Prologue entry for 02/08/23 (read on 02/21/23 on the Old Calendar)
1. The Holy Great-Martyr Theodore Stratelates
There are martyrdoms that are beyond any price. The preciousness of martyrdom depends upon the greatness of the good things which a Christian abandons, and in lieu of which he accepts suffering. In addition, it depends upon the greatness of the suffering that he endures for Christ’s sake. St. Theodore, a Roman commander in the army of Emperor Licinius and the governor of the town of Heraclea, scorned his youth, his handsome appearance, his military rank and the good graces of the emperor. In place of all this, he accepted horrible tortures for the sake of Christ. At first, Theodore was flogged and received six hundred lashes on his back and five hundred on his stomach. After this, he was raised on a cross and was completely pierced with lances. Finally, Theodore was beheaded. Why all of this? Because St. Theodore loved Christ the Lord above all else in the world. He abhorred the foolish idolatry of the superstitious Emperor Licinius. He smashed the idols of silver and gold and distributed pieces of them to the poor. He converted many to the Christian Faith and called upon Emperor Licinius himself to reject idolatry and believe in the One Living God. During the entire time of his tortures, St. Theodore said repeatedly: “Glory to Thee, my God, glory to Thee!” St. Theodore suffered on February 8, 319 A.D., at three o’clock in the afternoon, and entered into the Kingdom of Christ. St. Theodore is considered the protector of soldiers who call upon him for assistance. His miracle-working relics were translated from Euchaita to Constantinople and interred in the Blachernae church.
2. The Holy Prophet Zechariah
Zechariah was the eleventh of the [twelve] minor prophets. Together with the Prophet Haggai, he persuaded Prince Zerubbabel to restore the Temple of Jerusalem. Zechariah prophesied the solemn entrance of Christ into Jerusalem on a colt, the foal of an ass (Zechariah 9:9). He also prophesied Judas’s betrayal of Christ for thirty pieces of silver: And they counted out my wages, thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12), as well as the abandoning of Christ by the apostles during the time of His passion: Strike the shepherd, and the sheep shall be dispersed (Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 26:3; Mark 14:27). The Prophet Zechariah is called the “beholder of the sickle” because he saw, in a vision, a sickle coming down from heaven to mow down the unjust, especially thieves and blasphemers of the Name of God. Zechariah reposed during the latter half of the reign of Darius Hystapes, in about the year 520 B.C.
3. Saint Sava Ii, Archbishop Of Serbia
Sava was the son of King Stefan the First-crowned and the nephew of St. Sava I. Before his tonsure, Sava was called Predislav. Following the example of his great uncle [St. Sava], Predislav was tonsured a monk and zealously dedicated himself to a life of asceticism. He was chosen Archbishop of Serbia, succeeding St. Arsenius, under the name Sava Ii. He governed the Church with great devotion and love. Sava Ii reposed in the year 1268 A.D. His relics lie in the Monastery at Peć.
Hymn Of Praise
Saint Sava Ii, Archbishop Of The Serbs
The young Predislav wept.
The queen mother asked him:
"Where does your gaze roam?
At what are you gazing, Predislav?"
"At St. Sava, the face of my uncle."
King Stefan, to his son, said:
"I must marry you off, my sweet son.
Time flows, and I am aging.
Whom do you love? Tell me the name!"
Predislav hear his father,
But about a wife, he did not want to hear.
Predislav became a monk.
In the words of Christ he took delight,
And Sava the Second, he was called.
Shedding tears, he spoke:
"St. Sava, place me
On the true evangelical path!"
The king and queen died,
And also Patriarch Arsenius.
The Church remained a widow,
And from honors, Sava hid.
But a double honor fell upon him:
He was a bishop and also a saint.
St. Seraphim of Sarov writes about despair: “Just as the Lord is concerned about our salvation, so the devil, the slayer of men, concerns himself with bringing the soul of man to despair. Judas, the betrayer, was fainthearted and inexperienced in struggle, which is why the devil, seeing him in a state of despair, attacked and persuaded him to hang himself. Peter, the formidable rock, falling into great sin but being experienced in struggle, did not despair and did not lose the presence of the Spirit. Rather, he shed bitter tears from a warm heart; and the devil, seeing that, fled from him as though burned by fire. Thus, brethren, the Venerable Antiochus teaches that when despair befalls us, we should not succumb to it, but, strengthened and enveloped by holy faith, we should say with great bravery to the cunning spirit: ‘What have you to do with us, O apostate from God, fugitive from heaven and slave of evil! You are unable to inspire us to do anything, for Christ, the Son of God, has authority over us and over all. And you, O murderer, depart from us! Strengthened by His Honorable Cross, we trample upon your serpent’s head.’”
Contemplate the Lord Jesus as a Commander:
- As a Commander Who entered into battle against Satan;
- Who entered into battle against sin in men;
- Who took up the defense of good against evil in this world;
- Who defeated Satan, sin and death.
on how a true Christian encounters hatred in the world
“And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake” (Luke 21:17). All those who love themselves more than they love God will hate the followers of the Lord Jesus. All those who love the body more than they love the soul will hate the followers of the Lord Jesus. All those who love this world more than they love the Eternal Kingdom of God will hate the followers of the Lord Jesus. All those who love sin more than they love virtue will hate the followers of the Lord Jesus. The number of those who hate the name of Jesus is sometimes greater and sometimes smaller. However great their number is, brethren, do not be afraid, for the number of angels and saints is myriad. The number of your kinsmen in heaven, i.e., those who love the Lord Jesus, exceeds the number of stars in the firmament and the grains of sand by the sea. Oh, do not be afraid; Christ is with you, and that means that you are always mightier than those who hate you. When the Omnipotent One is on your side, you are always more numerous, for you are always stronger than any number of your adversaries. O Lord Jesus, Lord All-powerful, always be with us and help us that we may be inseparably with Thee always, and then our fear will vanish. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.