January 11, 2014
Our Venerable Father Theodosius, Founder of the Ceneobitic Life

Theodosius was the first founder and organizer of the cenobitic way of monastic life. He was born in the province of Cappadocia in the village of Mogarissus of devout parents. As a child, he visited St. Simeon the Stylite who blessed him and prophesied great and spiritual honors about him. With a thurible [censer] in which he placed unburned charcoal and incense, Theodosius sought out a place where he could settle and establish his monastery and stopped when the charcoal fired up on its own. Here, he settled and began to live the ascetical life. Soon, he gathered around him many monks of various nationalities. He built a church for each nationality so that, at the same time, services and hymns were offered to God in Greek, Armenian, Georgian, etc. But, on the day of Holy Communion, all the brotherhood gathered in the great church in which the Greek language was used. There was a communal table for all, communal property, communal penance, communal labor, communal patience and, not too rare, communal hunger. Theodosius was an exalted model of life to all the monks; an example in labor, prayer, fasting, watchfulness and in all Christian virtues. God granted him the gift of working miracles by which he was able to heal the sick, to appear from a distance, to tame wild beasts, to discern the future and to cause bread and wheat to multiply. Prayer was on his lips day and night. He died peacefully in the Lord in the year 529 A.D., the one-hundred fifth year after his birth. (Prologue of Ohrid) 

Continue Reading

January 6, 2014
The Holy Theophany of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ

When our Lord reached thirty years from His physical birth, He began His teaching and salvific work. He Himself signified this "beginning of the beginning" by His baptism in the Jordan river. St. Cyril of Jerusalem says, " The beginning of the world - water; the beginning of the Good News - Jordan." At the time of the baptism of the Lord in water, that mystery was declared to the world: that mystery which was prophesied in the Old Testament; the mystery about which in ancient Egypt and India was only fabled; i.e., the mystery of the Divine Holy Trinity. The Father was revealed to the sense of hearing; the Spirit was revealed to the sense of sight, and in addition to these, the Son was revealed to the sense of touch. The Father uttered His witness about the Son, the Son was baptized in the water, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove hovered above the water. When John the Baptist witnessed and said about Christ, "Behold, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world" (St. John 1:29), and when John immersed and baptized the Lord in the Jordan, the mission of Christ in the world and the path of our salvation was shown. That is to say: The Lord took upon Himself the sins of mankind and died under them [immersion] and became alive again [the coming out of the water]; and we must die as the old sinful man and become alive again as cleansed, renewed and regenerated. This is the Savior and this is the path of salvation. The Feast of the Epiphany [Theophany in Greek] is also called the Feast of Illumination. For us, the event in the Jordan river illuminates, by manifesting to us God as Trinity, consubstantial and undivided. That is one way. And, the second: everyone of us through baptism in water is illumined by this, that we become adopted by the Father of Lights through the merits of the Son and the power of the Holy Spirit. (Prologue of Ohrid) 

Continue Reading

January 5, 2014
Sunday before Theophany, Octoechos Tone 8
Holy Martyrs Theopemptus and Theona
Venerable Woman Syncletica

When Diocletian began his persecution of the Christians, Theopempos, Bishop of Nicomedia, was among the first to suffer martyrdom for Christ. Theopempos was brought before the emperor who threatened him with punishment of death if he did not deny Christ. To that threat, the courageous bishop responded to the emperor: "It stands written, `Do not be afraid of those who kill the body' (St. Luke 12:4), `but cannot kill the soul' (St. Matthew 10:28). O Emperor, you have authority over my body; do with it what pleases you." Theopempos was severely beaten, suffered from hunger and tortured in various ways. Finally, the emperor summoned a certain magician, Theonas by name, to outwit this godly man through magic. Theonas dissolved the most potent poison in water and gave it to Theopempos to drink. Theopempos traced the sign of the cross over the glass and drank the poison. Theonas, upon seeing that the poison had no effect on Theopempos, turned to the emperor and shouted, " I, too, am a Christian and bow down before the Crucified One." Both were sentenced to death in the year 298 A.D.; Theopempos was beheaded and Theonas was buried alive. They honorably suffered and became citizens of the Kingdom of Christ. (Prologue of Ohrid) 

