Prologue entry for 01/15/23 (read on 01/28/23 on the Old Calendar)
1. The Venerable Paul Of Thebes
Paul was born of wealthy parents in Lower Thebes in Egypt during the reign of Emperor Decius. Paul, with his sister, inherited all the property of their parents. But his brother-in-law, an idolater, wanted to confiscate Paul’s share of the property and threatened to betray Paul before the judge as a Christian if he did not cede his property to him. This misfortune, coupled with the heroic examples of self-sacrifice by the Christian martyrs that Paul saw with his own eyes, motivated him to give his share of the property to his sister. The he, as a pauper, withdrew into the desert, where he lived an ascetic life until his death. To what spiritual heights this ascetic giant reached was witnessed by no less a person than St. Anthony the Great, who once visited Paul and saw how the wild beasts and birds of the air ministered to him. Returning from this visit, Anthony said to his monks: “Woe is me, my children! A sinful and false monk am I, a monk only in name. I saw Elias, I saw John in the wilderness–and in truth I saw Paul in Paradise!” St. Paul lived 113 years and peacefully reposed in the Lord in the year 342 A.D.
2. The Venerable John Kalyvites [The Hut Dweller]
John was born of wealthy and distinguished parents in Constantinople during the reign of Leo I. He was their only child. Drawn by an inclination for the spiritual life, the young John secretly fled with a monk to a monastery in Asia Minor. For six year in this monastery, he remained in the greatest abstinence, prayer and obedience toward the abbot. Then the devil assailed him with the temptation that he should leave the monastery, return home to his parents, and live with them there as a nobleman. Indeed, he did return to the home of his parents dressed as a beggar. He saw his parents but did not want to make himself known to them. He took up lodging as a beggar in their courtyard, living on the crumbs that the servants threw to him and enduring much ridicule from everyone. John lived thus for three years, constantly praying to God that He save the souls of his father and mother. When John fell ill and sensed death approaching, he made himself known to his parents–who recognized him by a precious book of the Gospels which they had given him in his childhood and which he had kept for himself as his only possession. And so, this young man, even though he was very wealthy, defeated the devil and saved his soul and the souls of his parents. He reposed in the Lord in about the year 450 A.D.
3. The Venerable Gabriel Of Lesnov
Gabriel was a Slav and a companion of St. Prochorus of Pchinja and St. John of Rila. He lived a life of asceticism in the tenth century at Kratov, on Mount Lesnov, where he erected a church dedicated to the Holy Archangel Michael. The beautiful church now located there was built by Jovan Oliver, a duke of Tsar Dušan. St. Gabriel was a miracle-worker both during his life and after his death. He reposed in the Lord near the end of the tenth century.
4. The Holy Martyr Pansophius
Pansophius was the son of the Alexandrian proconsul Nilus. Abandoning worldly honor and riches, he was tonsured a monk as a young man. For twenty-seven years, he lived a life of strict asceticism, raising his spirit to the higher world. During the reign of Decius he was dragged before the court, where he was flogged for the name of Christ, and under great torture he gave up his soul to God.
Hymn Of Praise
Thevenerable John Kalyvites
John was a young lad,
A young and wealthy lad,
But nothing tempted him.
Neither youth nor gold.
His father was a royal nobleman,
His mother a fine lady,
But he left them both
For the love of the Son of God.
Christ was his wealth,
All his riches, all his beauty.
Christ the Lord he loved
More than his own life.
And instead of his rich parents
Crying out in hades,
Behold, their son, through poverty
Saved himself and them.
Even today, many people
Who choke themselves with riches,
Humble John can shame—
And rescue their sinful souls.
Do not ever think that God does not hear you when you pray to Him. He hears our thoughts, just as we hear the voices and the words of one another. And if He does not act immediately according to your prayer, it is either because you are praying to Him in an unworthy manner, or because you ask something of Him which would be detrimental to you, or because He, in His wisdom and providence, delays the fulfillment of your petition until the proper moment. Father John of Kronstadt writes: “As by means of the electric telegraph we speedily communicate with persons who are far away from us, so likewise, by means of lively faith–as though through telegraph wires–we speedily communicate with God, with the angels and saints. As we trust entirely in the speed of the electric current and in its reaching its destination, so likewise should we completely trust in the speed of the prayer of faith and in its reaching its destination. Send your petition to God and the saints by means of the telegraph of faith, and you will speedily obtain an answer.” And again, in another place, St. John writes: “God and the created spirits, and the souls of the departed– as well as those of the living–are sentient beings; and thought is rapid and in some manner omnipresent. Think of them with your whole heart, and they will be present with you. God will surely be with you always; and the others, by the gift and power of God, will also be with you.”
Contemplate the purity of the Lord Jesus:
- The purity of His mind;
- The purity of His heart;
- The purity of His will;
- The purity of His tongue;
- The purity of His appearance and of all His senses.
on the victorious faith
“And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (I John 5: 4). Christ the Lord conquered the world. That, brethren, is also our victory. The apostles conquered the world and that is our victory. The saints, virgins and martyrs conquered the world and that is our victory. Brethren, there is nothing more powerful in the world than the Christian Faith. The swords that struck this Faith became blunt and broken, but the Faith remained. The kings who fought against this Faith were smothered under the anathema of their evildoings. The kingdoms that waged war against this Faith have been destroyed.The towns that rejected this Faith lay demolished in their ruins. The heretics who corrupted this Faith perished in soul and body, and under anathema they departed from this world, but this Faith remained. Brethren, when the world pursues us with its temptations–the temptation of external beauty, the temptation of riches, the temptation of pleasure, the temptation of transient glory–with what shall we resist and by what shall we be victorious, if not by this Faith? In truth, we prevail by nothing except by this invincible Faith, which knows of something greater than all the wealth of this world. When all the temptations of this world reveal the opposite side of their faces- -when beauty turns into ugliness, health into sickness, riches into poverty, glory into dishonor, authority into humiliation, and all-blossoming physical life into filth and stench–by what shall we overcome this grief, this decay, this fifth and stench, and preserve ourselves from despair, if not by this Faith? In truth, by nothing except this invincible Faith, which teaches us eternal and unchangeable values in the Kingdom of Christ. When death shows its destructive power over our neighbors, over our relatives and our families, over our flowers, over our crops, over the works of our hands, and when it turns its irresistible teeth even on us–by what shall we conquer the fear of death, and by what shall we unlock the doors of life, stronger than death, if not by this Faith? In truth, by nothing except this invincible Faith, which knows about the resurrection and life without death. O Lord Jesus, Conqueror of the world, help us also to conquer the world by our faith in Thee. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.