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Prologue from Ochrid
by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic

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July 14th - 21st (New Style) July 1st - 8th (Old Style)

New Style
July 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
Old Style
July 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

July 14th (New Style) July 1st (Old Style)

The Holy Martyrs Cosmas and Damian

Cosmas and Damian were unmercenary physicians and miracle-workers. These two saints were brothers, were born in Rome and as children were baptized and brought up in the Christian spirit. They possessed abundant grace from God to heal men and livestock from every disease and suffering, usually by the laying on of hands. They sought no reward for their efforts. They only required of the infirm to believe in Christ the Lord. Inheriting a large estate, they charitably distributed it to the needy and to those in want. At that time, Emperor Galerius reigned in Rome. As a persecutor of Christianity, he summoned these two holy brothers before him shackled in chains. After a prolonged interrogation the emperor ordered them to deny Christ and to offer sacrifices to the idols. Cosmas and Damian not only did not heed the emperor but also counseled him to abandon the dead idols and to recognize the One True God. "Our God is not created but He is the Creator of all, but your gods are the imaginations of man and the work of the hands of artists. If you did not have artists to make your gods, you would have no one to worship." After working a miracle upon the emperor himself-for they miraculously cured him from a grave infirmity - the emperor proclaimed his faith in Christ and released the holy brothers in peace. Cosmas and Damian continued to glorify God and to heal the sick and were themselves, glorified by the people on all sides. Envious of their glory, a certain doctor who, at one time was their teacher, and with the pretext to gather healing herbs, led them into the mountain and stoned them to death. They suffered honorably for the Faith of Christ in the year 284 A.D. Their memory remains eternal in the Church on earth and their souls took up habitation in the Kingdom of the Lord to live eternally in glory and in joy.

Venerable Peter, the Patrician

This saint was a nobleman from Constantinople and a commander during the reign of Emperor Nicephorus. In a war with the Bulgarians, Emperor Nicephorus was slain and Peter, with fifty Greek commanders and princes, was captured and cast into prison. St. John the Theologian miraculously freed Peter from prison. Peter then despised all earthly glory, left his wife and son, and withdrew to Mount Olympia where, as a monk and as a disciple of St. Joannicius the Great, lived a life of mortification for thirty-four years. Following the death of his wife and son, he settled in Constantinople where he spent eight more years in fasting and prayer and fell asleep in the Lord in the year 865 A.D. in the seventy-seventh year of his life.

The Holy Martyr Potitus

Potitus was a thirteen-year-old child who was born in Sardinia. He endured much suffering for Christ both from his father and from the civil persecutors of Christianity. Potitus was beheaded during the reign of Emperor Antoninus (138-161 A.D.) but, before this, Potitus cured and baptized Agnes, the daughter of the emperor.

Reflection

Through their prayers and alms for the deceased, Christians display the relationship between this world and the world to come. The Church in this world and the Church in the other world are one and the same - one body, one in being - as does the root of a tree beneath the earth comprise one organism with the trunk and the branches of the tree above the earth. It is clear from this how we who comprise the Church on earth can receive help from the saints and the righteous ones from the Heavenly Church as well as the deceased sinners in the other world can receive help from us on earth. St. Athanasius says: "As it happens with wine inside a barrel which, when the vineyard blooms in the field, senses it and the wine itself blossoms together with it, so it is with the souls of sinners. They receive some relief from the Bloodless Sacrifice offered for them and from charity" performed for their repose. St. Ephren the Syrian cites that same example with wine and the vineyard and concludes: "And so, when there exists such mutual sensitivity even among plants, is not the prayer and sacrifice felt even more for the departed ones?"

Contemplation

To contemplate the miraculous change of water into wine (St. John 2):

1. How the Lord, at the marriage at Cana, changed the water into wine;

2. How, even my soul, if it is wedded to the Living God, transforms its wateriness into divine beverage.

Homily

About how we should rejoice in Christ

"In this you greatly rejoice though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials" (1 Peter 1:6).

Thus speaks St. Peter the Apostle whose life was filled with many temptations and frequent sorrows. Thus speaks the man who left his home and family members and followed after Christ and who, for the sake of Christ, endured many difficulties: from hunger, from thirst, from the Jews, from the Romans, from false prophets, from cruel heathens and who, in the end was crucified on the cross, all for the sake of the Lord Christ. He, who in this life was unmercifully scourged with great sorrows and great temptations, counsels us to rejoice in Christ so that this joy may swallow up all our proportionally lessor sorrows and temptations.

But why brethren should we rejoice in Christ?

Because He revealed and showed us the reality of the greatest and most beautiful hopes and dreams of mankind;

He revealed to us the One God, Living, Omnipotent, All-wise All-merciful and He gave us the privilege to call ourselves His sons;

He revealed and showed us the immortal and eternal life; life incomparably better than this life on earth;

He revealed to us the spiritual kingdom; the kingdom of angels and the righteous; the kingdom of all good and the light of truth and justice;

He revealed and showed us the goal of our existence here on earth and the purpose for all our efforts and sufferings in this transient life;

He revealed to us the ocean of heavenly joy compared to all of our sorrows and temptations as a drop of muddy water, which cannot disturb or muddy that ocean.

O brethren, what joy awaits us! O brethren, how small a price does our Lord ask of us to purchase this joy in which the angels bathe and in which the righteous swim! Only to fulfill a few of His short commandments that is the entire price!

O Lord Jesus, the all-miraculous source of our joy, our boast and our pleasure, our glory and our thanks, place Your finger on our mouths and do not allow a drop of muddy sorrow and temptations to poison us.

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July 15th (New Style) July 2nd (Old Style)

The Placing of the Robe of the Most Holy Mother of God in Constantinople 

During the reign of Emperor Leo the Great (458-471 A.D.), Empress Verina and Patriarch Gennadius, two noblemen from Constantinople, Galibus and Candidus, traveled throughout the Holy Land to venerate and to worship before the holy shrines. In Nazareth, they stopped for a while at the home of a Jewish maiden who kept the girdle of the All-Holy Mother of God in a secret room. Many who were ill and in need received healing from their sufferings through prayer and by touching the vesture. Galibus and Candidus took this sacred article and brought it to Constantinople and reported it to the emperor and patriarch. This brought about great joy in the imperial city. The vesture was solemnly translated and placed in the Church of Blachernae. This church was built by Emperor Marcian and Empress Pulcheria on the shore of an inlet and was called Blachernae after the name of a Scetis commander who was slain there. And in remembrance of the placing of this vesture of the All-Holy Birth giver of God in this Blacheran church, this feast day was instituted.

St. Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem

Juvenal was a contemporary of the great illuminators of the Orthodox Church: Euthymius, Theodosius, Gerasimus, Simeon the Stylite and others. He participated in two Ecumenical Councils: the Third Council in Ephesus (431 A.D.) and the Fourth Council in Chalcedon (451 A.D.). With great power and zeal, he fought against the blasphemous heresies: in Ephesus against Nestorius who called the Birth-giver of God the Birth-giver of Christ and in Chalcedon against Eutyches and Dioscorus who taught that there was only one nature in Christ, i.e., only a divine nature without a human nature. Following the victory of Orthodoxy at both councils, Juvenal returned to his throne in Jerusalem. Even though the heresies were condemned, the heretics were not eliminated. Through the intrigue and violence of Theodosius, a friend of Dioscorus, Juvenal was banished from the patriarchal throne and Theodosius, on his own, elevated himself in Juvenal's place. In the beginning, this heretic Theodosius was supported by Empress Eudocia, the widow of Theodosius the Younger who, at that time, took up residence in Jerusalem. Hesitant and indiscreet, Eudocia finally went to see St. Simeon the Stylite in order to ask him wherein lies the truth. The saint of God unmasked all the heretical teachings and instructed the empress to adhere to the teachings of Orthodoxy as confirmed at the councils. The empress heeded, repented and she herself became embittered against the false Patriarch Theodosius. During that time Marcian and Pulcheria reigned in Constantinople. A letter from the emperor was sent to Commander Athanasius ordering him to banish Theodosius and to return and reinstate Juvenal to his throne which the commander quickly did. Juvenal governed the Church in Jerusalem for thirty-eight years as its hierarch and at a ripe old age presented himself to the Lord in the year 458 A.D. to receive from Him the reward for great suffering and misery which he had endured for the truth. During the reign of St. Juvenal, the celebration of Christmas was established on December 25.

St. Photius, Metropolitan of Moscow

Photius was of Greek descent. He prudently governed the Russian Church for twenty years. Photius died in the year 1430 A.D. A week before his death an angel of God appeared to him and informed him of the exact time of his departure from this world.

Reflection

Every device of which man boasts as an invention of his mind is revealed by Divine Providence and every invented device has its two-fold significance one physical, the other spiritual. Even the clock is a wonderful device but it was not invented merely to tell us the time of day and night but also to remind us of death. This is its spiritual significance. When the small hand completes its rounds of seconds and minutes then the large hand arrives at the ordered hour and the clock strikes. So will the clock of our life strike when the days, months and years of our life are numbered. That is why St. Tikhon of Zadonsk counsels every Christian to reflect:

1. How the time of our life continually passes;

2. How it is impossible to bring back time that is past;

3. How the past and future times are not in our control but only that time in which we are now living;

4. How the end of our life is unknown;

5. How we must be prepared for death every day, every hour and every minute;

6. How because of that we must always be in the state of continual repentance;

7. How we must be repentant in every hour and spiritually disposed as we would wish to be at the hour of our death.

Contemplation

To contemplate the burning bush on Horeb (Exodus 3):

1. How, the bush was completely engulfed by flame and was not consumed;

2. How also, the All-pure Virgin bearing within herself the Divine Fire, the Lord God-Man, and was not consumed by Him;

3. How, the Grace of the Divine Fire, also rejuvenates, heals and illuminates even my sinful soul.

Homily

About the trial of our faith

"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearance of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:7).

Brethren, our faith is tried more often than is the reed rocked by the winds. Trials are like the winds: a weak faith they will uproot and a strong faith will be strengthened even more. Trials are also like the flame in which straw is burned and gold is purified.

Man's intellectual pursuits and suppositions also try our faith. These are very strong and bitter winds. But we can overcome them if we are willing to adhere to the words of God and if, in opposition to those intellectual pursuits, we are able to emphasize the teachings of the Faith of Christ.

Our faith is further tried by fear and shame: fear of men who persecute the Faith and shame of men who arrogantly despise the Faith. These also are strong winds which we must resist if we wish to remain alive. How will we resist them? By the fear of God which should always be greater in our soul than the fear of men and of shame before the apostles, saints and martyrs who were not ashamed of their faith before emperors, princes and sages of this world.

Our faith is further tried by suffering and misery. This is the fire in which our faith either has to be burned like straw or to be tempered as pure gold. We will resist these trials if we would but remember Christ crucified on the Cross for us and so many thousands of martyrs for the Faith who, in their patience, conquered all and emerged from the flames as gold and who for centuries glow among the angels and among men.

Our faith is also tried by death, the death of our relatives and friends and the death of mankind in general. This is the bitter fire in which the faith of many have been burned. Is death the end of everything? It is not, but rather believe that it is the beginning of everything; it is the beginning of a new and just life. Believe in the Resurrection of Christ, believe in life beyond the grave and believe in the general resurrection and the Dreadful Judgment.

O Good Lord, strengthen the faith in us and have mercy on us.

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July 16th (New Style) July 3rd (Old Style)

The Holy Martyr Hyacinthus

Hyacinthus was a young man and a courtier at the court of Emperor Trajan. Secretly, he was a Christian. At one time when Emperor Trajan and his entire court solemnly offered sacrifices to the idols, Hyacinthus refrained from this abominable solemnity. For that he was accused and brought before the emperor to be judged. The emperor counseled him to deny Christ and to offer sacrifices to the idols. Hyacinthus remained as firm as a diamond and said to the emperor: "I am a Christian and I honor Christ. Him I worship and to Him alone do I offer myself as a living sacrifice." Beaten, spat upon and scraped, this holy martyr was thrown into prison. By order of the emperor, he was given nothing to eat except the sacrifices offered before the idols. Hyacinthus refused to partake of them and after eight days died in prison. The prison guards saw two radiant angels in the prison: one angel covering the body of the martyred Hyacinthus with his radiant vesture and the other angel placing a glorious wreath on his head. The entire prison was illuminated and aromatic. The youthful Hyacinthus honorably suffered and was crowned with eternal glory in the year 108 A.D.

St. Anatolius, Patriarch of Constantinople 

At first, Anatolius was a presbyter in the Church at Alexandria and following the death of Patriarch Flavian, he was elevated to the patriarchal throne of Constantinople in the year 449 A.D. During his reign, the throne of Constantinople was recognized as equal to the throne of Rome by the Ecumenical Council held at Chalcedon in 451 A.D. He struggled greatly for the purity of the Orthodox Faith, suffered much at the hands of the heretics and finally was slain by them in the year 458 A.D. during the reign of Pope Leo the Great. Anatolius governed the church for nearly nine years and took up his habitation among the holy hierarchs in the Kingdom of God.

