Prologue entry for 02/06/23 (read on 02/19/23 on the Old Calendar)
1. Saint Bucolus, Bishop Of Smyrna
Bucolus was a disciple of St. John the Theologian, who consecrated him Bishop of Smyrna. In Smyrna there were few that were baptized. In the darkness of paganism, St. Bucolus shone as a bright candle. He distinguished himself with every virtue, especially meekness and humility. Before his death, Bucolus consecrated the glorious Polycarp as his successor to the espicopacy. He died peacefully and took up his habitation with the Lord.
2. The Holy Female Martyr Fausta
Fausta was martyred for Christ during the reign of Emperor Maximian (305-311 A.D.). By her heroism, Fausta astonished her persecutors and succeeded in converting two of them to Christianity: the eighty-year-old pagan priest Evilasius and the Eparch Maximus. When the judge threatened Fausta with more severe tortures, she asked him to make her a picture depicting all those tortures with which he threatened her. When the picture was completed, it was shown to her. St. Fausta said: “As this picture feels no pain, so my body feels no pain from your punishments, for my soul is secure in the Lord.” The judge then threw her into a vat of boiling hot water, where this thirteen-year-old girl died with prayer on her lips, and her soul entered Paradise.
3. The Holy Female Martyr Dorothea
Dorothea was a prominent and beautiful maiden from Caesarea in Cappadocia. Sapricius, the administrator of the province, turned Dorothea over to the two pagan sisters, Christina and Kallista, in order to turn her from Christ. But the opposite occurred: Dorothea succeeded in converting both sisters to the Christian Faith. Enraged, Sapricius ordered that the two sisters be bound back to back, thrown into a vat of pitch and set on fire. He then sentenced Dorothea to death. She joyfully heard the sentence and cried out: “I give thanks to Thee, O Christ, Lover of souls, that Thou art leading me into Thine all-holy mansions!” Theophilus, a certain nobleman who was present, laughed at these words and cried out to Dorothea: “Listen, O bride of Christ–send me apples and flowers from the pomegranate tree in your bridegroom’s Paradise.” “Indeed, I will do that,” replied the martyr. When Dorothea was at the place of execution, suddenly a beautiful young man appeared with three beautiful apples and three red flowers from the pomegranate. This was an angel of God, and it was winter. Dorothea asked the angel to take them to Theophilus and tell him: “Behold, this is what you desired!” When Theophilus received the message and saw the gift, he was thoroughly frightened. Everything turned upside down for him, and he, a confirmed pagan, became a Christian. He was tortured and slain for Christ, and his soul entered the Paradise of the Lord Jesus soon after that of St. Dorothea.
4. Saint Photius, Patriarch Of Constantinople
Photius was a great beacon of the Church. He was a relative of the emperor and a grandson of the glorious Patriarch Tarasius. He vigorously protected the Church from papal love of power and other Roman distortions of the Faith. In six days he went through all the ecclesiastical ranks, rising from a layman to patriarch. He was consecrated Patriarch on the Feast of the Nativity of Christ in the year 857 A.D., and he reposed in the Lord in the year 891 A.D.
5. The Venerable Saints Barsanuphius And John
Both Barsanuphius and John were great ascetics, clairvoyants and miracle- workers from Gaza. They left a famous work entitled The Book of Answers, which deals with many questions about the spiritual life. They lived in the sixth century.
6. The Holy Female Martyrs Martha And Mary, And Their Brother Lycarion
All three were crucified for Christ and then pierced and slain with a lance.
Hymn Of Praise
Saints Martha, Mary, Andlycarion
Saints Martha and Mary are sisters by birth,
And Lycarion is their small brother, of little strength.
Their aged mother, a sweet soul, teaches them well:
"Love Christ my children, for He suffered for us."
Here the commander comes, awesome and powerful.
A violent man, he slays those faithful to Christ.
The sisters open the door to their home;
They have no fear of the belligerent man.
"Hearken, O commander of the Emperor, we are Christians;
We are not like you, whom the demon sold to the devil."
On a cross, the malicious commander raised them;
At that moment the young Lycarion drew near:
"I too, I too am a Christian! Crucify me also!"
The pains on the cross are unbearable; their mother trembles.
She kisses the feet of each of her children—
With tormented voices from their crosses, the daughters console her:
"For us, dearest Mother, do not be broken with sorrow.
You taught us love for Christ.
The torment is brief, Sweetness will be sweet in Paradise.
In the radiance of Paradise we will await you, Mother—
Lycarion, your glorious son, and your two daughters—
Oh, rejoice in such fruits of your womb!"
Like a fiery pillar, the mother's countenance began to beam:
"Blessed are you, my dear children--oh, blessed am I!"
St. Barsanuphius, who for fifty years lived secluded in a cell and did not allow himself to be seen by any living person, attained exceptional purity and perceptiveness through divine contemplation and prayer. Here are a few thoughts from his Book of Answers. “Every thought which is not preceded by the silence of humility does not proceed from God. All that is from the devil occurs with confusion and disturbance.” “When you pray and God delays fulfilling your request, He does this for your benefit, in order to teach you forbearance.” “Visible thieves are servants of invisible, noetic thieves.” “The Lord Jesus Christ endured all things and finally ascended the Cross, which signifies the deadening of the body and the passions and a holy and perfect rest.” “Our Lord wants you to honor every man more than yourself.” When they asked the elder whether they should hire an advocate regarding a dispute between the monastery and certain men, the elder replied: “If you purchase the defense of men, then God will not defend you.”
Contemplate the Lord Jesus as a Laborer:
- As a physical Laborer through many long years;
- As a spiritual Laborer, Who constantly taught man, comforted man and healed man, giving the new covenant to the world;
- As a tireless Laborer, Who left the commandment: Walk while ye have the light (John 12:35).
on the mutual knowledge of the Father and the Son
“I know Him, for I am from Him, and He hath sent Me (John 7:29). No one has ever dared say that he knows God. Many have merely said that they believe in God. Only our Lord Jesus Christ spoke the words I know Him. And immediately He explained from where He knows Him, saying: ForI am from Him, and He hath sent Me. The first reason: I am from Him, testifies to the eternal being of the Son; and the second reason, and He hath sent Me, testifies to the manifestation of the Son in time, in the physical world, as an emissary of the Holy Trinity. For us who are Christ-believing, it is not given to know the Father as His Only-begotten Son knows Him. To us it is given and commanded that we believe. Our merit is in believing and not in knowing. If all of us knew God by seeing, no one would have any merit. For what kind of merit is there in seeing and recognizing? However, not to see and yet to believe–in this there is merit, in this there is virtue, in this is our salvation. We are not worthy to see God and by seeing Him to know Him, for we are weakened by sin and alienated from God. But the mercy of God gives us faith while in this life, which is able to bring us closer to God and lead us into the Eternal Kingdom of seeing and knowing in the life to come. O my brethren, let us believe in Christ the Lord, for He knows. He does not speak by faith but by knowing. O Merciful Lord, strengthen our faith. Extend the hem of Thy garment that we may hold onto it to the end of our lives. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.