ. 2. Our Holy Father Daniel. He was a nobleman, and governor of the island of Niberta, near Cadiz in Spain. Being acquainted with all the vanity of this world, he forsook its glory and riches and went to Rome, where he became a monk. After this, he went to Constantinople, where he spoke with the Emperors Constantine and Romanus Porphyrogenitus, then continued on to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, he received the Great Habit at the hands of Patriarch Christodoulos, who gave him the name Stephen. Abused by the Saracens, who put pressure on him to shave off his beard, he went to Egypt, where he suffered greatly and died for the name of Christ. He entered into the Kingdom of Christ in the tenth century. 3. Our Holy Fathers, the New Martyrs Paisius and Habakkuk (Avakum). Paisius was abbot of the monastery of Trnava near Cacak in Serbia, and Habakkuk his companion and deacon. Both of them were, as Christians, impaled on stakes by the Turks on Kalemegdan in Belgrade, on December 17th, 1814. Dragging his spike through the streets of Belgrade, the courageous Habakkuk sang. When his mother begged him with tears to save his life by accepting Islam, this wonderful soldier of Christ replied to her, thanking her for her motherhood and not for her advice, and quoting the great figures of the Old Testament who
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suffered for, and glorified, God, and looking to the end of his own martyrdom in the immortal Kingdom of Christ. FOR CONSIDERATION Bodily purity is primarily attained through fasting, and through bodily purity comes spiritual purity. Abstinence from food, according to the words of that son of grace, St Ephraim the Syrian, means: 'Not to desire or demand much food, either sweet or costly; to eat nothing outside the stated times; not to give oneself over to gratification of the appetite; not to stir up hunger in oneself by looking at good food; and not to desire one or another sort of food.' There is a great fallacy that abstinence from food and the eating of fasting foods are harmful to physical health. It is a known fact that those who fast are the longest-lived and the least prone to sickness. The holy prophet Daniel and the three Holy Children offer us an example of this. When the King commanded his eunuch to feed the young men on meat from the royal table, and give them good wine to drink, Daniel told the eunuch that they were not willing to take the meat and wine from the king's table, but wanted only herbs (for Daniel did not want to eat meat sprinkled with blood from the idolatrous sacrifices). But the eunuch was afraid that the young men would be weakened by the fasting food, and spoke of his fear to Daniel. Then the prophet suggested that he make a test, to see whether the fasting food would weaken them or not: to give food from the king's table to the other young men at court, but to feed these four only on herbs for ten days, and then compare them. The eunuch did what Daniel advised. After ten days, the faces of the four young fasters were fairer and their bodies stronger than those of the Babylonian youths, who had eaten and drunk from the king's table. December 31st - Civil Calendar December 18th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Sebastian and those with him. This glorious martyr of Christ was born in Italy and brought up in the city of Milan. He was destined in his youth to be a soldier, and, as an educated, handsome and courageous man, commended himself to the Emperor Diocletian, who made him captain of the imperial guard. He secretly confessed the Christian faith, and prayed to the living God. An honorable, upright and merciful man, Sebastian was greatly loved by his soldiers. Whenever possible, he saved Christians from torture and death and, when this was not possible, gave them courage to die for Christ the living God without turning back. Two brothers, Marcus and Marcellinus, who were in prison for Christ and already on the verge of denying Him and worshipping idols, were confirmed in their faith and strengthened in their martyrdom by Sebastian. As he spoke with them, exhorting them not to fear death for Christ, his face was illumined like that of an angel of God. Sebastian supported his words by marvels: he healed Zo, the wife of Nicostratus the gaoler, who had been dumb for six years, and brought Nicostratus and his whole household to baptism; he healed the two sick sons of Claudius the commander, and brought him and his whole household also to baptism; he healed Tranquillianus, the father of Marcus and Marcellinus, of gout and pains in his legs which had troubled him for eleven years, and brought him to baptism together with his whole household; he healed the Roman Eparch, Chromatius, of the same infirmity and brought him and his son Tiburtius to baptism. Of these, Zo was the first to suffer, being seized while at prayer beside the tomb of the Apostle Peter. After torture, she was thrown into the river Tiber. Then Tiburtius was seized, and the judge placed live coals before him, challenging him to choose life or death: to cast incense on the coals and cense the idols, or to stand himself barefoot on the coals. St Tibertius made the sign of the Cross and stood barefoot on the coals, and remained unharmed. He was then beheaded with the sword. Nicostratus was killed with a stake, Tranquillianus was drowned and Marcus and Marcellinus were run through by spears. Then Sebastian was taken before the Emperor Diocletian. The Emperor rebuked him for his betrayal, but he said: 'I always pray to my Christ for your health, and for the peace of the Roman Empire.' The Emperor ordered that he be stripped and shot at with arrows. The soldiers then shot at him, until the martyr's whole body was so covered with arrows that it was invisible beneath them. When they thought that he was dead, he showed himself alive and healed of all his wounds. Then the pagans beat him to death with staves. He suffered gloriously for Christ his Lord and entered into the heavenly Kingdom in 287, when Gaius was Bishop of Rome. 2. St Florus, Bishop of Aminsus.
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He lived in the time of the Emperors Justin II (565-76) and Maurice (582-602), being the son of a nobleman. He forsook the bustle and vanity of the world and withdrew to a monastery, to live in asceticism for the salvation of his soul. He was then chosen as bishop of the town of Aminsus in Cappadocia. As an ascetic and a hierarch, he was pleasing to God and entered peacefully into His Kingdom. 3. St Modestus, Patriarch of Jerusalem. He was only five months old when his parents died, but, by God's providence, he was brought up in a Christian spirit. When he was grown up, he was sold as a slave to a pagan in Egypt, but he succeeded in bringing his owner to the Christian faith, and he freed him. He withdrew to Mount Sinai, where he lived in asceticism. He was then chosen as Patriarch of Jerusalem, and governed Christ's flock like a true shepherd, entering peacefully into rest in 634. FOR CONSIDERATION Man is presented with a choice in this life: the kingdom of this world or the Kingdom of heaven. God puts no pressure on this choice, but each man chooses freely. When the brothers Marcus and Marcellinus were condemned to death, the pagan judge left them for a month to ponder on whether they would deny Christ and His Kingdom, or be put to death. Their kinsmen came to the prison with one sort of advice, and Sebastian with another. Their kinsmen wept and implored them to do what the judge wanted and spare their youth. Their tearful father showed them his grey hairs and his infirmity; their mother besought them by the milk of the breasts by which she nourished them; their children wept around them. They all in concert urged them to reject the heavenly Kingdom for the sake of the earthly, but holy Sebastian counseled the opposite, saying: 'O courageous soldiers of Christ, do you mean to lose the eternal wreath for the sake of the flattery of your kinsmen? Do you mean to lower the banner of victory for the sake of women's tears? This life is transient, and so unworthy and faithless that it cannot save even those who love it. What is this life worth, even if we live a hundred years? When the last day dawns, will not all our past years and all earthly delights seem as though they had never been? It is indeed folly to fear the loss of this fleeting life, when one will receive that eternal life in which delight, riches and rejoicing begin, the life that has no end. Remember the Lord's words: "A man's foes shall be they of his own household'' (Matt. 10:36). They are no friends of yours, who are trying to turn you from God.' With these and many other words, Sebastian prevailed, and the holy martyrs sought the Kingdom of heaven rather than the earthly, and joyfully went to their death for Christ. January 1st - Civil Calendar December 19th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Boniface. Martyrdom for Christ makes sinners into saints. This is shown by the example of St Boniface. He was at first servant to a wealthy and dissolute woman, Aglas, in Rome, and had unclean and unlawful relations with her. Aglas evinced the desire to have the relics of some martyr in her house as a blessing so that God would forgive them for their sinful life through the prayers to the martyr, so she sent her servant to Asia to find and buy for her what she desired. Boniface took some slaves with him and a fair amount of money and, at the moment of parting, said to Aglas: 'If I can't find any martyrs and if they bring you back my body, martyred for Christ, will you receive it with honor?' Aglas rebuked him, saying that this is serious business. Coming to the city of Tarsus, Boniface saw many Christians undergoing torture: some were having their legs cut off, some their hands, others their eyes put out, yet others were dying on the gallows and so forth. Boniface's heart was changed, and he repented of his sinful life with tears. He called out among the Christian martyrs: 'I too am a Christian!' The judge took him for interrogation and ordered that he be harshly flogged, then that boiling lead be poured into his mouth and, as this did him no harm, that he be beheaded. The slaves then took his body back to Rome. An angel of God appeared to Aglas and said: 'Take him who was at one time your servant, but is now our brother and fellow-servant; he is the guardian of your soul and the protector of your life.' Aglas went in wonder to meet them at the dock, took Boniface's body, built a church for his relics and placed them there. She then repented, gave away all her goods to the poor and withdrew from the world, living a further fifteen years in bitter penitence. St Boniface suffered in the year 290. 2. St Gregory, Bishop of Omir.
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He was at first a deacon in the church in Mediolanum (Milan), and had many visions. By God's providence, he was taken to the city of Alexandria, where Patriarch Proterius, in response to a heavenly revelation, consecrated him bishop of the land of Omir in southern Arabia, which the holy King Elesbaan (Oct. 24th) had already freed from the tyranny of Dunaan the Jew. He was a good shepherd and a great wonderworker. He organized the Church in Omir, with the help of the Christ-loving King Avram, built many churches and baptized a great number of the Jews. He performed great and terrible wonders by his prayers, even bringing about a revelation of Christ the Lord before the unbelieving Jews, which led to their baptism. Having governed the Church for thirty years, he entered peacefully into eternal life in the late fifth century. 3. St Boniface the Merciful, Bishop of Ferentino. He had a rare compassion from childhood, being scolded for this by his mother. But, helped by prayer, he received a hundredfold from the Lord. He died peacefully in Italy in the sixth century. 4. Our Holy Father Elias of Murom. He was a monk of the Kiev Caves, and died in 1188. His uncorrupt relics have wonderworking power. Three fingers of his right hand are to this day raised in prayer, whence it is seen that he died at prayer. This is a commentary on those who do not make the sign of the Cross with three fingers. FOR CONSIDERATION Can faith remove mountains (Matt. 17:20)? Yes, undoubtedly, and it can do more than that: faith can move God Himself to compassion towards us sinners. In the Omirian town of Aphar, the majority of the inhabitants were Jews. St Gregory strove to bring them to the Christian faith. Then the Jews suggested to him and to King Avram that they should have a debate on faith, with the assurance that, if they were defeated, they would all embrace the Christian faith. The debate lasted several days, in the presence of several thousand people, both Jews and Christians. The Jews, seeing that they would be defeated by the irrefutable reasons and proofs brought by Gregory, demanded that he in some way show them Christ alive, that they might see Him with their own eyes, and they would then believe. Having utter confidence in the Lord because of the purity of his heart, St Gregory knelt, facing east, before them all and prayed to God. When he had finished his prayer, the earth quaked and there was a clap of thunder, and the heavens opened to eastward. A luminous cloud appeared from the east, aflame with brilliant rays, and slowly descended to earth at the spot where the people were gathered. In the midst of the cloud stood a man of unspeakable beauty, with a radiant face and raiment like lightning. He walked across the cloud till He stood above Bishop Gregory. All saw Him in unsurpassable glory and beauty, and fell on their faces in fear. Gregory cried out: 'One only is holy, One only is Lord: Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen!' At this, there came a voice to the Jews from the Lord's glory: 'For the sake of the bishop's prayers, the Crucified heals you of the unbelief of your forefathers', and the cloud slowly disappeared as it had come. The Jews were then baptized. January 2nd - Civil Calendar December 20th - Church Calendar 1. The Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-Bearer, Bishop of Antioch. This holy man was named the 'God-Bearer' because he always carried the name of the living God in his heart and on his lips. Also, by tradition, he was thus named because he was held in the arms of God incarnate, Jesus Christ. On a day when the Lord was teaching His disciples humility, He took a child and set it among them, saying: 'Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the Kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:4). This child was Ignatius. He was later a disciple of St John the Theologian, together with Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna. As bishop in Antioch, he governed the Church of God as a good shepherd, and was the first to introduce antiphonal singing into the Church, in which two choirs alternate. This way of singing was revealed to St Ignatius from among the angels in heaven. When the Emperor Trajan passed through Antioch on his way to battle with the Persians, he heard about Ignatius, summoned him and urged him to offer sacrifice to idols, so that he could be made a senator. The Emperor's urgings and threats being in vain, holy Ignatius was put in irons and sent to Rome, escorted by ten bestial soldiers, to be thrown to the wild beasts. Ignatius rejoiced to be suffering for his Lord, and prayed to God that the wild beasts should be the tomb for his body, and that none should hinder his death. After a long and difficult journey from Asia through 'Thrace, Macedonia and
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Epirus, Ignatius reached Rome, where he was thrown to the lions in the circus. They tore him to pieces and devoured him, leaving only a few of the larger bones and his heart. This glorious lover of the Lord Christ suffered in the year 106 in Rome, in the time of the Emperor Trajan. He appeared many times from the other world and worked wonders, helping to this day all who call on him for help. 2. St Danilo, Archbishop of Serbia. The son of rich and God-loving parents, he was given a careful upbringing. King Milutin took him to his court, but, from love of God, he fled and became a monk in the monastery of Konculsk near the Ibar. He was later abbot of Hilandar and suffered much at the hands of the plundering Latin crusaders. He was Bishop of Banja and then of Hum, and finally Archbishop of Serbia. He was from beginning to end a strict ascetic, with a special gift of tears. He made peace between Kings Dragutin and Milutin, and later between Milutin and Stephen of Decani, and fought fiercely against the Latins and the Bogomils. Under his supervision, the monasteries of Banja and Decani were built, and he restored and built many other churches. He also recorded the lives of the Serbian kings and saints. Untiring in the service of God to the end of his life, he entered peacefully into rest in the time of King Dusan, on the night of December 19/20th, 1338. He was a great hierarch, a great ascetic, a great worker and a great patriot. FOR CONSIDERATION The holy martyrs, consumed by love for Christ, were like unquenchable flames. This love eased their sufferings and made death sweet. St John Chrysostom says of St Ignatius: 'He put off his body as easily as a man takes off his clothes.' Travelling to Rome to his death, Ignatius had only one fear: that Christians would some how impede his martyrdom for Christ, by their prayers or in some outward way. He therefore implored them constantly, in writing and in speech, not to do this. 'Forgive me', he said, 'I know what is useful to me. I but begin to be a disciple of Christ when I desire nothing, either visible or invisible, but to come to Christ. May every devilish torture come upon me: fire, crucifixion, wild beasts, the sword, tearing asunder, the breaking of my bones, the crushing of my whole body -- only that I may receive Jesus Christ. It is better for me to die for Christ than to reign to the ends of the earth .... My love cleaves to the Cross, and there is no spark of love in me for any earthly thing.' When he was taken to the circus, he spoke thus to the people: 'Citizens of Rome, know that I am not being punished for any wrong-doing, neither have I been condemned to death for any transgressing, but for the sake of my God, by whose love I am gripped and whom I desire with an insatiable desire. I am His wheat; may I be ground by the teeth of beasts, that I may be His pure bread.' When he had been devoured by the wild beasts, his heart was, by God's providence, left among his bones. When the faithless pagans cut open his holy heart, they found inside the words, inscribed in gold: 'Jesus Christ'. January 3rd - Civil Calendar December 21st - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Juliana, and the 630 martyrs with her. This glorious virgin martyr was born in Nicomedia of pagan parents. Hearing the Gospel preached, she turned to Christ with all her heart and began to live in exact observance of the Lord's commandments. A certain senator, Eleusius, was her betrothed. In order to free herself from him, Juliana told him that she would not marry him unless he became eparch of that city. She said this thinking that the young man would not be in the least likely to attain to such a high position, but Eleusius worked at it, and, by flattery and bribes, gained the post of Eparch of Nicomedia. Juliana then revealed to him that she was a Christian, and could not enter into marriage with him unless he accepted her faith, saying: 'What would it profit us to be united physically but divided in spirit?' Eleusius was exasperated, and denounced her to her father. Her furious father poured scorn on her and whipped her, and then handed her over to the eparch for torture. The eparch ordered that she be harshly beaten, then she was thrown into prison all torn and bleeding. But the Lord healed her in the prison, and she appeared before the eparch whole and unharmed. He then put her into a glowing furnace, but the fire did not burn her. Seeing this wonder, many came to believe in Christ the Lord. Five hundred men and a hundred thirty women were converted. The eparch condemned them all to death, and ordered that they be beheaded with the sword, and their souls entered into Paradise. Then the wicked judge condemned holy Juliana to be beheaded with the sword. Rejoicing in spirit, Juliana went out to the scaffold, prayed on her knees to God and laid her head on the block. Her head was cut off, and her soul went to Christ's eternal Kingdom of light, in the year 304.
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God's punishment quickly fell on Eleusius: sailing over the sea, his ship broke up and he fell into the water. He did not find death in the waves, but swam to an island, where the dogs tore him to pieces and devoured him. 2. St Peter the Wonderworker, Metropolitan of Russia. Born in the province of Volinsk, he received the monastic habit at the age of twelve. He was a great ascetic and an icon-painter. He founded a monastery on the river Rata, and became its abbot. He was made Metropolitan of Kiev against his will, and consecrated in Constantinople by Patriarch Athanasius. As Metropolitan, he suffered a great deal at the hands of the envious and of heretics, governing the Church for eighteen years as a good and zealous pastor. During his lifetime, he built himself a tomb in the Church of the Dormition, where his holy and wonderworking relics are preserved to this day. He entered into rest in 1326, and went to his true homeland. 3. The Holy Martyr Themistocles. As a herdsman, the young Themistocles kept sheep in a field near Myra in Lycia. At that time, the persecutors of the Christians were seeking St Dioscorides, and came upon Themistocles, asking him if he knew where Dioscorides was hiding. Themistocles, although he knew, refused to say, and declared himself a Christian. He was tortured and beheaded in the time of Decius, in 251. FOR CONSIDERATION He who sets his sights on Christ's Kingdom will have to encounter obstructions, and these obstructions are manifold and varied. They are mostly the evil workings of demons. Therefore every man zealous for the spiritual life must be on his guard not to take every shining vision from the other world as a divine revelation. That the adversary is able to appear as an angel of light is shown in the life of the holy martyr Juliana. When this holy maiden was lying in prison, the adversary appeared to her in angelic light, smiled at her, and counseled her to offer sacrifice to idols and so avoid torture. The frightened Juliana asked: 'Who are you?' The adversary replied: 'I am an angel of God. God is greatly concerned for you, and has therefore sent me with the message that you should obey the eparch, that your body may not be covered in wounds. The Lord is gracious, and will forgive you for the weakness of your body.' The martyr was horrified at these words, and confused, and fell to prayer with tears, begging God to show her who it was who had spoken with her. Then she heard a voice from heaven: 'Be brave, Juliana; I am with you, giving you power and authority over the one who has come to you, and by this you will know who he is.' And the devil was bound, and forced to reveal that he was the same who tempted Eve in Paradise, who told Cain to kill Abel and Herod to kill the children in Bethlehem, the Jews to stone Stephen, Nero to crucify Peter upside down and behead Paul, and so forth. Thus this holy maiden, fortified by God's strength, did not give herself to delusion from the evil spirit but, by her vigilant and ardent prayer, overcame him. January 4th - Civil Calendar December 22nd - Church Calendar 1. The Holy and Great Martyr Anastasia the Deliverer from Poison, and those with her. This great heroine of the Christian faith was born in Rome into a wealthy senatorial family, her father being a pagan and her mother a Christian. From her early youth, she clave in love to the Lord Jesus, guided in Christian teaching by a devout teacher, Chrysogonus. Under pressure from her father, Anastasia married a pagan landowner, Publius, but, using the pretext of woman's weakness, she never had physical relations with him. For this, her husband tortured her harshly by imprisonment and starvation, and laid even heavier tortures on her when he discovered that she went secretly to the prisons of the Christian martyrs, ministering to their needs, washing their wounds and loosening their bonds. But, by God's providence, she was freed from her wicked husband. Publius was sent to Persia by the Emperor, and was drowned on the voyage. Then St Anastasia began to minister openly to the Christian martyrs and, from her great inheritance, helped the poor with alms. The Emperor Diocletian was once in the town of Aquileia, and commanded that Chrysogonus, the confessor of Christ, be brought to him. As he was being brought, Anastasia followed him on the way. Holy Chrysogonus was beheaded at the Emperor's command, and then three sisters, Agapia, Chionia and Irene (April 16th) suffered, the first two being cast into fire and the third shot through with arrows. St Anastasia took their bodies, wrapped them in white linen and, anointing them with aromatic spices, gave them burial. Then Anastasia went to Macedonia, where she ministered to those who were suffering for Christ. There, she became widely-known
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as a Christian, for which she was seized and taken for interrogation before various judges. Desiring to die for her beloved Christ, Anastasia constantly clung to Him in her heart. A certain pagan high priest, Ulphian, tried to touch St Anastasia's body out of lust, but he was suddenly blinded and gave up the ghost. Condemned to death by starvation, St Anastasia lay in prison for thirty days, nourishing herself only with tears and prayers. After that, she was put in a boat with several other Christians to be drowned, but God saved her from this death. She was finally tied hand and foot to four wheels over a fire, and thus gave her holy soul into God's hands. She suffered and entered into Christ's Kingdom in 304. 2. The Holy Martyr Theodota with her three Children. Left a young widow with three children, Theodota gave herself utterly to the service of God and the bringingup of her children in piety. St Anastasia lived with her when she was in Macedonia, and, together with her, ministered to the Christian captives in the prisons. Taken for trial, Theodota confidently confessed Christ the Lord. She was then sent to the Governor of Bithynia, Nicetas. When a shameless pagan tried to touch her body, an angel of God suddenly appeared beside her and struck the man. Condemned to death and thrown into a glowing furnace with her three children, St Theodota finished her earthly course with honor and entered into the Kingdom of eternal glory. FOR CONSIDERATION Our merciful God often sends comfort to those pleasing to Him on earth through His saints from the other world. St Theodota suffered for Christ before St Anastasia did. Anastasia was then thrown into a small, dingy prison to die there of hunger at the judge's command. During the thirty days of her imprisonment, St Theodota appeared to her every night from the other world, and strengthened her in her sufferings. When Anastasia had conversed many times in this way with Theodota, she asked her one night how it was that she was able to come to her after her death. Theodota replied that God gave to the souls of the martyrs the special grace that, after leaving this world, they could come to whomsoever they would in order to instruct or comfort. When the thirty days had passed, the torturer brought Anastasia out of the prison, amazed to see that she was still alive. He then condemned her to death by drowning, along with several others. The soldiers put the Christians into a small boat and themselves got into another, and, when they got out into deep water, they upset the boat containing the Christians, so that the water would flow in and drown them. Then a wonderful thing happened: St Theodota appeared walking on the water and took the boat to the shore, and thus they were all preserved from death together with St Anastasia. Seeing this wonder, a hundred and twenty pagans came at once to faith in Christ and were baptized. January 5th - Civil Calendar December 23rd - Church Calendar 1. The Ten Holy Martyrs of Crete. They suffered for Christ the Lord during Decius' persecution, in the year 250. Their names were: Theodulus, Saturninus, Euporus, Gelasius, Eunician, Zoticus, Pompey, Agathopous, Basilides and Evaristus. They were all honored and eminent citizens, the cream of the cream. When they were taken to the scaffold, they were filled with joy and discussed among themselves who would be the first to be beheaded, because each wanted to be the first to go to his beloved Christ. Then they prayed: 'O Lord, forgive Thy servants and accept our outpoured blood on our own behalf and that of our kinsfolk and friends and all our fatherland, that all may be released from the darkness of ignorance and come to know Thee, the true light, O eternal King!' They were beheaded and entered into the Kingdom of glory, to eternal rejoicing. 2. St Niphon the Wonderworker. Born in Paphlagonia, he was brought up in Constantinople at the court of a great commander. Falling into low company, the young Niphon became dissolute and gave himself to great sin and vice. Because of his sin, he could not even pray to God. By the mercy of the most holy Mother of God, he was brought back to the way of righteousness and became a monk. He had innumerable visions of the heavenly world and waged a four-year war with the demons, who whispered to him incessantly: 'There is no God! There is no God!', but, when the Lord Jesus Himself appeared to him alive on an icon, Niphon received great power over the evil spirits and was freed from these heavy temptations. He had such insight that he saw angels and demons around men as clearly
