1. The Venerable Gerasimus This remarkable and renowned saint first learned about the ascetic life while he was in the Egyptian Thebaid. He then went to the Jordan and founded a community in which there were seventy monks. This community still exists today. He instituted a special rule for his monastery. According to this rule the monks spent five days a week in their cells weaving baskets and rush mats. They were never allowed to light a fire in their cells. Five days a week they ate only a little dry bread and a few dates. The monks were required to keep their cells open so that, when they went out, anyone could enter and remove whatever he needed from their cells. On Saturdays and Sundays they gathered in the monastery church. They had a common meal with a few vegetables and a little wine to the glory of God. Each monk would then bring in and place before the feet of the abbot that which he had made during the past five days. Each monk had only one robe. St. Gerasimus was an example to all. During Great Lent he did not eat anything except what he received in Holy Communion. On one occasion, he saw a lion roaring from pain because of a thorn in his paw. Gerasimus drew near to the lion, crossed himself and removed the thorn from the animal’s paw. The lion became so tame that he returned with Gerasimus to the monastery and remained there until the elder’s death. When Gerasimus reposed, the lion succumbed to sorrow for him and died. Gerasimus attended the Fourth Ecumenical Council [Chalcedon, 451 A.D.] during the reign of Marcian and Pulcheria. Although at the beginning Gerasimus leaned toward the Monophysite heresy of Eutyches and Dioscorus (St. Euthymius dissuaded him from this heresy), he was a great defender and champion of Orthodoxy at the Council. Of all the disciples of Gerasimus, the most famous was St. Cyriacus the Recluse. St. Gerasimus died in the year 475 A.D., and passed on to the eternal joy of his Lord.

  2. The Holy Martyrs Paul And Juliana Paul and Juliana were brother and sister from Ptolemais in Phoenicia. They were brutally tortured for the sake of Christ by the Emperor Aurelius and were finally beheaded. Before their martyrdom they manifested many miracles, which were witnessed by a multitude of pagans. Through these miracles, many of the pagans were converted to the Faith. Several of these were beheaded and received their wreaths in the year 273 A.D.

  3. Saint James The Faster He lived in the sixth century. He was so perfected in pleasing God that he cured the most gravely ill through his prayers. But the enemy of mankind lured him into great temptations. Once an immoral woman was sent to him by some mockers. She misrepresented herself to James, pretending to weep yet all the while luring him into sin. Seeing that he was going to yield to sin, James placed his left hand into the fire and held it there for some time until it was scorched. Seeing this, the woman was filled with fear and terror, repented, and amended her life. On another occasion, James did not flee from his temptation, but rather he fell with a maiden who had been brought by her parents to be cured of her insanity. He indeed healed her, but afterward sinned with her. Then in order to conceal his sin, he killed her and threw her into a river. As is common, the steps from fornication to murder are not very far. After this, James lived for ten years as a penitent in an open grave. At that time there was a great drought which caused both people and livestock to suffer. As a result of his prayers, rain fell, and James knew that God had forgiven him. Here is an example, similar to that of David, of how wicked the evil demon is; how by God’s permission the greatest spiritual giants can be overthrown; and how, through sincere and contrite repentance, God, according to His mercy, forgives even the greatest sins and does not punish those who punish themselves.

Hymn Of Praise Saint James The Faster He who falls from the greater height is injured more. Whoever is lifted to the heights, let him cautiously shield himself. The holy Apostle writes: “Whoever thinks that he is standing secure Should take care lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12); let him fear God. James the Faster was a giant according to the height of his soul, But he slipped from the heights, and the devil toppled him. One sin hastens to the other: fornication rushes to murder. James the Faster punished himself, and God comforted him. One sin is able to erode all the virtues; Through one hole in the granary, all the wheat pours out. A house filled with fragrances: one handful of filth Empties it of redolence and fills it with stench. One hundred victories and one hundred celebrations do not help When in the final battle the head is lost. The spiritual life is a struggle against the hordes of the devil; In this battle the proud are defeated from the beginning. Whoever invokes the name of God with profound humility Will, in battle, be protected by God’s mercy.

Reflection If the philosophies of men were able to satisfy man, why did the philosophers Justin and Origen become Christians? Why did Basil, Chrysostom and Gregory, who in Athens studied all the philosophy of the Greeks, receive baptism? And why did Blessed Augustine, who knew the wisdom of both the Greeks and the Romans, throw away all and seek salvation and illumination in the Christian Faith? And St. Clement of Rome, who was very wealthy and very learned? And St. Catherine, who was from the royal house and knew all the worldly wisdom of the Egyptians? And the young Crown Prince Ioasaph in India, who knew all the Indian philosophies? And many, many more who, in philosophy, primarily sought explanations to the puzzles of the world and illumination for their souls, and afterward entered the Church and worshipped the Lord Christ?

Contemplation Contemplate the Mystery of Communion as the presence of our Lord Jesus in the Church on earth:

  1. As the fulfillment of His promise: Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:20).
  2. As His constant support of the faithful, to whom He said: Without me, ye can do nothing (John 15:5).

Homily on Pilate’s wavering “From thenceforth Pilate sought to release Him… then delivered he Him therefore unto them to be crucified” (John19:12,16). From where does this contradiction in Pilate stem? From where is this dual will in one and the same man? While he stood under the radiant face of Christ, Pilate with all his heart wanted to release the Just Man. But when the darkness of the Jews overcame him, he agreed to the works of darkness. This is the seed fallen among the thorns. While the face of Christ shown on the seed, the seed took root, but as soon as the seed was left without this light, the darkness of the thorns smothered it. When the Lord Jesus authoritatively spoke to Pilate of the Heavenly Kingdom, saying to him, Thou couldest have no power at all against Me, except it were given thee from above (John 19:11), Pilate then felt overcome by the fear of God. But when the masses of the Jews cried out to Pilate, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend (John 19: 12), then Pilate was overcome with fear of the worldly king. His fear for his body overcame his fear for his soul, as sometimes happens even to this day. Pilate was a disciple of worldly wisdom. Worldly wisdom does not offer strength but instills fear. Worldly wisdom sustains not the soul but the body. Worldly wisdom does not instill fear for the soul but fear for the body and all that is physical. Here, in Pilate, we see an obvious and pathetic example of what type of men worldly wisdom produces and educates–disregarding God and opposing Christ. Pilate’s weak character and wavering soul is a picture, not only of pagans, but also of weak Christians. Certain Christians daily, imperceptibly, and more often unconsciously, would for a while like to free Christ from the darkened and evil Jewish instinct within themselves. Then at other times, they are ready, from that instinct, to abandon Him to crucifixion. This always happens when a Christian transgresses some of the commandments of Christ for the sake of fulfilling some of his own physical desires. For a moment, that commandment enlightens the heart of a wavering Christian, and again for a moment, the physical darkness overcomes him so much that he completely succumbs to it. O Lord, long-suffering, do not turn away the radiance of Thy face from us even for one twinkling of an eye, so that the darkness does not overcome us. O Lord, help us that we will remain children of the light until the end. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.