Commemorated on January 26 and April 4 (17)
Depression is a spiritual cross, Saint Maria of Gatchina
And having been a little chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded: for God proved them, and found them worthy for himself. As gold in the furnace hath he tried them, and received them as a burnt offering. Wisdom of Solomon [3, 5-6]. Continue reading
The 40 Holy Virgins and Saint Ammoun the Deacon, were from Adrianopolis in Macedonia. Deacon Ammoun was their guide in Christian Faith. They were captured by Baudos the governor, and were tortured because they would not offer sacrifice to idols. Continue reading
The Spiritual Testament of St Seraphim of Vyritsa (1866-1949)
“This was from me” is a famous letter written by Saint Seraphim of Vyritsa that he sent to his spiritual child, a bishop who was in a Soviet prison at that time; this homily “This was from me” is written as a consolation and counsel to the bishop to let him know that God the Creator addresses to the soul of man. Continue reading
“The Theotokos is the salvation of the whole world, she is the only mother for all Christians… She has much love for the human race, especially for sinners.” ~ St. Anthimos of Chios
Excerpt from the homily on the Dormition of the Theotokos by St. Germanos of Constantinople.
“It is time, my Mother,” says the Lord, “to take you to myself. Just as you have filled the earth and all who dwell in it with joy, O you who enjoy such grace, come, and make the heavens joyful once again. Make my Father’s dwelling-place radiant; be a spiritual guide for the souls of the saints. For when they see your glorious passage here to my side, escorted by angels, they will be convinced in their faith that their own place, too, through you, will be to dwell here in my light. Come, then, in exultation; rejoice now, as you rejoiced at the angel’s greeting. In every way you now have the dignity of your title, ‘full of grace.’ As when you were about to conceive me you were invited to rejoice, so rejoice again in my desire to take you to myself. Do not be disturbed at leaving behind the corruptible world, with all its desires. Forget about its power of corruption. For you will not leave those who live in the world bereft of your protection; but just as I, who am not of the world, watch over those who live in it and take care of them, so your patronage will not be taken away from those who live in the world, until its consummation. Continue reading
“Holy Virgin Martyr Paraskeva of Rome was the only daughter of Christian parents, Agathon and Politia, and from her early years she dedicated herself to God. She spent much of her time in prayer and the study of the Holy Scriptures. After the death of her parents St Paraskeva distributed all of her inheritance to the poor, and consecrated her virginity to Christ. Emulating the holy Apostles, she began to preach to the pagans about Christ, converting many to Christianity. Continue reading
Some years back, a young student approached me. He told me he was an Atheist, although being very reluctant but also having the intensity of a serious seeker, but that he would be content to believe and yet he could not. He tried for years [to believe] without any effect.
[He told me that] he spoke with educated and professors, without having satisfied his thirst for something important. When he heard about me. Continue reading
Filed under Readings, Saints
Feast Day 20 July
A prophet of the ninth century BC, Elijah the Tishbite is remembered in Scripture and Christian tradition as the foremost example of zealous loyalty to the living God. He lived during the reign of Ahab, King of Israel (Northern Kingdom, 875-854 BC) and Ahab’s pagan wife Jezebel who tried to introduce the religion of Baal to the Jews. Because of his uncompromising struggle against paganism, his miraculous deeds, and his ascension into heaven on a flaming chariot, Elijah gained the stature of the “pillar of prophets.” His fame grew until he was expected to return from heaven as the forerunner of the Day of Lord (Mal. 4:5; Wis. Sir. 48:10). As the representative of the prophets, he appeared together with Moses at the transfiguration of Christ (Mk. 9:4-5).
The story of Elijah and his zeal for the God of Israel is told in 1 Kings, chapters 17-18. After announcing to Ahab a severe drought, the prophet hid himself by a brook and was fed by ravens. This is how he is usually depicted in his icons. Later he left Israel and stayed with a foreign widow and her son near Sidon, their food being provided by the jar of meal and cruse of oil which were miraculously unspent during the time of the drought. When the widow’s son died or was near death, Elijah restored the boy to life (1 Kings 17:10-24).
The dramatic moment came when Elijah confronted Ahab with apostasy and challenged the priests of Baal to a contest—to decide whether the Lord or Baal was true God. All gathered on Mount Carmel and Elijah said to the people of Israel: “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God/follow him; but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). From morning until noon, four hundred and fifty priests of Baal prayed to their god and danced around their altar in frenzy, cutting themselves with lances and swords, but no fire from heaven came to burn the sacrificial animal. After this Elijah asked that water be poured over his altar and he prayed to God with profound trust to let it be known that He was the God of Israel. In the words of 1 Kings 18:38-39:
Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and they said, “The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God.”
Filed under Readings, Saints
Feast Day 19 July
The eldest sister of St Basil the Great and St Gregory of Nyssa, she was as a girl betrothed to a young nobleman and, when her betrothed died, Macrina vowed never to enter into marriage, saying: ‘It is not right for a girl, having once been betrothed, to turn to another; according to natural law there must be one marriage, as there are one birth and one death.’ She justified this by her belief in the resurrection of the dead, regarding her betrothed not as dead, but as alive in God. ‘It is a sin and a shame’, she said, ‘if the spouse does not keep faith when the partner goes to distant climes.’ Then, with her mother Emilia, she became a nun in a monastery of virgins, where she lived in asceticism with the other nuns. They lived by the work of their hands, devoting the greater part of their time to pondering on God, to prayer and to a ceaseless lifting-up of their minds to Him. After a time, her mother died, and then her brother Basil. In the ninth month after Basil’s death, Gregory came to visit his sister and found her on her deathbed. At the time of her death, Macrina made this prayer to God: ‘Thou, O Lord, givest rest to our bodies in the sleep of death for a little time, then Thou wilt waken them again with the Last Trumpet. Forgive me, and grant that, when my soul is parted from my body, it may be presented before Thee stainless and without sin, and that it may be as incense before Thee.’ She then made the sign of the Cross on her brow, eyes, face and heart, and breathed her last. She entered into rest in the Lord in 379.
Filed under Readings, Saints
Divine Energies are Omnipotent
God never abandons us; we are the ones who forget and abandon Him. When man does not live spiritually, he is no entitled to divine help. But when he does live spiritually and is near God, he is entitled to it. Then if something happens and he dies, he is ready for the other life, in which case he gains both in this life and in the next. Continue reading
The Gospel (Lk. 1: 57-80) relates that the righteous parents of Saint John the Baptist, the Priest Zachariah and Elizabeth, lived in the ancient city of Hebron, and reached old age being childless, since Elizabeth was barren.
One time, Saint Zachariah was making Divine services at the Jerusalem Temple and saw the Archangel Gabriel standing on the right side of the incense offertory. He predicted that Saint Zachariah would father a son, who would announce the Saviour – the Messiah, awaited by the Old Testament Church. Zachariah was troubled, and fear fell upon him. He had doubts that in old age it was possible to have a son, and he asked for a sign. And it was given to him – it appeared at the same time as a chastisement for his unbelief: Zachariah was struck speechless until the time of the fulfilment of the Archangel’s words.