The Venerable Alexander (Akimetes)

Alexander was born in Asia, educated in Constantinople and after the completion of his schooling he devoted himself to military service and attained the rank of an officer. Reading Holy Scripture, he came across the words of the Savior: "If you seek perfection, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor. You will then have treasure in heaven. Afterward come back and follow me" (St. Matthew 19:21). These words had such an effect on Alexander that he immediately sold and distributed all that he had and withdrew into the wilderness. After many mortifications and labors in purifying himself, he established a monastery of the Sleepless Ones with a special constitution according to this rule: the divine services (offices) were carried on night and day without interruption in his community. The brotherhood was divided into twenty-four relays (cursus). Each relay knew their hour of the day and night and went to church to continue the reading and singing of the preceding relay. Carrying nothing with him, Alexander traveled much throughout the eastern regions enlightening men with the Faith of Christ. Alexander disputed with heretics, worked miracles by the Grace of God, grew old serving the Lord and finally ended his earthly life in Constantinople in the year 430 A.D. where his relics manifested miraculous power and glory through which God glorifies His holy servants.

Venerable Isaiah, the Recluse (Ahchorite)

Isaiah lived a life of asceticism in the Egyptian Scete during the fifth and sixth centuries. He is mentioned in the book of Saints Barsanuphius and John (Reply 249 and others) as a man possessing exceptional sanctity. He wrote many instructions for monks and anchorites. Of his works, very little remains and much was destroyed by the Muslims. St. Isaiah said: "The mind, before it awakens from the sleep of slothfulness, resides with the demons." "The crown of all good works consists in this: that a man place all his hope in God; that he finds recourse in Him once and for all with his heart and strength; that he be filled with compassion for all and weep before God, imploring His help and mercy." What is the sign to man that a certain sin is forgiven? "The sign that a sin is forgiven is that the sin does not generate any activity in your heart and that you have forgotten it to such a degree that in conversation about a similar sin you do not feel any inclination toward that sin but rather consider it something totally foreign to you. That is the sign that you are completely pardoned." In vain are prayer and mortification to a man who conceals within himself malice toward his neighbor and the desire for revenge. "Watch with all your strength that you do not speak one thing with your mouth and have something else in your heart." "The crown of good works is love; the crown of passions is the justification of one's sins."

Reflection

Love is all-powerful. It can, among other things, ease the judgment of the souls of deceased sinners. The Orthodox Church confirms this resolutely and continues to offer prayers and performs corporal works of mercy for the deceased. Abundantly rich in every spiritual experience, the Church knows that prayers and works of mercy for the deceased helps those in the other world. Before her death, St. Athanasia the Abbess (April 12) made the sisterhood promise that for forty days after her death they would prepare a table for the poor and needy. The sisterhood carried out her command for only ten days and then ceased. The saint then appeared in the company of two angels and said to the sisters: "Why have you transgressed my commandment? Know, that through works of mercy and the prayers of the priest for the souls of the deceased in the course of forty days, invokes God's mercy. If the souls of the departed are sinful they, through this, receive forgiveness of sins from God and if they are not sinful then the corporal works of mercy performed for them serve to the salvation of the benefactor himself." Naturally, works of mercy and prayer are thought of here in connection with great love toward the departed souls. Such works of mercy and prayer, in truth, do help.

Contemplation

To contemplate the miraculous transformation of the rod into a serpent and, again, the serpent into the rod (Exodus 4):

1. How the Lord Who created the serpent and the rod from dust, by His own power and for the sake of higher goals, can transform the dead into the living and the living into the dead;

2. How the Lord can, according to my faith and prayer, return my soul, withered and deadened by sin, to life.

Homily

About the joy of faith in Christ

"Although you have never seen Him, you love Him, and without seeing you now believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible joy touched with glory" (1 Peter 1:8).

These are the words of the Holy Apostle Peter. He saw the Lord and loved Him. He looked at the Lord and believed in Him. Precisely because of that, he praises the love of those who have not seen the Lord and the faith of those who have not seen Him with their eyes. Our Lord Himself said: "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (St. John 20:29). Blessed are they who have not seen the Lord as the apostle saw Him, but, nevertheless, they love Him with apostolic love. Blessed are they who have not seen the Lord as the apostle saw Him but, nevertheless, they believe in Him with apostolic faith!

O my brethren, even if we do not see the Lord, we see His works which have enlightened the entire history of mankind from one end to the other and have illumined every created thing under the heavens with a spiritual significance. Even if we do not see the Lord, we see His Holy Church built upon His All-holy and Pure Blood, from countless saints, righteous ones and numerous souls baptized in His Name throughout the ages of ages. Even if we do not see the Lord face to face as the apostles saw Him, we believe that He is among us in the Body and Blood by which we, according to His commandment, communicate and, in communicating, we rejoice with unspeakable joy.

Brethren, the Lord is alive and the Lord is near! That is our unwavering faith and that is the spark of fire which stirs our hearts in a flame of love for the Lord, living and near.

To know that our Lord the Creator, out of love, descended into the earth and appeared as a man for our sake and further know that He was dead and that He appeared alive what stronger foundation does our faith need and what stronger justification for our love?

Brethren, the Lord is alive and near. And even in our day, He is appearing to many righteous souls who serve Him with patience.

O Living Lord, You were dead and are alive enliven in us faith and love until our last breath on earth, that with faith and love, we may be worthy to see You face to face as did Your holy apostles.

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July 17th (New Style) July 4th (Old Style)

St. Andreiw, Archbishop of Crete

Andrew was born in Damascus of Christian parents. He was a mute from birth until the age of seven. When his parents brought him to church and he received Holy Communion, he began to speak. So great is the power of the Divine and Holy Communion. At age fourteen, Andrew went to Jerusalem and was tonsured in the Lavra of St. Sabas the Sanctified. By virtue of his understanding and asceticism, he surpassed many of the older monks and was an example to them. After a while, the patriarch took him as his personal secretary. When the Monothelite heresy began to rage the heresy which taught that the Lord Jesus did not possess a human will but only a divine will the Sixth Ecumenical Council convened in Constantinople in the year 681 A.D. during the reign of Constantine IV (Bearded One). Theodore, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, was unable to attend the council but sent Andrew as his representative who, at that time, was an Archdeacon. At the council, Andrew displayed his wonderful gift of oratory, his zeal for the Faith and rare prudence. Having assisted in strengthening the Orthodox Faith, Andrew returned to his duties in Jerusalem. Later, he was elected and installed as the Archbishop of the Island of Crete. As an archbishop, he was greatly loved by the people. Andrew was very zealous for Orthodoxy and vehemently eradicated all heresies. Through his prayers he worked miracles. By his prayers, he drove the Saracens from the Island of Crete. Andrew wrote many books of instruction, hymns and canons of which the most renown is the Great Canon to the Birth-giver of God read on Thursday of the Fifth Sunday of the Great Lenten Season. His outward appearance was such that "seeing his face and hearing his words flowing like honey, everyone found pleasure and amended their ways." On one occasion, returning from Constantinople, Andrew foretold his death before he arrived in Crete. And so it happened. When the boat in which he traveled sailed near the island of Mitylene, this beacon of the Church ended his earthly life and with his soul, took up habitation in the Kingdom of Christ in the year 721 A.D.

