ON THIS DATE: From the Prologue to Ohrid/Ochrid

An online Synaxaristes including martyrologies and hagiographies of the lives of the Orthodox Church's saints. All Forum Rules apply. No polemics. No heated discussions. No name-calling.

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Mary Kissel
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Feb. 25/ March 9

Postby Mary Kissel » Mon 8 March 2004 3:39 pm

February 25




1. SAINT TARASIUS, PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE

His predecessor, Patriarch Paul secretly, relinquished the throne, entered a monastery and received the Schema [The Great Angelic Habit]. Irene and Constantine reigned at the time. By Paul's counsel, Tarasius, a senator and royal advisor, was chosen as patriarch in the year 783 A.D. He was quickly elevated through the ecclesiastical ranks and became patriarch. A man of great learning and great zeal in the Orthodox Faith, Tarasius accepted this rank reluctantly in order to assist Orthodoxy in the struggle against heresies, especially against Iconoclasm. During his tenure, the Seventh Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 783 A.D.} was convened, where Iconoclasm was condemned and the veneration of holy icons was confirmed and restored. Tarasius was very charitable toward orphans and the poor, creating for them shelters and distributed food to them. Toward the powerful, Tarasius was decisive in his defense of faith and morals. When Emperor Constantine banished Maria, his lawful wife and took a kinswoman and lived with her, and sought a blessing for marriage from the patriarch, Tarasius not only refused him a blessing, but first counseled him, after that reproached him, and finally forbid him to receive Holy Communion. Before his death, many saw how Tarasius replied to the demons saying: "I am not guilty of this sin! I am not guilty either of that sin!" Until his weakened tongue could not longer speak, he then began to defend himself with his hands driving away the demons. When he expired, his face lightened up as the sun. This truly great hierarch died in the year 806 A.D. He governed the Church for twenty-two years and four months.

2. THE VENERABLE PAPHNUTIUS OF KEPHALA

This great saint was a contemporary of St. Anthony the Great. It is said about him that he wore the same cassock for eighty years. St. Anthony greatly respected him and used to say that Paphnutius was a true ascetic who was able to come and to save souls.

HYMN OF PRAISE

TO GOD THE CREATOR

The Creator radiant, with light crowned,

By no one described, by nothing expressed,

The wise builders of the Church, he raises,

Zealous defenders and good shepherds.

He permits sufferings, because of our sins

Even though in essence, He is Mercy and Goodness.

Just as the unmalleable earth, with better frost He prepares,

Makes it malleable and for crops makes ready

In the same way our hearts He mellows with bitter sufferings

But by His tender hand leads all to good.

Through the darkness of sin, He gazes into the light,

And the darkness, after a designated time, He does not permit it to linger

He discerns joy, through sorrow and tears,

To the ends of every beginning, He sees the ends

For He began all, He wants to complete all

Who will oppose Him, when He commands?

One would say He is weak, for He adroitly conceals,

And with a shadow of a deed, He conceals and blocks the view of Himself

When the shadow passes and the world reaches its end,

And the Church prepared to heaven is lifted,

Then the Sun of Righteousness which never extinguishes

With the Church, as with porphyry, to cover Himself.

REFLECTION

A Christian is similar to betrothed maiden. As a betrothed maiden continually thinks about her betrothed, so does the Christian continually think about Christ. Even if the betrothed is far away beyond ten hills, it is all the same, the maiden behaves as though he is constantly there; by her and with her. She thinks about him, sings to him, talks about him, dreams about him and prepares gifts for him. In the same way a Christian behaves toward Christ. As the betrothed maiden knows that she first must leave and distance herself from the home where she was born in order to meet and totally unite with her betrothed, so the Christian knows that even he cannot totally unite with Christ until death separates him from the body, i.e., from the material home in which his soul, resided and grew from birth.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus sitting in the boat, teaching the people on the shore: "On another occasion He began to teach by the sea. A very large crowd gathered around Him so that He got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land" (St. Mark 4:1).

1. How a great multitude of people crowded around to hear Him so that He had to enter the boat;

2. How, in parables He taught them about the sower, the seed and the ground i.e., those comparisons and examples, which from day in and day out, are repeated from the beginning of the world and will be repeated until the end of the world;

3. How He does not teach them with the aid of some rare and unusual events rather by the help of those simple events, which along with man entered into time and together with man, will exit time.

HOMILY

About the impossibility of secrets

"For there is nothing hiddenwhich will not be revealed"(St. Mark 4:22).

All secret works of man will be revealed one day. None of man's works can be hidden. The Jews thought they could hide the slaying of so many prophets from God and that their bloody, nefarious deed against Christ would be able to be hidden from God and man. However, that which they thought to hide became a daily and nightly tale both in the heavens and on earth for thousands of years.

Judas thought to hide his traitorous agreement against his Lord, but the Lord discerned this agreement and declared it to his face. "Jesus said to him, `Judas are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?' " (St. Luke 22:48).

The Lord also discerned the hearts of the Pharisees and read their evil thoughts. "Why do you think evil in your hearts?" (St. Matthew 9:4). What kind of works, what kind of things, what kind of events in this world can be hidden from Him Who sees and reveals even the most secret thoughts of the hearts of men?

"For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed." Because of this we need to be fearful; because of this we need to be rejoiceful. To be fearful - for all of our secret evil deeds, evil desires and evil thoughts will be brought out in the open. To be rejoiceful - for all the good, which we have committed, or desired or thought in secret, will be brought out in the open. If it is not brought out before men in the open, it will be brought out before the heavenly angels. The greater the fear for sinners, so much greater the joy for the righteous.

O Lord, Lover of mankind, forgive us our sins and do not make them known to our destruction and to the sorrow of Your holy angels.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.

