The Sunday after the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee is the Sunday of the Prodigal Son. This parable of God’s forgiveness calls us to “come to ourselves” as did the prodigal son, to see ourselves as being “in a far country” far from the Father’s house,…
Saint Basil the Confessor was a monk and suffered during the reign of the iconoclast emperor Leo the Isaurian (717-741). When a persecution started against those who venerated holy icons, Saint Basil and his companion Saint Procopius of Decapolis (February 27) were subjected to much torture and…
Blessed Nicholas of Pskov lived the life of a holy fool for more than three decades. Long before his death he acquired the grace of the Holy Spirit and was granted the gifts of wonderworking and of prophecy. The Pskov people of his time called him Mikula [Mikola, Nikola] the Fool. Even during his…
The Hieromartyr Proterius, Patriarch of Alexandria, and those with him. The priest Proterius lived in Alexandria during the patriarchal tenure of Dioscorus (444-451), an adherent of the Monophysite heresy of Eutyches. Proterius fearlessly denounced the heretics and confessed the Orthodox Faith. In…
The Hieromartyr Nestor, Bishop of Magydos in Pamphylia During a persecution against Christians under the emperor Decius (249-251), he was arrested while praying in his home. He learned of the suffering awaiting him through a peculiar vision. He saw a lamb prepared for sacrifice. The ruler of the…
Saints Marina (Marana) and Kyra (Cyra), sisters by birth, lived during the fourth century in the city of Veria (or Berea) in Syria. Their parents were illustrious and rich, but the sisters left home and departed the city when they had reached maturity. Having cleared off a small plot of land, the…
Saint Domnica (Domnina) was a Syrian nun, and a companion of Saints Marana and Kyra.
Saint John Cassian the Roman was born around 360, probably in Lesser Scythia (in Dacia Pontica). His pious Christian parents gave him an excellent classical education, and also instructed him in the Holy Scriptures and in the spiritual life. Saint John entered a monastery in the diocese of Tomis,…
Saint John, called Barsanuphius, was a native of Palestine. He was baptized when he was eighteen years old, and later became a monk. Because of his ascetic life, Saint John was consecrated Archbishop of Damascus. Because of his love for the solitary life, Saint John gave up his position as hierarch…
The Holy Martyr Theokteristus, Igumen of the Pelekete monastery, suffered for the holy icons under the impious emperor Constantine Copronymos (741-775). Also subjected to tortures were Saint Stephen the New (November 28), and other pious monks. Saint Theokteristus was burned with boiling tar. The…
Saint Leo of Cappadocia fulfilled the commandment to love his neighbor by suggesting to the Saracens, who had captured three sickly monks, that he take the place of these infirm captives with himself, since he was healthy and able to work. While journeying in the desert, Saint Leo weakened and was…
The name of Meletios Leontovich, Archbishop of Khar'kov and Akhtyrsk, who reposed righteously on February 29, 1840 was deeply respected and honored by his former flock. The residents of Khar'kov faithfully visit his grave in the Cave Church of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos Monastery.…
Saint Germanus the Daco-Roman was born in the mid-fourth century, probably on the borders of Cassian and the Caves in the diocese of Tomis (in what is now Romania), and was related to Saint John Cassian (February 29). Saint Germanus, who was older than Saint John, was tonsured at one of the local…
This Icon appeared on February 29, 1392. One of the oldest shrines of the Devpeteruv (Девпетерувская) Icon of the Mother of God is now located in the Nikolaev church of the village of Batyushkova, or Batatkova, Dmitrovsky district of Moscow Province. In this image, the child Jesus is…
1. THE VENERABLE MARTYR EUDOCIA
The venerable martyr Eudocia lived in the Phoenician city of Heliopolis during the reign of Trajan. Eudocia was a great debaucher at first. After that she was a penitent, ascetic, and finally a martyr. Through her debauchery she amassed a great fortune. The change in her life came about inadvertently through God's Providence and a certain elder, the monk Herman. Coming into the city on assignment, he resided at the home of a Christian whose house was adjacent to that of Eudocia. In the evening and according to monastic tradition, he began to recite the Psalter and to read a chapter on the dreadful judgment. Eudocia heard him and attentively eavesdropped on his words to the end. Fear and terror overcame her, and she remained awake until dawn. At daybreak, she sent her servant to beseech the monk to come to her. Herman came and a lengthy conversation took place between them about faith and salvation in general. As a result of the conversation, Eudocia petitioned the local bishop to baptize her. Following her baptism, Eudocia bequeathed her entire estate to the Church to be distributed among the poor. She dismissed her servants and slaves and withdrew to a convent. Thus, Eudocia resolved to dedicate herself to the monastic life, obedience, patience, long vigils, prayer and fasting. After thirteen months, Eudocia was elected abbess. Eudocia lived in the convent for fifty-six years and was found worthy before God. He endowed her with much grace so that she raised even the dead. When the persecution of Christians began under Prince Vincent, St. Eudocia was beheaded. Eudocia is a glorious example of how a vessel of impurity can be purified, sanctified and filled with the Grace of the Holy Spirit, the precious odor of heaven.
