29th (New Style) • July 16th (Old Style)
Priestly-Martyr Athenogenes, Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia
lived in a monastery near the town of Sebaste with ten of his
disciples. During the reign of Diocletian, Philomarchus, a cruel
persecutor of Christians, came to Sebaste. He arrested and murdered
many Christians in the town. When he saw Athenogenes and his
disciples, he told the elder to offer a sacrifice to the idols so as
not to be slain as were the other Christians. Athenogenes replied to
him: "O persecutor, those whom you mention as being slain are not
slain (dead) but rather are in the heavens and rejoice with the
angels." It was a touching sight to see a female deer, whom the
merciful Athenogenes fed with his own hand, run up to him and seeing
him in misery began to shed tears. Even the wild beasts of the
mountain had greater pity toward the martyrs of Christ than the
heathens! After cruel tortures, during which an angel of God comforted
the martyrs, they were all beheaded; at first the priests and all
co-laborers of Athenogenes and after that, Athenogenes himself. All
were received into the heavenly fatherland in the year 311 A.D.
Holy Female Martyr Julia the Virgin
was born in Carthage of distinguished lineage. When the Persians
captured Carthage many people were taken into slavery. Saint Julia was
captured, enslaved and fell into the hands of a merchant in Syria.
That merchant was a pagan. Seeing that Julia was a Christian, he
counseled her on many occasions to deny Christ and become one in faith
with him but Julia could never agree to this. Since Julia was faithful
and trustworthy in service, the merchant left her in peace and did not
speak to her about faith again. On one occasion, the merchant loaded
the boat with goods and took Julia along with him and sailed to
distant lands on business. When they arrived at Corsica, there was a
pagan feast and the merchant joined in this blasphemous offering of
sacrifice but Julia remained aboard the boat weeping because so many
men lived in foolish error and did not know the truth. Somehow the
pagans found out about her, removed her from the boat, even though her
master objected to this, and then began to brutally torture her. They
severed her breasts and threw them on a rock and, after that, they
crucified her on a cross, upon which St. Julia gave up her soul to
God. Her death was revealed by an angel of God to the monks on the
nearby island of Margarita or Gorgona and the monks came and honorably
buried the body of the martyr. Many miracles appeared at the grave of
St. Julia throughout the centuries and from the other world she
herself appeared to some. She suffered honorably in the sixth century.
After many years, the faithful wanted to erect a new church in another
place in honor of St. Julia because the old church had become too
small and dilapidated. Therefore, they gathered building material on a
new site: stone, bricks, sand and all else that is required. It so
happened that at night, on the eve of the day when they intended to
lay the foundation, all of this material was moved to the site of the
old church by an invisible hand. In confusion, the men again carried
the materials to the new site but the same thing happened again: the
material was removed to the old site alongside the old church. The
night watchman saw a young maiden "all aglow" on white oxen,
carrying the material to the old church. From this everyone understood
that St. Julia did not wish that her church be built in another place,
so they demolished the old church and on that same site built a new
Holy Martyr Athenogenes
was the author of the hymn sung at Vespers: "O Gladsome
Light" - "Svete Tihi" Fos Ilaron." He died for
Christ by fire and was made worthy of eternal glory in the Kingdom of
Commemoration of the Six Ecumenical Councils
common commemoration of the first Six Ecumenical Councils is held on
the Sunday between the 13th and the 19th of July.
Ecumenical Councils are the greatest battles of Orthodoxy with
heretics. Under today's date, the Church jointly commemorates the
first Six Ecumenical Councils:
First Ecumenical Council in Nicea, 325 A.D. with 318 holy fathers
participating. This Council is commemorated separately on May 29 and
on the Seventh Sunday after Easter. This Council refuted the heresy of
Arius against the Son of God.
Second Ecumenical Council in Constantinople, 381 A.D. with 150 holy
fathers attending. This Council is commemorated separately on May 22.
This Council refuted the heresy of Macedonius against God, the Holy
Third Ecumenical Council in Ephesus, 431 A.D. with 200 holy fathers
participating. This Council is commemorated separately on September 9.
This Council refuted the heresy of Nestorius against the Mother of
Fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon, 451 A.D. with 630 holy fathers
participating. This Council is commemorated separately on July 16.
This Council refuted the Monophysite heresy.
Fifth Ecumenical Council in Constantinople, 553 A.D. with 160 holy
fathers participating. This Council is commemorated separately on July
25. This Council refuted the heresy of Origen.
Sixth Ecumenical Council in Constantinople, 691 A.D. with 170 holy
fathers participating. This Council is commemorated separately on
January 23. This Council refuted the Monothelite heresy.
Seventh Ecumenical Council which was convened in 878 A.D. with 367
holy fathers participating. This Council is not commemorated at this
time but is commemorated separately on October 11. This Council
refuted the heresy of Iconoclasm.
Councils, through the operation of the Holy Spirit, all these heresies
were condemned and the Faith of Orthodoxy was defined and confirmed
for all time.
contemplate the miraculous bring forth of water from the rock in
Kadesh (Numbers 20):
Moses, at God's command struck the rock with his rod but without faith
and, how through the will of God, water flowed;
God punished Moses and Aaron because of their lack of faith, and He
did not permit them to enter into the Promised Land;
this, shows that even a great righteous one as was Moses, is prone to
sin that no mortal should be carried away by his virtues.
the participation of the faithful in God's nature
by these you might be partakers of the divine nature" (2
how can mortal man have a part in God's nature? How can eternity be a
companion of time and glory with unglory, the incorruptible with the
corruptible, the pure with the impure? They cannot without particular
conditions and these conditions the Apostle Peter mentions: one
condition on the part of God and the other on the part of men. As a
condition on God's part, the apostle mentions: "According as His
divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and
godliness" (2 Peter 1:3). As a condition on the part of man:
"having escaped the corruption that is in the world through
lust" (2 Peter 1:4). God has fulfilled His condition and gave us
His power. "Through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to
glory and virtue" (2 Peter 1:3). Now it is man's turn to fulfill
his condition, i.e., to know Christ the Lord is to escape from the
bodily desires of this world. The Lord Christ first opened heaven and
all the treasures of heaven and then He called mankind to draw near
and to receive those treasures. How did He invite them? Did He invite
them only by words? In words, but not only words but also "called
us to glory and virtue"; glory, i.e., by His glorious
resurrection; virtue, i.e., by His miraculous service and suffering.
By this He invited us to receive the exceeding great promises that, by
them, we may partake in God's nature. But in order that we may know
Christ and to hear His invitation, we must first escape from all
physical desires of this world. If we do not escape, then we will
remain blind before Him, before His glory and virtue and deaf to His
brethren, how enormous is the mercy of God toward us! According to
this great mercy, God offers to us mortals adoption by the Immortal
One and to us sinners to be built up into the glorified Body of the
Lord Jesus. But, only under one condition, which is neither a great
yoke nor a heavy cross.
Jesus, the Fulfillment of all promises and the Source of all good,
heal us from our blindness and deafness and grant us power to escape
the physical desires of this world.