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Feb 26/ March 10

Postby Mary Kissel » Tue 9 March 2004 3:29 pm

February 26




1. SAINT PORPHYRIUS, BISHOP OF GAZA

This great Arch-shepherd was born of wealthy parents in Thessalonica. From his youth, until age twenty-five, Porphyrius remained in Thessalonica, the town of his birth. After that, he took leave of his parents and worldly life and withdrew to the wilderness of Egypt. Under the guidance of an experienced spiritual father, the young Porphyrius was tonsured a monk and remained there for five years. He then visited the Holy Land in the company of the monk Mark, his faithful companion. In the proximity of Jerusalem, he lived an ascetical life in a cave, again for five years. But then the legs of Porphyrius became weak and he was unable to walk. Nevertheless, crawling on his knees, he continually attended the Divine Services of God. One night, our Lord appeared to him of a vision and cured him of the infirmity in his legs and he became completely whole. When he was elected Bishop of Gaza, Porphyrius accepted this obligation with a heavy heart. In Gaza, he found only two-hundred eighty Christians. All other inhabitants were very fanatical idolaters. Only by his great faith and patience did Porphyrius succeed to convert the inhabitants of Gaza to the Faith of Christ. He personally traveled to Constantinople to see Emperor Arcadius and Patriarch John Chrysostom to seek their support in this unequal struggle with the idolaters. He received the desired support. The idolatrous temples were closed and the idols destroyed and he built a beautiful church with thirty marble columns. Empress Eudoxia especially assisted in the building of this church. Porphyrius lived long enough to see the entire town of Gaza converted to the Christian Faith, but only after his many efforts, sufferings and prayerful tears to god. He died peacefully in the year 421 A.D. He was a miracle-worker both during his life and after his death. Even today, his relics repose in Gaza.

2. THE HOLY MARTYR JOHN, THE BUILDER [KALPHA]

This saint was born in Galata in Constantinople. By occupation he was an architect, a builder [Kalpha: builder in Greek]. Because of his ardent confession of the Christian Faith, John offended the Turks and they began to pressure him to become a Muslim. "I will not deny my Sweet Jesus Christ," John bravely replied. "In Him I believe; Him I serve; Him, I confess." Following grave tortures, the Turks beheaded him on February 26, 1575 A.D. in Constantinople. He suffered honorably for his beloved Christ and took up habitation in the mansions of the Lord.

HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT PORPHYRIUS THE PARALYTIC

The monk Mark asks Porphyrius:

You were paralytic, holy father,

On your knees, to church you crawled,

My hand in yours, you held

Yesterday thus and today otherwise!

At night you were ill, behold healthy you dawned

So suddenly, who healed you?

Of the rare physician, tell me the name-

To Mark, Porphyrius replied:

My Healer, my Creator is,

Last night on Golgotha, I fell asleep

By severe pain, completely overpowered,

As though in person, I saw clearly in a dream

On the Cross, my Lord hanging,

And on the other cross, the thief.

As I saw, so I cried out!

O God and Lord, remember me,

In Your kingdom, remember me!

The Good Lord, to the thief said:
Go down and his body heal,

As your soul, I healed.

Quickly the thief, the cross descended,

Embraced me, kissed me, and raised me up:

Saying: To our Savior, draw near!

At that moment, the Lord also descended the Cross,

Lifted the Cross and, on me He placed it.

Receive the holy wood, He said,

And for the sake of eternal salvation, carry it.

As soon as I, with my hands, grabbed the Cross,

Immediately stood and was immediately made whole.

To God my Creator, glory be,

To Christ my Savior, glory be!

REFLECTION

St. John Chrysostom writes thusly against those who, in church create a disturbance in church and who depart from church before the completion of the Divine Liturgical Service of God. "Some do not approach Holy Communion with trembling but with commotion, shoving one another, burning with anger, hollering, scolding, pushing their neighbor, full of disturbance. About this, I have often spoken and will not cease to speak about this. Do you not see the order of behavior at the pagan Olympic games when the Arranger passes through the arena with a wreath on his head, dressed in a lengthy garment, holding a staff in his hand and the Crier declares that there be silence and order? Is it not obscene that there, where the devil reigns there is such silence, and here where Christ invites us to Himself there is such an uproar. At the arena, silence: and in church, uproar! On the sea, calm and in the harbor, tempest! When you are invited to a meal, you must not leave before the others, even though you are satisfied before the others, and here while the awesome mystery of Christ is being celebrated, while the priestly functions are still continuing, you leave in the middle of it and exit? How can this be forgiven? How can this be justified? Judas, after receiving Communion at the Last Supper [Mystical Supper] that final night, departed quickly while the others remained at the table. Behold, whose example do they follow who hurry to depart before the final thanksgiving? (Homily on the Feast of the Epiphany).

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus in the boat with His disciples: "And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves. But He was asleep" (St. Matthew 8:24).


1. How a tempest arose while the Lord slept;

2. How the frightened disciples awakened Him and sought His help;

3. How the Lord rebuked the disciples because of little faith and calmed the sea and the winds;

4. How I need not be afraid of any tempest in life if I keep the Lord in my heart as on the stern of the boat. (the body - the boat - the heart - the stern).

HOMILY

About internal charity

"But rather give almsof such things as youhave; then indeed all things are cleanto you" (St. Luke 11:41).

External cleanliness becomes a man. But that is a lesser cleanliness. Internal cleanliness is incomparably more important than external cleanliness. That is greater cleanliness. A dish can serve more usefully only if it is washed and clean on the inside even though the outside is dark and ashy. If a glass is dirty on the inside, its external cleanliness will never attract anyone to drink from it. If a bowl is dark and ashy on the outside who will dare to eat from it? There are many more teachers in the world and many examples of external rather than internal cleanliness. For it is easier to teach and show by example external cleanliness rather than internal cleanliness.

