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.
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
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
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
Saint Demetrios was born in Thesaloniki, Greece in 270 AD. He came from a wealthy family and because he was athletic in appearance and heroic in spirit, he became a high-ranking officer in the Roman Army at a very young age. (This is why he is depicted in Byzantine icons in military dress, either standing or riding a horse.) He considered himself a soldier of Christ first, and a military soldier second. He spent most of his time as a devout missionary, preaching the Gospel at secret meetings and converting pagans to the Christian faith.
Commemorated October 18
The awesome figure of St Luke looms larger and larger out of both the New Testament and the pages of documented human history so that 2000 years after his death his image has no less been diminished by time than that of the Nazarene, Jesus Christ, whom he so nobly served. His fellow apostle St Paul called him the ‘glorious physician’, but that was only one of the many talents which this magnificent man applied in a service to God. Continue reading
He was one of the twelve Great Apostles. Through his doubt of the Resurrection of the Lord Christ, a new confirmation was given of that wonderful and saving event, for the risen Lord appeared again to His disciples, to convince Thomas. The Lord said to Thomas: “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side . Do not be unbelieving, but believing,” and Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
Feast Day 26 September
This Apostle was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and the brother of James the elder. First a fisherman by trade, he became an Apostle and the beloved Disciple of Christ. Only he of all the Disciples followed Him even to the Cross, and was entrusted with the care of our Saviour’s Mother, as it were another son to her, and a brother of Christ the Teacher. After this, he preached throughout Asia Minor, especially in Ephesus. When the second persecution against the Christians began in the year 96 during the reign of Domitian, he was taken in bonds to Rome, and there was cast into a vat filled to the brim with boiling oil. Continue reading