Friday, April 30, 2010

Uncovering of the relics of St Nikita the Bishop of Novgorod

Commemorated on April 30

Saint Nikita the former Recluse of the Kiev Caves fell asleep in the Lord in 1109, after serving as Bishop of Novgorod for thirteen years.

Bishop Nikita was glorified as a saint during the reign of Tsar Ivan Vasilievich, and his holy relics, dressed in full vestments, were uncovered on April 30, 1558. That day was marked by the healing of many people. His relics now rest in the cathedral of the holy Apostle Philip in Novgorod.

St Nikita of Novgorod is also commemorated on January 31, the day of his repose, and on May 14.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

On not following the thought processes of a mature Orthodox thinker

-all this has largely gone over the heads of a younger generation (whether Russian, Greek, or convert) that too often seeks easy answers to over-simplified questions; that is so easily scandalized by slight flaws that it misses the whole point of a profoundly Orthodox life's work; whose spiritual immaturity and lack of intellectual culture simply cannot follow the thought-processes of a mature Orthodox thinker-

Photo from here

Father Seraphim Rose did the Introduction for the book "Orthodox Apologetic Theology".  God willing, I am planning on doing a review on this wonderful book but in the meantime, the above quote in it has been making its way to the forefront of my mind.

Father Seraphim, writing about the book's author, I.M. Andreyev, laments how Andreyev was under appreciated by the world at large but as well by so many Orthodox Christians.

In Andreyev Father Seraphim saw a man of such  profundity that his thought was dismissed  because it could not be grasped precisely because it was moored very deep within the Orthodox Church.  I.M. Andreyev as well was possessed of a keen and cultured intellect which he had steered toward the acquisition and expounding of Truth.

The following is the entire paragraph where the above quote is to be found:

Unfortunately, owing precisly to the lack of depth and refinement among Orthodox Christians in general today, and also to the ingrained modesty and humility of these superb products of genuine Orthodox tradition, these Orthodox thinkers, Andreyev among them, have seldom been appreciated at their full value, and even those who have lived and studied in their midst have too seldom realized what treasures they could have mined from their wealth of Orthodox knowledge and experience. Their spiritual and intellectual maturity, their old-world refinement, their subtle art of understatement, the complexity yet wholeness of their Orthodox world-view—all this has largely gone over the heads of a younger generation (whether Russian, Greek, or convert) that too often seeks easy answers to over-simplified questions; that is so easily scandalized by slight flaws that it misses the whole point of a profoundly Orthodox life's work; whose spiritual immaturity and lack of intellectual culture simply cannot follow the thought-processes of a mature Orthodox thinker; whose lack of artistic and literary sensitivity can lead to false spirituality, making one unaware of the elements of the lower part of "soul" which can usurp the higher place of the "spirit" if one is not trained to distinguish them; whose deficiency in Orthodox feeling renders it blind to the Orthodox giants in its midst. We all suffer from this. All the more, then, must we strive to understand these giants who have now all but departed, leaving all would-be defenders of Orthodoxy in a very precarious position against the increasingly subtle temptations of an anti-Christian age.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jason & Sosipater the Apostles of the 70 & their Companions

April 29

Both of these Saints were disciples of the Apostle Paul, who mentions them in his Epistle to the Romans, saying: "Jason and Sosipater my kinsmen greet you" (16:21). Jason was from Tarsus of Cilicia, and became bishop there. Sosipater was from Patras of Achaia, and became Bishop of Iconium. When they had shepherded their churches well for a long time, they departed west that they might profit others also, and arrived finally at the island of Corfu, where they were the first to preach the Gospel to its people. They suffered many things for Christ's Name, drew many souls to salvation, and finished the course of their life there. In the ancient city of Corfu, a church from the first centuries, built in their honour and bearing inscriptions that mention the Saints by name, verifies the historical account concerning them.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
O Holy Apostles, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Second Tone
Being illuminated with the teachings of Paul, ye became luminaries unto the whole world, O thrice-blessed ones; for ye ever shine upon the world with miracles, O Jason, thou fountain of healings, and Sosipater, thou glory of the Martyrs of Christ. O God-bearing Apostles, ye protectors of them that be in need, entreat God that our souls be saved.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

4th Wednesday after Pascha - Mid-Pentecost

After the Saviour had miraculously healed the paralytic, the Jews, especially the Pharisees and Scribes, were moved with envy and persecuted Him, and sought to slay Him, using the excuse that He did not keep the Sabbath, since He worked miracles on that day. Jesus then departed to Galilee. About the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles, He went up again to the Temple and taught. The Jews, marvelling at the wisdom of His words, said, "How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" But Christ first reproached their unbelief and lawlessness, then proved to them by the Law that they sought to slay Him unjustly, supposedly as a despiser of the Law, since He had healed the paralytic on the Sabbath. Therefore, since the things spoken by Christ in the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles are related to the Sunday of the Paralytic that is just passed, and since we have already reached the midpoint of the fifty days between Pascha and Pentecost, the Church has appointed this present feast as a bond between the two great feasts, thereby uniting, as it were, the two into one, and partaking of the grace of them both. Therefore today's feast is called Mid-Pentecost, and the Gospel Reading, "At Mid-feast"--though it refers to the Feast of Tabernacles--is used.

It should be noted that there were three great Jewish feasts: the Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Passover was celebrated on the 15th of Nisan, the first month of the Jewish calendar, which coincides roughly with our March. This feast commemorated that day on which the Hebrews were commanded to eat the lamb in the evening and anoint the doors of their houses with its blood. Then, having escaped bondage and death at the hands of the Egyptians, they passed through the Red Sea to come to the Promised Land. It is also called "the Feast of Unleavened Bread," because they ate unleavened bread for seven days. Pentecost was celebrated fifty days after the Passover, first of all, because the Hebrew tribes had reached Mount Sinai after leaving Egypt, and there received the Law from God; secondly, it was celebrated to commemorate their entry into the Promised Land, where also they ate bread, after having been fed with manna forty years in the desert. Therefore, on this day they offered to God a sacrifice of bread prepared with new wheat. Finally, they also celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles from the 15th to the 22nd of "the seventh month," which corresponds roughly to our September. During this time, they live in booths made of branches in commemoration of the forty years they spent in the desert, living in tabernacles, that is, tents (Ex. 12:10-20; Lev. 23).

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Mid-way in the feast, refresh my thirsty soul with the flowing waters of piety. For You cried out to all, O Savior, "Let him who thirsts come to me and drink." You, O Christ our God, are the Fountain of Life, glory to You.

