Saint Ephraim, Patriarch Of Antioch During the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius, Ephraim was governor of the eastern regions. He was known to all for his great piety and charity, and because of this he was greatly respected. When it was necessary to rebuild Antioch, which had been destroyed by earthquake and fire, the emperor assigned the governor Ephraim to direct this task. Ephraim fulfilled his duty with diligence and love. Among the ordinary stone-cutters was a bishop, who for unknown reasons had left his episcopal see and was working as a common laborer, and no one knew that he was a bishop. One day he lay down to rest from the exhausting work with the other laborers, and fell asleep. The governor Ephraim glanced at him and saw a fiery pillar rising from this man to the heavens. Amazed and frightened, Ephraim summoned this man and made him swear to tell him who he was. The man hesitated, but finally acknowledged that he was a bishop and prophesied to Ephraim that he would shortly be consecrated Patriarch of Antioch. (The throne of the patriarchal see was vacant because the aged Patriarch Euphrasius had perished in the earthquake.) Indeed, Ephraim was elected and consecrated patriarch. Because of his goodness, purity and zeal for Orthodoxy, God gave him the great gift of working miracles. One time, in order to convince a heretic that Orthodoxy is true, he placed his pallium in the fire and prayed to God. His pallium stayed in the fire for three hours and remained intact. Seeing this, the heretic was astonished and rejected his heresy. St. Ephraim died in peace in the year 546 A.D. and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of God.
The Venerable Zosimas Of Phoenicia St. Zosimas was bom in the village of Synda, in the proximity of the town of Tyre. There he lived a life of asceticism in his monastery. Not having any cloud on his conscience, he perceived things at a distance with his spirit and knew what was happening in the world. Thus, he foretold and saw the destruction of Antioch by an earthquake and, weeping bitterly, prostrated himself on the ground and prayed to God that this city not be completely destroyed. Once it happened that a lion on the road killed and ate his donkey. The saint commanded the lion to serve him in place of the donkey and to carry his load. The lion showed himself meek as a lamb before the saint and accepted the load and bore it to the gate of Caesarea, where Zosimas released him and let him go. Saint Zosimas died peacefully in the sixth century.
The Holy Great-Martyr Theodore Stratelates This saint is commemorated on February 8, and on that date his life is recounted. However, June 8 commemorates the translation of his relics from Heraklion to Euchaita. Before his martyrdom, Saint Theodore left the following instructions in his will to Varus, his servant: “Bury my body in Euchaita on the estate of my ancestors.” St. Anastasius of Sinai wrote about a miracle of the icon of St. Theodore: In the town of Karsat, near Damascus, there was a church dedicated to St. Theodore Stratelates. When the Saracens conquered Damascus, a group of Saracens took up residence in this church with their wives and children. There was a fresco of the image of St. Theodore on the wall. One of the Saracens shot an arrow and struck the image of the saint in the face. At once blood flowed from the image. Soon after that, the entire group of those Saracens perished in the church. St. Anastasius said that he personally was in that church and saw the image of the saint on the wall and traces of congealed blood.
Hymn Of Praise
Saint Ephraim, brimming with piety,
Was a soldier against evildoers,
Against heresies sinful and foolish.
He was a soldier of the Church–
The Church that Christ purchased and eternally glorified
By His precious Blood shed on the Cross.
Ephrem guarded the flock from wolves
And the nests of spiders he destroyed.
Ephrem holy, chosen one of God,
A light in Antioch, he was.
The Church shown through his mouth
As at the time of the glorious Chrysostom.
By miraculous healing power,
God glorified him who glorified God.
Ephraim, star of the glorious past,
Ephraim, glory of the Orthodox Church.
Fear in suffering and fear of not suffering–this is one and the same fear, and it signifies the fear of a spiritual man as to whether or not God has distanced Himself from him. When St. Catherine suffered many difficult tortures, the Lord appeared to her and she asked Him: “Where were You until now, O Lord, to comfort me in so many sufferings?” The Lord answered her: “I was here in your heart.” But as great a fear can come upon a spiritual man when sufferings do not come his way for a long time. A monk once entered a church in Alexandria and saw a woman kneeling before the icon of the Savior, shedding tears and crying out to the Lord: “You have abandoned me, O Lord, O Merciful One, have mercy on me!” Following the prayer the monk asked her: “Who has wronged you that you so bitterly complain to God?” The woman replied: “Up to now no one has wronged me–that is why I am weeping–because God has abandoned me and for three years has not visit me with any sufferings. During this time, neither have I been sick, nor my son, nor have any of my household livestock perished.”
To contemplate the miraculous healing of the two blind men: As Jesus moved on from there, two blind men came after Him crying out, ‘Son of David, have pity on us’ (St. Matthew 9:27):
- How the blind men cried out to the Lord to open their eyes;
- How the Lord touched their eyes and did unto them according to their faith, and they saw;
- How the Lord can touch my blind soul and restore my spiritual sight if I cry out to Him in faith.
About the King of kings
“By Me kings reign and princes decree justice. By Me princes rule and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. I love them that love Me” (Proverbs 8:15-17).
Let not a king think that he rules by his wisdom and power, for he will be mocked by the weak and the foolish. Let a ruler not think that he establishes justice among the people by his intelligence and will, for this would be foolishness, absurd even to children. Let not princes, rulers and judges think that they rule according to someone else’s will and mercy, contrary to God’s will and mercy, for all those who forget God will be fatally injured on the ice upon which they are sliding. I love them that love Me, says the Lord. The Lord speaks this, first of all, to the kings, princes and judges of mankind. For if they love the Lord, they are very dear to the Lord. If they love the Lord, the people whom they rule and judge will love Him also. And if the people love the Lord, they will love their kings, princes and judges. Inasmuch as a man is elevated by power and authority over people, so much closer to God should he be than the people over whom he is elevated. O my brethren, the Lord was crucified on the Cross for us, and by this He showed His love for us. He Who was crucified for us truly loves us more than he who merely rejoices with us at table. And yet when we have such love for our friends who make merry with us at table, how then should we not love Him Who, out of love for us, was crucified on the Cross? O Blessed Lord, open for us our spiritual sight, that we may see the entire immeasurable depth of Your love and that we may be inflamed with love toward You!
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.