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as he saw the people themselves, and he could discern men's thoughts. He often spoke with angels and disputed with demons. He built a church to the most holy Mother of God in Constantinople, gathered many monks together and saved many souls. Alexander, the Archbishop of Alexandria, through a heavenly revelation, consecrated him bishop of the town of Constantia on Cyprus. Niphon was already old by that time, and, governing the Church of God well for a short period, entered into Christ's eternal Kingdom. St Athanasius the Great visited him at the time of his death, being then archdeacon of the church in Alexandria, and he saw Niphon's face shine like the sun. 3. Our Holy Father Nahum, the Wonderworker of Ochrid. He was a disciple of Ss Cyril and Methodius, and one of the Five Followers - those zealous fellow-workers with these apostles of the Slavs. St Nahum traveled to Rome, where he was renowned both for his wonderworking power and his great learning. He knew many languages. At the time of his return from Rome, he settled, with the help of the Emperor Boris Michael of Bulgaria, on the shores of Lake Ochrid. While St Clement was working in Ochrid as bishop, St Nahum built a monastery on the southern shore of the lake. This monastery adorns that shore till this day, as the name of St Nahum adorns the history of Slav Christianity, and has been through the ages a fount of strength and recourse for the sick and the wretched. Many monks from all over the Balkans gathered around St Nahum, who was a wise teacher, a strict ascetic, a wonderworker and a man of prayer. A tireless worker, St Nahum labored especially to translate the Holy Scriptures from Greek into Slavonic. He worked wonders both during his lifetime and after his death, and his wonderworking relics to this day perform many miracles, particularly healing from grave illness and from madness. He entered into rest in the first half of the tenth century, and went to the joy of his beloved Christ. In the Greek Synaxarion, Ss Clement and Nahum are called the new Moses and Aaron, and this marvel is recorded of them: heretics in Germany bound them and threw them into prison, but, by God's power, the prison shook, the chains fell off them, the doors of the prison opened and they went out freely. FOR CONSIDERATION While still in the flesh, the saints had great revelations from God and visions both from heaven and of the infernal powers. All the visions and revelations they had confirmed the Orthodox faith in all its tenets. The saints are thus a very great joy to the faithful. St Niphon saw the Mother of God and the Lord Christ alive in glory; he saw men's souls leaving their bodies and their guardian angels meeting them. He spoke with angels in visions and disputed with demons. The Church teaches that sincere repentance on the part of a sinner, even at the eleventh hour, saves the soul of the penitent. St Niphon saw the soul of one such sinner repenting at the last moment; he saw how an angel defended it from the bullying demons and carried it to Paradise. The Church teaches that suicide is a mortal sin; St Niphon saw the soul of a suicide being dragged down to hell by the devil, while the guardian angel of this soul went off, weeping bitterly. That was the soul of a servant who had committed suicide because his master was merciless and he was not willing to endure to the end and be saved. January 6th - Civil Calendar December 24th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Mother, the Martyr Eugenia, and those with her. The daughter of Philip, Eparch of all Egypt, she was born in Rome. At that time, the Christians had been driven out of Alexandria and were living outside the town. The maiden Eugenia visited the Christians and received their Faith with all her heart. She fled from her parents with her two faithful eunuchs, was baptized by Bishop Elias and, wearing man's clothing, went to a men's monastery where she received the monastic habit. She so purified her heart by voluntary asceticism that she received from God the gift of healing the sick, and thus healed a rich woman, Melanthia. After this, though, the woman conceived a physical passion for her, not suspecting that she was a woman. Being firmly repulsed by Eugenia, this wicked woman, out of revenge, went to the Eparch and slandered her just as Potiphar's wife had slandered chaste Joseph. The eparch ordered that all the monks be bound and thrown into prison together with Eugenia. When they were brought out for trial, Eugenia revealed herself to her father as his daughter. The overjoyed Philip was baptized, with his whole household, and Philip was chosen as Bishop of Alexandria. Hearing of this, the Roman Emperor sent a wicked general, Terence, who, coming to Alexandria, secretly killed Philip. Then St Eugenia moved to Rome with her
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mother and brothers. In Rome, she fearlessly and zealously brought pagans to the true Faith, especially maidens, and thus brought a beautiful maiden, Vassilia, to the Faith. Vassilia was quickly beheaded for Christ, as Eugenia had foretold to her, and then her two eunuchs, Protus and Hyacinthus, were beheaded. Finally, martyrdom came to Eugenia, whose presence had caused the Temple of Diana to fall in ruins. The torturers first threw her into water and then into fire, but God preserved her. The Lord Jesus Himself appeared to her in the prison and told her that she would suffer on the day of His Nativity. And so it came about. She was beheaded with the sword on December 25th, 262, in Rome. After her death, Eugenia appeared to her mother in great glory, and comforted her. 2. Our Holy Father Nicholas the Soldier. Some people think that this great saint was a Slav of Balkan origin. In the time of the Emperor Nicephorus, Nicholas was commander of the part of the army that went to war against the Bulgars. On the road, Nicholas spent the night in an inn, where he experienced a great temptation and had a strange dream. This dream came true in the war, when the Greeks were utterly routed by the Bulgars in 811. Nicholas was preserved and, out of gratitude to God, left his command and became a monk. In long asceticism, he attained such perfection that he became a great clairvoyant and man of God. He died peacefully in the ninth century, and entered into the blessed Kingdom of Christ the Lord. In the Greek Synaxarion, Our Holy Father Antiochus, a monk of Palestine, is also commemorated. He was an eye-witness of the sufferings of our holy Fathers of St Sava's (May 16th), and, as an eye-witness, recorded their sufferings at the hands of the Saracens. He also compiled another book entitled 'Pandect'. He wrote many prayers, of which the best-known is the one read daily at Compline: 'And grant us, O Master, as we lay us down to sleep, repose both of body and soul...'. The Holy New Martyr Achmed is also commemorated. A Turk by birth and a builder by trade, he embraced the Christian faith and laid down his life for it. He suffered at the hands of the Turks in Constantinople in 1682. FOR CONSIDERATION Victory over temptation is victory over death. A wonderful experience had by St Nicholas the Soldier proves this. When this commander went off with the army of the Emperor Nicephorus against the Bulgars, it happened that he spent the night at a wayside inn. The innkeeper had a daughter, a young girl, attracted by the looks and presence of the imperial commander, who tried to lead him into sin. Nicholas refused once, saying to her that she was enticing him to a satanic act, but the shameless girl came a second and then a third time to the commander's room and attempted to seduce him. The Commander refused on each occasion more and more decisively, advising her to guard her virginity and not give her body and soul over to the devil. He said finally that he was a soldier and was going to war, and that it was both unworthy and dangerous for a soldier to foul himself by such an impure act, which would rouse God's anger and bring him to certain death. Thus this Godloving man overcame temptation. The following day he continued on his way with the army. The next night, he had the following vision: he was standing in a great open space and saw near him a strong man sitting with his right leg crossed over his left. Before him stood two armies facing each other on the field, Greek and Bulgar. This strong man told him to watch carefully what was about to happen. Nicholas looked and saw the following: while the strong man kept his right leg crossed over the left, the Greek army prevailed over the Bulgars; and when he changed his position and crossed the left leg over the right, the Bulgars prevailed and ferociously cut the Greeks down. Then the strong man took the commander over to the massacred Greek army. The whole field was covered with corpses, piled one on another. Only in the middle of these corpses was there an empty space, large enough to accommodate one body. Then the man said to Nicholas: 'This place was set apart for your body, but, as you three times last night overcame diabolic temptation, your body and soul have been preserved from death.' That which Nicholas saw in the night-vision, he saw reproduced exactly at the time of the battle. The Greek army all perished on the field of battle, but Nicholas returned home alive -- not to the barracks but to a monastery. January 7th - Civil Calendar December 25th - Church Calendar
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1. The Nativity of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ. 'And when the fullness of time was come, God sent His only-begotten Son' (Gal. 4:4), to save the human race. And when the ninth month had come after the archangel Gabriel appeared to the most holy Virgin in Nazareth, saying: 'Hail, thou that art highly favored... thou shalt conceive and bear a son' - at that time a decree went forth from Caesar Augustus that all the inhabitants of the Roman Empire be taxed. In accordance with this decree, everyone had to go to his own town and there be inscribed. Therefore righteous Joseph came with the most holy Virgin to Bethlehem, the city of David, for they were both of the royal House of David. But, there being a great many people in that small city for the census, Joseph and Mary could not find lodging in any house, and found shelter in a cave which the shepherds used as a sheepfold. In this cave the most holy Virgin gave birth to the Saviour of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ. Bearing Him without pain, as He was conceived without sin of the Holy Spirit and not of man, she herself wrapped Him in swaddling bands, worshipped Him as God and laid Him in a manger. Then righteous Joseph drew near and worshipped Him as the divine Fruit of a virgin womb. Then the shepherds came in from the fields, directed by an angel of God, and worshipped Him as Messiah and Saviour. The shepherds had heard a multitude of angels singing: 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill among men' (Luke 2:14). At that time there also came wise men from the East, led by a wonderful star, bearing their gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh, and worshipped Him as King of kings, offering Him their gifts (Matt. 2:11). Thus He came into the world Whose coming had been foretold by the prophets and Who was born in the way that they had prophesied: of the most holy Virgin, in the city of Bethlehem, of the lineage of David according to the flesh, at the time when there was no longer in Jerusalem a king of the tribe of Judah, but Herod the stranger was on the throne. After many types and prefigurings, messengers and heralds, prophets and righteous men, wise men and kings, finally He appeared, the Lord of the world and King of kings, to perform the work of the salvation of mankind that could not be performed by His servants. May His be eternal glory and praise! Amen. FOR CONSIDERATION The Lord Jesus, born in Bethlehem, was first worshipped by shepherds and wise men from the East -- the simplest and the wisest of this world. In our day also, those who most sincerely worship the Lord Jesus as God and Savior are the simplest and the wisest of this world. Twisted simplicity and crazed wisdom have always been enemies of Christ's divinity and of His Gospel. But who were these wise men from the East? This question was closely investigated by St Dimitri of Rostov. He asserts that they were kings of small regions or groups of towns in Persia, Arabia and Egypt. At the same time, they were greatly learned in astrology. The wonderful star that heralded the birth of the new King appeared to them. According to St Dimitri, this star appeared nine months before the birth of the Lord Jesus; that is, at the time when the most holy Mother of God conceived Him. They spent these nine months in studying this star, in preparing for the journey and in travelling. They arrived in Bethlehem very shortly after the birth of the Savior of the world. One of them was called Melchior. He was old, withered, with long white hair and beard. He brought the Lord the gift of gold. The second man was called Caspar; ruddy of face, young and beardless. He brought the Lord the gift of frankincense. The third was called Balthazar, black-skinned and heavily bearded. He brought the Lord the gift of myrrh. After their deaths, their bodies were taken to Constantinople, from Constantinople to Milan and from Milan to Cologne. It can be added that these three wise men represented the three chief races of men that descended from Noah's three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. The Persian represented Japheth, the Arabian Shem and the Egyptian Ham. Thus it can be said that, through these three, the whole human race worshipped our incarnate Lord and God. January 8th - Civil Calendar December 26th - Church Calendar 1. The Synaxis of the Most Holy Mother of God. On the second day of Christmas, the Christian Church gives glory and praise to the most holy Mother of God, who bore our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ. This feast is called a 'general commemoration' because, on this day, all the faithful come together to glorify her, the Mother of God, and to celebrate a triumphant, common feast in her honor. In Ochrid, it has been the custom from time immemorial that, on the eve of the second day of Christmas, Vespers has been celebrated only in the church of the Mother of God, the Chieftain. All the clergy and people there together glorify the most pure Mother of God.
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2. Commemoration of the Flight into Egypt. The wise men, astrologers, from the East, having worshipped the Lord in Bethlehem, returned home, at the command of an angel, another way. Herod, that wicked King, planned to slaughter all the children in Bethlehem, but God saw Herod's intention and sent His angel to Joseph. The angel of God spoke to Joseph in a dream and commanded him to take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt. Joseph did this. Taking the divine Child and His most pure Mother, he traveled first to Nazareth (Lk. 2:39), where he set his household affairs in order and then, taking his son James with them, went off to Egypt (Matt. 2:14). And so the words of the prophet: 'The Lord, riding upon a swift cloud, shall come into Egypt' (Is. 19:1), were fulfilled. In old Cairo today the cave where the holy family lived can be seen, and in the village of Matarea near Cairo, the tree remains under which the Mother of God rested with the Lord Jesus, where a miraculous spring of water sprang up under the tree. They lived in Egypt for several years, and then the holy family returned to Palestine in response to a command by an angel of God. And so a second prophecy was fulfilled: 'Out of Egypt have I called My Son' (Hosea 11:1). Herod was dead, and on his bloodstained throne sat a worthy successor in his wicked son Archelaus. Joseph, hearing that Archelaus was reigning in Jerusalem, returned to Galilee, to his town of Nazareth, where he settled in his own home. Galilee was at that time ruled by another of Herod's sons, Herod the Younger, who was somewhat better than his wicked brother Archelaus. 3. Our Holy Father Evarestus. Reading the works of St Ephraim the Syrian, he abandoned the diplomatic service and became a monk. He was very strict with himself and wore chains on his body, eating dry bread only once a week. He lived for seventyfive years, and went to the Lord in about 825. 4. St Euthymius the Confessor, Bishop of Sardis. He took part in the Seventh Ecumenical Council, and spent about thirty years in exile for his veneration of icons. Under the Emperor Theophilus the Iconoclast, he was flogged with bull-whips, during which he died a martyr in 840 and received a wreath of glory in heaven. 5. Our Holy Father Constantine of Synnada. He was a Jew who came to the Christian faith. When the Cross was made on his head at his baptism, it remained visible there till his death in Constantinople in the seventh century. He is famed for his fasting and for his many miracles. He foretold the day of his death seven years in advance. FOR CONSIDERATION A story of the divine Christ-Child: when the holy family was fleeing before Herod's sword to Egypt, brigands leapt out into the road to steal what they could. Righteous Joseph was leading the donkey on which were some few possessions and on which the most holy Mother of God was riding with her Son at her breast. The robbers seized the donkey, meaning to lead it away. At that moment, one of the robbers went across to the Mother of God to see what she had at her breast. Seeing the Christ-Child, the robber marveled at His beauty and said in wonder: 'If God were to take human flesh Himself, He would not be more beautiful than this child!', and the robber told his fellows to take nothing from these travelers. Full of gratitude to this kindly robber, the Mother of God said to him: 'This Child will reward you richly for having spared Him today'. Thirty-three years later, this same robber was crucified for his wrongdoing on the right of Christ's cross. His name was Dysmas, while the name of the robber on the left was Gestas. Looking at Christ the Lord, crucified in His innocence, Dysmas repented of his whole life and, while Gestas reviled the Lord, Dysmas rebuked his fellow-robber, saying: 'He has done no evil'. Dysmas is, then, that penitent thief to whom the Lord said: 'Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise' (Lk.23:41-43). Thus the Lord rewarded with Paradise him who had spared Him in childhood. January 9th - Civil Calendar December 27th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Protomartyr Stephen the Archdeacon. He was a kinsman of the Apostle Paul and one of those Jews who lived in a Hellenic milieu. Stephen was the first of the seven deacons whom the holy apostles ordained for the service of the poor in Jerusalem. This is why
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he is called the Archdeacon - the first, or chief, of them. By the power of his faith, Stephen worked many wonders among the people. The wicked Jews disputed with him, but were always confounded by his wisdom and the power of the Spirit who acted through him. Then the shameful Jews, adept at calumny and slander, stirred up the people and leaders against this innocent man. They slandered Stephen, saying that he had blasphemed against God and against Moses, and quickly found false witnesses who supported their assertion. Then Stephen stood before the people, and all saw his face 'like the face of an angel': that is, his face was illumined by the light of grace as was the face of Moses when he talked with God. Stephen opened his mouth and spoke of God's manifold works and marvels, performed in the past for the People of Israel, and of the people's manifold transgressions and opposition to God. He especially denounced them for the slaying of Christ the Lord, calling them 'betrayers and murderers' (Acts 7:52). While they ground their teeth, Stephen looked and saw the heavens open and the glory of God, and spoke to the Jews of what he saw: 'Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God' (Acts 7:56). Then the malicious men took him out of the city and stoned him to death. Among his murderers was his kinsman Saul, later the Apostle Paul. At that time, the most holy Mother of God was standing on a rock at a distance with St John the Theologian, and witnessed the martyrdom of this first martyr for the truth of her Son and God, and she prayed for Stephen. This happened exactly a year after the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. St Stephen's body was taken secretly and buried by Gamaliel in his own ground. He was a Jewish prince and a secret Christian. Thus this first of Christ's martyrs made a glorious end and entered into the Kingdom of Christ our God. 2. Our Holy Fathers, the Martyrs Theodore and Theophanes the Branded. Brothers in the flesh, born in Palestine, they were skilled in both worldly and spiritual learning. They were monks in the community of St Sava the Sanctified, and were there ordained priests. They suffered harsh persecution for their defense of the icons under three Emperors: Leo the Armenian, Michael Balbus and Theophilus. The demented Theophilus beat them with his own hands, and ordered that they have mocking verses branded on their faces, from which they became known as 'the Branded'. They were thrown into prison in the town of Apamea in Bithynia, and Theodore died there of his wounds. Theophanes was freed in the time of the Emperors Theodore and Michael, and was made Metropolitan of Nicaea by Patriarch Methodius. He died in 845. These two wonderful brothers suffered for Christ, and received a glorious reward from Christ in the deathless Kingdom of light. FOR CONSIDERATION A story of the divine Christ-Child: Both great prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah, prophesied that the Lord would come to Egypt, and that His presence would shake the temples and destroy the idols. Isaiah wrote: 'Behold, the Lord shall come into Egypt, and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at His presence' (Is. 19:l,cf. Jer. 43:12,13). When the divine refugees came to the city of Hermopolis (Cairo), and came near to an idolatrous temple, all the idols in the temple suddenly fell down and were broken to pieces. St Palladius writes about this: 'We saw the idolatrous temple there, in which, at the presence of the Savior, all the idols fell to the ground'. In some place there were three hundred and sixty-five idols. When the most holy Virgin went into that temple with the divine Child in her arms, all these idols fell down and were smashed, and idols all over the land of Egypt fell in the same way. The holy Prophet Jeremiah, who had lived in Egypt in old age, had foretold to the Egyptian pagan priests that the idols would fall and all the graven images would be destroyed at the time when a Virgin Mother with a Child born in a manger would come to Egypt. The priests remembered this prophecy and, in accordance with it, depicted in their temples a virgin resting in bed with a child in a manger beside her, wrapped in swaddling bands, and they venerated this picture. Pharaoh Ptolemy asked the priests what the picture meant, and they replied that it was a mystery, foretold by a prophet to their forefathers, and that they were awaiting its fulfillment. And this mystery was indeed fulfilled, and revealed not only in Egypt, but in the whole world. January 10th - Civil Calendar December 28th - Church Calendar 1. The 20,000 Holy Martyrs of Nicomedia. In the time of the wicked Emperor Maximian Hercules, the Christian faith flourished in Nicomedia, and spread from day to day. At one time the Emperor, staying in the city, came to know of the large number of Christians,
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and he was greatly enraged and devised a means of slaughtering them all. The feast of the Nativity of Christ was approaching, and the Emperor, discovering that all the Christians gathered in the church on this feast, ordered that, on that day, the church be surrounded by soldiers and set alight. When all the Christians were assembled in the church after midnight and the glorious celebration was beginning, the soldiers surrounded the church so that no one could leave, and the Emperor's envoy went into the church and told the Christians of the Emperor's command that they either immediately offer sacrifice to idols or all be burned to death. Then the archdeacon, a courageous soldier of Christ, aflame with divine zeal, began to encourage the people, reminding them of the Three Holy Children in the furnace in Babylon. 'Look, my brethren,' he said, 'at the table of sacrifice in the Lord's altar, and understand that our true Lord and God will now sacrifice on this; so shall we not lay down our lives for Him in this holy place?' The people were fired with enthusiasm to die for Christ, and all the catechumens were baptized and chrismated. The soldiers then set fire to the church on all sides and the Christians, twenty thousand of them, were burned in the flame singing the glory of God. The church burned for five days, and a smoke with a fragrant and intoxicating smell rose from it, and a marvelous golden light was seen around it. Thus these many men, women and children died gloriously and received wreaths of eternal glory in the Kingdom of Christ. They suffered and were glorified in the year 302. 2. Our Holy Father Simon the Myrrh-Streamer. The founder of the monastery of Simonopetra on the Holy Mountain, he was famed for his asceticism, his visions and his miracles. He entered peacefully into rest and went to Christ in 1257. 3. The Holy Martyr Domna. A virgin and priestess of the foul idols at the court of the Emperor Maximian, she read the Acts of the Apostles one day, came to faith in Christ and was baptized by Bishop Cyril in Nicomedia, together with a eunuch called Indes. St Cyril sent her to a women's monastery, where blessed Agatha was abbess. When the Emperor began to search for Domna, Agatha dressed her in men's clothing and sent her to a men's monastery. This was at the time that the twenty thousand Christians were burned in the church by the Emperor Maximian. Immediately after this, by the Emperor's command, Ss Indes, Gorgonius and Peter were thrown into the sea with rocks around their necks; Zeno the commander, who had openly denounced the Emperor for his idolatry, was beheaded; St Theophilus, a deacon with Bishop Anthimus, was killed with stones and arrows. Abbess Agatha, the nun Theophila and the nobles Dorotheus, Mardonius, Migdonius and Euthymius were also slain for the sake of Christ. One night, Domna was walking by the sea and saw some fishermen casting their nets into the water. She was grieving deeply for St Indes. Called by the fishermen to help them, she went to their aid and, by God's providence, drew out three human bodies in the net. Domna recognized Indes, Gorgonius and Peter, took their bodies and gave them burial. When the Emperor learned that a young man was tending and censing the graves of the Christian martyrs, he ordered that he be beheaded, and St Domna was seized and beheaded, and was crowned with a wreath of glory in the heavenly Kingdom with the other martyrs. FOR CONSIDERATION A story of the divine Christ Child: When the most holy Virgin, with her divine Child and righteous Joseph, drew near to the city of Hermopolis, they saw a tree before the gate of the city. The travelers were weary from their long journey, and went up to the tree to rest a little. But the tree was very tall and gave little shade. The Egyptians called this tree 'Persea' and worshipped it as a god, for they believed that some divinity was hidden within it. In fact, an evil spirit dwelt in this tree. So, when the divine family drew near to the tree, it trembled and the evil spirit, terrified at the presence of the Christ Child, fled. Then the tree bent its tip down and worshipped its Maker like a rational creature. The bent tree thus gave a deep shade, in which the weary travelers could rest. From that day, the tree received miraculous healing power from Christ the Lord, to heal every human sickness. The holy travelers then went on to the village of Matarea. Near the village, they saw a fig tree and, while Joseph went into the village, the holy Virgin sheltered with the Lord under this tree. Then a marvel was seen: the tree bowed its crown down to the ground to give shade to the travelers, and its lower branches opened in such a way that mother and Child could go inside and rest. What was even stranger: a living spring of water suddenly sprang up near the fig tree. Joseph found a hut near this, and they settled there, and they drank the water from this wonderful spring. This was the only spring of living water to be found in the whole of the land of Egypt, for all the other water in Egypt comes from the Nile, which branches out into innumerable canals.