St. Martha

Martha was the mother of St. Simeon of the Wonderful Mountain (May 24). Dedicated with all her soul to the Faith, she did not think of marriage. When her parents betrothed her to a young man, Martha thought of leaving the home of her parents and to withdrew from the world. But, St. John the Baptist appeared to Martha and counseled her to fulfill the will of her parents and to enter into marriage, which she did. From this marital union, the glorious saint, Simeon of the Wonderful Mountain was born. She had the regular habit of rising at midnight for prayer. With great charity, she helped the needy and misfortunate, visited the poor, the orphaned and attended the sick. A year before her death she saw many angels with candles in their hands and, from them, learned the time of her death. Learning of this, Martha with even greater zeal dedicated herself to prayer and good works. She died peacefully in the year 551 A.D. and was buried in the proximity of her son, Simeon the Stylite. After her death, she appeared many times for the purpose of instructing mankind and for the sake of healing the sick. Recorded as her most significant appearance was the one to the abbot of Simeon's monastery. Following the burial of St. Martha, the abbot placed a votive candle on her grave with the understanding that it should never be extinguished. Then the abbot became ill and the saintly Martha appeared to him and said: "Why do you not burn a votive candle on my grave? Know that I am not in need of the light from your candle since I have been made worthy before God, the Eternal Heavenly Light, but it is needed for you. So when you burn a light on my grave, you entreat me to pray to the Lord for you." It is obvious from this that the goal of our veneration for the saints is to entreat them as those worthier than us to pray to God for us and for our salvation.

Reflection

If your entire life passed smoothly and without worry, then weep for yourself. For the Gospel and the experience of the people, with one accord assert that no one has, without great suffering and pain, left behind any great and beneficial work on earth or was glorified in the heavens. If, however, your earthly sojourn is completely adorned with sweat and tears to attain justice and truth, rejoice and be exceedingly glad for truly great is your reward in the heavens. Do not ever succumb to the insane thought that God has abandoned you. God knows exactly how much one can endure and, according to that, measures the sufferings and pains of everyone. St. Nil Sorsky says: "When even men know how much weight a horse, or a donkey or a camel can carry and, according to that they are loading them according to their strength; when a potter knows how long to leave the clay in the kiln for it to be neither shattered nor over-baked, how could God not know how much temptation a soul can bear to make it ready and fitted for the Kingdom of Heaven?"

Contemplation

To contemplate all the miracles which the Lord performed at the hands of Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: "And Aaron and Moses went in unto Pharaoh and they did as the Lord had commanded" (Exodus 7:10):

1. How great and awesome were those miracles;

2. How the heart of pharaoh remained obstinate before all the miracles of God;

3. How even my heart is hard before the countless miracles of God in my heart, in my life and around me and how I need to repent before the end befalls me and eternal punishment reaches me.

Homily

About the salvation of a soul as the end of faith

"Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1:9).

Brethren, what is the end of faith? The salvation of a soul. What is the goal of faith? The salvation of a soul. What is the fruit of faith? The salvation of a soul. We do not adhere to faith, therefore, for the sake of faith but rather for the salvation of our souls. No one travels for the sake of the road but because of someone or something that awaits him at the end of the road. No one throws a rope into the water in which someone is drowning for the sake of the rope but for the sake of the one drowning. God gave faith to us as a road, the end of which the travelers will receive salvation of their souls. And, as a rope, God extended faith to us who are drowning in the dark waters of sin, ignorance and vice that we, through the help of faith, save our lives.

That is the purpose of faith. Whoever knows the price of a human soul must admit that there is nothing in this world more necessary or more beneficial than faith. A merchant who carries precious stones in an earthen vessel carefully and cautiously protects the vessel, hides it and keeps vigil over it. Is it because of the vessel that the merchant exerts such effort and concern? Not because of the vessel, but because of the precious stones which are in the vessel. Our entire earthly life is like an earthen vessel in which a priceless treasure is hidden. That priceless treasure is our soul. A vessel is cheap but a treasure is valuable. First, one must have faith in the value of a human soul and second, in the future glow and life of the soul in the Kingdom of God; third, in the Living God Who waits for the return of a soul which He Himself gave us and fourth, in the possibility that a soul could be lost in this world. Whosoever has faith in these four things will know how to protect his soul and will further know that the salvation of a soul is the end of his road, the goal of his faith, the fruit of his life, the purpose of his existence on earth and the justification of his sufferings.

We believe for the sake of the salvation of our soul. Whoever has a true faith, must also know that faith is for the sake of the salvation of souls. He who thinks that his faith serves another purpose other than salvation does not have a true faith nor does he know the value of his soul.

O All-good Lord Jesus, You have given us a shining and victorious faith, strengthen and maintain that faith in us that we may stand unashamed before Your judgment with our pure and shining souls.

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July 18th (New Style) July 5th (Old Style)

Venerable Athanasius of Mount Athos

Athanasius was born in Trebizond of God-fearing parents. He became orphaned at an early age but, by the Providence of God, a commander took him under his care and brought him to Constantinople to be educated. Because of his meekness and humbleness, he was the favorite of his peers. During the children's games, the children chose one to be an emperor, one a commander and Athanasius as abbot as though it was some kind of foretelling! Having completed his education, Athanasius (who before tonsuring was called Abraham) withdrew into the desert of Maleinos near Athos, the Holy Mountain, where he lived the life of an ascetic as a disciple of the then renowned Michael Maleinos. Desiring a more difficult life of mortification, Athanasius settled on Holy Mt. Athos to live in silence (the life of a silentary). But many who were desirous of a life of asceticism began to gather around him and, therefore, he was compelled to build his famous Lavra (monastery). In that, he was assisted by the Byzantine emperors: at first, Nicephorus Phocas, who himself thought to withdraw and to become a monk and, after him, John Tzimiskes. Countless temptations befell Athanasius both from demons and from men but he, as a brave soldier of Christ, resisted and conquered all by his immeasurable meekness and continual prayer to the Living God. Filled with the Grace of God, Athanasius was made worthy to see the All-holy Birth-giver of God who miraculously brought forth water from a rock and promised that she would also be the abbess (Ikonomisa, the one in charge of the provisions of the monastery). In work and in prayer, Athanasius surpassed his brethren and loved all with the love a spiritual father and shepherd. Death came to Athanasius unexpectedly. At one time, he with six other monks, climbed upon a newly built vestibule of the church to inspect the wall which was being constructed and the wall caved in on them and buried them. Thus, this great beacon of monasticism died in the year 980 A.D. Many times following his death Athanasius appeared to his brethren either to comfort them or to reprimand them.

