1. Saint Leo, Bishop Of Catania In the town of Catania, below the volcanic Mount Etna, lived St. Leo, a good shepherd and compassionate teacher of the people. He had great concern for the sick and the poor. His zeal for the Faith was as great as his charity toward the less fortunate. A magician named Heliodorus appeared in Catania and deluded the people with various illusions, greatly demoralizing the youth of the town. At one time during the divine services, Heliodorus entered the church of God and began his obscenities. St. Leo approached him, tied him to one end of his pallium, and led him to the market place of the city. Here Leo ordered that a large fire be built. When it was raging, he stood in the middle of the blaze and pulled Heliodorus into the fire. Heliodorus was completely consumed, but Leo remained alive and unscathed. All who had been bewitched by Heliodorus and who had looked upon him as someone divine, were ashamed. The compassionate and zealous Leo was proclaimed throughout the entire kingdom as a great miracle- worker, who helped men by his shining miracles. When Leo ended his course, he took up his habitation with the Lord, and from his relics there flowed healing myrrh. He reposed in the eighth century.

  2. The Holy Hieromartyr [Priestly-Martyr] Sadok Sadok was bishop in Persia after St. Simeon. Once St. Simeon appeared to him in a dream and said: “Yesterday, me–today, you!” Sadok interpreted these words to his flock as meaning: Last year I [St. Simeon] suffered, this year you [Sadok] will suffer. Indeed, that year King Sapor arrested him with many of the clergy and people and brought them to trial. Sapor first ordered them to worship fire and the sun as divinities. Sadok replied: “We are eagerly prepared to die for our God, but we can worship neither the sun nor fire.” After that, they were tortured and sentenced to death by beheading. Before being beheaded, Sadok sent up a prayer to God: “Wash us from our sins, O Lord, in our blood!” Sadok and his priests and faithful gloriously gave up their bodies to death and their souls to the Immortal God. They suffered in the year 342 or 344 A.D.

Hymn Of Praise Saint Sadok What is the sun? The eye that does not see. What is fire? A servant without reason. King Sapor, to Sadok, spoke: “Worship the sun and the flame, The gods which rule the world, According to the teaching of Zoroaster the wise.” Sadok, to the Emperor, gently replied: “To you, O Emperor, be health and joy, But where does the sensible, before the senseless, bow down? Where does the rational, before the irrational, bow down? The sun–beautiful as a thing of God, The flame–wonderful as a servant of men; But can the created, the Creator, replace? Can the dead, a replacement for the living, be? Is the painting better than the artist? Is the plow more precious than the plower? In the heavens, O Emperor, there is only one God, Omnipotent, intelligent, beautiful and good, The Creator of the visible and invisible world, Of everything created, the Designer. Of all good gifts, He is the Giver, A Lover of mankind and the Almighty, Him, the Only-begotten Son revealed. From the Persian errors, He saved us, On top of nature, He taught us to stand, And toward the Creator, to turn our face, To lift up our entire soul to heaven– There, where our homeland is, The homeland of angels and men.” Thus spoke Sadok–and Sapor beheaded him.

Reflection Water is finer than earth; fire is finer than water; air is finer than fire; electricity is finer than air. Nevertheless, air and electricity are dense elements in comparison to the spiritual world. Electricity is very fine, but the voice is finer than electricity; the thought finer than the voice; the spirit finer than thought. Air is fine and it carries the voice over a great distance. Electricity is fine and it carries light over a great distance. Nevertheless, how much more so is every deed, word and thought of yours carried to all ends of the spiritual world. Oh, how dreadful it is to commit sinful deeds and to speak sinful words and to think insane thoughts! To what immeasurable distances are waves amassed from this on the spiritual sea! But do not peer into the details of the unknown world. The main thing is that you know and measure how all your deeds, words and thoughts unavoidably create an impression on all four sides: on God and the spiritual world, on nature, on men, and on your soul. If you train yourself in this knowledge, you will attain a high level of saving vigilance.

Contemplation Contemplate the Lord Jesus in conversation with Nicodemus (John, Chapter 3):

  1. How Nicodemus, though a teacher in Israel, did not perfectly comprehend spiritual things;
  2. How our Lord intentionally began the conversation with the question of spiritual birth–a question most inaccessible to the mind of Nicodemus–so as by this to bring Nicodemus to meekness and then to further cultivate him as a good field;
  3. How in the beginning Nicodemus approached Christ with hesitation and shyness (as even today most of our scholars do), but afterward more boldly.

Homily on judgment and condemnation “He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already” (John 3:18). He who believes in Christ the Lord is not condemned, for he judges himself, and directs his footsteps toward the light that goes before him. As a man in profound darkness adjusts his footsteps according to the candle in his hand, so does the one who believes in Christ–he has embarked after Christ as after a light in the darkness of life. He who does not believe is condemned already. That is, he who does not have a guide on the unknown path loses his way and strays as soon as he takes the first step. He who does not believe in Christ is condemned to ignorance, weakness, anger, staggering along crooked and winding roads, vice, despair and perhaps even suicide. He is condemned in two worlds: in this world to a senseless, physical and delusory existence, and in the other world to eternal damnation! Oh, how dark is the path of the children of unbelief, and how deep is the abyss between their first and third steps! O All-merciful Lord, in truth, besides Thee we have no one and nothing to believe in. Thou art our Savior from darkness, sin and death. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.