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Thus like called to like: the Lord Jesus, the deathless and heavenly Spring of living water, called forth this spring of living water from the earth. January 11th - Civil Calendar December 29th - Church Calendar 1. The 14,000 Holy Children in Bethlehem. When the wise men from the East failed to return to Jerusalem from Bethlehem to tell Herod about the newborn king, but, at the angel's command, returned to their home another way, Herod was as furious as a wild beast, and commanded that all the children of two years and under in Bethlehem and its surroundings be killed. This terrible command of the king's was carried out to the letter. His soldiers cut off some of the children's heads with their swords, dashed others on the stones, trampled some of them underfoot and drowned others with their own hands. The weeping and lamentation of their mothers rose to heaven: 'Lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children' as had been prophesied (Jer. 13:15; Matt. 2:18). This evildoing towards the hordes of innocent children came to pass a year after the birth of Christ, at a time when Herod was trying to find the divine Child. He sought Zacharias' son, John, meaning to kill him in the belief that John was the new king. When Zacharias refused to hand John over, he was killed in the Temple on Herod's orders. St Simeon the Host of God was also killed, and went to God soon after the Presentation in the Temple. Slaying the children in Bethlehem, Herod then turned on the Jewish elders, who had revealed to him where the Messiah would be born. He killed Hyrcanes the High Priest, and seventy elders from the Sanhedrin, and thus they who conspired with Herod to kill the new baby King came to an evil end. After that, Herod killed his own brother and sister and wife, and three of his sons. Finally, God's punishment fell on him: he began to tremble, his legs swelled, the lower part of his body became putrid, and worms came out of the sores. His nose became blocked and an unbearable stench spread around from it. At the time of his death, he remembered that there were many captive Jews in prison; so, that they should not rejoice at his death, he ordered that they all be slaughtered. Thus this terrible ruler lost his inhuman soul and was given to the devil for eternity. 2. Our Holy Father Marcellus. From Apamea in Syria, he was abbot of the community of the Sleepless Ones in Constantinople. He was a clairvoyant, a healer and a great wonderworker. He spoke with angels, and drove out devils with ease. After his death, he appeared to his close friend, St Lucian, and told him that he had begged God to take Lucian quickly to His heavenly Kingdom. This glorious and holy man entered into rest in 486. 3. Our Holy Fathers Mark the Gravedigger and Theophilus the Weeper. They were monks of the Kiev Caves. St Mark had such grace that he could command the dead and they would listen to him. 'Wait till tomorrow, my brother; your grave isn't ready yet', he is recorded as having said to a dead monk, who was already washed and prepared, and the monk opened his eyes and lived till the following day. Theophilus wept constantly for his sins, catching his tears in a basin. An angel appeared to him at the time of his death, and showed him a very large basin full of tears. These were Theophilus' tears, that had fallen to the ground or been wiped away with his hand, or had dried on his face. Thus in heaven they know and keep all our tears along with our sufferings and labors and sighs for the sake of our salvation. These holy servants of God entered into rest in the eleventh century, and went to the kingdom of Christ. FOR CONSIDERATION A story of the most pure Virgin Mary: she conceived the Lord Jesus on a Friday, and bore Him on the first day of the week. It was on this first day that God said: 'Let there be light' (Gen. 1:3), on this day manna fell from heaven, on this day our Lord and Savior was born and was on this day baptized in the Jordan. There lived in Bethlehem at that time the aged Salome, a kinswoman of Joseph and Mary. She could not receive her kinsfolk into her house, but visited them in the shepherd's cave. When the most holy Virgin stainlessly bore the Lord and Savior, Salome came to visit her, and was amazed that such a young girl should give birth without the aid of a midwife, should swaddle the child herself and still be on her feet. When it was explained to Salome that this birth was of God and not of man, that it was stainless and without pain and that the Virgin Mother remained a virgin after the birth as she was before it, Salome would not believe it, but stretched out her hand to the most holy Virgin's body, to examine, after the way of a midwife, if this was so. She was punished for her
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unbelief and impudence: her hand was seized and withered. The old woman was greatly frightened by this, and lamented over her withered hand. Then, as it touched the divine Child, it was restored to its former wholeness, and Salome believed in the virginity of the holy Virgin Mary and the divinity of Christ. After forty days, when, according to the custom, the most pure Virgin came with the Child to the Temple in Jerusalem, Zacharias the High Priest stood her in the place reserved for virgins. The Pharisees and priests were amazed at this, and wanted to move her to the place for married women, but Zacharias, gifted with insight, insisted that she was a virgin although she had given birth. Because of this, the Jewish elders hated Zacharias and advised Herod to kill him. Immediately after leaving the Temple, the Mother of God and Joseph left Jerusalem for Nazareth, and then for Egypt. January 12th - Civil Calendar December 30th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Anysia. Born in Salonica of wealthy and eminent parents, she was brought up in the Christian faith. She was orphaned young, and gave herself over to pondering on God and prayer in her own home. Fired with the love of Christ, she often said: 'Oh, how false is the life of youth, for you either create scandal or are scandalized. Better is age, but oh, I am seized with sorrow at the length of time that separates us from heaven!' She sold her goods and gave away the proceeds to the poor, and herself lived from the labor of her own hands. She kept strict fasts, slept very little and always wept in prayer. When sleep overtook her, she said to herself: 'It is dangerous to sleep while the enemy keeps vigil.' At that time, the wicked Emperor Maximian issued a decree that any man was free to kill Christians when and where he came across them, without trial or sentence. This holy maiden once went out into the street to go to church. It was the day of a pagan festival of the sun. A soldier saw her fairness of face and went up to her with impure lust, asking her name. She made the sign of the Cross and said to him: 'I am Christ's handmaid, and I'm going to church.' When the impudent soldier came closer and began to speak as one deranged, she pushed him away and spat in his face. The soldier aimed a blow at her with his sword, and ran her through under the rib. This holy maiden suffered in 298 and was buried by Christians, and was crowned with a wreath of glory by God in the heavenly Kingdom. A church was built over her grave. 2. The Holy Apostle Timon. One of the seven deacons (Acts 6:5), and of the Seventy Apostles, he was made bishop of Bostra in Arabia an there preached the Gospel, enduring much ill-treatment at the hands of the pagans. He was thrown into fire, but remained unharmed. He finally died by crucifixion, and entered into the kingdom of Christ. 3. Our holy Mother Theodora of Caesarea. After strict asceticism in the monastery of St Anna, she entered peacefully into rest in 755. 4. Our Holy Father, the Martyr Gideon. A Greek by birth, of very poor parents, he was forced to embrace Islam as a youth. In remorse, he fled to the Holy Mountain, where, in the monastery of Karakallou, he received the monastic habit. Desiring martyrdom for Christ, he received the blessing of his spiritual father and went to the place where he had been forced into Islam, and there, openly before the Turks, confessed the Christian faith and denounced Mohamet as a false prophet. The Turks shaved his head, placed him upside-down on a donkey and led him through the town. He rejoiced at this ridicule for the sake of Christ. They then chopped off all his fingers and toes with an axe, as they had once done to St James the Persian (Nov. 27th), and finally threw him into a place of excrement, where he gave his holy soul to God in the year 1818, in Turnovo in Thrace. His wonderworking relics are preserved in the church of the Holy Apostles in the village of Turnovo, and a part of them is to be found in his monastery of Karakallou. FOR CONSIDERATION Here are two more examples of how our merciful God helps those who, in their trouble, hope in Him with faith. Blessed Theodora of Caesarea was born into a noble house and given to the monastery of St Anna for education. Theodora was not only educated there: she also lived in asceticism, preparing herself to receive the monastic habit. The Emperor Leo the Isaurian took her from the monastery by force and betrothed her to one of
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his commanders. Theodora resisted the marriage with all her soul, but was as powerless as a lamb in a wolf's claws. She lamented and prayed constantly to God in her heart that He would not forsake her. On the very day of the marriage, while the guests were feasting, news arrived from the Emperor that the Scythians had invaded the Empire, with a summons for the commander to set out at once with the army against them. The commander went, and never returned, being killed in battle. Thus, by God's help, Theodora was freed and, as a pure maiden, returned to her monastery, where she received the habit and, as a nun, became known for her rare asceticism. A second example: in the monastery of the 'Sleepless Ones', there was great want during a year of famine. St Marcellus, the abbot, welcomed some poor men one day and entertained them, then wanted to give them some money for their journey. He asked the monastery's treasurer how much money they had altogether, and he replied that they had ten silver pieces. The abbot told him to give all ten coins to the poor men, but the treasurer did not give them all ten. He gave them nine and kept one for the monastery's needs, as the situation was becoming acute. A rich man suddenly visited the monastery, and brought the abbot ninety talents of gold. Then the discerning Marcellus summoned the treasurer and said to him: 'See, God had intended to send us a hundred talents through this devout man, but as you disobeyed me and kept back one silver piece, the Provider of all has kept back ten talents. January 13th - Civil Calendar December 31st - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Mother Melanie the Roman. Born in Rome of devout and very wealthy parents, she was forced by them to marry a young nobleman, Pinian. She was taken very seriously ill in giving birth to her second child, and told her husband that she would be healed only if he vowed before God to live with her in future as brother and sister. Her husband agreed and Melanie, in her deep joy, was healed. When it pleased God to take both children to Himself, they agreed to sell all their possessions and give the proceeds to the destitute, the Church and the monasteries. They traveled through many lands and cities, everywhere doing good works. They visited famous spiritual guides in Upper and Lower Egypt, and received much instruction and inspiration from them. During all that time, Melanie lived in strict fasting, fervent prayer and the reading of the Holy Scriptures. She followed the practice of reading the Scriptures right through, the Old and New Testaments, every three years, living with her husband as with a brother and fellow-ascetic. Going to Alexandria, they received the blessing of the Patriarch, St Cyril. After that, they went to Jerusalem and settled on the Mount of Olives. There Melanie became an anchoress, and gave herself completely to pondering, fasting and prayer. She lived thus for fourteen years, after which she came out, to help others to salvation, and founded monasteries for men and women. At the invitation of her kinsman, the senator Volusianus, a pagan, she went to Constantinople and brought him to the Christian faith. She then returned to the Mount of Olives, where she went to God in 438, at the age of fifty-seven. 2. Holy and Righteous Joseph, King David and James the Lord's Brother. They are commemorated on the Sunday after the Nativity of Christ. One can learn all about King David, the son of Jesse, from the Book of Kings, and for holy James see October 23rd. Righteous Joseph is so named in the Gospel (Matt. 1:19), and for this, God entrusted the most holy Virgin to his protection and gave him great honor in the economy of human salvation. Although Joseph was of the royal lineage of David, he himself was a simple carpenter in Nazareth. He took the most holy Virgin from the Temple into his home at the age of eighty, and entered into rest at the age of a hundred and ten. 3. Our Holy Father, the Martyr Zoticus, Protector of the Poor. He was eminent both of birth and rank. He moved to Constantinople, cast off all worldly things and received ordination to the priesthood, founding a home for the poor, containing a place for the treatment of infectious diseases, and ministering to those cared for in it. He was a close acquaintance of the Emperor Constantine the Great. In retaliation for the gold that Zoticus had had from him for his plague-victims, Constantine's son, Constantius, tied him behind a wild ass, which was driven about until he died of his wounds. He suffered in the fourth century. 4. Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid.
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Born on the island of Euboea, and educated in Constantinople by the most eminent teachers of his day, he became a priest in the Great Church. He was chosen as bishop, and sent, against his will, to Ochrid, where he spent about twenty-five years (from about 1082 to 1108). Chomatianus of Ochrid calls him 'the wisest archbishop'. He was a man of enormous learning, both secular and theological, of refined Byzantine tastes, and was by nature melancholy and sensitive. Theophylact felt himself among the Slavs of Ochrid like an exile among barbarians. He wrote commentaries on the Four Gospels and on other books of the New Testament. These are the finest works of their sort after St John Chrysostom, and are read to this day with great benefit. Of his other works, we know of his Letters, and a Life of St Clement of Ochrid. In old age, Theophylact withdrew from Ochrid to Salonica, and finishing his earthly course, went to the blessedness of eternity. FOR CONSIDERATION How wisely holy men and women were able to handle their wealth! How skillfully they bought heavenly goods with their earthly riches! Oh, how low a value they set on earthly goods in themselves, treating them as dust and ashes! When St Melanie visited the hermits in Egypt with the intention of giving them some financial help, she was astounded at their utter scorning of goods and wealth. Thus, she visited one hermit, Ephestion, and saw nothing in his cell but mats, a bowl for water, a little dry bread and a salt pot. Discovering in advance that the elder would not take money from her, she seized the opportunity to hide several gold pieces in the salt pot. But, as she was on the way back, she heard the elder running after her and calling her to stop. She stopped. The elder held the gold out to her on his palm, saying: 'I don't need this; take what's yours.' Melanie said to him: 'If you don't need it, give it to someone else.' He replied: 'No-one around here would have any use for it.' When Melanie would not take the gold back, the elder swung his arm and threw the gold into the river, and then returned to his cell. During an outbreak of plague in Constantinople, the Emperor Constantius ordered that everyone affected be immediately thrown into the sea. St Zoticus brought together those infected, and took them to his house to look after them there. When his money ran out, he went to the Emperor and asked for money to buy precious pearls for him. The Emperor gave him some money and, with this, he gathered further plague-victims and looked after them. One day, the Emperor asked Zoticus for the promised pearls, and Zoticus took him and showed him the men in his house, saying: 'These, O Emperor, are living pearls, which I have acquired with toil and money for your salvation.' The furious Emperor condemned Zoticus to death. Zoticus entered into eternal life, and the Emperor remained to expiate and repent of his sin. January 14th - Civil Calendar January 1st - Church Calendar 1. The Circumcision of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ. On the eighth day after His birth, the divine Child was taken to the Temple and duly circumcised according to the Jewish Law that had been observed from the time of Abraham. At this time He was given the name Jesus, the name announced to the most holy Virgin by the Archangel Gabriel (Luke 1:31). The Baptism of the New Covenant was prefigured in the Circumcision of the Old Covenant. The Lord's Circumcision shows that He took true human flesh upon Himself, not its semblance as heretics later taught of Him. The Lord was truly circumcised, desiring thus to fulfill all the Law, which He Himself had given through our forefathers and the prophets. Fulfilling all the ordinances of the Law, He superseded them by Baptism in His Church, for, as the Apostle declares: "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature" (Gal. 6:15). (In the Church Calendar, this Feast of the Lord has neither Forefeast nor After-feast.) 2. St Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea. St Basil was born in the reign of the Emperor Constantine, in about 330. While still unbaptized, he spent fifteen years in Athens studying philosophy, rhetoric, astronomy and other contemporary secular disciplines. Among his fellow-students were Gregory the Theologian and Julian, later the apostate emperor. When already of mature years, he was in the Jordan together with his former tutor Evulios. He was Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia for nearly ten years, and died at the age of fifty. A great champion of Orthodoxy, a great torch of moral purity and zeal for the Faith, a great theological mind, a great builder and pillar of the Church of God, Basil fully deserved his title "the Great". In the Office for
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his Feast, he is referred to as a bee of the Church of Christ, bringing honey to the faithful but stinging those in heresy. Many of the writings of this Father of the Church have survived - theological, apologetic, on asceticism and on the Canons. There is also the Liturgy that bears his name. This Liturgy is celebrated ten times in the year: on January lst, on the Eves of the Nativity of Christ and the Theophany, on every Sunday in the Great Fast with the exception of Palm Sunday, and on the Thursday and Saturday in Great Week. St Basil departed this life peacefully on January lst, 379, and entered into the Kingdom of Christ. FOR CONSIDERATION Why must one obey the Church and not some man whose thinking is opposed to that of the Church, eminent or intellectually gifted though that man may be? Because the Church was founded by the Lord Jesus Christ and is guided by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God. Also because "the Church" signifies the community of the saints, an orchard of choice, fruit-bearing trees. If a man remains opposed to the community of the saints, that means that he is unholy. Why, therefore, listen to him? "The Church is an enclosure", says the wise Chrysostom. "If you are within, the wolf cannot enter, but if you stray outside, the wild beasts will get you ... Do not wander from the Church; there is nothing more impregnable than the Church. She is your hope and your salvation. She is higher than the heavens, firmer than rock, wider than the world; she never grows old, but is forever renewing her youth." January 15th - Civil Calendar January 2nd - Church Calendar 1. St Sylvester, Bishop of Rome. Born in Rome, he was skilled from his early years in secular learning and in Christian doctrine, and his life was always governed by the precepts of the Gospel. He made good use of the tuition of a priest, Timothy, whose death for the Faith he witnessed, and, seeing the example of his teacher's self-sacrifice, nourished himself in that same spirit for the rest of his life. He became Bishop of Rome at the age of thirty, and reformed certain Christian customs; abolishing, for example, the Saturday fast that had up to that time been the rule among some Christians, and decreeing that only Great Saturday and those Saturdays that fall within fasting seasons should be so observed. By his prayers and miracles, he was instrumental in the conversion and baptism of the Emperor Constantine and his mother, Helena, and assisted Queen Helena in the finding of the Holy Cross. He governed the Church for twenty years, and, finishing with honor his earthly life, entered into the heavenly Kingdom in the year 335. 2. Our Holy Father Seraphim of Sarov. He was one of the greatest Russian ascetics and wonderworkers, with profound spiritual discernment. Born in 1759, he departed this life in 1833. He was distinguished by great humility. Being praised by all the world, he referred to himself as "humble Seraphim". 3. St Theodota. The mother of the holy brothers Cosmas and Damian, the Unmercenaries and Wonderworkers, she lived a life pleasing to God, and brought up her sons to do the same. 4. Our Holy Father Ammon of Tabennisi. He was a great ascetic of the fifth century and had charge of the Tabennisiot monastery in Upper Egypt, with about 3,000 monks living in asceticism under his direction. He had the blessed gifts of wonderworking and spiritual discernment. When one of his monks asked him for counsel, he said to him in reply: 'Be as a transgressor in prison and ask repeatedly, as he would: "When will the Judge appear?" So thou also, ask thou this with fear.' FOR CONSIDERATION How do we reply to those who say that there is no room in our logic for Christ the worker of miracles? Answer simply: Place yourself within His. In His logic are contained all eternity and all transient goodness, so you could, if you wished, find a place therein for yourself. If you cannot fit a barrel into a thimble, you can fit a
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thimble into a barrel. Blessed Clement of Alexandria says: 'Philosophers are as children until they become mature in Christ...' for the truth is never contained only in the processes of rational thought. Christ came to make men new, and so also to make new the logic of men. He is our Logos and our logic. Thus we must direct our minds in accordance with His, not He with ours. He is the corrective of our minds. The sun does not adjust itself to our clocks, but they to the sun. January 16th - Civil Calendar January 3rd - Church Calendar 1 The Prophet Malachi. He was chronologically the last of the prophets, born after the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon in 538 B.C. He was unusually fair of face. According to folk-tradition, he was named 'the angel', perhaps because of his outward fairness, or because of his purity of spirit, or, again, perhaps, because of his companionship with an angel, with whom he often spoke face to face. At these times, others also heard its voice but were not worthy to look on its face. The young prophet spoke forth that which the angel revealed to him. He cried out against the ingratitude of Israel and the sins of the priests. Five hundred years before Christ, he clearly foretold the coming and work of St John the Baptist (3:7). But he was chiefly the prophet of the Day of Judgment (4:1-3). He went to God young in years, and after him there was no prophet in Israel until John the Baptist. 2. The Holy Martyr Gordius. Born in Caesarea of Cappadocia, he was an officer in the Roman army under the Emperor Licinius. At the outbreak of a terrible persecution, he left the army and his former rank and went into the Sinai desert. Alone on Mount Horeb, Gordius spent his time in prayer and in pondering the mysteries of heaven and earth. In particular he pondered on vanity and on the worthlessness of all for which people struggle and strive so on earth. He came finally to the desire to die and so move into that life that is without transience or corruptibility. With this desire, he went down into a town where pagan games were held. He presented himself to the governor as a Christian. The governor attempted in vain to turn him from the Faith with flattery and threats. Gordius remained unyielding and firm as diamond, saying: "It would obviously be an act of the greatest folly to trade this brief life for eternal torment and spiritual peril." Condemned to death, he hastened joyfully to the place of execution, speaking with the executioners on the way of the wonderful and sweet knowledge of Christ. With the name of Christ on his lips, he delivered his youthful body to the sword and his righteous soul to God in the year 320. 3. St Genevive. Protectress of Paris, she became worthy of the Kingdom of God by fasting, prayer and works of mercy. She entered into rest on January 3rd, 512, at the age of 89. FOR CONSIDERATION God looses ruin and debasement on man in his pride, when the latter thinks that his strength is eternally assured. When the wicked Roman governor Tarquinius had beheaded blessed Timothy, he summoned St Sylvester and threatened him with death if he did not reveal the whereabouts of Timothy's earthly possessions and if, furthermore, he did not immediately offer sacrifice to idols. The saint, gifted with foresight, answered fearlessly in the words of the Gospel: "Thou fool, thy soul shall be required of thee this night" (Lk. 12:20), and that which thou art pleased to bring upon me (i.e. death) shall come upon thee! The proud governor put Sylvester in chains and cast him into prison, with the intention of swiftly bringing about his death. Having done this, he sat down to his mid-day meal. As he ate, a fishbone stuck in his throat. From mid-day to midnight doctors strove to save his life, but all in vain. At midnight Tarquinius was deprived of his proud spirit in the greatest torment. And so the prophecy of St Sylvester was fulfilled, as also the biblical words: "Pride goeth before destruction" (Prov. 16: 18). January 17th - Civil Calendar January 4th - Church Calendar 1. The Assembly of the Seventy Apostles.
