Prologue entry for 01/24/23 (read on 02/06/23 on the Old Calendar)
1. The Venerable Xenia
Xenia was born in Rome, the only daughter of a prominent senator. Drawn by love for Christ, she refused to enter into marriage as her parents wished. To avoid it, she secretly fled her home with two of her slaves, and arrived on the Island of Kos, at a place called Mylassa. There she founded a convent for virgins, where she lived an ascetic life until her death. Even though she was a frail woman, she possessed a steadfast endurance in fasting, prayer and all- night vigils. She often stood all night in prayer. She was dressed more poorly than all the other sisters, and she often sprinkled the bread she ate with ashes from the censer. At the time of her death (450 A.D.), a wonderful sign appeared over the virgins’ convent: a wreath of stars with a cross in the center, brighter than the sun. Many who were sick received healing from her relics. Her female slaves [who became tonsured nuns] continued in the example of their abbess. When they reposed, they were buried, according to their wish, at the feet of Blessed Xenia.
2. The Holy Hieromartyr [Priest-Martyr] Babylas
Babylas was a priest in Sicily. He suffered for Christ with two of his disciples in the third century.
3. The Venerable Macedonius
Macedonius was a Syrian hermit. He ate only grains of barley softened with water, and only in his old age did he allow himself baked bread. He ended his earthy life in the year 418 A.D.
4. The Venerable Philo, Bishop Of Cyprus
When St. Epiphanius was summoned to Rome to help the sister of the Emperor Honorius by his prayer, he consecrated Philo a bishop. Philo wrote commentaries on the Pentateuch and the Song of Songs. He reposed peacefully in the fifth century.
5. The Venerable Dionysius Of Olympus
Dionysius was a miracle-worker. He lived in asceticism on Mount Olympus. He was tonsured a monk on Mount Athos, where he was the abbot of the Monastery of Philotheou. Toward the end of his life, he again withdrew into solitude on Mount Olympus, where he reposed in the sixteenth century.
Hymn Of Praise
The virgin Xenia, like Agnes,
Or the all-glorious Thecla or Anastasia,
Did not want to be tied to a corruptible man,
But found a Bridegroom in the Immortal Christ.
With all her soul, Xenia loved His beauty,
Mercy, tenderness and radiant purity.
Even the senator's house and wealth, she left,
When the Sun of Righteousness shone in her soul.
The soul! The soul! The soul is the true bride,
While the body is poor, like the transient grass.
Xenia began to adorn the bride,
And, by many prayers, to wash and nourish her,
That the bride would take on a heavenly appearance,
Pleasant and worthy of the Heavenly Bridegroom.
The labors of Holy Xenia were pleasing to the Bridegroom,
And many wondrous gifts, upon her, He bestowed.
When her pure soul, over the flesh, gained the rule,
As calmly as a king over a vanquished city,
The the Lord crowned her with the wreath of immortality.
Into the mansions of eternal joy He led her:
Where the angels hymn the Creator in song;
Where the Lord receives His bride.
In our day, you usually hear these words from parents: “We want to secure the life of our child.” That is why they work very hard to amass wealth–often unjustly–to educate their child in the calling that brings the greatest physical security and material benefit. And this is done by so-called Christians! They do this because their concept of real life and the real security of life is erroneous. Here is how a true Christian mother prepares her son for a real life: At the time of her death, Blessed Euphrosyne spoke to her son, Clement of Ancyra: “Do me the honor, O my son, and bravely stand up for Christ and confess Him firmly and without hesitation! In my heart I hope that the crown of martyrdom will soon blossom on you, in my honor and for the salvation of many. Do not be afraid of threats, or swords, or pains, or wounds, or fire. Let nothing separate you from Christ, but look up to heaven–and from there you can expect your great, eternal and rich reward from God. Fear God’s majesty; be afraid of His awesome judgment; tremble at His all-seeing Eye; for all those who deny Him will receive the punishment of unquenchable fire and the eternally vigilant worm. Let this be my reward from you, my sweet son–for my pain in child-bearing and my effort concerning your education–that I may be called the mother of a martyr. Do not spare the blood that you received from me, but shed it that from this I may also receive honor. Submit your body to torture, that I too may rejoice at this before our Lord–as though I myself had suffered for Him.”
Contemplate the Lord Jesus as Teacher:
- As a Teacher Who teaches how a man should think in order to be saved;
- As a Teacher Who teaches how a man should talk in order to be saved;
- As a Teacher Who teaches how a man should act in order to be saved.
on the most-discerning Prophet
“Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” (Matthew 9:4). When our Lord deigned to direct a rebuke to the Pharisees and scribes, they had, as yet, neither killed anyone, nor deceived anyone, nor robbed anyone. Not only that: they had not yet even offended anyone by their words. Why then did our Lord admonish them when they had not committed any sin either in works or in words? Why? Because their thoughts were evil. An evil thought is sin! This is the great new understanding, which Christ brought into the world. In truth, an evil thought is the sinful source of all sin because, before a man says something or does something sinful, he thinks sinfully. Thought is the causative sin. All other sins are only subsequent sins. Whoever wishes to annihilate evil actions, must first uproot evil thoughts. Whoever desires to stem the flow of water, must first dry up the source. Therefore, let no one justify himself by saying: “I am not a sinner, for I have not killed anyone, robbed anyone, profaned anyone, or lied to anyone!” Behold, we are full of deadly robbing, profaning and deceiving thoughts! If we have not committed sin by our deeds, this is simply a matter of the mercy of God and external circumstances. But, if God had allowed it, and if the circumstances had been favorable, we would have committed all those sins that we thought of. The serpent is venomous not only when it bites but also when it does not bite–because it carries the venom in itself. Therefore, not only is thought a sin, but it is also the source of sin, the beginning of sin, the seed and the root of sin. That is why the All-seeing and All-knowing Lord rebuked those who had evil thoughts. Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? O Lord, all-seeing and all-knowing, help us to cleanse our hearts and minds from evil thoughts, so that our words and deeds may be pure. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.