Prologue entry for 01/20/23 (read on 02/02/23 on the Old Calendar)
1. The Venerable Euthymius The Great
Of noble and distinguished parents, Euthymius was born in the Armenian town of Melitene near the Euphrates River, in about the year 377 A.D. He was an only child, born in answer to the prayer of his mother, Dionysia, who had a heavenly vision regarding his birth. From his youth he lived a life of asceticism, at first in the proximity of his town; but then, after he visited Jerusalem at age twenty-nine, in the desert between Jerusalem and Jericho, called Pharan. He filled his days and nights with prayer, divine contemplation, meditation and physical labors. Around him gathered many disciples, some of whom are glorious saints, such as Cyriacus the Hermit, Sava the Sanctified, Theoctistus and others. Through the gift of God, Euthymius was a great miracle-worker; he expelled demons, healed the gravely ill, brought forth water in the desert, multiplied bread, and prophesied. He taught monks the love of labor, saying: “If you eat bread not earned by your own labor, know that you are eating of someone else’s labor.” When some of the younger monks wanted to fast more than others, he forbade them to do so and commanded them to come to the communal table, so that they would not become prideful as a result of their excessive fasting. He also said that it was not good for a monk to move from place to place, for, he said, “A tree frequently transplanted does not bear fruit. Whoever desires to do good, can do it from the place where he is.” Concerning love, he said: “What salt is to bread, love is to other virtues.” During the first week of Great Lent, he retreated to the desert and remained there in solitary silence and divine contemplation, until just before the Feast of the Resurrection. During his lifetime, a large monastery [Lavra] was established in the proximity of his cave. Down through the centuries, this monastery was completely filled with monks, as a beehive is filled with bees. Euthymius’s final command was that the monastery always adhere to hospitality and that the gates of the monastery never be closed. He reposed at the age of ninety-seven. The Patriarch of Jerusalem was in attendance at his funeral. The patriarch waited all day long until the great masses of people reverenced the body of the saint, and only in the evening were they able to complete the Office for the Burial of the Dead. On the seventh day following his death, Euthymius appeared radiant and rejoicing to Dometian, his disciple. The Venerable Euthymius was a true “son of light.” He reposed in the year 473 A.D.
2. The Holy Martyrs Inna, Nirra [Rimma] And Pinna
They are considered to be the first Slavic martyrs mentioned in history. They are referred to as Scythians and disciples of St. Andrew the Apostle. They suffered for the Faith at the hands of their pagan neighbors, on the right side of the Danube River, near Varna. Tied up on the ice, Inna, Nirra and Pinna froze, and they reposed in the Lord.
Hymn Of Praise
The eye that sees all, the ear that hears all
Travels with everyone, everywhere they go—
Without changing place, present in every place.
Where virtue is being kneaded, God is the yeast in the dough;
Where light is sought, He gives of Himself;
Where help is cried for, He is not absent.
Quietly and silently, but always on time,
He is in time to reap and to sow the seeds,
He is in time to reproach, He is in time to reward,
To make the young old and to make the old young,
To weed, to trim and to caress fruit—
He comesv wherever He wants and whenever He wants.
Whenever a solitary person thinks, behold, He listens;
Where two people speak, as a third party He hears;
Where the weaver weaves the cloth, her threads He counts;
The universal fabric, in His mind, He weaves.
Oh, who knows His footsteps and paces?
Who could enumerate His paths and places?
Eternal and Immortal, Triune and One,
In the trackless net of the universal fabric,
Unseen and seen, regardless of whence He is viewed,
He cuts out the paths and reveals the direction.
In the trackless net, He looks at all the paths,
And does not allow even an ant to stray.
For eighty years on earth, St. Euthymius
Dedicated such thoughts to Him.
As compassionate and lenient as the saints were toward human weakness, so terribly unyielding and unbending were they with regard to the confession of the true dogmas of the Faith. Thus, St. Nicholas of Myra in Lycia struck Arius with his hand at the First Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 325 A.D.]. St. Anthony left his desert to come to Alexandria to publicly unmask Arius. St. Euthymius, being greatly pressured by the Empress Eudocia and the false Patriarch Theodosius, and being unable to debate rationally with them, left the monastery and hid in the desert; an example followed by all other distinguished monks thereafter. Euthymius remained in the desert until the pseudo-patriarch was ousted and Orthodoxy confirmed. When, in Jerusalem, the greatest agitation surfaced in the name of the emperor against the Fourth Ecumenical Council [Chalcedon, 451 A.D.], and when the entire population was frightened by the heretics, then St. Theodosius the Great, already burdened with old age, came to Jerusalem as a fearless soldier of Christ, entered the Great Church, ascended the stairs, waved his hands and said to the people: “If anyone does not honor the Four Ecumenical Councils as he does the four evangelists, let him be anathema.” (Up to that time only four Ecumenical Councils had been convened.) All who heard him were frightened by these words, and none of the heretics dared to say anything contrary to them.
Contemplate the Lord Jesus as Light:
- As a Light to my life, as a Light to mankind, as a Light to every creature;
- As a Light, especially in the darkness of fear and suffering;
- As a Light in the hour of death, and after death a Light in eternity.
on the only Light in darkness
“I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12). Since the beginning of the world and time, no one who was ever born has dared to speak these words. There have been men, and there are men, who say: “I bring light!” But only one dared to say: “I am the Light!” Only the Lord Jesus could have spoken those words boldly and convincingly. His short life on earth and His long history of nearly two thousand years have completely justified these words. He is the Light of truth, righteousness and life. He is the Light of truth, because He revealed in Himself the truth of the true nature of God and the true nature of man, the relationship of man to man, and the relationship of man toward God. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but His words will not pass away; for heaven and earth both came into existence by His word, and His word is from Him and with Him always, and will not pass away. [Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away (Matthew 24: 35 - Mark 13:31)]. He is the Light of righteousness, because He revealed the might of righteousness and the weakness of unrighteousness. He revealed this in the brightest light–by what He said, by what He did, and by what He experienced– and overcame the unrighteous ones. He has revealed it through His Church over the course of twenty centuries–through His numerous righteous saints and martyrs, for righteousness’ sake. Righteousness is from God, and in the long line of history, it can never be defeated. Unrighteousness is of helpless beings. Unrighteousness quickly rushes out to the rampart with its triumphant banner, but at the same time, it is quickly thrown into the grave. He is the Light of life. His words illuminate life. His works illuminate life. His victory illuminates life. Especially His resurrection, as the most luminous sun, illuminates life by its bright light and disperses death as a weak shadow. O Lord Jesus, Light Most-luminous, Sun of Truth, Sun of Righteousness and Sun of Life, illuminate us sinners and unworthy ones! To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.