Saint Nikolai Velimirovic
January 29th - February 5th
(New Style) • January 16th - January 23rd (Old Style)
29th (New Style) • January 16th (Old Style)
Peter the Apostle (The chains of St. Peter)
Peter is commemorated on this day because of the chains by which he
was shackled by the lawless Herod and which during the appearance of
an angel in prison fell from him, "Suddenly the angel of the
Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on
the side and awakened him, saying, `Get up quickly.' The chains fell
from his wrists" (Acts of the Apostles 12:7). The chains were
preserved by Christians as much for the memory of this great apostle
as well as for their healing power, for many of the sick were healed
by touching them as well as with the towel of the Apostle Paul,
"then when the face cloths or aprons that touched his skin were
applied to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits
came out of them" (Acts of the Apostles 19:12). St. Juvenal,
the Patriarch of Jerusalem gave these chains as a gift to the
Empress Eudocia, the exiled wife of the Emperor Theodosius the
Younger. She divided them into two and sent one half to the Church
of the Holy Apostle in Constantinople and the other half to her
daughter Empress Eudoxia in Rome, the wife of Valentian. Eudoxia
built the Church of St. Peter and deposited these chains in it,
together with those chains with which Peter was shackled before his
death under Emperor Nero.
Holy Martyrs Speusippus, Eleusippus, Meleusippus and their
three brothers, triplets, Speusippus, Eleusippus, Meleusippus all
suffered for Christ in France during the reign of Emperor Marcus
Aurelius (161 A.D. -180A.D.). At first, only Leonilla was a
Christian while her grandsons were heathens. After prolonged
counseling on the part of their pious grandmother and of the local
priest, these three brothers received baptism. Having been baptized
and with youthful zeal, they began to live a devoted life for their
Faith and with this passion destroyed all the idols in the whole
vicinity. Accused and brought before the tribunal, they acknowledged
their act and openly confessed their faith in Christ. The judge had
them thrown into prison and summoned Leonilla, the grandmother, and
directed that she, too, go to the prison and counsel her grandsons
to deny Christ and to worship the idols. Without a word, Leonilla
went to the prison, but instead of counseling her grandsons to deny
the True Faith, she began to encourage them not to waver but to
endure all torments to the end and to die for Christ. When the
judge, again, questioned them and realized their even stronger
steadfastness in the Faith, he condemned them to death. At first,
all three of them were hanged on a tree where they hung "as
strings on a gulsa"* after which, they were flogged and finally
burned in fire. A certain woman, Jovilla, enthusiastic at the
courage of these martyrs cried out: "I am a Christian
also!" They immediately apprehended her who, together with the
elderly Leonilla, was beheaded.]
Venerable Martyr Damaskin of Gabrovo
led a life of asceticism in Hilendar [Mt. Athos] where he became the
abbot. When he sought from some Turks payment of a debt due to the
monastery, they persuaded a Muslim woman to enter the house where
Damaskin lived. Then, those same Turks came and, finding this woman,
dragged Damaskin before the Cadi [Muslim Judge] who then proposed to
him: either be hanged or convert to Islam. To this Damaskin
decisively responded, "It would be insanity if I for this
transient life would purchase eternal death." He was hanged in
the year 1771 A.D. in Svishtov. Thus, Damaskin sacrificed his body
in order to save his soul. God's punishment immediately befell his
murderers. While crossing the Danube river, in a row boat, a storm
arose and capsized the boat and drowned them.
was born in Vidin. He was a disciple of St. Gregory Sinaite. He
lived a life of asceticism in several monasteries. Together with him
in the Monastery Ravanica [Serbia] lived Constantine Camblak. St.
Romil died in the Lord about the year 1375 A.D. in the Monastery
crushes human pride as does habitual obedience toward elders. In
ancient Sparta, obedience was considered a great virtue. It is said
a Spartan soldier, who rushed into battle armed with a sword, caught
up with his enemy and at the precise moment when he was about to
slay him, the trumpet sounded to end the fighting and the Spartan
replaced his sword in the sheath. When someone who saw this asked
him: "Why did you not slay the enemy?" He replied: "
It is better to obey the commander than to slay the enemy."
Christian obedience differs from this Spartan obedience in that it
is voluntary and has as its goal the salvation of the soul; i.e., it
is not for the preservation of the earthly kingdom but rather for
obtaining of the heavenly kingdom. St. John the Short [Colobus]
began his ascetical life with a certain elder of Thebes. In order to
teach his disciple obedience, the elder planted a withered tree in
the ground and ordered his disciple to water it daily. For three
years, John without murmuring watered this withered tree until it
finally turned green and brought forth fruit. This is the fruit of
resigned obedience. The Crucified Lord Himself "became obedient
to death" (Philippians 2:8).
contemplate the peace of the Lord Jesus:
peace which He carried in His soul: The only, perfect Peace-bearer;
peace which He created among men: The only, perfect Peace-maker;
peace which He gave to His disciples: The only, perfect Peace-giver.
how we all are free only if we are slaves of Christ
the slave called in the Lord is a freed person in the Lord, just as
the free person who has been called is a slave of Christ" (I
great news that Christianity daily announces to the world is that
nothing is evaluated at full value according to its external
appearance but by its essence. Do not evaluate things according to
its color and shape but by its meaning. Do not evaluate a man by his
position and property but by his heart - by his heart in which are
united his feeling, his reason and his will.
to this, for the world always a new teaching; he is not a slave who
is outwardly enslaved; neither is he free who possesses outward
physical freedom. According to secular understanding, the slave is
one who enjoys the world the least and a free man is one who enjoys
the world the most. According to Christian understanding, a slave is
one who least enjoys from the living and sweet Christ and the free
man is one who enjoys most from the living and sweet Christ.
