ON THIS DATE: From the Prologue to Ohrid/Ochrid

An online Synaxaristes including martyrologies and hagiographies of the lives of the Orthodox Church's saints. All Forum Rules apply. No polemics. No heated discussions. No name-calling.
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Mary Kissel
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March 3/ 16

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March 3


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1. THE HOLY MARTYRS, EUTROPIUS, CLEONICUS AND BASILLISCUS

They were companions of St. Theodore Tiro. When the righteous Theodore gloriously died, they remained behind in prison, and for a long time they were not sentenced due to a change in the emperor's deputy in the city of Amasea. When the new governor arrived, more inhuman than his predecessor, he ordered that these three be brought before him. All three were youths. Eutropius and Cleonicus wereblood brothers, and Basilliscus was a kinsman of St. Theodore. All three were like blood brothers in brotherly love. As such, they said before the governor, "As the Holy Trinity is undivided, so also are we by our faith undivided and in love inseparable." In vain was all the flattery on the part of the governor and in vain were his attempts to bribe Eutropius. First of all, the deputy invited Eutropius to dine with him. Eutropius refused, quoting from the Psalms, "Happy the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked" (Psalm 1:1). After that, the deputy offered him a large amount of money, one hundred-fifty litres of silver, which Eutropius also refused and reminded the governor that because of silver, Judas lost his soul. After all attempts at interrogation and torture, the first two were sentenced to be crucified, and Basilliscus was sentenced to be beheaded. And so it was, two brothers crucified on two crosses for which they gave thanks to Christ that He made them worthy of the same death by which He Himself died. The third, Basilliscus, was beheaded. They all entered the Kingdom of Joy where St. Theodore, their commander, awaited them and who before them was glorified by Christ the Lord and Victor. They suffered honorably in the year 308 A.D.

2. SAINT PIAMA THE EGYPTIAN

For the sake of Christ, Piama did not wish to marry; she dedicated herself to a life of asceticism in the home of her mother. She ate very little food, and that, every other day. She spent most of her time in prayer and contemplation. Piama possessed the "Gift of Discernment." She died peacefully, wedding her soul to the Lord about the year 377 A.D.

3. THE UNKNOWN MAIDEN

Coming from a wealthy home in Alexandria, she had a good father who suffered much and came to an evil end, and an evil mother who lived well, died peacefully and was buried with honors. Perplexed as to whether she should live according to the example of her father or her mother, this maiden had a vision which revealed to her the conditions of her mother and her father in the other world. She saw her father in the Kingdom of God and her mother in darkness and in torment. This vision helped themaiden to decide that she would dedicate her whole life to God and, like her father, would adhere to the commandments of God, without considering all the adversities and the misfortunes which she would have to endure. She was faithful to the will of God to the end and, with the help of God, was made worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven where she was reunited with her God-loving father.

HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINTS EUTROPIUS, CLEONICUS AND BASILLISCUS

The mind composed and uplifted to God the Most High,

The heart enflamed with love toward Him,

Does not care about pains nor about the body, worry,

Over such as these, only the Lord rules.

The mind fixed on Christ, that is most important.

This, during his torments, Saint Eutropius recognized

And Cleonicus his brother and beloved Basilliscus,

All three in the fire as though in the morning dew, were.

A mind fixed on Christ, about tortures does not care,

If pain persists, so also does prayer persist,

About pain, it does not think, but prayer, it weaves;

He who fears God does not fear pain.

Two blood brothers raised on the Cross:

Their bodies convulse, but the spirit does not stir,

Both glorify God Who glorified them;

Such an honorable death, to them, He gave.

The garment of the flesh is rent and removed

And the spirit races toward heaven; the spirit, than the body, is stronger;

Receive O God, they cry out, our spirit in the heights,

To You be enteral glory, O Son of God!

REFLECTION

Humanly speaking, Christ, by His obedience, elevated Himself to primacy in the Church, in the world and in the history of mankind. No one can be a good leader who has not completed the school of obedience. Adam forfeited the authority and dominion over the living creatures and the elements of nature at the very moment when he showed himself disobedient to God. The Abba Moses said, "Obedience begats obedience; if someone listens to God, God also listens to him." It is obvious then, that God listens to man more than man listens to God, especially when one takes into consideration how often and in how many ways man sins daily against the commandments of God. It is a fact that the Eternal God listens to us, corruptible as we are, more than we listen to Him. This should fill all of us with shame who still have a conscience. When St. Eutropius was being tortured, along with his two companions, he prayed to God, "Come to us in assistance as You came to Your servant Theodore Tiro." Suddenly, the ground shook and the obedient Lord appeared with His angels along with St. Theodore. The Lord said to the sufferers, "During the time of your torture, I stood before your faces and observed your patience. I will write your names in the Book of Life."

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus at the Mystical Supper:

1. How He chose bread and wine, two ordinary elements of nourishment, and through them instituted His visible and invisible bond with the Church until the end;

2. How the Mystical Supper was preserved until today and how it will be preserved until the end of time as the Mystery of Communion;

3. How everyday, and almost every hour, somewhere in the world, a priest, consecrates the bread and wine and receives it as the Body and Blood of Christ. What a wonderful vision that is! [The Consecration of the bread and wine and receiving it as the Holy Body and Precious Blood of Christ]

HOMILY

About love for your neighbor

"Yet that I remain in the flesh is more necessaryfor your benefit" (Philippians 1:24).

Inflamed with the love of God, the Apostle Paul acknowledged, in his Epistle to the Philippians, that for him death is a gain because his life is Christ's. Paul's love for Christ draws him toward death so that he may stand by Christ as soon as possible,and his love for the faithful again compels him to remain in the flesh. However, there are not two loves which attract the apostle and pulls him in two directions, but one and the same love which opens before him two treasures of wealth. One treasure is the blessed world in heaven, and the other treasure is the souls of the faithful on earth. That heavenly treasure is increased by this wealth from earth; this treasure overflows into the other. To go to heaven, the apostle is drawn by love and reward; to remain on earth, he is drawn by love and duty. When mortal man, my brethren, discovers that it is more important to remain in the flesh out of love for his brethren, what kind of miracle is it then that the eternal God knew, before the apostle, that it was more important to be in the flesh for the salvation of mankind than out of the flesh in the spiritual kingdom? Does not this confession of Paul before the Philippians explain to us with complete clarity the reasons for the Incarnation of the Son of God? There, in the heavens, is the true Kingdom of Christ and the true life of Christ without the mingling of sin and death. But the love of the Son of God toward men deemed it necessary to remain in the flesh on earth among men. Truly, we need to be thankful to the Apostle Paul that he, in explaining himself to us, explained the mystery of Christ's coming and His dwelling in the flesh.