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In addition to the twelve Great Apostles, the Lord chose besides seventy other, lesser apostles, and sent them to preach to the Jews. He sent them out two by two before His face, to each town and place, saying: "Behold, I send you as sheep among wolves" (Lk. 10: 1-5). But as Judas, one of the Twelve, fell away from the Lord, so some among these Seventy withdrew from Him, not with the intention of betraying Him but from human weakness and lack of faith (Jn. 6:66). And as Judas' place was filled from among the other apostles, so the places of these were filled with others chosen. These apostles labored in the same way as the twelve Great Apostles; they were the assistants of the Twelve in the spreading and strengthening of the Church of God in the world. They suffered much torture and malice, from men and from demons, but their firm faith and burning love for the risen Lord made them conquerors of the world and heirs of the Kingdom of heaven. 2. St Eustathius, Archbishop of Serbia. Born in the diocese of Budim, of God-fearing parents, he became a monk as a young man in Zeta, then moved on to greater asceticism at Hilandar. In time he became abbot of Hilandar, was then chosen to be Bishop of Zeta and, after some time had elapsed, to be Archbishop of Serbia. He was a man of great virtue and led Christ's flock with zeal and love. He entered peacefully into rest at a great age in 1279, exclaiming as death drew near: "Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit."' His relics are preserved in the crypt of the church at Pec. 3. The Eunuch of Queen Candace. The Apostle Philip baptized this negro eunuch (Acts 8:26-40). After his baptism, the eunuch returned home and began to teach about Christ. He was the first apostle of the Faith among the negroes of Ethiopia. He died a martyr and was counted worthy of the Kingdom of God. 4. Our Holy Father, the Martyr Onuphrius of Hilandar. He was possessed of great anger towards his parents in his youth, and declared to the Turks that he wished to become one of them. He immediately repented of these words, went to Hilandar and there became a monk. Tormented by his conscience, he determined on martyrdom. So, with the blessing of his spiritual father, he went to Trnovo and presented himself to the Turkish authorities, stating that he was a Christian and mocking Mahomet, as a result of which he was slain on January 4th, 1818, at the age of 32. The body of this spiritual hero was lost, as the Turks threw it into the sea. FOR CONSIDERATION God hearkens to the prayer of a righteous man. This is clearly seen in the lives of Moses and Elias and of many righteous men and prophets of the Old Testament, as also from the lives of the apostles and saints. When St Genevieve was living the monastic life in Paris, Attila and his savage Huns laid siege to the city. Fear and horror took hold of all the inhabitants, who were in hourly expectation of its occupation by the enemy. St. Genevieve then called on the people to fast and pray, that the calamity might be averted. Many men and women responded to the saint's call, and began to fast and to pray. Genevieve herself kept the strictest fast and made the most fervent prayer to God. After a very short time, the enemy withdrew from Paris, without any obvious reason, and went to some other place. That which cannot be accomplished by the swords of many sinners, the prayer of one righteous person can perform. January 18th - Civil Calendar January 5th - Church Calendar 1. The Hieromartyr Theopemptus and the Holy Martyr Theonas. When the Emperor Diocletian gave orders for the persecution of Christians, Theopemptus, Bishop of Nicomedia, was the first to suffer for Christ. He was brought before the Emperor, who threatened him with death if he did not deny Christ. To that threat, the courageous bishop replied: 'It is written: "Fear not those who are able to kill the body". You, O King, have power over my body. Do with it whatever you will!' He was cruelly beaten and starved, and tortured in many ways. Finally the Emperor called in a magician, Theonas, to trick the man of God in some way with magic. Theonas dissolved a very strong poison in water and gave it to Theopemptus to drink. Theopemptus made the sign of the Cross over the cup and drank the poison. Theonas, seeing that it had no effect on Theopemptus, turned to the Emperor and cried out: 'I too am a Christian, and
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worship the Crucified!' They were both condemned to death; Theopemptus was slain with the sword and Theonas buried alive in the year 298. They suffered with honor and became citizens of the Kingdom of Christ. 2. The Holy Prophet Micah the First (or Micaiah). Micah was a contemporary of the Prophet Elias (9th century B.C.), and prophesied evil to King Ahab, who was killed in battle against the Syrians (I Kings 22:8; II Chron. 18:7). He prophesied entirely orally, writing nothing down. There was another Micah, in the eighth century, who prophesied the birth of the Lord in Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2) and wrote one of the prophetic books. 3. Our Holy Mother Syncletica. A native of Macedonia and educated in Alexandria, she was a rich young woman of standing. She had many suitors, but refused them all and fled from her parents' home to a monastery. In the greatest self-denial, in vigils and prayer, she lived to the age of eighty. Her counsels to the nuns have always been regarded as true spiritual pearls, the wisdom she attained coming not from reading but through suffering and pain, through constant meditation and spiritual converse with the divine world. Her soul entered into that higher world in the year 350. Among other counsels, St Syncletica taught: 'Do not abandon a fast in time of sickness, for lo, those who do not fast fall into the same sicknesses.' Also: 'Treasure, when discovered, is quickly seized upon; so virtue, when it is made public, is quickly eclipsed and lost.' 4. Our Holy Mother Apollinaria. She was the elder daughter of Anthemius, the regent during the minority of the Emperor Theodosius the Younger, his second-born daughter being insane. She refused to marry, being in her heart betrothed to Christ. Going off into the Egyptian desert, wearing man's dress and using the man's name Dorotheus, she entered a men's monastery where she lived in asceticism, lifting up her soul constantly to God and burning with love towards His whole creation. It was suggested to Anthemius the Regent that he send his remaining, insane, daughter to the hermit, that prayers might be read over her. And so, by God's providence, it came to pass that Apollinaria healed her insane sister by the power of prayer. As soon as she died, the secret became known - that she had been a woman, not a man. The manly courage of this holy virgin has remained as an example and stimulus throughout the ages to all who take thought for their salvation. She entered into rest in the year 470. FOR CONSIDERATION It is fruit, fruit and fruit alone that the Lord seeks from man, that living tree. Good fruit is a God-loving heart, but bad Fruit is a heart filled with self-love. All other things that a man has and enjoys status, power, honor, health, wealth, learning -- these are no more than the leaves of the tree. "Every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire" (Matt. 3:10). Even non-Christian peoples rate good works above fine words. So much the more must it be the rule among the followers of Christ. At a certain gathering of Athenians, at which envoys from Sparta were present, one old man was going from bench to bench, trying to find somewhere to sit down. The Athenians mocked at him, and no-one gave him his seat. When the old man drew near to the Spartans, they all leapt to their feet and offered him their places. Seeing this, the Athenians expressed their gratitude to the Spartans in well-rounded phrases. To this the Spartans replied: 'The Athenians know what is good, but do not do it.' He who does good is like a tree that bears good fruit for its owner. And the well-spring of goodness in man is a good, God-loving heart. January 19th - Civil Calendar January 6th - Church Calendar 1. The Theophany. When the Lord Jesus had lived for thirty years from His birth in the flesh, He began His teaching and saving work. He marked this very beginning of the beginning by His Baptism in the Jordan. St Cyril of Jerusalem says: 'The beginning of the world - water; the beginning of the Gospel - the Jordan.' At the Baptism of the Lord in the water, that mystery was revealed to the world that was predicted in the Old Testament and fabled in ancient Egypt and India - the mystery of the Holy Trinity of God. The Father revealed Himself to the sense of
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hearing, the Spirit to the sense of sight and the Son, further beyond these, to the sense of touch. The Father gave His testimony of the Son, the Son was baptized in the waters and the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, hovered over the waters. And when John the Baptist bore witness of Christ and said: 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world' (Jn. 1:29), and when he immersed the Lord in the Jordan and baptized Him, there were thus revealed both the mission of Christ in the world and the path of our salvation. That is to say: Christ takes upon Himself the sin of the whole human race. He dies under it (the immersion) and rises again (the coming up out of the water), and we must die to the old, sinful man and rise again, cleansed, renewed and re-born. Here is the Savior and here is the way of salvation. The Feast of the Theophany is also called the Feast of Lights. The word "Theophany" means "the revelation of God". FOR CONSIDERATION In some periods the fables of heretics vexed the Church of God. but now she is vexed by the fables of unbelievers. By endurance in the Faith, by diligent prayer, by witness and even by martyrdom --only by these things will this new vexation be brought to naught. And the Church of God, the vessel of the truth of God, will triumph in the end, for the enemy will lose his weapons (Ps. 9:6). Blessed Clement of Alexandria says about heretics who left the Church: 'He who falls into heresy wanders through a dry desert, forsaking the one, true God. Separated from God, he seeks water in the arid wastes and moves into an uninhabited and thirsty land.' The same can be said today of many who, studying hypotheses and theories, are guided by figments of their own imagination and not by the truth of God. January 20th - Civil Calendar January 7th - Church Calendar 1. St John the Baptist. John's greatest role during his life was enacted on the day of the Theophany, and because of this the Church has, from the earliest times, dedicated the day following that feast to his memory. This day is also connected with an event involving the hand of the Forerunner. The Evangelist Luke desired to take John's body from Sebaste, where the great prophet had been beheaded by Herod, to Antioch, his own birthplace. He succeeded, though, in acquiring and taking only one hand, which was kept in Antioch till the tenth century. It was then moved to Constantinople, whence it disappeared during the Turkish occupation. St John is commemorated several times during the year, but his greatest feast is on this day, January 7th. Among the Gospel-figures surrounding the Savior, the person of John the Baptist holds a very special place, by the manner of his birth in this world and of his earthly life, by his role of baptizer of men to repentance and his baptism of the Messiah, and lastly, by the tragic manner of his departure from this world. He was of such moral purity that he indeed deserved the name 'angel'*, as he was named in the Scriptures, rather than being thought of as just a mortal man. John differs from all the other prophets in that he had the joy of showing forth to the world the One Whom he had foretold. About the hand of St John: it is related that each year, on his feast-day, the archbishop would bring it out before the people. Sometimes the hand appeared open, and sometimes clenched. In the first case it indicated that it would be a fertile year, and in the second that it would be a year of famine. (*The word 'messenger' is, in Greek, 'angelos'. See Malachi 3:1, Matt. 11-10. --Tr.) 2. The Holy Martyr Athanasius. This martyr of Christ was a poor and simple man, but was rich in faith and in wisdom through the Spirit of God. On one occasion he was inadvertently involved in a quarrel with a Turk. The Turk was educated and adroit with words, but Athanasius strove with all his might to present and uphold the truth of the Christian faith and its superiority over Islam. They then parted. On the following day, Athanasius was summoned to trial, and found the Turk standing there as his accuser. When the judge called on Athanasius to repudiate his faith and embrace Islam, as he had given the impression of declaring to his companion of the previous day, Athanasius cried out: 'I would die a thousand deaths before I would deny the Faith of Christ!' He was therefore condemned to death and beheaded in the year 1700. His body was buried in the Church of St Paraskeva in Smyrna, the city of his execution. FOR CONSIDERATION
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'The whole man is not outwardly visible', says St Basil the Great. As one house is like another, so it is with the external appearance of a man. But a house receives honor from him who inhabits it, as likewise does a man from the spirit within him. It is easily apparent to bodily sight that the house is not the householder. It is only the place where the householder lives; but it is only clear to spiritual sight that the body is not the man but only the dwelling he inhabits. January 21st - Civil Calendar January 8th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyrs Julian and Vasilissa. They were both of rich and noble families and, though married, agreed to live in celibacy as brother and sister. They gave their goods to the poor and embraced the monastic state; Julian founding a men's monastery of about 10,000 monks and Vasilissa one for about a thousand nuns. When a violent persecution of Christians was launched under Diocletian, Vasilissa besought God that none of her nuns should suffer torture nor repudiate the Orthodox faith. The Lord hearkened to the petition of His worthy servant and, during the next six months, took all the nuns to Himself, one by one, and finally their abbess Vasilissa. Before her own death, Vasilissa had a vision of her sisters in the other world. They were all bathed in light and were rejoicing like the angels. They appealed to their spiritual mother to join them as quickly as possible. Julian's monastery was burned by fire, and Julian was inhumanely tortured, being killed only after the most horrible sufferings. The Lord inspired and strengthened him in his torments and he endured them with heroism, keeping faith and glorifying the name of Christ. Together with Julian were beheaded the son and wife of the persecutor Marcian, Celsus and Maronilla, who, seeing Julian's heroic and patient sufferings, were themselves converted to Christianity. Also martyred with him were twenty Roman soldiers, seven brothers from that locality, a priest named Antony and a man called Anastasius whom Julian, at the time of his own martyrdom, raised from the dead by his prayers. They all suffered with honor for Christ and became citizens of the Kingdom of heaven in about the year 313. 2. Our Holy Father George the Chozebite. He lived the ascetic life in the seventh century in the Chozebite community on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, where our holy Father John the Chozebite first lived as a monk. 3. St Domnica. A pagan, she came from Carthage in the reign of the Emperor Theodosius to Patriarch Macarius, accompanied by four girls who were likewise ignorant of God. He baptized them and blessed them to live as nuns. St Domnica devoted herself to asceticism with whole-hearted zeal, and did not falter in that zeal right up to the time of her death at a great age. She entered into rest in about the year 474. By the illumination of the Holy Spirit, she was able to predict the future and perform miracles through prayer. 4. St Gregory, Bishop of Ochrid. A pious teacher and pastor of Christ's flock, he entered into rest in the year 1012. On an inscription in the Church of St Sophia in Ochrid, he is called 'Gregory the Wise'. FOR CONSIDERATION On a tablet in the Church of St Sophia are inscribed the words: 'Wash your sins, not just your face.' Whoever entered this church read this inscription and remembered that the Christian faith demands moral purity -- purity of soul, heart and mind. For the whole spirit of man is concentrated in his heart, as the Lord said: 'Blessed are the pure in heart.' The most complete outward purity is of no help whatever in the attaining of the Kingdom of heaven. Oh, when will we learn to give as much attention to washing ourselves from sin as we devote daily to the washing of our faces? God will then see into our hearts as in a mirror. January 22nd - Civil Calendar January 9th - Church Calendar
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1. The Holy Martyr Polyeuctus. The Armenian town of Melitene was soaked in Christian blood, as was all the land of Armenia. The first blood shed for Christ in that town was that of St Polyeuctus, spilled in about the year 259, during the reign of Valerian. There were in the town two friends who were officers: Nearchus and Polyeuctus, the former baptized and the latter unbaptized. When a decree went out from the Emperor that all Christians were to be killed, Nearchus prepared himself for death, though with great sorrow at not having brought his friend Polyeuctus to the true Faith. When Polyeuctus became aware of Nearchus' sorrow, he promised to become a believer. On the following day, he related to Nearchus a dream that he had: the Lord Himself had appeared to him in light, stripped his old clothing from him, clothed him in new and shining raiment and set him upon the saddle of a winged horse. After relating this dream, Polyeuctus went off to the town, tore up the royal decree on the persecution of Christians and smashed many statues of idols. He was tortured and condemned to death. On the way to the place of execution, he caught sight of Nearchus in the crowd and called joyfully to him: 'Save your soul, my dear soul-friend! Remember the vow of love confirmed between us!' And St Nearchus later ended a martyr for Christ in the fire. His feast is on April 22nd. 2. Our Holy Father Eustratius. A native of Tarsus, he was a great ascetic and man of prayer. During seventy-five years of monastic life, he never lay on his left side to sleep, but always on his right. In church, he repeated over to himself throughout the service: 'Lord, have mercy'. He died at the age of 95. 3. St Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow. Born on February 11th, 1507, he was standing one day in church, while still a young man, when he heard the priest read from the Gospel the words: "No man can serve two masters" (Matt. 6:24). He was filled with awe at these words, as though they were said to him alone, and was enlightened in that same moment. He went off to the monastery of Solovetzk, where, after a long and hard novitiate, he received the monastic habit. In time he became abbot, and resplendent as the sun in holiness, became known throughout the land of Russia. Because of this, Tsar Ivan the Terrible translated him to the vacant See of Moscow as Metropolitan in 1566. But the holy man could not witness with indifference the atrocities of that terrible Tsar, but counseled him strongly and then fearlessly denounced him. The Tsar found false witnesses against Philip, dismissed him, stripped him of all but his simple monastic rank and imprisoned him at Tver. On December 23rd, 1569, Malyuta Skhuratov, an emissary of the Tsar, came into Philip's cell and suffocated him with a pillow. But a horrible death quickly overtook all who had opposed Philip. After some years, the body of the saint was found to be whole and uncorrupt, and giving off a very beautiful fragrance. It was transferred to the monastery of Solovetzk. FOR CONSIDERATION The Orthodox Church, in teaching men perfect love, at the same time teaches them perfect obedience, from which flow both order and harmony among the faithful. The bishops owe obedience to the Lord, the priests to the bishops and the faithful to the one and the other. St Ignatius writes about this: "It is your duty to obey without hypocrisy; he who would deceive his visible bishop would scorn also the Invisible ... I beg you, take care to fulfil all in the unity of God, under the guidance of your bishops, who occupy the place of God, and the priests, who constitute the assembly of the Apostles ... not thinking that whatever may seem to you to be right, that should you do on your own, in isolation." The Orthodox have always accepted this, but when the bishop preaches anything other than true Orthodoxy, the faithful are admonished by the testimony of the Apostles, who were contemporaries of St Ignatios, that they must not be obedient to disobedience. The faithful have, in such instances, ousted the bishop and replaced him with one who is Orthodox. January 23rd - Civil Calendar January 10th - Church Calendar 1. St Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa. The brother of St Basil the Great, he was at first a married priest, but when his wife, the blessed Theosevia, died, he was chosen and consecrated as Bishop of Nyssa. He was distinguished by great secular learning and
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spiritual experience, and was a great preacher, a translator of the Scriptures and a theologian. As a result of his opposition to the Arians, they did everything in their power to crush him, regarding him as their chief enemy. They were so successful in this that, in the reign of the Emperor Valens, their confederate, they managed to depose him from his episcopal seat and drive him into exile. This was in 376. The holy Father spent several years in patient exile, enduring poverty and humiliation. In 381, he took part in the Second Ecumenical Council, and it is thought that he formulated the final part of the Creed concerning the Holy Spirit. Finally, finishing his life at a great age in about the year 395, he entered into the Kingdom of God and has been commemorated through all succeeding ages as a great light in the Church. 2. Our Holy Father Ammon of Egypt. He was an Egyptian ascetic. At the age of fourteen, he strove and prayed to God to kill all anger in him. He achieved such perfection of goodness that he was no longer aware of the existence of evil in the world. He was an outstanding expert in the Scriptures, and entered into rest at the beginning of the fifth century. 3. St Marcian. He was born in Rome, but lived as a priest in Constantinople to the end of his life, during the greater part of the reign of Marcian and Pulcheria. The inheritor of great wealth from his parents, he spent it unstintingly on two objects: the building or restoring of churches, and charity to the poor. He built two new churches in Constantinople dedicated to St Anastasia and St Irene, and famed as beautiful and holy places. When asked why he spent so much of his wealth on churches, he replied- "If I had a daughter and was-giving her in marriage to some nobleman, would I not expend much gold to adorn her as a worthy bride? Here, I am adorning the Church, the Bride of Christ." This great man, while being so generous to the churches and the poor, was very hard towards himself, following the evangelical counsel: "Having food and raiment, let us therewith be content" (I Tim. 6:8). It was written of him: "He was utterly in God and God in him", and he went to God, full of years and good works, in the year 471. FOR CONSIDERATION Vanity in dress has a particularly free reign in our day. He who has nothing else of which to be proud takes pride in his attire. He who might have something else, of more value than dress, in which to take pride, does not in fact do so. As gold is not found lying on the surface of the ground, so the spiritual worth of a man does not appear on the outside. There is a story of how a famous philosopher, on seeing a young man flaunting his attire, moved up to him and whispered in his ear: "You know, my boy, the ram got there first, with a fleece like that, but he's still just a ram!" To be a Christian and take pride in one's apparel is more foolish than to be a king and take pride in the dust beneath one's feet. While St Arsenius wore golden clothing in the royal palace, he never received the title 'the Great'. He received it when he unhesitatingly gave himself to the service of God and clothed himself in tatters. January 24th - Civil Calendar January 11th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Father Theodosius the Great. The first founder and organizer of cenobitic monasticism, he was born of devout parents in Cappadocia, in the village of Mogarisses. As a young man, he visited St Simeon Stylites, who blessed him and predicted for him great spiritual glory. Theodosius set out in search of a place in which to found a monastery. He took with him a censer containing cold charcoal and incense. At the place where the charcoal suddenly ignited of itself, he stopped, settled down and began to lead a life of asceticism. There very quickly gathered round him many monks of different nationalities and with different languages. He therefore built a church for each language group, so that services were conducted and God praised at the same moment in Greek, Armenian, Georgian and so forth. But on a day when they were to receive Holy Communion, all the brethren gathered in the great church, where the service was conducted in Greek. The refectory was common to all; they held all possessions in common, labored in common, endured in common and often hungered in common. Theodosius was a sublime example to all the monks; an example in work, in prayer, in fasting, in vigils and in all the Christian virtues. And God endowed him with the gifts of wonder-working, to heal the sick, to be present and help from a
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distance, to tame wild beasts, to predict the future and to increase bread and wheat. Prayer was on his lips day and night. He entered peacefully into rest in the Lord in the year 529, at the age of 105. 2. Blessed Michael of Klops. A fool for Christ, a Russian of princely family, he made himself a fool in order to hide his virtues from the world and escape the praise of men, and he thus received praise from God. He died in the year 1453 in the monastery of Klops near Novgorod, where his relics are preserved. FOR CONSIDERATION A man who is open to a bribe cannot be a Christian. The Orthodox Fathers of the Church were never open either to bribes or intimidation. Bribery in things of the Faith is equivalent to Judas' betrayal of Christ for money; such bribery is a characteristic only of certain heretics. When the Emperor Anastasius (491-518) fell into the Eutychian heresy, he rebelled against the decisions of the Fourth Ecumenical Council and attempted to revoke them. In order to win the chief leaders of the Church to his side, he began sending them various gifts. St Theodosius was the first in renown in Palestine, and to him the Emperor sent thirty litres of gold, ostensibly for the needs of his monastery. Theodosius realized immediately that the Emperor meant this as a bribe, and acted with very great wisdom. He would not keep the money for the monastery, although it was in great need, nor return it to the Emperor for him to work more evil with it against Orthodoxy, so he instantly distributed all the gold to the poor in the Emperor's name, that this act of charity might strengthen his prayers for the Emperor's repentance and return to the true path. January 25th - Civil Calendar January 12th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Tatiana of Rome. She was a Christian of an eminent family and a deaconess in the Church. After the death of the Emperor Heliogabalus, the Emperor Alexander came to the throne in Rome. His mother, Julia Mammaea, was a Christian, but the Emperor himself was unsure and hesitant about his faith; an uncertainty that was clearly expressed by his keeping statues of both Christ and Apollo, of both Abraham and Orpheus, in his palace. His chief advisors took it into their own hands to persecute the Christians without his orders. When the virgin Tatiana was led to martyrdom, she prayed for her executioners. And lo, their eyes were opened and they saw four angels around the martyr. Seeing this, eight of them were converted to Christ, for which they were tortured and killed. St Tatiana's martyrdom was long-drawn-out: she was flogged, parts of her flesh were cut off, she was sawn with an iron saw, and then, all disfigured and bleeding, was flung that evening into prison to be brought out on the following day for further torture. But God sent His angel to the prison to give her courage and heal her wounds. Tatiana, therefore, appeared before her torturers each morning in perfect health. She was thrown to a lion, but the lion became tame before her and did her no harm. Her hair was shorn from an idea that occurred to their godless minds that some sorcery, some magical strength, might be hidden in it. Finally she was led out, together with her father, and the two were beheaded. In such manner this heroic maiden finished her earthly life in about the year 225, and was crowned with an immortal crown of glory. She had the weak body of a woman, but a manly and valiant spirit. 2. The Holy Martyr Peter Apselamus. A native of Eleutheropolis in Palestine, he suffered as a youth for the Christian faith in the year 311 under the Emperor Maximian. After terrible tortures, he was condemned to death. Hearing the sentence pronounced, he cried out with great joy: 'My one desire is to die for my God!' He was crucified, like his Lord, and gave up his spirit on the cross. 3. The Icon of the Mother of God, "She who gives suck". This is the name given to the icon of the Mother of God that St Sava of Serbia brought from the monastery of St Sava the Sanctified near Jerusalem and placed in his hermitage at Karyes on the Holy Mountain. In that way a prophecy, made 800 years previously by St Sava the Sanctified, was fulfilled - that one day a Serbian priest called Sava would come and would be given the icon and his staff. When Sava of Serbia visited the community of St Sava the Sanctified, the monks called to mind the prophecy of their founder and gave the icon and the
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staff to Sava. The icon was placed at the right-hand side of the Royal Doors in the hermitage, and the staff in a cell which received the name 'Pateritsa'*, also situated at Karyes. * Pateritsa - The name used for a bishop's staff, the father's rod. --TR. 4. Our Holy Mother Theodora A famous nun and instructress of nuns from Alexandria, this holy woman said: 'As cold and snow are necessary to a tree for it to bear fruit, so are trials and temptations to our life.' She entered peacefully into rest at the beginning of the fifth century. FOR CONSIDERATION There is no greater honor or calling on earth than to be a Christian. When the judge-torturer Sevirus asked the young Peter Apselamus: 'Of what family are you?', Peter replied: 'I am a Christian.' The judge questioned him further: 'Of what rank are you?' To this he replied: 'There is no higher or finer rank than that of a Christian.' Saint John of Kronstadt writes: 'The whole world is as thistledown in comparison with the soul of a Christian man.' A Christian is an earthen vessel into which are poured godly strength and light. If that vessel be placed on a king's golden throne or tucked away in some lightless beggar's hovel, its worth is thereby neither magnified nor diminished. Does not gold have the same worth, whether wrapped in a silk scarf or a cabbage leaf? January 26th - Civil Calendar January 13th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyrs Hermylas and Stratonicus. The Emperor Licinius launched a violent persecution against the Christians. St Hermylas, a Christian and a deacon in one of the churches, was arrested and condemned to death. When he was told that he was being taken out to martyrdom, he rejoiced greatly. The Emperor threatened him in vain; Hermylas openly confessed his faith in Christ and, in reply to the Emperor's threats, said: "The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man doeth unto me" (Ps. 117:6). After harsh torture, Hermylas was flung into prison. But the jailer was one Stratonicus, a secret Christian who was filled with whole-hearted compassion for Hermylas' sufferings. When he, too, appeared before the Emperor as a Christian, Licinius ordered that they both be thrown into the Danube. So Hermylas and Stratonicus were bound together in one net and cast into the river. After three days the river threw their bodies onto the bank, and fellow-Christians took them and buried them a little ways outside Belgrade. These glorious martyrs suffered for Christ and entered into glory in the year 315. 2. St James, Bishop of Nisibis. In summer in an open field and in winter in a cave, St James lived as a hermit. On one occasion he went down into the city of Nisibis in Mesopotamia, to look into the faith and life of the Christians, and was there elected by the people as their bishop. He took part in the First Ecumenical Council in 325 and defended Orthodoxy against the Arians. It happened at one time that the pagan Persian army attacked Nisibis. St James went out onto the ramparts with the banner-icon from the church, himself raising it aloft and walking round the ramparts fearless of the arrows the enemy was aiming at him. Walking thus, the saint prayed to God to save the city and the faithful in it by sending flies and mosquitoes on the Persians, thus driving them away from the city walls. He did not, we see, seek the destruction of the enemy. He sought some sort of catastrophe, some quite small occurrence, that would overcome them and remove them from the vicinity. God heard the prayer of His chosen one and sent a plague of flies and mosquitoes on the Persians, driving them away and saving the city of Nisibis. St James lived long and with honor, and died peacefully in great old age in the year 350. 3. Our Holy Father Maximus of Kapsokalyvia. Maximus lived in the fourteenth century following the ascetic life as a monk on the Holy Mountain according to his own particular way. He pretended to be slightly crazed and constantly changed his abode. He built hut of boughs, and then burned them down in rapid succession. He thus earned himself the name 'of Kapsokalyvia', that is, 'of the burnt huts'. He was regarded as a fool until St Gregory the Sinaite came to the Holy Mountain
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and perceived in Maximus a unique ascetic, a wonderworker with the gift of prayer and an 'angel in the flesh'. He went to the Lord in the year 1320. FOR CONSIDERATION Good deeds in silence are worth far more than good deeds with show, and incomparably more than the cleverest show without good deeds. From St Nicholas of Myra not one single word has been preserved, but his deeds have remained. Without any show, he came by night on three occasions to the house of a poor man and threw a purse of gold through the window. An old man in the hermitage at Myra fell ill and longed to eat a little fresh bread (for the bread eaten there by the monks had been dried in the sun and kept for many months). Hearing this, one of the monks went out without a word and traveled a long way to the town, whence he brought fresh bread for the aged sufferer. The old man, learning of the labor of the monk who brought it, would not eat the bread, saying: 'This is the blood of my brother' (i.e. my brother has brought it to me with great difficulty). Then the other monks begged the old man to eat it, saying to him that he must not reject the sacrifice of his brother. What ostentation and what words concerning brotherly love could replace this simple and silent act of brotherly love? January 27th - Civil Calendar January 14th - Church Calendar 1. St Sava, Archbishop of Serbia. The son of Stefan Nemanja, the great Serbian national leader, he was born in 1169. As a young man he yearned for the spiritual life. This led him to flee to the Holy Mountain, where he became a monk and with rare zeal followed all the ascetic practices. Nemanja followed his son's example and himself went to the Holy Mountain, where he lived and ended his days as the monk Simeon. Sava obtained the independence of the Serbian Church from the Emperor and the Patriarch and became its first archbishop. He, together with his father, built the monastery of Hilandar and many other monasteries, churches and schools throughout the land of Serbia. He traveled to the Holy Land on two occasions, on pilgrimage to the holy places. He made peace among his brothers, who were in conflict over their rights, and also between the Serbs and their neighbors. In creating the Serbian Church, he created the Serbian state and Serbian culture along with it. He brought peace to all the Balkan peoples, working for the good of all, for which he was venerated and loved by all on the Balkan peninsular. He gave a Christian soul to the people of Serbia, which survived the fall of the Serbian state. He died in Trnovo in the reign of King Asen, being taken ill after the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Theophany in 1236. King Vladislav took his body to Mileseva, whence Sinan Pasha removed it, burning it at Vracar in Belgrade on April 27th, 1595. 2. Our Holy Fathers, the Martyrs of Sinai and Raithu. These holy fathers were killed by the Saracens; those of Sinai in the fourth century, and the others in the fifth. 3. St Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers. An ardent fighter against Arianism in the West, he suffered greatly for his choice of Orthodoxy. Of his writings on many subjects, the most important are those on the Holy Trinity. He entered into rest in the Lord in the year 367. 4. St Nina, the Enlightener of Georgia. Hearing of the Georgian people, the maiden Nina desired from her early years to travel to Georgia and baptize the Georgians. The Mother of God appeared to her and promised her that she would take her to that land. When the Lord opened the path to her, the young Nina indeed went to Georgia, where she very quickly gained the love of the people. She baptized Mirian, King of Georgia, his wife Nana and their son Bakar, who then zealously aided Nina in her missionary efforts. Nina traveled throughout Georgia in the course of her life, and succeeded in bringing all the people to the Christian faith - and this during a time of fearful persecution of Christians by the Emperor Diocletian. She rested from her many labors and entered into peace in the Lord in the year 335. Her grave is in a church in Samtavro. She performed many miracles both during her lifetime and after her death.