Further, according to secular understanding, the slave is one who
carries out his own will less frequently and who carries out the
will of others more frequently, and a free man is one who carries
out his will more often and even less often the will of others.
However, according to Christian understanding, the slave is one who
carries out his will more often and even less often the will of God,
and the free man is one who carries out the will of God more
frequently and who carries out even less frequently, his own will.
To be a slave to the Lord is the only true and worthy freedom of man
and, to be a slave to the world and to one's self, sin and vice is
the only fatal slavery. Of the kings on the throne, a man would
think: Are there any more free men on earth than those? However,
many kings were the most base and the most unworthy slaves of the
earth. Of shackled Christians in the dungeons, a man would think:
Are there any more miserable slaves on earth than they? However, the
Christian martyrs in the prisons felt as free men and were filled
with spiritual joy; they chanted Psalms and raised up prayers of
gratitude to God. Freedom which is tied to grief and sorrow is not
freedom but slavery. Only freedom in Christ is tied with unspeakable
joy. Lasting joy is the mark of true freedom.
Jesus, the only Good Lord, Who grants us freedom when You tie us
stronger to Yourself, make us Your slaves as soon as possible that
we would cease to be slaves of cruel and unmerciful masters.
be glory and thanks always. Amen.
30th (New Style) • January 17th (Old Style)
Anthony the Great
was an Egyptian and was born about the year 250 A.D. in the village
of Koman near Herculea. Following the demise of his noble and
wealthy parents, he divided the inherited estate with his sister,
who was a minor, and provided for her with some relatives. Anthony
distributed his half of the estate to the poor and, he, in his
twentieth year, dedicated himself to the ascetical life for which he
yearned from his childhood. In the beginning Anthony lived a life of
asceticism in the proximity of his village but, in order to flee the
disturbances of people, he withdrew into the wilderness on the shore
of the Red Sea, where he spent twenty years as a recluse not
associating with anyone except with God through constant prayer,
reflection and contemplation, patiently enduring unspeakable
temptations from the devil. His fame spread throughout the entire
world and many disciples gathered around him whom he placed on the
path of salvation by his example and words. During the eighty-five
years of his ascetical life, only twice did he go to Alexandria. The
first time to seek martyrdom during the time of the persecution of
the Church and, the second time at the invitation of St. Athanasius,
in order to refute the accusation of the Arians: supposedly that he,
too, was an adherent of the Arian heresy. Anthony died in the
one-hundred fifth year of his life, leaving behind an entire army of
his disciples and imitators. Even though Anthony was not a scholar,
nevertheless, he was a counselor and teacher of the most learned men
of that time, as was St. Athanasius the Great. When certain Greek
philosophers tempted him with literary wisdom, Anthony shamed them
with the question: "Which is older, the understanding or the
book? Which of these two was the cause of the other?" Ashamed,
the philosophers dispersed for they perceived that they only had
literary knowledge without understanding and Anthony had
understanding. Here is a man who attained perfection in as far as
man, in general, can attain on earth. Here is an instructor to
instructors and a teacher to teachers, who, for a full eighty five
years perfected himself and only in that way was he able to perfect
many others. Filled with many years of life and great works, Anthony
died in the Lord in the year 335 A.D.
Holy Emperor Theodosius the Great
glorious and zealous emperor in the Faith reigned from 379 A.D. to
395 A.D. Constantine the Great banned the persecution of Christians.
Theodosius the Great went one step further, he outlawed the offering
of idolatrous sacrifices in his realm. He assisted with
strengthening and spreading the Christian Faith throughout the
Holy New-Martyr George of Ioannina
was an Albanian. He was born in the village of Churkli, Albania of
very impoverished farmer parents. The Turks used force to persuade
George to embrace Islam, but he remained steadfast in the Christian
Faith for which he was hanged in Ioannina on January 17, 1838 A.D.
Even unto today, George is a great miracle-worker and healer.
Anthony teaches: "Learn to love humility, for it will cover all
your sins. All sins are repugnant before God but the most repugnant
of all is pride of the heart. Do not consider yourself learned and
wise; otherwise, all your effort will be destroyed and your boat
will reach the harbor empty. If you have great authority, do not
threaten anyone with death. Know, that according to nature, you too
are susceptible to death and that every soul sheds its body from
itself as the final garment." In Byzantium there existed an
unusual and instructive custom during the crowning of the emperors
in the Church of the Divine Wisdom (St. Sophia(. The custom was that
when the patriarch placed the crown on the emperor's head, at the
same time, he handed him a silk purse filled with dirt from the
grave. Then, even the emperor would recall death and to avoid all
pride and become humble.
contemplate the persecution of the Lord Jesus for righteousness
persecution as a child by Herod;
persecution as a man and Messiah by the Jewish scribes and elders;
persecution as God by many of our contemporary scribes and elders
both Jewish and Christian.
two different types of wisdom
the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God" (I
this scriptural concept is one great news which Christianity
proclaims to the world. One is the wisdom according to God and from
God and the other is the wisdom according to the world and from the
world. Wisdom, according to God, is from the Holy Spirit. The
apostles were filled with such wisdom when the Holy Spirit descended
upon them. Wisdom, according to the world, is from the senses and
from material and it represents true insanity before God if it is
not seasoned and inspired by the Holy Spirit of God.