SOURCE(and Icon on left):

SOURCE for Icon on right:

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hieromartyr Simeon, the Kinsman of the Lord

Commemorated on April 27

 Troparion - Tone 1

We praise you as a kinsman of Christ,
A great hierarch and a steadfast martyr, O Simeon,
Who destroyed deceit and kept the faith;
Wherefore celebrating now your all-holy memory,
Through your prayers we receive forgiveness of sins.

Kontakion - Tone 4

Having the eloquent Simeon as a magnificent star,
The Church is enlightened and cries:
Rejoice, O precious crown of the martyrs!

Kontakion - Tone 2
As one who had become a citizen of Zion on high,
You were ordained to the throne of Zion below.
You guided your flock to the heavenly sheepfold
And were crucified for Christ,
Imitating his passion, O Simeon!



Monday, April 26, 2010

St Stephen the Bishop of Perm

Commemorated on April 26
Saint Stephen the Enlightener of Perm, and Apostle to the Zyrians, was born around the year 1340 into the family of Simeon, a cleric of the Ustiug cathedral. He was greatly influenced by his pious mother Maria. Endowed with great abilities, he already displayed an unusual zeal for the service of the Church: in a single year he learned to read the Holy Books and he assisted his father in church during services, fulfilling the duty of canonarch, and also that of reader.

The young saint received monastic tonsure at the Monastery of St Gregory the Theologian at Rostov. The monastery was famed for its fine library. Since St Stephen wanted to read the holy Fathers in their original language, he studied Greek.

In his youth, when he had assisted his father in church, he frequently spoke with the Zyrian people. Now, having been immersed in the rich culture of the Church, St Stephen burned with a desire to convert the Zyrians to Christ.

To facilitate the enlightenment of the Zyrians, he compiled an alphabet of their language and translated some of the Church books. For this pious work Bishop Arsenius of Rostov (1374-1380), ordained him to the rank of hierodeacon.

Having prepared himself for missionary activity, St Stephen journeyed to Moscow (1379) to see Bishop Gerasimus of Kolomna, who then oversaw the affairs of the metropolitanate. The saint implored him, "Bless me, Master, to go into a pagan land, Perm. I want to teach the holy Faith to the unbelieving people. I am resolved either to lead them to Christ, or to lay down my life for them and for Christ." The bishop joyfully blessed him and ordained him as a hieromonk. He provided him with an antimension for the altar table, holy chrism and service books, and Great Prince Demetrius gave him a document of safe passage.

From Ustiug St Stephen made his way along the North Dvina River up to the confluence of the Vychegda into it, where settlements of the Zyrians began. The proponent of faith in Christ suffered many toils and struggles, deprivation and sorrow, living among the pagans who worshipped idols "with fire, water, trees, a stone and golden woman-figure, and shaman, and wizard, and wood."

Father Stephen was sad to see that the Zyrians continued to worship a "sacred birch tree." Immense in its thickness and height, the birch tree grew on an elevated spot. The Zyrians gathered there and brought wild animals there for sacrifice.

St Stephen's cell was not far from the birch tree. He prayed and set fire to the tree in order to end the superstition. The Zyrians, seeing that the tree had been destroyed, meant to kill him. The saint said to them, "Judge for yourselves whether or not your gods have any power, since they are not able to defend themselves from the fire. Can they be gods, when they are so powerless? They have no mind, neither can they see or hear. Your idol could not defend itself against me, a weak man. Are all your other gods so powerless? The Christian God is not like this. He sees everything, knows everything and is Almighty, since He created the whole world and foresees everything. How good He is, particularly to those who know Him! I desire only what is good for you, to bring you to the true God. He will love you and bless you, when you sincerely begin to honor Him." On the site of the "sacred birch tree," St Stephen built a church in honor of the Archangel Michael, the vanquisher of the spirits of darkness.

The newly-baptized Zyrians themselves began to remove that which they once worshiped. They cut down sacred trees, they destroyed idols, and they brought to St Stephen the rich gifts set aside for the pagan sacrifices. He told his Zyrian helper Matthew to throw everything into the fire, except the linen cloth which was used for foot wrappings.

But things came to a head among the Zyrians after St Stephen got the better of their chief priest Pama, who rose up against the spread of Christianity. The pagan priest entered into a debate with St Stephen. "Christian, you have only one God," said Pama, "but we have many helpers on the land, and in the water, granting us good hunting in the forests, and with its abundance providing food and pelts to Moscow, the Horde and faraway lands. Our gods reveal to us the magic mysteries, inaccessible to you."

St Stephen answered that the true God is one; the Almighty is one, but experience has proven that the idols are powerless. After a lengthy dispute the pagan priest Pama challenged St Stephen to pass through fire and water in a test of faith. St Stephen humbly replied, "Great is the Christian God. I accept your challenge."

Pama, however, lost his nerve and entreated the saint to save him from certain death. "You are witnesses," said St Stephen to the people "how he wished to resolve the dispute about faith by fire and water, but he does not wish to be baptized. Who has regard for Pama now? What is to be done with him?"

"Let the deceiver be put to death," the people said, "for if Pama is set free, he will make mischief for you." "No," the saint replied, "Christ has not sent me to hand anyone over to death, but to teach. Since Pama does not wish to accept the saving Faith, let his stubbornness punish him, but I will not." Pama was banished. In thanksgiving for his victory over the chief pagans, St Stephen built a church in honor of St Nicholas at Vishero. After this, the saint's preaching of Christ was more successful.

In 1383, St Stephen was consecrated Bishop of Malaya Perm [Lesser Perm]. Like a loving father he devoted himself to his flock. To encourage the newly-converted, St Stephen opened schools adjacent to the churches, where they studied the Holy Scriptures in the Permian language. The saint supervised the instructions, and taught them what they needed to know in order to become priests and deacons. St Stephen taught several of his students how to write in the Permian language. The saint built churches, in which he placed Zyrian priests, and services were conducted in the Zyrian language.

St Stephen translated the HOROLOGION [Book of Hours], the PSALTER, and other liturgical books into the Zyrian language.

During a crop failure the saint provided the Zyrians with bread. Many times he protected them from the trickery of corrupt officials, gave them alms, and defended them from the incursions of other tribes, interceding for them at Moscow. The fruit of his efforts and good deeds came in the conversion of all of Perm to Christianity. This great deed was accomplished by his strength of faith and Christian love. The life of the saint was a victory of faith over unbelief, of love and meekness over malice and impiety.

There was a touching "meeting in absence" of St Stephen of Perm with St Sergius of Radonezh, occurring in the year 1390 as St Stephen journeyed to Moscow on church business. St Stephen fervently loved the Radonezh ascetic and very much wanted to pay him a visit, but had no time to do so. Ten versts from the monastery of St Sergius, St Stephen turned in the direction of the monastery and with a bow he said, "Peace to you, my spiritual brother!"