O Lord, wonderful are You in Your saints.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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March 4/ 17

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March 4



1. THE VENERABLE GERASIMUS

This remarkable and famous saint first learned about the ascetical lifein the Egyptian Thebaid. He then went to the Jordan and there founded a community in which there were seventy monks. This community still exists today. He instituted a special Constitution [Rule] for his monastery by which the monks spent five days in their cells weaving baskets, reeds and rush mats. They were never allowed to light a fire in their cells. For five days they ate only a little dry bread and dates. The monks were required to keep their cells open so that when they went out, anyone could enter and remove whatever he needed from their cells. On Saturdays and Sundays they gathered in the monastic church. They had a common meal with a few vegetables and a little wine to the glory of God. Each monk would then bring in and place before the feet of the abbot that which he had made during the past five days. Each monk had only one robe. St. Gerasimus was an example to all. During the Great Lenten Fast he did not eat anything except what he received in Holy Communion. On one occasion, he saw a lion roaring from pain because there was a thorn in his paw. Gerasimus drew near to the lion, crossed himself, and removed the thorn in the animal's paw. The lion became so tame that he returned with Gerasimus to the monastery and remained there until the elder's death. When Gerasimus died, the lion succumbed from sorrow for him. Gerasimus attended the Fourth Ecumenical Council [Chalcedon, 451 A.D.] during the reign of Marcian and Plucheria. Even though in the beginning, Gerasimus leaned toward the Monophysite heresy of Eutyches and Dioscorus, he was a great defender and champion of Orthodoxy at the Council. St. Euthymius dissuaded him from this heresy. Of all of the disciples of Gerasimus, the most famous was St. Cyriacus the Recluse. St. Gerasimus died in the year 475 A.D., and was translated into the eternal joy of his Lord.

2. THE HOLY MARTYRS PAUL AND JULIANA

Paul and Juliana were brother and sister from Ptolemais in Phoenicia. They were brutally tortured for the sake of Christ by the Emperor Aurelius and were finally beheaded. Before their martyrdom many of their miracles were manifested, and were witnessed by many pagans. Through these miracles, many of the pagans were converted to the Faith. Several of these were beheaded and received their wreaths in the year 273 A.D.

3. SAINT JAMES THE FASTER

He lived in the sixth century. He was so perfected in pleasing God that Jamescured the most gravely ill through his prayers. But the enemy of mankind lured him into great temptations. At one time, an immoral woman was sent to him by some scoffers. She misrepresented herself to James, pretending to be crying yet all the while luring him into sin. Seeing that he was going to yield to sin, James placed his left hand into the fire and held it there for some time until it was scorched. Seeing this, the woman was filled with fear and terror, repented and amended her life. On another occasion, James did not flee from his temptation, but rather he succumbs to a maiden, who was brought as alunatic by her parents to be cured of her insanity. He, indeed, healed her and after that, sinned with her. Then in order to conceal his sin he killed her and threw her into a river. As is common, the steps from adultery to murder are not too distant. James lived for ten years after that as a penitent in an open grave. At thattime there was a great drought which caused both people and live-stock to suffer. As a result of his prayers, rain fell; James knew that God had forgiven him. Here is an example, similar to that of David, of how twisted is the demon of evil; how by God's permission, the greatest spiritual giants can be overthrown, and through sincere and contrite penance, God, according to His mercy, forgives even the greatest sins and does not punish those when they punish themselves.

HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINT JAMES THE FASTER

Who from the greater height falls, is injured more,

To the heights whoever is lifted, let him cautiously shield himself.

The holy apostle writes: "Whoever thinks that he is standing secure

should take care not to fall," (*) let him fear God.

James the Faster, according to the height of his soul, a giant was he,

But, he, from the heights slipped, and the devil toppled him;

One sin, to the other hastens, adultery rushes to murder,

James the Faster, himself, punishes, and God comforted him.

All virtues, one sin, is able to erode;

One hole in the granary, all the wheat pours out.

A house filled with fragrances, one handful of filth

Empties it of redolence and fills it with stench.

One-hundred victories nor one-hundred celebrations do not help

When in the final battle, the head is lost.

The spiritual life is a struggle against the hordes of the devil,

In this battle, from the beginning the proud are defeated.

Whoever invokes the Name of God with profound humility

That one, in battle, will be protected by God's mercy.

(*) I Corinthians 10:12

REFLECTION

If the philosophies of men were able to satisfy man, why did the philosophers Justin and Origen become Christians? Why did Basil, Chrysostom and Gregory, who in Athens studying all the philosophy of the Greeks, receive baptism? And why didBlessed Augustine, who knew the wisdom of both the Greeks and the Romans, throw away all and seek salvation and illumination in the Faith of Christ? And St. Clement of Rome, who was very wealthy and very learned? And St. Catherine, who was from the royal house and knew all the worldly wisdom of the Egyptians? And the young Crown Prince Joasaph in India, to whom was known all the Indian philosophies? And many, many more who primarily sought explanations to the puzzles of the world and illumination for their souls in philosophy and, after that, entered the Church and worshipped the Lord Christ?

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Mystery of Communion as the presence of our Lord Jesus in the Church on earth:

1. As the fulfillment of His promise, "And behold, I am with you always until the end of the age" (St. Matthew 28:20).

2. As His constant support of the faithful, to whom He said, "Without me, you can do nothing" (St. John 15:5).

HOMILY

About Pilate's wavering

"Consequently, Pilate tried to release Him, then, hehanded Him over to be crucified" St. John19:12,16).