worldly wisdom which is guided only by the physical senses, without
regard for the Holy Spirit, is insanity before God and before God's
angels; for such a wisdom does not perceive either the spirit or the
purpose of this world; rather it knows this world only as ashes from
without and ashes from within; as ashes which the wind of chance
piles up and strews at one moment this way and at another moment
wisdom of man which is directed only by the senses and by physical
conceptions and fantasies is insanity before God and before angels
and saints of God, for it does not know man as man; that is, as a
spiritual being related to God, rather it knows man only as a body
from without and as a body from within; as a body according to form
and as a body according to essence. It is the same as if a monkey,
looking at an iron locomotive, described it and said, "This is
iron on the outside and iron on the inside; iron which heats it and
iron which operates it, iron which gives it direction and iron which
who is able to be filled with the wisdom of God except him who, at
first, empties himself of the insanity's of the world? With God's
help, each one of us can do this. However, to our desires and to our
efforts, without Faith, God's help goes to assist us. For God alone
is Goodness, Wisdom and Holiness.
Lord, Wise and Holy, fill us with Your Life-creating wisdom.
31st (New Style) • January 18th (Old Style)
Athanasius the Great, Archbishop of Alexandria
was born in Alexandria in the year 296 A.D. and from his early
childhood had an inclination to the spiritual life. He was a deacon
to Archbishop Alexander and accompanied him to the First Ecumenical
Council (Nicaea, 325 A.D.). It was at this Council that Athanasius
became renowned for his learning, devotion to and zeal for
Orthodoxy. He contributed greatly to destroy the heresy of Arius and
to strengthen Orthodoxy. He wrote the Symbol of Faith (The Creed)
which was adopted at the Council. Following the death of Alexander,
Athanasius was elected Archbishop of Alexandria. In his calling as
Archbishop of Alexandria, he remained for forty years, although not
for the entire time on the archepiscopal throne of the
archbishopric. With few exceptions, throughout his life he was
persecuted by heretics. Of the emperors, he was persecuted mostly by
Constantius, Julian and Valens; of the bishops, by Eusebius of
Nicomedia and many others; and by the heretic Arius and his
followers. Athanasius was forced to hide from his persecutors, even
in a well, in a grave, in private homes and in the deserts. Twice he
was forced to flee to Rome. Only before his death, did he live
peacefully for a while as the good shepherd among his good flock who
truly loved him. Few are the saints who were so mercilessly
slandered and so criminally persecuted as St. Athanasius. His great
soul patiently endured all for the love of Christ and, in the end,
emerged victorious from this entire, terrible and long-lasting
struggle. For counsel, for comfort and for moral support, Athanasius
often visited St. Anthony, whom he respected as his spiritual
father. For a man who formulated the greatest truth, Athanasius had
much to suffer for that truth until in the year 373 A.D., the Lord
gave him repose in His kingdom as His faithful servant.
Maxim, Archbishop of Wallachia
was the son of the Serbian Despot (Prince) Stephen and Despotica (Princess)
Angelina. He was tonsured a monk in the Monastery Manasija.
Pressured by the Turks, he fled to Romania, where he was consecrated
to the vacated throne of the Archbishop of Wallachia. He brokered a
truce between the warring commanders Radul and Bogdan and averted a
war between them. In his later years, he returned to Krusedol where
he built a monastery and, after a lengthy ascetical life, died there
on January 18, 1546 A.D. His incorrupt and miracle-working relics
repose, even now, in this monastery.
question: "Why did the Son of God appear on earth in a human
body and not in another form of creation?", the brilliant St.
Athanasius replied in this manner: "If they ask why did He not
appear in some other better form of creation, for example: as the
sun or the moon, or the stars or fire, or the wind but just as a
man? Let them know that the Lord did not come to show Himself but to
heal and teach sufferers. For, to reveal Himself only to amaze the
viewers would mean to come for a show. It was necessary for the
Healer and the Teacher, not only to come, but to serve for the
benefit of the suffering ones and to reveal Himself as such so that
this revelation would be bearable for the sufferers. Not one single
creature was in error in the eyes of God, except man alone: neither
the sun, nor the moon, nor the sky, nor the stars, nor water, nor
wind did betray their ranks but, on the contrary, knowing their
Creator and their King - The Word (The Logos), they all remained as
they were created; only human beings separated themselves from good
and replaced truth with deceit, and the honor belonging to God, as
well as the knowledge about Him, they transferred to devils and to
men carved out of stone (idols). What is, therefore, so unbelievable
in this, that the Logos (The Word - The Son Of God) appeared as a
man to save mankind?" Indeed, even as we ask the unbelievers of
our day: In what form would you wish God to appear, if not as a man?
contemplate the Lord Jesus burdened by slander and shame for the
sake of our salvation:
Burdened by slander and shame from Jewish scribes and elders;
Burdened by slander and shame from the many contemporary scribes and
Burdened by slander and shame from everyone of us who have been
baptized in His Name and who have not fulfilled His law.
your loins and light your lamps" (St. Luke 12:33).
is the commandment of Him Who knows the weaknesses of our being and
Who desires our good more than our father and mother do. This is the
commandment of our mankind-loving Lord. When man is ungirded, does
not his entire body droop a little? When he girds and harnesses
himself, does not the entire body become as erect as a candle? As a
candle stands, so must our soul stand erect before God. How will our
souls stand erect before God if unrestrained physical earthly
passions and lusts weigh them down? Behold, between the loins is the
nest of the main physical passions. To gird one's loins means to
tighten oneself with restraint and not to give into passions at
will. But to gird one's physical loins is not the goal but the means
which we utilize to easily gird our mind, our heart and our will.