St Sergius, who was eating a meal with the brethren, stood up, made a prayer and, bowing towards the direction where the saint rode, answered, "Hail also to you, pastor of the flock of Christ, may the peace of God be with you!"

The deep spiritual connection of St Stephen of Perm and St Sergius of Radonezh is recalled even today in a certain prayer recited each day in the trapeza.

Besides building churches, St Stephen also founded several monasteries for the Zyrians: the Savior Ulianov wilderness monastery 165 versts from Ust-Sysolsk, the Stephanov 60 versts from Ust-Sysolsk, the Ust-Vym Archangel, and the Yareng Archangel.

In the year 1395 St Stephen again went to Moscow on affairs of his flock, and died there. His body was placed in the Church of the Transfiguration in the Moscow Kremlin. The Zyrians bitterly lamented the death of their archpastor. They earnestly entreated the Moscow prince and the Metropolitan to send the body of their patron back to Perm, but Moscow did not wish to part with the relics of the saint.

The glorification of St Stephen began already at the beginning of the fiftenth century. The Life of the saint was written soon after his death. The hieromonk Pachomius the Serb composed the service to him, with the hieromonk Epiphanius the Wise, who was a disciple of St Sergius of Radonezh. He also knew St Stephen and loved to converse with him.

Troparion - Tone 4

Aflame with divine desire from childhood,
You took up Christ’s yoke, O wise Stephen.
You sowed the good seed in a hardened people grown old in unbelief
And gave birth to them in the Gospel.
Celebrating your memory, we pray to you:
Entreat him whom you proclaimed
That our souls may be saved!

Kontakion - Tone 8

You were found to be a hierarch to those who sought you not.
You freed your people from idols and brought them to faith in Christ.
You shamed the sorcerer, Pansotnik, and became first bishop and teacher of Perm.
Therefore the faithful hymn you with thanksgiving, crying: Rejoice, O wise teacher Stephen!

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Venerable Sylvester the Abbot of Obnora

Commemorated on April 25

Saint Sylvester of Obnora was a disciple and novice under St Sergius of Radonezh (September 25 and July 5). After completing his obedience at the Trinity monastery, St Sylvester received a blessing to live alone in the wilderness.

In the deep forest at the River Obnora, flowing into the River Kostroma, he set up a cross at his chosen spot and began his ascetical labors. For a long time no one knew about the holy hermit. His cell was discovered by a peasant who had lost his way. He told the distraught hermit that people had seen bright rays, and a pillar of cloud above his habitation. The monk shed tears of sorrow, because the place of his solitude had been discovered. The pilgrim besought the saint to tell about himself.

St Sylvester said that he had been living there a long time, and that he ate tree bark and roots. At first he became weak without bread, and fell on the ground from his weakness. Then an angel appeared to him in the guise of a wondrous man and touched his hand. From that moment St Sylvester did not experience any distress. Another time, the peasant came back to the saint and brought him bread and flour for reserve supply.

This one meeting was sufficient for the exploits of the hermit to become known to many. Soon peasants began to come to him from the surrounding settlements. St Sylvester allowed them to build cells near his.

When the brethren had gathered, St Sylvester went to Moscow and petitioned St Alexis (February 12) to bless the construction of a temple in honor of the Resurrection of Christ. The hierarch gave him an antimension (a cloth containing relics of martyrs, necessary for celebrating the Divine Liturgy), and made him igumen of the monastery.

With the construction of the church the number of brethren quickly grew, and the saint frequently withdrew for solitary prayer in the dense forest. This spot received the name "Commanded Grove," since St Sylvester commanded that no trees should be cut there. In this grove he dug three wells, and a fourth on the side of a hill at the River Obnora. When the saint returned from his solitude, a number of people awaited him at the monastery, and each wanted to receive his blessing and hear his advice.

The saint fell into a fatal illness, and the brethren, who were distressed whenever he went into seclusion, were even more distressed about his approaching death. "Do not grieve about this, my beloved brethren," he said to console them, "for everything is according to the will of God. Keep the commandments of the Lord and don't be afraid to suffer misfortune in this life, so you may receive a reward in Heaven. If I have found boldness before the Lord and my life is pleasing to Him, then this holy place will not diminish after my departure. Pray to the Lord God and His All-Pure Mother, that you may be delivered from temptation." St Sylvester died on April 25, 1479 and was buried on the right side of the wooden Resurrection church.

A record of the saint's miracles has been preserved from the year 1645, in which twenty-three miracles are described. The saint healed twelve people from demonic possession and delirium, and six others from eye afflictions.

An edifying miracle occurred in 1645. The hieromonk Job of the monastery ordered peasants to cut down the forbidden forest grove for firewood, and he was struck blind. After four weeks he acknowledged his sin, repented and vowed not to act on his own will, but to follow the advice of the brethren. The hieromonk served a Molieben in church, after which he was brought to the reliquary of St Sylvester, and there he regained his sight.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Video of the Holy Fire and a reflection

I believe something has died in Modern Man.  This includes me.  I "believe" in Miracles but I cannot help but want to look for the angle or the mystery revealed behind the scenes that is inevitably in my mind.  And I think my mind steeped in the Mind of our Age is indicative of perhaps *every* mind.  It is very difficult if not impossible to shut down my incredulity at the witnessing of videos such as the one I have posted here.

However,  when my friend George sent me this, I was pleasantly surprised to feel a certain reverence and awe at what transpired on this video.  I do not believe it is because of this particular video specifically(the Lord knows), but perhaps I may find solace in the movement within myself towards a general acceptance towards the great mysteries to be found everywhere.

In fact, in my better contemplative moments, I recognize at some level the Great Mystery that existence itself is including all the seemingly "mundane" and "rote" things that "compose" existence.

The following is the text that accompanies the footage by the one who shot it:


The Announcement of the Joint Conference of the Abbots of Mount Athos

From here.