The Venerable Martyr Cyprian the New

Cyprian was born in the village of Klitzos in Epirus. Following the death of his good parents, Cyprian went to the Holy Mt. Athos, was tonsured a monk and devoted himself completely to a life of asceticism in a cell near the monastery of Kutloumousiou. He imposed upon himself labor upon labor and mortification upon mortification until he became renown and respected throughout the entire Holy Mountain. Cyprian was still not satisfied with himself. He was tormented by the thought that he could not be saved except through martyrdom for Christ. Therefore, he left the Holy Mountain and arrived in Thessalonica and came before the Pasha of Thessalonica and called upon him to reject the false faith of Muhammad and to accept the true faith of Christ. The Pasha ordered him scourged and driven out. Unsatisfied with such a small suffering for Christ, Cyprian traveled to Constantinople and wrote a letter to the Grand Vezir in which he outlined the falseness of Muhammad and the truthfulness of the Lord Christ. Enraged, the Vezir sent him to Skeik Ul Islamu and he, after having heard all that Cyprian had to say, ordered him beheaded. Cyprian was joyful beyond measure and went to the scaffold as to a wedding feast. Thus, this godly man suffered for Christ on July 5, 1679, and realized his burning desire.

The Venerable Lampadus

Loving Christ with a fervent love from his early youth, Lampadus withdrew into the wilderness of Irenopolis where he gave himself up to a life of asceticism. Since he overcame all passions and desires of the flesh, his soul was radiant with a heavenly light and an unspeakable peace not of this world. Lampadus was a miracle-worker, both during life and after death. He lived a life of mortification probably in the tenth century.

Reflection

By striking the rod, how did Moses bring forth water from the rock? How did God send down manna from heaven and feed the people of Israel in the wilderness? Thus, ask all those who have a very weak conception of the might of the Omnipotent God. And still they are perplexed why such miracles do not take place again in order that all peoples may believe in God. But the Israelites, with their own eyes, witnessed countless miracles of God and still they did not believe. Meanwhile, God repeats the old great miracles wherever and whenever it is needed. One time, when a famine ensued in the Lavra of Athanasius, all of the brethren dispersed whereever. Dejected, Athanasius began to move about and to seek out another place. A lady on the road asked him: "Where are you going?" "Who are you?" Athanasius asked bewildered because he sees a woman on the Holy Mountain, where access to women is not permitted. "I am she to whom you have dedicated your community. I am the Mother of your Lord." Athanasius said: "I am afraid to trust you, for even demons can manifest themselves into angels of light. With what shall you prove to me the truthfulness of your words?" Then the Holy Birth-giver of God said to him: "Strike your rod upon this rock and you will know who I am that speaks to you. Know that I am always remaining the Abbess - Ikonomisa of your Lavra." Athanasius then struck the rock with his rod. At that moment the rock shook and cracked as thunder and water gushed forth from the shattered rock. Frightened, Athanasius turned so as to prostrate before the Holy All-pure One but She had already vanished. He returned to his Lavra and even to his greater amazement, found all the barns (storehouses) overflowing with wheat. Here, then, is a repetition of the great miracles by which the miracles of old are confirmed and by which the faithful are strengthened in the Faith.

Contemplation

To contemplate the miraculous crossing of the Israelites across the Red Sea (Exodus 14):

1. How Moses waved the rod according to the command of God and the sea was divided and the people of God passed over on the dry bottom of the sea;

2. How the Egyptians pursued the Israelites along the same path but Moses waved the rod and the sea came together;

3. How this teaches me that whatever He wills, all is possible with God and that He saves His faithful servant from the greatest danger and punishes the unfaithful.

Homily

About the sobriety of the mind

"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:13).

Brethren, the mind is the guide of the soul and the advisor to the soul. God gave only a soul to the animals (an irrational soul) that is why He did not give them freedom but guides them with His mind. God gave man a soul (a rational soul) and mind and with the mind, freedom. The mind and freedom are inseparable. From this, are all the empty tales of certain philosophers concerning how man truly has a mind but does not possess freedom. For it is clear from daily experience that freedom is an inseparable companion of the mind. But, as man does not possess a perfect mind, so he does not possess perfect freedom but, nevertheless, stands under the direction and guidance of God. God alone has a perfect mind and perfect freedom. We, therefore, are only the "image and likeness" of the mind and the freedom of God. We possess a sufficient enough mind that we may know the will of God and enough freedom that we can decide to fulfill the will of God. When the mind loses the absolute guiding power over the soul then, what follows in the soul is many guiding principles which result in the confusion, chaos and destruction.

What do the words of the apostle mean: "gird up the loins of your mind and be sober" They mean: do not allow your mind to fantasize but concentrate the mind on the contemplation on the law of God. They also mean: do not allow your mind to abuse the God-given freedom of plunging the soul into the slavery of the flesh, the world and the devil but nail the mind to Christ as to a cross so that your soul may resurrect in Christ. Further they mean: close your mind off from all self-willed imaginations from which it becomes intoxicated and falls into the booty of the devil and keep the mind girded in the narrowness of your heart where it will become sober through prayer and become pure through tears. Briefly, it means: exercise your mind not to abuse your freedom by ridiculing the Living and Merciful God and deadening the soul by passions.

O Lord Jesus, the Mind of God and the Wisdom of God, help us to gird our mind so that it would think only of what is from You and that what is Yours, so that the mind would lead our soul soberly to salvation.

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July 19th (New Style) July 6th (Old Style)

Venerable Sisoes the Great 

Sisoes was an Egyptian by birth and a disciple of St. Anthony. Following the death of his great teacher, St. Sisoes settled on a mountain in the wilderness called St. Anthony's Mount where Anthony lived a life of asceticism earlier. Imposing difficult labors on himself, he humbled himself so much that he became meek and guileless as a lamb. For this God endowed Sisoes with abundant grace so that he was able to heal the sick, drive out unclean spirits and resurrect the dead. Sisoes lived a life of austere mortification in the wilderness for sixty years and was a source of living wisdom for all monks and laymen who came to him for counsel and advice. Before death, his face shone as the sun. The monks stood around him and were astonished at this manifestation. When this saint gave up his soul, the entire room was filled with a sweet-smelling savor. Sisoes died in extreme old age in the year 429 A.D. St. Sisoes taught the monks: "Regardless in what way temptation comes to man, a man should give himself to the will of God and to recognize that temptation occurred because of his sins. If something good happens, it should be said that it happened according to God's Providence." One monk asked Sisoes: "How can I please God and be saved?" The saint answered: "If you wish to please God, withdraw from the world, separate yourself from the earth, put aside creation, draw near to the Creator, unite yourself to God with prayers and tears and then you will find rest in this time and in the future." The monk asked Sisoes: "How can I attain humility?" The saint replied: "When a person learns to recognize every man as being better than himself, with that he attains humility." Ammon complained to Sisoes that he could not memorize the wise sayings that he read in order to repeat them in conversation with men. The saint replied to him: "That is not necessary. It is necessary to attain purity of mind and speak from that purity placing your hope in God."

