The Venerable Benedict Benedict was born in the Italian province of Nursia in the year 480 A.D., of wealthy and distinguished parents. He did not remain long in school for he realized himself that through book-learning he could lose “the great understanding of his soul.” He left school “an unlearned wise man and an understanding fool.” He retreated to a monastery, where he was tonsured by the monk Romanus, after which he withdrew to a steep mountain, where he remained in a cave for more than three years in a great struggle with his soul. Romanus brought him bread and lowered it down the steep mountain on a rope to the opening of the cave. When Benedict became known in the vicinity, he withdrew from this cave in order to retreat from the glory of men. He was merciless toward himself. Once, when an unclean and raging passion of the flesh seized him, he removed all his clothes and rolled around naked in the thorns until he repelled every thought of a woman. God endowed him with many spiritual gifts: clairvoyance, healing, the expelling of evil spirits, the raising of the dead, and the ability to appear to others from a distance in visions and dreams. Once, Benedict perceived that a glass of wine served to him was poisoned. When he made the sign of the Cross over it, the glass burst. In the beginning he established twelve monasteries, and in each of them he placed twelve monks. Later he compiled the special “Benedictine” rule, which is followed even today in the Roman Church. On the sixth day before his death, he ordered that his grave, which had been prepared earlier, be opened, for the saint foresaw that his end was near. He assembled all the monks, counseled them, and then gave up his soul to the Lord, Whom he had faithfully served in poverty and in purity. Scholastica, his sister by birth, lived in a convent, where, in imitation of her brother, she great subdued herself and reached a high state of spiritual perfection. When St. Benedict gave up his soul, two monks, one traveling on the road and one at prayer in a faraway cell, simultaneously saw the same vision. They saw a path extending from earth to heaven, covered with a precious woven fiber and illuminated on both sides by rows of men. At the head of the path, there stood a man of indescribable beauty and light, who said to them that this path was prepared for Benedict, favored by God. As a result of this vision, these two brothers learned that their good abbot had departed from this world. He reposed peacefully in the year 543 A.D. and entered into the Eternal Kingdom of Christ the King.
Saint Euschemon, Bishop Of Lampsacus During the iconoclastic controversy Euschemon endured persecution and imprisonment. He died during the reign of Emperor Theophilus the Iconoclast (829-842 A.D.).
Saint Theognostus Theognostus was Metropolitan of Kiev. He was a Greek by origin and a successor to St. Peter of Kiev. He suffered much at the hands of the Mongol Horde (especially at the hands of Janibeg Khan). Theognostus was slandered by his own Russian people before the Mongolian emperor because he did not render the emperor any tribute for his episcopal rank. When the emperor summoned and questioned him concerning this, Theognostus replied: “Christ our God has redeemed His Church from paganism by His Precious Blood. For what should I pay tribute to the pagans?” In the end he was released and returned home. He governed the Church for twenty-five years. He reposed in the Lord in the year 1353 A.D.
Hymn Of Praise Saint Benedict Benedict was a mighty miracle-worker, A devout person who shed many tears, and a dear companion. Led by the Spirit of God, holding on to the true Faith, He was a loving leader, mighty, resolute and humble. Placidus was his young novice. Just then the holy Father Benedict prayed to God, But at once his spirit perceived in the distance: Behold, the brook suddenly rose, tumbling stones; Placidus, facing death, was tossed about in the torrent; The brook seized him and was toying with him. The saint heard a scream, he heard his own name. Here faith was necessary, but also pursuit: Quickly the Elder sent Maurus the monk. Maurus, with a hurried leap, jumped into the water. On the water as on a road, he rushed to Placidus. Unaware that he was walking on the water, Maurus was upheld on the surface by the prayers of the saint. Maurus and Placidus came to the elder And kissed his hand. Placid sobbed: “I saw you, O Elder, above my head When my heart was overly filled with dread. By the hair you grabbed me and above the water lifted me, Until, at that moment, Maurus came to my assistance!” Through the prayers of holy Father Benedict, God also proclaimed Maurus as a miracle-worker.
Reflection We can hardly find a better example of why we should not become lazy or procrastinate in prayer and work until tomorrow, than by this example, which is given to us by St. Ephraim the Syrian: “Once a brother was inspired by the devil to think: ‘Give yourself rest today and tomorrow rise for vigil.’ But he answered the thought, ‘Who knows, perhaps, I will not even get up tomorrow, that is why I need to rise today.’ Before work, he was also inspired with this thought: ‘Give yourself rest today and complete your work tomorrow.’ And again he responded, ‘No, I will complete my work today, and the Lord will take care of tomorrow.’” St. Anthony teaches: “Before the dawn of each day, arrange your life as though it is your last day on earth and you will protect yourself from sins.”
Contemplation Contemplate the Lord Jesus before Pilate:
- How the Lord was silent before Pilate;
- How Judas then threw the pieces of silver into the Temple and hanged himself;
- And again, how Pilate questioned and the Lord was silent.
Homily on Christ’s prophecy concerning His Glory “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:24). He who does not see God as the merciful Samaritan on earth will see Him as the dreadful Judge in heaven. So blinded were the leaders of the Jews that, in the Lord Christ, they were unable to see God, or the Messiah, or a prophet, or even simply a good man. They placed Him beneath ordinary good people. Not only that, they placed Him even lower than the thieves. They released Barabbas and they condemned Christ! In general, they did not even consider Christ a man. They spit on Him; they mocked Him; they made a masquerade of Him, as of some cheap and unneeded thing. Exactly at the moment when the Jews maliciously played with Christ as some cheap and unneeded thing, the Lord suddenly opened His mouth and spoke: Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. What a distance there is between what Christ is in truth and what the Jews held Him to be! The Son of Man, Who sits on the right hand of Power, is the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who was seen as such soon after that by the Holy Archdeacon Stephen and many, many others. The Son of Man, Who comes on the clouds with angels and countless numbers of powers and heavenly hosts, is again that same Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, as St. John the Theologian and Evangelist saw and wrote about in his Revelation. O my brethren, do not be misled by deluding and illusionary tales of those men who say: “When we see Christ in the heavens as God, then we will believe in Him.” That faith will be too late, and that vision will be in vain. With our faith we must see Christ as God in that humiliated, spat upon, beaten, bloodied and ridiculed Man in the court of Caiaphas; in that silent and condemned One Whom the Jews considered as something cheap and unneeded and Whom they turned into a masquerade. This is the Faith that is valued in heaven. This is the Faith that is rewarded by resurrection and immortality. This is the Faith that, until now, nurtured and transplanted to heaven numerous armies of the holiest souls, the strongest characters, the most forbearing heroes, and the most illustrious minds. O humiliated Lord, raise us up to this Faith. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.