The Hieromartyr [Priestly-Martyr] Proterius This saint was a presbyter in Alexandria at the same time Dioscorus the heretic was Patriarch of Alexandria. Dioscorus was one of the leaders of the Monophysite heresy, which taught that there is one nature in Christ [human] and not two natures [human and divine]. At that time Marcian and Pulcheria were on the imperial throne. This holy and devout man, Proterius, stood up against Dioscorus for which he endured much misery. Then the Fourth Ecumenical Council [Chalcedon, 451 A.D.] was convened, at which the Monophysite heresy was condemned. Dioscorus was removed from the patriarchal throne and exiled. Proterius, this right-believing man, was elected in his place. He governed the Church with zeal and love–as a true follower of Christ. However, the followers of Dioscorus did not cease to create a disturbance in Alexandria. At the time of one such bloody disturbance, Proterius left the city with the intention of staying away temporarily. Along the way, the Prophet Isaiah appeared to him in a vision and said: “Return to the city, I am waiting to take you.” Proterius returned to Alexandria and entered the church. Upon learning of this, the enraged heretics rushed into the church, seized the patriarch and stabbed him all over with knives. Six other Christians were also slain with Proterius. Thus Proterius, this wonderful shepherd of Christ’s flock, received a martyr’s wreath for the truth of Orthodoxy, in the year 457 A.D.
Saint Basil The Confessor Basil was a companion and fellow sufferer with St. Procopius of Decapolis. Basil faithfully followed his teacher Procopius, both in peaceful times and in times of persecution. He endured much torment from the iconoclasts. When the iconoclasts were defeated, Basil, according to God’s providence, returned to his monastery together with Procopius. There he lived a long life of asceticism in fasting and prayer. He died peacefully in the year 747 A.D.
The Hieromartyr [Priest-Martyr] Nestor Nestor was the bishop of Magydos [in Pamphylia]. He was distinguished by his great meekness. During the reign of Decius, he was brought to trial and cruelly tortured for Christ. Before his death, he saw in a vision a sacrificial lamb, which he interpreted as a sign of his impending sacrifice. He was tortured by the Eparch Publius and in the end was crucified in Perga [the capital of the province] in the year 250 A.D.
Blessed Nicholas, Fool-For-Christ Of Pskov Nicholas lived as a fool-for-Christ in the town of Pskov during the reign of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, and died on February 28, 1576 A.D.
Hymn Of Praise Two Natures The Lord united two natures; He does not separate them anymore: Human and Divine. He does not separate them anymore: God and Man–One Person. In both respects undiminished, The God-man and Savior, The Unifier of that which was separated, The Interpreter of the eternal mysteries, The Founder of the Kingdom of the saints. God came closer to man, Eternity descended, time was lifted up. Of the Holy Trinity, Christ is the trumpet; Of the two natures, Christ is the mystery. The true God became man, Remained above and lowered Himself down. He neither fell nor stumbled, But wrapped Himself in flesh. That is holy, pure love, Love eternal, eternally the same. He raised a giant with His small finger, And this is incomprehensible to the mind.
Reflection Fools-for-Christ were distinguished by rare fearlessness. Blessed Nicholas ran through the streets of Pskov pretending insanity, rebuking the people for their hidden sins and prophesying that which would befall them. When Ivan the Terrible entered Pskov, the entire town was in terror of the terrible tsar. As a welcome to the tsar, bread and salt were placed in front of every home, but the people did not appear. When the governor of the town presented the tsar with bread and salt on a tray before the church, the tsar pushed the tray away, so that the bread and salt fell to the ground. Then, Blessed Nicholas appeared before the tsar in a long shirt tied with a rope, hopping around on a cane like a child. Then he cried out: “Ivanuska, Ivanuska, eat bread and salt and not human blood.” The soldiers rushed out to catch him but he fled and hid. The tsar, learning about this Blessed Nicholas–who and what he was–visited him in his scant living quarters. It was the first week of Great Lent. Upon hearing that the tsar was coming to visit him, Nicholas found a piece of raw meat. When the tsar entered his cell, Nicholas bowed and offered the meat to the tsar. “Eat Ivanusha, eat!” Angrily, the terrible tsar replied: “I am a Christian and I do not eat meat during the Fast.” Then the man of God quickly responded to him: “But you do even worse: you feed on men’s flesh and blood, forgetting not only Lent but also God!” This lesson entered deeply into the heart of Tsar Ivan, and he, ashamed, immediately departed Pskov, where he had intended to perpetrate a great massacre.
Contemplation Contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Bread of Life: I am that Bread of Life (John 6:48):
- As the Bread by which the soul is nourished and lives;
- As the Bread by which the mind is nourished and enlightened;
- As the Bread by which the heart is nourished and ennobled.
Homily on the nourishment of the soul “I am that Bread of Life " (John 6:48). Thus spoke the Lord Jesus to the hungry human race. These words have been proved throughout the centuries to Christ’s innumberable followers, who have received the Lord as the nourishment of their souls. A desperate young man who was close to suicide confessed to a spiritual father. The spiritual father listened to him carefully and said to him: “My son, you are to blame for your misfortune. Your soul is starved to death. Throughout your entire life, you learned only how to nourish your body, but you never thought that the soul requires greater and more frequent nourishment than the body. Your soul is on the verge of dying from hunger. My son, eat and drink Christ [Holy Communion]. Only this can restore your soul from death. Every day eat and drink of Christ. He is the Life-creating Bread of our souls.” The young man obeyed the elder and returned to life. Brethren, let us nourish our souls with Christ, that our souls may be alive and healthy. Let us continually nourish our minds with Christ’s thoughts, that our minds might be enlightened and clear. Let us continually nourish our hearts with the love of Christ, that our hearts might be full and joyful. Let us continually nourish our wills with the commandments of Christ and the example of Christ, that our wills might perform good deeds every minute. Let Christ’s thoughts be our thoughts and Christ’s love be our love and Christ’s good will be our good will. Let us continually nourish our souls with Christ the Lord; with our soul let us continually eat Him and drink Him! There is no more nourishing Bread than He; there is no sweeter drink than He. In Holy Communion, He gives Himself completely to us, Body and Blood. But Holy Communion is a reminder that our souls must continually be nourished by Him, continually eat Him and drink Him just as we continually breathe. O our good and sweet Lord, stir up our souls that they may continually nourish themselves with Thee and remain alive. Thou art our Bread of Life.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.