The Announcement of the Joint Conference of the Abbots of Mount Athos 9/22/1980
The extraordinary Joint Conference of the Sacred Community on Mount Athos, April 9-22, 1980, noting that the issue of the relations of our holy orthodox Church with the heterodox has assumed a seri­ous and resolute character, especially as it relates to the dialogue with Roman Catholics, has resolved publicly to state the opinion of the Athonite fathers on this subject for general consideration:
1. We believe that our holy Orthodox Church is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, which possesses the full­ness of grace and truth and, in consequence thereof, unbroken apos­tolic succession.
On the contrary, the "churches" and "confessions" of the West, hav­ing in many ways perverted the Faith of the Gospel, the apostles and the fathers, are deprived of sanctifying grace, of real mysteries and apostolic succession. That this is correct, His Eminence, Metropoli­tan Maximos of Stavropolis stresses: "Orthodoxy is not one of the churches, but The Church herself. She has preserved precisely and authentically the teaching of Christ in its pristine splendor and in all its purity. Over and above a simple, unbroken historical continuity and consistency there exists in her a spiritual and ontological authen­ticity. The same Faith, the same Spirit, the same life. It is this which constitutes the distinguishing feature of Orthodoxy and which justi­fies her claim that she is and remains The Church" (Episkepsis, #227, March 15, 1980).
2. Dialogue with the heterodox is not reprehensible from the Orthodox point of view if its goal is to inform them of the Orthodox Faith and, thus, make it possible for them thereby to return to Ortho­doxy when they receive divine enlightenment and their eyes are opened.
3. Theological dialogue must not in any way be linked with prayer in common, or by joint participation in any liturgical or wor­ship services whatsoever; or in other activities which might create impression that our Orthodox Church accepts, on the one hand, Ro­man Catholics as part of the fullness of the Church, or, on the other hand, the Pope as the cononical bishop of Rome. Activities such as these mislead both the fullnes of the Orthodox people and the Ro­man Catholics themselves, fostering among them a mistaken notion as to what Orthodoxy thinks of their teaching.

The Holy Mountain is grievously disturbed by the tendencies of cer­tain Orthodox hierarchs who have been invited to participate in Ro­man Catholic services, celebrations and processions, especially on the occasion of the return of holy relics. Conversely, we congratulate those hierarchs who have publicly expressed their alarm for the full­ness of Orthodoxy.
4. We express our complete approval of what His All-Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch said during the visit of the Pope to Constantinople, namely that there exist various impediments between Orthodox and Roman Catholics: "First of all, we have serious theo­logical problems which concern fundamental principles of the Chris­tian faith" (Episkepsis, #221, Dec. 1,1979, p. 17). These divergences in the principles of Christian faith requires that we do not advance to participation in common liturgies and worship services before one­ness of faith is attained. The mystical character of the kiss of peace during the divine Eucharist always presupposes harmony of faith:
"Let us love one another that with one mind we may confess..." We cannot pray together, especially during the Divine Liturgy, when we do not believe in the same faith and are separated by fundamental questions of faith. Only an indifference to the faith could permit us to do so.
Moreover, the Holy Mountain cannot accept the opinion, expressed in the joint statement of the Patriarch and the Pope, concerning the "cleansing of the historical memory of our Churches" and the partial opening, by means of a dialogue of love, of the road towards "new movements in theological work and a new attitude to the past which is common to both Churches" (Episkepsis, ibid., p. 19). Actually, the heretics must cleanse their own historical memory of all their own historically acknowledged deviations in faith and practice from the true, evangelical Orthodox Faith. On the contrary, the historical memory of the Orthodox, which is based on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and on the constant experience of the apostolic faith of the God-bearing Fathers, must be lived by all of us in repentance and humility, and must instruct us both in the present and in the future life if we do not wish to fall from that faith. As Orthodox, we must cleanse ourselves by means of the historical memory of the Church, but not "cleanse" her with an egotistical and anthropocentric spirit, setting ourselves up as judges of the Tradition of the Church.
5. The Holy Mountain is convinced, not without great anxiety, that although the Orthodox are making many concessions and com­promises to the Roman Catholics, the latter antithetically continue to adhere to their own errors which have served as the cause of their schism from the Orthodox Church and later led to the Protestant split. Thus, the Pope during his visit to the center of Orthodoxy in the patriarchal cathedral, did not in the least hesitate to proclaim that he was coming to Constantinople as the successor of Peter, "who as the ultimate authority has the responsibility of superintending the unity of all, to guarantee the agreement of the Church of God in fidelity and in the 'faith which was once delivered unto the saints' (Jude 3)" (Episkepsis, ibid., p. 9). In other words, the Pope defended (papal) infallibility and primacy; and there are many other actions and mani­festations which the Pope has effected on behalf of uniatism. We remember the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Greek government and the Vatican which, even though it may justify papism, is unjust and strikes out at the Mother and Nourisher of our (Greek) nation, the Orthodox Church.
6. The Holy Mountain also expresses its anxiety over the con­stituency of the commission for the dialogue. Uniates comprise a por­tion of the Roman Catholic delegation, a fact which is a provocation for the Orthodox. The sensibilities and dignity of the Orthodox del­egation demand the immediate substitution of others in place of the uniates in the membership. No Orthodox whose manner of thinking corresponds to this faith can agree to participate in a commission which includes uniates. Likewise, the Holy Mountain is disturbed by the great weakness and insufficiency of the Orthodox delegation. The most remarkable Orthodox theologians are not participating. The Holy Mountain is also not represented, despite the fact that it is the sole monastic center which preserves the faith and the theology of the Fathers, and which is far removed from the influence of secular­ism and scholastic Western theology.
7. From the Orthodox point of view there is no justification for Optimism in regard to the dialogue, and for this reason no haste should be exhibited concerning it. The Roman Catholics are pressing the dialogue, hoping to strengthen themselves by annexing Orthodoxy to themselves, for they are confronted by very powerful internal disturbances and crises, as is well known. The number of former Ro­man Catholics who have converted to Orthodoxy also disturbs them. But Orthodoxy has no reason to hasten towards dialogue since the papists remain so obdurate and immovable as regards infallibility, uniatism, and the rest of their pernicious teachings.
Hastening the dialogue under such conditions is equivalent to spiri­tual suicide for the Orthodox. Many facts give the impression that the Roman Catholics are preparing a union on the pattern of a unia. Can it be that the Orthodox who are hastening to the dialogue are conscious of this?
The Holy Mountain maintains that for it there can be no question of accepting a fait accompli, that, by the grace of God, it will remain faithful, as the Lord's Orthodox people, to the faith of the holy apostles and the holy Fathers, impelled to this also by love for the heterodox, to whom real help is given only when the Orthodox show them the vastness of their spiritual sickness and the means of its cure by main­taining a consistently Orthodox position.
The unsuccessful attempts in the past with regard to union must teach us that steadfast unity in the truth of the Church, in accordance with the will of God, presupposes a different preparation and a path dis­tinct from that taken in the past and from that which, apparently, is now being taken.
All of the superiors and representatives of the twenty sacred and pi­ous monasteries of the Holy Mountain of Athos at the Extraordinary Joint Conference
The Church Fathers on
"Orthodox Kypseli" Publications
Thessalonika, Greece

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Martyr Sava Stratelates "the General" of Rome

Commemorated on April 24

Saint Sabbas Stratelates came from a Gothic tribe. For his bravery he attained the high rank of military commander or "stratelates," and he served under the Roman emperor Aurelian (270-275).