From where does this contradiction in Pilate stem? From where is this dual will in one and the same man? While he stood under the radiant face of Christ, Pilatefrom all his heart wanted to release the Just Man. But, when the darkness of the Jews overcame him, he agreed to the works of darkness. This is the seed [Jesus Christ], fallen among the thorns. While the face of Christ shown on the seed, the seed took root, but as soon as the seed was left without this light, the darkness of the thorns smothered it. When the Lord Jesus authoritatively spoke to Pilate of the Heavenly Kingdom, saying to him, "You would have no power over Me, if it had not been given to you from above" (St. John 19:11), Pilate then felt overcome by the fear of God. But when the masses of the Jews cried out to Pilate, "If you release Him, you are not a friend of Caesar" (St. John 19:12), then Pilate was overcome with fear from the worldly king. His fear for the body overcame his fear for his soul, as it happens occasionally, even today. Pilate was a disciple of worldly wisdom. Worldly wisdom does not offer strength but instills fear. Worldly wisdom does not sustain the soul but the body. Worldly wisdom does not instill fear for the soul but fear for the body and all that is physical. Here, in Pilate, we see an obvious and a pathetic example of what kind of men worldly wisdom produces and educates, sidestepping God and going against Christ. Pilate's weak character and wavering soul is a picture, not only of pagans, but also of weak Christians. Certain Christians daily, imperceptibly and, more often,unconsciously, would for a while like to eliminate Christ from the darkened and evil instinct of the Jews within themselves. Then, at other times, they would like to abandon Him to that instinct for crucifixion. This always happens when a Christian transgresses some of the commandments of Christ for the sake of fulfilling some of his own physical desires. For a moment, that commandment enlightens the heart of a wavering Christian and again, for a moment, the physical darkness overcomes him so much that he completely succumbs to it. O Lord, long-suffering, do not turn away the radiance of Your face from us even for one twinkling of the eye, so that the darkness does not overcome us.

O Lord help us that we will remain children of the light until the end.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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March 5/ 18

Post by Mary Kissel »

March 5



1. THE HOLY MARTYR CONON OF ISAURIA

He was brought up in the Faith of Christ and baptized in the name of the All-Holy and Life-giving Trinity by the Archangel Michael, the Commander of the Angelic Hosts of God. Until his death, the archangel of God invisibly watched over him. Conon was illumined and empowered by the Grace of the Holy Spirit so that his heart was not driven by anything worldly but only by the spiritual and heavenly. When his parents forced him into marriage, the first evening he took a candle and placed it under a utensil and asked his bride, "Which is better, light or darkness?" She replied, "Light." He then began to talk to her about the Faith of Christ and the spiritual life as being far more superior and more appealing than the physical. In this he succeeded. Afterwards Conon converted his wife and her parents to the Faith of Christ. Conon and his wife lived as brother and sister. Shortly thereafter, his wife and parents died, and he withdrew completely from this worldly life and devoted himself completely to prayer, fasting and pious thoughts. He performed great miracles through which he converted many to Christianity. Among other examples, Conon compelled evil spirits to serve him. During the time of a persecution, he was captured, tortured and pierced throughout with knives. The sick anointed themselves with his blood and they were healed. After that, he lived for two additional years in his town of Isauria and presented himself before the Lord. This glorious saint lived and was martyred in the second century.

2. THE HOLY MARTYR CONON THE GARDENER

Conon was born in Nazareth. He was kind and innocent and in all things found favor with God. During the reign of Decius, Conon was persecuted, suffered and martyred for Christ. Throughout, he remained strong in the Faith. He sharply rebuked and criticized the pagan judges because of their stupidity. With nails driven into his feet and tied to the prince's chariot, this virtuous and innocent saint was dragged until he was completely exhausted and fell. It was then that he prayed for the last time and gave up his soul to God in the year 251 A.D.

3. VENERABLE HESYCHIUS THE FASTER

Hesychius was born near Brusa in the eighth century. He then retreated to Mount Maion which had an evil reputation because of demonic apparitions. There, Hesychius built a hut for himself and a chapel dedicated to the honor of St. Andrew the Apostle. He surrounded it with a garden which he cultivated in order to live by his own labor. By his prayers he performed many miracles. Hesychius prophesied that after his death a convent would be built on that place. A month before, he foresaw the day and hour of his death. At midnight on the foreseen day, some men saw his hut glowing with an extraordinary light. When they arrived, they found him dead. Hesychius died peacefully and was received into the kingdom of His Lord in the year 790 A.D. He was buried in the church of St. Andrew. Later, Theophylactus, the Bishop of Amasea, translated his body to Amasea.

4. VENERABLE MARK THE ASCETIC

Mark was an ascetic and miracle-worker. In his fortieth year he was tonsured a monk by his teacher St. John Chrysostom. Mark then spent sixty more years in the wilderness of Nitria in fasting, prayer and writing many spiritual works concerning the salvation of souls. He knew the entire Holy Scriptures by heart. He was very merciful and kind. He wept much for the misfortunes which had befallen all of God's creation. On one occasion, while crying, he prayed to God for a blind puppy of a hyena and the puppy received its sight. In thanksgiving the mother of the hyena brought him a sheepskin. The saint forbade the hyena in the future to kill any more sheep of poor people. He received Communion at the hands of the angels. His homilies concerning the spiritual law, on repentance, and on sobriety, etc., are ranked among the first-class literature of the Church. These works were praised by the great Patriarch Photius himself.

HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL

The angels, our older and superior brothers are,

The Will of God Most High, their will.

Than light, more bright are they, swifter and brighter,

Of the air on the mountain, lighter and fresher,

In light they are clothed, the light of their Creator,

Tireless laborers of the work of Christ.

For men they are concerned, men, their only concern:

How to God return, the prodigal son,

How, from a strange land, their younger brothers

To return to the joyful courts of the Householder.

Michael, Archistratig, the first among the first,

What Venus is among the stars, he is among the angels;

To every penitent he hurries, to lift him up to God,

No matter how many penitents, he reaches them all.

To serve, serve and serve--for him that is joy,

Even in heaven, service to one's neighbor is paramount.

Service which strengthens life and makes a mother jubilant,

Service which adorns wreaths, unfading,

That service for the angels is joy and celebration

For it is directed to the glory of God and for men, salvation.