Physical restraint is the primary school of our Christian character;
after it, comes a higher school in which we learn restraint of the
mind, restraint of the heart and restraint of the will. If we gird
our mind, then in its narrowness, lustful thoughts would be unable
to find a place in it. If we gird our heart, then lustful desires
would be unable to find a place in it. If we gird our will, then the
evil, beastly and demonic desires would be unable to find a place in
by a narrow path can one enter into the Kingdom of God. In the
narrowness of the mind, the heart and the will can the candles of
all virtues be lighted whose flame rises toward God. Under the
lighted candles, we should understand Christian virtues.
Lord, pure and sinless, the hearth of all virtues, help us to gird
ourselves with restraint and to walk the narrow path to You with
lighted candles, which You brought into the world.
1st (New Style) • January 19th (Old Style)
Macarius the Great
was an Egyptian and one of the younger contemporaries of Anthony the
Great. His father was a priest. Out of obedience to his parents,
Macarius married. However, his wife died shortly thereafter and he
withdrew into the wilderness where he spent sixty years in labor and
struggle, both internally and externally for the Kingdom of Heaven.
When they asked him: "Why is he so thin when he eats and when
he does not eat?" He responded: "From the fear of
God." So much did he succeed in cleansing his mind of evil
thoughts and his heart of evil desires that God bestowed upon him
the abundant gift of miracle-working so that he even raised the dead
from the graves. His humility amazed both men and demons. A demon
once said to him: "There is only one thing in which I am unable
to overpower you. It is not in fasting; for I do not eat anything.
It is not in vigils; for I never sleep." "But, what is
it?" asked Macarius. "Your humility" answered the
demon. Macarius often spoke to Paphnutius, his disciple: "Do
not judge anyone and you will be saved." Macarius lived to be
ninety-seven years old. Nine days before his death, St. Anthony and
St. Pachomius appeared to him from the other world and informed him
that he would die within nine days, which happened. Also, before his
death, Macarius had a vision in which a cherubim revealed to him the
blessed heavenly world, commended his effort and his virtue and said
to him that he was sent to take his soul into the Kingdom of Heaven.
He died in the year 390 A.D.
Marcarius of Alexandria
was born in Alexandria and, at first, was a fruit vendor. He was
baptized at age forty and as soon as he was baptized, he immediately
withdrew to lead a life of asceticism. At first, he, together with
Macarius the Great, was a disciple of St. Anthony. After that, he
became the abbot of the Monastery called the Cells, located between
Nitria and Skete. He was somewhat younger than Macarius the Great
and also lived longer. He lived to be more than a hundred years old.
Tormented by demonic temptations, especially the temptation of
vanity, he humbled himself by the most rigorous labors and ceaseless
prayer, uplifting his mind constantly toward God. Once, a brother
saw him fill a basket with sand, carry it uphill and empty it.
Astonished, the brother asked him, "What are you doing?"
Macarius answered, "I am tormenting my tormentor," i.e.
the devil. He died in the year 393 A.D.
Arsenius, Bishop of Corfu
augmented and structured the Rite of the Sacrament of Holy Unction (Anointing
with Oil) to its present form. He died in the year 959 A.D. His
relics repose in the cathedral church in Corfu.
Mark, Archbishop of Ephesus
was famous for his courageous defense of Orthodoxy at the Council of
Florence (1439 A.D.) in spite of the emperor and the pope. He died
peacefully in the year 1452 A.D. On his death bed, Mark implored
Gregory, his disciple, and later the glorious Patriarch Genadius, to
be careful of the snares of the West and to defend Orthodoxy.
Theodore, "Fool for Christ" from Novgorod
to his death, Theodore ran up and down the streets shouting to
everyone: "Farewell, I am traveling far away!" He died in
the year 1392 A.D.
of the meek in enduring assaults such as we find in the Holy Fathers
are simply amazing. Returning once from the path to his cell,
Macarius the Great saw a certain thief removing his belongings from
his cell and loading them onto a donkey. Macarius did not say
anything to him but rather began to assist him to comfortably load
all the things on the donkey, saying to himself, "For we
brought nothing into the world" (I Timothy 6:7). Another elder,
when the thieves stole everything from his cell, looked around,
noticed that they did not take a bundle with money which lay hidden
somewhere, and immediately took this bundle, called out to the
thieves and gave that to them also. Again, a third elder came across
thieves as they were robbing his cell and cried out to them:
"Hurry, hurry before the brothers come that they may not
prevent me to fulfill the commandments of Christ." "From
the one who takes what is yours, do not demand it back" (St.
contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Salt of the earth:
the Salt which gives flavor to this life in general;
the Salt which preserves mankind from decay, who would, otherwise,
be totally decayed from one end of its history to the other;
the Salt of my own life.
victory over the world
the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered
world" (St. John 16:33).
Only One and the Unique One, the Conqueror of the World, with these
words, teaches His followers not to be afraid of the world.
the world appears very strong; however, is not the One Who created
the world, stronger than the world?
world is very frightening for him who does not know that God rules
the world and that He has the authority to hold it in existence as
long as He wills and to return it into non-existence whenever He
wills. But, to him who knows that, the world is not frightening.
to Christ the Lord, this world is as a fabric woven of weakness
itself; while in Christ the Lord, there is not a single weakness. To
him who does not know that, the world is frightening and he who
knows that, has no fear of the world.
world has loaned us a body and because of that it wants to acquire
our soul. How can the world overpower us if we stand as soldiers of
the Conqueror of the world?
