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.
Fifth Sunday of Lent, St Mary of Egypt Mark 10: 32-45
Whenever we experience guilt and shame because of something we have done wrong, we need to ask ourselves a question. Do we feel that way because we are sorrowful that we have disobeyed God or because we cannot stand being less than perfect in our own eyes or those of others?
Our Holy Father John Climacus (of the Ladder)
Commemorated on the 4th Sunday of Lent, 29 March 2020
After the death of his spiritual father, John took himself off to a cave, where he lived for twenty years in strict asceticism. His disciple, Moses, fell asleep one day in the cool shade of a huge rock. John was at prayer in his cell, and, perceiving that his disciple was in danger, began to pray for him. Moses came up to him later, fell to his knees and began to thank him for saving him from certain death. And he related how he had heard John calling him in his sleep and had jumped up at the very moment that a rock fell. Had he not Jumped out of the way, the rock would certainly have killed him.
A good fruit of a good tree, this wonderful saint had noble and eminent parents. He was born in Rome, where his father was in imperial service. His mother, Anthea, heard the Gospel from the great Apostle Paul himself, and was baptised by him. Being early left a widow, she entrusted her only son to the education and service of the Bishop of Rome, Anacletus. Seeing how greatly Eleutherius was gifted and illumined by the grace of God, the bishop ordained him deacon at the age of fifteen, priest at eighteen and bishop at twenty. Endowed by God with wisdom, he made up for what he lacked in years. This godly man was made bishop in Illyria, with his seat at Valona in Albania. He kept his flock like a good shepherd, adding to their number from day to day. The Emperor Hadrian, a persecutor of Christians, sent a commander, Felix, with soldiers, to seize Eleutherius and take him to Rome.
When the furious Felix arrived in Valona and went into the church, and heard and saw God’s holy hierarch, his heart was suddenly changed and he became a Christian. Eleutherius baptised him and set off with him for Rome, as merrily as though he were going to a feast, not to trial and torture. The Emperor put the gently-born Eleutherius to harsh torture, flogging him, burning him on an iron grid, boiling him in pitch and burning him in a fiery furnace. But, by God’s power, Eleutherius was delivered from all these deadly torments. Seeing all this, Choribus the governor proclaimed that he himself was a Christian. Choribus was tortured and then beheaded, and so also blessed Felix. Finally, the imperial executioners cut off the honoured head of St Eleutherius. When his mother, holy Anthea, came and stood over the dead body of her son, she was also beheaded. Their bodies were taken to Valona, where St Eleutherius glorifies the name of Christ to this day by many wonders. He suffered in the time of Hadrian, in the year 120.
St Iakovos (Tsalikis) of Evia – Reposed November 21st 1991, Commemorated November 22nd
“We are not sanctified by the place in which we live, but by the way we live.”
“The faithful shouldn’t tell others of things they have confessed, of details of their life or their spiritual endeavour.”
“Chase away the bad thoughts and fantasies that the devil presents. Don’t even notice them.”
“Don’t hesitate [to come to confession]. Don’t be ashamed. Whatever you may have done, even the greatest of sins, the spiritual father has power from the Lord Christ Himself and from the Apostles to forgive you with his stole.”
“I asked God in prayer for the gift of discerning men’s hearts by looking at their faces, so that I might be able to help them; and God granted it.”
Wise Counsel from the Elder (from Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit)
8th SUNDAY OF LUKE, Luke 10: 25- 37
There are some people who think that worshiping God in beautiful liturgical services distracts us from serving our neighbors and accomplishing His purposes for us in the world. There are those who say that focusing on prayer, fasting, and other spiritual disciplines wastes time and energy that could be better used in helping others. On November 17 we commemorate St John Chrysostom, whose life and ministry demonstrate that we do not have to choose between liturgical life and practical service, for true worship and prayer enable us to make all dimensions of our life in the world an entrance into the heavenly kingdom through Jesus Christ, our eternal High Priest.
~ Words of the Church Fathers ~
Do you wish to honour the Body of the Saviour? Do not despise it when it is naked.
Do not honour it in church with silk vestments while outside it is naked and numb with cold. He who said, “This is my body,” and made it so by His word, is the same who said, “You saw me hungry and you gave me no food. As you did it not to the least of these, you did it not to me.”
Honour Him then by sharing your property with the poor. For what God needs is not golden chalices but golden souls.
St John Chrysostom, Homily 50, Homilies on the Gospel of St Matthew