Saint Zacharias, Patriarch Of Jerusalem During the reign of the Greek Emperor Heraclius, the Persian King Chozroes attacked Jerusalem, in the year 614 A.D. Chozroes pillaged the city, removed the Honorable Cross to Persia and took an enormous number of Christians into bondage. Among them was Patriarch Zacharias. The Jews assisted Chozroes in committing evil against the Christians. Among other acts of wickedness by the Jews, this one is mentioned: the Jews purchased from Chozroes ninety-thousand Christians as their slaves and slew them all. The aged Patriarch Zacharias remained in bondage for fourteen years. So many miracles occurred in Persia as a result of the Honorable Cross, that even the Persians said: “The Christian God has come to Persia.” Later, Heraclius forced the Persian emperor to return the Honorable Cross to Jerusalem, along with the patriarch and the remaining captives. Emperor Heraclius himself bore the Cross on his shoulders into the Holy City. St. Zacharias spent his remaining days in peace and took up his habitation with the Lord in the year 631 A.D. He was succeeded on the throne by Patriarch Modestus, and after him by St. Sophronius (March 11).
The Venerable Timothy Timothy was a recluse in a place called Symbola on the Asiatic side of Mount Olympus. In his youth Timothy entered a monastery and was tonsured a monk. Until old age he spent his earthly life in fasting, prayer, vigils and ceaseless labor. He remained pure and chaste throughout his entire life. To the pure and chaste, God gives authority over evil spirits, and He gave this to Timothy. Through his labors for the salvation of his soul, St. Timothy succeeded in building within himself a wonderful abode for the Holy Spirit. This holy man reposed in the year 795 A.D.
Saint Eustathius, Archbishop Of Antioch Eustathius was a great zealot and defender of Orthodoxy. As such, he was especially prominent at the First Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 325 A.D.], where he intellectually and systematically refuted the teaching of Arius. With the other Holy Fathers, Eustathius rightly confessed that Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, is equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit according to Divine Essense. Following the death of Emperor Constantine, the Arians again gained the ascendancy and began to bitterly persecute Orthodoxy. St. Eustathius was ousted from his throne and exiled, first to Thrace and later to Macedonia. Eustathius suffered much and long, until at last he gave up his holy soul to God in the year 345 A.D.
Saint John Iii Scholasticus, Patriarch Of Constantinople A lawyer, John was ordained a priest, and he later became patriarch, in the year 565 A.D. He compiled canons, which were included in the Nomocanon. During his reign the Cherubic Hymn, as well as the prayer “At Thy Mystical Supper,” were introduced into the Divine Liturgy. John died peacefully and gave up his soul to God in the year 577 A.D.
The Cherubic Hymn “Let us who mystically represent the Cherubim, and who sing the thrice-holy hymn to the life-creating Trinity, now lay aside all earthly cares. That we may receive the King of All, who comes invisibly upborne by the angelic hosts. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!”
Prayer Before Holy Communion “I believe, O Lord, and I confess that Thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first. I believe also that this is truly Thine own pure Body, and that this is truly Thine own precious Blood. Therefore, I pray Thee: have mercy upon me and forgive my transgressions both voluntary and involuntary, of word and of deed, committed knowingly and unknowingly, of knowledge and of ignorance. And make me worthy to partake without condemnation of Thy most pure Mysteries, for the remission of my sins, and unto life everlasting. Amen.
- How the rich man sought counsel but was not prepared to sacrifice;
- How our Lord pointed out to him the way to sacrifice, which is necessary for the purchase of eternal life;
- How the rich man left sorrowfully, for he could not part with his riches.
Homily on fasting and prayer “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29). This is the saving prescription of the greatest Physician of human souls. This is the remedy tried and proven. There is not another remedy for madness. What kind of sickness is this? This is the presence and dominance of an evil spirit in a man, a dangerous evil spirit, who labors to eventually destroy the body and soul of man. The boy, whom our Lord freed from an evil spirit, had been hurled by it at times into the fire and at times into the water, just in order to destroy him. As long as a man only philosophizes about God, he is weak and completely helpless against an evil spirit. The evil spirit ridicules the feeble sophistry of the world. But as soon as a man begins to fast and to pray to God, the evil spirit becomes filled with indescribable fear. In no way can the evil spirit tolerate the fragrance of prayer and fasting. The sweet-smelling fragrance chokes him and weakens him to utter exhaustion. In a man who only philosophizes about faith, there is spacious room in him for the demons. But in a man who sincerely begins to pray to God and to fast with patience and hope, it becomes narrow and constricted for the demon, so the demon must flee from such a man. Against certain bodily ills there exists only one remedy. Against the greatest illness of the soul, demonic possession, there exist two remedies, which must be utilized at one and the same time: fasting and prayer. The apostles and saints fasted and prayed to God. That is why they were so powerful against evil spirits. O gracious Jesus, our Physician and Helper in all misfortunes, strengthen us by the power of Thy Holy Spirit, that we may be able to adhere to Thy saving precepts concerning fasting and prayer, for the sake of our salvation and the salvation of our fellow men. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.