Behold brethren, how the Teacher and Model of great cleanliness, places this great cleanliness on the dependence of internal alms-giving. Alms-giving, which is performed from the heart, purifies the soul of man. Alms-giving, which is performed from the heart, cleanses the heart of man. Alms-giving, which is performed from the soul, cleanses a man's soul. Alms-giving, which is performed from his entire mind, cleanses the mind of a man. In a word, internal alms-giving cleanses the entire man. If alms-giving is only from a hand, it does not cleanse the hand much less the heart, soul and mind. Alms-giving from the hand is indispensable but it cleanses the giver only then, when the heart moves the hand to alms-giving. Besides alms-giving from the hand, there exist other types of alms-giving. Prayer for people is internal alms-giving and, likewise, sorrow for human pains, and joy in the joy of others. That is alms-giving, which proceeds from the heart and creates cleanliness in the heart, the soul and the mind.

O, All-Pure Lord, help us that, with true alms-giving we acquire great cleanliness.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.

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Feb 27/ March 11

Postby Mary Kissel » Wed 10 March 2004 5:45 pm

February 27




1. THE VENERABLE PROCOPIUS - DECAPOLIT

This saint was from Decapolis [Ten Cities] surrounding the Sea of Galilea for which he was called "Decapolit." In his youth, he devoted himself to a life of asceticism and accomplished all prescribed efforts, by which the heart is purified and the spirit elevated to God. When a persecution began by the nefarious Emperor Leo Isaurian regarding icons, Procopius rose up in defense of icons showing that the veneration of icons is not idolatry; for Christians know that honoring icons they do not either bow down or honor lifeless material but rather honor living saints who are depicted on the icons. Because of that, Procopius was arrested, brutally tortured, flogged and scrapped with an iron brush. When the wicked Emperor Leo was slain in the body, [for he had lost his soul earlier], icons were restored in the churches and Procopius returned to his monastery where he spent the remainder of his days in peace. In old age, he was translated into the kingdom of God where he gazes with joy upon the living angels and saints, whose images on icons he honored on earth. He died peacefully in the ninth century.

2. THE VENERABLE THALELAEUS

Thalelaeus was a Syrian ascetic. At first he resided in the Monastery of St. Sabas the Sanctified near Jerusalem but later he settled in a pagan cemetery known for the apparitions of evil spirits and frightening things. In order to conquer fear within himself through faith in God, Thalelaeus settled in this cemetery where he lived for many years enduring many assaults from evil spirits both day and night. Because of his great faith and love for God, God endowed him with the gift of working miracles by which he did much good for the sick and suffering people. He died about the year 460 A.D.

3. VENERABLE TITUS OF THE CAVES IN KIEV

Titus was a presbyter and had a sincere Christian love for Deacon Evgarius as a brother for a brother. As much as their love in the beginning was true, later it became a mutual blood-feud and hatred sown by the devil. They hated each other so much that when one was censing in the church, the other turned around and walked out of the church. Titus attempted many times to reconcile with his opponent but in vain. Titus became ill and everyone thought that he was going to die. He begged them to bring Evgarius to him in order to forgive him. Forcefully, they dragged Evgarius to the bedside of Titus, but Evgarius broke free and fled saying that he will not forgive Titus either in this world or the other world. As soon as he said this, he fell to the ground and died. Titus arose from his bed healthy and related how the demons were hovering around him until he forgave Evgarius and when he forgave him, the demons fled and attached Evgarius and angels of God surrounded Titus. He died in the year 1190 A.D.

4. THE VENERABLE STEPHEN

At first, Stephen was a palace clerk of Emperor Maurice. After that he resigned his palace duties and, driven by love for Christ, Stephen built a hospice of charity for the aged in Constantinople. He died peacefully in the year 614 A.D.

5. THE HOLY MARTYR JULIAN

Julian suffered severely from gout so much so that he was neither able to stand nor walk. Because of his faith in Christ, he was brought on a pallet before the judge. He was burned alive at the stake in Alexandria with his disciple Cronyon during the reign of Emperor Decius.

HYMN OF PRAISE

FORGIVNESS

That God forgives us, let us forgive men,

As temporary guests, we are on this earth.

Prolonged fasting and prayer, in vain is

Without forgiveness and without true mercy.

God is the true Physician; sins are leprosy,

Whoever God cleanses, God also glorifies.

God rewards with mercy, every mercy of men,

That one perishes without mercy, who returns sin with sin,

With pus from pus - infected wounds, pus is not cleansed,

Neither is darkness from the dungeon dispelled by darkness,

But pure balm heals the wound of pus,

But the darkness of the dungeon, a light disperses.

To the seriously wounded, mercy is like a balm,

As a torch, in her [mercy] everyone rejoices.

This the ignorant says: I have no need of mercy!

But, when he is overcome by misery, he cries out for mercy!

Men bathe upon the mercy of God,

That mercy of God awakes us to life!

That God forgives us, let us forgive men,

As temporary guests, we are all on this earth.

REFLECTION

Whenever we are outside the Grace of God, we are outside of ourselves and, compared with our Grace-filled nature, we do not find ourselves in a better condition than an insane man in comparison to a so-called healthy man. Only a blessed man is a natural man, i.e., a man of higher and unspoiled nature, in which the Grace of God rules and governs. St. Simeon the New Theologian says: "A lamp, even if it is filled with oil and possesses a wick, remains totally dark if it is not lighted with fire. So it is with the soul in appearance adorned with all virtues, if it does not have a light and the Grace of the Holy Spirit it, is extinguished and dark." (Homily, Number 59). As the great apostle also says: "But by the Grace of God I am what I am"

(1 Corinthians 15:10). However to be without grace means to be alienated from God and alienated from the reality of our own individual being. Our being, our personality, confirms our reality and receives its fullness only in the nearness of God and by God. That is why we must look at sinners as we look upon the sick: as weak shadows, without reality and without a mind.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Vine "I am the true Vine" (St. John 15:1):

1. As the Vine from which sprouted numerous fruitful branches in the images of the saints;

2. As the Vine Who with His sap, His blood, waters and feeds all the branches on Himself;

3. As the Vine from Whom the Divine Church branched out on earth and in the heavens;

4. As the Vine from Whom, even I should not separate the branch of my life.

HOMILY

About the power of the Resurrector of the body

"Destroy this temple, anin three days I will raiseit up" (St. John 2:19).

