Prologue entry for 01/30/23 (read on 02/12/23 on the Old Calendar)
1. The Three Hierarchs: Saint Basil The Great, Saint Gregory The Theologian,
And Saint John Chrysostom Each of these saints has his own feast day: St. Basil the Great, January 1; St. Gregory the Theologian, January 25; and St. John Chrysostom, January 27. This combined feast day, January 30, was instituted in the eleventh century during the reign of Emperor Alexius Comnenus. Once, a debate arose among the people concerning who among the three was the greatest. Some extolled Basil because of his purity and courage; others extolled Gregory for his unequaled depth and lofty mind in theology; still others extolled Chrysostom because of his eloquence and clarity in expounding the Faith. Thus some were called Basilians, others Gregorians, and the third were called Johannites. This debate was settled by divine providence, to the benefit of the Church and to the even greater glory of the three saints. Bishop John of Euchaita (June 14) had a vision in a dream: At first all three of these saints appeared to him separately in great glory and indescribable beauty, and after that, all three appeared together. They said to him: “As you see, we are one in God and there is nothing contradictory in us; neither is there a first or a second among us.” The saints also advised Bishop John to write a common service for them and to order a common feast day of celebration. Following this wonderful vision, the debate was settled in this manner: January 30 would be designated as the common feast of these three hierarchs. The Greeks consider this feast not only an ecclesiastical feast, but also their greatest national school holiday.
2. The Hieromartyr [Priestly-Martyr] Hippolytus, Bishop Of Rome
Hippolytus suffered for the Faith during the reign of Claudius. When the virgin Chrysa was mercilessly tortured for Christ in Rome, St. Hippolytus interceded on her behalf before the torturers and denounced them. Because of this protest, Hippolytus also was brought to court and condemned and, after prolonged tortures, was sentenced to death. They bound his hands and feet and drowned him in the sea. Along with Hippolytus and Chrysa, twenty other martyrs also suffered. St. Hippolytus suffered in the year 269 A.D.
3. The Holy Martyr Theophilus The New
As a commander of the Emperor Constantine and the Empress Irene, Theophilus was enslaved by the Hagarenes and was kept in prison for four years. When he refused all pressures of the Moslems to abandon the Christian Faith, Theophilus was beheaded with the sword, taking up his aode with the Lord in the year 784 A.D.
4. Saint Peter, King Of Bulgaria
Peter, the son of Simeon, was a great admirer of St. John of Rila. He gained independence from Constantinople for the Bulgarian Church, and preserved Orthodoxy in Bulgaria from the Bogomils. After an unsuccessful war with the Hungarians and Russians, Peter reposed in 967 A.D., in the fifty-sixth year of his life.
Hymn Of Praise
The Three Hierarchs: Saint Basil, Saint Gregory The Theologian,
Andsaint John Chrysostom
Fasting and Faith—Basil,
Acts of Charity—Chrysostom,
Golden mouths, mouths of honey!
All laborers of one work;
Three separately—three angels,
The three together, as God is one,
No one is chief, no one is secondary.
In eternity they all agree,
You invoke one, all three help;
You hymn one, all three hear;
You glorify one, all three rejoice.
Three men, one whole;
Three hierarchs, one work;
Three names, one glory;
To all three of them, Christ is the Head.
Here is an example of how emperors seek counsel from the saints, how the saints avoid vanity and riches, and how they counsel emperors. The Orthodox King Peter of Bulgaria set off with his retinue for Rila Mountain, driven by the insatiable desire to see St. John of Rila and to benefit from his instruction. The king sent men ahead to inform the saint of his arrival, but the saint did not agree to meet with the king. The saddened king again sent some men with foodstuffs and an ample amount of gold, as well as a petition requesting the saint to write some counsel for him. John accepted the food but returned the gold, not even wanting to touch it; and he replied to the king: “If you desire the Heavenly Kingdom, be merciful like the Heavenly Father. Do not trust in injustice and do not be covetous; be meek, quiet and accessible to everyone. Do not accept praises from your noblemen. Let your purple robe radiate with virtues. May the remembrance of death never depart from your soul. Humble yourself before the feet of our Mother Church; bow your head before her chief hierarchs so that the King of kings, seeing your sincerity, may reward you with goodness such as never entered into the heart of man.” Receiving that letter, the king kissed it, and he later read it frequently.
Contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Friend of children:
- As the Friend of the angels in heaven, who, like children, are innocent, obedient and without passions;
- As the Friend of little children on earth, who easily and simply believe in God;
- As the Friend of the saints, who by labor and grace are purified from sin and become innocent as children.
on how men must become like children in order to be sons of God
“Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Thus speaks the Lord, and His word is holy and true. What advantage do children have over adults? They have three advantages: in faith, in obedience, and in forgiveness. The child asks his parent about everything, and no matter what his parent replies, the child believes his parent. The child is obedient to his parent and easily subordinates his will to the will of his parent. The child is forgiving, and even though he provokes easily, he forgives quickly. Our Lord requires these three from all men, that is, faith, obedience and forgiveness. He desires that men believe in Him unconditionally, as a child believes in his parent; that they be unconditionally obedient to Him, as a child is to his parent, and that they be forgiving in relation to one anther, not remembering evil and not rendering evil for evil. Faith, obedience and forgiveness are the three main characteristics of a child’s soul. Purity and joy are in addition to these. A child is not greedy, a child is not lustful, and a child is not vainglorious. The child’s eye is unspoiled by vices, and his joy is unspoiled by worries. O brethren, who can make us over again into children? No one, except the one Christ. He can make us over into children and help us to be born again by His example, by His teaching and by the power of His Holy Spirit. O Lord Jesus, perfect in obedience and meekness, Eternal Child of the Heavenly Father, help us to become as infants by faith in Thee, by obedience toward Thee, and by forgiveness toward one another. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.