From his youth, Sabbas was a Christian and he fervently followed the commands of Christ. He helped the needy, and visited Christians in prison. Because of his pure and virtuous life the saint received from the Lord the gift of wonderworking, healing the sick and casting out demons in the name of Christ.

When the emperor learned that St Sabbas was a Christian, he demanded that he apostasize. The martyr threw down his military belt and declared that he would not forsake his faith. They beat him, burned him with torches, and threw him into a cauldron with tar, but the martyr remained unharmed.

Looking on at his torments, seventy soldiers came to believe in Christ. They were beheaded by the sword. St Sabbas was thrown in prison. At midnight, while he was praying, Christ appeared to the martyr and shone on him the light of His Glory. The Savior bade him not to fear, but to stand firm. Encouraged, the Martyr Sabbas underwent new torture in the morning, and was drowned in a river in 272.

Troparion - Tone 5

You abandoned earthly rank and honor,
and as an athlete, confessed Christ God before the false and tyrannical emperors.
For His sake, you endured much suffering, O glorious one.
Therefore, splendidly adorned with the armies of heaven,
you have been crowned with a beautiful wreath of victory
by the King who reigns over all.
As you stand before Him, O Sabbas,
pray that He may save our souls.

Kontakion - Tone 4

You were shown to be an invincible athlete, most blessed Sabbas,
overcoming the snares of the barbarians.
You contended with faithfulness,
conquering a multitude of the invisible enemy.
Therefore, you have woven a wreath of victory.
Most glorious one, entreat Christ for those who honor you with faith.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Friday, April 23, 2010

Martyr Alexandra the Empress, wife of Diocletian

Commemorated on April 23

The Holy Empress Alexandra was the wife of Diocletian (284-305). Her supposed death was described in the Martyrdom of Saint George, which was written immediately after his death. The empress, however, received the crown of martyrdom several years later, in 314.

Many events occurred during these years. In 305 the emperor Diocletian resigned the throne and power passed to his co-ruler Maximian Galerius (305-311), a fanatic pagan, as well as a coarse and fierce soldier. His wife was St Valeria, the daughter of the holy Empress Alexandra, whom Diocletian had given in marriage against her will.

St Alexandra raised her daughter in Christian piety. When Galerius died, the emperor Maximinus sought her hand in marriage. When he was refused, he banished St Valeria to Syria, where she lived with her mother.

After the death of Maximinus in 311 the mother and daughter arrived in Nicomedia, trusting in the mercy of the emperor Licinius (311-324). Together with St Constantine, he had subscribed to the Edict of Milan, which gave Christians the freedom of religion, but secretly he remained an enemy of Christianity. Licinius gave orders to execute the holy Empress Alexandra and her daughter Valeria. They were beheaded, and their bodies thrown into the sea.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(WITH 2008' link here also):

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Translation of the relics of the Blessed Vsevolod, in Holy Baptism Gabriel, the Prince of Pskov

Commemorated on April 22
The Transfer of the Relics of Holy Prince Vsevolod-Gabriel of Pskov (1834)


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

"Bring Them Back " The sculptures taken from the Parthenon and housed in Britain

 Hat tip to Ann for sending me this.

I don't have vehement feelings on this issue.  But, I would like to see the return of the sculptures to the Parthenon in Athens.

This short video begins with a humorous mock reality where Big Ben is taken from its place by a wealthy Greek man.

Though I in general agree with the message of the video, I would like to make it clear that I do not agree with the message at the end to "utilize global opinion" towards this end as this just smacks too much of "one world government" for my taste.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hieromartyr Januarius Bishop of Beneventum, and the deacons Proculus, Sossius and Faustus, Desiderius the Reader, Eutychius and Acution at Pozzuoli

Commemorated on April 21

Hieromartyr Januarius Bishop of Beneventum, and the deacons Proculus, Sossius and Faustus, Desiderius the Reader, Eutychius and Acution suffered martyrdom for Christ about the year 305 during the persecution ordered by the emperor Diocletian (284-305).

They arrested St Januarius and led him to trial before Menignus, the governor of Campagna (central Italy). Because of his firm confession of Christianity, they threw the saint into a red-hot furnace. But like the Babylonian youths, he came out unharmed. Then at Menignus's command, they stretched him out on a bench and beat him with iron rods until his bones were exposed.

In the crowd were Deacon Faustus and the Reader Desiderius, who wept at the sight of their bishop's suffering. The pagans surmised that they were Christians, and threw them into prison with the hieromartyr Januarius, in the city of Puteolum. At this prison were two deacons who had been jailed for confessing Christ: Sts Sossius and Proculus, and also two laymen, Sts Eutychius and Acution.

On the following morning they led out all the martyrs into the circus to be torn to pieces by wild beasts, but the beasts would not touch them. Menignus claimed that all the miracles were due to sorcery on the part of the Christians, and immediately he became blinded and cried out for help. The gentle hieromartyr Januarius prayed for his healing, and Menignus recovered his sight. The torturer's blindness of soul, however, was not healed. He accused the Christians of sorcery, and ordered the martyrs beheaded before the walls of the city (+ 305).

Christians from surrounding cities took up the bodies of the holy martyrs for burial, and those of each city took one, in order to have an intercessor before God. The inhabitants of Neapolis (Naples) took the body of the hieromartyr Januarius. With the body, they also collected his dried blood.

Since the fifteenth century, the blood liquifies when the container is placed near another relic, believed to be the martyr's head. Many miracles proceeded from the relics of the hieromartyr Januarius. During an eruption of Vesuvius around 431, the inhabitants of the city prayed to St Januarius to help them. The lava stopped, and did not reach the city.

Troparion - Tone 3

Consecrated through anointing with oil,
You became pastors for your godly wise people.
You were slain as honorable lambs
And offered to the Word and First Shepherd,
Who was Himself slain as His sheep,
O most laudable Hieromartyrs Januarius and Theodore,
Beacons for all the world.
Therefore we all honor your holy memory in love,
As you intercede for our souls.

Troparion - Tone 3

Naples has found you a champion in dangers,
O Januarius, our glorious father.
You delivered her from plague, famine and affliction,
And from the fire of Vesuvius.
With faith and love we venerate you and honor your holy relics!

Kontakion - Tone 3

You were adorned with the anointing of the priesthood
And the blood of martyrdom, O glorious Januarius and Theodore,
And you shine forth everywhere,
Rejoicing in the highest,
Looking down upon us who come to your temple
And cry out unceasingly:
Preserve us all, entreating God who loves mankind!

Kontakion - Tone 4

The Master has given you to Naples, O holy one,
As a precious treasure and fountain of healings.
You are a guardian and protector of the faithful,
And you avert the evils of Vesuvius’ fire.
Therefore we cry to you in faith:
Rejoice, O Januarius,
Our father and protector!