Here our Lord speaks about the temple of His body. Destroy this body and in three days I will raise it up! Thus speaks One Who knows His might and Who, according to His might, fulfilled His words. For His body was destroyed, broken, pierced, buried and covered with darkness for three days. And the third day, He raised it; raised it not only from the grave on earth but raised it up to the heavens. And so, He spoke the word and His word came true.

The Lord gave a sign to the Jews, for they sought a sign from Him. And when He gave them a sign, such as no one else before Him was able to give, they did not believe Him but, confused and frightened, bribed the guards from Golgotha to swear falsely and to proclaim the lie that this miraculous sign did not occur, but that His disciples stole His body from the tomb!

No sign whatsoever helps those do not want to believe. The Jews, with their own eyes witnessed the many miracles of Christ, but nevertheless did not want to believe but, they spoke about justifying their unbelief saying that He performs these miracles "by the help of the prince of the demons!" (St. Matthew 9:34). Whoever does not want to believe in good, all the signs which heaven can give will not help him. A heart filled with evil is harder than granite. A mind, darkened by sin, cannot be illuminated by all the light of heaven, whose light is greater than one-thousand suns.

When man expels evil from his heart and saves his mind from the darkness of sin, then he sees the numerous signs which God gives to those who want to believe - to see and to believe.

O, my brethren, let us not sin against the mercy of God and let us not succumb to the evil of the Jews. O, my brethren, all the signs have already been given, and they all glitter as the stars in the heavenly firmament, to all who have a good heart and a right-thinking mind.

O Wonder-working Lord, To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.

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Feb. 28/ March 12

Postby Mary Kissel » Thu 11 March 2004 6:07 pm

February 28




1. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR PROTERIUS

This saint was a presbyter in Alexandria at the same time when Dioscorus the heretic was patriarch of Alexandria. Dioscorus was one of the leaders of the Monophysite heresy, which taught that there was one nature in Christ [Human] and not two natures [Human and Divine]. Marcian and Plucheria also reigned at that time as emperor and empress. This holy and devout man Proterius stood up against Dioscorus for which he endured many miseries. Then the Fourth Ecumenical Council [Chalcedon, 451 A.D.] was convened at which the Monophysite heresy was condemned, Dioscorus removed from the patriarchal throne and banished into exile. Proterius, this true-believing man, was elected in his place. He governed the Church with zeal and love; a true follower of Christ. However, the followers of Dioscorus did not cease to create a disturbance in Alexandria. At the time of one such bloody disturbance, Proterius left the city with the intention of staying away temporarily. Along the way, the Prophet Isaiah appeared to him in a vision and said: "Return to the city, I am waiting to take you." Proterius returned to Alexandria and entered the church. Upon hearing about this, the enraged heretics rushed into the church, seized the patriarch and stabbed him throughout with knives. Six other Christians were also slain with Proterius. Thus, Proterius this wonderful shepherd of Christ's flock, received the martyr's wreath for the truth of Orthodoxy in the year 457 A.D.

2. SAINT BASIL THE CONFESSOR

Basil was a companion and co-suffer with St. Procopius Decapolit. Basil faithfully followed his teacher Procopius both in peaceful times and in time of persecution. He suffered many hardships from the iconoclasts and when the iconoclasts were defeated, Basil according to God's Providence, returned together with Procopius to his monastery where in fasting and prayer he lived a long life of asceticism. He died peacefully in the year 747 A.D.

3. THE PRIEST-MARTYR NESTOR

Nestor was the bishop of Magydos in Pamphylia. He was distinguished by his great meekness. During the reign of Decius, he was brought to trial and cruelly tortured for Christ. Before his death, he saw in a vision, a sacrificial lamb, which he interpreted as a sign of his impending sacrifice. He was tortured by the Eparch [governor] Publius and in the end was crucified in Perga, the capital of the province, in the year 250 A.D.

4. BLESSED NICHOLAS, FOOL FOR CHRIST FROM PSKOV

.Nicholas lived as a "fool for Christ" in the town of Pskov during the reign of Tsar Ivan the Terrible and died on February 28, 1576 A.D.

HYMN OF PRAISE

TWO NATURES

Two natures, the Lord united,

That He does not separate them anymore:

Human and Divine,

That He does not separate them anymore:

God and Man - One Person

In both respects; undiminished

The God-Man and Savior,

That which is separated - the Unifier,

Interpreter of the eternal mysteries,

Founder of the kingdom of the saints,

To man, God came closer,

Time uplifted, eternity descended

Of the Holy Trinity, Christ the trumpet

Of the Two Natures, Christ the mystery:

The true God became man,

Remained up and descends down,

Neither did He fall or stumble,

But in flesh wrapped Himself.

That is holy, pure love,

Love eternal, eternally the same:

A giant He raised, with His small finger,

And incomprehensible to the mind, it is.

