Prologue entry for 01/02/23 (read on 01/15/23 on the Old Calendar)
1. Saint Sylvester, Bishop Of Rome
Sylvester was born in Rome, and from his early youth was learned in worldly wisdom and in the Faith of Christ. He always conducted his life according to the Gospel commandments. He benefited much from the instruction of Timothy the priest, whose death for the Faith Sylvester himself witnessed. Observing the example of the heroic sacrifice of his teacher, he was imbued with just such a spirit throughout his entire life. Becoming Bishop of Rome at age thirty, he reformed certain Christian customs. For example, he dispensed with the fast on Saturdays, which had been practiced by many Christians up to that time, and ordered that fasting be observed only on Holy and Great Saturday, as well as on those Saturdays that fall within the fasting seasons. By his prayers and miracles, Sylvester assisted in bringing Emperor Constantine and his mother Helena to the true Faith and baptism. With the Empress Helena he took part in finding the Honorable Cross. He governed the Church of God for twenty years. His earthly life ended honorably and he entered into the Heavenly Kingdom.
2. The Venerable Seraphim Of Sarov
Seraphim was one of the greatest Russian ascetics, clairvoyant elders and miracle-workers. He was born in 1759 A.D. and he reposed in 1833 A.D. Seraphim was distinguished by great humility. When the entire world praised him, he referred to himself as “the wretched Seraphim.”
3. Saint Theodota
Theodota was the mother of the brothers Cosmas and Damian, the Unmercenaries and Miracle-workers. Theodota lived a God-pleasing life and in such a life she instructed her sons.
4. The Venerable Ammon
Ammon was a great ascetic of the fifth century. He was the abbot of the Tabennisiot Monastery in Upper Egypt. Three thousand monks lived the ascetic life under his direction. He possessed the grace-filled gifts of miracle- working and clairvoyance. When a monk once asked him for advice, he said to him, “Be like a convict in prison, as he continually asks, ‘When will the judge come?’ So also should you ask with trembling.”
Hymn Of Praise
O Lord, most wonderful, wonderful in Your saints, You are;
Mighty and Merciful, through Your saints, You appear.
Like the sun through the stars, You shine through Your saints.
To the humble You give strength, and to Paradise You raise them.
To the simple You impart wisdom, and through them, the wise You shame.
The unfortunate you comfort with kindness, and with heaven You nourish the
Saints of every type, You have;
Saints, of all ages and from all races, You receive,
Without caste, without distinction, the last and the first.
Pure of sin and, in goodness, fruitful,
Noble souls, kindred to Your Christ—
You call them saints.
Everyone You call to be a saint,
And those who respond, You cleanse,
Washing away their sins, making them white as wool.
In such as these, all heaven rejoices with You.
Sylvester was such a one: In him You rejoice,
And because of him, Your blessing You impart to us.
How do you respond to those who say that Christ the Miracle-worker cannot fit into our logic? Simply reply: Fit yourself into His logic. In His logic, all eternity fits and all the nobleness of time–and so, if you wish, a place will be found even for you. If a barrel cannot fit into a thimble, you can fit a thimble into a barrel. Blessed Clement of Alexandria says: “Philosophers are children until they become men through Christ. For truth is never merely thinking.” Christ came to correct man and, therefore, man’s logic. He is our Logos and our Logic. That is why we must direct our reason toward Him and not Him toward our reason. He is the One Who corrects our reason. The sun is not regulated according to our clock, but our clock is regulated according to the sun.
To contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Divine Word [the Logos]:
- How the Triune God created everything by His Word, i.e., by Christ the Lord;
- How senseless is every man who distances himself from Christ, the Word of God, and in such a man there is no Christ.
“Pride goes before disaster, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16: 18) Of all that exists at the four corners of the earth, what, O mortal man, can make us proud except stupidities and demonic illusions? Did we not enter into the world naked and wretched, and are we not going to depart this world in the same manner? Everything that we have, did we not borrow it; and at our death, are we not going to return everything? Oh, how many times has this been said and ignored? The wise apostle says: For we have brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out (I Timothy 6:7). And when we offer the sacrifice to God of ordinary bread and wine, we say: “Thine own of Thine own, we offer unto Thee” (Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom). For nothing that we have in this world is ours, not even a crumb of bread or a drop of wine–there is nothing that is not of God. In truth, pride is the daughter of stupidity, the daughter of a darkened mind, born of evil ties with the demons. Pride is a broad window through which all of our merits and good works evaporate. Nothing makes us so empty before men and so unworthy before God as does pride. If the Lord is not proud, why should we be proud? Who has more reason to be proud than the Lord, Who created the world and Who sustains it by His power? And behold, He humbles himself as a servant, a servant to the whole world–a servant even to death, to death on the Cross! O humble Lord, burn up within our hearts the devil’s sowing of pride with the fire of Thy Holy Spirit, and plant within it the noble sowing of humility and meekness. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.