Prologue entry for 01/12/23 (read on 01/25/23 on the Old Calendar)
1. The Holy Female Martyr Tatiana
Tatiana was a Roman whose parents were from the nobility. She was a Christian and a deaconess in the church. After the death of Emperor Heliogabalus, there reigned the Emperor Alexander, whose mother, Mammaea, was a Christian. Emperor Alexander himself was wavering and indecisive in his faith, for he kept statues of Christ, Apollo, Abraham and Orpheus in his palace. His chief assistants took it upon themselves to persecute the Christians without awaiting orders from the emperor. When they brought out the virgin Tatiana for torture, she prayed to God for her torturers. And lo, their eyes were opened and they saw four angels around the martyr. Seeing this, eight of them believed in Christ, for which they also were tortured and slain. The tormentors continued to torture St. Tatiana. They whipped her, cut off parts of her body, and scraped her with irons. All disfigured and bloody, Tatiana was thrown into the dungeon that evening, so that the next day they could begin anew with different tortures. But God sent His angels to the dungeon to encourage her and to heal her wounds, so that each morning Tatiana appeared before the torturers completely healed. They threw her before a lion, but the lion fawned about her and did her no harm. They cut off her hair, thinking, according to their pagan reasoning, that some sorcery or magical power was concealed in her hair. Finally, Tatiana and her father were led out together, and both were beheaded. Thus, Tatiana ended her earthly life in about the year 225 A.D., and this heroic virgin, who had the fragile body of a woman but a robust and valiant spirit, was crowned with the immortal wreath of glory.
2. The Holy Martyr Peter Apselamus
Peter was born in Eleutheropolis in Palestine. In his youth, Peter suffered for the Christian Faith in 311 A.D., during the reign of Emperor Maximian. After much torture, he was condemned to death. Upon hearing his death sentence, he joyfully cried out: “That is my one wish–to die for my God!” Peter was crucified in the same manner as our Lord Himself, and gave up his spirit on the cross.
3. The Feast Of The Icon Of The All-Holy Mother Of God, “The Milk-Giver” [Mlekopitatelnica]
This is the name of the icon of the All-Holy Mother of God which St. Sava the Serbian brought from the [Greek] Monastery of St. Sava the Sanctified, near Jerusalem. And so, the prophecy spoken by St. Sava the Sanctified, some eight- hundred years earlier–that a certain Serbian priest by the name of Sava would come, and that this icon and his staff would be given to the Serbian–was fulfilled. When St. Sava the Serbian visited the Monastery of St. Sava the Sanctified, the monks recalled the prophecy of the founder of their monastery and gave to Sava the Serbian this icon and staff. This icon [Mlekopitatelnica] was placed on the right side of the Royal Doors on the iconastasis, in Sava’s hermitage [Isposnica, the House of Silence] in the monastic community at Karayes [on Mt. Athos], and the staff was placed in an adjacent cell known as the “Paterica”.
4. The Venerable Mother Theodora
Theodora was a glorious nun and teacher of nuns from Alexandria. “Just as trees require winter and snow in order to bear fruit, so trials and temptations are needed for our life,” spoke this holy woman. She reposed peacefully at the beginning of the fifth century.
Hymn Of Praise
You pity the youth of your body? Oh, be reasonable!
Is it worthwhile to grieve over youth which passes? Judge for yourself!
There is only one youth—youth in eternity.
That is the true youth, youth without old age.
It is worth seeking this, and for it shedding tears,
Even if you must pay for it with the death of the body.
Tatiana purchased the costly with the less costly.
For dust and water she received divine wine;
For the body that ages, eternal youth;
And for a few tears, cherubic joy.
United to Christ, the Immortal King,
She remained faithful to her Betrothed;
By the power of a pure spirit, she crushed temptations,
And bravely endured frightening tortures.
Around her were heard angelic footsteps.
Like a wrinkled cloth, her body she shed,
And her soul, free of earthly ties,
Was raised up to the wedding feast in the Kingdom without tears.
There is no greater honor or greater calling on earth than to be a Christian. When the judge-torturer Sevirus asked the young Peter Apselamus: “Of what lineage are you?” Peter replied: “I am a Christian.” The judge further inquired of him: “What rank are you?” To this, Peter responded: “There is no greater or better rank than that of a Christian.” Father John Kronstadt writes: “The whole world is but a cobweb in comparison to the human soul of a Christian.” The Christian is an earthen vessel into which is poured divine power and light. Whether this vessel is placed on a golden royal throne or whether it is lowered into a dark hut of a beggar, its value will be neither magnified nor diminished. Does not gold have the same value whether it is wrapped in a silk handkerchief or in a cabbage leaf?
Contemplate the meekness of the Lord Jesus:
- His meekness in His hidden life in Nazareth until the age of thirty;
- His meekness in dealing with the sick and with sinners;
- His meekness in dealing with Judas the traitor and with the unjust judges.
on how man is most dear to God and God to man
“For I seek not yours, but you” (Ii Corinthians 12:14). These words, which could have only been spoken by the fiery apostolic love toward one’s neighbor, express the essence of the relationship of the Christian toward God, and of God toward the Christian. The love of God could very well say: “Thou, O Christian, fastest for My sake; for My sake thou dost distribute alms; for My sake thou dost lift up heartfelt prayers; for My sake thou buildest churches; for My sake thou offerest sacrifices and performest many other good deeds. All of this is good, and all of this is pleasing to Me, but thou art more precious to Me than all of this. In the end, I seek nothing of all of this; rather, I seek thee, only thee.” The love of a Christian could very well say: “O Lord, Thou gavest me health and that is good. Thou kindlest the light; Thou permittest the rain to fall; Thou dost refresh the air by Thy thunder, and that is good. Thou bestowest wealth, wisdom, many years, offspring and many other good things which Thou dost bountifully set on the table of this life. All of this is good and most good. I receive all of this with gratitude. But, in the ultimate end, that is only the hem of Thy garment. Ultimately, I do not seek anything of that, but Thee, O Lord–Thee alone do I seek.” O my brethren, that which is seen with the physical eyes is not God, and that which is seen with the physical eyes is not man. That which is seen in the whole of nature is only something of God; and that which is seen in the physical garment is only something of man. Brethren, God is Love that lowers heaven to earth. Brethren, man is love that raises earth to heaven. O Lord, Lover of mankind, Creator and Almighty, take up Thine abode more and even more within us, with Thy Life-giving Spirit, that we may live; that we may be alive in Thy kingdom without death. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.