Friday, March 5, 2010

St. Bessarion the Great, wonderworker of Egypt (466)
"An Egyptian by birth, Abba Bessarion was initiated into the angelic life by Saint Anthony the Great. He later became a disciple of Saint Macarius, the founder of Scetis (19 Jan.), and then set out to lead the life of a wanderer, borne hither and thither by Providence like a bird by the wind. All his wealth lay in the Gospel, which he always had in his hand. Living in the open air, he patiently endured all weathers, untroubled by care for a dwelling or for clothing. Fortified by the strength of the faith, he thus remained untouched by all the passions of the flesh.
"On coming to a monastery where the brethren led the common life, he would sit weeping at the gate. A brother once offered him hospitality and asked why he was distressed. 'I cannot live under a roof, until I have regained the wealth of my house,' he replied, meaning the heavenly inheritance lost since Adam. 'I am afflicted, in danger of death every day, and without rest because of my huge misfortunes, which oblige me ever to travel on in order to finish my course.'
"He wandered for forty years without ever lying down to sleep, and he spent all of forty days and forty nights standing wide awake in a thorn bush. One winter's day, he was walking through a village when he came upon a dead man. Without hesitation, he took off his own coat and covered the body. A little further on, he gave his tunic to a poor man who was shivering in the cold. An army officer, who happened to be passing, saw the naked ascetic and wanted to know who had stripped him of his clothing. 'He did!' replied Bessarion, holding up the Gospel Book. On another occasion, he met with a poor man and, having nothing to give him in alms, he hurried to the market in order to sell his Gospel Book. On his disciple's asking him where the Book was, he replied cheerfully, 'I have sold it in obedience to the words which I never cease to hear:
God, sell what you possess and give to the poor (Matt. 19:21).
"Through this evangelic way of life he became a chosen vessel of Grace, and God wrought many miracles through him. One day, for example, he made sea water sweet through the sign of the Cross, to quench his disciple's thirst. When the latter wanted to keep some for the remainder of the journey, he prevented him, saying, 'God is here, God is everywhere!' At another time, having stood for two weeks in prayer with hands raised to heaven, he brought about rain enough to fill a thirsty brother's coat. Then there was the time when he stopped the sun from setting until he reached the cell of an elder whom he wished to meet; and the time when he walked across the waters of a river. Through these and many other wonders wrought by the Saint, God showed, as He did with Moses, Joshua and Elias, that He grants His servants mastery even over natural phenomena. Through the power of Christ, he raised a paralytic, drove out demons and showed himself truly to be a 'god' upon the earth.
"When, having reached his goal, he was at the point of regaining that dwelling in heaven which he had sought throughout his wanderings, he said to those about him, 'The monk ought, like the cherubim, to be all eye.'
"In answer to a brother who asked what a monk living in community ought to do, he replied: 'Keep silence and do not measure yourself.' Indeed, this is how even in the midst of people one can obtain the grace of the great anchorites."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"At all times and places, preach the Gospel, and, if necessary, use words."
St. John Chrysostom

Saturday, February 27, 2010

..."How is it that I think and do things that I don't want or desire to think or do"? I answered that everyone is that way, and so forth. Therefore, the more one conquers himself, the greater the reward that he will receive there in eternity. This is the Christian's most essential duty, and for this one needs God's help, which is received through prayer..."