30th (New Style) • July 17th (Old Style)
Holy Female Martyr Marina
was born in Pisidian, Antioch of pagan parents. At the age of twelve
Marina learned about the Lord Jesus Christ; how He became incarnate of
the All-Pure Virgin, how He worked many miracles, how He suffered
death on the Cross and gloriously resurrected. Her young heart became
inflamed with love for the Lord and she vowed that she would never
marry and further desired in her soul to suffer for Christ and to be
baptized in the blood of martyrdom. Her father hated her because of
her faith and did not consider her as his daughter. The imperial
deputy Olymbrius, learning from Marina that she was a Christian, first
wished that she would become his wife. When Marina rejected that he
ordered her to bow down before the idols and to that St. Marina
replied: "I will not bow down nor offer sacrifice to the
breathless and dead idols who do not recognize themselves nor do they
know that we honor or dishonor them. I will not give them that honor
which belongs only to my Creator." Then Olymbrius subjected
Marina to harsh torture and threw her into prison completely covered
with wounds and blood. While in prison Marina prayed to God and, after
prayer, the devil appeared to her under the guise of a horrible
serpent which entwined itself around her head. When she made the sign
of the cross the serpent burst and vanished. Then she was engulfed
with a heavenly light and it seemed to her that the walls of the
prison vanished together with the roof and a radiant and towering
cross appeared and atop the cross a white dove, from which a voice
came saying: "Rejoice Marina, rational [discerning] dove of
Christ, daughter of Zion in the highest, for your day of rejoicing has
arrived." Marina was healed from all her wounds and pains by the
power of God. The demented judge tortured her the following day, both
in fire and in water, but Marina endured all as though she were in
another body. Finally he condemned her to be beheaded. Before her
death the Lord Jesus appeared to her with angels. She was beheaded
during the reign of Diocletian but in soul and power she remained
alive in the heavens and on earth. A hand of St. Marina reposes in the
Monastery of Vatopedi on Mt. Athos. However, atop Mt. Langa in Albania
overlooking Lake Ohrid, there is a monastery dedicated to St. Marina
with a portion of her miraculous relics. Countless miracles have
occurred and still occur in this monastery, whose witnesses are not
only Christians but many Muslims as well. So much did the Turks have
respect for this holy place that they never dared disturb either this
holy place or the property of this monastery. At one time a Turk was
the guardian of the monastery.
Venerable Leonid Ustnedum
youth this Russian saint lived a spiritual life of asceticism in
several monasteries in Solovetz, Mirozh as well as elsewhere. Finally,
he founded his own monastery along the Luza River in the province of
Vologda. He lived a strict life of mortification until his soul was
filled with the light of grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. As a
beacon, Leonid attracted many to the ascetical life of mortification.
He is called Ustnedum, because at one time when he was bitten by a
poisonous serpent, he did not want either to think or to talk about it
and he remained alive. Pleasing God in all things, Leonid died
peacefully on July 17, 1653 A.D. His relics repose in his monastery.
Christ becomes all for the soul completely all which generally has a
certain permanent and unchanging value, until then, man cannot enter
into suffering for Christ. How could St. Marina the fifteen-year-old
girl enter into suffering for Christ? For to her, Christ was all
completely all! How could Saint Julitta have rejoiced upon seeing her
three year old son Cyriacus dead for the Faith of Christ? Again, for
her, Christ was all completely all. Behold, how St. Tikhon of Zadonsk
speaks in detail of how Christ is all to man in the form of a
conversation between Christ and man:
you desire good for yourself? Every good is in Me.
desire blessedness? Every blessedness is in Me.
desire beauty? What is more beautiful than Me?
desire nobleness? What is more noble than the Son of God and
the Holy Virgin?
desire height? What is higher than the Kingdom of Heaven?
desire riches? In Me are all riches.
desire wisdom? I am the Wisdom of God.
desire friendship? Who is a kinder friend than I Who lay down
My life for all?
desire help? Who can help except Me?
seek joy? Who will rejoice outside of Me?
seek comfort in misery? Who will comfort you outside of Me?
seek peace? I am the peace of the soul.
seek life? In Me is the source of life.
seek light? 'I am the Light of the world' " (St. John
contemplate the miraculous brass serpent in the wilderness (Numbers
all the people would have died from the bite of the serpents, until
Moses raised the brass serpent on a pole;
all, who were bitten by a serpent, as soon as they gazed upon the
brass serpent were made whole;
the brass serpent pre-figures Christ on the Cross.
the need to repeat and repeat
I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these
things, though you know them, and be established in the present
truth" (2 Peter 1:12).
plower sows in the field. Does not the plower repeat the same task
every second? How would he, therefore, plow the field if not plowing
from morning to dusk deepening furrow after furrow?
traveler walks the road. Does not the traveler repeat the same task
every second with the same effort? How else would he have traveled the
road and reached his destination?
carpenter prepares the boards in his workshop. Does not the carpenter
repeat the same task with every board, with the same labor? How else
would he be able to prepare the ordered amount of prepared boards?
is not all of our beneficial works comprised of strands and strands of
repetition? Therefore, let not the preacher of the truth become
slothful and let him not say: "I told them so and I will not
repeat it!" Let not the hearer of the truth become proud and let
him not say: "I heard it once and I do not need to hear it
preacher of the truth, do not be afraid to repeat and to repeat: that
through repetition you teach and by repetition you remind. Without
repetition even the field is not plowed, nor the path traveled, nor
the framework [rafters] of the house prepared. And you [preacher of
the truth] are to plow, to lead and to prepare.
of the truth, do not become proud and do not say that you heard the
truth once. Truth is food for the soul. You have eaten bread today,
yesterday and the day before yesterday and for months and years past.
And again you will eat it, so that your body would be healthy. Nourish
also the soul. Nourish it with the truth, the same truth, yesterday,
today and tomorrow and until death so that your soul may be healthy,
strong and radiant.
Jesus, nourish us every day and every hour with Your truth which is
Yourself O Jesus, sweet nourishment!
31st (New Style) • July 18th (Old Style)
Holy Martyr Emilian
the reign of Julian the Apostate, in the Thracian town of Dorostolon,
lived a young man, Emilian, a servant of the mayor of the town. When
the apostate emperor began to destroy Christianity throughout the
realm of the Roman Empire by fire and sword and, when the emperor's
representative came to Dorostolon to kill the Christians, he did not
find a single one. Rejoicing at this, he sponsored a great banquet for
the citizens of Dorostolon and ordered sacrifices to be offered to the
idols and rejoicing ensued throughout the entire town, day and night.
That night, St. Emilian entered the pagan temples, markets and the
streets of the town and smashed all of the idols with a sledgehammer.
