Today we remember all pious and Orthodox Christians who have fallen asleep in the Lord, and also recall the dread Day of Judgment. May Christ our God be merciful to them, and to us. Two Epistles (Acts 28:1-31, I Thess. 4:13-17) and two Gospels (JN 21:14-25, JN 5:24-30) are appointed to be read at…
The Holy Apostle Jude, one of the twelve apostles of Christ, is descended from King David and Solomon, and was the son of Righteous Joseph the Betrothed (Sunday after the Nativity of the Lord) by his first wife. The Holy Apostle John the Theologian writes in his Gospel, “... neither did his…
Saint Varlaam was known as Vasily Stepanovich Svoezemtsev in life, in monasticism he was given the name Varlaam Vazhsky. Vasily Stepanovich was born around 1390 into the family of the Novgorod Boyar (his father was Stepan Vasilyevich). At baptism he received the name Vasily. He was married and…
The Martyr Zosimus lived in the city of Apollona (Thrace) during the reign of Trajan (89-117), the persecutor of Christians. The saint was consumed with the desire to become a Christian. When he heard about the start of a persecution of Christians, he left military service, was baptized, and…
Saint Paisius the Great lived in Egypt. His parents, Christians, distributed generous alms to all the needy. After the death of her husband his mother, on the suggestion of an angel, gave her young son Paisius to the clergy of the church. The youth Paisius loved monastic life and spent his time in…
Saint John the Hermit was an ascetic in Palestine. He passed his days in fasting and prayer in a cave near Jerusalem. The uncovetous ascetic had only an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, before which a lampada was always lit. The holy Elder often visited the holy places of Jerusalem, and Mount…
Saint Paisius of Hilandar was born in the year 1722 in Bansko into a pious family. One of his brothers, Laurence, was igumen of Hilandar Monastery, and another was noted as a generous benefactor of Orthodox temples and monasteries. Saint Paisius himself went through his obedience at Rila Monastery.…
Saint Job, the first Patriarch of Moscow, was born into the family of pious tradesmen in Staritsa near Tver in the 1530s. His baptismal name was John. After his death in 1607, the relics of Patriarch Job were buried by the western doors of the Dormition Church of the monastery in Staritsa. Many…
1. THE HOLY APOSTLE JUDE
Saint Jude was one of the Twelve Apostles. He was the son of Joseph and Salome and the brother of James, the brother of the Lord. With Salome, the daughter of Angeja the son of Varahina, the brother of Zacharias, Joseph the carpenter had four sons: James, Hosea, Simon and Jude. This Jude is sometimes called: "Jude, the brother of James" because of his more famous brother (St. Luke 6:16 Acts 1:14). St. Jude begins his epistle in this manner: "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James" (St. Jude 1:1). Even though he could be called the brother of the Lord as much as James, he did not do this out of humility and shame for, in the beginning, he did not believe Christ the Lord. When the elder Joseph, before his death, wanted to leave a portion of his estate to Jesus as well as to his other children, all of them protested this, even Jude, only James voluntarily set aside a share of his portion and intended it for Jesus. Jude is also called Levi and Thaddeaus. There is another Thaddeaus of the Seventy Apostles (August 21) but this Thaddeaus or Jude was one of the Great Apostles. Jude preached the Gospel throughout Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Idumedia, Syria, Arabia, Mesopotamia and Armenia. In Edessa, the town of Abgar, he augmented the preaching of the other Thaddeaus. When Jude preached throughout the regions around Ararat he was captured by pagans, crucified on a cross and killed by being shot throughout with arrows to eternally reign in the Kingdom of Christ.
2. VENERABLE PAISIUS THE GREAT
Paisius was an Egyptian by birth and nationality. After a vision in a dream, his mother dedicated him to the service of God. As a young man, Paisius came to the Venerable Pambo who received him as his disciple and he was a co-disciple of Venerable John Kolovos [The Short] who wrote the biography of Paisius. To the joy of his spiritual father, Paisius exerted labor after labor and mortification after mortification. Many times the Prophet Jeremiah, whom he especially loved and often read, appeared to him; even the angels of God often appeared to him; even the Lord Christ Himself appeared to him. "Peace be with you my beloved chosen one!" the Lord Christ said to him. By the great grace of God, Paisius possessed the special gift of abstaining from food. Often he did not taste bread for fifteen days, more often for a week and once, in the witness of St. John the Short, he went for seventy days without partaking of anything. He waged a great struggle with the spirits of evil, who appeared to him at times exactly as they are and, at times in the form of radiant angels. But the blessed servant of God did not permit himself to be deceived and fascinated. Paisius was famous throughout Egypt as a discerner and miracle-worker. He took up habitation in eternity in the year 400 A.D. The Venerable Isidore of Pelusium translated the relics of Paisius to his monastery and honorably buried them.