St. Innocent of Alaska

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The PriestMartyr Charalampios, Bishop of Magnezia, the Martyrs Porphyry and Baptos and the Three Martyresses
The PriestMartyr Charalampios, Bishop of Magnezia, the Martyrs Porphyry and Baptos and the Three Martyresses suffered in the year 202.
Saint Charalampios, bishop of the Thessalonian city of Magnezia (northwest region of Greece), successfully spread faith in Christ the Saviour. News about his preaching reached the governor of the district Lucian and the military-commander Lucius. The saint was arrested and brought to trial, where he firmly confessed his faith in Christ and refused to offer sacrifice to idols. Despite the decrepit age of the bishop (he was already 113 years of age), they subjected him to monstrous tortures: they lacerated his body with iron hooks, while they scourged all his skin from head to foot. During this the saint turned to his tormentors: "I bless you, brethren, ye have restored my spirit!"
Having seen the endurance of the elder and his complete lack of malice, two soldiers – Porphyry and Baptos openly confessed Christ, for which they were immediately beheaded with a sword. Being present at the sufferings of bishop Charalampios were likewise three women who began to glorify Christ and were quickly martyred.
The enraged Lucius himself seized hold of the instruments of torture and began to tear at the priest-martyr, but suddenly his hand was cut off as though by a sword. Also arriving at the place of execution the governor spat in the face of the saint, and immediately he bent backwards. Then Lucius began to beseech the saint for forgiveness, and through his prayer both torturers at once received healing. During this a multitude of witnesses came to believe in Christ. Among them also was Lucius, who fell at the feet of the holy elder, begging forgiveness.
Lucian reported about the occurrence to the emperor Septimus Severus (193-211), situated at this time at Pisidian Antioch (western part of Asia Minor). The emperor gave orders to bring Saint Charlampios to him, and this was done with a stupid ferocity: they dragged the priest-martyr, having tied a rope to his beard. The emperor then gave orders to torture the bishop more intensely, and they began to burn at him with fire. But the Power of God aided to the saint, and he remained unharmed. Besides this, miracles were done through his prayer: he raised up a dead youth, and healed a demoniac tormented by devils for 35 years, so that the people in a multitude began to believe in Christ the Saviour. Even Galina the daughter of the emperor began to believe in Christ, and twice smashed idols in a pagan temple. By order of the emperor they beat the saint with stones about the mouth, and they wanted to set afire his beard, from which the flames went forth burning the torturer. Full of wickedness, Septimus Severus and his dignitary Crispus hurled blasphemy at the Lord, mockingly summoning Him to come down to the earth, and bragging of their own power and might. In wrath the Lord quaked the earth, great fear fell upon all, both the impious ones were suspended in mid-air held by invisible bounds, and only by the prayer of the saint were they put down. The dazed emperor was shaken in his former impiety, but again quickly fell into error and gave orders to torture the saint. And finally, he sentenced him to beheading with a sword. During the time of his final prayer, the saint was vouchsafed to behold the Saviour Himself and besought Him to grant that place where his remains would repose, in peace, would be fruitful for people, bringing forgiveness of sins and salvation. The Lord promised to fulfill the request and ascended to heaven, bearing with Him the soul of the priestmartyr Charalampios – who through the mercy of God accepted a peaceful death before execution. The daughter of the emperor, blessed Galina, buried the body of the martyr with great honour.

You Must Become Like A Little Child To Enter The Kingdom Of Heaven

"He who is poor in spirit does not dare to try, does not think of trying. to comprehend the incomprehensible, to penetrate God's secrets, to philosephise on the highest; he believes in the word of the Lord, the Life-giver, knowing that His every word is truth, spirit, and life eternal; and in the words of His Church, ever instructed in all truth by the Holy Spirit, he believes as a child believes his father or mother, not demanding proofs, but relying upon them in perfect trust."
St. John lof Kronstadt
"My Life in Christ"

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Righteous Simeon the God-Receiver

Righteous Simeon the God-Receiver was, according to the testimony of the holy Evangelist Luke, one of the chosen of God in expectation of the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit dwelt upon him (Lk 2:25). It was announced to him from God, that he would not die until that time, when the Promised Messiah – Christ the Lord – would be come into the world.
Ancient historians relate that the Egyptian emperor Ptolemy II Philadelphos (285-247 BC) wished to add to the famous Library at Alexandria with texts of Holy Scripture. He invited scholars from Jerusalem, and the Sanhedrin sent their wise men. Righteous Simeon was also among the 72 scholars in Alexandria for the translation of the Sacred Scriptures into the Greek language.

Friday, February 12, 2010

"For creation, as if written in characters and by means of its order and harmony, declares in a loud voice its own Master and Creator.... For this reason, God, by his own Word, gave creation such order as is found therein, so that while He is by nature invisible, men might yet be able to know Him through His works."

Saint Anthony the Great 251-356 A.D.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

St. Andrew (Rublev) of Russia, iconographer (1430)

Many consider him the greatest iconographer of all time, and his "Holy Trinity" the finest icon. Very little is known of his life. He was born around 1360, and probably studied with the Byzantine iconographer Theophanes the Greek. He is known to have created icons for the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Moscow and the Cathedral of the Dormition at Vladimir. He created a highly spiritual and distinctively Russian iconographic style that set the standard for Russian iconography for centuries thereafter. It is said that he knew St Sergius of Radonezh (July 5). In his later years he became a monk.

"If society embarks on the road of such recklessness consumption, our earth will go under. It has already been proven that if the average level of consumption of the whole world matches that of the United States… the basic resources will run out in 40 to 50 years. God has not given us resources to live like this,"
His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

Friday, February 5, 2010

What is the spirit of the anti-christ? It is the notion that man can work out his own problems and that we ourselves can usher peace into the world apart from divine intervention. It is a denial that we are broken and in need of a Savior. It is a display of pride that reflects a high regard for our own abilities to overcome the problems of this world through the unity of mankind rather than working within the unity of the Holy Trinity. It is a denial of sin, it's consequences and the day of judgement. Ultimately, it is a denial of the work of the Son of God to save mankind through the cross and His resurrection.