Conqueror of the World gives us weapons for the battle. By His
example, He teaches us how to fight it, reveals the hidden enemy,
shows us the path of attack and retreat, holds us with His hand,
protects us under His wing, feeds us by His Life-giving Body and
more, He encourages us by shouting: "Take courage!"
Brethren, what then can the world do when its defeat is sealed with
the victory of Christ?
Lord, the Conqueror of the World and our victorious commander, be
close to us always that we may not become frightened and direct us,
that we may always be close to You in heart, mind and soul.
2nd (New Style) • January 20th (Old Style)
Euthymius the Great
noble and distinguished parents, Euthymius was born in the Armenian
town of Melitene near the Euphrates river about the year 377 A.D. He
was the only child, a son, born in answer to the prayer of his
mother Dionisiya, who had a heavenly vision regarding the birth of
Euthymius. From his youth, he lived a life of asceticism, at first
in the proximity of his town (Melitene) but then, after he visited
Jerusalem at age twenty-nine, in the desert between Jerusalem and
Jericho called Pharan. He filled his days and nights with prayer,
internal thoughts about God, contemplation and physical exertion.
Around him many disciples gathered some of whom are glorious saints,
such as Cyriac the Hermit, St. Sabas the Sanctified, Theotictus and
others. By God's gift, Euthymius was a great miracle worker; he
expelled demons, healed the gravely ill, brought water to the
desert, multiplied bread and prophesied. He taught monks the love of
labor saying, "If you eat bread, not of your own labor, know
that you are eating of someone else's labor." When some of the
younger monks wanted to fast more than others, he forbade them to do
so and commanded them to come to the communal table so that they
would not become prideful as a result of their excessive fasting. He
also said that it was not good for a monk to move from place to
place, for he said, " A tree frequently transplanted does not
bear fruit. Whoever desires to do good, can do it from the place
where he is."
love, he said, "What salt is to bread, love is to other
virtues." During the first week of the Honorable Fast (Lenten
Season), he retreated to the desert and remained there in solitary
silence and godly-thoughts until just before the Feast of the
Resurrection. During his life time, a large monastery (Lavra) was
established in the proximity of his cave which later, throughout the
centuries, was completely filled with monks as a beehive is filled
with bees. His final command was that the monastery always adhere to
hospitality and that the gates of the monastery never be closed. He
died at the age of ninety-seven. The Patriarch of Jerusalem was in
attendance at his funeral. The patriarch waited all day long until
the great masses of people reverenced the body of the saint and only
in the evening were they able to complete the Office for Burial for
the Dead. On the seventh day following his death, Euthymius appeared
radiant and rejoicing to Domentian, his disciple. The Venerable
Euthymius, in truth, was a true "son of Light". He died in
the year 473 A.D.
Holy Martyrs Innas, Nirras and Pinnas
are considered to be the first Slavic martyrs who are mentioned in
history. They are referred to as Scythians and disciples of St.
Andrew the Apostle. They suffered for the Faith at the hands of
their pagan neighbors on the right side of the Danube river near
Varna. Tied up on the ice, Innas, Nirras and Pinnas froze and died
in the Lord.
much as the saints were so compassionate and lenient toward human
weakness, so were they terribly unyielding and unbending in regard
to the confession of the true dogmas of the Faith. Thus, St.
Nicholas of Myra in Lycia struck Arius with his fist at the First
Ecumenical Council (Nicaea, 325 A.D.). St. Anthony left his desert
to come to Alexandria to publicly unmask Arius. St. Euthymius, being
greatly pressured by the Empress Eudocia and the pseudo-Patriarch
Theodosius and being unable to debate rationally with them, left the
monastery and hid in the desert. All other distinguished monks
followed his example. Euthymius remained in the desert until the
pseudo-patriarch was ousted and Orthodoxy strengthened. When, in
Jerusalem, the greatest agitation surfaced in the name of the
emperor against the Fourth Ecumenical Council (Chalcedon, 451 A.D.)
and when the entire population was frightened by the heretics, then
St. Theodosius the Great already burdened with old age, as a
fearless soldier of Christ, came to Jerusalem, entered the Great
Church, ascended the stairs, waved his hands and said to the people,
"If anyone does not respect the Fourth Ecumenical Council as he
does the four evangelists, let him be anathema." (Until this
time, only four Ecumenical Councils had been convened). All of those
listeners were frightened by those words and none of the heretics
dared to say anything contrary to those words.
contemplate the Lord Jesus as Light:
a Light to my life; as a Light to mankind; as a Light to every
a Light, especially in the darkness of fear and suffering;
a Light in the hour of death and after death; a Light in eternity.
the only Light in darkness
am the Light of the world" (St. John 8:12).
the beginning of the world and time, no one who was ever born dared
to speak these words. There were men and there are men who say:
"I bring light!" But only one dared to say: "I am the
Light!" Only the Lord Jesus could have spoken those words
boldly and convincingly. His short life on earth and His long
history, nearly two-thousand years, completely justified these
words. He is the Light of Truth. He is the Light of Righteousness
and He is the Light of Life.
the Light of Truth because He revealed in Himself the truth of the
true nature of God and the true nature of man; and the relationship
of man to man and the relationship of man toward God. Heaven and
earth shall pass away and His words will not pass away for heaven
and earth both came into existence by His word and His word is from
Him and with Him always and will not pass away. ("Heaven and
earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away" St.