Continue Reading

January 1, 2014
The Circumcision of Our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ
Our Father Among the Saints Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia (379)
Gregory of Nazianzis, father of Gregory the Theologian (374)
Holy Martyr Basil of Ankyra (322)

The eighth day following His birth, the Divine Child was presented in the Temple and circumcised according to the Law existing in Israel since the time of Abraham. On this occasion, He was given the name Jesus, which the Archangel Gabriel announced to the All-Holy Virgin Mary. The Old Testament circumcision was the proto-type of the New Testament baptism. The circumcision of our Lord shows that He received upon Himself the true body of man and not just seemingly, as was later taught of Him by heretics. Our Lord was also circumcised because He wanted to fulfill the entire Law which He Himself gave through the prophets and forefathers. In fulfilling the written Law, He replaced it with Baptism in His Holy Church as was proclaimed by the Apostle Paul: "For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation" (Galatians 6:15). Basil was born during the reign of Emperor Constantine. While still unbaptized, Basil spent fifteen years in Athens where he studied philosophy, rhetoric, astronomy and all other secular sciences of that time. His colleagues at that time were Gregory the Theologian and Julian, later the apostate emperor. In his mature years he was baptized in the river Jordan along with Euvlios his former teacher. He was Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia for almost ten years and completed his earthly life fifty years after his birth. He was a great defender of Orthodoxy, a great light of moral purity, a religious zealot, a great theological mind, a great builder and pillar of the Church of God. Basil fully deserved the title "Great." In liturgical services, he is referred to as the "bee of the Church of Christ which brings honey to the faithful and with its stinger pricks the heretics." Numerous works of this Father of the Church are preserved; they include theological, apologetical, ascetical and canonical writings as well as the Holy and Divine Liturgy named after him. This Divine Liturgy is celebrated ten times throughout the year: the First of January, his feast day; on the eve of the Nativity of our Lord; on the eve of the Epiphany of our Lord; all Sundays of the Honorable Fast [Lenten Season], except Palm Sunday; on Great and Holy Thursday and on Great and Holy Saturday. St. Basil died peacefully on January 1, 379 A.D., and was translated into the Kingdom of Christ. (Prologue of Ohrid)

Continue Reading

December 29, 2013
Sunday after the Nativity of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ
Holy and Just Joseph, King David and James, Brother of the Lord in the Flesh
Octoechos Tone 7

When the Magi from the east did not return to Jerusalem from Bethlehem to inform Herod about the newborn King but rather, at the angel's command, returned to their homeland another way, Herod became as enraged as a wild beast and ordered all the children two years old and under in Bethlehem and its surroundings to be killed. This frightening command of the king was carried out to the letter. His soldiers beheaded some of the children with swords, smashed others against stones, trampled others underfoot, and strangled others with their hands. And the cries and wails of the mothers rose to heaven, Lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children (Jeremiah 31:15, Matthew 2:18), as had been prophesied. This crime against the multitude of innocent children was carried out a year after the birth of Christ, at the time when Herod was seeking to find the Divine Child. He asked Zacharias about his son John, so that he might kill him, since he naturally thought that John was the new king. As Zacharias did not turn John over, he was slain in the Temple by order of Herod. St. Simeon the God-receiver would also have been murdered soon after the Presentation in the Temple, had he not already reposed in God. After murdering the children of Bethlehem, Herod turned against the Jewish elders who had revealed to him where the Messiah would be born. He then killed Hyrcanes, the high priest, and the seventy elders of the Sanhedrin. Thus, they who had agreed with Herod that the new Child-king must be killed came to an evil end. After that, Herod murdered his brother, sister, wife and three sons. Finally, God's punishment came to him: he began to tremble, his legs became swollen, the lower part of his body became putrid, and worms came out of the sores; his nose became blocked and an unbearable stench emanated from him. Before his last breath, he remembered that there were many captive Jews in prison, and he ordered that they all be killed so that they would not rejoice in his death. Thus, this terrible ruler gave up his inhuman soul and handed it over to the devil for eternal possession. (Prologue of Ohrid) 

Continue Reading
Close Menu