Prologue entry for 01/14/23 (read on 01/27/23 on the Old Calendar)
1. Saint Sava [Sabas], Archbishop Of Serbia
Sava was born in 1169 A.D. He was the son of Stefan Nemanja the Grand Župan of Serbia. As a young man, Sava yearned for the spiritual life, for which he fled to the Holy Mountain [Mt. Athos], where he was tonsured a monk and lived according to the ascetic rule with rare zeal. Stefan Nemanja followed the example of his son and came to the Holy Mountain, where he was tonsured a monk and eventually fell asleep in the Lord as the monk Simeon. Sava obtained the independence of the Serbian Church from the Byzantine emperor and the patriarch, and became the first Archbishop of Serbia. Together with his father, he built Hilandar Monastery and, after that, many other monasteries, churches and schools throughout the Serbian lands. On two occasions he made pilgrimages to the sacred places in the Holy Land. He restored peace between his two brothers, who were estranged because of a struggle for power. He restored peace between the Serbs and their neighbors. In establishing the Serbian Church, he also established the Serbian state and culture. He instilled peace between all the Balkan peoples and worked for the benefit of all–for which he was loved and respected by all who lived in the Balkans. He gave a Christian soul to the Serbian people–a soul that did not perish with the eventual collapse of the Serbian state. Sava reposed in Trnovo, Bulgaria, during the reign of Emperor Asen, on January 12, 1236 A.D., after becoming ill following the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of Theophany. King Vladislav translated his body to the Mileševo Monastery, from which Sinan Pasha removed St. Sava’s relics, to burn them on Vračar hill in Belgrade on April 27, 1595 A.D.
2. The Venerable Martyrs: The Fathers Of Sinai And Raithu
These holy martyrs were slain by the Saracens–the fathers of Sinai in the fourth century, and the fathers of Raithu in the fifth century.
3. Saint Hilary, Bishop Of Poitiers
Hilary was an ardent combatant against the heresy of Arius in the West. He suffered much because of his defense of Orthodoxy. Hilary wrote many works; the most important was his thesis about the Holy Trinity. He reposed in the Lord in the year 367 A.D.
4. Saint Nina, Enlightener Of Georgia
Nina was a relative of St. George the Great-martyr and Juvenal the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Her parents belonged to the nobility in Cappadocia, and–since her parents were tonsured in the monastic state–Nina was educated under the tutelage of Patriarch Juvenal. Hearing about the people of Georgia, the virgin Nina, from an early age, desired to go to Georgia and to baptize the Georgians. The Most-holy Mother of God appeared to Nina and promised to take her to this land. When our Lord opened the way, the young Nina indeed traveled to Georgia, where, in a short period of time, she gained the love of the Georgian people. Nina succeeded in baptizing the Georgian King Mirian, his wife Nana and their son Bakar who, later on, zealously assisted Nina’s missionary work. During her lifetime, Nina traveled throughout Georgia, converting the entire nation to the Christian Faith. She did her work at the time of the terrible persecution of Christians at the hands of Emperor Diocletian. Having rested from her many labors, Nina reposed in the Lord in the year 335 A.D. Her body is entombed in the Church of the Holy Great-martyr George in Bodbe Convent. She worked many miracles during her life and after her death.
Hymn Of Praise
A virgin most beautiful, noble Nina,
By providence became the Apostle to the Georgians,
In defiance of the persecution by Diocletian, the Emperor.
With the Cross she baptized King Mirian,
His wife Nana and his son Bakar,
And through them, all the people and the elite of the leaders.
With the Cross of the Son of God she baptized them all.
Saint Nina, Apostle to the Georgians.
From her youth Nina prayed to God
That Djul (the Rose)—Georgia—be baptized by her;
And that for which she prayed, the good God granted.
From Nina's hand the Cross shone
Upon gentle Georgia, where it shines even now,
Where Nina's hand blesses even now.
There is Nina's grave, over which a church glistens,
Glorifying Saint Nina and the Lord Christ.
If, at times, the dogmas of the Faith seem like hard food, you should first endeavor to fulfill the moral dogmas of Christianity: then the understanding of the dogmas of the Faith will be revealed to you. The inquisitive examination of higher things, without effort regarding the improvement of your life, does not bring any benefit. Once, the monks of Egypt were reflecting on Melchisedek, and not being able to come to a clear understanding of the mysterious personality of this ancient king and high priest, they invited Abba Copres to their assembly and asked him about Melchisedek. Upon hearing this, Copres struck himself three times on the mouth and said: “Woe to you Copres! You left that which God commanded you to do, and you inquire into that which God does not require of you.” Hearing him, the monks were ashamed and dispersed. St. John Chrysostom writes: “If we adhere to the true dogmas and are not concerned about our behavior, we will not have any kind of benefit; and in the same way, if we concern ourselves about our behavior and neglect true dogmas, we will receive no benefit for our salvation. If we want to be delivered from Gehenna and to gain the Kingdom, we need to be adorned on both sides–with correctness of dogmas and honorable living.”
Contemplate the mercy of the Lord Jesus:
- Toward sinners and toward those who are ill;
- Toward the people who are confused, as a flock without a shepherd;
- Toward mankind in general, for whom He allowed Himself to be crucified.
on the vision of the invisible world
“We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen” (2 Corinthians 4:18). We see this material and transient world, but we look to that spiritual and immortal world. We see earthly joy, often interrupted by tears and sighs and, in the end, always concluding with death; but we look to spiritual joy among the angels and saints of God in the heavens, to joy uninterrupted and eternal. We see the sufferings and failures of the righteous in this life; but we look at their glory and celebration in the next world. We see many successes, the glory and the honor of the unrighteous in this life; but we look to their defeat, condemnation and indescribable torment in eternity. We see the Church of God often humiliated and persecuted in this world; but we look to the final victory of the Church over all of her enemies and adversaries, both visible and invisible. Brethren, we often see tyrants and abductors as rulers and wealthy men in this age, and we see saints as poor, dejected and forgotten; but then we look at the other kingdom, the Kingdom of God–eternal, sinless and immortal–in which the saints will reign, without one tyrant or abductor. O Lord, most patient and most merciful, open our spiritual vision, that we may see that which awaits us after this brief life, and that we endeavor to fulfill Thy law. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.