REFLECTION

Why do some people, well educated and baptized as Christians, fall away from Christianity and give themselves over to philosophy and to learned theories,pretending these to be something more truthful than Christianity? They do so for two principal reasons: either out of a totally superficial understanding of Christianity or because of sin. A superficial understanding of Christ rejects Him and flees from Christ as does a criminal from a judge. Superficial and sinful Christians were as often enraged and infuriated with Christianity as were the pagans. To the superficial and culpable, it was more comfortable for them to bathe in the shallow swamp of human thoughts than in the perilous depth of Christ. For those who sincerely follow Christ, He constantly calls them to a greater and greater depth; as He once said to the Apostle Peter, "Put out into deep water" (St. Luke 5:4). St. Mark the Ascetic writes that the law of God is understood in accordance with the fulfillment of the commandments of God: "Ignorance compels a person to speak in opposition to that which is beneficial and insolence multiplies vice."

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Mystery of Communion as a Mystery of the Perfection of Love:

1. Because on the part of Christ, it means giving completely of Himself to His faithful;

2. Because of this, Christ is received with faith and trust on the part of the faithful;

3. Because of this, it leads to the joyful, fruitful and saving union of God with man.

HOMILY

About traveling with Christ into the deep

"Put out into deep water" (St. Luke 5:4).

This is how our Lord commanded Peter and the rest of the apostles "after He had finished speaking" (St. Luke 5:4). This means that He first gave instructions and immediately following that, He called them to action. This is also important for us. For as soon as we learn something from the Gospels, we immediately need to go out and implement it. The works of the disciple are dear to the Lord, not only the disciple. "Put out into deep water." Along the shore, from the shallow waters, our Lord spoke to the people who were less enlightened in the mysteries of God's Kingdom. He invited the apostles out into the deep. There is less danger in the shallow waters, but the catch is also smaller. In the shallow waters there are snakes, frogs and other lesser repulsive water creatures. That is all the danger. In shallow waters there are only small fish; that is the entire catch. But in the greater depths, the danger is also greater. There you have large sea creatures and great storms. That is dangerous. But there are also much larger and better fish in enormous quantity; that is the catch. O, enlightened one, come therefore into the deep! "Put out into the deep" mysterious sea of life, but do not set out without Christ in your boat. By no means. You might spend the entire night of your life not catching anything, as Peter said, "We have toiled all night and have taken nothing" (St. Luke 4:5). Not only that, but you could face far worse if Christ is not in your boat. Perhaps the winds could carry you away and cast you into an abyss. Perhaps the monstrous and enormous beasts of the sea will consume you. The winds, O enlightened one, those are your own passions which accompany you unavoidably if you set out into the deep without Christ. The enormous and monstrous beasts of the sea are demons who, with the blinking of an eye, can destroy you as with the blinking of an eye "the herd of about two thousand swine rushed down a steep bank into the sea, where they were drowned" (St. Mark 5:13).

However, if you are going out with Christ into the deep, do not be afraid of anything; but go rejoicefully and courageously glued to Christ. You will lay hold of the best catch; and you will fill both boats with it, the physical and the spiritual. You will snare the best catch, O dedicated one, and, without any dangers, you will arrive to theshore, to the shore of the Kingdom of Christ. Nowhere without Christ! Neither in shallow places nor into the deep. In the shallow places you will become vexed by hunger and by many minor disgusts, but into the deep a greater evil will befall you.

O, my Almighty Savior, You are our Helmsman, our Defense, our Harbor.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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March 6/ 19

Post by Mary Kissel »

March 6




1. THE HOLY FORTY-TWO MARTYRS FROM AMMORIA

They were all commanders of the Byzantine Emperor Theophilus. When the Emperor Theophilus lost the battle against the Saracens at the city of Ammoria, the Saracens captured the city, enslaved many Christians and among them these commanders. The remaining Christians were either killed or sold into slavery. The commanders were thrown into prison where they remained for seven years. Many times the Muslim leaders came to them. They counseled and advised the commanders to embrace the Islamic Faith, but the commanders did not want to hear about it. When the Saracens spoke to the commanders, saying, "Mohammed is the true prophet and not Christ," the commanders asked them, "If there were two men debating about a field and the one said, `This field is mine,' and the other, `It is not, it is mine,' and near by, one of them had many witnesses saying it is his field and the other had no witnesses, but only himself, what would you say, `Whose field is it?'" The Saracens answered, "Indeed, to him who had many witnesses!" "You have judged correctly," the commanders answered. That is the way with Christ and Mohammed. Christ has many witnesses: the Prophets of old, from Moses to John the Forerunner, whom you also recognize and who witness to and about Him [Christ], but Mohammed witnesses only to himself that he is a prophet and does not have even one witness. The Saracens were ashamed and again they tried to defend their faith in this manner: "Our faith is better than the Christian Faith as proved by this: God gave us the victory over you and gave us the best land in the world and a kingdom much greater than Christianity." To that the commanders replied, "If it were so, then the idolatry of the Egyptians, Babylonians, Hellenes, Romans, and the fire-worship of the Persians would be the true faith for, at one time, all of these people conquered the others and ruled over them. It is evident that your victory, power and wealth do not prove the truth of your faith. We know that God, at times, gives victory to Christians and, at other times, allows torture and suffering so as to correct them and to bring them to repentance and purification of their sins." After seven years, they were beheaded in the year 845 A.D. Their bodies were then thrown into the Euphrates river, but they floated to the other side of the shore where they were gathered and honorably buried by Christians.

2. THE BLESSED JOB

Job was born in Moscow in the year 1635 A.D. Church singing and liturgical services drew him to the Church. He became the spiritual father to Emperor Peter the Great but, because of intrigue, he withdrew into the Slovecki Monastery, where he underwent a difficult life of asceticism. In the year 1720 A.D., in his eighty fifth year, he died in the Lord. Before his death he cried out, "Blessed is the God of our Fathers and as He is thus, I am not afraid but, with joy, I leave this world."

3. THE HOLY MARTYRS CONON THE FATHER AND CONON THE SON

When the father was already an old man, the son was a youngster of seventeen years. During the reign of Domentian, they were sawed in half for their faith in Christ and were glorified and honored in the Church on earth and in heaven. They honorably suffered in the year 275 A.D.

HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINT CONON

The emperor counsels the youthful Conon;

From old age, your father is deranged,

You, young man, do not harken to his words.