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Venerable Alexander the Abbot of Oshevensk

Commemorated on April 20

Saint Alexander of Oshevensk (+ 1479) was the founder of the Oshevensk Dormition Monastery, and enlightener of the Kargopol area, and was tonsured in the White Lake Monastery. He appeared to St Diodorus of George Hill (November 27) in the seventeenth century when his Holy Trinity Monastery ran out of supplies, and the brethren complained because there was nowhere to buy food in the wilderness. St Alexander reminded Diodorus of how the Lord had fed the five thousand in the wilderness, and ordered him to go fishing. St Diodorus, fearing that the vision was a demonic delusion, ignored it. When St Alexander appeared a third time, Diodorus, wishing to test him, asked him to say a prayer. St Alexander recited "It is Truly Meet," and his face shone with a radiant light. The saint revealed himself as Alexander, the igumen of Oshevensk Dormition Monastery, and repeated his order to go fishing. Obeying this command, the monks went out and caught many fish.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Holy Martyrs Christopher, Theonas, and Anthony at Nicomedia

Commemorated on April 19

The Holy Martyrs Christopher, Theonas, and Anthony were officers in the army of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). They were present at the sufferings of the Holy Great Martyr George (April 23), they saw the miracles accomplished by the power of God, and they witnessed St George's faith and unshakable courage.

The soldiers came to believe in the Savior, threw down their golden military belts, and declared themselves Christians in front of the emperor. They were immediately thrown into prison. The next day the emperor urged the former soldiers to renounce Christ, but they firmly confessed their faith and glorified the Savior as the true God.

The emperor ordered that the martyrs be beaten with iron rods, and their bodies to be raked with hooks. The holy martyrs endured all the torments and remained unyielding. Then Diocletian gave orders to burn them. The martyric death of Sts Christopher, Theonas, and Anthony occurred in the year 303.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Holy Martyrs Victor, Zoticus, Acindynus, Zeno, Severian and Caesarius of Nicomedia

Commemorated on April 18

The Holy Martyrs Victor, Zoticus, Acindynus, Zeno, Severian and Caesarius suffered under the emperor Diocletian (284-305) when he began a fierce persecution against Christians. One of the first to suffer was the holy Great Martyr and Victory-Bearer George (April 23). St George's unshakable faith and bravery during his suffering led many pagans to Christ.

The saints were struck with astonishment that St George suffered no harm from the wheel of torture, and they declared in the hearing of all that they also believed in Christ. At the judge's order, the holy martyrs were beheaded at Nicomedia in 303.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

This one's for the birds

I have loved birds since I was a kid.  Mango, my little sun conure, has been with with me since 1997.

Anyway, I was sent these two videos, not about sun conures, but about birds, and just had to post them.

This one is from George:

And this one was sent to me by Steve:

Down with Religion, up with "Scarface" or "No Jesus please, give me Tony"

Thank goodness that Religion is so controversial that it is being slowly taken out of the public sphere.  Of course, because Religion is entirely a matter of personal choice and therefore Religion has no truth quota apart from what each individual believes as a matter of personal opinion, it should be done away with.  You see, we as a society stand to gain artistically, morally, aesthetically and of course personally when Religion recedes from the public domain.  How else can we get to see such critically acclaimed motion pictures like "Scarface" performed by our youngsters?  I would rather have this than the Nativity Story.  Tony Montana is a hero to help us transcend this life's woes par excellence.  Defiant to the end and the motif on many a t-shirt these days, Tony is the Man.

Take a look here:

Ah, good ol' Tony. God bless America.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Venerable Zosimas the Abbot of Solovki

Commemorated on April 17

Saint Zosimas, Igumen of Solovki a great luminary of the Russian North, was the founder of cenobitic monasticism on Solovki Island. He was born in Novgorod diocese, in the village of Tolvui near Lake Onega. From his early years he was raised in piety, and after the death of his parents Gabriel and Barbara, he gave away his possessions and received monastic tonsure.

In search of a solitary place, he journeyed to the shores of the White Sea, and at the mouth of the Suma he met St Herman (July 30), who told him of a desolate sea island, where he had spent six years with St Sabbatius (September 27).

Around the year 1436, the hermits crossed the sea and landed at the Solovki islands. There St Zosimas had a vision of a beautiful church in the sky. With their own hands the monks built cells and an enclosure, and they began to cultivate and sow the land.

Once, in late autumn, St Herman went to the mainland for provisions. Because of the autumn weather he was not able to return. St Zosimas remained alone on the island all winter. He suffered many temptations in struggles with the demons. Death by starvation threatened him, but miraculously two strangers appeared and left him a supply of bread, flour and oil. In spring St Herman returned to Solovki with the fisherman Mark, and he brought supplies of food and rigging for fishing nets.

When several hermits had gathered on the island, St Zosimas constructed a small wooden church in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord, and a trapeza. At the request of St Zosimas, an igumen was sent from Novgorod to the newly-formed monastery with an antimension for the church. Thus the renowned Solovki monastery had its start. In the severe conditions of the remote island the monks knew how to economize. But the igumens sent from Novgorod to Solovki could not stand life in such harsh conditions, and so the brethren chose St Zosimas as igumen.

St Zosimas occupied himself with building up the inner life of the monastery, and he introduced a strict cenobitic life. In 1465 he transferred the relics of St Sabbatius to Solovki from the River Vyg. The monastery suffered from the Novgorod nobles, who confiscated catches of fish from the monks. The saint was obliged to go to Novgorod and seek the protection of the archbishop.

On the advice of the archbishop, he visited the homes of the nobles and asked them not to permit the ruin of the monastery. The influential and rich Martha Boretskaya impiously gave orders to throw St Zosimas out, but then repented and invited him to a meal. At this meal he suddenly saw that six of the illustrious nobles sat without their heads. St Zosimas told about this vision to his disciple Daniel and predicted an immanent death for the nobles. The prediction was fulfilled in the year 1478, when the boyars were executed during the capture of Novgorod by Ivan III (1462-1505).

Shortly before death, the saint prepared his own grave, in which he was buried beyond the altar of the Transfiguration church (+ April 17, 1478). Later on, a chapel was built over his relics. His relics and the relics of St Sabbatius were transferred to the chapel dedicated to them at the Transfiguration cathedral on August 8, 1566.

Many miracles took place when St Zosimas and St Sabbatius appeared to fishermen who were perishing in the depths of the sea. St Zosimas is also a patron of bee-keeping and preserver of beehives, and he is even called "Bee-keeper."

