Saint Nikolai Velimirovic
8th - March 13th (New Style) • February 23rd - February 28th (Old
March 8th (New Style) • February 23rd (Old Style)
Holy Priestly-Martyr Palycarp, Bishop of Smyrna
this great apostolic man, was born a pagan. St. John the Theologian
converted him to the Faith of Christ and baptized him. In his
childhood, Polycarp became an orphan and according to a vision in a
dream Callista, a noble widow, took him as her own son, raised and
educated him. From his childhood Polycarp was devout and
compassionate. He strove to emulate the life of St. Bucolus, then
the Bishop of Smyrna, as well as the holy Apostles John and Paul,
whom he knew and heard. St. Bucolus ordained him a presbyter and
before his death, Bucolus designated him as his successor in Smyrna.
The apostolic bishops, who gathered at the funeral of Bucolus,
consecrated Polycarp as bishop. From the very beginning, Polycarp
was gifted with the power of working miracles. He expelled an evil
spirit from the servant of a prince and through prayer stopped a
terrible fire in Smyrna. Upon seeing this, many pagans regarded
Polycarp as one of the gods. He brought down rain in times of
drought, healed illnesses, discerned, prophesized and so forth. He
suffered during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Three days
before his death, St. Polycarp prophesized: "In three days, I
will be burned in fire for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ!"
And on the third day when the soldiers arrested him and brought him
to trial, he cried out: "Let this be the will of the Lord my
God." When the judge counseled him to deny Christ and to
acknowledge the Roman gods, Polycarp said: "I cannot exchange
the better for the worse!" The Jews especially hated Polycarp
and endeavored to have Polycarp burned alive. When they placed him
bound at the stake, he prayed to God for a long while. He was very
old, grey and radiant as an angel. The people witnessed how the
flame encircled him but did not touch him. Frightened by such a
phenomenon, the pagan judges ordered the executioner to pierce him
with a lance through the fire. When he was pierced, so much blood
flowed from him that the entire fire was extinguished, and his body
remained whole and unburned. At the persuasion of the Jews, the
judge ordered Polycarp's lifeless body be incinerated according to
the custom of the Hellenes. So the evil ones burned the dead body of
the lifeless one whom they could not burn while alive. St. Polycarp
suffered on Great and Holy Saturday in the year 167 A.D.
monk of the Monastery of Esphigmenou on Mt. Athos, was a
contemporary and companion of the great Cosmos of Zographou. He
lived a life of asceticism on Mount Samareia between Esphigmenou and
Hilendar. He died peacefully in the year 1280 A.D. When he died, a
pleasant and sweet-smelling aroma emitted from his body for forty
writes the following to the Philippians about a priest Valentine who
fell into the sin of avarice and secretly hid money belonging to the
church: "I was deeply saddened because of Valentine who, at one
time, was a presbyter among us, who had forgotten the rank (the
priesthood) bestowed upon him. That is why I beg you, beware of
greed and remain pure and just. Restrain yourself from every vice.
He who cannot restrain himself, how will he be able to teach others
restraint. He who submits to avarice pollutes himself with idolatry
and numbers himself among the ranks of pagans. Who is not aware of
God's judgment? As Paul teaches: "Do you not know that the
saints will judge the world?" (1 Corinthians 6:2). In other
words, I have not noticed anything similar among you neither have I
heard anything among you; among those whom Blessed Paul lived a life
of asceticism and about whom he speaks with praise at the beginning
of his Epistle to the Philippians. He boasts of you throughout the
churches, which, at that time, knew God, and we did not yet know
him, i.e., Polycarp and the inhabitants of Smyrna. Brethren, that is
why I am very saddened because of Valentine and his wife. May God
grant them true repentance. "And you, be prudent in that and
`not count him as an enemy' (2 Thessalonians 3:15), but endeavor to
correct them as suffering and prodigal members, that your entire
body be sound. Acting thusly, you build yourselves up." Thus,
the saints dealt with sinners: cautiously and compassionately;
cautiously to prevent others from a similar sin and compassionately
in order to correct and save sinners.
contemplate the Lord Jesus in conversation with the woman of Samaria
1. How at
first, the mind of the woman was smothered completely by carnal
2. How the
meek Lord gradually leads her mind toward a loftier and spiritual
3. How this
encounter culminated in the conversion of many to Christ;
4. How the
scattered seeds of the Lord, at first, seemingly decays in the
physical mind, and how later it resurrects, grows, ripens and brings
forth much spiritual fruit.
the works of Christ
the works which the Father has given Me to finish -the very works
that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me" (St.
what are those works of Christ? Those are the works of the
Householder Who had returned from a journey and found the home
robbed and desolate. Those are the works of the Physician Who
entered into the most contaminated hospital and brought medicines
and began to heal. Furthermore, those are the works of the King Who
returned to his country and found it divided and ruined and his
subjects as slaves in a strange land. Those are the works of the
elder Brother who journeyed to a distant land to seek his younger
brothers who, wandering and prodigal impoverished and became wild.