REFLECTION

"Fools for Christ" were distinguished by rare fearlessness. Blessed Nicholas ran throughout the streets of Pskov pretending insanity rebuking the people for their hidden, sins and prophesying that which will befall them. When Ivan the Terrible entered Pskov, the entire town was in fear and terror of the Terrible Tsar. As a welcome to the Tsar, bread and salt was placed in front of every home but the people did not appear. When the mayor of the town presented the Tsar with bread and salt on a tray before the church, the Tsar pushed the tray away and the bread and salt fell to the ground. At that time, Blessed Nicholas appeared before the Tsar in a long shirt tied with a rope, hopping around on a cane as a child and then cried out: "Ivanuska, Ivanuska, eat bread and salt and not human blood." The soldiers rushed out to catch him but he fled and hid. The Tsar learning about this Blessed Nicholas, who and what he is, visited him in his scant living quarters. It was the first week of the Honorable Fast [The First Week of Lent]. Upon hearing that the Tsar was coming to visit him, Nicholas found a piece of raw meat and when the Tsar entered his living quarters, he bowed and offered the meat to the Tsar. "Eat Ivanusha, eat!" Angrily, the Terrible Tsar replied: "I am a Christian and I do not eat meat during the Fast Season." Then the man of God quickly responded to him: "But you do even worse: you feed on men's flesh and blood, forgetting not only Lent but also God!" This lesson entered profoundly into the heart of Tsar Ivan and he, ashamed, immediately departed Pskov where he had intended to perpetrate a great massacre.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Bread of Life: "I am the Bread of Life" (St. John 6:48).

1. As the Bread by which the soul is nourished and lives;

2. As the Bread by which the mind is nourished and enlightened;

3. As the Bread by which the heart is nourished and enobled.

HOMILY

About the nourishment of the soul

"I am the Bread ofLife " (St. John 6:48).

Thus spoke the Lord Jesus to the hungry generation of man. This word was realized throughout the centuries to the numerous followers of Christ who received the Lord as the nourishment of their souls. A desperate young man who was close to suicide confessed to a spiritual father. The spiritual father listened to him carefully and said to him: "My son, you are to blame for your misfortune. Your soul is starved to death. Throughout your entire life, you learned only how to nourish your body but you never thought that the soul requires nourishment; greater and more often than that which the body needs. Your soul is at the point of death from hunger. My son, partake of and drink Christ [Holy Communion]. Only that can restore your soul from death. Daily and continually partake and drink of Christ. He is the Life-creating Bread of our souls." The young man listened to the elder and returned to life.

Brethren, let us nourish our soul with Christ so that our soul may be alive and healthy. Let us continually nourish our mind with Christ's thoughts so that our mind might be enlightened and clear. Let us continually nourish our heart with the love of Christ so that our heart might be full and joyful. Let us continually nourish our will with the commandments of Christ and the example of Christ so that our will, every minute, might perform good deeds. Let Christ's thoughts be our thoughts and Christ's love our love and Christ's good will our good will. Let us continually nourish our souls with Christ the Lord; with our soul let us continually partake of Him and drink Him! There is no more nourishing Bread than He; there is no sweeter drink than He. In Holy Communion, He gives Himself completely to us: Body and Blood. But, Holy Communion is a warning that our souls must continually be nourished by Him; continually partake of Him and drink of Him just as we continually breathe. O, our God and Sweet Lord, stir our souls that they be continually nourished by You and remain alive. You are our Bread of Life.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.

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Feb 29/ March 13

Postby Mary Kissel » Fri 12 March 2004 6:31 pm

February 29



1. THE VENERABLE JOHN CASSIAN

John, this great spiritual man, was born in Rome of renowned parents. In his youth he studied all the secular sciences, especially philosophy and astronomy. After that, he devoted himself completely to the study of Holy Scripture. Striving from good to better and desiring even higher levels of perfection, Cassian traveled from Rome to Constantinople to personally hear and see St. John Chrysostom. Chrysostom instructed him and ordained him a deacon. Benefiting much from the wise Chrysostom, Cassian traveled farther east, to learn even more and become more perfected. He remained in Egypt, the longest time in Nitria, among the famous spiritual athletes from whom he learned the art of every virtue. He finally returned to the west and settled in the town of Marseilles [French Seaport]. Here he established two monastic communities: one for men and one for women. At the request of the monks, Cassian wrote many essays which are especially beneficial for the lovers of the spiritual life: "Eight Books on the struggle against the eight principle passions" [Institutes of the Monastic Life and Conferences on the Egyptian Monks]. Of great importance is his essay against the heretic Nestorius. This essay was written at the request of Archdeacon Leo. He served our Lord faithfully and enriched many with his wisdom and took up habitation in eternal life in the year 435 A.D. The relics of St. Cassian repose in Marseilles [France] even today.

2. THE VENERABLE BARSANUPHIUS

Barsanuphius was born a pagan in Palestine and was baptized in his eighteenth year and immediately was tonsured a monk taking the name of John. When he became known for of his virtuous life, Barsanuphius was elected archbishop of Damascus. He did not remain long at this position. Yearning for the reclusive, ascetically spiritual life, he secretly left Damascus and went to the wilderness of Nitria. Here, he presented himself as the monk Barsanuphius and immediately, was assigned, as an obedience, to be a water-carrier for the monastery. The former archbishop accepts this obedience with joy. With his wise reflections, meekness and diligence, Barsanuphius soon became a model example to all the monks. Only before his death was it revealed to the monks who this Barsanuphius was. Thus this saint, by his example, served as a reproach to the proud and power-loving and as a comfort to the humble and meek. He died peacefully and took up habitation with the Lord in the year 457 A.D.

HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINT CASSIAN ON PASSIONS

Cassian numbered eight terrible passions

And still the ninth - impure thoughts.

In food and drink, Gluttony the first,

To the spirit and body, Promiscuity the second,

Avarice, shackles which tie one to the metal,

Anger, of man's heart the frost which freezes and constricts.

Melancholy, which erodes the soul; the insatiable worm,

Slothfulness, drowsiness to a soul, which spins [weaves] death,

Vanity, a serpent; a many headed serpent,

It is everywhere and nowhere, the grass conceals it,

Pride, a double-edged sword that cuts and hems,

Both the young and old mercilessly destroys,

And the ones vigorous, and arrogant [proud] because of strength,

And the spiritual elders, to themselves, dear.

Of all these passions, our defense God is

By the prayers of the holy Saint Cassian.

