Prologue entry for 02/10/23 (read on 02/23/23 on the Old Calendar)
1. The Hieromartyr [Priestly-Martyr] Charalampus
This great saint, Charalampus, was a bishop in Magnesia who suffered for Christ in his 113th year. When a terrible persecution began during the reign of Emperor Septimius Severus, the elderly Charalampus did not hide from the persecutors. Instead, he freely and openly preached the Christian Faith. He endured all tortures as though he were in someone else’s body. When they skinned him alive, the forgiving elder said to the emperor’s soldiers: “Thank you, my brethren, for in scraping my old body you renew my spirit for a new eternal life.” He worked many miracles and converted many to the Faith. Even the emperor’s daughter, Galina, abandoned the idolatry of her father and become a Christian. Condemned to death and brought to the place of execution, St. Charalampus raised his hands to heaven and prayed to God for all people, that God would grant them bodily health and spiritual salvation and that He would multiply their fruit of the earth: “O Lord, Thou knowest that men are flesh and blood; forgive them their sins and pour out Thy grace on all!” After prayer, this holy elder gave up his soul to God before the executioner lowered the sword on his neck. He suffered in the year 202 A.D. The emperor’s daughter, Galina, removed his body and honorably buried it.
2. The Venerable Prochorus, The Orach-Eater1
Prochorus was a miracle-worker of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves. He is called the orach-eater because, during the time that he lived in the Monastery of the Caves, he did not taste bread. Instead, he fed on orach, mixing it in his own way, and from it he prepared a type of bread. Whenever he would give someone his orach bread with a blessing, the bread tasted sweet, as though prepared from honey. If, however, someone stole the bread, it was as bitter as wormwood. One time, when there was a shortage of salt in Russia, Prochorus distributed ashes to the people in place of salt. The ashes that he distributed with his blessing were as salt; however, the ashes that people took on their own remained ordinary ashes. Prince Svyatopolk ordered that all the ashes from Prochorus’s cell be taken to his palace with neither the permission nor the blessing of the monk. When the ashes were removed, those who tasted them were convinced that they were ashes and not salt. Then Prochorus told the people who came to him for salt to go to the emperor’s palace and, when the prince threw the ashes out of his palace, to take them and carry them home for salt. The people did so, and again the ashes were salt. Having become convinced, the prince himself was filled with respect and love toward the holy man. When Prochorus died in the year 1107 A.D., the prince, with his own hands, placed him in the tomb alongside the great Russian saints, Anthony and Theodosius.
1: Orach: any plant of the genus Atriplex, cultivated for use like spinach. –Trans.
Hymn Of Praise
The inexperienced sword was brandished over Charalampus,
only to be lowered!
The saint knelt and, a petition to God, raised:
"O Lord, release them!
Of all sinful men, absolve the sins;
have mercy again.
Bless their labor and grant abundant
fruit to the fields.
Let them have everything; they are flesh and blood;
let them sing to Thee.
Oh, grant them health, health and joy;
let them remember Thee!
Drive away every evil, save them from misery,
have mercy on them all,
And after death, to Paradise take their souls.
Lord Have mercy!
Whoever prays to Thee
and mentions my name,
Because of my suffering, help him,
O God, help him for my sake!"
Then came a voice from heaven: "I accept your prayer;
now render Me your soul!"
The saint released his soul and flew to Paradise,
before the falling of the sword!
Many of the serious infirmities that befall a man have their cause, known or unknown, in his past. The causes of such serious infirmities as, let us say, mental disorder, are nothing other than the transgression of the moral law of God. When St. Charalampus was being tortured, the persecuting emperor learned of his miracle-working power. The emperor ordered an insane man to be brought before Charalampus, to see if Charalampus could heal him. The devil had tormented this man for thirty-five years, driving him into the wilderness and hills and hurling him into bogs and chasms. When this deranged man approached Charalampus, the demon sensed a sweet-smelling fragrance emanating from the holy man and shouted: “I beg you, O servant of God, do not torment me before my time, but command me and I will depart. And, if you wish, I will tell you how it happened that I entered into this man.” The saint commanded the demon to relate the story. The demon said: “This man wanted to steal from his neighbor and thought to himself: ‘If I don’t kill the man first, I will not be able to seize his goods.’ So he went and killed his neighbor. Having caught him in the act, I entered him and, behold, I have dwelt in him for thirty-five years.” Upon hearing this, the saint of God commanded the demon to depart from the man immediately and to leave him in peace. The demon departed, and the demented man was restored to health and became tranquil.
Contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Beauty of the entire created world:
- As the Beauty of all created things, a Beauty dulled from fear and the melancholy of sin;
- As the Beauty of man, the most rational being in the material world, a Beauty dulled by fear and the melancholy of sin;
- As the Beauty of a pure, mental, bodiless world of the angels;
- As the Beauty of the Holy Trinity, revealed by Him and through Him.
on the sin of those who assert that they can see
“If ye were blind, ye should have no sin” (John 9:41). These words were spoken to the Jews by Him Who gave them the Law through the prophets, that the Law might serve them as the sight of the soul. The Jews received that sight, but they intentionally and evilly shut their eyes. That is why the righteous Lord spoke these righteous words to them. These are words of true justice, yesterday and today and forever, for a blind man has no sin if he tramples upon someone else’s crop or if he takes someone else’s garment instead of his own. If he who has sight commits this, he will be committing a sin and will incur punishment. If he who has eyes intentionally closes his eyes and does this, he also will be committing a sin and will incur punishment. Nevertheless, what can be said about those who have received baptism and chrismation, the two eyes of the soul, and still sin as those who are unbaptized? At the Last Judgment, they will not be treated as those who are born blind, rather they will be judged as transgressors who have willfully disfigured and blinded themselves. And what can be said about those who receive the other Mysteries of grace in the fullness of Orthodoxy, having before them the examples of the saints, and constantly listening to the warnings and admonitions of God’s Church, but who nevertheless depart and go astray? At the Last Judgment such people will not be able to justify themselves by any type of blindness; rather they will be judged as transgressors who have disfigured themselves and others around them with blindness. O Awesome Lord, save us from sin. O Merciful Lord, open our eyes to the path of salvation. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.