But deny and forget Christ,

Offer sacrifice to the Roman gods,

And then remain with me in honor.

The youthful Conon courageously replied:

It is written, O emperor torturer,

That the son does what from the father, he sees,

And of the father's deed, he is not ashamed.

My father, the True Faith teaches me,

The True Faith and the knowledge of God,

That I know the One God,

My Creator, Merciful,

That I know Christ the Savior,

From death, my Redeemer.

Whatever you do with the body of my father,

This also do with mine;

But over the soul, you have no authority,

Our souls are our possessions

And the possessions of the Son of God.


REFLECTION

For as long as you are on earth, consider yourself a guest in the Household of Christ. If you are at the table, it is He who treats you. If you breathe air, it is His air you breathe. If you bathe, it is in His water you are bathing. If you are traveling, it is over His land that you are traveling. If you are amassing goods, it is His goods you are amassing. If you are squandering, it is His goods that you are squandering. If you are powerful, it is by His permission that you are strong. If you are in the company of men, you and the others are His guests. If you are out in nature, you are in His garden. If you are alone, He is present. If you set out or turn anywhere, He sees you. If you do anything, He remembers. He is the most considerate Householder by Whom you were ever hosted. Be careful then toward Him. In a good household, the guest is required to behave. These are all simple words but they convey to you a great truth. All the saints knew this truth and they governed their lives by it. That is why the Eternal Householder rewarded them with eternal life in heaven and glory on earth.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Mystery of Communion as a life-giving cure for the soul and body:

1. As a cure that heals and cleanses the soul from sinful maladies and restores it to life;

2. As a cure that heals and cleanses the body from avarice and vice and restores it to life;

3. As a cure that enlivens man and makes him a healthy member of the immortal Body of Christ, who, if he is not, would remain decayed to the end and eventually, he would be cut off and cast aside.

HOMILY

About the heir and the slave

"I mean that as long as the heir is not of age,he is no different from the slave" (Galatians 4:1).

As long as the heir apparent is in the cradle, what would make him better than the son of a slave? Neither is his body better, nor are his thoughts more elevated, nor are his wishes or desires more pure. Such is the son of the king; so is the son of the slave; so is the son of the beggar. For a few years the son of the king does not differ from the son of the slave. However, when the son of the king reaches maturity and with full consciousness of his dignity, he receives authority over the kingdom, and when the son of a slave reaches full maturity and with full consciousness, he succumbs to the yoke of slavery. Then the enormous difference is seen. Then it is clearly manifest that the heir and the slave are not equal. The slave has to serve and the king has to rule. The apostle means to say that it is the same with Christians and with those who are not Christians. The non-Christian is a slave to nature and the Christian rules over nature. The non-Christian era of the history of mankind shows us how man was the slave to the elements of nature, the slave of the flesh, the slave of idols and creatures. The Christian era of the history of mankind shows us how man was master and owner, a nobleman of a royal race and heir to all. Even those who knew about the One True God, as the Israelites knew, were not like children toward God nor heirs toward their father but were slaves and servants toward their Lord and Judge. "But when the fullness of time had come"(Galatians 4:4), the Only-Begotten Son of God came to earth. He made it possible "so that we might receive adoption" (Galatians 4:5), and to address the Spirit of God and cry out, "Abba, Father" (Galatians 4:5). Brethren why did Christ come to earth? He did so to make us better than slaves and to give us the right of sonship and the duty of the master. The right of sonship, that in the name Christ, we can call God, Father, and the duty of the master to rule over ourselves, over our flesh, over our thoughts, over our desires, and over all nature around us.

O Only-Begotten Son of God, by Your mercy and sacrifice, we have received the adoption of sons.

O help us that with Your help we may persevere to the end in purity and in truth.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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Mary Kissel
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March 7/20

Post by Mary Kissel »

March 7



1. THE HOLY SEVEN PRIESTLY-MARTYRS IN CHERSON: BASIL, EPHREM, EUGENIUS, ELPIDUS, AGATHADORUS, AETHERIUS, AND CAPITO

All of them were bishops in Cherson at different times. All suffered and were martyred at the hands of unbelievers, whether they were Jews, Greeks or Scythians, except Aetherius, who died peacefully. All of them were sent by the Patriarch of Jerusalem as missionaries to bring the light of the Gospel to these wild and uncivilized areas. They were tortured and suffered for their Lord. In Cherson, Basil raised the son of a prince from the dead which embittered the Jews and they, in turn, brought an accusation against him. He was tied and bound by the feet and dragged through the streets until his soul departed him. Ephrem was beheaded. Eugenius, Elpidus and Agathadorus were beaten with rods and stoned until they gave up their souls to God. Aetherius lived during the reign of Emperor Constantine the Great. He governed the Church in freedom and peace, erected a large church in Cherson, and died peacefully. When the last of them, Capito, was appointed bishop for the wild and savage Scythians, they sought a sign from him that they may believe. They suggested that he enter into a fiery furnace and, if he was not consumed, they would all believe in Christ. With fervent prayers and hope in God, Capito placed his episcopal pallium over his shoulders, signed himself with the sign of the cross, and entered into the flaming hot furnace, keeping his heart close to God. He remained in the flames for about an hour without any injury or damage, either to his body or to his vesture. He came out in good health. Then, at once, all of them cried out: "One is God, the God of the Christians, great and mighty, Who protects His servant in the flaming furnace." The entire city and all the vicinity were then baptized. This miracle was spoken of at length at the First Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 325 A.D.]. The participants in the Council all glorified God and praised the steadfast and solid faith of St. Capito. It happened that while Capito was traveling along the Dnieper river, he was captured by the pagan Scythians and was drowned. All these seven priestly-martyrs suffered during the early years of the fourth century.