Those are also the works of the Healer, Shepherd, Hero and Provider.
Truly, these are not minor works! The average man with the greatest
worldly knowledge, skill and courage would not be able to accomplish
even in three-thousand years; those works which Christ completed in
three years. Not only one man, but all men of all times, together,
would not be able to complete the works of Christ for all eternity.
How did the
Lord complete so many works? He completed them with the aid of five
main miracles: Humility, Words, Deed, Blood and Resurrection.
What do the
works of Christ witness? First, the works witness that the earth did
not send Him, but Heaven; Second, that an angel did not send Him,
but the Heavenly Father Himself; Third, that, for such works no one
is sufficient except Him Who is as great as God, Who is as wise as
God, as almighty as is God, as merciful as God; Yes, Who Himself is
equal to God.
how all of our works are insignificant compared to the works of
Christ! With only one kernel of Christ's goodness and zeal,
diligence and truthfulness can we complete our work perfectly. Grant
us that kernel, O Lord Jesus, for we cannot either find this kernel
on earth nor deserve it.
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March 9th (New Style) • February 24th (Old Style)
Finding of the Head of St. John the Baptist
great and glorious Baptist John was beheaded according to the wish
and instigation of the wicked Herodias, the wife of Herod. When John
was beheaded, Herodias ordered that his head not be buried with his
body for she feared that this awesome prophet, somehow, would
resurrect. Therefore, she took his head and buried it deep in the
ground in a secluded and dishonorable place. Her maidservant was
Johanna, the wife of Chuza a courtier of Herod. The good and devout
Johanna could not tolerate that the head of the Man of God remain in
this dishonorable place. Secretly she unearthed it, removed it to
Jerusalem and buried it on the Mount of Olives. Not knowing of this,
King Herod, when he learned of Jesus and how He worked great
miracles, became frightened and said: "This is John whom I
beheaded; he has been raised from the dead" (St. Mark 16:16).
After a considerable period of time, an eminent landowner believed
in Christ, left his position and the vanity of the world and became
a monk, taking the name, Innocent. As a monk, he took up abode on
the Mount of Olives exactly in the place where the head of the
Baptist was buried. Wanting to build himself a cell for himself, he
dug deep and discovered an earthen vessel and in it a head, which
was mysteriously revealed to him, to be the head of the Baptizer. He
reverenced it and reburied it in the same spot. Later, according to
God's Providence, this miracle-working relic (The head of St. John)
traveled from place to place, sunk into the darkness of
forgetfulness and again was rediscovered. Finally, during the reign
of the pious Empress Theodora, the mother of Michael and the wife of
Theophilus and at the time of Patriarch Ignatius it was translated
to Constantinople. Many miraculous healings occurred from the relic
of the Forerunner (Precursor). It is important and interesting to
note that while he was still alive, "John did no miracles"
(St. John 10:41), however, his relics have been endowed with
was a monk in the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev. He inherited great
wealth from his parents and spent all on adoring churches,
especially on silver-plating and gilding icons. When he had become
impoverished and remained without anything, he was despised by all.
The devil whispered to him that he squandered his estate in vain;
instead of distributing his wealth among the poor, he gave it for
the adornment of churches. Erasmus succumbed to this temptation and
believed it for which he despised himself and fell into a state of
despair and began to live aimlessly and lawlessly. When the hour of
his death approached the brethren assembled around him and discussed
his sins which he himself was not conscious of. All at once, he
straightened up in bed and said: "Fathers and brothers, it is
as you say; I am sinful and unrepentant, but behold St. Anthony and
St. Theodosius appeared to me and after that, the All-Holy Mother of
God told me that the Lord gave me more time for repentance."
The Mother of God also spoke these encouraging words to him:
"The poor you have with you in every place and my churches you
do not." Erasmus lived for three more days, repented and fell
asleep in the Lord. This teaches us that zeal for the Church and
adornment of the churches is a task pleasing to God. St. Erasmus
died in the year 1160 A.D.
are neither our good teachers nor our good friends who do everything
for us according to our will. Venerable John Moschus writes about a
prominent woman of a senatorial family who visited the Holy Land.
Arriving in Caesarea, she decided to remain there and turned to the
bishop with this request: "Give me a maiden to teach me the
fear of God." The bishop introduced her to a humble virgin.