Monday, February 1, 2010

"In truth the Lord does not seek virgins nor married women, and neither monks nor worldly persons, but doth value the free intent of the person within the arbitrariness of his free will to offer thanks to the Holy Spirit, which acts and which rules the life of each person, yearning to be saved".

Friday, January 29, 2010

"When a man reproaches himself, he will have endurance and patience in every circumstance."

Abba Poemen

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"When you pray, endeavour to pray more for others than yourself alone, and during prayer represent to yourself vividly all men as forming one body with yourself, and each separately as a member of the Body of Christ and your own member, "for we are members one of another" (Ephesians 4:25). Pray for all as you would pray for yourself, with the same sincerity and fervour; look upon their infirmities and sicknesses as your own; their spiritual ignorance, their sins and passions, as your own; their temptations, misfortunes, and manifold afflictions as your own. Such prayer will be accepted with great favour by the Heavenly Father, that most gracious, common Father of all, with Whom "there is no respect of persons" (Romans 2:11), no variableness" (James 1:17), that boundless Love that embraces and preserves all creatures."

St. John of Kronstadt

"My Life in Christ"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Atmospheric Corruption

The devil is jealous of God's gifts to mankind and endeavors to steal them for his glory. The closer a man draws to God, the more the devil comes against that man for the devil abhors the shining glory of God that emanates from His beloved. It is blinding, annoying and a continually ever present illumination of the devil's filth, his uncleanness and his stench for where the beloved of God are present, so is the sweet aroma and shining glory of God.

"All who desire to live Godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." 2 Tim 3:12

"Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience" Eph 2:2
There is a worldly course and a heavenly course
A prince has power but his power is trumped by the power of the king.
Air is everywhere and invisible. Air contains fuel for all living things. Satan is the prince of the power of the air.
Death came through Satan. Man willingly gave himself over to the power of Satan and thus death entered into the world. Mankind as the king of the earthly realm relegated his powers to the devil and in return received only that which Satan was able to give which was all that was against God, anti-God and that gift was death and darkness. God in mercy allowed for death to enter into the world for in death, sin is ended yet God also in mercy conquered death so that we might live again forever free from the sin that formally enslaved us.
Saint Paul exhorts us to pray unceasingly. Just as we unceasingly breath to sustain life in this worldly realm, so we must unceasingly pray (which is our breath) for survival in the heavenly realm. Unceasing prayer sustains us in the heavenly realm. When we stop breathing in the worldly realm, we die. When we stop praying in the heavenly realm, we die.

Monday, January 18, 2010

"May the Lord Jesus, Who said: 'Ask, and ye shall receive' (John 16:24), grant all your requests. Only prepare your house, and sweep it thoroughly to receive the Divine gifts. They remain secure only where there is no impurity. He who tastes of them becomes a stranger to the old Adam; he becomes crucified to the world as the world is to him, and lives always in the Lord."
St. Barsanuphius and St. John
"Directions in Spiritual Work"

Saturday, January 16, 2010

St. Genevieve of Paris (502)

She was born near Paris to a family of wealthy landowners. When she was about ten years old St Germanus of Auxerre, passing through the region on his way to Britain, discerned a special divine purpose for her, and told her parents that she had been chosen for the salvation of many. "He asked her that day, and early the next, if she would consecrate herself to holy virginity for Christ and, on both occasions, she answered that it was her dearest wish. Then he blessed her and gave her a copper coin inscribed with the Cross to wear around her neck, telling her never to wear gold, silver or pearls, but to elevate her mind above the small beauties of this world in order to inherit eternal and heavenly adornments."
  Convents were unknown at that time in Gaul, so Genevieve lived as a solitary, in a cell in her own house, first with her parents then, after their death, with her godmother in Paris. She devoted herself to the poor, giving away everything that came into her hands, except the small amount that she needed to feed herself on bread and beans. (When she passed the age of fifty, she was commanded by the bishops to add some fish and milk to her diet). She kept Lent from Theophany to Pascha, during which time she never left her house. She was never afraid to rebuke the powerful for their oppression of the weak and the poor, and thus earned many powerful enemies; but the people's love for her, and the support of the Church, kept her from persecution.
  It became her custom to walk to church on Sundays in procession with her household and many pious laypeople. Once the candle borne at the front of the procession (it was still dark) blew out in a rainstorm. The Saint asked for the candle and, when she took it in her hand, it re-lit and stayed lighted until they reached the church. At several other times, candles lit spontaneously in her hand; for this reason her icon shows her holding a candle.
  She traveled throughout Gaul (modern-day France) on church business, being greeted with all the honors usually accorded a bishop. Several times she saved the city of Paris from the assaults of barbarian tribes through her prayers, by pleading with barbarian chieftains, and once by organizing a convoy to bring grain to the besieged city.
  Saint Genevieve reposed in peace at the age of eighty. Through the centuries since then, she has shown her holy protection of the city of Paris countless times, and her relics in the Church of Saint Genevieve have wrought innumerable healings. Her relics were many times carried in huge processions in times of war, pestilence or other national trial. These relics were mostly burned and thrown into the River Seine by the godless Revolutionaries in 1793, but, as the Synaxarion concludes, "those who continue to invoke Saint Genevieve with faith, find her to be well and truly alive."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sainted Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea Cappadocia, "belongs not to the Church of Caesarea alone, nor merely to his own time, nor to his own kinsmen was he merely of benefit, but rather to all lands and cities worldwide, and to all people he brought and yet brings benefit, and for Christians he always was and will be a teacher most salvific", – thus spoke the contemporary of Saint Basil, Sainted Amphylokhios,

