The Holy Hieromartyr Methodius, Bishop Of Patara Methodius dedicated himself to asceticism from his youth, and like a city on a hill he was seen and called to the episcopacy in the city of Patara in Lycia. As a learned and eloquent hierarch, Methodius wrote against the heresy of Origen. His “God-inspired words shone throughout the entire world like lightning.” The pagans rose up against him, tortured him and beheaded him in Chalcis in Syria in the year 311 A.D.
The Holy Martyrs Aristocles, Dimitrianus And Athanasius Aristocles was a priest of the cathedral church in the town of Tamasus on Cyprus and lived a God-pleasing life. Because of his great zeal for the Faith, Aristocles was made worthy to hear a voice from heaven instruct him to go to Salamis in Cyprus and receive the wreath of martyrdom. The deacon Dimitrianus and the reader Athanasius accompanied him. Arriving in Salamis, these men of God began to preach Christ. The pagans seized them and, after torturing them, beheaded Aristocles, but Dimitrianus and Athanasius they burned alive, in the year 306 A.D.
The Venerable Nahum Of Ohrid Nahum’s principle feast is celebrated on December 23, while June 20 is his summer feast. (See his life on December 23). During the summer feast there is a great assembly of people at the Monastery of St. Nahum. Many sick people come or are brought there to receive healing through faith and prayer over the relics of the saint. Not only Orthodox people but also people from other faiths come to seek help from St. Nahum. In 1926 a Muslim from Resna brought and donated a bell to the monastery out of thanksgiving to St. Nahum for having healed his brother from his deathbed and restored him to life. The donor was Jemail Zizo and his brother, who was healed, was called Suleiman Zizo. Both were prominent citizens of Resna.
Saint Kallistos I, Patriarch Of Constantinople As a disciple of Gregory the Sinaite, Kallistos lived a life of asceticism for twenty-eight years on Mt. Athos in the Scete of Magoula at the Monastery of Philotheou. He later founded the Monastery of St. Mamas. He was elected patriarch of Constantinople in the year 1350 A.D. After four years he withdrew from the patriarchal throne and returned to Mt. Athos. But during the reign of John Palaeologus, he was returned again to the throne, where he remained as patriarch until his death. He died in the year 1368 A.D. on the way to Serres, to where he was traveling to meet the Serbian Empress Helena, who came to seek help against the Turks. He compiled a beautiful guide [manual] for ascetics together with Ignatius of Xanthopoulos. In addition to this, he wrote the Lives of St. Gregory the Sinaite and St. Theodosius of Trnovo, as well as numerous homilies. It is interesting to note how St. Maximus of Kapsokalyvia prophesied the death of Patriarch Kallistos. On his way to Serbia, Kallistos traveled across the Holy Mountain. Seeing him, St. Maximus said: “This elder will never see his flock again, for behind him is heard the funeral chant: Blessed are the undefiled in the way (Psalm 119:1).”
Saint Leucius, Bishop Of The City Of Brindisi [Italy] Leucius was born in Alexandria and at an early age he entered a monastery. He was deemed worthy of great revelations and powerful grace, so that he resurrected the dead and drove out demons from men. At first he was bishop in Alexandria, and then he crossed over to Italy at a command from heaven, to the pagan town of Brindisi, baptized all the people, and built a church there to the Mother of God. After many successful labors, he took up his habitation in eternity during the reign of Emperor Theodosius Ii, in the fifth century.
Blessed Studios Studios was a prominent patrician and consul in Constantinople. He founded the church of St. John the Forerunner near the Golden Gates, as well as a monastery named the Studion after him. This monastery became famous for its many glorious men, spiritual fathers, ascetics and many who suffered for the Faith [martyrs], the most famous of which was St. Theodore the Studite. The Latin Crusaders destroyed this monastery in 1204 A.D., but Emperor Constantine Palaeologus Porphyrogenitus rebuilt it in the year 1293 A.D. A Turkish mosque stands on that site today.
Hymn Of Praise
“Leucius, Leucius, with heart made white:
In the Book of Life of blessed names,
Thy memory in the heavens will eternal be,
And on earth the Church will glorify you!”
Such a voice Leucius, from the heavens, heard,
And a fragrant peace his heart calmed.
Against Leucius the holy the black devil arose,
But Leucius, against him [Devil], with the Cross rose up.
By demonic arrows, he was not wounded,
But by the power of God, all the power of the devil he destroyed.
To the good shepherd, God gave power,
And he preserved his flock in sinful Egypt.
He further founded a church in Brindisi
And instructed the people to defend the will of God.
Many people and glorious noblemen he baptized,
And with the torch of the Orthodox Faith, enlightened all.
By his miracles he astonished the whole world,
And then to the Lord he departed, a wreath of glory to receive.
Saint Cyprian writes on immortality: “If a famous man promised you something, you would believe his promise and would not even dare to think that he who is always faithful to his word would deceive you. But behold, O treacherous one, God Himself speaks to you, and you are wavering with doubt. God has promised you immortality after your departure from this world, and do you impudently doubt this promise? This means you do not recognize God at all; it means that by your unbelief you insult Christ the Lord and Teacher.” O how powerful is the faith of the saints of God! How clear and understandable and well-explained it is with simple and powerful examples! The unholy doubt, not because they are supposedly more rational, but because they are unholy. The holier man is always more rational, for in the clear mirror of his heart he sees the truth.
To contemplate the miraculous withering of the unfruitful fig tree: And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he came up to it and found nothing on it but leaves; and He said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you henceforth forever!” And immediately the fig tree withered up (St. Matthew 21:19):
- How the Lord cursed the fig tree that had many leaves but no fruit, and the fig tree withered up;
- How my life too, which has many leaves–bodily cares, desires and thoughts– but is without spiritual fruit, can come under the same curse, if I do not mend my ways.
About how our salvation is in the hands of God
“The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but salvation is in the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31).
We are obligated to prepare ourselves, but our success depends on God. All of our preparation is only as a proposal to God, and it is not the preparation that determines the outcome, but God. That is why, based on their experience, people wisely say: Man proposes but God disposes. O soldier of Christ, prepare your mind as a good horse, arm your heart with virtues, temper your will with asceticism; but know that salvation is in the Lord. O Merchant of Christ, trade well every day, exchanging the material for the spiritual, the earthly for the heavenly, and mortality for immortality; but know that salvation is in the Lord. O plowman of Christ, plow and re-plow your soul, sow the good seed of the Gospel in it every day, clear out the field of your soul from weeds, watch over it; but know that salvation is in the Lord. A horse did not help Pharaoh in the Red Sea. Neither did the riches of Babylon help in the day of reckoning with God. A person can have prepared everything, but in the decisive moment he can still lose all. For salvation is not in preparation, but in the Lord. That is why the saints, even though they were most prepared for the Kingdom of God, sighed in the hour of their death, not knowing whether they would be received into the Kingdom. Oh, how well they remember the words of the Lord: When you have done everything that was commanded you, say: “We are unprofitable servants!” (St. Luke 17:10). Brethren, let us be prepared for the day of temptation, well girded and armed, but let us not hope in our own preparation, but in the Lord. O Lord our Savior, help us and save us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.