St. Catherine was born during the latter part of the third century in Alexandria in Egypt. Being of royal lineage, she was immersed in the great cultural tradition of Alexandria and was exposed to learning at an early age. Tall, beautiful, cultured, and erudite, Catherine was held in high esteem for her mastery of the arts and sciences of her time. Innately intelligent and inquisitive, she acquainted herself with the writings of the philosophers, poets, physicians, and scientists of the Hellenes. In fact, in recognition of her superb learning, the Church gave her the title “the Wise.”
Through the influence of her pious mother Catherine became a Christian in her youth. Her love of learning led her to the study of the sacred Scriptures and the writings of the Church Fathers. She became a devoted follower of the Lord Christ, an exemplary doer of God’s word, and an ardent defender of the Orthodox faith. Wise, modest, and pure Catherine gave her heart to Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church and the Saviour of the world.
On November 25, 305, while still in the prime of her youth, Catherine was martyred in the city of her birth during the reign of the impious Roman Emperor Maxentius, who had begun anew a violent series of persecutions against Christians. When the Emperor had come to Alexandria he had an encounter with Catherine. He marvelled at her loveliness and wisdom but was dreadfully dismayed by her defence of Christians. Because she was of imperial stock, he did not wish to harm her out-rightly but hoped to humiliate her to submission. He ordered that she defend her faith in open debate with the renowned pagan orators and philosophers of Alexandria, hoping that she would be made a spectacle and thereby retreat to her pagan roots. Instead Catherine routed the rhetoricians.
The Emperor was moved to wrath and ordered that Catherine be stripped of her imperial garb, flogged, and tortured. But neither the threats nor the tortures were able to sunder Catherine from Christ. Having failed to entice her, the cruel Emperor ordered her decapitation.
The holy relics of St. Catherine were later brought to the Monastery of Mt. Sinai, founded in the fourth century in a remote location in the Sinai Peninsula on the site of the Burning Bush at the foot of Mt. Sinai (Exodus 3). Eventually, centuries aft er acquiring her relics, the Monastery took the name of St. Catherine.
The Icon of St. Catherine
Because of her royal lineage, St. Catherine is depicted invariably in imperial garments holding a martyr ’s cross. She is often shown seated at a desk upon which is an open book. Other books and a celestial sphere are at her feet, indicating her extensive knowledge and wisdom. She is also portrayed with her left hand resting on a wheel, the symbol of progress but in her case the emblem of her martyrdom.
Many believers wish that God would at some point in their lives speak to them – if for no other reason than to know for sure that He existed.
In Luke 12:16-21, we are presented the story of a man to whom God spoke directly. Unfortunately, God’s words to the man were “You fool!” It certainly would be a rude awakening for any of us believers if when God finally spoke to us, first words were to call us a fool! We might then wish that God had never spoken to us, for such a judgment by God would not be a welcomed word by us.
Holy Elder Iakovos Tsalikis of Evia reposed in the Lord on November 21 on the Feast of Hesychasm in the Entrance of the Theotokos. Commemorated on November 22.
The holy, glorious, all-laudable Apostle Philip was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ. The Church remembers St Philip on November 14. He was not the St Philip (October 11) who was one of the Seventy Apostles. Continue reading
Filed under Readings, Saints
7th Sunday of Luke, Luke 8: 41-56
In today’s Holy Gospel we hear of the healing of Jairus’ daughter… and not just a healing from sickness, but a much more radical healing… her resurrection from the dead. Continue reading
TRUE PRAYER is undistracted, prolonged, performed with a contrite heart an alert intellect. The vehicle of prayer is everywhere humility, and prayer is a manifestation of humility. For being conscious of our own weakness, we invoke the power of GOD.
PRAYER unites one with GOD, being a divine conversation and spiritual communion with the Being that is most beautiful and highest.
PRAYER IS FORGETTING EARTHLY THINGS, AN ASCENT TO HEAVEN.
THROUGH PRAYER WE FLEE TO GOD.
PRAYER is truly a heavenly armour, and is alone can keep safe those who have dedicated themselves to God. Prayer is the common medicine for purifying ourselves from the passions, for hindering sin and curing our faults. Prayer is an inexhaustible treasure, an unruffled harbor, the foundation of serenity, the root and mother of myriad’s of blessings.
~ From the Writings of Orthodox Saints, Compiled by Father Demetrios Serfes
On November 8 in the Holy Orthodox Church we celebrate the Synaxis of the Supreme Commanders Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, and of the other bodiless and heavenly orders, the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Powers, Authorities, Principalities, Archangels and Angels.
Dionysius the Areopagite, a disciple of the Apostle Paul who was taken up into the third heaven (II Cor. 12:2), described the nine orders of angels in his book, On the Celestial Hierarchies. The Apostle Paul says all angels are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14). The leader of all the angelic hosts is the Archangel Michael. When Satan fell away from God and drew a part of the angels with him to destruction, then Michael stood up and cried out before the faithful angels: “Let us stand aright! Let us stand with fear! Let us attend!” and all of the faithful angelic heavenly hosts cried out: “Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God of Sabaoth! Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory!” The Archangel Gabriel proclaimed the news of the conceptions of John the Baptist and our Lord Jesus Christ to their mothers, Elizabeth and the Ever-virgin Mary (Luke 1).
The Archangel Raphael healed Tobit of his blindness (Tobit 11) and freed his daughter-in-law, Sarah, from a demon (Tobit 6). Every nation has its guardian angel, as does every Christian. We must always re- member that whatever we do, in open or in secret, we do in the presence of our guardian angel. By their holy intercessions, O God, have mercy upon us. Amen. (Synaxarion of the Feast)
St. George Karslides was born in Argyroupolis (Gümüşhane), Pontos in 1901. He was orphaned very young, so it was his pious grandmother, who raised the young Athanasios (St. George’s baptismal name) to have a “holy fear of God and a fervent love for the Church’s divine services.”
Filed under Readings, Saints
Blessed David was born at the beginning of the 16th century in the sea-side village of Gardinitza, opposite the island of Evia. His father was a devout and virtuous priest. When David was no more than three years old, Saint John the Baptist appeared to him one night and took him to the nearby church which was dedicated to him. He remained standing there, barefoot, for six days, lost in the vision, in front of the icon of the Forerunner. Nourished from an early age on the principles of obedience to his parents, asceticism and ceaseless prayer, he left his family home at the age of fifteen, in search of a spiritual father. He found him in the person of the Hieromonk Akakios, who was well-known in the villages of the region for his virtuous life and powerful preaching.
Filed under Readings, Saints
5th Sunday of Luke, Luke 16: 19-31
It is tempting to think that those who seem to have it all in this world are God’s favourites whose success is a reward for holiness and virtue. It is appealing to think that God’s kingdom is simply an eternal manifestation of the arrangements of this world, of life as we know it, where the powerful usually lord it over the weak and the rich almost always seem to get their way.