REFLECTION

St. John Cassian writes of the struggle with the spirit of lust in this manner: "Struggle with the spirit of lust is a bitter struggle; longer than other struggles; a daily struggle victoriously accomplished completely only by a small number of people. This struggle begins with the first mature growth and does not cease until all other passions are defeated. In this struggle, a two-fold weapon is necessary. For the achievement of this perfect and pure chastity bodily fasting alone is not sufficient (although fasting, before everything else is necessary): along with this, meekness of the spirit and unremitting prayer is necessary against this most impure spirit [lust]. After that, continual study of Holy Scripture together with prudent mental exercises and after that physical labor and handiworks, all of which keeps the heart from lusting and restores it to itself and, above all, profound and true humility without which victory over any passion can never be achieved. Victory over this passion [lust] is conditioned with the perfect purification of the heart from which, according to the words of the Lord, flows the poison of this sickness [lust]. "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies" (St. Matthew 15:19). One must have stable humility and patience in the heart as well as careful protection of oneself from anger and other passions during the course of the day. For in as much as the fire of anger enters in us, afterward so much easier, does the ember of passions penetrate us. It is interesting that even many other great spiritual fathers bring into causal tie the passion of anger and the passion of lustful desire from which follows, that the most angry ones are the most lustful ones.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus as the vigilant Watchman over His Church: "Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (St. Matthew 28:20).

1. How He watches over the entire created world and especially His Church acquired by His Blood;

2. How He watches over every baptized soul as a gardener over His planting;

3. How He through serenity and through tempest, leads His Church, leading her [The Church] to ultimate victory;

4. How He watches even over my life, that it grow and that it may be built in His eternal kingdom.

HOMILY

About the living presence of Christ

"I am with You always, even to the end of the ages" (St. Matthew 28:20).

Here is consolation above consolations!

Here is consolation for those whom the tempest breaks! Let them only remember: There Christ is beside them and let them not be afraid. He is the Helmsman.

Here is consolation for those who are sick! Let them know that Christ is there beside their bed and let them not despair. He is the Physician.

Here is consolation for those who grow old! Let them not lose sight that Christ travels with them through time to all eternity, into eternal youth and let them be at peace.

Here is consolation for those who are tormented by men! Let them not think that they are abandoned, for Christ is with them in all suffering; at judgment and in prison and let them rejoice. He is the Judge.

Here is consolation for those who are disturbed by evil spirits! Let them remember that Christ is the conqueror over evil spirits, He is on their side and let them be strengthened. He is the Victor.

Here is consolation for all who seek the light of justice and truth! Let them believe that Christ is closer to their soul than their eyes and let them adhere to His leadership. He is Light.

O, my brethren, in truth, Christ is constantly with us as light is constantly with the eyes, which see. But O, our sorrow if the eyes of our soul are closed and, in vain does the light labor to encounter the pupil of our vision! O, our sorrow and grief when we are not with Christ!

He goes out to meet us. Are we going out to meet Him? He wants to be with us. Do we want to be with Him? If we want consolation, we must be with Him all days to the end of our time.

O Lord, our only consolation, do not leave us!

To you be glory and thanks always. Amen.

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Mary Kissel
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March 1/14

Postby Mary Kissel » Fri 12 March 2004 6:33 pm

March 1



1. THE VENERABLE MARTYR EUDOCIA

The venerable martyr Eudocia lived in the Phoenician city of Heliopolis during the reign of Trajan. Eudocia was a great debaucher at first. After that she was a penitent, ascetic, and finally a martyr. Through her debauchery she amassed a great fortune. The change in her life came about inadvertently through God's Providence and a certain elder, the monk Herman. Coming into the city on assignment, he resided at the home of a Christian whose house was adjacent to that of Eudocia. In the evening and according to monastic tradition, he began to recite the Psalter and to read a chapter on the dreadful judgment. Eudocia heard him and attentively eavesdropped on his words to the end. Fear and terror overcame her, and she remained awake until dawn. At daybreak, she sent her servant to beseech the monk to come to her. Herman came and a lengthy conversation took place between them about faith and salvation in general. As a result of the conversation, Eudocia petitioned the local bishop to baptize her. Following her baptism, Eudocia bequeathed her entire estate to the Church to be distributed among the poor. She dismissed her servants and slaves and withdrew to a convent. Thus, Eudocia resolved to dedicate herself to the monastic life, obedience, patience, long vigils, prayer and fasting. After thirteen months, Eudocia was elected abbess. Eudocia lived in the convent for fifty-six years and was found worthy before God. He endowed her with much grace so that she raised even the dead. When the persecution of Christians began under Prince Vincent, St. Eudocia was beheaded. Eudocia is a glorious example of how a vessel of impurity can be purified, sanctified and filled with the Grace of the Holy Spirit, the precious odor of heaven.

2. THE VENERABLE AGAPIUS

He was a novice under the spiritual direction of a priest in the Vatopedi Monastery on Mt. Athos. Captured by pirates, Agapius was sold as a slave in Magnesia. After twelve years, he was miraculously freed through the help of the All-Holy Mother of God and returned to Vatopedi. He baptized his former master and became his spiritual father. Agapius continued the remainder of his life in asceticism in Vatopedi and died peacefully in the Lord.

3. THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYR, ANTONINA

Antonina was born in Nicaea. Because of her faith in Christ, she was arrested and brutally tortured. Finally, she was sewn in a sack and drowned in a lake in the year 302 A.D. God saved her soul and continuously glorified her among the angels in heaven and among the faithful on earth.

HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINT EUDOCIA


At one time, a woman filled with sin,

And finally, a meek penitent,

Eudocia prayed to God,

All the while kneeling, shedding tears.

This enkindled the rage of Satan,

And enraged, to the heavens he cried out:

O Michael, heavenly commander,

Justice you speak, injustice you do to me,

My sheepfold you intend to empty completely,

And from me, to seize the last sheep.

Why do you take this sinful woman?

Her sins are greater than mine!