Matthew 24:35 - St. Mark 13:31).
the Light of Righteousness because He revealed the might of
righteousness and the weakness of unrighteousness. He revealed that
in the brightest light, by that which He spoke, by that which He
did, and by that which He experienced and overcame the unrighteous
ones. He revealed that through His Church in the course of twenty
centuries through His numerous righteous saints and martyrs for
righteousness sake. Righteousness is from God, and in the long life
of history it can never be defeated. Unrighteousness is from
helpless beings. Unrighteousness quickly rushes out to the rampart
with its triumphant banner but, at the same time, it is quickly
overthrown into the grave.
the Light of Life. His words illuminate life. His works illuminate
life. His victory illuminates life, especially His resurrection, as
the most luminous sun by its bright light illuminates life and
disperses death as a weak shadow.
Jesus, Light Most-Luminous, Sun of Truth, Sun of Righteousness and
Sun of Life, illuminate us sinners and unworthy ones!
be glory and thanks always. Amen.
3rd (New Style) • January 21st (Old Style)
Maximus, the Confessor
was a Constantinopolian by birth and, at first, a high-ranking
courtier at the court of Emperor Heraclius and, after that, a monk
and abbot of a monastery not too far from the capitol. He was the
greatest defender of Orthodoxy against the so-called Monothelite
heresy which proceeded from the heresy of Eutyches. That is to say:
As Eutyches claimed that there is only one nature in Christ (Monophysitism),
so the Monothelites claimed that there is only one will in Christ (Monothelitism).
Maximus opposed that claim and found himself as an opponent of the
emperor and the patriarch. Maximus did not frighten easily but
endured to the end in proving that there were two wills as well as
two natures in Christ. Because of his efforts, a council was held in
Carthage and another in Rome. Both councils anathematized the
teachings of the Monothelites. The suffering of Maximus for
Orthodoxy cannot be described: he was tortured by princes, deceived
by prelates, spat upon by the masses of the people, beaten by
soldiers, exiled, imprisoned, until finally, with a severed tongue
and hand, he was condemned to exile for life in the land of
Skhemaris (near Batum on the Black Sea) where he spent three years
in prison and gave up his soul to God in the year 666 A.D.
Maximus, the Greek
was born in Greece and from there was invited to the court of
Russian Tsar Basil (Vasilii) Ivanovitch to act as the Tsar's
librarian and translator. He labored much, but he also suffered much
for the truth. He spent a long time in prison where he wrote the
well-known Canon to the Holy Spirit which is still used today in the
Church. He died in the Lord in the year 1556 A.D.
Holy Priest-Martyr Neophytus
was born in Nicaea. While he was still a child and with God's Grace,
he worked great miracles. Neophytus brought forth water from a rock
and raised his dead mother. He was led by a white dove to Mount
Olympus where he drove a lion from its cave and there, took up
residence. At age fifteen, he was tortured for Christ in Nicaea
during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. By no means would he deny
Christ. After beatings and imprisonment, Neophytus was thrown into
the fire, but God preserved his life. Then, they placed him before a
hungry lion, but the lion ingratiated himself to Neophytus. The
saint recognizing this lion as the same one in whose cave he
practiced asceticism, began to pet him and ordered the lion to
return to the cave. Then Neophytus was pierced with a lance and his
soul took up habitation in the mansion of the Lord.
Holy Female Martyr Agnes
thirteen year old girl, Agnes was thrown into the fire for the Faith
of Christ and was then beheaded. She showed great miracle-working
power during life and after death. Agnes suffered during the reign
of Diocletian in the year 305 A.D.
Christian Faith is the only Faith in the world that has one
determined and never changing standard of values. About how it (Christianity)
measures and classifies its values, St. John Chrysostom speaks
clearly. He says, "Things have a three-fold distinction: the
first are good and cannot be evil, for example: wisdom, charity and
the like; the second are evil and can never be good, for example:
perversion, inhumanity and cruelty. The third, at times becomes this
or at times becomes that, whenever, according to the disposition of
those who make use of it." This divine teacher explains,
"how riches and poverty, and freedom and slavery, and power and
disease and even death itself fall into the neutral distinction
which, are neither good nor evil by themselves, but become either
this or that according to the disposition of men and according to
the use which men make of them. For example, if riches were good and
poverty evil, then all rich men would be good and all the poor would
be evil. However, we are daily convinced that as there are good and
evil rich men, so also are there good and evil poor men. The same
can be applied to the healthy and the sick, to the free and the
enslaved, to the satiated and the hungry, to those who are in
authority and to those under subjugation. Even death is not evil for
`the martyrs, through death, became more fortunate than all."
contemplate the Lord Jesus as "a City set on a mountain"
(St. Matthew 5:14):
a City on the mountain of the Higher Zion (Heavenly Zion); that is,
above the created world in the kingdom of eternity;
a City on the mountain of human history;
a City on the mountain of my own life; that is, on the peak of my
ideals; on the zenith of my thoughts and yearnings.
understanding through doing
chooses to do His will (God's Will) shall know whether my teaching is
from God" (St. John 7:17).
benefits little to prove by human logic and words that the teaching
of Christ is the teaching from God. The fastest and most reliable
way to know this is truth is to do the will of God in the same way
that Christ proclaimed it and testified to it. Whosoever would do
this, that one will know that the teaching of Christ is the teaching
cry for the sake of God, you will know what kind of comfort He is.