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FOR CONSIDERATION If the dogma of faith seems at times to you to be tough food, you must first try to fulfil Christian moral dogma, and then the understanding of the dogma of faith will be revealed to you. The inquisitive examination of high things, without the effort to rectify one's life, is of no use whatever. At one time, a group of Egyptian monks was considering Melchisedek, and being unable to come to any clarity about the mysterious personality of this ancient king and high priest, they invited Abba Copres to their place of assembly and questioned him concerning Melchisedek. Hearing this, Copres smote himself on the mouth three times and said: 'Woe to you, Copres! You have set aside that which God ordained for you to do, and you investigate that which God does not require of you.' The monks were filled with shame, and dispersed. Chrysostom writes: 'If we hold true dogma and give no thought to our conduct, we shall find this of no use; and also if we give thought to our conduct and neglect true dogma, we shall receive nothing useful to our salvation. If we wish to be delivered from Gehenna and obtain the Kingdom, we must be adorned from both sides: with both true faith and uprightness of life. January 28th - Civil Calendar January 15th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Father Paul of Thebes. Born of wealthy parents in Lower Thebes in Egypt in the reign of the Emperor Decius, he and a sister of his together inherited all their parents' property. But his brother-in-law, an idol-worshipper, plotted to seize Paul's half of the inheritance. He therefore threatened Paul that he would betray him to the authorities as a Christian if he did not hand over his share of the property. This misfortune, coupled with the examples of self-sacrifice by the Christian martyrs that Paul saw with his own eyes, induced him to give his half of the property to his sister and go of into the desert, where he lived in asceticism until his death. The spiritual heights attained by this giant of a monk are testified to by no less a person than St Antony the Great, who once visited Paul and saw how the wild animals and birds of the air ministered to him. Returning from this visit, Antony said to his monks: 'Woe is me, my children, a sinful and false monk, who am a monk in name only. I have seen Elias, I have seen John in the desert, and I have seen Paul - in Paradise!' St Paul lived 113 years, and entered peacefully into rest in the Lord in the year 342. 2. Our Holy Father John (The Hut-Dweller). He was born in Constantinople in the early part of the 5th century, and was the only child of rich and eminent parents. Drawn by inclination to the spiritual life, the young John fled with a monk to a monastery in Asia Minor. He spent six years in this monastery in the greatest restraint, prayer and obedience to the superior. Then the devil attacked him with the temptation to leave the monastery and return to his parents, to live with them as a nobleman. He indeed returned to his parents' home, but dressed as a beggar. He saw his parents, but not wishing to reveal himself to them as their son, remained as a beggar in their courtyard, living off the crumbs that the servants threw to him and enduring much ridicule from all. He lived thus for three years, praying to God that He would save the souls of his father and mother. When he fell ill and felt death approaching, he revealed himself to his parents. They recognized him by a precious Gospel-book which they had given him in childhood and which he had kept with him as his sole possession. And so this young man, albeit so rich, saved his soul and those of his parents, overcame the devil, and entered into rest in the Lord in about the year 450. 3. Our Holy Father Gabriel of Lesnov. A Slav and a friend of St Prochorus of Pchinja and St John of Rila, he lived a life of asceticism in the 10th century at Kratov on the mountain of Lesnov, where he built a church to the Archangel Michael. He was a wonder-worker both during his life-time and after his death. The present beautiful church in this place was built by King Dusan's commander-in-chief, Jovan Oliver. St Gabriel entered into rest in the Lord at the end of the tenth century. 4. The Holy Martyr Pansophius. The son of the Alexandrian proconsul, Nilus, he laid aside worldly honor and riches as a young man and embraced the monastic state. He lived in great asceticism for 27 years, lifting up his soul to the higher world. In
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the reign of Decius, he was dragged before the judge, where he was flogged for the name of Christ until, under great torture, he delivered his soul to God. FOR CONSIDERATION Never think that God does not hear you when you pray to Him. He hears our thoughts as we hear one another's voices and words. And if He does not act at once in response to your prayer, that is either because your prayer was unworthy, or you were seeking something that would be dangerous for you, or, again, because He, by His wisdom and providence, delays the fulfilling of your request until the right moment. Saint John of Kronstadt writes: 'As we are able to communicate quickly by means of the electric telegraph with people far away from us, so, through a living faith, as through such a telegraph, we are quickly in contact with God, the angels and the saints. Send your requests to God and the saints by the telegraph of faith, and you will immediately get an answer.' And again, in another place: 'God and His created souls and spirits, the living and the dead, are thinking beings, and thought is swift and somehow omnipresent. Think about them with your whole heart, and they will be present with you. God will ever be with you, and, by His gift and power, the others will be also.' January 29th - Civil Calendar January 16th - Church Calendar 1 . The Veneration of the Chains of the Holy Apostle Peter. Today we commemorate the chains with which Peter was shackled by the lawless Herod and which, when an angel appeared to him in prison, fell from him (Acts 12:7). The faithful kept these chains, both in memory of the great Apostle and also because of their healing power, for many of the sick were healed by touching them (as with the towel of the Apostle Paul: Acts 19:12). The Patriarch of Jerusalem, St Juvenal, made a gift of these chains to the Empress Eudocia, the exiled wife of the Emperor Theodosius the Younger. She divided them in half, sending one half to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople and the other to her daughter, the Empress Eudoxia, wife of Valentian of Rome. This Eudoxia built the Church of St Peter and placed these chains in it, together with those in which Peter was shackled before his death under the Emperor Nero. 2. The Holy Martyrs Speusippus, Eleusippus, Meleusippus and their grandmother Leonilla. They suffered for Christ in France in the reign of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180). The three brothers were triplets. At first only Leonilla was a Christian, while her grandsons were pagans. After much exhortation on the part of the pious Leonilla and a local priest, the three brothers were baptized. Being baptized, they began with youthful fervour to witness to their faith, and in their zeal went out and smashed all the idols in the area. Accused and brought before the judge, they acknowledged their action and openly confessed their faith in Christ. The judge threw them into prison, then summoned their grandmother and directed her to go to the prison and counsel her grandsons to deny Christ and worship idols. Leonilla went off without a word to the prison, but instead of advising her grandsons to deny the true Faith, she set about encouraging them not to give up, but to persevere to the end in all their sufferings and die for Christ. When the judge examined them again and saw their yet stronger steadfastness in the Faith, he condemned them to death. All three were first hanged on one tree, where they hung 'like the strings of a lute', and after that flogged and then finally burned. A woman, Jovilla, stirred by the courage of these martyrs, cried out: 'I too am a Christian!' They immediately seized her and beheaded her with a sword, together with the aged Leonilla. 3. Our Holy Father, the Martyr Damascene of Gabrovo. He lived in asceticism at Hilandar, where he became abbot. When he sought a debt due to the monastery from some Turks, they persuaded a Moslem woman to go into the house where Damascene lived. The Turks then came and found the woman, and dragged Damascene off before the judge. He was given the alternative: hanging or conversion to Islam, to which he replied decisively: 'It would be foolishness were I for temporal life to buy eternal peril.' He was hanged in 1771 in Svishtov. So Damascene sacrificed his life to save his soul. But his murderers immediately met God's punishment. They got into a boat to cross the Danube, but suddenly a storm capsized them and they drowned. 4. Our Holy Father Romil.
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Born in Vidin, he was a disciple of St Gregory the Sinaite, and lived the ascetic life in several monasteries. St Romil entered into rest at Ravanica in Serbia in about 1375. FOR CONSIDERATION Nothing breaks human pride so well as the habit of obedience to one's elders. In ancient Sparta, obedience was regarded as a great virtue. A tale is told of a Spartan soldier in battle, hurrying to engage the enemy. Just as he drew his sword to cut down his adversary, the trumpet sounded for the end of the battle and he resheathed his sword. When someone who had seen this asked him why he had not run the enemy through, he replied: 'It is better to obey the commander than to kill the enemy.' Christian obedience is different from this Spartan obedience in that it is voluntary and has as its goal the salvation of the soul; that is, it exists not in order to safeguard an earthly kingdom but for the attaining of the Kingdom of heaven. St John the Dwarf began his ascetic life with an elder in the Thebaid. The elder, in order to teach his disciple obedience, planted a dead tree in the earth and told him to water it every day. John watered the dead wood assiduously for three years, and then it suddenly turned green and bore fruit. This is the fruit of willing obedience. The Lord Himself was obedient to death on the Cross (Phil. 2:8). January 30th - Civil Calendar January 17th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Father Antony the Great. He was an Egyptian, born about 250 in a village called Quemen-el-Arons near Heracleopolis. After the death of his rich and noble parents, he shared his inherited possessions with his sister, who was still in her minority, made sure that she was cared for, gave away his half of the inheritance to the poor and, at the age of twenty, consecrated himself to the life of asceticism that he had desired from childhood. At first he lived near his own village but then, in order to escape the disturbance of men, went off into the desert, on the shores of the Red Sea, where he spent twenty years as a hermit in company with no-one but God, in unceasing prayer, pondering and contemplation, patiently undergoing inexpressible demonic temptations. His fame spread through the whole world and around him gathered many disciples whom he, by word and example, placed on the path of salvation. In eighty-five years of ascetic life, he went only twice to Alexandria: the first time to seek martyrdom during a time of persecution of the Church, and the second at the invitation of St Athanasius, to refute the Arians' slanderous allegations that he too was a follower of the Arian heresy. He departed this life at the age of 105, leaving behind a whole army of disciples and followers. And although Antony was unlettered, he was as a counselor and teacher one of the most learned men of his age, as also was St Athanasius the Great. When some Hellenic philosophers tried to test him with literary learning, Antony shamed them with the question: 'Which is older, the understanding or the book? And which of these is the source of the other?' The shamed philosophers dispersed, for they saw that they had only book-learning without understanding, while Antony had understanding. Here was a man who had attained perfection insofar as man is able on earth. Here was an educator of educators and teacher of teachers, who for a whole eighty-five years perfected himself, and only thus was able to perfect many others. Full of years and great works, Antony entered into rest in the Lord in the year 356. 2. The Holy Emperor Theodosius the Great. This famous Emperor, a zealot for the Faith, ruled from 379 to 395. Constantine the Great forbade the persecution of Christians. Theodosius the Great went a stage further: he forbade sacrifice to idols in the area under his administration. He played a considerable part in the establishing and spread of the Christian faith in the world. 3. The Holy Martyr George the New of Ioannina. He was an Albanian, born in the village of Churkli of very poor parents who were farm-laborers. Made a target by the Turks for conversion to Islam, he remained steadfast in the Christian faith, for which he was hanged in Ioannina on January 17th, 1838. A great wonderworker and healer, he is still active today. FOR CONSIDERATION
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St Antony teaches: 'Learn to desire humility, for that will cover all your sins. All sin is hateful to God, but the most hateful of all is pride of heart. Do not consider yourself learned or wise, or all your toil will be lost and your ship will arrive empty at the shore ... If you have great power, threaten no man with death; know that according to nature you also are subject to death and that each soul takes off its body as its final clothing.' In Byzantium there was a strange and instructive custom at the coronation of the Emperor in St Sophia's. This was that, when the Patriarch placed the crown on the Emperor's head, he at the same time placed in his hand a silk purse filled with grave-dust, that the Emperor might be mindful of his death, flee all pride and be humble. January 31st - Civil Calendar January 18th - Church Calendar 1. St Athanasius the Great, Archbishop of Alexandria. Born in Alexandria in 296, he had from childhood an inclination to the spiritual life. He was a deacon with Archbishop Alexander and accompanied him to Nicaea, to the First Ecumenical Council in 325. At this Council, Athanasius became famed for his learning, his devotion and his zeal for Orthodoxy, and contributed very greatly to the containing of the Arian heresy and the strengthening of Orthodoxy. After the death of Alexander, Athanasius was chosen as Archbishop of Alexandria. He remained in his archiepiscopal calling for more than forty years, although he was not on the archiepiscopal throne the whole time. He was persecuted by heretics through almost the whole of his life, particularly by the Emperors Constantius, Julian and Valens, by Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia and many others, and by the heretic Arius and his followers. He was forced to hide from his persecutors in a well, a grave, private houses and the deserts. Twice he was forced to flee to Rome. Only just before his death did he have a peaceful period as a good shepherd with his flock, which truly loved him. There are few saints who have been so callously slandered and so criminally persecuted as St Anthanasius. But his great soul endured all with patience for the love of Christ and at last emerged victorious from all these terrible and lengthy struggles. He often went to St Antony for advice and moral support, revering him as his spiritual father. He suffered greatly for the truth, until the Lord gave him rest in His kingdom as His faithful servant in the year 373. 2. St Maxim, Archbishop of Wallachia. Son of the Serbian despot Stefan the Blind and his wife Angelina, he received the monastic habit in the monastery of Manasija. Having pressure put on him by the Turks, he fled into the mountainous part of Romania, where he was consecrated to the vacant archiepiscopal see of Wallachia. He reconciled the disputing military commanders Radul and Bogdan and averted war between them. He returned to Krusedol in his last years, founded a monastery there and, after great spiritual endeavor, entered into rest on January 18th, 1546. His incorrupt and wonder-working relics lie even to this day in that monastery. FOR CONSIDERATION To the question, why did the Son of God reveal Himself to the world as man and not in the shape of some other creature, the wise Saint Athanasius replied thus: 'If they ask why He did not reveal Himself in the form of some greater creature: for example, the sun, the moon or stars, or as flame or space, but as man, let them know that the Lord did not come simply to reveal Himself but to heal and teach those that suffer. For simply to reveal Himself and make His spectators marvel would mean to come as a show. Coming as a healer and teacher, He had not only to come, but to come in such a way that the revelation should be bearable to the wretched men whom He had come to serve. No single creature has been in error in the eyes of God save man alone; neither the sun nor the moon nor the sky, the stars nor water nor space has been unfaithful to its state, but, on the contrary, knowing their Creator and their King -- the Word -- they all live as they were created. Only human beings have turned themselves from good and changed that truth which belongs to God into deceit, as they transferred the knowledge of Him to devils and idols. What is there, therefore, unlikely in the Word's (the Son of God's) revealing Himself as man in order to save mankind?' Indeed, we ask the unbelievers of our generation: 'In what form would you wish God to reveal Himself, if not as man?' February 1st - Civil Calendar January 19th - Church Calendar
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1. Our Holy Father Macarius the Great. He was an Egyptian and one of the contemporaries of St Antony the Great. His father was a priest. He married in obedience to his parents' wishes, but his wife died very soon and he went off into the desert of Scetis, where he spent sixty years in toil and struggle, both physical and spiritual, for the Kingdom of heaven. When he was asked why he was so thin, both when he ate and when he fasted, he replied: 'From fear of God!' He succeeded so greatly in purifying his mind from evil thoughts and his heart from evil desires that God endowed him with abundant wonderworking gifts, such that he even raised the dead from the grave. His humility made men and demons marvel. A demon once said to him: 'There is only one thing in which I cannot excel you: that is not in fasting, for I never eat, nor in vigils, for I never sleep.' 'Then what is it?', asked Macarius. 'Your humility', replied the demon. Macarius often said to his disciple, Paphnutius: 'Condemn no man, and you will be saved.' He lived for ninety years. Before his death, St Antony and St Pachomius appeared to him from the other world and told him that he would die in nine days' time. And so it came to pass. Cherubim also appeared to him before his death and revealed the heavenly, blessed world to him in a vision, praised his labors and virtues and told him that they had been sent to take his soul to the heavenly Kingdom. He entered into rest in the year 390. 2. Our Holy Father Macarius of Alexandria. Born in Alexandria, he was at first a fruit-vendor. He was only baptized at the age of forty, and immediately went off to seek the ascetic life. He was a disciple of St Antony, together with Macarius the Great, and was the abbot of the monastery of the Cells beyond Nitria. He was somewhat younger than St Macarius the Great. He was tormented by diabolical temptations, particularly the temptation to lust for power, but humbling himself by the most rigorous of labors and by unceasing prayer, he lifted his mind up constantly to God. One of the brethren once saw him carrying a full basket of sand uphill and emptying it. The astonished brother asked him why he was doing that. Macarius replied: 'I am wearing out him who wears me out' (that is, the devil). He entered into rest in the year 393, being nearly a hundred years old. 3. St. Arsenius, Bishop of Corfu. He put the sacrament of the blessing of oil together in its present form, and entered into rest in the year 959. His relics are preserved in the Cathedral in Corfu. 4. St Mark, Archbishop of Ephesus. Famous for his courageous defense of Orthodoxy at the Council of Florence in the face of the Emperor and the Pope, he entered peacefully into rest in the year 1445. On his deathbed, he begged his disciple, George, later the famous Patriarch Gennadius, to keep himself from the snare of the West and to defend Orthodoxy. 5. Blessed Theodore, the Fool for Christ of Novgorod. Before his death he ran through the streets, crying to each and all: 'Farewell, I'm going on a long journey!' He died in 1392. FOR CONSIDERATION The examples that we find in the holy Fathers of the meek enduring violence are given to us to marvel at. Returning once on the path to his cell, Macarius the Great saw a robber carrying his things out of it and loading them onto a donkey. Macarius said nothing to him, and even helped him to get everything loaded, saying to himself: 'We brought nothing into this world' (I Tim. 6:7). Another elder, when robbers had taken everything from his cell, looked around and saw that they had left a bundle of money, which had been lying hidden somewhere, so he quickly took up this bundle, called to the robbers and gave it to them. Again, a third elder, finding thieves in the act of plundering his cell, called to them: 'Hurry, hurry, don't let the brothers find you, or they'll stop me fulfilling Christ's command: "Of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again" (Lk: 6:30). February 2nd - Civil Calendar January 20th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Father Euthymius the Great.