For some minor disobedience,

To Hades I fell and, into eternal torments.

Her sins are as the stagnant sea

Encompassing everything that comes near her.

Thus, malice spites at good,

To every penitent it bodes evil,

While Michael, the guardian of the penitent,

With angels approach Eudocia

And takes her under his protection,

By his breath, he dispelled the demons.

At that moment from heaven a song echoed:

The mercy of God so willed,

That every penitent be embraced,

That every penitent be forgiven,

Repentance--for all mankind, salvation,

That is both God's mercy and will--

God's will--Satan's evil will.


REFLECTION

Faithfulness and obedience to the will of God is necessary to adorn the life of every Christian. As is seen in the life of St. Agapius, God glorifies the faithful and the obedient. When he was a young man, this saint was captured by pirates, was taken to Asia and was sold to a certain Arab. For twelve years Agapius remained quietly and obediently a slave of this Arab. For twelve years he prayed to the All-Holy Mother of God to help him gain his freedom from bondage. One night, the Virgin Mother of God appeared to him and said, "Arise and go without fear to Mt. Athos to your elder." Agapius arose and came to his elder on Mt. Athos, the Holy Mountain. When the elder saw Agapius, he was saddened, thinking that Agapius had fled from his master.He said to him, "My child Agapius, you have deceived your master, but you can never deceive God. On the day of the dreadful judgment, you will have to render an answer for that money with which your master purchased you to serve him. Therefore, you must return and faithfully serve your master." Agapius, faithful and obedient to the will of God, returned immediately to Asia, reported to his master, and informed him about everything that had happened. The Arab, learning all of this, was amazed and was overcome with the charity of Christians. He desired to see Agapius' s elder. The Arab arrived at the Holy Mountain, accompanied by his two sons. Here, he and his two sons were baptized. All three of them were tonsured as monks. They remained there until their deaths, practicing the strict life of asceticism, at first, under the guidance of Agapius' s spiritual father, and afterwards, by Agapius himself. Thus, the one-time cruel masters became the obedient disciples of their former slave, faithful to the will of the God of the obedient Agapius.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus at the Mystical Supper:

1. How He washes the feet of His disciples. By this act He especially teaches humility and love for one another;

2. How Peter, one of the most faithful, was ashamed and refused to allow our Lord to wash his feet;

3. How Judas, unbeliever and traitor, was unashamed and did not refuse our Lord to wash his feet;

4. How even today, the faithful receive countless benefits from God with embarrassment and shame, and the unfaithful also receive the same but without embarrassment and without shame, and yet with grumbling against God.

HOMILY

About knowing and doing

"If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it" (St. John 13:17).

The most important aspect of this scripture text of our Lord, brethren, is thatthe Lord does not mitigate knowing, but stresses doing. He does not say to the apostles, "Blessed are you when you know this." Some pagan teachers who viewed salvation only in terms of knowledge spoke in this manner. However, our Lord says, "Blessed are you if you do it." The knowledge of salvation was given to us by the Lord Jesus Himself, and no one is able to attain that knowledge through his own efforts.

Some of the ancient Greek philosophers said that mankind cannot come to the knowledge of the truth, nor can be saved, until God Himself comes to earth. Our Lord came among men and revealed this knowledge to them. Whosoever receives this knowledge also accepts the obligation to fulfill it. O, how much easier will it be at the judgment for those who never received this knowledge at all, and consequently, did not fulfill it, than for those who received this knowledge and neglected to fulfill it.

O, how much easier it will be at the judgment for unlearned pagans than for the learned Christians.

Our Lord alone showed Himself not only as a Knower, but also as a Doer. His perfect knowledge complimented His perfect doing. Before the eyes of His disciples, He personally fulfilled all of His own commandments. He gave them this commandment and completed this act of humility and love when He washed the feet of His disciples. He then commanded that they should do this to one another. Our Lord did not dwell among men to soil men, but to wash them. He never soiled anyone, but cleansed all who wished to be cleansed. What kind of shame is it for many of us who labor much to wash ourselves and labor twice as much to soil others? O, my brethren, we muddy our own blood brothers. Even Christ weeps when He sees how we, with the mud of slander, soil those whom He has washed with His own blood. O Lord forgive us! We sin everyday against our own brothers. Make our brothers, O Lord, whom we have soiled, brighter than we in Your kingdom. You are just and You see all.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.

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Mary Kissel
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March 2/15

Postby Mary Kissel » Fri 12 March 2004 6:35 pm

March 2




1. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR THEODOTUS, BISHOP OF KYRENIA ON THE ISLAND OF CYPRUS

Because of his wisdom and kindness, Theodotus was elected to the episcopacy and governed the Church of God with love and zeal. When the persecution of Christians began during the reign of the wicked Emperor Licinius, this godly man was brought to trial and put through many tortures. When the torturer Sabinus advised him to deny Christ and to bow down before pagan idols and to worship them, Theodotus replied, "If you knew the goodness of my God in Whom I hope, that because of these temporary sufferings, will make me worthy of eternal life, you also would wish to suffer in the same manner as I." The torturers began to strike his body with nails, and he prayed to God with gratitude. Thinking his end was near, Theodotus counseled and taught the Christians who were assembled around him. By the Providence of God, the Emperor Constantine at that time proclaimed freedom to Christians and ordered that all who were sentenced be released for the sake of Christ. And so, this saint was freed and returned to his prior position in Kyrenia. Astortured as he was, Theodotus lived for several more years. After that, he found repose in the Lord, Whom he faithfully served and for Whom he suffered. In the year 302 A.D. his earthly life ended and was translated to the mansions of our Lord.

2. THE HOLY MARTYR TROADIUS

As a young man he suffered for Christ. Gregory of Neo-Caesarea saw in a vision how bravely Troadius withstood his tortures for Christ until the time he was killed. He saw his soul, which was separated from the body, joyfully hurrying toward heaven. St. Troadius suffered and was glorified in the third century.

