Prologue entry for 02/07/23 (read on 02/20/23 on the Old Calendar)
1. Saint Parthenius, Bishop Of Lampsacus
Parthenius was the son of a deacon from the town of Melitopolis. As a child he remembered well the words of the Gospel and endeavored to fulfill them. He settled near a lake, where he fished. He then sold the fish and distributed the money to the poor. By God’s providence he was chosen as Bishop of Lampsacus. He cleansed the town of paganism, closed the idolatrous temples, built many churches and strengthened the believers in the Faith. Through prayer, he healed every manner of illness and was particularly powerful over evil spirits. On one occasion, when he wanted to cast out an evil spirit from an insane man, the evil spirit begged him not to do so. Parthenius said to him: “I will give you another man whom you can enter, and in him you can dwell.” The evil spirit asked him: “Who is this man?” “I am that man,” replied the saint. “Enter and dwell in me!” Upon hearing this, the evil spirit fled as though burned by fire, crying out: “How can I enter into the house of God?” St. Parthenius lived a long time and through his work manifested an abundant love for God and man. Parthenius entered into the eternal rest of Christ in the fourth century.
2. The Venerable Luke Of Hellas
Luke was born in Castoria. Even as a child, he never desired to taste meat and always conducted his life in chastity and prayer. One time, Luke went to a field to sow grains of wheat. Along the way, however, he distributed a greater portion of the grains of wheat to the poor, and he planted the lesser portion, that was left over. From that lesser quantity of grain, God gave him a greater harvest than had previously come from the entire amount. After that, Luke left his widowed mother and entered a monastery. The grieving mother prayed earnestly to God to reveal the secret of where her son could be found. God heard the prayers of the mother. The abbot of that monastery dreamed on three consecutive nights that a certain woman sharply rebuked him because he had taken away her only son. The abbot then ordered Luke to return immediately to his mother. Luke went, visited his mother, and parted from her once again, this time never to return. He exhausted himself by fasting on a mountain known as John’s Mountain [near Corinth]. At night he prayed to God and during the day he worked in the garden and field, not for his sake but for the sake of the indigent and visitors. Luke himself only lived on bread made of barley. God bestowed upon him the gift of working miracles. Luke reposed peacefully in the year 946 A.D. From time to time, myrrh flowed from his relics.
3. The Venerable Mastridia
Mastridia lived in Jerusalem, where she led an austere life of asceticism. A certain young man fell in love with her and began to annoy her. In order to save herself and this young man from sin, Mastridia took a small basket of moistened beans and retreated into the wilderness. She spent seventeen years in the wilderness, and during the entire time, by the power of God, she did not exhaust her supply of beans, nor did her clothing wear out. Mastridia died peacefully in about the year 580 A.D.
4. The 1003 Martyrs Of Nicomedia
They all suffered for Christ during the reign of Emperor Diocletian.
Hymn Of Praise
The Holy Martyrs At Nicomedia
The city of Nicomedia shone like a star—
The eastern capital, like the morning star.
But one day, by the will of Duclianus,
Four courtiers were beheaded.
Eusebius, Vasa, Eutychius, courageous ones,
And wondrous Basilides, with unfading glory,
Were beheaded for Christ.
And by this, Nicomedia was darkened.
Those four heads were not the end of the horror,
But only the first blossoms of the mown grass:
A thousand slaves, servants, and obedient ones,
Who faithfully served the four martyrs.
A thousand as one, and three more,
Created a clamor, as though they had drunk wine.
No, it was not wine that they drank, but the truth that intoxicated them,
With the Blood and the victory of the Son of God.
"O ungodly emperor, we also are Christians.
We also are Christians, do whatever you will!
We desire to go to that place
Where our Blessed Master went."
O wondrous daring! O wondrous fidelity!
But this did not cause the emperor's cruelty to abate.
A thousand souls departed the earth,
And the gates of Paradise opened wide to them.
St. Isidore of Pelusium interprets certain passages of Holy Scripture in the following manner: Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left (Matthew 24:41). This means that many dedicate themselves to the spiritual life, but with different intentions–some sincerely and steadfastly, and others negligently and vainly. The first will be taken into the Kingdom of God, and the others will be left behind. What does the prayer about the cup mean? And why did the Lord pray that this cup of suffering might pass from Him (Matthew 26:42). This means that no one should seek out adversity, but when adversity does come, a Christian should accept it and courageously endure it. Concerning the five foolish virgins (cf. Matthew, Chapter 25), St. Isidore says: “Indeed, all of them had retained their virginity, but they did not possess the other virtues, especially charity. Virginity alone is not sufficient to enter the Kingdom of God. Virginity does not help at all, if the virgin is proud and selfish.”
Contemplate the Lord Jesus as a Sower:
- As a Sower whose seed grows slowly and surely;
- As a Sower of the new teaching, new power and new order;
- As a Sower of the new spiritual food, by which mankind will be fed until the end of time.
on the narrow-minded, to whom crime is closer than the love of God
“But ye seek to kill Me, because My word hath no place in you” (John 8:37). Why was the word of Christ unable to prevail among the Jewish elders? Because, they were so filled with malice that there was no room in them for the divine seed, for the divine good news. All that grew in their souls was the sowing of Satan, the Antichrist. That is why they sought to kill Christ. Through the blessed Psalmist, the Lord speaks: Empty yourselves, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10). Therefore, it is necessary to empty oneself of everything that is opposed to God, i.e., of everything in us that hinders the light of the knowledge of God from dwelling in us. When man empties himself of that, then and only then can he understand that God is God. As long as the soul of a man is filled with ungodly thoughts, ungodly feelings and ungodly desires, man is totally unable to listen to or receive the word of God. When people do not have God within themselves, they act by some infernal impulse to uproot God from the soul of him who possesses Him. Ye seek to kill Me. Why? Because not one divine word of Christ was able to find shelter or acceptance in their godless hearts. Having nothing in common with Christ the Lord, the Jewish elders, from the beginning, were unable to have any kind of friendly relations with Him. O Lord Jesus, our Blessed Savior, help us to empty ourselves of all sinful seeds, that Thy holy word may be able to enter into us and to enlighten, strengthen and resurrect us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.