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He was born in the Armenian town of Melitene near the River Euphrates in 377, the only son of noble and eminent parents. His mother, Dionysia, had prayed for a child, and had a heavenly vision concerning his birth. He lived in asceticism from his youth, at first in the vicinity of his town, but then, after a visit to Jerusalem at the age of 29, in the Wilderness of Pharan, between Jerusalem and Jericho. He filled his days and nights with prayer and meditation, contemplation and physical toil. Many disciples gathered round him, such as Cyriac the Hermit, Sava the Sanctified, Theoctistus and others. He was, by God's gift, a great worker of wonders: he drove out demons, healed grave illnesses, brought forth water in the desert, multiplied bread and prophesied. He taught his monks the love of hardship, saying: 'If you eat bread that comes not from your own labors, that means that you eat the labor of another'. When one of the younger brethren desired to fast more than others, he forbade him and ordered him to come to the common table, so that he should not become proud through his too-great fasting. He also said that it is not good for a monk to move from place to place, for, he said: 'A tree that is frequently transplanted does not bear fruit.' Whoever desires to do good can do it in the place where he is. On love, he said: 'As salt is to bread, so is love to the other virtues.' He went off into the desert in the first week of the Great Fast and remained there in silence and meditation on God until before Pascha. During his lifetime, a great monastery grew up near his cave, which was for centuries as full of monks as a hive of bees. His last command was that there should be loving hospitality to guests in the monastery, and that its gate should never be closed. He entered into rest at the age of 97. Patriarch Anastasius of Jerusalem was at his funeral. The Patriarch waited the entire day while a great mass of people gave the saint the last kiss, and only in the evening was he able to finish the funeral. On the seventh day after his death, Euthymius appeared to his disciple, Domitian, in light and joy. St Euthymius was a true 'son of light'. He entered into rest in the year 473. 2. The Holy Martyrs Innas, Nirras and Pinnas. They are thought to be the first Slav martyrs recorded in history and they lived to a great age in Scythia, being disciples of the holy Apostle Andrew. They suffered for the Faith at the hands of their pagan neighbors on the other side of the Danube, near Varna. Bound and left on the ice, they froze to death and entered into rest in the Lord. FOR CONSIDERATION The saints of the Church were compassionate towards human weakness and fiercely unyielding and unsubmissive with regard to the confession of the truths of the Faith. St Nicolas of Myra struck Arius with his hand at the First Ecumenical Council. St Antony left his desert and went to Alexandria publicly to denounce Arius. St Euthymius, under great pressure from the Empress Eudocia and the false Patriarch Theodosius, and being unable further to fight with arguments, left his monastery and hid in the desert; an example followed by monks thereafter. Euthymius remained in the desert until the false Patriarch had been dethroned and Orthodoxy confirmed. And when agitation was spread in Jerusalem in the Emperor's name against the Fourth Ecumenical Council which had taken place in Chalcedon, and when the entire population was going in terror of the heretics, then St Theodosius the Great, already burdened with years, came as the fearless soldier of Christ he was to Jerusalem, went into one of the great churches, mounted the steps and, gesticulating with his arms, said to the people: 'If a man does not revere the Four Ecumenical Councils as he does the Four Gospels, let him be anathema (accursed)!' All his hearers were deeply impressed by these words, and none of the heretics dared speak against him. February 3rd - Civil Calendar January 21st - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Father Maximus the Confessor. By birth a citizen of Constantinople and at first a high-ranking courtier at the court of the Emperor Heraclius, he then became a monk and the abbot of a monastery not far from the capital. He was the greatest defender of Orthodoxy against the Monothelite heresy, which developed from the heresy of Eutyches. That is to say: as Eutyches asserted that there is in Christ only one nature, so the Monothelites asserted that there is in Him only one will. Maximus resisted this assertion and found himself in opposition to both the Emperor and the Patriarch. But he was unafraid, and persevered to the end in proving that there are in the Lord two wills and also two natures. By his efforts, one Council in Carthage and one in Rome stood firm, and both these Councils anathematized the Monothelite teaching. Maximus' sufferings for Orthodoxy cannot be described: he was
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tortured by hierarchs, spat upon by the mass of the people, beaten by soldiers, persecuted, imprisoned; until finally, with his tongue cut out and one hand cut off, he was condemned to exile for life in Skhimaris, where he gave his soul into God's hands in the year 662. Even with his tongue cut out, he was, through God's grace, able to speak even more clearly in defense of the Faith. 2. Blessed Maximus the Greek. He was born in Greece, whence he was called to the court of the Russian Tsar Vasilii Ivanovitch as Imperial librarian and translator. He labored much and also suffered much for the truth. He spent a long time in prison, where he wrote the well-known Canon to the Holy Spirit which is still used in church, and entered into rest in the Lord in the year 1556. 3. The Holy Martyr Neophytus. Nicaean by birth, he was even in childhood a worker of great wonders by the grace of God. He brought forth water from rocks and raised his dead mother to life. Led by a white dove to Mount Olympus, he chased a lion out of its cave and himself settled there. He was martyred for Christ in Nicaea under Diocletian at the age of fifteen, refusing to deny Christ in any way. After beatings and imprisonment, he was thrown into fire, but God preserved him alive. Then he was put before a hungry lion, but the lion fawned around him. The saint recognized this lion as the same one in whose cave he had lived in asceticism, so he pardoned it and ordered it to return to the cave. Then Neophytus was run through with a spear and his soul went to the courts of the Lord. 4. The Holy Martyr Agnes. As a girl of thirteen, she was thrown into the fire for her faith in Christ, then beheaded with the sword. She showed great wonderworking power, both in her lifetime and after her death. She suffered in the reign of Diocletian, in the year 305. FOR CONSIDERATION The Christian faith uniquely in the world has one fixed and unchanging scale of values. St John Chrysostom speaks clearly about this: 'There are', he says, 'three kinds of category; the first are good and can never be evil; for example, wisdom, mercy and so forth; the second are evil and can never be good; for example, debauchery, inhumanity, cruelty. The third are sometimes the one and sometimes the other, according to the disposition of those who make use of them.' And, with this explanation by that godly teacher, one sees how riches and poverty, freedom and slavery, power and sickness and death itself fall into this neutral category, which are in themselves neither good nor evil, but are the one or the other according to the disposition of men and the use men make of them. For example, if riches were good and poverty were evil, then all the rich would be good and all the poor would be evil. However, we are daily convinced that, as there are good and evil rich people, so there are good and evil poor people. This can also be noted in relation to the healthy and the sick, the free and the enslaved, the fed and the hungry, those in power and those in subjection. Even death is not evil, for 'the martyrs became through death the happiest of all'. February 4th - Civil Calendar January 22nd - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Apostle Timothy. One of the Seventy, he was born in Lystra of Lycaonia of a Greek father and a Jewish mother. His mother and grandmother were praised by the Apostle Paul for their sincere faith (2 Tim. 1:4-5). He met the great Apostle for the first time in Lystra, and was the only witness of Paul's healing of the man lame from birth. Later, Timothy was an almost constant travelling-companion of Paul's, visiting Achaia, Macedonia, Italy and Spain with him. A great zealot for the Faith, a superb preacher and of a gentle spirit, Timothy contributed greatly to the spreading and establishing of the Christian faith. Paul called him his own son in the faith (I Tim. 1:2). After Paul's martyrdom, Timothy had St John the Evangelist as his teacher. But when the Emperor Domitian exiled John from Ephesus to the island of Patmos, Timothy remained in Ephesus as bishop. At the time of an idolatrous feast called Katagogium, the pagans, resentful of the Christians, made a merciless, masked attack on Timothy and killed him, in about the year 93. His honored relics were later taken to Constantinople and buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles by the graves of St Luke the Evangelist and St Andrew the First-Called.
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2. Our Holy Father, the Martyr Anastasius. He was a Persian by birth, with the pagan name of Magundat. When the Emperor Heraclius waged war against the Persians, Magundat deserted to the Christians and went to Jerusalem. There he was baptized and given the name Anastasius. It was not enough for him to be baptized; he also became a monk in order to give himself entirely to the service of God. Among other ascetic practices, he very early read the lives of the holy martyrs, and reading this, wetted the book with his tears, greatly yearning for martyrdom himself. The Lord finally crowned him with the wreath of martyrdom. He lay long in prison and was horribly tortured until King Chozroes condemned him to death. After this condemnation, Anastasius was drowned, then taken out of the water and beheaded by the executioner, who sent his head to the king. Anastasius suffered on January 22nd, 628, in the town of Bethsaloe near Nineveh. FOR CONSIDERATION The Orthodox Church possesses an inexhaustible treasure in the evidence of life after death. To note one example among many; one which at the same time witnesses that the spirit of man lives after bodily death and that voluntary obedience brings blessed immortality: when St Theodosius the Great had founded a monastery, he had at first only seven monks. To establish them well in remembrance of death, he ordered them to dig a grave. When the grave was ready, Theodosius stood over it, gathered the seven of them together and said: 'Well, my children; the grave is now ready! Is there among you one who is ready for death, to be buried in this grave?' One of them, a priest called Basil, fell to his knees and besought Theodosius' blessing to die. Theodosius ordered that the memorial services be held for Basil on the third, ninth and fortieth day, as is the custom for the departed. When the fortieth memorial was finished, Basil, in full health, lay down and died. And he was buried in the new grave. On the fortieth day after his burial, Basil appeared in the morning among the brethren in church and sang with them. At first only Theodosius saw him, but he prayed to God that He would open the eyes of the others. Then all the brethren looked and saw Basil among them. One of the brethren, Letius, joyfully spread his arms wide, intending to embrace Basil, but the latter disappeared. Basil's voice was heard: 'Save yourselves, my fathers and brethren, save yourselves!' February 5th - Civil Calendar January 23rd - Church Calendar 1. The Hieromartyr Clement, Bishop of Ancyra. He was born in 258 in the town of Ancyra of a pagan father and a Christian mother. His devout mother, Euphrosyne, prophesied a martyr's death for her son, and left this world when Clement was twelve years old. Her friend Sophia took Clement into her own home as her son and saw that he was brought up a Christian. Clement became so famed for his virtuous life that he was chosen as bishop of Ancyra at the age of twenty. He acquired a mature wisdom in his early years, and harnessed and conquered his body by great restraint. He ate only bread and vegetables, and never anything slaughtered or with blood. In the reign of Diocletian, he was tortured as terribly 'as anyone has ever been since the foundation of the world'. He spent twenty-eight years under torture and imprisonment. Eleven different torturers tormented him. One time when they were smiting him on the face, spitting on him and breaking his teeth, he cried out to Domentian the torturer: 'You are doing me honor, O Domentian, not torturing me; for the mouth of my Lord Jesus Christ was struck in like manner, and His cheeks slapped; and lo, I, unworthy as I am, am now made worthy of this!' When he was brought before the Emperor Diocletian in Rome, the Emperor placed on one side various instruments of torture, and on the other side gifts - medals, clothing, money - whatever the Emperor was able to bestow, and then told Clement to choose. Christ's martyr, with a scornful glance at all the Emperor's gifts, chose the instruments of torture. And he was terribly tortured; piece by piece the flesh was flayed from his body until the bones showed white beneath. He was healed of these wounds, and was finally beheaded by a soldier in 312, while he was presiding at the Liturgy as bishop in the church in Ancyra. St Clement's miracles are without number. 2. Commemoration of the Sixth Ecumenical Council. Held in Constantinople in 680-681 and 692, this Council condemned the Monothelite heresy, which held the erroneous teaching that there is in Christ only a divine will and not a human one. In addition to that, it made some rulings concerning the order and discipline of the clergy.
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3. St Paulinus the Merciful. He was first a Roman senator and then Bishop of Nola. Following the example of his friend, St Ambrose, he received baptism, after which he withdrew to the Spanish Pyrenees, where he lived a life of asceticism. But, as no light can be hidden, so St Paulinus was found and chosen as Bishop of Nola. He was a good and merciful shepherd, and entered peacefully into rest in the year 431. His relics are preserved in the Church of St Bartholomew in Rome. FOR CONSIDERATION Compassion has always been a characteristic of a true pastor of Christ's flock. In his sermons, St John Chrysostom stressed and praised nothing more strongly than compassion. St John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria, bewailed every day in which he was not given the opportunity to show mercy to someone. St Paulinus was deservedly called the Merciful, for he was truly merciful in the fullest Christian meaning of the word. One time, when the Vandals were looting Nola, they also took many people into slavery. A certain widow, whose only son the Vandal prince, Rig, had carried away into slavery, came to her bishop, and in tears, sought money of him to buy her son back. Having nothing, the bishop dressed himself in the garments of a poor man and told the widow to take him before the prince and exchange him for her son. The prince returned her son to her and took Paulinus off to Africa, where he served as the prince's gardener until he was freed by the providence of God and returned to Nola with the rest of the slaves. February 6th - Civil Calendar January 24th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Mother Xenia. Born in Rome, she was the only daughter of a famous senator. Drawn by the love of Christ, she refused to marry as her parents desired. In order to escape this, she fled from her home with two of her slaves and came to the island of Kos, to a place called Mylassa, where she started a community for virgins, remaining there in asceticism till her death. Though she was a woman, she had a man's perseverance in fasting, prayer and vigils. She often spent entire nights standing in prayer, was dressed more poorly than her sisters, and when she ate she often put ashes from the censer on her bread. At the hour of her death (in 450), a wonderful sign appeared over the monastery: a wreath of stars encircling a cross more resplendent than the sun. Many of the sick were healed by her relics. Her two slave girls followed the example of their abbess in all things, and when they died, they were buried, by their wish, at the feet of blessed Xenia. 2. The Holy Martyr Babylas. A Sicilian priest who suffered for Christ with two of his disciples in the third century. 3. Our Holy Father Macedonius. He was a Syrian hermit. Only in old age did he feed himself with baked bread. Before that, he ate only barley grain soaked in water. He finished his earthly course in the year 418. 4. Our Holy Father Philo, Bishop of Cyprus. When St Epiphanius was called to Rome to support his sister, the Empress Honoria, by his prayers he chose Philo to be bishop. Philo wrote a commentary on the Pentateuch and the Song of Songs. He entered peacefully into rest in the fifth century. 5. Our Holy Father Dionysius of Olympus, the Wonderworker. He lived the ascetic life on Olympus. He received the monastic tonsure on the Holy Mountain, where he later became abbot of Philotheou. Before the end of his life, he withdrew again to the solitude of Olympus, where he entered into rest in the 16th century. FOR CONSIDERATION

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In our day, we often hear parents say that they want to insure the lives of their children. To this end they make such great efforts, amass riches (often illicit riches), educate their children for that vocation which brings the surest physical security and material help. And so-called Christians do the same. They do this because their concept of real life and real security of life is faulty. But this is how a true Christian prepares his son for real life: At her death, blessed Euphrosyne said to her son, Clement of Ancyra: 'Do me honor, my son, and stand for Christ as a man, and confess Him with strength and steadfastness. I hope, dear heart, that the crown of martyrdom will soon flower upon you, to the salvation of many ... Fear neither threats nor the sword, nor wounds nor fire. Nothing can separate you from Christ. But look into the heavens and await thence the great and eternal and rich reward of God. Fear God's majesty, fear His judgment, tremble before His all-seeing Eye, for those who deny Him will suffer the unquenched fire and the ever vigilant worm. May this be my reward from you, my sweet son, for the pain of giving you birth and for the care of your upbringing that I may be known as the mother of a martyr. The blood that you received from me do not spare, but shed that it too may give me honor. Give your body to martyrdom, that I may rejoice at that before the Lord, as though I myself alone suffered for Him.' February 7th - Civil Calendar January 25th - Church Calendar 1. St Gregory the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople. Born in Nazianzus of a Greek father (who later became a Christian and a bishop) and a Christian mother, he studied in Athens before his baptism with St Basil the Great and Julian the Apostate. He often foretold to Julian that he would be an apostate and a persecutor of the Church, and so it came to pass. Gregory was especially influenced by his mother, Nonna. He was baptized when he had completed his studies. St Basil consecrated him bishop of Sasima, and Emperor Theodosius called him to the vacant archiepiscopal throne of Constantinople. His works were manifold, the best-known being his theological writings, for which he received the title 'the Theologian'. He is particularly famed for the depth of his Sermons on the Holy Trinity. He also wrote against the heretic Macedonius, who taught wrongly that the Spirit was a creature of God, and against Apollinarius who taught that Christ did not have a human soul but that His divinity was in place of His soul. He also wrote against the Emperor Julian the Apostate, his one time school-fellow. In the year 381, when a quarrel broke out in the Council concerning his election as archbishop, he withdrew himself, declaring: 'Those who deprive us of the (archiepiscopal) throne cannot deprive us of God.' He then left Constantinople and went to Nazianzus, remaining there in retirement, prayer and the writing of instructive books until his death. And, although he was in weak health all his life due to the ceaseless attacks of the heretics, he lived to the age of seventy. His relics were later taken to Rome, and his head to the Cathedral of the Dormition in Moscow. He was, and remains, a great and wonderful light of the Orthodox Church, as much for the meekness and purity of his character as for the unsurpassable depth of his mind. He entered into rest in the Lord in the year 389. 2. Our Holy Father Publius. A senator at first, Publius came to know the light of Christ, left his honors and gave his goods to the poor and himself to the ascetic life in the vicinity of his town, Zeugma, on the Euphrates. He founded two communities and entered into rest in the Lord in the year 380. 3. Our Holy Father Mares. He was distinguished by external beauty and a sweet singing voice. He retired from the world and lived in a hut for thirty-seven years in fasting and prayer and in cleansing his heart from thoughts. He entered into rest in the Lord as an old man of ninety in the year 430. 4. The Holy Martyr Felicitas and her seven sons. She, together with her seven sons, was condemned to death for her Christian faith in 164, in the reign of the Emperor Antoninus. She begged God only that she should not be killed before her sons, so that she might be able to encourage them in their torture and death not to deny Christ. And so it came to pass, by the providence of God. This mother joyfully bade her sons farewell one after the other, until she had seen all seven executed. Then she also, with thanksgiving to God, embraced a martyr's death. They all suffered in Rome, where their relics are preserved.
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FOR CONSIDERATION They deceive themselves who self-confidently assert that they know men well and that no one can deceive them. Who, but the one God who knows the secrets of the heart, can guess what kind of spiritual being any man is? Even the great saints were mistaken in people. For example: St Basil for a long time considered a hypocritical heretic to be a holy man, and defended him against his many attackers until he was in the end, in bitter disappointment, convinced of the other's deceit. St Gregory the Theologian baptized a philosopher called Maximus and loved him so greatly that he shared his house and table with him. But this Maximus was as wicked and cunning as a snake, and after a while he managed by intrigues and bribes to be accepted by the citizens of Constantinople as Patriarch in place of St Gregory. When, after many intrigues, this trial was removed, Gregory was upbraided for having kept his greatest enemy at his side. 'We are not to blame', replied the saint, 'if we cannot see through a man's wickedness. God alone knows man's inner secrets. And we are told by the commandments to open our hearts with fatherly love to anyone who approaches us.' The good, kindly man cannot easily comprehend the wickedness of the wicked man. February 8th - Civil Calendar January 26th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Father Xenophon and our Mother Maria, and their sons John and Arcadius. They were rich and respected citizens of Constantinople. Xenophon and Maria lived godly lives, and made every effort to give their sons a Christian upbringing. When the boys were grown, their parents sent them to Beirut to study, but a storm capsized their ship. By God's providence, both John and Arcadius were somehow saved and thrown onto the shore by the waves; in two separate places, however, so that each thought the other had perished. Out of grief for each other, they became monks in two different monasteries. After two years of mourning, their parents traveled to Jerusalem to venerate the holy places. There, helped by the insight of a holy man, the brothers were first united with each other and then with their parents. Out of gratitude to God, Xenophon and Maria gave away all their goods to the poor and both embraced the monastic state. This touching story of these four holy souls demonstrates clearly how the Lord guides most wonderfully the destinies of those who believe in Him; how He looses on them trials and sorrows, that they may later, yet more greatly strengthened in their faith, experience the greater joy. They lived and died in the fifth century. 2. Our Holy Father Simeon the Ancient. A friend and companion of St Palladius, he lived in asceticism in a cave from his early youth right up to his death. He founded two monasteries and entered into rest in the Lord in the year 390. He was named 'the Ancient' by St Simeon Stylites, who lived somewhat later. 3. St David, King of Georgia (1089-1130). He restored and strengthened Georgia as a state. He was a great zealot for the Christian faith. He built many new churches throughout Georgia, and restored ancient ones. He is regarded as the regenerator of Orthodoxy in Georgia. FOR CONSIDERATION The greatest blessing any country can have is that of good and holy men living within it. Compared with this blessing, all other blessings are as nothing. Devout Christian kings regarded holy people in their lands as the greatest blessing from God. The holy Emperor Constantine the Great said: 'We bless the Lord Jesus Christ that there exists in my day three glorious saints: the blessed Abba Antony, Abba Elenius and Abba Euchius.' Before the Battle of Kulikovo, a battle fateful for Russia, the devout Prince Dimitri of the Don went off with his chief advisors and commanders to the forest of Radonezh to seek St Sergius and beg his prayers. And although the prince prepared his armies for the war of liberation from the Tartars, he placed greater confidence in the prayers of one holy man than in a vast army and many weapons. February 9th - Civil Calendar January 27th - Church Calendar
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1. St John Chrysostom, the Golden Mouth of Orthodoxy. The Church celebrates the memory of this Saint on November 13th and January 30th, but on this day is celebrated the translation of his honored relics from the Armenian village of Comana, where he died in exile in 407, to Constantinople where earlier, as Patriarch, he had governed the Church. Thirty years after his death, Patriarch Proclus made a speech in memory of his spiritual father and mentor, and by this speech so roused the love of the people and the Emperor, Theodosius the Younger, towards the great Saint that they all wanted the relics of St Chrysostom to be translated to Constantinople. It is related that the coffin containing the relics could not be shifted from its place until the Emperor had written a letter to St Chrysostom, begging his forgiveness (for Theodosius' mother, Eudoxia, was guilty of having persecuted the Saint) and appealing to him to return to Constantinople, his former residence. When this repentant letter was placed on the coffin, the latter became light in weight. Before the translation, many of the sick, on touching the coffin, were healed. When the relics arrived at the capital, the Emperor again begged forgiveness over them in his mother's name, as though it were she herself speaking: 'While I lived in this temporal life, I acted in malice towards thee; but now that thou livest in eternal life, be thou of help to my soul. My glory passes and there is nought to help me; help me, Father, in thy glory; help me before I come to be condemned before the judgment of Christ.' When the Saint was carried into the Church of the Holy Apostles and placed on the patriarchal throne, the assembled throng heard these words from his mouth: 'Peace be unto all!' The translation of the relics of St John Chrysostom was carried out in the year 438. 2. Our Holy Father Titus of the Kiev Caves. He was at first a soldier, but receiving a wound in the head in battle, he retired from the world to the monastery of the Caves in Kiev, there to be healed and to receive the monastic habit. He spent his time in ceaseless mourning over his former sins. Before his death he was shown by a heavenly vision that all his sins had been forgiven. His relics lie in the caves of Theodosius. FOR CONSIDERATION Fasting is a great thing, but love is greater. If it is by fasting that devils are driven out, passions tamed, the body calmed, the spirit steadied, it is by love that God makes His abode with men. The Lord Himself emphasized fasting as necessary, but proclaimed love as the greatest commandment. In the first half of last century, Jeladin Bey, a Turk, ruled over Ochrid. He was a rebel against the Sultan and an independent governor. At that time the Church was ruled by Metropolitan Kalinik. Jeladin and Kalinik, although of different faiths, were very good friends and often visited each other. It happened that Jeladin Bey condemned twenty-five Christians to death by hanging, and the execution was to take place on Great Friday. The Metropolitan, deeply distressed by this event, went to Jeladin and besought him to mitigate the sentence. While they were talking, the hour of the midday meal arrived, and the Bey invited the Metropolitan to eat with him. A dish of lamb had been prepared for the meal. The Metropolitan excused himself, as the fast (of the monastic rule) prevented him from remaining to eat, and prepared to leave. The Bey was angered and said to him: 'Choose; either you eat with me and free twenty-five people from hanging, or you refrain and they hang.' The Metropolitan crossed himself and sat down to lunch, and Jeladin freed the people from the death sentence. February 10th - Civil Calendar January 28th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Father Ephraim the Syrian. Born in Syria of poor parents in the reign of the Emperor Constantine the Great, his early youth was spent somewhat tempestuously, but he suddenly underwent a spiritual crisis and began to burn with love for the Lord Jesus. He was a disciple of St James of Nisibis (Jan. 13th). By the great grace of God, wisdom flowed from his tongue like a stream of honey and from his eyes tears flowed unceasingly; so much so, that his eyelashes fell out. Loving work like a bee, Ephraim was constantly either writing books or teaching the monks in the monastery or the people in the city of Edessa, or was giving himself to prayer and contemplation. His books are numerous; his prayers are beautiful. The best-known of the latter is the prayer in the Great Fast: 'O Lord and Master of my life ... ' When they wished to take him by force and make him bishop, he feigned madness and began to run through the city of Edessa, trailing his garments along behind him. Seeing him mad, they left him in peace. He was a contemporary and friend of St Basil the Great. St Ephraim was especially the apostle of
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repentance. Even today his writings soften many hearts, strengthen them against sin and turn them back to Christ. He entered into rest at a great age in 373. 2. Our Holy Father Isaac the Syrian. Born in Nineveh, he began at an early age to live the ascetic life in the monastery of Mar-Matthew near Nineveh. When he became known for his holy life and miracles, he was chosen as bishop of Nineveh and forced to accept this state. But after only five months he left his episcopate and fled secretly to the desert monastery of Rabban-Shapur. He was the author of many works, of which about a hundred homilies on the spiritual life and asceticism, written mainly from his own experience, have come down to us. He was without equal as a writer and guide in the spiritual life. He entered into rest at a great age at the end of the seventh century. 3. Our Holy Father Palladius. He was a Syrian hermit, a great ascetic and wonderworker. One morning the corpse of a rich man whom brigands had killed and robbed was found lying outside his cell. Palladius was tried for this crime, and in order to clear up the difficulty, prayed to God and by his prayers raised up the dead man. He entered into rest during the fourth century. 4. Our Holy Father Ephraim of the Kiev Caves. St Ephraim instituted the Feast of the Translation of the Relics of St Nicholas to Bari on May 9th. He departed this life in 1096. FOR CONSIDERATION The saints' freedom from envy is a wonderful phenomenon. The saints not only did not allow envy to conquer their hearts, but exerted themselves greatly to ensure that their friends be exalted and they themselves debased. When St Hilarion of Palestine once visited St Antony in Egypt, St Antony exclaimed: 'Welcome, O morning star!' To this, St Hilarion replied: 'And greetings to thee, thou pillar of light that supports the universe.' When St Macarius was praised as a monk, the saint replied: 'Forgive me, my brethren! I am not a monk, but I have seen those who are.' When some people told St Sisoes that he was the equal of St Antony in perfection, he replied: 'Were I to have but one single thought such as Antony's, I would be all of flame.' February 11th - Civil Calendar January 29th - Church Calendar 1. The Hieromartyr Ignatius. The chief feast of St Ignatius is in winter, on December 20th. Today we celebrate the translation of his relics from Rome, where he suffered martyrdom, to Antioch, where he had been archbishop. When St Ignatius was summoned to Rome to answer for his faith before the Emperor Trajan (98-117) a number of citizens from Antioch accompanied him on this long journey, prompted by their great love for their chief pastor. The saint of God, in no wise willing to deny the faith of Christ and scorning all the flattery and promises of the Emperor, was condemned to death and thrown into the Great Circus before the wild beasts. They tore him to pieces and he gave his soul to God. Then his companions collected his bare bones, took them to Antioch and buried them. When the Persians occupied Antioch in the sixth century, the relics of St Ignatius were again taken from Antioch to Rome. 2. The Holy Martyrs Romanus, James, Philotheus, Hyperechius, Abibus, Julian and Paregorius. They all suffered for Christ in Samosta in the time of the Emperor Maximilian, in the year 297. Philotheus and Hyperechius were aristocrats, and the others were young men of respected families. The pagans killed them in a terrible way; by hammering nails into the head of each of them. They suffered with honor and entered into eternal joy. 3. Our Holy Father Laurence of the Kiev Caves. He voluntarily chose the solitary life like the earlier recluses Isaac and Nikita, guarding himself from the diabolic deception which the other two experienced at the beginning. By great restraint, prayer and meditation,