3. THE FOUR-HUNDRED AND FORTY MARTYRS

They were killed by the Lombards in Italy about the year 579 A.D. St. Gregory Dialogues writes about them. In one place, forty of them were beheaded. At another place, four-hundred of them were also beheaded, all because they refused to eat of the sacrifices of the idols. Additionally, these four-hundred refused to dance around the heads of the goats offered to the demons as a sacrifice by the pagans, as was the custom of the Lombards.

4. THE VENERABLE AGATHON

Agathon was a great Egyptian ascetic who practiced extreme asceticism in the fifth century. He was a contemporary of St. Macarius and a disciple of St. Lot [Egyptian Ascetic]. He labored and tried to fulfill all the commandments of our Lord. One of the brethren complimented him on a small knife with which he used to cut brushwood used for making baskets. Upon hearing this compliment, the saint joyfully handed over the knife to that brother as a gift. St. Agathon also said, "It would be very satisfying for me if I could assume unto myself the body of a leper and give him mine." Is this not perfect love? (*)

(*) In the Greek Synaxarion, he is commemorated on January 8.

5. THE MARTYR EUTHALIA

This holy Euthalia was a virgin from Sicily. She had a mother of the same name and a brother named Sermilianus. All were unbaptized pagans. Her mother Euthalia suffered from an issue of blood. The holy martyrs, Alphius, Philadelphus and Cyrinus (May 10), appeared to her in a dream and told her that she would be healed only if she became baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Euthalia professed her faith in Christ, was baptized, and indeed recovered. Upon seeing this miracle, evenEuthalia's daughter was baptized. After that, Sermilianus began to mock and ridicule his mother and sister because of their faith in Christ. He threatened them. The mother became frightened and fled her home. Then the brother began to persecute his sister. His sister was not frightened, for Christ was more dear to her than her brother. She said to Sermilianus, "I am a Christian and I am not afraid of death." The wicked brother then sent a servant to defile her. When the servant attacked St. Euthalia, he lost his eyesight. The evil brother saw this miracle but still remained hard of heart. Just as Cain pursued Abel, Sermilianus pursued his sister, caught her and beheaded her. Thus, the holy virgin Euthalia was wedded with the wreath of eternal glory. By this example, the words of the Lord Christ were fulfilled: that He brought a sword among men, which causes variances between relations in blood, but not between relations in faith. "Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" (St. Matthew 10:34,35).

HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINT AGATHON

Untalkative Agathon, for three years studies

With a pebble under his tongue to remain quiet and silent,

That by his tongue, sin, not to serve,

Only to speak words of solace to men

And to glorify God Who created him.

Once, when the saint began to speak

About anger, he said: The one over whom anger takes control

Does not please God, neither now nor never,

We have the power to resurrect the dead,

From the angered one, God does not accept any sacrifices.

And when death hung over Agathon,

The brethren gathered to see him frail,

Prayers he whispered with great fear,

Sigh upon sighs poured from his chest.

The brethren asked him: Are you also afraid,

O, all-good father, when before God you stand?

You were completely good to everyone, to all it is known,

Among the stones of men, you glistened as gold!

Then the elder said with countenance more radiant,

My children now, before the judgment of God I stand.

The judgment of man is one thing and another is the judgment of God--

And a more powerful sigh seized the elder!

REFLECTION

If someone loses his faith in God, he is recompensed with stupidity. Of all stupidities, it is difficult to say whether there is a greater one than this: that someone who calls himself a Christian and then proceeds to gather pathetic proofs for God and eternal life from other beliefs and philosophies. He who does not find gold among the wealthy; how will he find it among the poor? The revelation of eternal life, of facts, of proofs, of signs, and of actual visions of the spiritual world - all of these not only constitute the foundation of the Christian Faith, but constitute its walls, floors, ornaments, all the furnishings, the roof and the domes of the majestic building of the Christian Faith. A single ray from the spiritual world glistens through every word of the Gospels, not to mention the miraculous events, both in Evangelical and Post-Evangelical times as well as throughout the entire history of the Church for two-thousand years. Christianity has thrown open wide the gates of that world in so great a measure, that it should not be necessary to call it a religion, in order not to confuse it with other faiths and religions. It is a revelation! God's revelation!

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus Christ at the Mystical Supper:

1. How he had told His disciples that one of them would betray Him;

2. How after all that He did for Judas and after the washing of his feet and after indicating that He knew his betraying intention, Judas remained obstinate in his thoughts of selling his Teacher and his soul for silver;

3. How our Lord was saddened at the destruction and downfall of Judas as with the destruction and downfall of His other traitors and traitors of His Church throughout all ages till the end, all of which He foresaw with His All-Seeing Spirit.

HOMLIY

About the Father and the Son

"And whoever sees me, sees the one who sent me" (St. John 12:45).

He who sees the light also sees the sun beyond it. For could anyone see the sun and not the light? If the sun did not emit its light, none of us would know about the sun. All of our knowledge about the sun, we received with the help of the rays of light which came from the sun. No one has ever seen the sun with the help of some other light, other than that which comes from the sun itself. So it is with our knowing the Father with the help of the Son. He who does not know about the Son cannot know about the Father. He who knows the Son, knows the Father. He who sees the Son, sees also the Father. God cannot be known without His Light Who came among men. The Light of the Father is the Son. "I am the Light" (St. John 8:2), said Christ. The Light shines in the darkness! The physical world would be completely in darkness if it were not for the light from the sun. The spiritual and moral world and all the life of mankind would be in darkness if it were not for the Light which is from the Father. That Light is Christ the Lord. Truly, brethren, there is no true light which illuminates the Being of God as does the light of Christ the Lord. He who sees Him sees God. He who does not see Him is in darkness. O Lord, Son of God, always help our souls to see You, and through You, Your Heavenly Father and the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, Trinity, one in essence and undivided.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


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