2. THE VERERABLE EMILIANUS

Emilianus was born in Rome and committed many grave sins in his youth. When Emilianus came to his senses, he refrained from sinning and began to tremble just thinking about the judgment of God. Emilianus immediately entered a monastery and by fasting, vigils and obedience, he tamed and shriveled his body. He was an ideal example to his brethren in all virtuous acts of asceticism. Frequently at night, he would step out of the monastery and enter into a nearby cave to pray. Not knowing where Emilianus was going, the abbot of the monastery secretly followed him one night. The abbot saw Emilianus standing at prayer in reverence and in tears. All at once, a heavenly light, brighter than the sun, encompassed the entire mountain but especially the cave and Emilianus. A voice was heard from heaven saying, "Emilianus, your sins are forgiven you." Filled with fright, the abbot hurried back to the monastery. The next day, he revealed to the brethren what he had seen and heard the previous night. Great respect was shown to Emilianus by the brethren. He lived long and died to the Lord.(*)

(*) On this date St. Lawrence is commemorated in the great Greek Synaxarion. He was a benefactor of the Monastery Phaneromene on the island of Salamis. He lived in Megara as a married man with two sons. He was righteous and pious. The Holy Birth-Giver of God appeared to him in a dream and commanded him to go to Salamis and there to restore her church. He went there and, indeed, he discovered the destroyed ruins and built a new church. Here, he was tonsured a monk and died on March 7, 1770 A.D. Afterwards, many miracles occurred in this monastery over the relics of St. Lawrence.


HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINT EMILIANUS

Emilianus, a grave sinner,

And from sin, the soul aches,

Emilianus, disconsolate

For forgiveness, he prays to God:


O Most High, O Most wonderful,

From Whom the sun has light,

From Whom the angelic choir, its wakeful

Existence, joy and radiance receive!


For You only, O God, do I care,

Repentantly, I return to You,

Only to You do I offer thanks

That now, I truly comprehend life.


Tears, tears, tears, I shed,

Body and spirit now are fasting,

Vision of the world and hearing I conceal,

Forgive, O God, forgive, forgive!


For Your mercy I am a field,

Weed me and cultivate me,

Let my soul be alive,

And the flesh suffer and feel pain.


Of all men, I am the worst,

Behold, I judge myself,

Just do not judge me, O God,

I fear You, Only You!


REFLECTION

A thick rope is made from thin, fibrous strands of hemp. One thin fiber cannot hold you tied nor can it strangle you. For you will easily, as in jest, break it and free yourself from it. If you are tied by a thick rope, you can be held bound and even be strangled by it. Neither can you break it easily nor free yourself from it. As a thick rope consists of thin and weak fibers, so the passions of man consist of minor sins. Man can break off and turn away from the beginnings of minor sins. But, when sin after sin is repeated, the weave becomes all the more stronger and stronger until in the end a passion is created, which then turns man into some kind of monster as only it knows how. You cannot easily cut it off, nor distance yourself from it, nor can you divorce yourself from it. O, if only men would beware and take care of the beginnings of sins! Then, they would not have to endure much in freeing themselves from passions. "To cut off rooted passions is as difficult as cutting off the fingers," said a monk from the Holy Mountain. To free himself from sinful passions, St. Emilianus was helped by thinking thoughts of death and, understandably, the Grace of God, without which it is extremely difficult to rid oneself of the fetters of passion. To think often of impending death, to repent and to implore Grace from Almighty God, these three save a man from the bondage of sin. St. Sisoes was asked, "At which time can passions be uprooted?" The saint replied, "As soon as one passion takes root in you, uproot it immediately."

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus at prayer in Gethsemane:

1. How He falls on His face and prays three times, "My Father if it is possible, let this cup pass from me" (St. Matthew 26:39), and again, "Your will be done" (St. Matthew 26:42).

2. How He sweated at prayer, "And His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (St. Luke 22:44).

3. How all of this was because of you and me; because of my sins and your sins; and for the sake of my salvation and your salvation.

HOMILY

About the hand of the betrayer

"And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray Me is with Me on the table(St. Luke 22:21).

It is most difficult for a general to wage war when he has an enemy within the camp; not only external enemies, but internal enemies among his own. Judas was considered among his own. However, he was the enemy from within. Rows of enemies crowded and closed ranks around Christ and, from within, Judas was preparing betrayal. His hand was on the table which Christ blessed, and his thoughts were aligned with the enemies where darkest evil, hatred and malice seethed against the gentle Lord.

Is it not also the same today, that the hand of the many traitors of Christ are at the table with Him? Which table is not Christ's? On what table are not His gifts? He is the Householder and He nourishes and feeds His guests. The guests have nothing of their own, nothing! All good and all abundance which is given to them is given to them by the hand of Christ. Therefore, is it not so that Christ is present at every table as a Householder and as a Servant? Therefore, are not those also the hands of all who even today betray Christ on the table together with Him? They eat His bread and they speak against Him. They warm themselves by His sun and they slander His name. They breathe His air and they rise up against His Church. They live off His mercy and they banish Him from their homes, from their schools, from their courts, from their books and from their hearts. They trample His commandments willfully, maliciously and ridicule His law. Are they not then the betrayers of Christ and the followers of Judas? Do not be afraid of them! God did not command that we be afraid of them but wait to see their end. Our Lord was not afraid of Judas nor is He afraid of all the traitorous hordes until the end of time. He knows their end and He already has His victory in His hands. Therefore, do not you be afraid either. Adhere faithfully to Christ the Lord, both when it appears to you that His causes succeed and go forward in the world and then, again, when it appears to you that His causes collapse and perish. Do not be afraid! If you become frightened, perhaps your hand will be found clenched under the hand of Judas at the table of Christ.

O Lord, All-Victorious, sustain us with Your power and mercy.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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Mary Kissel
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March 8/21

Post by Mary Kissel »

March 8



1. SAINT THEOPHYLACTUS, BISHOP OF NICOMEDIA

When the emperor's advisor Tarasius, as a layman, was elected Patriarch ofConstantinople, then with him and from him, many of his friends, admirers, and others of the laity received the monastic tonsure. Among them was Theophylactus. Tarasius appointed him Bishop of Nicomedia. As a bishop, Theophylactus was a good shepherd to his entrusted flock and proved to be exceptionally filled with compassion toward the less fortunate and indigent. After the death of St. Tarasius, the Patriarchal Throne was occupied by Nicephorus and shortly after that, the Imperial Throne was occupied by Leo the Armenian, who was an Iconoclast and, as such, raised up a absolute storm in the Church of Christ. Even though Iconoclasm had been anathematized by the Seventh Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 783 A.D.], nevertheless, Emperor Leo re-instated it and by this wanted to supplant Orthodoxy. Saint Theophylactus opposed the emperor to his face and, when the emperor would not yield, Theophylactus said to him, "O emperor, violent injury will unexpectedly befall you, and you will not find anyone who will save you from it." Because of these words and by the order of the emperor, Theophylactus was ousted from his position and banished into exile, where he spent thirty years undergoing many hardships and insults and, where, in the end, he rendered his soul to the Lord about the year 845 A.D.

