The Holy Archangel Gabriel This great archangel of God is commemorated on March 26. Today, however, his appearances and miracles throughout the entire history of man’s salvation are celebrated. It is believed that this celebration was first established on Mt. Athos in the ninth century, during the time of the Emperors Basil and Constantine Porphyrogenitus and Patriarch Nicholas Chrysoverges, and was occasioned by the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel in a cell near Karyes, where the archangel wrote with his finger on a stone tablet the hymn to the Birth-giver of God “It Is Truly Meet” [Dostojno Jest, Axion Estin]. Because of this event, the cell was called, and is called to this day “It is Truly Meet.” Together with this occurrence, the other appearances of the Archangel Gabriel are also commemorated: the archangel’s appearance to Moses while he was tending the flock of Jethro, when he related to this great one called of God how the world was created and all the rest that Moses later recorded in his Book of Creation (Genesis); his appearance to the Prophet Daniel, revealing to him the mystery of future kingdoms and of the coming of the Savior; his appearance to St. Anna and the promise that she would give birth to a daughter, the All- blessed and All-pure Holy Virgin Mary; his repeated appearances to the Holy Virgin while she was living in the Temple in Jerusalem; his appearance to Zacharias the High Priest with the tidings of the birth of John the Forerunner, and the punishment of dumbness upon Zacharias because he did not believe the archangel’s words; his appearance once again to the Holy Virgin, in Nazareth, with the Annunciation of the conception and birth of the Lord Jesus Christ; his appearance to the righteous Joseph; his appearance to the shepherds near Bethlehem; his appearance to the Lord Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane, when he strengthened the Lord, as a man, prior to His passion; his appearance to the myrrh-bearing women, and so on.
Saint Julian, Bishop Of Cenomanis [Lemans, France] Some think that this saint is none other than Simon the Leper, who was cured by the Lord. The Apostle Peter consecrated him a bishop and sent him to pagan Gaul, where St. Julian endured great miseries but succeeded in converting many people to the Faith of Christ. When he baptized Prince Defenson, many of the prince’s subjects turned to the true Faith. By the grace of God, he worked great miracles: he healed the sick, cast out demons, and resurrected the dead. He finished his life peacefully and, at the time of his death, appeared to Prince Defenson in the middle of the day while the prince was at lunch.
The Venerable Stephen Of St. Sava’S Stephen was a first cousin of St. John Damascene. He lived a life of asceticism in the Monastery of St. Sava the Sanctified, for which he was surnamed “of St. Sava’s.” He was a great emulator of the life of St. Sava, and a shining star among the monks in Palestine. He reposed in the Lord in the year 794 A.D., in his sixty-ninth year.
The Venerable Female Sarah As a young maiden, Sarah withdrew to live in asceticism, and she lived a life of spiritual struggle for sixty years on the bank of the Nile River, not far from Alexandria. By her example, she attracted many women to the monastic life. She found rest in the Lord in the year 370 A.D.
Hymn Of Praise
When St. Julian reposed,
A wonderful shepherd of Christ’s flock,
His spiritual child, Prince Defenson,
With his noblemen, was at table,
At dinner in the middle of the day.
Startled, the prince stared
At a vision quite rare:
In the middle of the room, it was Julian,
In vesture, ablaze with gold,
As a bishop in the temple of God,
In a dazzling, unworldly light.
With a smile he looked at the prince.
With him, three deacons, radiant,
Held tapers in white hands;
The vision–luminous, transcendent–faded.
Startled, the prince leapt to his feet
And to those there with him said:
“Behold, I saw Father Julian,
The saint, our baptizer!
Is it possible that from us he has departed
And in the Heavenly Kingdom settled?”
Upon the road the prince set out,
With Julian’s house his goal,
And when he arrived he learned
That his soul to God, Julian had rendered.
A man adorns simple clothing, but sumptuous clothing adorns a man. Simple clothing calls attention to the man, but sumptuous clothing calls attention to itself. The passion for sumptuous clothing simply drains and withers the soul of man. This is the real reason why the Church has always stood against opulence in dress and recommended simplicity. Among the countless Christian saints, there is not one mentioned whom sumptuous clothing helped to attain sanctity. Many great and wise kings–not only Christians but also heathens– have loved simplicity in dress. Thus, it is said that the Emperor Augustus Octavius, during whose reign the Lord Christ was born, wore only simple clothing, woven for him by his wife, sister or daughter. It is said of King Charles V that he wore such simple clothing that even his most ordinary subjects were better dressed than he was. A man once invited the illustrious Greek military general Philopomenes to dinner. Philopomenes had never been to the man’s home before, and he arrived a bit early for the dinner. The host had not yet arrived, but the hostess–not knowing Philopomenes personally and seeing him attired in simple clothing–thought that he was a servant sent in advance to announce the imminent arrival of the general and her husband. Thinking this, she ordered him to chop wood. Philopomenes willing obeyed and began to chop wood. When the host came and saw his honored guest chopping wood like a servant, he was horrified and asked him: “Who dared to give such a task to Philopomenes?” The general quietly answered: “My clothing.”
To contemplate the exceedingly great patience of God toward the unbelieving Jewish people, and their deserved punishment (Numbers 14):
- How God worked a multitude of miracles before the eyes of the Israelites, and how they remain stubborn in their unbelief and murmured against Moses;
- How God punished them, making them wander for forty years in the wilderness, and all of them perished except Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb;
- How some of us also perish in the wilderness of sensuality, and do not attain the land of spiritual milke and honey, the Kingdom of Christ.
About the indispensability of sobriety in the battle against the devil
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Orthodox monks have emphasized sobriety and vigilance as essential to asceticism. The spirit must be sober, in order to sense danger, and vigilant, in order to recognize from where the danger is coming, and from whom. “Be vigilant, my child, that you do not tread on a serpent, that you do not fall into a pit, that you do not encounter a wolf, that you do not venture out into deep water, and that you do not stray from the path and get lost in the forest!” Thus a mother counsels her child, fearing for his body. With no less love does the Church counsel a man, fearing for his soul. Therefore, children, be sober, be vigilant. Your old adversary, the devil, does not rest or sleep but, like a hungry lion, stalks and seeks someone to devour. Be sober, be vigilant, for you are like sheep and he is as a lion. When sheep sense the foul odor of the wolf, they flee to their shepherd. Be vigilant, and you will sense the foulness of the devil when he approaches you, and flee immediately under the protection of your Shepherd, Christ the Lord. You will sense the stench of the devil through your thoughts, through your feelings, through your intentions, and through your fleshly desires. All that you think, imagine, feel, intend or desire contrary to Christ and the Law of Christ–know that this is the snare of the devil, the stench of the devil. Know this, and flee to your Shepherd, directing your entire mind, heart, soul and body to Him. O Lord Jesus, our sober and vigilant Shepherd, make us sober and vigilant at every moment, so that our enemy may not surprise us and devour us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.