The next day there was terror in the city. Everyone sought the
destroyer of their gods. A peasant was passing by the temple that
morning and was seized. Emilian, seeing that an innocent man would
suffer, said to himself: "If I conceal my works, what benefit
would I receive from that which I did? Before God, will I not be found
as the murderer of this innocent man?" Therefore, he appeared
before the emperor's legate and admitted all. The enraged legate asked
Emilian, who had prompted you to do this? The martyr of Christ
replied: "God and my soul ordered me to destroy those lifeless
pillars which you call gods." The judge then ordered that Emilian
be flogged and, after flogging and other tortures, ordered him to be
buried alive. Thus ended the earthly life of St. Emilian and he was
received into the heavenly life on July 18, 362 A.D.
was an Egyptian and an ascetic on Mount Nitria. He was a contemporary
of St. Anthony the Great, and himself was great in monastic
asceticism. He was known particularly for two characteristics: through
extensive training, he sealed his lips so that he did not speak one
unnecessary word and that he never ate anyone's bread except that
bread which he earned with his own hands by weaving reeds. He was
similar to an angel of God and, in later years his face shown like the
face of Moses once did, so much so that the monks were unable to look
him in the face. He did not render an immediate answer even to a
simple question before praying and contemplating about it in his
heart. The Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria once visited the monks
in Nitria. The monks begged Pambo saying: "Tell the pope a
constructive word, which would be beneficial to him." The quiet
Pambo replied: "If he does not benefit by my silence he will not
even benefit by my word." At one time, St. Pambo with his monks
traveled throughout Egypt. When they came upon a group of men who
remained seated as the monks passed by, St. Pambo addressed them and
said: "Arise and greet the monks so that you may receive a
blessing from them for they continually converse with God and their
lips are holy." This glorious saint was able to discern clearly
the fate of both the living and the dead. He rested in the Lord in the
year 386 A.D.
Venerable Paisius and Isaiah
and Isaiah were brothers of a wealthy family. They were both monks.
One became a saint because of his asceticism in the wilderness and the
other because of his works of mercy toward men. Saint Pambo saw them
both in Paradise. This settled a dispute among the monks concerning
the question: Which is better asceticism and a life of mortification
or corporal works of mercy? Both, one and the other, lead to Paradise
when it is done in the Name of Christ.
John, the Long-Suffering
a recluse in the Monastery of the Caves of St. Anthony in Kiev.
Throughout thirty years of his life he was tortured by lustful
passions, which he ceaselessly struggled against until finally he
conquered them with God's help and by touching the relics of St. Moses
the Ugrian (July 26). Being victorious over impure passion, St. John
was surrounded by an internal heavenly light by which he could see at
night as though it were day.
more pleasing to God: a life of mortification in the wilderness or
works of mercy? Men of prayer in the wilderness think that man among
men, no matter how many good works he performs, will find it difficult
to safeguard the purity of the heart and to direct the mind toward
God. Benefactors of men say: that the man in the wilderness is totally
occupied with his own salvation and does not help in the salvation of
others. Two Egyptian brothers, Paisius and Isaiah, inherited a great
estate from their parents, sold the estate and each took their share
of the money. One of them immediately distributed his money to the
poor, became a monk and withdrew into the wilderness to lead a strict
life of asceticism that through patience, fasting, prayer and
purifying the mind from all evil thoughts in order to save his soul.
The other brother likewise became a monk, but did not want to enter
the wilderness rather he built a small monastery near the town, a
hospital for the sick, a public refectory [dining room] for the needy
and a resting place for the sorrowful. He dedicated himself completely
to the service of his fellow men. When both brothers died, a dispute
ensued among the monks of Egypt: which of the two fulfilled the law of
Christ? Unable to agree among themselves they came to St. Pambo and
questioned him about this. St. Pambo replied: "Both are perfect
before God; the hospitable one is similar to the hospitable Abraham
and the ascetical one is similar to Elijah the Prophet, both of whom
equally pleased God." But not all the monks were satisfied with
this response. Then St. Pambo prayed to God to reveal the truth to
him. After praying for several days, St. Pambo said to the monks:
"Before God I tell you that I saw both brothers Paisius and
Isaiah together in Paradise." With this, the dispute was settled
and all were satisfied.
contemplate the miraculous experience of Balaam (Numbers 22):
Balaam came to prophesy to Balak, the prince of the Moabites;
the angel appeared on the road with a sword and prevented Balaam from
the ass saw the angel before Balaam and spoke to his master.
the remembrance of the imminent separation of the body
I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle(body) to stir you
up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off
this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ had showed me" (2
Peter 1: 13-14).
a good reminder to lovers of the body who, because of the body, forgot
their souls. The body must be put off. No matter how costly we hold it
to be, no matter how much worth we attach to it, no matter how much we
caress and pamper it, we must put it off one day. O how powerful and
truthful are these words "to put it off!" When the soul is
separated from the body, the soul puts off the body as no longer
necessary. Those who suffer shipwreck reach the shore on a plank. They
come to the shore and discard the plank. When spring blossoms, the
serpent sheds its skin and puts it off. When a butterfly wings its way
out of the cocoon, the cocoon is put off. In the same manner the body
is put off when the soul departs from it. No longer of use and without
benefit, even harmful to other men, it is put off from the house, put
off from the city, put off from the sun and is buried deep into the
ground. Think about this, you who live in luxury and are adorned, you
who are haughty and gluttonous!
as the soul is in the body, it should utilize the body for its
salvation submitting to the law of God and performing the works of
God. Do you see how the apostolic soul is a lover of labor! "As
long as I am in this tabernacle (body) to stir you up." That task
was given to him by God. He wants to conscientiously complete it to
the end because he must put off his body. Brethren, let us labor first
to embrace the apostolic warning and secondly, to remind others, all
others, for whom we wish good. In haste we are approaching the shore
of the other old world, as the hour hastily approaches when we must
put off the bodies and, with a naked soul, appear before the judgment
of God. What will we say at the Dread Judgment Seat of God? To what
goals have we, in this earthly life, used the device from the earth,
which is called the body?
Jesus, Righteous Judge, direct our mind to think of death and
1st (New Style) • July 19th (Old Style)
Venerable Female Macrina
was the eldest sister of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory of Nyssa.
As a young virgin, Macrina was bethrothed to a nobleman. When her
betrothed died, Macrina vowed never to enter into marriage saying:
"It is not right for a maiden once betrothed to a young man to
seek another: according to the law of nature there must be only one
marriage as there is but one birth and one death." She further
justified this by her faith in the resurrection considering her
bridegroom, not dead but alive in God. "It is a sin and a
shame," says Macrina, "for a wife not to safeguard her
faithfulness when her husband travels to a distant land." After
this, together with her mother, Emilia, she received the monastic
tonsure in a convent, where they lived a life of asceticism with other
nuns. They lived from the labors of their hands devoting a greater
part of their time to godly thoughts, prayer and the constant
uplifting of their minds to God. In time her mother died and,
afterward her brother Basil. Nine months after the death of St. Basil,
Gregory came to visit with his sister and found her on her death bed.