2. THE VENERABLE AGAPIUS
He was a novice under the spiritual direction of a priest in the Vatopedi Monastery on Mt. Athos. Captured by pirates, Agapius was sold as a slave in Magnesia. After twelve years, he was miraculously freed through the help of the All-Holy Mother of God and returned to Vatopedi. He baptized his former master and became his spiritual father. Agapius continued the remainder of his life in asceticism in Vatopedi and died peacefully in the Lord.
3. THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYR, ANTONINA
Antonina was born in Nicaea. Because of her faith in Christ, she was arrested and brutally tortured. Finally, she was sewn in a sack and drowned in a lake in the year 302 A.D. God saved her soul and continuously glorified her among the angels in heaven and among the faithful on earth.
HYMN OF PRAISE
At one time, a woman filled with sin,
And finally, a meek penitent,
Eudocia prayed to God,
All the while kneeling, shedding tears.
This enkindled the rage of Satan,
And enraged, to the heavens he cried out:
O Michael, heavenly commander,
Justice you speak, injustice you do to me,
My sheepfold you intend to empty completely,
And from me, to seize the last sheep.
Why do you take this sinful woman?
Her sins are greater than mine!
For some minor disobedience,
To Hades I fell and, into eternal torments.
Her sins are as the stagnant sea
Encompassing everything that comes near her.
Thus, malice spites at good,
To every penitent it bodes evil,
While Michael, the guardian of the penitent,
With angels approach Eudocia
And takes her under his protection,
By his breath, he dispelled the demons.
At that moment from heaven a song echoed:
The mercy of God so willed,
That every penitent be embraced,
That every penitent be forgiven,
Repentance--for all mankind, salvation,
That is both God's mercy and will--
God's will--Satan's evil will.
Faithfulness and obedience to the will of God is necessary to adorn the life of every Christian. As is seen in the life of St. Agapius, God glorifies the faithful and the obedient. When he was a young man, this saint was captured by pirates, was taken to Asia and was sold to a certain Arab. For twelve years Agapius remained quietly and obediently a slave of this Arab. For twelve years he prayed to the All-Holy Mother of God to help him gain his freedom from bondage. One night, the Virgin Mother of God appeared to him and said, "Arise and go without fear to Mt. Athos to your elder." Agapius arose and came to his elder on Mt. Athos, the Holy Mountain. When the elder saw Agapius, he was saddened, thinking that Agapius had fled from his master.He said to him, "My child Agapius, you have deceived your master, but you can never deceive God. On the day of the dreadful judgment, you will have to render an answer for that money with which your master purchased you to serve him. Therefore, you must return and faithfully serve your master." Agapius, faithful and obedient to the will of God, returned immediately to Asia, reported to his master, and informed him about everything that had happened. The Arab, learning all of this, was amazed and was overcome with the charity of Christians. He desired to see Agapius' s elder. The Arab arrived at the Holy Mountain, accompanied by his two sons. Here, he and his two sons were baptized. All three of them were tonsured as monks. They remained there until their deaths, practicing the strict life of asceticism, at first, under the guidance of Agapius' s spiritual father, and afterwards, by Agapius himself. Thus, the one-time cruel masters became the obedient disciples of their former slave, faithful to the will of the God of the obedient Agapius.
To contemplate the Lord Jesus at the Mystical Supper:
1. How He washes the feet of His disciples. By this act He especially teaches humility and love for one another;
2. How Peter, one of the most faithful, was ashamed and refused to allow our Lord to wash his feet;
3. How Judas, unbeliever and traitor, was unashamed and did not refuse our Lord to wash his feet;
4. How even today, the faithful receive countless benefits from God with embarrassment and shame, and the unfaithful also receive the same but without embarrassment and without shame, and yet with grumbling against God.
About knowing and doing
"If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it" (St. John 13:17).
The most important aspect of this scripture text of our Lord, brethren, is thatthe Lord does not mitigate knowing, but stresses doing. He does not say to the apostles, "Blessed are you when you know this." Some pagan teachers who viewed salvation only in terms of knowledge spoke in this manner. However, our Lord says, "Blessed are you if you do it." The knowledge of salvation was given to us by the Lord Jesus Himself, and no one is able to attain that knowledge through his own efforts.
Some of the ancient Greek philosophers said that mankind cannot come to the knowledge of the truth, nor can be saved, until God Himself comes to earth. Our Lord came among men and revealed this knowledge to them. Whosoever receives this knowledge also accepts the obligation to fulfill it. O, how much easier will it be at the judgment for those who never received this knowledge at all, and consequently, did not fulfill it, than for those who received this knowledge and neglected to fulfill it.
O, how much easier it will be at the judgment for unlearned pagans than for the learned Christians.
Our Lord alone showed Himself not only as a Knower, but also as a Doer. His perfect knowledge complimented His perfect doing. Before the eyes of His disciples, He personally fulfilled all of His own commandments. He gave them this commandment and completed this act of humility and love when He washed the feet of His disciples. He then commanded that they should do this to one another. Our Lord did not dwell among men to soil men, but to wash them. He never soiled anyone, but cleansed all who wished to be cleansed. What kind of shame is it for many of us who labor much to wash ourselves and labor twice as much to soil others? O, my brethren, we muddy our own blood brothers. Even Christ weeps when He sees how we, with the mud of slander, soil those whom He has washed with His own blood. O Lord forgive us! We sin everyday against our own brothers. Make our brothers, O Lord, whom we have soiled, brighter than we in Your kingdom. You are just and You see all.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.