2. THE HOLY PRIEST-MARTYR THEODORETUS

The Emperor Constantine built a cathedral church of special beauty in Antioch. The people called this church "the golden church" because of the gold-plated exterior and interior and because of the many appointments of gold and silver housed in it. The emperor donated a great deal of land to this church for the upkeep of the clergy whose number was significant. The custodian of these appointments and all other precious items in the church was the presbyter Theodoretus,(*) and rare devotion. When Julian the Apostate began his reign, he denied Christ and, even though he was baptized, stirred up a persecution against Christians. Julian, his uncle of the same name, came to Antioch and began to plunder the "golden church." He summoned Theodoretus, the custodian of the treasury, to court and counseled him to deny Christ. Not only did Theodoretus refuse to deny Christ, but he also insulted the Emperor Julian because of his apostasy from the True Faith and his return to idolatry, as a dog returning to his own vomit. When the wicked judge, out of rage, urinated in the "golden church," St. Theodoretus prophesied a horrible death for him, which shortly happened. Theodoretus was beheaded by an axe for his faith in Christ. From the time that Judge Julian had urinated in the church, he felt pains in the lower part of his body. The entire lower half of his body was eaten away by worms, so that he vomited up his apostate soul in the most horrible pains. Also, according to the prophecy of Theodoretus, Felix, Julian's assistant, diedof a hemorrhage from the mouth immediately after the beheading of this righteous man. St. Theodoretus was beheaded in the year 362 A.D. and was translated to the All-glorious kingdom of Christ the King.]

(*) In the Greek Synaxarion, St. Theodoretus is commemorated on March 3.

HYMN OF PRAISE

ADAM'S LAMENT

Outside the empty Paradise, Adam folds his hands,

Banished and alienated he throbbed from pain;

The angels of heaven, until then his companions,

As beautiful dreams, flew hurriedly away,

Before the banished one, before the cursed one,

Until yesterday, the mighty proprietor of Paradise!

And Adam sobbed on the cold boulder:

Woe to my descendants! Woe to me a sinner!

For one moment, my Creator I despised

To be despised by all that was created

Throughout the days and nights, throughout the centuries long,

Instead of God, a serpent to have for a companion!

Instead of me, over all created things to rule,

Over me, now, everything will rule:

The winds and the heat, the elements of nature,

The beasts and scorpions, repulsive things and serpents.

Instead of freedom, behold, fear grips me,

And confuses my thoughts and chills me to the bone.

There is only One Who is able to help:

The One that I offended--Have mercy O God!


REFLECTION

Be more trusting in the Lord than in your own mother. Confess all to Him. He will not betray you. Embrace all of His commandments as beneficial. They will not deceive you. In as much as you trust in God, so also be vigilant toward your enemies, toward your body, the world and demons. All of this was expressed much better by the glorious saint of God, Ephrem the Syrian, saying, "In embracing the commandments of God, have simplicity, and in warding off hostile intrigues, have the cunning (the dove and the serpent)."

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane:

1. How He repeatedly commands the disciples to watch and pray to God;

2. How He rises three times from His sweat-inducing prayer, goes over to the disciples and finds that they are asleep;

3. How they were all overcome by temptation because they forsook their teacher and fled for they were not prepared to overcome the fear of men;

4. How we, too, become lazy and are not vigilant and do not pray to God, for when temptation comes, we forsake the Lord Christ.

HOMILY

About the vision of the eyes and the vision of the soul

"Coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance"(Philippians 2:7).

This, the Apostle Paul says, that same apostle who said about the Lord Jesus: "He is in the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation" (Colossians 1:15), and "In Him dwells the whole fullness of the Deity bodily" (Colossians 2:9). This is the Lord according to His essence and according to His internal nature but "found human in appearance." Men, whose hearts are hardened as stone and whose minds are darkened, recognize objects around themselves only through their eyes. Such men, in those days, looked with their eyes and saw Jesus as a man. It was not given to them to know anymore about Him except what their physical eyes saw. Physical man saw in Jesus and beheld only the body but did not see in that body neither God nor a perfect and sinless man.

Even today, whosoever judges only by that which he sees denies to Jesus all that he cannot see in other men. No one can speak the truth about the Lord who judges Him only with their eyes. That which the eyes can see of Him is but a small veil behind which is hidden the eternal mysteries of heaven and the greatestmysteries of time and of earth. In order to see that which is hidden in Him, behind the physical veil, one must have spiritual vision, which is the Spirit of God in one's heart, the Spirit Who draws back the veil and reveals the mysteries.

O, Lord, Mystery Most Sweet, make us worthy of the visit of Your Holy Spirit.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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March 9/22

Post by Mary Kissel »

March 9



1. THE HOLY FORTY MARTYRS OF SEBASTEA

All of them were soldiers in the Roman army and steadfastly believed in the Lord Jesus. When the persecution of Christians began during the reign of Licinius, they were brought to trial before the commander. When he threatened to strip them of their honor as soldiers, one of them, St. Candidus, responded, "Not only the honor of being a soldier, but take away our bodies, for nothing is more dear or honorable, to us than Christ our God." After that, the commander ordered his servants to stone the holy martyrs. While the servants were hurling stones at the Christians, the stones turned and fell back on the servants, severely striking them. One of the stones struck the commander's face and knocked out his teeth. The torturers, angry as wild beasts, bound all of the holy martyrs and tossed them into the lake and stationed a guard around it so as to prevent any of them from escaping. There was a terrible frost and the lake froze around the bodies of the martyrs. So that their pain and suffering would be worsened, and in order to persuade one of them to deny Christ and acknowledge the idols of Rome, the torturers heated a bath by the side of the lake in sight of the frozen martyrs. Indeed, one of them was persuaded. He came out of the water and entered the bath. And behold, an extraordinary light appeared from heaven which warmed the water in the lake and the bodies of the martyrs. With that light, thirty-nine wreaths descended from heaven over their heads. Upon seeing this, a guard on the shore removed all his clothes, confessed the Name of the Lord Jesus and entered the lake so that he could become worthy of the fortieth wreath in place of the betrayer. Indeed, the last wreath descended upon him. The next day the entire town was astonished when they saw that the martyrs were still alive. Then, the wicked judges ordered that the lower part of their legs be broken and their bodies thrown into the water so Christians could not recover them. On the third day the martyrs appeared to Peter, the local bishop, and summoned him to gather their relics and remove them from the water The bishop with his clergy went out into the dark of night and beheld the relics of the martyrs shining brightly in the water. Every bone which was separated from their bodies floated to the top and glowed like a candle. Bishop Peter gathered and honorably buried them. The souls of these martyrs, who suffered for all of us, went to the Lord Jesus, resurrected with glory. They suffered honorably and were crowned with unfading glory in the year 320 A.D.