Before her death, Macrina lifted up her prayers to God: "You, O
Lord, Who gives rest to our bodies in the sleep of death for a time,
will again awaken them [the bodies] at the last trump. Forgive me and
when my soul divests itself of its bodily attire and presents itself
before You, pure and without sin, grant that it may be as incense
before You." After that she traced the sign of the cross on the
forehead, eyes, face and on her heart and gave up her soul. She found
rest in the Lord in the year 379 A.D.
born of Christian parents in Antioch, Syria. From his youth, he was
taught by godly-inspired men in the monastic life and in asceticism.
Since he persevered in a lengthy and laborious battle with the devil
and passions of the flesh, God endowed Dius with the great gift of
working miracles. In his prayers he, most often, turned to the Holy
Trinity. He performed great and awesome miracles through the power of
his prayers: he caused a withered staff to blossom, a dry well to be
replenished with water and an unbelieving man he struck dead and then
resurrected him again. After two brief heavenly visions, Dius departed
from Antioch and settled in Constantinople where, in the proximity of
the city, he continued his life of asceticism. His fame spread rapidly
and even Emperor Theodosius the Younger visited him to receive counsel
from him and Patriarch Atticus persuaded and ordained him a presbyter.
Having lived for many years, Dius began to prepare for death, received
Holy Communion, instructed the brethren, lay down on his bed and died
before the eyes of all. The news of his death drew many people; even
Patriarch Atticus came with Alexander, the Patriarch of Antioch. When
they were about to bury him, he suddenly arose as though awakening
from sleep and said: "God has given me fifteen more years of this
life." St. Dius lived for exactly fifteen years and led many to
the path of salvation, healed many, helped many in various misfortunes
and needs and finally gave up his soul to the Lord, Whom he faithfully
served all his life. He died in the year 430 A.D. in extreme old age.
Commemoration of Stephen the Tall
was the son of the Serbian Prince Lazarus and Princess Militza. He was
a protector of Christianity in the Balkans during most difficult
times. He was the founder of the beautiful monumental monasteries of
Manasija and Kalenich. After many labors and troubles he died on July
19, 1427 A.D.
the most beautiful adornments of a woman is her modesty and immodesty
in a woman is the most unnatural and most repulsive spectacle in the
world. A wonderful example of feminine modesty was shown by St.
Macrina in her life. In her youth, a bitter wound opened up on her
breast; even though her mother counseled her to show the wound to a
doctor and seek a remedy, Macrina did not agree to it. She had
completely dedicated herself to God and would not allow even the
thought of exposing her body before men and not even before her own
mother. One evening Macrina earnestly prayed to God; from her eyes
tears flowed, which fell to the dust before her. With unwavering
confidence in her Lord, with her fingers she mixed the dust with her
tears and with that anointed her wound. The next day she awakened
healthy. When her mother, with great sorrow entered to see her
daughter, Macrina did not want to reveal that the Lord healed her (out
of humility, concealing the miracle which she herself performed
through her prayer) but begged her mother saying: "I will be
healed, my mother, if you place your right hand on my bosom and make
the sign of the cross over the spot of the wound." The mother
reached out her hand and made the sign of the cross over that spot but
did not feel the wound anymore but only the scar of the healed wound.
Thus did St. Macrina conceal her body out of modesty and her
miracle-working out of humility.
contemplate the miraculous prophesying of Balaam (Numbers 23, 24):
Balaam came to curse the people of Israel at the invitation of Prince
instead of cursing, Balaam blesses the people, being directed to do so
by the Spirit of God;
Balaam prophesied about Christ saying: "A star shall rise out of
Jacob and a rod will rise up out of Israel" (Numbers 24:17).
apostolic love and discernment
I will endeavor that you may be able after my decease to have these
things always in remembrance" (2 Peter
let your hearts be opened, to receive and to understand this great
mystery. Primarily, the apostle says that he will not be slothful in
reminding the faithful of the salvific truths of the Faith; of the
divine power which was given to mankind through Christ the Lord and
for the preparing of men to receive this divine power "escaping
from the corruption that is in the world through lust" (1 Peter
goes even further and promises that he will continue this remembrance
even after separation, i.e., after my exodus (the word which is used
in the Greek text) from this life, when he will "put off this
tabernacle, his body" (1 Peter 1:14). O faith divine, O comfort,
O sweetness! Even from the other world, the apostle promises to
continue his concern for the Church of God on earth, to continue his
work once begun to remind the faithful and to continue his love toward
those on earth who believe in Christ. O apostolic love, so near to the
love of Christ! O apostolic discernment, whose love the Spirit of God
does not diminish as long as man is still wrapped in the dark curtain
of the flesh!
Apostle Peter gave this promise to the faithful nearly two thousand
years ago. Did he fulfill it? He fulfilled it to the letter, not only
as some would like to interpret it, reminding the faithful, not only
through his written epistles and through his successors the bishops,
but primarily by his constant action within the Church from the other
world. The Apostle Peter appeared many times as did the other apostles
whenever, according to the Providence of God, there was a need to
appear and he reminded the shepherds and the faithful of the Church
how they must adhere firmly to the truth and how they should correct
the paths of their lives. Even when Peter did not appear to be seen in
a dream or openly, he, in a mysterious manner known only to heaven,
acted and still acts always, for our salvation.
after death to the Holy Apostles was as apparent as is the sun to
those who have eyes. Though their prayers may God also open our
spiritual eyes, to know where we are going and what awaits us after
Jesus, All-merciful, deliver us from the darkness into the light
according to Your mercy and through the prayers of Your Holy Apostles.
2nd (New Style) • July 20th (Old Style)
Holy Prophet Elijah
Elijah, one who saw God, a miracle-worker and a zealot for faith in
God, was born of the tribe of Aaron from the town Tishba for which he
was called the Tishbite. When St. Elijah was born, his father Savah
saw an angel of God hovering around the child, wrapping the child in
fire and giving him a flame to eat. That was a foreshadowing of
Elijah's fiery character and his God-given fiery power. He spent his
entire youth in godly thoughts and prayers withdrawing frequently into
the wilderness to contemplate and to pray in solitude. At that time
the Jewish kingdom was divided into two unequal parts: the kingdom of
Judah consisting of only two tribes, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin
with their capital in Jerusalem and the kingdom of Israel consisting
of the remaining ten tribes with their capital in Samaria. The first
kingdom was governed by the descendants of Solomon and the second
kingdom was governed by the descendants of Jeroboam, the servants of
Solomon. The greatest confrontation that the prophet Elijah had was
with the Israelite King Ahab and his evil wife Jezebel. For they, Ahab
and Jezebel, worshipped idols and were turning the people away from
serving the One and Living God. Before this, however, Jezebel, a
Syrian, persuaded her husband to erect a temple to the Syrian god Baal
and ordered many priests to the service of this false god. Through
great miracles Elijah displayed the power and authority of God: he
closed up the heavens, so that there was not any rain for three years
and six months; he lowered a fire from heaven and burned the sacrifice
to his God which the pagan priests of Baal were unable to do; he
brought down rain from heaven by his prayer; miraculously multiplied
flour and oil in the home of the widow in Zerepath, and resurrected
her son; he prophesied to Ahab that the dogs will lick up his blood
and to Jezebel that the dogs will consume her flesh, all of which
happened as well as many other miracles did he perform and prophesy.