Bishop of Iconium Basil the Great had mastered all the available disciplines: "He so thoroughly studied everything, more than others are wont to study a single subject, each science he studied to its very totality, as though he would study naught else". Philosopher, philologist, orator, jurist, naturalist, possessing profound knowledge in astronomy, mathematics and medicine, – "this was a ship, loaded down full of learning, to the extent allowed of by human nature".

Overcoming the heretics "by the weapon of his mouth, and by the arrows of his letters", as an untiring champion of Orthodoxy, Saint Basil all his life gave challenge to the hostility and the every which way possible intrigues of the Arian heretics.

The emperor Valens, mercilessly dispatching into exile any bishops that displeased him, and having implanted Arianism into other Asia Minor provinces, suddenly appeared in Cappadocia for precisely this purpose. He sent off to Saint Basil the prefect Modestus, who began to threaten the saint with ruin, banishment, beatings and even death by execution. "All this, – replied Basil, – for me means nothing, since one cannot be deprived of possessions that one does not have, beyond some old worn-out clothing and some books, which comprises the entirety of my wealth. For me it would not be exile, since I am bound to no particular place, and this place in which I now dwell is not mine, and indeed any place whither I be cast shalt be mine. Better it is to say: everywhere is the place of God, whither be naught stranger nor new-comer (Ps. 38 [39]: 13). And what tortures can ye do me? – I am so weak, that merely but the very first blow will be felt. Death for me would be an act of kindness: it wilt bring me all the sooner to God, for Whom I live and do labour, and to Whom moreover I do strive". The official was bewildered by such an answer. "Perhaps, – continued the saint, – thou hast never had encounter with a bishop; otherwise, without doubt, thou wouldst have heard suchlike words. In all else we are meek, the most humble of all, and not only afront the mighty, but also afront all, since such is prescribed for us by the law. But when it is a matter concerning God and they make bold to rise up against Him, then we – being mindful of naught else, think only of Him alone, and then fire, sword, wild beasts and chains, the rending of the body, would sooner hold satisfaction for us, than to be afraid".
Reporting to Valens on the not to be intimidated Saint Basil, Modestus said: "Emperor, we stand defeated by a leader of the Church".

Saint Basil almost daily celebrated Divine-services. He was particularly concerned about the strict fulfilling of the canons of the Church, and kept attentive watch, so that only worthy individuals should enter into the clergy. He incessantly made the rounds of his own church, lest anywhere there be an infraction of Church discipline, and setting aright any unseemliness.

Sickly since youth, the toil of teaching, efforts at abstinence, the concerns and sorrows of pastoral service early sapped the strength of the saint. Saint Basil died on 1 January 379 at age 49.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Holy Martyred 14,000 Infants