If you are merciful, you know the mercy of God. If you build peace,
you will know how it becomes you to be called the Son of God. If you
forgive men, you will know God forgives you.
can anyone be able to know that the teaching of Christ is the
teaching from God, except he who does the Will of God. For only
doing the Will of God, fulfilling the commandments of God, that is
the key for unlocking Paradise in which God is seen. That is the key
for understanding Holy Scripture and all the mysteries of
Basil writes: "In order to understand that which is hidden in
Sacred Scripture, purity of life is needed."
else does the Lord want from us when He teaches us that through
doing His will, we arrive at the understanding of the divinity of
His teaching? He simply wants that we, by our deeds, become
convinced of the divinity of His teaching. He does not want that we
be convinced of this in an easy manner, but rather in a more
difficult manner, not only by listening but by doing, because
whoever is convinced in an easy manner will easily waver and change
his mind and for him who is convinced in a difficult manner, it
would be difficult for him to change his mind. Brethren, that is why
we must endeavor to fulfill the Will of God in order that we may
know God and save our soul.
Lord, All-Wise, help us by the power of Your Holy Spirit to do Your
be glory and thanks always. Amen.
4th (New Style) • January 22nd (Old Style)
Holy Apostle Timothy
was one of the Seventy Apostles. He was born in Lystra in Lycaonia
of a Greek father and a Jewish mother. The Apostle Paul praised his
mother and grandmother because of their sincere faith. " I
yearn to see you again, recalling your tears, so that I may be
filled with joy, as I recall your sincere faith that first lived in
your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and that, I am
confident, lives also in you" (II Timothy 1: 4-5). Timothy
first met with the great apostle in Lystra and was himself a witness
when Paul healed the one lame from birth. Later, Timothy was an
almost constant traveling companion of Paul, traveling with him to
Achaia, Macedonia, Italy and Spain. Sweet in soul, he was a great
zealot for the Faith, and a superb preacher. Timothy contributed
much to the spreading and establishing of the Christian Faith. Paul
calls him "my own son in the faith." "Paul an apostle
of Christ Jesus, Who is our hope, to Timothy, my own son in the
Faith: grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ
our Lord" (I Timothy 1: 1-2). After Paul's martyrdom, Timothy
had St. John the Evangelist as his teacher. But when the Emperor
Domentian banished John from Ephesus to the island of Patmos,
Timothy remained in Ephesus to serve as bishop. During the time of
an idolatrous feast called Katagogium, the pagans, resentful of the
Christians, treacherously and in disguise, attacked Timothy and
killed him about the year 93 A.D. Later his honorable relics were
translated to Constantinople and interred in the Church of the
Twelve Apostles along side of the grave of St. Luke the Evangelist
and St. Andrew the First-called.
Venerable Martyr Anastasius
was a Persian by birth. His pagan name was Magundat. When Emperor
Heraclius warred with the Persians, Magundat deserted to the
Christians, went to Jerusalem where he was baptized and received the
name Anastasius. It was not enough for him to be baptized, but, in
order to give himself completely to serving the Lord he was also
tonsured a monk. Among his other mortifications, Anastasius joyfully
read the hagiography of the holy martyrs and in reading them he
moistened the book with his tears and ardently yearned for
martyrdom. The Lord finally crowned him with the martyr's wreath. In
prison for a long time, he was cruelly tortured, until Emperor
Chozroes pronounced the death sentence. After that death sentence,
Anastasius was suffocated under water and after being removed from
the water, the executioner beheaded him and sent his head to the
emperor. He suffered on January 22, 628 A.D., in the town of
Bethsaloe near Nineveh.
Orthodox Church possesses an inexhaustible treasure in proofs of
life after death. One of the numerous proofs is cited here: one
example, which, at the same time, witnesses that the souls of men
live after physical death and that voluntary obedience leads to
blessed eternity. When St. Theodosius the Great founded a monastery,
he had only seven monks in the beginning. In order to confirm these
monks in remembrance of death, he ordered them to dig out a grave.
When the grave was finished, Theodosius stood above the grave
surrounded by the seven monks, and said, "Behold my children
the grave is ready! Are there any among you who is ready for death,
in order to be buried in this grave?" One of them, Basil by
name and a priest by rank, fell to his knees and sought a blessing
from Theodosius to die. Theodosius ordered that a memorial service
for the soul be held for Basil: the third, the ninth and the
fortieth day as is the custom for the deceased. When the fortieth
day memorial service was completed, Basil completely healthy, laid
down and died. He was buried in the new grave. On the fortieth day
after his burial, Basil appeared among the brethren in church one
morning and chanted with them. In the beginning, only Theodosius saw
him and he prayed to God that He open the eyes of the others. The
entire brotherhood looked and saw Basil among them. One brother,
Letius, out of joy spread his arms and wanted to embrace Basil, but
he vanished and Letius heard Basil's voice saying; "Save
yourselves, fathers and brothers, save yourselves."
contemplate the lack of concern by the Lord Jesus with regard to
food and clothing:
lack of concern about Himself which He shows in His works;
lack of concern about food and clothing which He preached to others.
"So do not worry and say, `what are we to eat?' or `what are we
to drink?' or `what are we to wear?' " (St. Matthew 6:31).
God's omniscience and providence
all the hairs of your head are counted" (St. Matthew 10:30).
"the hairs of your head are counted" much less the days of
your life! Do not be afraid, therefore, that you will die before
your appointed time nor yet hope that you will somehow be able to
extend your life for one day against the will of Him Who counts and
measures. Let this knowledge teach you meekness and fear of God.
hairs of your head are counted" much less your sufferings on
earth! Do not be afraid, therefore, that you will suffer more beyond
measure. Fear even less that your sufferings will remain forgotten
and unaccounted for by Him Who sees all. This knowledge will teach
you patience and confidence toward your Creator and Provider.
hairs of your head are counted" much less your friends and
enemies on earth! Do not be afraid, therefore, that you will have
either too many friends or too many enemies. Neither be afraid that
your enemies will overcome you nor be assured that your friends will
defend you. Concern yourself only that you have God for a friend and
do not be afraid of anything. Behold, He is your only friend Who
loves you without change.