After a period of time, the bishop met that woman and asked her:
"How is the virgin to whom I introduced you?" "She is
good," replied the woman, "but she is of little benefit to
my soul because she is humble allows me to do my own will. For me it
is required that she reproach me and not allow me to do whatever I
want." The bishop then gave her another girl, of a very coarse
character, who began to rebuke the woman, calling her a senseless
rich woman and the like. After sometime, the bishop again asked the
woman: "And that maiden, how does she conduct herself with
you?" "She truly benefits my soul," replied the
senator's wife. And so she became very meek. (Excerpt from the Spiritual
Meadow by John Moschus)
contemplate the Lord Jesus as a stumbling block:
sinful self-conceit (vanity) i.e., for the perverted mind of mankind
which thinks sensually and fleshy and opposes the mind of Christ;
sinful self-love i.e., for the perverted heart of man which does not
accept in itself neither the love of God nor the love of man;
sinful self-will i.e., for the perverted will of man, which, as
such, opposes the will of God.
repentance and the forgiveness of sins
that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His
Name" (St. Luke 24:47).
is the final instruction of the Savior to the holy apostles. In
these words as in the shell of a walnut, is contained the gospel of
reconciliation between God and men. What does God seek from men and
what does God give them? He seeks repentance and He grants
forgiveness of sins. He seeks little but He gives all. Let men only
repent for committed sins and let men cease to sin and men will
receive all from God; all; not only all that their hearts could
desire rather even more, much more. In truth, to the righteous
everything is promised. The righteous will be the inheritors of the
Kingdom of God, they will be the sons of God, and they will be the
children of light, the children of immorality, companions to the
angels, brothers of Christ. The righteous will have an abundant
life, an abundance of peace, an abundance of wisdom, an abundance of
power and an abundance of joy. The righteous will have all, for all
has been promised to them.
men only repent and they will receive all. Let the beggar only
cleanse himself, bathe himself and clothe himself in purity before
the doors of the royal court and he will be immediately ushered into
the royal court and he will be met and embraced by the king and he
will have all. He will live with the king, sit at the royal table;
he will have all, all, all!
brethren, these are not only words rather this is the living and
holy truth. For we know that many penitents, both female and male,
received all of this, which was promised. Many have appeared from
the other world and have proved the truth of these words, witnessing
how they now live as royal sons and daughters. But they repented
promptly; and there remains time for us to repent if we desire to be
together with them as the heirs of the kingdom.
Merciful Lord, help us that we may repent before death in order that
we may live eternally.
be glory and thanks always. Amen.
Traditional Serbian toast honoring St. John the Baptist.
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March 10th (New Style) • February 25th (Old Style)
Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople
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
Venerable Paphnutius of Kephala
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.
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.
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).
a great multitude of people crowded around to hear Him so that He
had to enter the boat;
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;
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.
the impossibility of secrets
there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed" (St. Mark
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.
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).
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?
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.
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.
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March 11th (New Style) • February 26th (Old Style)
Porphyrius, Bishop Gaza
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.
Holy Martyr John, The Builder (Kalpha)
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.
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
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).
a tempest arose while the Lord slept;
the frightened disciples awakened Him and sought His help;
the Lord rebuked the disciples because of little faith and calmed
the sea and the winds;
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).
rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things
are clean to you" (St. Luke 11:41).
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
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.
All-Pure Lord, help us that, with true alms-giving we acquire great
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March 12th (New Style) • February 27th (Old Style)
Venerable Procopius - Decapolit
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.
was a Syrian ascetic. At first he resided in the Monastery of St.
Sabbas 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.
Titus of the Caves in Kiev
was a presbyter and had a sincere Christian love for Deacon Eugarius
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 Eugarius to him in order to forgive
him. Forcefully, they dragged Eugarius to the bedside of Titus, but
Eugarius 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
Eugarius and when he forgave him, the demons fled and attached
Eugarius and angels of God surrounded Titus. He died in the year
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.
holy Martyr 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
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"
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.
contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Vine "I am the true
Vine" (St. John 15:1):
the Vine from which sprouted numerous fruitful branches in the
images of the saints;
the Vine Who with His sap, His blood, waters and feeds all the
branches on Himself;
the Vine from Whom the Divine Church branched out on earth and in
the Vine from Whom, even I should not separate the branch of my
the power of the Resurrector of the body
this temple, an in three days I will raise it up" (St. John
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.
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!
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
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.
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
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March 13th (New Style) • February 28th (Old Style)
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.
Basil the Confessor
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.
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.
Nicholas, Fool for Christ from Pskov
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
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.
contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Bread of Life: "I am the
Bread of Life" (St. John 6:48).
the Bread by which the soul is nourished and lives;
the Bread by which the mind is nourished and enlightened;
the Bread by which the heart is nourished and ennobled.
the nourishment of the soul
am the Bread of Life " (St. John 6:48).
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.
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.
be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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