On Mount Horeb, he spoke with God and heard the voice of God in the
calm of a gentle breeze. Before his death he took Elisha and
designated him as his successor in the prophetic calling; by his
mantle he divided the waters of the Jordan river; finally he was taken
up into the heavens in a fiery chariot by flaming horses. He appeared
on Mount Tabor to our Lord Jesus Christ together with Moses. Before
the end of the world St. Elijah will appear again to put an end to the
power of the anti-Christ (Revelation, Chapter 11).
Elijah, the Patriarch of Jerusalem and Saint Flavius, the Patriarch of
Elijah and Saint Flavius were great zealots for the Faith and
defenders of Orthodoxy. They were driven into exile by the heretical
Emperor Anastasius where they both died. They precisely foresaw the
death of Emperor Anastasius as well as their own death. Simultaneously
they corresponded with each other from afar: "Anastasius the
emperor died today, let us both go before the judgment of God with
him." After two days both saints died in the year 518 A.D.
about the life of his sister St. Macrina, St. Gregory of Nyssa
hesitates to enumerate her miracles, "that I not be," says
he, "responsible for the sin of unbelief among helpless
men." He calls helpless, those who do not believe. Truly, there
is nothing more helpless than a man without faith. The man without
faith believes in the power of dead things and dead elements of nature
and does not believe in the power of God or in the strength of the men
of God. That is spiritual dullness and that dullness is equated with
spiritual death. Thus, the living souls believe and the dead souls do
not believe. Living souls believe in the powerful miracles of the
Prophet Elijah. These miracles give them courage and joy, for they
know that they are a manifestation of the might of God. When God
manifests His might through lifeless things and elements of nature,
why then would He not manifest it through living and holy men? That
which especially gives joy to the faithful is that the Prophet Elijah
appeared alive on Mount Tabor at the time of the Transfiguration of
the Lord. During his life on earth, this great prophet gave proof of
the existence of the One and Living God and, after his death, and even
after several hundred years, by his appearance on Mt. Tabor, he gave
to mankind visible proof of life after death.
contemplate the miraculous help of God to the Israelites in battle
Moses defeated the pagan kings, Sihon of the Amorites and Og, king of
Basan, for God promised that they would perish;
Moses was unable to take the land of Moab, for God did not want this
because of the descendants of the righteous Lot;
victory and defeat in wars generally do not occur without God's
the personal witness of the apostle
is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. And this voice which
came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy
mount" (2 Peter 2:17-18).
hear the testimony of the true and faithful one who was crucified on a
cross because of his testimony. Let us hear the Apostle Peter who,
what he was unable to prove by his words, proved by his bloody death
on the cross, crucified upside down by the pagans. He testifies that
he was on the holy mountain, i.e., Mount Tabor when our Lord was
transfigured, when Moses with Elijah appeared and when a voice was
heard from heaven saying: "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am
well pleased" (2 Peter 1:17). In this text, the apostle does not
speak of what he and his companions saw on the holy mountain, which is
narrated in the Gospel, but repeats only that which they heard. That
which they heard is just as important as that which they saw.
Therefore, let the people hear that the apostle saw the Lord Jesus
transfigured in a miraculous heavenly light and let them know that He
is the Son of God. Let the people also hear that the apostles saw
Moses and Elijah alive and let them know that life after death exists
as well as the judgment of God. Let them also hear, that the Lord
Jesus is called the Son of God, not by man, but rather by God the
Father Himself. Those who speak these words to the people and relate
to them what their eyes saw and what their ears heard are faithful and
true witnesses. He, who does not believe the apostles, believes in
Judas, Caiaphas, Herod and Nero, the persecutors of the apostles and
traitors of the truth. He who does not believe in the righteous ones
has no other alternative left but to believe in the unrighteous ones.
He who does not believe in the pure ones, must believe in the impure
ones. He who does not believe in those who suffer for the truth, must
believe in the torturers and libertines. Day does not dawn for
anything else except that men may take sides with one or the other.
our Savior and Enlightener, enlighten our souls by Your holy words,
for which Your apostles suffered.
3rd (New Style) • July 21st (Old Style)
Holy Prophet Ezekiel
was the son of a priest from the town of Sarir. He was taken to
Babylon into captivity with King Jeoiachim along with many other
Israelites. Living in captivity, Ezekiel prophesied for twenty-seven
years. He was a contemporary of the Prophet Jeremiah. While Jeremiah
taught and prophesied in Jerusalem, so Ezekiel taught and prophesied
in Babylon. The prophecies of Jeremiah were known in Babylon and the
prophecies of Ezekiel were known in Jerusalem. Both of these holy men
agreed in the prophecies of each other. Both were mistreated and
tortured by the unbelieving Jewish people. St. Ezekiel had frightening
and unimaginable visions. By the river Chebar, Ezekiel saw the heavens
open, "a great cloud and a fire infolding itself and a brightness
was about it" (Ezekiel 1:4) and four wild creatures like molten
copper [burnished brass]. One creature had the face of a man, the
second the face of a lion, the third the face of a calf [ox], the
fourth the face of an eagle [Ezekiel 1:10]. The face of the man
signifies the Lord Incarnate as a man, the face of the lion, His
divinity, the face of the calf, His sacrifice and the face of an
eagle, His resurrection and ascension. At another time he was shown
the vision of the resurrection of the dead. The prophet saw a valley
full of dry dead bones and when the Spirit of God descended upon them,
they came to life and rose to their feet [Ezekiel 37:1-10]. He also
saw the most terrible destruction of Jerusalem when the wrath of God
mowed down all, except those who were earlier marked with the Greek
symbol called Tau [Ezekiel 9: 1-7]. This mark is like our letter T
which is also the sign also of the Cross. The evil of the Jews did not
even spare this holy man. Infuriated at him because he rebuked them,
the Jews tied him to the tails of horses and ripped him in two. He was
buried in the same sepulchre with Shem, the Son of Noah.
Venerable Simeon and John
two young men left their homes and relatives: Simeon, his aged mother
and John, his young wife. Both received the monastic tonsure at the
hands of the Abbot Nicon in the Monastery of St. Gerasimus and
withdrew into the wilderness where they lived an austere life of
asceticism for many years. Through rigorous asceticism, they mortified
their bodies so much that they resembled two withered trees. One day
Simeon said to John that, according to God's command, he must depart
from the wilderness and go among the people and there serve God. John
gave him this counsel: "Guard our heart against all that you will
see in the world. Whatever you touch with your hand, do not allow it
to touch your heart. Whatever you eat with your mouth, let not your
heart be satisfied. When your feet begin to walk, let there be peace
within you. And whatever you do outwardly, let not your mind remain
disturbed. Pray to God for me, that He does not separate us, one from
the other, in the future life." St. Simeon accepted the counsel
of his companion, kissed him and, after that, departed the wilderness
and went among the people as a "fool for Christ," to teach
men and to convert them to the Faith of Christ. He pretended insanity
before men but his heart was the temple of the Holy Spirit and, in
that temple, was unceasing prayer. He possessed abundant grace from
God and was able to discern all the inner secrets of men, both near
and far, healing men from evil spirits and other ailments. Dancing in
the streets as one insane, he approached men and whispered their sins
in their ears and called them to repentance. He even appeared to
sinners in dreams, rebuked them for their sins and called them to
repentance. Thus it was with Bali, a pagan actor, who openly mocked
Christian shrines and to whom St. Simeon appeared in a dream, rebuked
and warned him so that he repented and became a model Christian. A
young fornicator went out of his mind because of sexual promiscuity.