Those who are sick hasten to St Zosimas, asking to be healed. The many hospital churches dedicated to him attest to the curative

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Friday, April 16, 2010

the Holy Martyrs Charissa, Nike, Galina, Kalisa (Kalida), Nunekhia, Basilissa, and Theodora of Corinth

Commemorated on April 16

The Holy Martyr Leonidas and the Holy Martyrs Charissa, Nike, Galina, Kalisa (Kalida), Nunekhia, Basilissa, and Theodora suffered at Corinth in the year 258. They threw them into the sea, but they did not drown. Instead, they walked upon the water as if on dry land, singing spiritual hymns. The torturers overtook them in a ship, tied stones around their necks and drowned them.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Poland's President Lech Kaczynski and scores of others are killed as their plane crashes in Russia after hitting trees in foggy weather

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev & Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

cross themselves as they light candles for the Polish victims in the

chapel at the Gorki residence outside Moscow.

Hat tip to Steve.

Read more about this here.  You will find video at this link also.

Blooming in the Desert – Episode 9 – Pillars of Piety Series Part 4 – Forgiveness, second part

Listen to the podcast:

Blooming in the Desert Homepage:

This is the second part of our Forgiveness episode.  Once again, Subdeacon Jon Failla joined us for a good discussion.  And to note again, with the link provided is the portion of the outline used for this program.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Leonidas, Bishop of Athens

April 15


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Blooming in the Desert presents Mother Melania: "Spiritual Wholeness: Overcoming the Passions by Strengthening the Virtues"

Every year our Orthodox clergy put together Lenten retreats for Nativity and for Great and Holy Lent.

This year we were highly privileged and honored to have Mother Melania come and do the talk, "Spiritual Wholeness:  Overcoming the Passions by Strengthening the Virtues". 

Blooming in the Desert recorded and produced the five part CD series which is available for sale but which also can be listened to on their homepage here.

It is a very worthy listen for the learning of very practical information on the living of the spiritual life.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Holy Martyrs Anthony, John, and Eustathius of Vilnius, Lithuania

Commemorated on April 14

The Holy Martyrs Anthony, John, and Eustathius were brothers who suffered for Christ under the Lithuanian Great Prince Olgerd (1345-1377). The prince was married to the Orthodox princess Maria Yaroslavna (+ 1346). He was baptized and during his wife's lifetime he allowed the preaching of Christianity. Two brothers, Nezhilo and Kumets, received holy Baptism from the priest Nestor, and they received the names Anthony and John. And at the request of Maria Yaroslavna an Orthodox church was built at Vilnius (Vilna).

After the death of his spouse, Prince Olgerd began to support the pagan priests of the fire-worshippers, who started a persecution against Christians. Sts John and Anthony endeavored not to flaunt their Christianity, but they did not observe pagan customs. They did not cut their hair as the pagans did, and on fastdays they did not eat forbidden foods.

The prince soon became suspicious of the brothers, so he interrogated them and they confessed themselves Christians. Then he demanded that they eat meat (it was a fast day). The holy brothers refused, and the prince locked them up in prison. The brothers spent an entire year behind bars. John took fright at the impending tortures and declared that he would obey all the demands of the Great Prince. The delighted Olgerd released the brothers and brought them to himself.

But Anthony did not betray Christ. When he refused to eat meat on a fast day, the prince again locked him up in prison and subjected him to brutal tortures. The other brother remained free, but both Christians and pagans regarded him as a traitor and would not associate with him.

Repenting of his sin, John went to the priest Nestor and entreated him to ask his brother to forgive him. "When he openly confesses Christ, we will be reconciled," Anthony replied. Once, while serving the prince at the bath, St John spoke privately with him about his reconciliation with the Church. Olgerd did not display any anger and said that he could believe in Christ, but must conduct himself like all the pagans. Then St John confessed himself a Christian in the presence of numerous courtiers. They beat him fiercely with rods and sent him to his brother in prison. The martyrs met with joy, and received the Holy Mysteries that same day.

Many people went to the prison to see the new confessor. The brothers converted many to Christ by their preaching. The prison was transformed into a Christian school. The frightened pagan priests demanded the execution of the brothers, but they did not fear death.

On the morning of April 14, 1347 the Martyr Anthony was hanged on a tree after receiving the Holy Mysteries. This oak, which the pagans considered sacred, became truly sacred for Orthodox Christians.

The pagan priests who hoped that Christian preaching would stop with the death of St Anthony, were disappointed. A multitude of the people gathered before the walls of the prison where St John was being held. On April 24, 1347 they strangled him and hanged his dead body upon the same oak. The venerable bodies of both martyrs were buried by Christians in the church of St Nicholas the Wonderworker.

A third sufferer for Christ was their relative Kruglets. At Baptism the priest Nestor named him Eustathius. Kruglets stood out because of his comeliness, valor and bravery, but even more because of his mind and virtue of soul. A favorite of Olgerd, he could count on a very promising future. However, he also refused to eat meat at the festal table. St Eustathius openly declared that he was a Christian and would not eat meat because of the Nativity Fast.

They began to beat him with iron rods, but the youth did not make a sound. The prince tried refining the torture. Olgerd gave orders to strip the martyr naked, take him out on the street and to pour icy water in his mouth. But this did not break his spirit. Then they broke his ankle bones, and ripped the hair and skin from his head, and cut off his ears and nose. St Eustathius endured the torments with such gladness and courage, that the very torturers themselves were astounded by the divine power which strengthened him. The martyr Eustathius was sentenced to death and hanged on the same oak where Sts John and Anthony received a martyr's death (December 13, 1347).

For three days no one was permitted to take down the body of the martyr, and a column of cloud protected it from birds and beasts of prey. A church was later built on the hill where the holy martyrs suffered. The trinity of venerable passion bearers glorified the true God worshipped in the Holy Trinity, Father and Son and Holy Spirit. The church was dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity. The altar table was built on the stump of the sacred oak on which the martyrs died.

Soon their relics were found to be incorrupt. In 1364 Patriarch Philotheus of Constantinople (1354-1355, 1364-1376) sent a cross with the relics of the holy martyrs to St Sergius of Radonezh (September 25). The Church established the celebration of all three martyrs on April 14.

The holy martyrs were of immense significance for all the Western frontier. Vilnius's monastery of the Holy Trinity, where the holy relics are kept, became a stronghold of Orthodoxy on this frontier. In 1915 during the invasion of the Germans, these relics were taken to Moscow.

The relics of the holy passion-bearers were returned to the Vilnius Holy Spirit monastery in 1946. The commemoration of their return (July 13) is solemnly observed at the monastery each year.

Troparion - Tone 4
You who have rejected earthly honor and glory,
Valiant and honorable combatants,
You firmly and courageously suffered torments for the faith,
You have died for the life of all for the Master.
Therefore Christ also gloriously encircles you with a cloud column from heaven
And honors and crowns you with crowns from the throne of glory:
Standing before Him with the angels, pray to save our souls.

