Prologue entry for 01/04/23 (read on 01/17/23 on the Old Calendar)
1. The Synaxis [Assembly] Of The Seventy Holy Apostles
Besides the Twelve Greater Apostles, the Lord chose seventy lesser apostles and sent them to preach the Gospel: Behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves (Luke 10:3). But just as Judas, one of the Twelve, fell away from the Lord, so some of the Seventy abandoned the Lord–not with the intention of betrayal, but because of human weakness and faintheartedness. As a result of this, many of His disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him (John 6:66). As Judas’ place was filled by another apostle, so also were the places of these lesser apostles filled by others that were chosen. These seventy lesser apostles labored at the same work as did the Twelve Great Apostles; they were co-workers with the Twelve in spreading and establishing the Church of God in the world. They endured many sufferings and malevolent acts from men and demons, but their strong faith and fervent love for the resurrected Lord made them victors over the world and inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven.
2. Eustathius [Jevstatije], Archbishop Of The Serbs
Eustathius was born in the district of Budim, of God-fearing parents. As a young man he was tonsured a monk in Zeta; then he entered a higher form of asceticism in the Hilandar Monastery [on Mount Athos]. In time, Eustathius became the Abbot of Hilandar. As abbot, he was elected Bishop of Zeta and, after a certain period of time, was elected Archbishop of Serbia. Eustathius was a man of great charity, who governed Christ’s flock with zeal and love. He reposed peacefully at great age in the year 1279 A.D., crying out before his death: “Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my soul.” His relics are interred under the floor of the church at the Patriarchate of Peć.
3. The Eunuch Of Queen Candace
The Apostle Philip baptized this Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40). Following his baptism, he returned to his home and began to preach Christ. This eunuch was the first apostle of the Faith among the Ethiopians. He died a martyr and was found worthy of the Kingdom of God.
4. The Venerable Martyr Onuphrius Of Hilandar Monastery [Mount Athos]
In his youth, Onuphrius became angry with his parents and declared before the Turks that he was going to convert to Islam. Immediately afterward, he repented of these words and went to Hilandar Monastery, where he was tonsured a monk. Tormented by his conscience, Onuphrius resolved upon martyrdom. Because of his determination, and with the blessing of his spiritual father, he departed for Trnovo, Bulgaria, where he reported to the Turks, proclaimed himself a Christian, and ridiculed Muhammad. Because of that, Onuphrius was beheaded on January 4, 1818 A.D., in his thirty-second year. The body of this spiritual knight is not preserved, for the Turks threw it into the sea.
Hymn Of Praise
The Seventy Holy Apostles
O knights of the Cross, sons of light,
You have not yet passed, O children of the future,
You are not dead, just as Christ is not dead,
But live with a Life that never decays.
The Lord, the Wreath-Giver, beautifully crowned you,
Because His holy Name you loudly proclaimed
Before emperors and princes, before terrible executioners.
God, you served, but with torment the world repaid you.
You walked after Christ, O bees of Christ!
The world you filled with honey, the vessels you filled!
Souls you calmed, you mortified passions;
With evangelical sweetness you sweetened life;
With the fragrance of Christ you censed the earth;
Salt, light and incense to the world, you were.
Seventy Companions, all with the same love:
As branches to a tree, with Christ, you were united.
Seventy Stars around the Sun—Christ—
Where the angels are, and the Virgin All-Pure;
Where there is unutterable delight and unprecedented joy.
Glorious victors of this transitory time,
Holy Apostles, glory and praise be to you.
From your blood, truth blossomed.
God hears the prayers of the just. This is clearly seen from the lives of Moses, Elijas, and the other Old Testament righteous ones and prophets, as well as from the lives of the apostles and saints. While St. Genevieve lived a life of asceticism as a nun in Paris, it so happened that Attila with his savage Huns surrounded Paris. Fear and terror overcame the entire population, who awaited at any moment the capture of the city by the enemy. Then St. Genevieve called upon the people to fast and to pray to God that the calamity might be averted. Many men and women responded to the call of this saint and began to fast and pray to God. Genevieve herself fasted more strictly than all, and prayed most ardently to God. After a short while, the enemy turned away from Paris without any visible reason and departed for another place. That which the sword of many sinners cannot do, the prayer of the righteous person can.
Contemplate the richness of God’s power, wisdom and love:
- How the richness of that power, wisdom and love is manifested in created nature;
- How the richness of that power, wisdom and love is revealed to the world through the Lord Jesus Christ.
on the citizens of the other world
“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16) Christ the Lord is not of this world, but rather is only in the vesture of this world. This is the Commander clad in the clothing of a slave in order to save the captive enslaved by sin, matter and Satan. As is the Commander, so are His soldiers. Even they, according to the spirit, are not of this world: they are not captives but free; they are not slaves but masters; they are not corruptible but immortal; they are not fallen but are saved. Such are all those whom Christ recruited and who, having tasted immortal life, willingly rejected the world and united themselves with Him, remaining faithful to Him until the end of their lives on earth. Abba Moses said: “No one can enter the army of Christ if he is not totally as fire, if he does not abhor honors and comfort, if he does not sever all bodily desires, and if he does not keep all of God’s commandments.” Judas was recruited, but he fell away and loved prison more than the royal court, slavery more than freedom, corruption more than immortality, and destruction more than salvation. But the other apostolic recruits, greater and lesser, remained faithful to Him to the end and achieved victory–that is why they are glorified both on earth among men and in heaven among the angels. All who are glorified by the world perish with the world, but those who are glorified by Christ are saved by Christ. The glory of the world is death, but the glory of Christ is life–life eternal and without death. O Immortal Lord, even though we are of the world according to the body and sin, recruit us into Thine army–the army which, by Thy Spirit, power, wisdom and love, is not of this world. Do this so that, even when we die in this world, we may live in Thine Immortal Kingdom with the angels, apostles and saints, because of the love and prayers of Thy holy apostles. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.