Seeing this insane young man, St. Simeon struck him across the face
with his hand and said: "Do not commit fornication." At that
moment the unclean demon departed from the young man and he became
sake of his fellow man, St. Simeon left his only friend in the world,
his peaceful cell in the wilderness, and made himself out to be a
"fool for Christ". It is told how the Spartan King Lycerges,
made great sacrifices for the benefit of his fellow citizens. He
issued strict laws, instituting a completely new system of educating
the young and instituting order in the State. When he issued these
laws, he said to his fellow citizens that he desires to go to Delphi,
where there was a great shrine and demanded that they all take an oath
to faithfully adhere to his laws until his return. When all the
citizenry laid down the oath, Lycerges left his country and never did
return. It is a great sacrifice to leave one's homeland and
voluntarily live in a strange country for the sake of the benefit of
one's fellow man. But how much greater is the sacrifice to voluntarily
leave one's mind and continually pretend before men to be as one
without a mind. Is not insanity the greatest foreign land known to
man? To live in this terrible strange land year after year and that,
all for the benefit of your fellow men!
contemplate the miraculous crossing of Israel over the Jordan river
by the power of God and through Joshua, the waters in the river Jordan
parted and the priests with the people crossed over;
the priests with the Ark of the Covenant, during the time that the
people crossed over "stood on dry land in the Jordan"
even I, need not be afraid of the floods of this world, as long as in
the center of my being, i.e., in the heart, I firmly hold the covenant
of the Lord.
the false teachers
there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall
be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable
heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon
themselves swift destruction" (2 Peter
at war in this world. Continual is the battle and numerous are the
enemies. Among the most dangerous enemies belong the false teachers.
Only if the mind of man is directed toward the Living God will he be
safeguarded from these dangerous enemies. False teachers are either as
blindmen or as thieves; first, because of their blindness they [false
teachers] lead both themselves and others into destruction and second,
because of their hatred and envy they intentionally lead others
astray, and hand over both their souls and bodies to the fires of
hell. The Lord Himself prophesied: "Many false prophets shall
rise and shall deceive many" (Matthew 24:11). The apostle only
confirms the words of his Lord. Both false prophets and false teachers
will sow the seed of destruction among the people. These are
"damnable heresies" by which some will deny their Lord Who
redeemed mankind by His All-pure Holy Blood. Many false teachers have
already appeared and have sown many heresies, damnable as tares,
throughout the world. Brethren, if you know those "damnable
heresies" which the Holy Fathers condemned at the Councils, then
you will be able to recognize the principle seed of poison, which the
devil through his servants sow in the field, over which the Savior had
sown pure wheat.
if you know or, if you do not know, direct your mind toward the Lord,
enclose your mind with the sign of the Cross, call to your assistance
the Holy and All-pure One [The Theotokos], chosen ones of God and
especially your guardian angel and do not be afraid. Along with this
always ask the Church and the Church, being more experienced and
victorious against all falsehoods, will tell you what is the truth.
For you are from yesterday and the Church is from time immemorial.
Your memory is shorter than the memory of the Church.
Jesus, You are the only Path, the only Truth, the only Life. O Lord do
not permit, that we be led by false teachers and to apostate ourselves
4th (New Style) • July 22nd (Old Style)
Magdalene was one of the myrrh-bearing women and "equal to the
apostles". She was born in the town of Magdala along the shore of
Lake Gennesaret and was from the tribe of Issachar. She was tormented
by seven evil spirits from which the Lord Jesus freed her and made her
whole. She was a faithful follower and servant of the Lord during His
earthly life. Mary Magdalene stood beneath the Cross on Golgotha and
grieved bitterly and mourned with the All-Holy Birth-giver of God.
After the death of the Lord she visited His sepulchre three times.
When the Lord resurrected she saw Him on two occasions: once alone and
the other time with the other myrrh-bearing women. She traveled to
Rome and appeared before Tiberias Caesar and presenting him with a red
colored egg, greeted him with the words: "Christ is Risen!"
At the same time, she accused Pilate before Caesar for his unjust
condemnation of the Lord Jesus. Caesar accepted her accusation and
transferred Pilate from Jerusalem to Gaul where, this unjust judge, in
disfavor with the emperor, died of a dread disease. After that, Mary
Magdalene returned from Rome to Ephesus to St. John the Theologian
whom she assisted in the work of preaching the Gospel. With great love
toward the resurrected Lord, and with great zeal, she proclaimed the
Holy Gospel to the world as a true apostle of Christ. She died
peacefully in Ephesus and, according to tradition, was buried in the
same cave in which seven youths were miraculously put to sleep for
hundreds of years and, after that, were brought to life and then died
(August 4). The relics of St. Mary Magdalene were later transferred to
Constantinople. There is a Russian Orthodox convent dedicated to St.
Mary Magdalene near the Garden of Gethsemane.
day we commemorate the translation of the relics of St. Phocas from
Pontus to Constantinople about the year 404 A.D. The primary feast of
this saint is celebrated on September 22 and on that day a brief
hagiography of his life and his sufferings is recorded. Today, one
miracle of this saint is commemorated. The Arabs captured a man named
Pontinus. The Arabs shackled him, bound his hands to his back and left
him to die. Lying on his stomach on the ground, and not being able to
move, Pontinus cried out: "O Holy Martyr Phocas have mercy on me
and save me!" Saying this he fell asleep and, in a dream, saw
Saint Phocas approaching him, touched him by the hand and said:
"The Lord Jesus Christ forgives you!" When the man awoke, he
found himself loosed from all bonds and free. He arose and departed
for his home and took St. Phocas as the patron saint of his household.
Venerable Cornelius of Pereyaslavl
was tonsured a monk at age fifteen by an elder called Paul. Later on,
he withdrew into the wilderness to a life of silence. Cornelius lived
in silence for thirty years not speaking to anyone, not even a word,
and many considered him to be a mute. He became so withered through
fasting, that he resembled a skeleton. Before his death he received
the Schema [The Great Angelic Habit] and found repose in the Lord on
July 22, 1693 A.D.
Holy Female Martyr Marcella
Marcella enjoys enormous respect on the island of Chios. In the church
dedicated to her miracles occur every year. Not much is known about
her life. However, according to tradition, Marcella was an unusually
pious girl who, at an early age, was left motherless. Her pagan and
bestial father wanted to live with his daughter as with a wife.