2. THE VENERABLE FILOMORUS

He lived and mortified himself in Galatia in the fourth century. It is said about him that he was so perfected in all virtues that he resembled an angel rather than a man. He was especially glorified because of his patience. He was persecuted by the Emperor Julian the Apostate and suffered much for Christ. After the death of Julian,this wicked persecutor of Christ, St. Filomorus lived peacefully, benefiting many. He died in his eightieth year.

3. SAINT CAESARIUS

St. Caesarius, the brother of Gregory the Theologian who died in the year 369 A.D., was also a theological writer. Among other things he attempted to answer the question: How long a time did Adam and Eve spend in Paradise before their expulsion? Some have determined the time to be six hours; others, twenty-four hours; and still others, three days. St. Caesarius was of the mind that the length of time was forty days. "Because," he says, "Our Lord fasted forty days in the wilderness and during that time He was tempted by the devil. Since the old Adam could not resist the temptation of the devil in the abundance of Paradise, the new Adam resisted the devil gallantly in the hungry and thirsty wilderness."

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE HOLY FORTY MARTYRS

Martyrs in the lake shackled by frost,

Strongly adhering to Holy Faith, by hope illumined,

To the dear God, cried out: You, Who astonished the world

By Your awesome sacrifice and resurrection, O You, enliven us!

The firmament of heaven and everything created, glorify You,

Behold, the abyss, fire, hail, snow, ice and heat glorify You!

You helped the great Moses, your servant,

And Joshua Son of Nun, and after that Elisha,

That nature, calm the waters and it, to divide,

Now, help your faithful as you have until now,

Do not allow the frost to be stronger than man,

That we, Forty Martyrs, not become the subject of scorn;

Oh, You can, if You want, for You rule over all,

You, when You want, can change ice into heat and heat into ice;

Because of Your Name, the frost consumes us as an angry beast--

Oh, help us that the Name of the Almighty may be praised!

Martyrs in the lake, shackled by frost,

From heaven, by God's light, were warmed,

Gloriously they fell and remained Forty Martyrs

To the fear, horror and shame of the darkened unbelievers.


REFLECTION

Conceal your spiritual treasures and do not reveal them unnecessarily. Behold, how men conceal and hide their material wealth and how, when forced to reveal how much they have, they always conceal the greater amount and only reveal the lesser amount. Very few are the number of men who want to reveal all that they possess, and fewer still are those who would reveal more than they, in reality, possess. This, the world considers frivolous and mindless. This clearly shows you how you need to conceal your spiritual wealth, that is, your virtues, your good works, your fastings, your vigils, and your prayers. Why do not the wise children of this world reveal their material wealth? For two reasons: So that thieves would not hear of it and not to provoke the envy of evil men. There also exist envious and jealous thieves after spiritual treasure. They are the spirits of envy. As soon as you reveal your spiritual treasure, they will endeavor to belittle it and to squander it. Just as soon as you reveal it without need [let us say, out of vanity, so as to be praised], they have seized it and disparaged it; and you, O rich man of spiritual treasure, will imperceptibly and suddenly become a poor man. Many who were spiritually rich, the saints, made themselves out to be fools before the world so that by appearing foolish, they would conceal their great wisdom and strength within themselves. The Abba Isaiah writes,

"Those good works which are performed in secret are more pleasing to God." St. Nilus of Sinai says, "The covered skin of the body is white, but the uncovered skin in parched and black." So it is with our concealed and revealed good works.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus in the hands of the enemies of God gathered together in the home of Caiaphas:

1. How all of them hurriedly sought false witnesses, for they wanted, by whatever means, to kill Christ;

2. How they spit in His face and struck Him on the face;

3. How our Lord endures all with unspeakable dignity and without anger.

HOMILY

About enduring to the end

"But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved " (St. Matthew 24:13).

O Lord most wonderful, You have endured all, all to the end. That is why You became not only blessed but the source of blessings for all men who desire good forthemselves throughout the ages of ages.

The apostles endured all to the end and entered into blessed eternity. The saints willingly endured the difficulties and sufferings to the end and were glorified, both in heaven and on earth.

The martyrs willingly endured all pains to the end and became the adopted co-inheritors of the Kingdom of Christ.

Every founder of a new organization recruits followers for himself with the promise of good fruits and many pleasures but deliberately remains silent about the hardships and labors which lead to those fruits and pleasures. Our Lord Jesus is the only one Who spoke the whole truth to His followers, both the bitter and the sweet side of the truth. He did not promise fruits without service, nor glory without suffering, nor ultimate rest without the thorny path, nor victory without struggle, nor pleasure without bitterness, nor the kingdom without tears and self-denial.

Although our Lord counted the many difficulties which would befall His followers, in the end He does not abandon them without comfort. He gives meaning to their sufferings and does not leave them in darkness. He says, "The one who perseveres to the end will be saved." What is that blessing which awaits those who endure to the end that He Jesus fully revealed and that has been witnessed even until today and is being witnessed by many saints, who, have either appeared in glory to the faithful from the other world or who, while yet in the flesh, were uplifted in the spirit to a vision of that glory and blessedness which await the faithful, the chosen and persevering?

O Lord, You are our strength. Help us to endure to the end with faith that You are beside us.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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