Lord, Wise Provider Who knows the number, measure and time of all,
banish from us every fear, except the fear of You. That through fear
of You, we may arrive to the pure and holy love toward You, our
Creator and Benefactor.
be glory and thanks always. Amen.
5th (New Style) • January 23rd (Old Style)
Priestly-Martyr Clement, Bishop of Ancyra
was born in the year 258 A.D. in the city of Ancyra of a pagan
father and a Christian mother. His devout mother Euphrosyne
prophesised that her son would die a martyr's death and then she
departed this world when Clement was twelve years old. Her friend
Sophia took Clement to her home as a son and assisted in rearing him
in the Christian spirit. Clement was so famous because of his
virtuous living that he was elected bishop of Ancyra at the age of
twenty. In his young years, he attained the wisdom of a mature
adult, and by great restraint he tamed and conquered his body.
Clement fed on bread and vegetables only and did not eat anything
butchered or bloody. During the reign of Diocletian, he was tortured
so horribly "as no one ever, since the beginning of the
world." He spent twenty-eight years in difficulties and in
dungeons. Eleven different torturers tormented and tortured him. At
one time, when they struck him in the face, spat upon him and broke
his teeth, he cried out to Domentian, his torturer: "You do me
great honor, O Domentian, for you are not torturing me, because even
the mouth of my Lord Jesus Christ was also beaten and struck in the
face and behold, I , the unworthy, now became worthy of that!"
When Clement was brought to Rome before Emperor Diocletian, the
emperor placed various weapons on one side for torture and on the
other side gifts, such as decorations (medals), clothing and money;
all that the emperor could bestow, and then he told Clement to
choose. The martyr of Christ glanced with scorn at all the emperor's
gifts and chose the instruments of torture. Clement was
indescribably tortured: piece by piece they removed the flesh from
his body so that the white bones showed beneath the flesh. Finally,
he was beheaded by a soldier in Ancyra while, as bishop, he was
celebrating the Divine Liturgy in church in the year 312 A.D. The
miracles of St. Clement are without number.
Sixth Ecumenical Council (Constantinople, 680 A.D.)
first session was held in Constantinople in the first half of the
year 681 A.D., and the second session was held in the second half of
the year 691 A.D. This Council condemned the Monothelite heresy,
which erroneously taught that in Christ there was only one divine
will and not a human will. Along with this, the Council passed
several canons concerning the order and discipline of the clergy.
Paulinus the Merciful
first, Paulinus was a Roman senator and afterwards, a bishop in
Nola. He followed the example of his friend St. Ambrose and received
baptism. Following his baptism, Paulinus withdrew to Spain and into
the Pyrenees mountains where he lived a life of asceticism. But as
no lighted lamp can be hidden, so also St. Paulinus was discovered
and elected as Bishop of Nola. He was a good and merciful shepherd.
He died peacefully in the year 431 A.D. His relics repose in the
Church of St. Bartholomew in Rome.
has always been a characteristic of a true shepherd of Christ's
flock. St. John Chrysostom in his glorious homilies did not
emphasize or underscore anything more strongly than compassion. St.
John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria, wept every day when the
opportunity was not given to him to show compassion to someone. St.
Paulinus deserved to be called the Merciful, for in truth, he was
compassionate in the full Christian sense of that word. Once, when
the Vandals looted Nola, they seized many men into slavery. A
certain widow whose only son the Vandal Prince Rig had taken into
slavery, came to her bishop and, weeping, sought money from him to
pay the ransom for her son. Not possessing anything, Bishop Paulinus
dressed in the clothes of a simple man and asked the widow to take
him before the prince and to exchange him for her son. The prince
released the widow's son and took Paulinus with him to Africa where
Paulinus served as the prince's gardener until, by God's Providence,
he was freed and returned to Nola with the other slaves.
contemplate the Lord Jesus as Healer:
a Healer of bodily infirmities;
an Exorcist of evil spirits from the insane;
a Healer of the human spirit and mind by the light of divine
my own Healer of all pains and evils.
the angelic state of the saints
those who are deemed worthy to attain the coming age -- they can no
longer die, for they are like angels" (St. Luke 20:35-36).
speaks He Who knows, He Who saw and He Who cannot be deceived.
Brethren, what have we to doubt anymore? This testimony is clearer
than a summer's noon, harder than diamonds and more precious that
all the riches of this world; and this is the testimony: Those who
are "deemed worthy" of that world and resurrection
"can no longer die" but are immortal as angels of God.
are the angels like? Those same angels who appeared at the time of
Abraham and assisted men are the same ones (angels) who, today,
appear and assist men. They are not dead but alive; they have not
grown old, but they are young. They are the same ones (angels) who
beheld Adam in Paradise and who will behold the Final Resurrection
and the Judgment and the Kingdom of the Saints.
righteous are similar to angels. The apostles, prophets, saints and
martyrs live even today and will live always and "no longer can
they die." Hundreds and thousands of years pass but they cannot
die nor age anymore, rather "they are like angels."
the righteous will be crowned with immortality, that the Lord
testified to us in the above words and showed this by His own
resurrection and proved through His glorified saints.
brethren, let us awaken and labor to become worthy to obtain that
resurrected and immortal Lord, help us to become worthy of Your
immortal kingdom in which You reign with Your angels and Your saints
throughout the ages of ages!
be glory and thanks always. Amen.