The Holy Martyrs Marinus (Marius) and Martha with their Sons Audifax and Abachum (Habakuk), Valentine the Presbyter, Cyrinus, Astyrius (Asterius) and many others

They all suffered during the reign of Emperor Claudius Flavius in Rome in the year 269 A.D. Marinus and Martha were wealthy people from Persia. They sold all their property in Persia and, with their sons, came to Rome in order to venerate the sacred relics of the holy apostles and other martyrs. When the emperor asked them why they came from such a distance, leaving their (household) domestic gods to seek dead men in Rome, they responded: "We are servants of Christ and we came to venerate the holy apostles whose immortal souls live with God, that they may be our intercessors before Christ our God." Cyrinus was thrown into the Tiber river from which his body was removed by Marinus and Martha who honorably buried it. Valentine the priest was handed over to Commander Astyrius so that he would counsel him to deny Christ. But, Valentine, through prayer healed the daughter of Astyrius who, had been blind for two years. Following that, Valentine baptized Astyrius and his entire family. All of them, in various ways underwent suffering and death for Christ the Lord Who received them into His Immortal Kingdom to rejoice eternally.

The Finding of the Relics of Saint Juliana the Virgin

Juliana was the daughter of the Prince of Olshansk. She died about the year 1540 A.D. as a virgin of about sixteen years of age. Two hundred years after her death, some men who were digging a new grave alongside the great church in the monastery of the Caves in Kiev found the relics of this holy virgin completely intact and uncorrupt as though she had just fallen asleep. Many miracles occurred from these relics and Juliana herself appeared many times to certain individuals. The renowned Peter Mogila had one such vision.

The Holy Female Martyr Lucy

Lucy was taken captive by the barbarian Emperor Austius in Campania. The emperor wanted Lucy to live with him (as his concubine) but she protested. The emperor left her in peace so that she could live a life of asceticism. She even converted the emperor to the Faith because, through her prayer, he gained a victory in battle. In the end she, together with the emperor, were martyred for Christ in Rome about the year 300 A.D.

Reflection

From where do we know that there is life after death? We know from Christ the Lord: on the basis of His words, His resurrection and by His many appearances after death. Philosophers, who recognize life after death, recognize it on the basis of their thinking but we recognize it on the basis of experience, especially the experience of holy men who were not capable of falsehoods nor could they proclaim falsehoods. When Sisoes lay on his deathbed, his face was very radiant. The monks, his disciples, stood around him. Then St. Sisoes gazed around and said: "Behold, here came Abba Anthony!" he remained silent for a while and then, again said: "Behold, here came the prophets!" In that moment, his face glowed even more and he said: "Behold, here came the apostles!" Following that he said: "Behold, here came the angels to take away my soul!" Finally, his face shown as the sun and all were overcome by great fear and the elder said: "Behold, here comes the Lord, look at Him all of you." Behold, He speaks: "Bring to me the chosen vessel from the wilderness." After that, the saint gave up his soul. How many more similar visions were there and that from the most reliable witnesses!

Contemplation

To contemplate the miraculous falling of manna from heaven for the feeding of the people in the wilderness (Exodus 16):

1. How throughout forty years, the Lord gave the Israelites in the wilderness manna from heaven; a heavenly food, sweet as honey;

2. How that manna from heaven was a prototype of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life descending from heaven, Himself to feed the spiritually hungry men in the wilderness of paganism;

3. How nothing can satisfy my hungry soul except the Living Christ the Lord, sweeter than honey.

Homily

About the terrible prince of redemption

"For as much as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers. But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1: 18-19).

Brethren, could anyone have purchased a cure against sin with silver and gold? Never and by no one.

Brethren, could anyone forge arms against the devil with silver and gold? Never and by no one.

Brethren, could anyone have been redeemed from death with the help of silver and gold? Never and by no one.

Something far more precious than silver and gold was needed to be a cure, a weapon and ransom. The Precious Blood of the Son of God was needed to be applied on the sinful wounds in order to be healed. The Precious Blood of the Son of God was needed in order to be directed against evil spirits and by its power to burn them and to drive them away from man. The Precious Blood of the Son of God was needed to sprinkle the earthly graves in order to subdue death and to raise the dead.

"As a Lamb without blemish and without spot," the Lamb of God was slain for us to pull us out from the three-fold jawbone of the beast. A pitiful but life-giving banquet. God arranged this costly banquet to manifest freedom to man. Sin, the devil and death charged with all their might against the innocent and All-pure "Lamb of God without blemish and without spot." They killed Him but they were poisoned by His blood. This blood was shed in order to be poison for them but for mankind, life and salvation.

O my brethren, if you do not know how consuming sin is and how wicked the devil is and how bitter death is, judge this by the greatness of redemption by which we are redeemed from their bondage. The Precious Blood of Christ, that is our deliverance from bondage! Remember, brethren, that if we are again willing, by recklessness and evil to offer ourselves up to that terrible three-fold bondage, there is not anyone on earth or in heaven who could give a ransom for us. For the precious ransom is one and it was given once and for ever.

O merciful Lord, strengthen us so that we may be sustained in freedom which You have gifted to us.

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July 20th (New Style) July 7th (Old Style)

The Holy Great Female Martyr Dominica (Nedelja-Kiriaki)