Marcella fled from her father but he, enraged as a wild beast, caught
up with her and hacked her to pieces. In the proximity of her church
there are certain stones which, from time to time, become permeated
with blood. People take these stones, bring them to church, pray to
St. Marcella and place them on the sick who, from that, become healed.
are they that mourn" (Matthew 5:4), said the Lord. Blessed are
they who mourn asking for the Kingdom of God. Blessed are they who
mourn suffering for the Faith in Christ. Blessed are they that mourn
repenting of their sins. There can be no true repentance without
tears. With what shall we wash away our sins if not through tears or
through blood, the blood of martyrdom? The monks of Nitria sent a
petition to St. Macarius the Great asking if he would come to them
rather that they all come to him. Macarius obeyed and came to them.
All the monks gathered around St. Macarius and begged him for a word
of instruction. Macarius began to weep and through his tears said:
"Brethren, let tears flow from your eyes before you go over there
where our tears will fry our bodies." Then all the brethren began
contemplate the miraculous appearance of the archangel to Joshua, the
son of Nun, when he set out to conquer Jericho (Joshua 5):
the Captain [Commander] of the heavenly hosts appears to Joshua with a
drawn [naked] sword in his hand;
the "Captain of the Lord's host" told him to remove his
shoes (Joshua 5:15);
even we, in the battle of life, should not rely on our own feet, and
in our own equipment, but only in Him who battles for us.
the inexorable justice of God
if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell,
and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto
judgment; and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth
person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the
world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha
into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example
unto those that after should live ungodly" (2
Peter 2: 4-6).
will the sinful man be spared? "And spared not the old world but
saved Noah, the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing
in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of
Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes, condemned them with an overthrow".
Therefore O sinful man, how then can you be spared? Are you dearer and
more precious to Him than millions of angels, from so many people
drowned by the Flood [Deluge]and from densely populated cities? When
the angels are cast into the darkness of Hades, people are drowned by
the flood and cities are burned to ashes in what do you hope, sinning,
continually sinning and not turning away from sin? You say, in the
mercy of God! But, is God more merciful now that He was then? Does God
change as man does? Do not hope without measure [limit] but according
to the measure [limit] of your efforts as regards the improvement of
your life, let that be your hope. Truly, great is the mercy of God,
long is the patience of God and infinite is the love of God. Behold,
God loves you more and is more merciful to you than you are to
yourself and He continually wishes you salvation even more than you
yourself do. But he, who to the end mocks the mercy of God and he, who
to the very end laughs at the patience of God and he, who to the end
opposes the love of God, will God then take him by force into His
kingdom and make him a fellow citizen with the angels and saints?
terrible is the darkness of Hades, the clanging sound of chains and
the gnashing of teeth? Those who ridiculed the mercy of God and
opposed the love of God dwell there [Hades]. Will you want to go
there, O prodigal soul? God does not desire that you go there; the
angels mourn because you are headed there; the saints are praying that
you return; Holy Church offers sacrifices for you that you would come
to your senses. If you despise all of that O why would you despise it
all! Then what kind of mercy do you expect from God?
righteous Lord, help us that we may, in due time turn away from the
path which leads to the darkness of Hades, make us to understand and
strengthen us in goodness, before You send Your angel to take away our
5th (New Style) • July 23rd (Old Style)
Holy Martyrs Trofimus and Theophilus and thirteen others with them
suffered in Lycia during the reign of Emperor Dioceletian. Because
they would not, in any way, deny Christ nor offer sacrifices to the
idols, they were subjected to various tortures: they were beaten with
stones; they were scrapped with sharp irons; their knees were broken;
and finally, so tortured, they were more dead than alive and were
thrown into the fire. The power of God preserved them and they
remained unharmed. They were then taken out and beheaded. The Lord
glorified them both on earth and in His heavenly kingdom. They
suffered honorably in Lycia in the year 308 A.D.
Holy Priestly-Martyr Apollinarius
was a disciple of the Apostle Peter and was born in the city of
Antioch. St. Peter took Apollinarius with him from Antioch to Rome
and, in Rome, consecrated him as the bishop of Ravenna. Arriving in
Ravenna, Apollinarius entered the home of the soldier Ireneaus, whose
son he healed of blindness and through that converted his entire
household to the Faith of Christ. He also cured the wife of the
military commander of Ravenna of a terrible malady and baptized his
entire household. At the wish of the military commander, Apollinarius
remained in his home. There they constructed a small domestic chapel.
Apollinarius remained there for twelve years preaching the Good News
and baptizing unbelievers. On many occasions he was cruelly tortured
by the pagan elders but the all-powerful right hand of the Lord
sustained and saved him. Finally, he was sentenced to exile in Illyria
in the Balkans. The boat upon which Apollinarius traveled was
shipwrecked in a storm and sunk and of all the passengers aboard only
St. Apollinarius, along with two soldiers and three of his clerics,
was saved. Being miraculously saved, the soldiers believed in the
power of Apollinarius' God and were baptized. Apollinarius then went
to preach the Holy Gospel throughout all the Balkans descending as far
as the Danube river. After this, he set out for Thrace where, under
great pressure, he also spread the Gospel of the Lord. After three
years of labor in the Balkans he was again banished to Italy. He
arrived in Ravenna where all the faithful exceedingly rejoiced at his
return. Hearing about this, the pagan elder wrote to Emperor Vespasian
about Apollinarius as being a magician and asked him whether they
should give him over to death as an enemy of their gods. The emperor
replied that they should not kill him but only ask him to offer
sacrifice to the gods or to banish him from the city for, says the
emperor: "It is not dignified to seek revenge against anyone for
the gods, for they themselves can avenge against their own enemies if
they are angered". In spite of this order from the emperor the
pagans attacked Apollinarius and pierced him with knives. This servant
of God died of severe wounds and was received into the Kingdom of God.
The relics of St. Apollinarius repose in the church dedicated to him
in Ravenna, Italy.
great teachers of the Church endeavored to teach men great truths, not
only by words but also by obvious examples. Thus Abba Isaiah, in order
to teach the monks, said that no one would receive a reward from God
who, in this life did not labor for God, brought his disciples to a
threshing floor where a farm laborer gathered the winnowed wheat.
"Give me some wheat also!" said Isaiah to the farm hand.
"Did you reap, Father?" "I did not", replied the
elder. "How do you expect to obtain wheat when you did not
reap?" To that the elder replied: "Does he who did not reap
receive wheat?" "He does not receive wheat", replied
the farm hand. Hearing such an answer, the elder silently turned away.