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he attained a high level of perfection. He discovered from a frightened demon that, of the 118 monks in the Monastery of the Caves, there were thirty who had received the gift from God of power over evil spirits. He went to God in the year 1194. FOR CONSIDERATION The more a man progresses in spiritual understanding and purity of heart, the deeper, it seems to him, is the valley in which he finds himself and the higher the peak to which he is aspiring. One spiritual giant, lying on his death bed, heard that he was being praised for his great asceticism. He burst into tears, saying: 'My children, I have not begun in the spiritual life.' When St Ignatius was lying shackled in prison, he wrote to the Ephesians: 'I do not command you as though I had some standing. Although I am in chains for the Name of Jesus Christ, I am not yet perfected in Him. I am only beginning to be a disciple, and I speak to you as fellow-pupils of my teachers.' February 12th - Civil Calendar January 30th - Church Calendar 1. The Three Great Hierarchs: Saints Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom. Each has his personal feast day in the month of January; Basil on the lst, Gregory on the 25th and Chrysostom on the 27th. The common feast we celebrate today was instituted in the 11th century, in the time of the Emperor Alexius Comnenus. At one time there was a dispute among the people about who was the greatest of the three. Some gave Basil the pre-eminence for his purity and courage; others Gregory for the unfathomable depth and height of his theological mind; others still Chrysostom for the wonderful beauty of his speech and the clarity of his presentation of the Faith. So the first were called Basilians, the second Gregorians and the third Johannites. But, by the providence of God, this dispute was resolved to the benefit of the Church and the yet greater glory of the three saints. The Bishop of Euchaita, John (June 14th), had a vision in his sleep, in which each of these saints appeared to him in great glory and indescribable beauty, and then all three together. They then said to him: 'We are one in God, as you see, and there is no dispute among us ... neither is there among us a first or a second.' The saints also advised Bishop John to compile a common feast for them and to set aside for them a day of common commemoration. The quarrel was settled as indicated by the wonderful vision; January 30th being set aside for the common commemoration of the three hierarchs. The Greeks regard this feast not only as a Church festival, but as their greatest national and scholastic holiday. 2. The Hieromartyr Hippolytus, Bishop of Rome. He suffered for the Faith in the time of Claudius. When, in Rome, the virgin Chrysa was being martyred for Christ, St Hippolytus stood up for her before her torturers and denounced them. Because of this protest, he was brought to trial and condemned to death after prolonged torture. They bound his hands and feet and cast him into the sea. Twenty other martyrs suffered with him and Chrysa in about 236. 3. The Holy Martyr Theophilus the New. As commander-in-chief under the Emperor Constantine and Empress Irene, he was enslaved by the Hagarines and held four years in prison. When he withstood all the Moslems' insistence that he repudiate the Christian faith, he was beheaded with the sword in the year 784, and went to the Lord. 4. St Peter, King of Bulgaria. He was the son of Simeon, and a great admirer of St John of Rila. He made the Bulgarian Church independent of Constantinople and defended Orthodoxy in Bulgaria against the Bogomils. He died in 967 at the age of 56, after an unsuccessful war against the Hungarians and Russians. FOR CONSIDERATION Here is an example of how kings seek counsel of the saints, of how saints flee from vanity and riches, and how they counsel kings. The Orthodox King Peter of Bulgaria set off with his retinue to the mountain of Rila, urged by the irresistible desire to see St John of Rila and benefit from his instruction. The king sent men on ahead, to let the saint know. But the saint would not agree to see the king. The saddened king sent other men with some
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food, a fair amount of gold and the request that the saint would commit to writing some advice for him. John received the food and returned the gold, refusing to touch it, and replied to the king: 'If you desire the heavenly kingdom, be merciful as is your heavenly Father. Do not give yourself to injustice and be not greedy; be meek, quiet, accessible to all. Do not listen to praise from your nobles. May your royal purple shine with all the virtues. Let the remembrance of death never leave your soul. Humble yourself before the feet of Mother Church; bow your head before her greatest saints, so that the King of kings, seeing your devotion, may give you such blessings as have never entered into the heart of man.' Receiving this letter, the king kissed it, and later referred to it frequently. February 13th - Civil Calendar January 31st - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Unmercenaries and Wonderworkers Cyrus and John. These compassionate and wonderful saints were not blood brothers, but were brothers in spirit. Cyrus lived at first in Alexandria, and working as a doctor, healed people by the power of Christ together with medicine for the body. Discovering that illness came upon people mainly through sin, he always told them to cleanse their souls from sin by repentance and prayer, that they might be restored and strengthened in body. When Diocletian began his persecution of Christians, Cyrus went off to Arabia, where he received the monastic habit. But, as he had become known in Alexandria, so he became known also in Arabia, and people went to him for help. John, hearing of him and being at that time a Roman officer in Edessa, came to Arabia to see Cyrus. On seeing each other, they loved each other as brothers and remained together to live in asceticism. At that time, a Christian woman called Athanasia was tortured together with her three daughters in the town of Canopus. Cyrus and John heard of this and came to Canopus to encourage the mother and daughters not to fall back from the Faith. And, grateful indeed for the counsel of these saints, Athanasia endured all the tortures and, with her daughters, was slain for Christ. The daughters were: Theoctista, age 15; Theodota, age 13; and Eudocia, age 11. Then the torturers took Cyrus and John and, after torture and imprisonment, slew them with the sword in the year 311. These holy martyrs performed innumerable miracles, both during their lives and after their death. Their relics were translated to Rome in the time of the Emperor Arcadius. They are invoked for help especially for the sleepless and for the blessing of water and food. 2. The Holy Martyr Tryphaena. She voluntarily and courageously underwent harsh torture for Christ. Then, because she would not repudiate her faith, a mad ox was released which gored and killed her. This came to pass in the first century. She is invoked to help mothers who are unable to nurse their babies. 3. Our Holy Father Nikita of the Kiev Caves. As a monk, in disobedience to his abbot, he went off and lived as a recluse in a solitary cell. For his disobedience, God sent great temptations upon him. Once when Nikita was at prayer, the devil appeared to him as an angel of light and said to him: 'Do not pray any more, but rather read books, and I will pray in your place.' Nikita obeyed, stopped praying and began to read books. He read only the Old Testament and was totally unable to open the New, being prevented by some diabolical strength. He also prophesied with the help of the devil - about crimes, kidnappings, fires and other evil works which were known to the devil and thence made known to him. The holy fathers of the monastery finally realized that Nikita had fallen into demonic delusion and began to pray for him. Nikita returned to himself, realized the abyss into which he had fallen, repented bitterly of his disobedience and pride and directed himself onto the right path. After long penance and many tears, God forgave him and gave him the gift of wonder-working. He entered into rest in 1108. FOR CONSIDERATION Although the holy fathers praised monasticism as the angelic state, and although many of the greatest saints spent their lives and achieved perfection in the silent and lifeless desert, nevertheless the Orthodox Church does not recommend monasticism to all the faithful. 'Neither will all those in the desert be saved, nor all those in the world be lost,' said one saint. To one city-dweller who, without any inclination to monasticism, had made up his mind to go to a monastery, St Niphon said: 'My son, a man is neither saved nor lost by the place he is in, but is saved or lost by his deeds. Neither a holy place nor a holy state is of use to him who does not fulfil the
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commandments of the Lord. Saul lived in regal luxury and perished. David lived in like luxury and received the wreath. Lot lived among the lawless Sodomites and was saved. Judas was among the apostles and went to hell. Whoever says that it is impossible to be saved with a wife and children is a deceiver. Abraham had a wife and children and three hundred and eighteen servants, and also much gold and silver, and he was called the friend of God! Many servants of the Church have been saved, and many lovers of the desert; many aristocrats, and many soldiers; many craftsmen, and many farm laborers. Be devout towards God and loving towards men, and you will be saved.' February 14th - Civil Calendar February 1st - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Tryphon. He was born in the village of Lampsacus in Phrygia of poor parents. He kept geese as a child, and he had from childhood great grace from God; healing both people and animals and driving out evil spirits. At that time the Emperor Gordian (238-44) came to the throne in Rome. He had a mad daughter, the source of great distress to her father. Doctors could do nothing to help her, but the evil spirit in the girl broke silence and said that noone but Tryphon could cast it out. After many other Tryphons in the Empire had failed, this young Tryphon was sent for, by the providence of God. He was taken to Rome, where he healed the Emperor's daughter. The Emperor heaped gifts on him, which Tryphon gave away to the poor before returning home. This holy youth remained in his village, tending the geese and praying to God. When Decius, who was violently opposed to the Christian faith, became Emperor, Tryphon was interrogated and cruelly tortured for Christ. But he endured all his sufferings with great joy, saying: 'Oh, when shall I become worthy, through fire and torture, to make an end for the Name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and God?' No torture was able to harm him, and the torturers finally condemned him to be beheaded. At the moment of his death, Tryphon commended his soul to his Creator, in the year 250. 2. The Holy Martyrs Perpetua, Felicitas and Satyrus, and others with them. They were all thrown into prison for their Christian faith in the time of Emperor Septimus Severus. St Perpetua was of a noble family, and she encouraged all the other captives in the prison to be fearless in their suffering for Christ. Perpetua saw in a dream a ladder stretching from earth to heaven, all thickly set with sharp knives, swords, stakes, hooks, nails and other deadly implements. A terrible serpent lay at its foot. She saw Satyrus run first up the ladder to the top without injury, and call thence to her: 'Perpetua! I'm waiting for you. Come on, but mind the serpent!' Encouraged by this, Perpetua stood on the serpent's head, as if on the first rung, then in her turn hastened to the top. When she reached it, she saw the beautiful court of heaven and rejoiced with great joy. When she recounted her dream to the other captives, they all interpreted it as meaning that death would soon come to them, and to Satyrus the first - which quickly came to be. Satyrus was killed first, then Perpetua, then the rest in order. As lambs butchered for Christ, the Lamb of God, they received from Christ the eternal reward in the Kingdom of light. They all suffered for Christ between 202 and 203. 3. Our Holy Father Peter of Galateia. He left his parents' home for the sake of Christ at the age of seven, and hid himself in the desert. There he became so perfect through fasting and prayer that he was able to perform many miracles by the power of the Spirit of God. He entered into the eternal Kingdom of Christ in about 429 at the age of 99. FOR CONSIDERATION St Tryphon prayed before his death: 'O Lord, God of gods and King of kings, the holiest of all that is holy, I thank Thee that Thou hast made me worthy to finish the spiritual struggle without faltering. And now I pray Thee, let me not fall into the hands of the invisible demon, lest he drag me down into the pit of destruction. But may Thy holy angel lead me to Thy beauteous habitation and teach me to become an heir of the Kingdom that I so greatly desire. Receive my soul, and hearken to the prayers of all who will bring Thee offerings in memory of me: look Thou upon them from Thy holy habitation, give Thou them abundant and enduring gifts. For thou art a good and merciful Giver of gifts, for ever and ever. Amen.' Because St Tryphon had suffered in Nicaea and many miraculous healings were performed by his relics, the citizens of Nicaea wanted to bury him in their
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cemetery. But the saint appeared to someone in a vision and expressed his desire to be taken home to his own village, Lampsacus, where he had formerly tended the geese, and to be buried there. February 15th - Civil Calendar February 2nd - Church Calendar 1. The Presentation of the Lord (the 'Meeting'). On the fortieth day after His birth, the most holy Virgin brought her divine Son to the Temple in Jerusalem, to consecrate Him to the Lord and to purify herself according to the Law (Lev. 12:2-7, Exod. 12:2). And though neither the one nor the other was necessary, nevertheless the Lawgiver would not in any way transgress the Law which He had given through His servant and prophet Moses. At that time Zacharias, the father of St John the Baptist, was serving his turn as high priest in the Temple. He stood the Virgin Mary in the place for maidens, not that for married women. On this occasion, there were two very special people present: the elder, Simeon, and Anna, the daughter of Phanuel. Simeon took his Messiah up in his arms and said: 'Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.' Simeon also spoke the following words of the Christ Child: 'Behold, this Child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel.' Then Anna, who had from her youth served God in the Temple in fasting and prayer, and who herself recognized the Messiah, praised the Lord and made known to the inhabitants of Jerusalem the coming of the awaited One. But the Pharisees, present in the Temple and seeing and hearing all that passed, and being vexed with Zacharias for having stood the Virgin Mary in the place for maidens, made this known to King Herod. Believing this to be the new King of whom the star-followers from the East had spoken, Herod quickly sent to have Jesus killed. But in the meantime, the holy family had already escaped from the city and set out for Egypt under the direction of an angel of God. This day has been celebrated from the very earliest times, but its solemn celebration dates from 544, in the time of Emperor Justinian. 2. The Holy New Martyr Jordan. Born in Trebizond, he was a coppersmith by profession. For his open defense of the Christian faith and his denunciation of the falsehood of Islam, he suffered at the hands of the Turks at Galata in Constantinople in 1650. A monk, Gabriel, a reader in the great church in Constantinople, suffered in the same way in 1676. FOR CONSIDERATION Speaking of the spread of the celebration of the Nativity of Christ, St John Chrysostom says: 'As beautiful and prolific fruit-trees, when planted in the earth, quickly attain a great height and ripen and bear fruit; so with this day.' So also with the day of the Presentation of the Lord. This day was commemorated among Christians from the beginning, but its solemn celebration began in the time of the great Emperor Justinian. At that time, Constantinople and its surroundings were struck by an epidemic, with five thousand or more people dying every day. At the same time there was a terrible earthquake in Antioch. Seeing the powerlessness of men to avert these catastrophes, the Emperor and the Patriarch together decided to call for fasting and prayer throughout the whole empire. On the day of the Presentation itself, they arranged processions through the towns and villages to implore the Lord to have mercy on His people. And the Lord did have mercy, the epidemic and the earthquake ceasing instantly. This happened in the year 544. As a result, the Presentation came to be celebrated as a great feast of the Lord. Trees sprout at this time and begin the process of bringing forth their abundant fruit. February 16th - Civil Calendar February 3rd - Church Calendar 1. St Simeon the Host of God. This Simeon was chosen, in the time of the Egyptian Pharaoh Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-246 B.C.), as one of the famous Seventy to whom was committed the task of translating the Old Testament from the Hebrew into Greek. Simeon worked conscientiously, but when translating the Prophet Isaiah, he came to the prophecy: 'Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son'. He was puzzled and took a knife to scratch out the word 'virgin' and substitute 'young woman', and thus translate it into Greek. But at that moment an angel of God appeared to him and held him back from his intention, explaining to him that the prophecy was true and rightly-expressed.
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And to confirm its veracity, the messenger from God said that he, Simeon, by the will of God, would not die until he had seen the Messiah born of a virgin. The righteous Simeon rejoiced at these heavenly tidings, left the prophecy unchanged and thanked God that He had found him worthy to live to see the Promised One. When the Christ Child was brought to the Temple in Jerusalem by the Virgin Mary, the Spirit of God revealed this to Simeon, who was now a very old man with snow-white hair. He went quickly to the Temple and found there both the Virgin and the Child, bathed in a light that shone round their heads like a halo. The joyful elder took Christ in his arms and prayed to God to let him leave this world: 'Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart ... according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.' Thither came also Anna the prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, who recognized the Messiah and made Him known to the people. Anna was then 84 years old. Soon after that, St Simeon departed this life. This righteous elder is venerated as the protector of young children. 2. The Holy Martyrs Adrian and Eubulus. These two holy souls came from their home town, Baneas, in Caesarea of Cappadocia, to visit imprisoned Christians and to uphold and encourage them. They themselves were taken and condemned to death. Adrian was slain with the sword and Eubulus was thrown to the wild beasts in the year 309. Thus with no trace of lament for this life, they entered with joy and honor into eternal life. FOR CONSIDERATION The great heavenly glory attained by St Simeon, who held the holy Savior in his arms, is clearly attested in this incident taken from the life of St Peter the Athonite (June 12th). As a military commander, Peter was taken captive in some battle, bound and cast into prison in the town of Samara on the banks of the Euphrates. Lying long in prison, Peter begged St Nicholas with tears to pray to God for him, that he might be freed from prison, vowing that he would consecrate himself wholly to God. St Nicholas appeared to him in a dream and said that he had prayed for him, but that God was delaying his deliverance because he, Peter, had earlier made a similar vow and had not fulfilled it. St Nicholas then advised him to pray to St Simeon, 'who has great power before God, and stands near His throne with the most holy Mother of God and St John the Forerunner'. Peter followed this advice and began to pray to St Simeon. St Nicholas appeared to him again - this time with St Simeon - in a vision, not a dream. Peter saw Simeon, wonderful in appearance with light streaming from his countenance. He was clad in the robes of a priest of the Old Covenant and bore a golden sceptre in his hand. St Simeon said to Peter: 'Do you wish to fulfil your vow and become a monk?' Peter replied: 'Yes, Lord, with the help of God.' Then Simeon touched Peter's fetters lightly with his sceptre and they melted as if made of wax. And he opened the door of the prison and led Peter out. February 17th - Civil Calendar February 4th - Church Calendar 1. Our Holy Father Isidore of Pelusium. He was an Egyptian, the son of eminent parents and a kinsman of the Patriarchs of Alexandria Theophilus and Cyril. Completing his secular studies, he renounced his riches and worldly standing and gave himself wholly to the spiritual life for the love of Christ. He was a great and ardent interpreter and defender of the Orthodox faith. The historian Nicephorus states that St Isidore wrote more than 10,000 letters to various people in which he reprimanded one, advised another, consoled a third, instructed a fourth. 'It is more important to be proficient in good works than in golden-tongued preaching', he writes in one letter. In another, he says: 'If a man wishes his virtues to appear great, let him regard them as small and then they will be truly shown to be great.' The first and fundamental rule for Isidore was: first do and then teach, after the example of the Lord Jesus. At a time when St John Chrysostom was undergoing persecution and the whole world was divided into two camps, one for and one against this great pillar of Orthodoxy, St Isidore stood on the side of Chrysostom. He wrote to Patriarch Theophilus, saying what a great light Chrysostom was in the Church and begging that the hatred of him should cease. He lived long and labored greatly, glorifying Christ the Lord in his life and his writings, and entered into the Kingdom of Christ in about 450. 2. Our Holy Father Nicholas the Confessor.
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This saint was from the island of Crete. He went to Constantinople to visit his kinsman Theodore, abbot of the Studite monastery, and remained there to become a monk. As a monk, Nicholas followed all the ascetic practices that are prescribed for the soul's salvation. During a persecution of the Church on the part of Leo the Armenian, Theodore and Nicholas were harshly tortured, humiliated, beaten with bull-whips and finally thrown into prison, where they spent three years. After the death of St Theodore, Nicholas became abbot of the Studium. Even during his lifetime, God blessed him with the power to work miracles. He healed Eudocia the wife of the Emperor Basil, and Helen the wife of the patrician Manuel. To Theophilus Melisenus, a distinguished nobleman who had lost several children, he prophesied, in blessing his new-born daughter, that she would live and be fruitful; a prophecy that was later fulfilled to the joy of her parents. On the very day of his death, he called the monks together and asked them what they lacked. 'Wheat', they replied. Then the dying man said: 'He who sustained Israel in the wilderness will send you abundant wheat in three days.' And indeed, a boat full of grain, sent by the Emperor Basil, arrived below the monastery on the third day. Nicholas entered into the heavenly Kingdom on February 4th, 868, at the age of 75. 3. The Holy New Martyr Joseph. He was born in Aleppo. When the Turks pressured him to embrace Islam, Joseph not only refused, but began to denounce the falsehood of Islam and to extol the Christian faith. For this he was tortured and beheaded in 1686. FOR CONSIDERATION Take on yourself some penance for the sin of others. If you have condemned or punished another, take some penance on yourself. Suffer a little, voluntarily, for the sins of sinners. That is pleasing to God. The saints knew this mystery when they condemned themselves for the sins of others. Even non-Christian peoples have some grasp of this. In China, for instance, there is the following custom: when the executioner beheads a criminal condemned to death, he goes to the judge and reports that the sentence has been carried out. The judge gives him a silver piece for killing the criminal, and orders that he receive forty strokes of the lash for killing a man. The Christian saints had a profound understanding of the mystery of sin and the unrighteousness of man. Each human sin had for them a history as long as that stretching back from us to Adam. February 18th - Civil Calendar February 5th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Agatha. This glorious virgin and martyr for Christ was born in the Sicilian town of Palermo of noble and prosperous parents. When Emperor Decius launched a persecution of Christians, St Agatha was arrested and brought to judgement before Quintian, the judge. He saw Agatha's beauty and desired her for his wife. When he suggested this to her, she replied that she was the bride of Christ and could not be faithless to her Betrothed. The judge condemned her to cruel torture: Agatha was flogged, mocked, bound to a tree and beaten till the blood flowed. After that, the judge again urged her to deny Christ and so escape further torture, to which Christ's bride replied: 'These tortures are of great help to me. As wheat cannot come to the granary until it is cleansed of its chaff, so my soul cannot enter Paradise unless my body has first been broken by torture.' Then the torturer ordered that her breasts be cut off, and that she then be thrown into prison. The holy Apostle Peter appeared to her in the prison and restored her to physical wholeness and health. She was once again taken out for torture and again cast back into prison, where she gave her soul to God in the town of Catania in the year 251. After her death, her torturer, Quintian, set out to appropriate her lands; but on the way, the horses became maddened under him and his soldiers. They were savaged on the face, thrown onto the ground and trampled to death. Thus God's punishment came swiftly upon him for his ferocious crime against St Agatha. 2. The Holy Martyr Theodula. She suffered for Christ in the time of Diocletian, the impious Roman Emperor. During her tortures, Theodula brought one of her torturers, Helladius, to his senses and to the Christian faith. When Helladius openly confessed his faith in Christ, he was beheaded. Theodula showed great courage at her trial, for which the judge considered her witless. To this, she retorted: 'It is you who are witless, for you forget the one true God and bow down to lifeless stones.' The judge put her to cruel torture, which Theodula endured with heroism, making her
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torturers marvel and bringing them to Christ. Among these were two eminent citizens, Macarius and Evagrius. With these two and many others, Theodula was thrown into a red-hot furnace, where they all finished this life with honor and were made worthy of the Kingdom of Christ. 3. St Polyeuctus, Patriarch of Constantinople. For his great mind, his zeal for the Faith and his power of oratory, he was called a second Chrysostom. The Russian Princess Olga came to Constantinople in the time of Patriarch Polyeuctus and Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus, and was baptized there in 957. The Patriarch baptized her, and the Emperor stood godfather. St Polyeuctus prophesied: 'Blessed art thou among Russian women, for thou hast desired the light and cast away darkness; the sons of Russia will bless thee to the last generation.' From being a simple monk, Polyeuctus was raised to the Patriarchate in 946, and remained on the patriarchal throne until his death in 970. FOR CONSIDERATION The great Abba Ischyrion was asked by his monks: 'What have we accomplished?' 'We have fulfilled the commandments of God', replied Ischyrion. 'And what will those who come after us accomplish?' 'They will accomplish what we have accomplished, but only half as much as we.' 'And those after them?' 'Those in the last days will have no monastic training, but such assaults and temptations will come upon them that they will, through these trials, be revealed in the Kingdom of God as greater than us and than our fathers.' February 19th - Civil Calendar February 6th - Church Calendar 1. St Bucolus, Bishop of Smyrna. He was a disciple of St John the Theologian, who consecrated him bishop of the city of Smyrna. There were few baptized Christians in Smyrna, and St Bucolus shone like a lamp in the pagan darkness. He was adorned with all the virtues, especially gentleness and meekness. Before his death, Bucolus named the famous Polycarp as his successor in the episcopate. Then he peacefully departed this life and went to the Lord. 2. The Holy Martyr Fausta. Suffering for Christ in the reign of the Emperor Maximian (between 305 and 311), she made her torturers marvel by her heroism and brought them to the Christian faith. These were the eighty-year-old pagan priest Evilasius, and Maximus the Eparch. When the judge threatened Fausta with even harsher tortures, she asked him to have a picture of her made, showing her enduring all the tortures with which he was threatening her. When it was ready and shown to her, holy Fausta said: 'As this picture feels no torture, so my body does not feel the torture of your punishments, for my soul is established in the Lord.' The judge cast her into a cauldron of boiling water, where this thirteen-year-old girl departed this life with prayer on her lips, and went to Paradise. 3. The Holy Martyr Dorothea. She was an eminent and beautiful maiden from Caesarea in Cappadocia. The administrator of the district, Sapricius, gave Dorothea into the care of two pagan sisters, Christina and Kallista, to turn her from Christ. But it happened the other way about: Dorothea succeeded in bringing both sisters to the Christian faith. Sapricius in fury ordered that the sisters be tied together back to back, cast into a vat of pitch and then set alight. He then condemned Dorothea to death. She listened to the sentence with joy and cried out: 'I thank Thee, O Christ, Thou Lover of souls, that Thou callest me to Thy Paradise and leadest me to Thy most holy court!' A nobleman, Theophilus, who was present laughed at these words and called out to Dorothea: 'Here, you bride of Christ; send me apples and wild roses from your bridegroom's paradise!' 'Yes; I'll do that!', the martyr replied. When Dorothea was at the place of execution, a handsome youth suddenly appeared with three marvelous apples and three red wild roses. This was an angel from God, and it was winter-time. At Dorothea's bidding, the angel took them to Theophilus and said: 'Here is what you asked for.' When Theophilus received the message and saw the gift, he was very much afraid. Everything within him turned topsy-turvy, and he rejected paganism and became a Christian. He was tortured and killed for Christ, and his soul quickly followed Dorothea's to the Lord's Paradise.