During the reign of the adversaries of Christ, Emperor Diocletian and his son-in-law Maximian, there lived in Anatolia two pious and elderly souls, Dorotheus and Eusebia. They were devout Christians, wealthy but childless. Unceasing in prayer they obtained a child from God, this holy Dominica. From her childhood, Dominica consecrated herself to God restraining from everything that unruly children do. When she matured, beautiful in body and soul, many suitors came to ask for her hand in marriage but she refused them all saying that she betrothed herself to Christ the Lord and that she desires nothing more than to die as a virgin. One of the rejected suitors denounced Dominica and her parents to Emperor Diocletian as being Christians. The emperor ordered that Dominica's parents be tortured and after torturing them banished them to the town of Melitene where they died enduring much suffering for Christ. Diocletian, however, sent Dominica to Maximian to stand trial. As Dominica confirmed her faith in Christ before Maximian, he ordered that she be placed on the ground and flogged with oxen whips. After that, the emperor handed her over to the commanders, at first Hilarion and then, after his death, to Apollonius. Both of them tortured Dominica in a beastly manner in all possible ways but all was in vain. When St. Dominica lay in the prison cell, completely covered with wounds, Christ the Lord appeared to her, healed her and said: "Dominica, do not be afraid of torture, My grace is with you." And truly, the Grace of Christ saved this martyr both from fire and from wild beasts from which the godless judges thought that she would certainly meet death. Seeing the miraculous salvation of Dominica from so many deaths, many pagans believed in Christ. However, they were all beheaded. Dominica said to Apollonius: "In no manner can you turn me away from my Faith. If you throw me into the fire, I have an example in the Three Youths (Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego); if you throw me before wild beasts, I have an example in Daniel the Prophet; if you toss me into the sea, I have an example in Jonah the Prophet; if you give me over to the sword, I will remember the honorable Forerunner (John the Baptist); life for me is to die for Christ." Then Apollonius ordered that Dominica be beheaded. Dominica knelt on her knees, raised her hands to heaven and prayed to God that He would have mercy and save all those who would celebrate her memory and to give rest to her soul together with the souls of her parents. Upon completing her prayer, she rendered her soul to God before the sword was lowered on her head. Dominica suffered honorably and was received into eternal joy in the year 289 A.D. in Nicomedia.

The Venerable Thomas of Malea

At first, Thomas was a commander distinguished by his bravery and wealth. He was a very massive individual and instilled fear in his enemies. But when Thomas fell in love with Christ more than the world and everything in the world, he left all and withdrew into the wilderness where he was tonsured a monk and gave himself up to a life of strict asceticism. St. Elijah the Prophet appeared to him and led him to a mountain called Malea next to Athos, the Holy Mountain. There he lived alone and isolated only with God, in prayer day and night. Even though he concealed himself from the world, he could not remain hidden. Upon learning about the sanctity of his life, men began to come to him and to bring their sick. St. Thomas cured men from every infirmity and affliction. When he presented himself to the Lord in the tenth century, his relics continued to help all those who approached them with faith.

The Venerable Martyrs Epitectus and Astius

Astius, the only son of his parents, was persuaded to love the Faith of Christ by Epitectus the priest who baptized him and tonsured him a monk. After that they moved from somewhere in the eastern regions of Scythia and settled in the Scythian town of Almirida (now Ramzina) on the mouth of the Danube on the Black Sea. They were tortured and beheaded for the Faith of Christ about 290 A.D. After their deaths, they both appeared in great radiance to the parents of St. Astius, Alexander and Marcellina, who were converted to Christ and who were baptized by Bishop Evangelus who himself, then was beheaded for Christ: "Evangelus, another angel" as is sung about him.

Reflection

The example of St. Dominica, the beautiful virgin, and the example of St. Astius the rich young man, both of whom submitted themselves to torture and death for Christ the Lord, leads us to contemplate that there is nothing comparable in history to the power of Christ by whose help young men conquer themselves and through that, everything else. To obtain victory over one's self is the greatest victory. Such victors, the Church numbers by the thousands and many thousands. In writing about virginity, St. Cyprian says: "To conquer pleasure is the greatest pleasure, neither is there a greater victory than the victory over one's desires. He who conquered one opponent, proved himself stronger than somebody else but he who conquered passion proved himself stronger than himself. Every evil is easier to conquer than a pleasure. For all other evils are repulsive while the pleasure of evil is attractive. He who frees himself from desires, frees himself from fear for, because of desires, fear proceeds."

Contemplation

To contemplate the miraculous bringing forth of water from the rock in Horeb (Exodus 17):

1. How the thirsty Israelites doubted that God is among them and murmured against Moses;

2. How, by God's command Moses struck the rock with his rod and water flowed from the rock;

3. How even my heart has become as hard as stone because of doubt and how brooks of tears begin to flow when the grace of faith touches it.

Homily

About the (sincere and pure) milk of the word

"As newborn babes, desire the sincere (pure) milk of the word, that you may grow thereby: If so be, you have tasted that the Lord is gracious" (1 Peter 2: 2-3).

"As newborn babes," this is how the great apostle regards Christians. Baptism is a new birth and man counts a new life from baptism. The spiritually new born must be fed with mild food the same as the physically new born. What kind of food does the apostle recommend for Christians? "The sincere and pure milk of the word." The physical child is fed with the milk of insincerity, which is only the image of the "pure (sincere) milk of the word" by which a spiritual child needs to be fed. What then is this sincere and pure milk with which Christians should be fed? The apostle himself answers this when he says: "for you have tasted that the Lord is gracious." Therefore, that is the Lord Jesus Himself, Living and Life-giving. Christ's words are the sincere and pure milk. Brethren, blessed are you if you nourish your souls with the words of Christ, as sweet milk, for your souls will expand and be blessed and you will be prepared for the Kingdom of God.

Christ's miracles are the sincere and pure milk. Brethren, blessed are you if you nourish your souls with this sweet milk, for you will be similar to the angels who sing the praises of the miracles of God day and night.

The Body and Blood of Christ are the sincere and pure milk. Brethren, blessed are you if you nourish your souls with this sweet milk, for you will become members of the Living and Immortal Body of Christ in the heavens.

Christ's resurrected victory over death is the sincere and pure milk. Brethren, blessed are you if you nourish your souls with this sweet milk, for you will, while yet in this life, walk as victors and in the life to come stand at the right side of Christ the Victor.

Brethren, the whole of Christ is the sincere and pure milk. Let us be eager for this milk above all else that we may grow to salvation. This is the only nourishment for salvation. All else is for decay and the grave.

O Lord Jesus, Lamb of God, You Who are the sincere and pure milk, nourish us with Yourself as You did nourish Your holy apostles so that we may also grow sufficiently to salvation.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.

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July 21st (New Style) July 8th (Old Style)