When the disciples begged him to explain his action, the elder said:
"I did this with the intention to show you that he who has not
lived a life of asceticism will not receive a reward from God."
contemplate the suffering of the entire people because of the sin of
one man (Joshua 7):
the Israelites were prohibited by God to take any of the possessions
belonging to the conquered people of Jericho;
one man took some of the possessions of the inhabitants of Jericho and
because of this the Israelites were defeated by the Hai;
even today, because of the transgressing of the law of God by one man,
are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to
whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever" (2
apostle calls impure men "wells without water" those,
"that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise
government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to
speak evil of dignities" (2 Peter 2:10). "But these, as
natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of
the things that they understand not" (2 Peter 2:12). O
"wells without water," which are adorned on all sides but
you do not give water why are you then called wells when nothing comes
out of you except thirst? O clouds and mist why do you bristle, as
though you will flood the entire world, when there is not even one
drop of water in you and when a breath of the Spirit of God will
destroy and disperse you into nothing at that awesome hour? You are
not concerned about purity, that is why you roll around in bodily
impurity; neither are you concerned about order, that is why you
detest authority; neither are you concerned about saving face
[reputation], that is why you are presumptuous [self-willed]; neither
are you concerned about knowing the truth, that is why you blaspheme
that which you have not made any effort to understand. "The mist
of darkness is reserved forever" for you. That is not God's will
that is your will. God did not ordain that road, you yourself chose
it. God is just and He will not commit a sin but will render to him
according to his sin, and according to his unrepentant heart.
what are physical desires except "wells without water" and
dry clouds and mist? What type of fruit sprouts and blossoms from them
except thistles and thorns, which do not require rain? Men with their
physical desires are equal to their physical desires and they are
blind because of these desires and will be judged according to them.
Creator of our souls and bodies, give us the grace of Your Holy
Spirit, that we may preserve our body and soul in purity and, in the
day of judgment, may present both in purity to You, our Creator.
6th (New Style) • July 24th (Old Style)
Holy Female Martyr Christina
was born in the city of Tyre the daughter of Urban, the imperial
deputy, an idol worshipper. The reason her parents gave her the name
of Christina is unknown but it concealed the mystery of her future
following of Christ. Until age eleven, she knew nothing of Christ.
When she reached the age of eleven her father, in order to conceal her
from the world because of her extraordinary beauty until she fully
matured, designated the highest floor of a tall tower for her to live.
All the comforts of life were afforded her; slaves were given to serve
her, gold and silver idols were placed in her quarters so that she may
offer daily sacrifices to them. However, in this idolatrous
environment, it was difficult for the soul of young Christina. Looking
out through the window each day at the sun and all the beauty of the
world then, again at night, at the miraculous cluster of shining
stars, Christina, through her own natural understanding came to the
firm belief in the One Living God. The merciful God, seeing her
longing for the truth, sent His angel who traced the sign of the cross
upon Christina and called her the bride of Christ and completely
instructed her in godly understanding. Christina then smashed all the
idols in her quarters and provoked wild fury in her father. Her father
brought her to trial and handed her over to be tortured and, after
that, threw her into the dungeon with the intention to behead her the
next day. That night Urban, completely healthy, parted from his soul
and went to the grave before his daughter. After that two imperial
deputies, Dion and Julian, continued to torture this holy virgin.
Christina's courageous endurance and her miracles, which she worked by
the power of God, converted many pagans of Tyre to Christianity.
During the torturing of Christina, Dion suddenly fell dead in the
midst of the people. Dion's successor, Julian, severed the breasts and
tongue of Christina. The martyr took her tongue and threw it into
Julian's face and he was instantly blinded. Finally her suffering for
Christ ended by death beneath the sharp sword and her life continues
in the immortal kingdom of the angels. Christina honorably suffered in
the third century.
Venerable Polycarp, Abbot of the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev
possessed "love toward God and his fellow men, joy because of an
untainted conscience, peace because of victory over all passions,
patience in time of temptation and misfortune, goodness in submission
toward all, benevolence toward the poor, undoubting faith in
fulfilling the commandments, truth in fulfilling his vows, meekness in
not knowing anger, restraint and so forth." So well did he govern
the Lavra of the Caves in Kiev that, after his death, a worthy
successor among the monks could not be found (for those who were
worthy did not want to accept the rank of abbot out of humility), so
that the brethren were compelled to take Basil, a secular priest, as
their abbot. St. Polycarp reposed in the Lord in the year 1182 A.D.
Faith of Christ mostly sanctifies and illumines the souls of men when
the preachers of the Faith shine in their own lives. Blessed Polycarp,
the abbot of the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev, was so completely
illumined with the Faith of Christ, both in words and in deeds and in
his entire being. Because of this, he had an unusual influence not
only on ordinary people but also on princes and noblemen. Listening
and seeing this godly man the Prince of Kiev, Rostislav Mstislavitch,
became so illumined with the Faith of Christ and thus became so
subdued and gentle, that he became a model of life in his immediate
surroundings and to his entire people. During the Great Lenten Fast
Season, Prince Rostislav received Holy Communion every Sunday and, in
all places, sought out those who were in need and those less fortunate
and helped them. In the end, he resolved to embrace the monastic order
and spoke to Saint Polycarp about this: "Holy father, princely
rule in this world cannot be without sin and it has already embittered
me and has rendered me incapable." Polycarp answered him:
"If you desire this monastic state from your heart, then let it
be God's will." Once while in Smolensk, the prince became ill and
close to death and ordered that he be quickly taken to Kiev, so that
before his death he may receive the monastic tonsure. However he died
before his wish was fulfilled.
contemplate the miraculous victory of the Israelites over the Haians
the Haians pursued the Israelites and almost defeated them;
according to the command of God, Joshua raised the banner in the air
and held it upraised, until the Haians were defeated;
3. How I
should also in time of danger lift up my heart to God as a banner and
with the cross and prayer in my heart walk to victory.
the holy apostolic warning
when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through
the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean
escaped from them who live in error" (2
apostle knows men better than the learned scribes for he is a saint
and an apostle. A saint and an apostle penetrate deeply into the heart
of man. About whom does the apostle speak? He speaks about the
"impure, impudent and the self-willed", whom he earlier
called "wells without water and clouds and mist" (2 Peter
2:17). The "impure, impudent and self-willed" are men of
many and high-sounding words. They speak proud and false words to men.
By these proud and false words, they both conceal and reveal their
hearts concealing it for the uneducated and for those who do not
understand and revealing it for those who are steadfast in the Faith
and enlightened by Grace.
impure speak of their purity, by that they are declaring their
impurity; when the impudent defends his character, by that he reveals
his impudence; when the self-willed interprets the will of God, by
that he shows his self-will. Whoever attentively follows his words can
sense the stench of their bodily desires. The inattentive and
uneducated cannot sense this stench but believe and are deluded. Those
"who have just begun to escape" from the illusion of the
body, the world and the devil are ensnared by proud and false words,
as a fish in an invisible net. The fish does not know that it is in a
net, until the net is pulled out on the hot sand. Then it knows but
then it is too late. O may it not be too late for those pitiful souls
of mankind who are ensnared in the net of proud and false words!
Brethren know that every teacher who, by his teaching, condones bodily
desires and who yields to sinners in bodily desires, is false.
Jesus, Holy and All Pure, send Your Holy Angels to defend all
beginners and fledglings in Your Faith from proud and false lips.