Kontakion - Tone 3

Released from the fatherly delusions O Saints, you were led to Christ:
By the diligence of all your souls you put human cleverness to death.
And so attaining the victory of true honor,
Unceasingly pray to our Master for us all.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Blooming in the Desert Presents the 2009 Nativity Retreat- Father Harry Pappas, professor of pastoral theology at Saint Vladimir's Seminary

Father Harry Pappas came out to give this talk during the Nativity Fast in 2009.

Listen to the podcast:

Blooming in the Desert Homepage:

Greek sues over photo on 'Turkish' yoghurt in Sweden

The image still features on the Lindahls website despite the legal action

There is no particular reason I am posting this other than I found it amusing.

Hat tip to Steve.

From here.

Greek man is suing a dairy in Sweden for 50 million kronor ($6.9m; £4.5m) for using his image on pots of Turkish-style yoghurt, Swedish media report.
The man only found out his moustachioed face featured on the containers of Turkisk Yoghurt made by Lindahls when a friend living in Stockholm told him.

Athanasios Varzanakos told Swedish Radio his friend "was annoyed and asked how it was possible" when informed.

The dairy said it bought the photograph in good faith from an image library.

Chief executive Anders Lindahl said it had come as a shock when the Greek man lodged a 40-page legal complaint saying that the company had used a misleading image because he had no links with Turkey.

"We bought it from a photo agency so we assumed that everything was in order," Mr Lindahl told the AFP news agency.

The image remains on the Lindahls website despite the legal action.

Relations between Greece and Turkey have long been strained and at times have turned into outright hostility.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Martyr Crescens of Myra in Lycia

Commemorated on April 13
The Holy Martyr Crescens (Kreskes) was descended from an illustrious family and lived in Myra of Lycia. When a throng of city inhabitants were on the way to the pagan temple, he urged them to forsake paganism and come to Christ. This incident became known to the city prefect.

When the prefect asked the saint about his parentage, the saint, not wishing to bring unpleasantness to his parents, said nothing except that he was a Christian. The prefect knew St Crescens' father and wanted to do him a favor. He suggested that St Crescens only appear to offer sacrifice to idols, while remaining a Christian.

The holy martyr replied, "It is impossible for the body not to do as the soul thinks, since the soul governs and moves the body." They beat the holy martyr Crescens and raked him with iron claws, and then burned him in a fire.

St Andrew of Crete (July 4) mentions the Martyr Crescens in his Sermon on the Feast of St Nicholas the Wonderworker (December 6), who also came from Myra of Lycia.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Monday, April 12, 2010

St Isaac the Syrian, Abbot of Spoleto

Commemorated on April 12

St Isaac the Syrian lived during the mid-sixth century. He came to the Italian city of Spoleto from Syria. The saint asked permission of the church wardens to remain in the temple, and he prayed in it for two and a half days. One of the church wardens began to reproach him with hypocrisy and struck him on the cheek. Then the punishment of God came upon the church warden. The devil threw him down at the feet of the saint and cried out, "Isaac, cast me out!" Just as the saint bent over the man, the unclean spirit fled.

News of this quickly spread throughout the city. People began to flock to the saint, offering him help and the means to build a monastery. The humble monk refused all this. He left the city and settled in a desolate place, where he built a small cell. Disciples gathered around the ascetic, and so a monastery was formed. When his disciples asked the Elder why he had declined the gifts, he replied, "A monk who acquires possessions is no longer a monk."

St Isaac was endowed with the gift of clairvoyance. St Gregory Dialogus (March 12) speaks of this in his "Dialogues About the Lives and Miracles of the Italian Fathers." Once, St Isaac bade the monks to leave their spades in the garden for the night, and in the morning he asked them to prepare food for the workers. Some robbers, equal to the number of spades, had come to rob the monastery, but the power of God forced them to abandon their evil intent. They took the spades and began to work. When the monks arrived in the garden, all the ground had been dug up. The saint greeted the toilers and invited them to refresh themselves with food. Then he admonished them to stop their thievery, and gave them permission to come openly and pick the fruits of the monastery garden.

Another time, two almost naked men came to the saint and asked him for clothing. He told them to wait a bit, and sent a monk into the forest. In the hollow of a tree he found the fine clothes the travelers had hidden in order to to deceive the holy igumen. The monk brought back the clothes, and St Isaac gave them to the wanderers. Seeing that their fraud was exposed, they fell into great distress and shame.

It happened that a certain man sent his servant to the saint with two beehives. The servant hid one of these hives along the way. The saint said to the servant, "I accept the gift, but be careful when you go back for the beehive that you hid. Poisonous snakes have entered into it. If you stretch forth your hand, they will bite you." Thus the saint unmasked the sins of people wisely and without malice, desiring salvation for all.

St Isaac died in 550. This saint should not be confused with the other St Isaac the Syrian, Bishop of Ninevah, who lived during the seventh century (January 28).

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Holy Martyrs Processus and Martinian of Rome

Commemorated on April 11
The Holy Martyrs Processus and Martinian were pagans and they served as guards at the Mamertine prison in Rome.

State criminals were held in this prison, among them some Christians. Watching the Christian prisoners and listening to their preaching, Processus and Martinian gradually came to the knowledge of the Savior. When the holy Apostle Peter was locked up at the Mamertine prison, Processus and Martinian came to believe in Christ. They accepted holy Baptism from the apostle and released him from prison.

The jailer Paulinus learned about this, and he demanded that Sts Processus and Martinian renounce Christ. But they fearlessly confessed Christ, and they spat at the golden statue of Jupiter. Paulinus ordered that they be slapped on the face, and then seeing the resolute stance of the holy martyrs, he subjected them to torture. The martyrs were beaten with iron rods, scorched with fire, and finally, thrown into prison.

A certain illustrious and pious woman, by the name of Lucina, visited them in prison and gave them help and encouragement. The torturer Paulinus was soon punished by God. He fell blind and died three days later. The son of Paulinus went to the city ruler demanding that the martyrs be put to death. Sts Processus and Martinian were beheaded by the sword (+ ca. 67).

Lucina buried the bodies of the martyrs. Today their tomb is in the south transept of St Peter's Basilica in Rome.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Holy Martyrs James the Presbyter and the Deacons Azadanes and Abdikius

Commemorated on April 10

The Holy Martyrs James the Presbyter and the deacons Azadanes and Abdikius died in Persia under the emperor Sapor in about the year 380. They were arrested together with Bishop Akepsimas (November 3). Weak from hunger, the sufferers had mustard and vinegar inserted into their nostrils. Then they were stripped and led out to stand all night in the cold.

In the morning, after new torments, the martyrs were returned to prison and beheaded.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):