The Holy Great Martyr St. Procopius

Procopius was born in Jerusalem of a father who was a Christian and a mother who was a pagan. At first, his name was Neanias. Following the death of his father, the mother raised her son completely in the spirit of Roman idolatry. When Neanias matured, Emperor Diocletian saw him and, at once, took a liking to him and brought him to his palace for military service. When this nefarious emperor began to persecute Christians, he ordered Neanias to go to Alexandria with a garrison of soldiers and there to exterminate the Christians. But, on the road, something happened to Neanias similar to that which happened to Saul (Paul). In the third hour of the night there was a strong earthquake and, at that moment, the Lord appeared to him and a voice was heard: "Neanias, where are you going and against whom are you rising up?" In great fear, Neanias asked: "Who are You Lord? I am unable to recognize You." At that moment, a glowing cross as if of crystal appeared in the air and from the cross there came a voice saying: "I am Jesus, the crucified Son of God." And further, the Lord said to him: "By this sign that you saw, conquer your enemies and My peace will be with you." That experience completely turned him around and changed the life of Commander Neanias. He issued an order to make the same kind of cross which he saw and instead of going against the Christians he, with his soldiers, turned against the Agarians who were attacking Jerusalem. He entered Jerusalem as a victor and declared to his mother that he is a Christian. Being brought before the court, Neanias removed his commander's belt and sword and tossed them before the judge thereby showing that he is only a soldier of Christ the King. After great tortures he was cast into prison where the Lord Christ, again, appeared to him, baptized him and gave him the name Procopius. One day twelve women appeared before his prison window and said to him: "We too are the servants of Christ." Accused of this they were thrown into the same prison where St. Procopius taught them the Faith of Christ and particularly about how they will receive the martyr's wreath. For that reason in the marriage ritual of the betrothed, St. Procopius is mentioned along with the God-crowned Emperor Constantine and Empress Helena. After this, those twelve women were brutally tortured. Witnessing their suffering and bravery, the mother of Procopius also believed in Christ and all thirteen were slain. When St. Procopius was led to the scaffold, he raised his hands toward the east and prayed to God for all the poor and misfortunate, orphans and widows and especially for the Holy Church that it may grow and spread and that Orthodoxy shine to the end of time. And to Procopius there was a reply from heaven that his prayers were heard after which he joyfully laid his head under the sword and went to his Lord in eternal joy. St. Procopius honorably suffered in Caesarea in Palestine and was crowned with the glorious wreath of immortality on July 8, 303 A.D.

St. Procopius, Fool for Christ

Procopius was a miracle-worker of Ustiug who died in the year 1303 A.D. Procopius was of Varangian (Norse) descent and a merchant by profession. Coming to Novgorod on business, he was awed by the beauty of Orthodoxy and embraced the Orthodox Faith. Desiring to be a perfect Christian he distributed his estate to the poor and began to practice all the other virtues. He pretended insanity so that men would not praise him and discerned the hearts and destinies of men as well as natural events which, afterwards, indeed occurred. By his tearful prayer before the icon of the Birth-giver of God, Procopius averted a terrible hailstorm over the town of Ustiug and thus brought the sinful town to repentance. His body was found dead on the street completely covered with snow. A church was built over his miracle-working relics.

Venerable Theophilus the Myrrh-Emitting (Mirotochiviy)

Theophilus was born in Macedonia in the village of Ziki. He was a very educated man and a great ascetic. By order of Patriarch Niphon of Constantinople, he traveled to Alexandria to inquire whether it is true or not that Patriarch Joachim moved a mountain and that he drank poison without harmful effects being forced to do this by the Jews and Muslims. Convinced of the truthfulness of these miracles, Theophilus returned to Holy Mt. Athos where he lived a life of asceticism, at first in Vatopedi, then in Iveron and finally in the cell of St. Basil near Karyes. They offered the Archbishopric of Thessalonica to this holy man, but he refused. Through profound silence and meditation he succeeded to purify his mind of all passionate thoughts and became a pure vessel of the Holy Spirit in which Christ dwelled. Before his death, he ordered Isaac his disciple not to bury him when he dies but to tie a rope around his legs, drag him and then toss him into the river. With great fear, the disciple carried this out. However, the Divine Providence of God revealed the remains of St. Theophilus and when they translated his body to his cell, it began to emit miraculous myrrh. He entered into rest on July 8, 1548.

Reflection

St. Anthony teaches: "Be fearful that you do not become famous because of some work that you do. If they begin to praise you because of your work, do not rejoice in that and do not find satisfaction in that but keep your works in secret as much as you can and do not allow anyone to speak about them." How much more peace and joy would there be among men on earth if a part of mankind would take these holy words to heart! Even though St. Theophilus lived as a simple monk secluded on Holy Mt. Athos, he was famous in all the patriarchates of the east, as much for his learning as for his good works and ascetical life of mortification. It happened at one time that Theoleptus, the Patriarch of Constantinople, visited Thessalonica. At that time, the arch-episcopal throne of Thessalonica was vacant. The Christians of Thessalonica unanimously implored the patriarch to appoint Theophilus as their archbishop. The patriarch, a compatriot and friend of Theophilus, wrote a personal letter to him in which he invited him to accept the arch-episcopal throne. Fearing the glory of men and not being able to refuse the patriarch, Theophilus immediately received the "great angelic habit" (The Great Schema) and informed the patriarch of this adding: "If God be willing, we will see each other in the Kingdom of Heaven." Such were the spiritual giants, whom the Church calls saints, afraid of vanity and the glory of mankind.

Contemplation 

To contemplate the miraculous changing of bitter water into sweet water (Exodus 15):

1. How the thirsty Israelites in Marah came upon bitter water and were unable to drink it and the people began to murmur against Moses;

2. How God commanded Moses to place wood in the water and the water became sweet;

3. How this wood foreshadowed the Cross of Christ by which the bitterness of our life is transformed into sweetness;

4. How my entire being is but bitter water until I bring Christ Crucified into myself.

Homily

About the Living Stone

"To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men but chosen of God and precious, You also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable by Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2: 4-5).

Brethren, what does this stone signify if not stability? Brethren, what does the stone teach us, if not stability? The living stone signifies immortality. The apostle calls Christ the Lord the Living Stone because He is immortal and the giver of immortality. The apostle even calls Christians living stones as partakers of the immortality of Christ.

Brethren, what do unbelievers think concerning what happens to man at the end of time? They think that, in the end, the same thing happens to man as to a stone: man dies, becomes senseless and is transformed into dust. But a stone is already dead, senseless and, under certain conditions, is transformed into dust. So, both the unbelievers and the believers compare man with a stone; the unbelievers because of the deadness and the senselessness of the stone and the believers because of the durability and the stability of the stone. For the first (unbelievers), the stone is the symbol of death and for the other (unbelievers), the stone is the symbol of immortality.

In truth, without Christ, mankind has been and is always as a dead stone. But Christ is like a living stone. Adhere to Him only and you will become as living stones. In building a home, the builder chooses only those stones, which are chiseled out and prepared to easily lay along side the other stones in the wall. The builder rejects the unchiseled, the unprepared, the unpolished and the fragile stones. Building a home, or a temple of His Immortal Kingdom, Christ chooses men as the builder chooses stones, with one characteristic, namely alive, spiritually alive. The Lord rejects spiritually dead men as a rotten building and accepts only those who are alive, who resemble Him and who fall in place along side other living stones and they (the other living stones) are angels, prophets, apostles and saints in general. Brethren, let us endeavor to be a holy material for a holy house of the Kingdom of Christ which He builds day and night that He, by the end of time, finishes it completely.

O Lord Jesus, the builder of the Kingdom of Heaven, enliven us with Your Holy Spirit and build us also as living stones in the home of Your eternal glory.

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