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4. St Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople. A great light in the Church, he was a kinsman of the Emperor and grandson of the famous Patriarch Tarasius. He was reputed to be the wisest and most intelligent person in the empire, and was an instructor of many in Constantinople on subjects that ranged from secular science to the most sublime types of theology. He was a forceful protector of the Church from the power-seeking of the Pope and other Roman perverters of the Faith. He passed through all the ranks from layman to patriarch in six days, being made Patriarch on the Nativity of Christ in 858. He departed this life in the Lord in about 895. 5. Our Holy Fathers Barsanuphius and John. Great ascetics from Gaza, gifted with insight and wonder-working power, they left us a well-known book of answers to various questions on the spiritual life. They lived in the sixth century. 6. The Holy Martyrs Martha and Mary and their brother Lycarion. All three were crucified for Christ, then stabbed to death with a lance. FOR CONSIDERATION St Barsanuphius, who spent fifty years shut in his cell forbidding himself the sight of a single man, attained through the grace of God gifts of discernment and clairvoyance. Here are some of the thoughts from his book Answers: 'Every thought that is not preceded by the silence of humility does not originate in God. All that happens with confusion and bustle is of the devil.' 'When you pray, and God is slow to hear you, He does this for your good, to help you learn patience.' 'Visible robbers are the servants of invisible robbers in the thoughts.' 'The Lord Jesus Christ endured all things and finally ascended onto the holy Cross, which brought about the death of the body and the passions, and a holy and perfect rest.' 'The Lord desires you to reverence every man more greatly than yourself.' When the elder was asked if he would use the services of a paid advocate in a dispute in which the monastery was engaged, he replied: 'If you buy the advocacy of men, God will not be your advocate (lawyer).' February 20th - Civil Calendar February 7th - Church Calendar 1. St Parthenius, Bishop of Lampsacus. He was the son of a deacon from the city of Melitopolis. He knew the words of the Gospel by heart from his early youth, and strove to fulfill them. Settling beside a lake, he caught fish, sold them and shared the proceeds with the poor. By God's providence, he was chosen as bishop of Lampsacus. He cleansed the city of paganism, closed the temples dedicated to idol-worship, built many churches and strengthened the faithful. He healed all manner of sickness through prayer, and was especially powerful over spirits. At one time when he was about to drive the evil spirit out of a madman, the evil spirit begged him not to. 'I will give you another man, into whom you can enter and in whom you can dwell', Parthenius told him. 'And who is that man?' 'I am he.', replied the saint, 'Come and make your abode in me'. Hearing this, the evil spirit fled as though burned by fire, crying out: 'How can I enter into the house of God?' St Parthenius lived long and showed in his deeds the greatness of his love for God and man. He entered into the eternal peace of Christ in the 4th century. 2. Our Holy Father Luke of Hellas. Luke was born in Castorius. Even as a child, he had no desire to taste meat, and spent the whole of his life in purity and prayer. One day he went to sow his field with wheat. On the way, he gave the greater part of the wheat to a poor man and the lesser part, which remained to him, he sowed. God provided that, from this small amount of seed, there came a greater harvest than had previously come from the whole amount. After that, Luke ran away from his mother and entered a monastery. His widowed mother prayed ardently to God to reveal to her where her son was to be found, and God heard her prayer. The abbot of that monastery dreamed three times in succession that a woman was vehemently accusing him of having taken her only son. The abbot then ordered Luke to return at once to his mother. Luke went and saw his mother, but once again left her, this time for good. He atoned for this sin on a mountain called 'John's Mountain'. He prayed at night and worked in the gardens and fields by day, not for himself but for the poor and the visitors, himself living only on barley bread.
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He was endowed by God with wonder-working gifts, and entered peacefully into rest in the year 946. From time to time, myrrh flowed from his relics. 3. Our Holy Mother Mastridia. She lived a life of great asceticism in Jerusalem. A young man who saw her began to pester her, so to save them both from sin she took some soaked beans in a basket and went off into the desert. There she spent seventeen years, during which time, by the power of God, the beans did not come to an end nor her clothing wear out. She entered peacefully into rest in about 580. 4. The Thousand and Three Martyrs of Nicomedia They suffered in the reign of Diocletian. FOR CONSIDERATION St Isidore of Pelusium interprets certain words from Holy Scripture: 'Of two grinding grain, the one shall be taken and the other left' (Matt. 24:41), to mean that many will give themselves to the spiritual life, but with very different dispositions; one sincerely and steadily, another slackly and conceitedly. The first will be taken into the Kingdom of God, and the second left. What is the meaning of the Lord's prayer about the Cup? Why did the Lord beg that the cup of suffering should pass from Him (Matt. 26:42)? It means that no one should seek danger, but that, when it comes, a Christian must accept and endure it courageously. On the five foolish virgins (Matt. 25), St Isidore says: 'They all kept their virginity, but had no other virtues, such as that of compassion. Virginity by itself is not sufficient for entry into the Kingdom of God. Virginity is of no use if the virgin is filled with pride and self seeking.' February 21st - Civil Calendar February 8th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy and Great Martyr Theodore Stratelates. There are martyrdoms that are more than costly. The costliness of a martyrdom depends on the greatness of the good things of this world that a Christian gives up, receiving suffering in its place; and it depends also on the greatness of the suffering which he endures for the sake of Christ. St Theodore, a Roman commander in the army of the Emperor Licinius and governor of the city of Heraclea, scorned his youth, his good looks, his military status and the goodwill of the Emperor; and in place of all this received terrible tortures for the sake of Christ. Firstly Theodore was flogged, receiving 600 lashes on the back and 500 on the stomach; then he was crucified and pierced through with arrows. Finally he was slain with the sword. Why all this? Because St Theodore loved Christ more than anything else in the world. He scorned the foolish idol-worship of the superstitious Emperor, shattered the silver and gold idols, giving the pieces to the poor, brought many to the Christian faith and urged the Emperor himself to reject idolatry and believe in the one God. During the whole of his torture, Theodore repeated unceasingly: 'Glory to Thee, my God, glory to Thee!' He suffered on February 8th, 319, at three o'clock in the afternoon, and entered into the Kingdom of Christ. He is regarded as the protector of soldiers, who turn to him for help. His wonderworking relics were taken from Euchaita to Constantinople and buried in the Church at Blachernae. 2. The Holy Prophet Zechariah. The eleventh of the Minor Prophets, he worked together with the Prophet Haggai to persuade Prince Zerubbabel to restore the Temple in Jerusalem. He prophesied the solemn entry of Christ into Jerusalem on a colt, the foal of an ass, and Judas' betrayal for thirty pieces of silver: 'They weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver', and the forsaking of Christ by His apostles at the time of His Passion: 'Smite the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered.' He entered into rest in the second year of the reign of Darius Hystapes, in about 520 B.C. 3. St Sava the Second, Archbishop of Serbia. He was the son of King Stephen the First-Crowned and nephew of St Sava the First. Before becoming a monk, he was called Predislav. Following the example of his great uncle, he became a monk and gave himself zealously to the ascetic life. Chosen to be Archbishop of Serbia after St Arsenius, and taking the name Sava II,
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he governed the Church with great devotion and love. He entered into rest in 1268, and his relics lie in the monastery at Pec. FOR CONSIDERATION St Seraphim of Sarov writes on despair: 'As the Lord works for our salvation, so the devil, that killer of men, works to lead man into despair.' Judas the betrayer was little of soul and untested in battle, and therefore the devil, seeing him in despair, attacked him and forced him to suicide. But Peter, the firm rock, when he fell into great sin in the testing time of battle, did not despair nor lose the presence of the Spirit, but wept bitterly from a full heart, and the devil seeing this, fled from him as from a flaming fire. And, my brethren, St Antiochus teaches that when despair descends upon us, we must not surrender to it, but strengthened and protected by our holy Faith, say resolutely to the wicked spirit: 'What hast thou to do with us, thou who hast fallen away from God, thou fugitive from heaven and slave of wickedness? Thou darest in no wise do us harm, for Christ the Son of God has dominion over us and over all. But thou, O thou murderer, get thee away from us! Strengthened by His precious Cross, we trample upon thy serpent head!' February 22nd - Civil Calendar February 9th - Church Calendar 1. The Holy Martyr Nicephorus. The life of this holy martyr demonstrates clearly how God casts down pride and crowns humility and brotherly love with glory. There lived in Antioch two intimate friends, the learned priest Sapricius and the ordinary, simple townsman Nicephorus. Their friendship somehow turned into a terrible mutual hatred. Nicephorus, who feared God, tried many times to establish peace with the priest, but the latter would not respond. When a persecution of Christians broke out, the priest Sapricius was condemned to death and brought to the place of execution. Nicephorus stood in great distress in the path Sapricius was to take, begging him to forgive him before dying, and to part in peace. 'I pray thee, thou martyr of Christ', said Nicephorus, 'forgive me if I have in any way sinned against thee.' Sapricius would not turn to his adversary, but calmly and proudly moved on to death. But, seeing the hardness of the priest's heart, God would not have him receive the gift of martyrdom and the crowning with the wreath, and secretly withdrew His blessing. At the last moment, Sapricius denied Christ before the executioner and declared that he would worship idols. Hatred had blinded him to such an extent! Nicephorus entreated Sapricius not to deny Christ: 'Oh, my beloved brother, do not do this! Do not deny our Lord Jesus Christ and lose the heavenly crown!' But all in vain; Sapricius was unmoved. Then Nicephorus cried out to the executioners: I too am a Christian; kill me in Sapricius' place!' The executioners reported this to the judge, who ordered them to let Sapricius go and to kill Nicephorus in his place. Nicephorus joyfully laid his head on the block and was beheaded. And thus he was made worthy of the Kingdom and crowned with the eternal wreath of glory. This came to pass in 260, in the reign of the Emperor Gallienus. 2. The Hieromartyr Peter Damascene. This saint is considered by some to have lived in the eighth century, and by others in the twelfth. This difference of opinion arises from there having been two Peters Damascene. The one about whom we are speaking was a great ascetic. Utterly selfless, he had not one single book of his own, but borrowed them to read. And he read untiringly, gathering wisdom as a bee does honey. He was at some time bishop in Damascus, but spoke out so strongly against Islam and the Manichean heresy that the Arabs cut out his tongue and sent him into exile deep in Arabia. But God gave him the power of speech, so that there in exile he preached the Gospel and brought many to the Christian faith. He wrote and left to his descendants a precious book on the spiritual life. He died a confessor and a martyr, and entered into the Kingdom of Christ. FOR CONSIDERATION St Peter Damascene writes thus of the general and the particular gifts of God: 'The general gifts are the four elements, and all that come from them, all the wonderful and terrible works of God revealed in the Holy Scriptures. But the particular gifts are those which God gives to a man individually; be it wealth for acts of mercy, or poverty for patience with thanksgiving; be it power for right judgement and the strengthening of virtue, or subjugation and slavery for the swift salvation of the soul; be it health for the helping of the infirm or
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weakness for the crown of patience; be it understanding and skill in gathering wealth for the sake of the virtues, or feebleness and clumsiness for submissive humility. All these; and though they may seem in contrast to one another, they are all, as they are apportioned, very good.' He says in conclusion that we owe God gratitude for all His gifts, and must bear all infirmities and tribulations with patience and hope, for all that God gives us or brings upon us is for our salvation. February 23rd - Civil Calendar February 10th - Church Calendar 1. The Hieromartyr Charalampus. This great saint was bishop in Magnesia, and suffered for Christ at the age of 113. When a violent persecution broke out under Emperor Septimus Severus, the aged Charalampus did not hide from his persecutors, but freely and openly preached the Christian faith. He endured all tortures as though not in the body, and when they flayed the living flesh from him, the godly saint said to the Emperor's soldiers: 'Thank you, my brethren, for scraping off the old body and renewing my soul for new and eternal life.' He performed many wonders and brought many to the Faith. Even the Emperor's daughter, Gallina, repudiated the paganism of her father and became a Christian. Condemned to death and led to the place of execution, St Charalampus raised his arms to heaven and prayed for all men, that God would give them bodily health and salvation of soul, and that He would grant them the fruits of the earth in abundance: 'Lord, Thou knowest that men are flesh and blood; forgive them their sins and pour out Thy blessing on all.' After praying thus, the saintly elder gave his soul to God before the executioner had laid his sword to his neck. He suffered in 202. Gallina took his body and buried it. 2. Our Holy Father Prochorus the Orach-Eater. A wonder-worker of the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev, he was named the Orach-eater because the whole time he lived in the monastery he never tasted bread, but fed himself on orach prepared according to his own particular method as a sort of bread. When he gave someone some of this bread with his blessing, it was as sweet as honey, but if anyone stole some, it was as bitter as wormwood. Once, when there was a dearth of salt in Russia, Prochorus distributed ashes to the people for salt. The ashes that he distributed with his blessing became salt; ashes, however, anyone took for himself remained ordinary ashes. Prince Svyatopolk ordered that all the ashes from Prochorus' cell be brought to the court without his permission, let alone his blessing. When the ash were brought there, it was obvious to everyone that they were ash and not salt. Then Prochorus told all the people who came to him for salt to go to the prince's court, and when the prince threw the ash away, to take them and use them as salt. This they did, and the ash again became salt. The prince himself, learning of this, was filled with a deep respect and love for him. When Prochorus died in 1107, he placed him with his own hands in a grave near the great Russian Saints Antony and Theodosius. FOR CONSIDERATION Many of the great infirmities to which man is subject have their origin, known or unknown, in his past. The origins of these great infirmities, such as madness for example, are none other than violations of the moral law of God. While St Charalampus was undergoing martyrdom, the royal torturer learned of his wonder-working power and ordered that a madman be brought before him, to find out if Charalampus could heal him. The devil had tormented this man for 35 years, driving him into the deserts and mountains and casting him into mires and abysses. When this madman drew near to Charalampus, the demon smelled the fragrance of the holy man and cried out: 'I beg thee, O servant of God, do not torment me before the time, but order me and I will come out; and, if thou desirest, I will tell thee how I entered into the man.' And the saint ordered him to speak. The demon said: 'This man desired to rob his neighbor, and thought within himself: "If I don't first kill the man, I shall not be able to take all his goods." So he went and killed his neighbor. Catching him in such an act. I entered into him and have been residing here these 35 years.' Hearing this, the saint of God ordered the demon to come out of the man at once and leave him in peace, and the man was healed and became calm. February 24th - Civil Calendar February 11th - Church Calendar
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1. The Hieromartyr Blaise, Bishop of Sebaste. Born in Cappadocia, Blaise was meek and God-fearing from early childhood. He was chosen for his virtues as bishop of Sebaste, and was a great spiritual and moral light in that pagan town. During a period of violent persecution of Christians, Blaise encouraged his flock and visited the martyrs in prison, among whom was the famous Eustratius. When the city of Sebaste was left entirely denuded of Christians - some killed and others fled - Blaise, by then an old man, retired to the mountain of Argeos and lived there in a cave. Ferocious wild beasts, recognizing a holy man, came to him and he gently tamed them. But the persecutors found the saint in that hidden spot and took him for trial. On the way there, Blaise healed a boy who had a bone stuck in his throat, and at the petition of a poor widow, made the wolf that had taken her pig return it to her. The benighted judges tortured him, flogging him terribly. By his steadfastness in the Christian faith, Blaise brought many unbelievers to the Faith. Seven women and two children were thrown into prison with him; the women were slain first, then Blaise and the two children. He suffered and was glorified in 316. Blaise's prayers are sought for the health and well-being of domestic animals and for protection from wild beasts. In the West, he is also invoked against sore throats. 2. The Holy Martyr George of Kratov. George was a Serbian from the town of Kratov. As a young man, George was a goldsmith; and in his heart and soul a faithful and devout Christian. As soon as he reached the age of eighteen, the Turks tried to convert him to Islam, but George remained as firm as a diamond in the Faith. The Turks then tortured him with many harsh tortures and finally burned him alive at the stake. He suffered for the Christian faith on February 11th, 1515, in Sophia in the time of Sultan Selim, and was glorified with unfading glory in heaven. 3. St Theodora. A Greek Empress, she was the wife of the wicked Emperor Theophilus the Iconoclast. After the death of Theophilus, Theodora reigned with her son, Michael III, and the veneration of icons were immediately restored at the Council of Constantinople in 842. This was the occasion of the institution of the Feast of the Triumph Orthodoxy, which is celebrated to this day on the first Sunday in the Great Fast. This holy woman who gave such service to the Church gave her soul to God on February 11th, 867. By the wonderful providence of God, it was at this time of total triumph of Orthodoxy over all heresies that Saints Cyril and Methodius were sent as missionaries to the Slav peoples. FOR CONSIDERATION Matter is not, of itself, evil, as certain Christian heretics (for example, the Manicheans) and some philosophers have asserted. Not only is it not evil; it is not the sole spreader of evil, for the spirit does this just as much as matter does. Every material thing is weighed down and inhibited by the soul of man, but it is not evil. Matter is corruptible, weak and helpless in comparison with the immortal spirit, but it is not itself evil. If it were evil, how could the Lord Jesus have instituted the Holy Communion from bread and wine, and how could bread and wine be called His body and blood? If matter were in itself evil, how could people be baptized in water? How could the Apostle James have ordained that the sick be anointed with oil? How could blessed water stay fresh and have miraculous powers? How could the Cross have power? How could Christ's robe have borne the healing power of the Savior, from which the woman with the issue of blood was healed? How could the relics of the saints and how could icons have such wonder-working gifts, and such good from the kingdom of blessings befriend man? How, further, could good come to man through evil? No; matter is in no way evil in itself. February 25th - Civil Calendar February 12th - Church Calendar 1. St Meletius, Archbishop of Antioch. This great and holy man was an outstanding interpreter and defender of Orthodoxy. The whole of his life was devoted to the fight against the Arian heresy, which did not recognize the Son of God and blasphemed against the Holy Trinity. He was three times removed from his archiepiscopal throne by the heretics, and driven off into Armenia. The struggle between the Orthodox and the heretics became so bitter that once, while St Meletius
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was preaching to the people in church on the divine Trinity in unity, his own deacon, a heretic, ran up to the bishop and shut his mouth with his hand. Being unable to preach with words, Meletius preached by signs. Thus, he raised his arms on high, opened three fingers to their fullest extent and showed them to the people, then closed his hand and raised the one fist. He took part in the Second Ecumenical Council in 381, where the Emperor Theodosius showed him especially great honor. At that Council, God showed a mystery through His archbishop. When Meletius was propounding the doctrine of the Holy Trinity to the Arians, he first raised three fingers, separated one by one, then brought them together; and at that moment lightning flashed from his hand before the gaze of all present. At that Council, Meletius established Gregory the Theologian in the seat of Constantinople. While the Council was still in session, St Meletius finished his earthly course in Constantinople. His relics were taken to Antioch. 2. St Alexis, Metropolitan of Moscow. St Alexis was a great hierarch of the Russian Church during a difficult period of Tartar oppression of the Russian people. Once in childhood he went bird hunting, and then went to sleep. In a dream heard a voice that said, 'Alexis, why rush around so fruitlessly? I will teach you to catch men!'. He became a monk at the age of twenty, and in time became Metropolitan of Moscow. He twice went among the 'Golden Horde' of the Tartars; once to sooth the wrath of Verdevir Khan against the Russian people, and the second time at the invitation of Amurat Khan, to cure his wife's blindness. This-women had been blind for three years, but she was healed and her vision restored when Alexis prayed and anointed her with holy water. After a life of great endeavor and fruitfulness, Alexis entered into rest in 1378 at the age of 85, and went to the court of the Lord. 3. Our Holy Mother Mary (Marius). Mary was a woman with great courage. After the death of her mother, her father desired to become a monk. Mary would not be separated from him, so they decided to go together to a men's monastery - Mary with short hair and in man's raiment as a youth. Her father died, and Mary became a monk and received the name Marius. There was an inn near the monastery, and the innkeeper's daughter fell in love with the pious monk Marius. After pursuing him without success, she accused Marius of unlawful relations with her, because she had known some other man and borne him a son. Mary did not defend herself and was driven forth with scorn from the monastery. With the strange child in her care, she lived for three years in a grove belonging to the monastery, enduring hunger and hatred, and every sort of hardship and privation. As a result of all this, the innkeeper's daughter became deranged. A little later, Mary died. Immediately after her death it was discovered that the 'Monk Marius' was a woman. As soon as the innkeeper's daughter touched the relics of St Mary, she was healed of her insanity and confessed her terrible sin. St Mary entered into rest and went to eternal joy in 508. 4. St Antony, Patriarch of Constantinople. A man of great compassion, he was at first an ascetic and then Patriarch in the time of Emperor Leo the Wise (889-912). He professed his father monk and built a monastery over the relics of St Callia. 5. St Callia. Callia was generous to the poor from pure Christian compassion, both as a young girl and later as a married woman. Her husband was rich, but he was a hard man. Returning on one occasion from his work, he found that his wife had given away all his wealth to the poor. He thereupon killed her. But God glorified this compassionate soul, in that her relics healed many of the sick. Convinced by this of her sanctity, the holy patriarch Antony built a monastery over her relics. FOR CONSIDERATION St John Chrysostom quotes the following example from the life of St Meletius, demonstrating the true nobility of this great hierarch: Meletius was unjustly exiled from Antioch. When the governor got into the coach, seated the saint beside him and then began to drive hurriedly through the square, the citizens rushed from all sides with pebbles, which fell like hail on the governor's head, the people being loth to part with their archbishop, and being ready to part with life rather than with this saint. But what did the blessed man do? Seeing the stones flying, he covered the governor's head with his cloak. He thus shamed his enemy by his great meekness and gave his followers a lesson in the goodness we must show to those who insult us; how it is not enough just to do them no evil, but to use our strength to protect them from those dangers that threaten them. On Meletius'
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outward appearance, Chrysostom writes further: 'It was truly the greatest delight to see his holy face, and not on