- Saint Basil Of Ostrog Basil was born in Popova, a village in Hercegovina, of simple and God-fearing parents. From his youth, he was filled with love for the Church of God, and when he reached maturity, he entered the Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos (Birth-giver of God) in Trebinje and there received the monastic tonsure. As a monk, he quickly became renowned for his assiduous and rare ascetical life. Saint Basil took upon himself ascetic labor upon ascetic labor, each one heavier and more difficult than the last. Later, against his will, he was elected and consecrated bishop of Zahum and Skenderia. As a hierarch, he first lived in the Tvrdoš Monastery and from there, as a good shepherd, strengthened his flock in the Orthodox Faith, protecting them from the cruelty of the Turks and the cunning ways of the Latins. When Basil was exceedingly pressed by his enemies, and when Tvrdoš was destroyed by the Turks, he moved to Ostrog, where he lived an austere ascetic life, protecting his flock by his ceaseless and fervent prayer.*) He reposed peacefully in the Lord in the sixteenth century, leaving behind his incorrupt and healing relics, incorrupt and miracle-working to the present day. The miracles at the grave of St. Basil are without number. Christians and Moslems alike come before his relics and find healing of their most grave illnesses and afflictions. A great national gathering (pilgrimage) occurs there annually on the Feast of Pentecost.
*) A new church, upon the ruins of the old Tvrdoš Monastery, has been
built in our day by Nikola Runjevac from the village of Poljica near Trebinje. It is a wonderful, glorious monument in the sight of God and His people.
The Nine Holy Martyrs In Cyzicus These nine brave martyrs, inflamed with love for Christ, refused to offer sacrifices to the idols or to deny Christ the Lord, for which they were brutally tortured and finally beheaded. During the reign of Emperor Constantine, a church was built in Cyzicus in honor of these martyrs, and their incorrupt relics were placed there. Countless healings have taken place over their relics. Their names were Theognes, Rufus, Antipater, Theostichus, Artemas, Magnus, Theodotus, Thaumasius and Philemon. All of them despised everything temporal for the eternal, the corruptible for the incorruptible. That is why the Lord led them to His eternal home and crowned them with unfading crowns of glory. They suffered honorably and were glorified in the third century.
The Venerable Memnon The Wonderworker From his youth Memnon dedicated himself to fasting and prayer, and he purified himself to such a degree that he became a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. He healed incurable diseases and worked many other miracles. He appeared in storms at sea and rescued ships from disaster. He reposed peacefully in the Lord in the second century and took up his habitation in the heavenly courts of the Lord.
Hymn Of Praise Saint Basil Of Ostrog Saint Basil, God-pleaser And wondrous healer of every affliction: With the power of your Christ, Whom you greatly loved, You were able to heal the gravest of illnesses. Even now are you able to heal all who honor you, And who firmly believe in the Living God. Do not cease to help, O glory of the Serbian people; Do not cease to pray to the Lord for the sinful. You are a saint of God in heavenly glory, And saints are men with a full, healthy spirit. In you we see a true man, Free from sin and filled to overflowing with healing, In whom there burns the fire of the Holy Spirit, In whom abides the love of the resurrected Christ. We are grateful to you and to the All-powerful God, That through you God pours out abundant mercy; Through you, His saint, wondrous and of angelic face– Basil the Serbian, the God pleaser!
Reflection Nothing can be kept secret from the Omniscient God. At every moment, He knows all that is being done in the world, both in the external world and in the internal, spiritual world. Not one intention, not one desire, not one thought can a man conceal from God. How can you hide from God that which you cannot hide from men, from holy men? One day, Tsar Ivan the Terrible came to church to pray to God. In the church, Blessed Basil the Fool-for-Christ stood for prayer. It is true the Tsar was in church physically, but his thoughts were on Sparrow Hill, a short distance from Moscow, upon which he had begun to construct a palace. Throughout the liturgical services the Tsar thought about how he could extend and complete his palace on that hill. After the services the Tsar noticed Basil and asked him: “Where have you been?” Basil replied: “In church.” Basil then immediately asked the Tsar: “And where were you, O Tsar?” “I also was in church,” answered the Tsar. To this the clairvoyant saint replied: “You are not speaking the truth, Ivanushka, for I perceived how, in your thoughts, you were pacing about on Sparrow Hill and building a palace.”
Contemplation Contemplate the Ascension of the Lord Jesus:
- How the Lord, blessing His disciples, was raised above the earth and borne to heaven;
- How the disciples watched Him as He ascended until a cloud hid Him from their sight.
Homily on the incomparable love of Christ “And to know the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19). The love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge! Surpasses, not the knowledge of God, but the knowledge of man, darkened and embittered by sin. God’s knowledge is equal to God’s love and neither surpasses the other. But man’s knowledge, alienated from God, does not at all comprehend God’s love, shown through the Lord Jesus Christ. God understands man, but man does not understand God. God attempted to enable man with reason to understand through nature and through the Old Revelation, through the Law and the prophets, but man did not want to submit to that knowledge. Then God attempted to overcome men through love, and through this love, to draw them to Himself. Hence the Incarnation of the Son of God, His sacrifice and His suffering to the death. Such inexpressible love on the part of God, beyond words and knowledge, has captured and returned many to God, that is, made them to understand and given them a new knowledge, pure and bright. But it has confused many of them as well, for it did not agree with their darkened and embittered understanding. And to know, says the Apostle. How can we, brethren, know that which is beyond knowing and beyond understanding? In no other way than by a change of mind, an awakening and sharpening of the mind, an illumination and elevation of the mind: in brief, by the acquiring of a new mind, which has the capability of understanding the love of Christ, which is beyond the present sinful mind of men. O the depth of God’s wisdom and knowledge! Whoever comes even a little closer to you feels that you are at the same time the depth of the love of God. O Lord, ascended into heaven, illumine our minds with Thine understanding, that we may more easily make our own Thine unfathomable love toward mankind and weep–weep from sorrow because of our hardened hearts and because of our darkened and malicious minds, and weep for joy because of Thy love toward us, who are darkened and embittered. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.