The Holy Martyred 14,000 Infants were killed by king Herod in Bethlehem. When the time was come for the fulfilling of the greatest of events – the Incarnation of the Son of God and His Birth of the MostHoly Virgin Mary, Magi in the East beheld a new star in the heavens, foretelling the Nativity of the King of the Jews. They set off immediately to Jerusalem to worship the Born-Child, and the star showed them the way. Having worshipped the Divine-Infant, they did not return to Jerusalem to Herod, as he had ordered them to, but rather – receiving a revelation from on high – they went back to their country by another way. Herod finally realised that his scheme to find the Infant would not have success, and he gave orders to kill all the male children two years and younger at Bethlehem and its surroundings. He reasoned, that among the dead children would be also the Divine-Infant, Whom he considered a rival. The murdered infants became the first martyrs for Christ. The rage of Herod fell also on Simeon the God-Receiver, who declared in witness in front of everyone in the Temple that the Messiah had been born. When the holy elder died, Herod would not give permission that he be properly buried. And on the orders of king Herod, the holy prophet and priest Zachariah also was killed: they murdered him in the Jerusalem Temple betwixt the Offertory and the Altar – because he would not tell the whereabouts of his son John, the future Baptist of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The wrath of God soon fell upon Herod himself: an horrid condition struck him down and he died – devoured by worms while still alive. Before his death the impious king accomplished full measure of his wicked deeds: he murdered chief-priests and scribes among the Jews, and also his brother by birth, and his sister and her husband, and also his own wife Mariam and three of his sons, and likewise 70 men of wisdom that were members of the Sanhedrin.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"No wonder, then, that it is so hard to be Christian--it is not hard it is impossible. No one can knowingly accept a way of life which, the more truly it is lived, leads more surely to one's own destruction. And that is why we constantly rebel, try to make life easier, try to be half-Christian, try to make the best of both worlds. We must ultimately choose--our felicity lies in one world or the other, not in both."

Fr. Seraphim Rose

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Down To Earth, Not Of This World

"What lies in time and goes according to the temporal order comes to a stop when it reaches completion, for then its natural growth is finished. But what is brought forth by the grace of God according to the order of virtuous living, when it reaches completion proceeds to grow again - for here the end of one serves as the beginning of another. He who by active virtue has put a stop to corruptible passions in him, by this very fact has begun other Divine transformations 'from glory to glory' (2 Cor. iii.18), since God, acting in him, never ceases, just as He never began, to enact good."
St. Maximus the Confessor
"Contemplative and Active Texts"
(The Philokalia)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Synthetic Christ

We moderns have done with Christ, the same as we have done with everything else in this world in which we exist. We have taken the seed of life, sliced it, dissected it and studied it, taking a bit of it for our own and then from that little bit of real life, we have created a synthetic look a like. In the midst of a world created by God for our benefit, we have done the same thing with all of life. We have refused His ways, insisting on creating our own world, our own food, our own medicine, our own clothes, our own religion, our own way of life, living apart from God yet deluding ourselves into thinking this is reality. We have rejected the true God and created an imitation. We have rejected the real world and created an toxic placebo. We have rejected the real purpose for which man has been put upon this earth and embraced a delusion that appears real and feels real but is really just a computer generated image. Pull the plug and it disappears for it has no depth and no connection with a sustainable energy source. We moderns have built a tidy, shiny, impressively appearing civilization on lies, distortions, half truths and delusions. We have become masters at imitating and counterfeiting truth and reality. We have convinced ourselves and the world around us that our creation is reality and that the authentic reality is inadequate to sustain life. We moderns call our rebellion; freedom and enlightenment. The old world, the ancient world, the world of our fathers is of no use to us and must be destroyed for it ties us to the past which keeps us from embracing that hope which is to come. The shining star that led the wise men of the East to Christ, has been replaced with a new star that is leading the wise men of our age to the antichrist and the new world order. The purveyors of this new world order are re-creating civilization, the world and the universe to satisfy their egos and the masses have been become intoxicated with their strong drink. In our drunkenness, we have been incited to rape the virginal maidens of beauty and truth. We have burned to the ground the ancient traditions that were the pillars of our faith. We have pillaged the glorious treasures that through the ages have sustained us in times of famine and war. Our society has entered into a period of desolation and abomination from which there is no return.

This is a time in which the inhabitants of the heavenlies, the Holy Trinity, the Mother of God, the saints of old with all the holy angels look mournfully upon the earth. Yet in their mourning for our souls, they are ready and able to save those of us who perhaps will come to our senses to call out to the heavenlies for salvation so that we might escape from this insanity of life, we call modernity.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Sainted Gregory, Bishop of Omiritia (North Africa)

...When he finished the prayer, the earth quaked, and in the East the heavens were opened up, and in a radiant cloud, amidst flaming and fiery rays of light the Lord Jesus Christ came down on earth, and thus was heard the Voice of the Lord: "On account of the prayers of bishop Gregory be ye healed of My Crucifixion by your fathers".
Like unto Saul before his becoming Paul, who on the Road to Damascus was struck blind by the Heavenly light, the Jews here were struck blind and they implored the holy bishop to heal them. In receiving holy Baptism, all of them were healed. Rabbi Ervan received the Christian name Leo (meaning "lion") on title for the rest of the story.