Prologue entry for 01/26/23 (read on 02/08/23 on the Old Calendar)
1. The Venerable Xenophont And Maria, And Their Sons John And Arcadius
They were prominent and wealthy citizens of Constantinople. Xenophont and his wife, Maria, lived a God-pleasing life and dedicated all their attention to the Christian upbringing of their sons. When their sons came of age, they were sent to study in Beirut, but it so happened that a storm capsized their boat. By the providence of God, John and Arcadius were somehow saved. They were tossed ashore by the waves, but in two different places, so that each thought the other had drowned. Out of grief for each other, they both became monks in two different monasteries. After two years, their grieving parents came to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage to venerate the holy shrines. There the brothers met, and after that the parents met their children, all with the help of the clairvoyance of a certain spiritual father. Out of gratitude to God, Xenophont and Maria distributed their entire estate to the poor, and both of them were tonsured. The history of these four souls is touching, and it shows how the Lord wonderfully guides the fate of those who believe in Him: how He permits pain and sorrow to come upon them that later, having been yet more strengthened in faith, they may be led into still greater joy. They lived and reposed in the Lord in the fifth century.
2. The Venerable Simeon The Ancient [Vetni]
Simeon was a companion and friend of St. Palladius. From his early youth until his death, Simeon lived a life of asceticism in a cave. He established two monasteries and reposed in the Lord in the year 390 A.D. He is called the Ancient to distinguish him from Simeon the Stylite, who labored somewhat later.
3. Saint David, King Of Georgia
David (1089-1130 A.D.) renewed and strengthened the Georgian state. A great zealot for the Christian Faith, he built many new churches and restored the old ones throughout Georgia. David is considered to be the regenerator of the Orthodox Faith in Georgia.
Hymn Of Praise
This world is a foreign land, and we are exiles.
With other royal sons, like slaves in a prison,
Wayward children in sorrow seek their Father.
The foreign land beckons them and pacifies them with sweetness.
With what will the spirits of heroes be pacified,
In a foreign land whose every sweetness is death?
This foreign land breathes death and smells of death,
And what is written in the morning is erased in the evening.
But the exiled crown prince sighs for the Kingdom—
For the Immortal Kingdom, high above the firmament,
Where his Father rules and nothing is foreign,
Where nothing is known of death or moldy odor.
O amazing world, a frightening cage!
He who is bound to Christ breaks your bonds,
And becomes free of everything and everyone,
Such a one neither walks with you nor flees from you,
But prepares worthily to depart from you,
Into the Father's embrace, into the Kingdom of freedom.
The greatest treasure of any realm is the saintly and good men who live in it. Compared to this wealth, all other wealth is as nothing. Devout Christian emperors considered holy men within their realms as the greatest of God’s blessing. The holy Emperor Constantine the Great said: “I give thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ that in my days there exist three divine lights: Blessed Abba Anthony, Abba Elonius and Abba Euchius.” Before the battle of Kulikovo, crucial for the Russians, the devout Prince Dimitri Donskoy went to the forest of Radonez with his chief assistants and dukes, to seek out the Venerable Sergius, and he implored his intercession before God. Even though the prince prepared his army for a war of liberation against the Tartars, he placed greater hope in the prayers of one holy man than in a vast army and many weapons.
Contemplate the Lord Jesus as a Prophet:
- As a Prophet Who clearly prophesied to individuals (such as Peter, John, Judas and the other apostles) what would happen to them in the future;
- As a Prophet Who clearly prophesied the future of Jerusalem and other cities, of the Jewish people, and of the Church of God;
- As a Prophet Who clearly prophesied the end of the world–and His Second Coming.
on the confusion of those darkened by sin
“Who is this that forgiveth sins also?” (Luke 7:49). Thus asked the unrepentant sinners: “Who is this?” This is He Who feels most the sting of human sin, and upon Whom all the sins of mankind fall as blows. This is He Who, once in Paradise looked upon sinless man. This is He Who created man without sin, and this is He Who Himself is without sin, from all eternity and forever. Only he can forgive who can also seek revenge. The strong man seeks revenge by reprisal. The weak man seeks revenge by hatred. If you are able to return the delivered blow and you do not do it, it still does not mean that you have forgiven, until you uproot the anger from your heart. Great is the One Lord, Who can both seek revenge and forgive. Great is He in His justice, for He will seek revenge on the unrepentant sinner. Great is He in His mercy, for He will forgive the penitent sinner. Oh, if only men would know the power of the forgiveness of sins! Behold, when the sins of the blind man were forgiven, he saw. When the sins of the deaf man were forgiven, he heard. When the sins of the hunchbacked woman were forgiven, she stood erect. When the sins of the woman with the issue of blood were forgiven, she also was healed. When the sins of the man afflicted by insanity were forgiven, he became sane. When the sins of the man possessed with demons were forgiven, he was freed. When the sins of the harlot were forgiven, she too was cleansed. When the sins of the dead man were forgiven, he lived again! Oh, how terrible is the chain of sins! How heavy are the chains of many sins! These chains are not loosened by sinful hands. But when the hands of the All- Pure Lord touch them, they become loosened and fall apart of their own accord. When the voice of the Pure One reaches them, they fall apart. And from the glance of the Pure One, they fall apart. Yes, even from the thoughts of the Pure One, they fall apart–these terrible chains of sins. Who is this that forgiveth sins also? O sinners, this is the Lord, all-pure– and because of purity, almighty.
O Lord, all-pure and almighty, free us from the chains of sins. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.