3. THE HOLY MARTYR ZOSIMUS
Zosimus was a Roman soldier during the reign of Emperor Trajan. He courageously confessed his faith in Christ the Lord for which he endured cruel tortures. In the midst of his tortures, he heard a voice from heaven saying: "Be brave Zosimus and sign yourself with the cross, I am with you!" Angels of God appeared to him in prison. After many tortures, Zosimus was beheaded in the year 116 A.D.
4. VENERABLE JOHN THE HERMIT [ANCHORITE]
John lived a life of asceticism in the sixth century in the proximity of Jerusalem. Through his mortification, he achieved a high degree of purity and power so that even the wild beasts were submissive to him. John reposed in the Lord in extreme old age in the year 586 A.D.
HYMN OF PRAISE
VENERABLE PAISIUS THE GREAT
Paisius the great, from the earliest age
Behind him, the doors of all desires, he closed.
The spirit to God lifted, to that, the only desire,
As all the great saints of old.
Wonderful Paisius, the monks asked:
Which virtue to God is more pleasing?
That which is hidden! to them, Paisius replied,
And that which is expressed, to God is not pleasing.
When Paisius, by his life, glorified God
To him, the Glorified Lord Christ appeared:
Peace be to you, chosen one, what do you wish, tell me,
According to your wish, it will be, ask and receive!
When from the Lord, these words he heard
Paisius gave himself over to weeping as a child.
O gentle Lord, a man of great sin am I,
And that which is made known, to God is not pleasing.
And because of my many sins; very inconsolable am I,
According to Your mercy, forgive me my sins
All that I have sinned O God from early youth,
And for future times, grant me strength
That from new sins, the yoke, I do not burden.
That to the end of my life, Your will I do
With greater love for You to burn.
The Lord, this prudent desire fulfilled for him
And to His saint, granted a blessing.
The monks once inquired of Paisius the Great: "Father, speak to us a word of salvation and how, according to God, we should live?" The elder replied to them: "Go and keep the commandments of God and preserve the traditions of the Fathers." The tradition of the Fathers is the experience of the saints in the spiritual field, the enormous experience of nearly two-thousand years, the experience of many hundreds and thousands of holy men and women. What a very rich depository of wisdom! What kind of an immense mass of proofs of every truth of Holy Scripture! All of that wealth, all of that wisdom, all of those proofs, all of this experience the Protestants have rejected! O madness inexpressible! O, the poverty of beggars!
To contemplate the miraculous healing of the two blind men:"
"And behold, two blind men sitting by the wayside, heard that Jesus was passing by, and cried out, saying: 'Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!' " (St. Matthew 20:30):
1. How the two blind men cried out to the Lord: "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!";
2. How the merciful Lord touched their eyes and they saw;
3. How I also am blinded by sin; and how even I can see if I cry out to the Lord to touch me.
About revenge and the Avenger
"Say not, I will repay evil! Trust in the Lord and He will help you" (Proverbs 20:22).
Do not be vengeful; do not return evil for evil. The evil from your neighbor is sufficient. If you return evil for evil to him, you will double the evil in the world. If you do not return evil for evil to him, he can still burn out his evil through repentance. Thus, you will reduce evil in the world through patience and forgiveness.
Do not be vengeful; do not return evil for evil. "But wait on the Lord," He sees and remembers and, in your time, even you and your evil doer will know that God sees and remembers. You ask yourself: What have I done in that I have not returned evil for evil? You have done the wisest deed that you could do in the given situation, i.e.; you have relinquished your struggle to the One Stronger than yourself and the Stronger will victoriously fight for you. If you enter into battle with the evil doer you might be defeated. But God cannot be defeated. Therefore, relinquish your struggle to the Victorious and Undefeated One and patiently wait.
Learn from a small child. If someone attacks a child in the presence of his parents, the child does not return the attack by attacking but rather looks at his parents and cries. The child knows that his parents will protect him. How is it that you do not know what a little child knows? Your heavenly Parent is constantly beside you. That is why, do not be vengeful; do not return evil for evil rather look at your Parent and cry. Only in this way will you guarantee victory for yourself in conflict with evil men.
O Almighty Lord Who said: "Vengeance is Mine" (Romans 12:19 Hebrews 10:30), protect us from the unrighteous ones by Your almighty hand and restrain us from vengeance. Counsel us by Your Holy Spirit that the greater heroism is to endure rather than to avenge.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.