The Venerable Procopius Of Decapolis This saint was from Decapolis by the Sea of Galilea, for which reason he was called the Decapolite. In his youth he devoted himself to a life of asceticism and accomplished all the prescribed labors by which the heart is purified and the spirit is elevated to God. When the wicked Leo the Isaurian began his persecution of the icons and their venerators, Procopius rose up in their defense. He showed that the veneration of icons is not idolatry, for Christians know that by bowing down before icons they are bowing down not to lifeless matter, but to living saints who are depicted in the icons. Because of this, Procopius was arrested, brutally tortured, flogged and scrapped with an iron brush. When the wicked Emperor Leo was slain in the body–for he had lost his soul earlier–icons were restored in the churches, and Procopius returned to his monastery, where he spent the remainder of his days in peace. In his old age he was translated to the Kingdom of God. There he gazes with joy upon the living angels and saints, whose images on icons he honored on earth. He died peacefully in the ninth century.
The Venerable Thalelaeus Thalelaeus was a Syrian ascetic. At first he resided in the Monastery of St. Sava the Sanctified near Jerusalem, but later he settled in a pagan cemetery known for appearances of evil spirits and monsters. In order to conquer fear within himself through faith in God, Thalelaeus settled in this cemetery, where he lived for many years, enduring many assaults from evil spirits both day and night. Because of his great faith and love for God, God endowed him with the gift of working miracles, through which he did much good for sick and suffering people. He reposed in about the year 460 A.D.
The Venerable Titus Of The Monastery Of The Kiev Caves Titus was a priest and had a sincere love for Deacon Evagrius, as brother for brother. But as great as their love was in the beginning, it later became a mutual hostility and hatred sown by the devil. They hated each other so much that, when one would be censing in the church, the other would turn and walk out of the church. Titus attempted many times to reconcile with his antagonist, but in vain. Titus became ill and everyone thought that he was going to die. He begged them to bring Evagrius to him, that he might forgive him. Forcefully they dragged Evagrius to the bedside of Titus, but Evagrius broke free and fled, saying that he would not forgive Titus either in this world or the other world. As soon as he said this, he fell to the ground and died. Titus arose from his bed healthy and related how the demons had been hovering around him until he had forgiven Evagrius. When he forgave, the demons fled and attacked Evagrius, and angels of God surrounded Titus. Titus reposed in the year 1190 A.D.
The Venerable Stephen At first Stephen was a palace official of Emperor Maurice. Later he left the palace service and, driven by love for Christ, built a charitable hospice for the aged in Constantinople. He reposed peacefully in the year 614 A.D.
The Holy Martyr Julian Julian suffered so severely from gout that he was able neither to stand nor walk. Because of his faith in Christ, he was brought on a pallet before the judge. He was burned alive at the stake along with his disciple Chronion, in Alexandria during the reign of Emperor Decius.
Hymn Of Praise Forgiveness That God may forgive us, let us forgive men, We are all on this earth as temporary guests. Prolonged fasting and prayer is in vain Without forgiveness and true mercy. God is the true Physician; sins are leprosy. Whomever God cleanses, God also glorifies. Every merciful act of men, God rewards with mercy. He who returns sin with sin perishes without mercy. Pus is not cleansed by pus fron infected wounds, Neither is the darkness of the dungeon dispelled by darkness, But pure balm heals the festering wound, And light disperses the darkness of the dungeon. To the seriously wounded, mercy is like a balm; As a torch, everyone rejoices in mercy. The madman says: “I have no need of mercy!” But, when he is overcome by misery, he cries out for mercy! Men bathe in the mercy of God, And that mercy of God wakens us to life! That God may forgive us, let us forgive men, We are all on this earth as temporary guests.
Reflection Whenever we are outside the grace of God, we are outside of ourselves. Compared with our grace-filled nature, we find ourselves in no better condition than an insane man compared with a healthy man. Only a blessed man is a natural man, i.e., a man of higher and unspoiled nature, in which the grace of God rules and governs. St. Simeon the New Theologian says: “A lamp, even if it is filled with oil and possesses a wick, remains totally dark if it is not lit. So it is with a soul that appears to be adorned with all the virtues: if it does not have the light and the grace of the Holy Spirit, it is extinguished and dark” (Homily, Number 59). As the great Apostle also says: By the grace of God I am what I am (1 Corinthians 15:10). However, to be without grace means to be alienated from God and alienated from the reality of our own individual being. Our being, our personality, confirms our reality and receives its fullness only in nearness to God. That is why we must look at sinners as we look upon the sick: as weak shadows, without reality and without a mind.
Contemplation Contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Vine: I am the true Vine (John 15:1):
- As the Vine from which sprouted numerous fruitful branches in the persons of the saints;
- As the Vine Who with His sap, that is, His blood, waters and feeds all the branches with Himself;
- As the Vine from Whom the Divine Church has branched out on earth and in the heavens;
- As the Vine from Whom I too should not separate the branch of my life.
Homily on the power of Him Who resurrects the body “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). Here the Lord speaks about the temple of His body. Destroy this body and in three days I will raise it up! Thus speaks One Who knows His might and Who, according to His might, fulfilled His words. For His body was destroyed, broken, pierced, buried and covered with darkness for three days. And on the third day He raised it: raised it not only from the grave on earth but raised it up to the heavens. And so He spoke the word and His word came to pass. The Lord gave a sign to the Jews, for they sought a sign from Him. And when He gave them a sign, such as no one else before Him had been able to give, they did not believe Him. Instead, confused and frightened, they bribed the guards from Golgotha to swear falsely and to proclaim the lie that this miraculous sign had not occurred, and that His disciples had stolen His body from the tomb! No sign whatsoever helps those who do not want to believe. With their own eyes, the Jews witnessed the many miracles of Christ; but nevertheless they did not want to believe. They justified their unbelief, saying that He performed these miracles through the prince of the devils (Matthew 9:34). Whoever does not want to believe in good, all the signs that heaven can give will not help him. A heart filled with evil is harder than granite. A mind darkened by sin cannot be illuminated by all the light of heaven, whose light is greater than a thousand suns. When man expels evil from his heart and delivers his mind from the darkness of sin, then he sees the numerous signs that God gives to those who want to believe–who see and believe. O my brethren, let us not sin against the mercy of God and let us not succumb to the evil of the Jews. O my brethren, all the signs have already been given, and they all glitter as the stars in the heavenly firmament upon all who have a good heart and a right-thinking mind. O Wonderworking Lord, to Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.