Prologue entry for 09/13/23 (read on 09/26/23 on the Old Calendar)
1. The Consecration Of The Church Of The Resurrection Of Christ
When the holy Empress Helena found the Cross of our Lord in Jerusalem, she stayed awhile in the Holy City, and built churches in Gethsemane and Bethlehem, and on the Mount of Olives, as well as other places prominent in the life and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. On Golgotha, where she found the Honorable Cross, she began the building of an enormous church. The church was designed to encompass the Place of the Skull, where the Lord was crucified, as well as the place where He was buried. The saintly empress wanted to include the place of His suffering and the place of His glory under the same roof. However, Helena reposed in the Lord before this majestic church was completed. By the time it was completed, Constantine was celebrating the thirtieth year of his reign. Thus, the consecration of the church and the emperor’s jubilee were celebrated on the same day, September 13, 335 A.D. A local council of bishops was being held in Tyre at that time. These bishops, and many others, came to Jerusalem for the solemn consecration of the Church of the Resurrection of the Lord. It was then established that this day–a day of victory and triumph for the Church of Christ–be solemnly commemorated every year.
2. The Holy Hieromartyr (Priestly-Martyr) Cornelius The Centurion
Cornelius was a Roman and an officer in Caesarea of Palestine. As the result of a heavenly revelation, the Apostle Peter baptized him (Acts 10:1). He was the first among the pagans to enter God’s Church. Until then, some thought that the Church was only for the Jews and those who received the circumcision of the Jews. Having been baptized, Cornelius left everything and followed the apostle. Later, Peter consecrated him a bishop and sent him to the pagan town of Skep, where St. Cornelius endured much humiliation and torture for the sake of Christ. Even so, he destroyed the temple of Apollo there by the power of God, and baptized Prince Demetrius with 277 other pagans. Being forewarned by God of the day of his death, Cornelius summoned all the Christians together, counseled them, prayed to God for them, and peacefully presented himself to the Lord in honorable old age. In time, his grave site was neglected and forgotten, but the saint appeared to Silvanus the Bishop of Troas and revealed it to him, commanding that a church be built there. The bishop carried this out with the help of Eugenius, a wealthy citizen. Many miracles have been worked by the relics of St. Cornelius.
3. The Holy Martyrs Macrobius And Gordian
They were from Paphlagonia. They began as imperial attendants, but when they declared themselves Christians, the emperor banished them to Scythia. There, they were thrown into a fire at a place called New Danube, in the year 320 A.D.
4. The Holy Female Martyr Ketevan
Ketevan was Queen of Kakheti [in Georgia]. She suffered as a Christian under Shah Abbas I, in the year 1624 A.D. By order of the Shah, a red-hot kettle was placed over her head. Her son Teimuraz, the King of Georgia, placed her relics beneath the altar of the church at Alaverdi in Georgia.
5. The Venerable Hierotheus
Hierotheus was born in the Peloponnese in the village of Kalamata. He labored in asceticism in the Monastery of Iveron on the Holy Mountain. He was distinguished by great secular learning and by strict monastic asceticism. He strove to fulfill this rule of St. Arsenius: “In the course of twenty-four hours, one hour of sleep is sufficient for a monk.” Hierotheus entered into rest on the island of Varos in the year 1745 A.D. His relics are miracle- working. Of these relics, his head is preserved in the Monastery of Iveron. Upon touching his holy relics in Constantinople, a blind woman received her sight.
Hymn Of Praise
The Hieromartyr Cornelius The Centurion
Wondrous Cornelius, pious in feeling
But plainly pagan-minded,
Pleased God by giving much alms.
God the Most High sent him a mighty angel.
An angel greeted him, and an apostle baptized him,
And thus he was numbered among the faithful.
The first pagan who joined the Church
Confessed Christ with his entire household.
But, for him, baptism alone was not enough;
He became an apostle with the apostle of God.
To help others, and to save them,
Cornelius took upon himself a most trying labor.
He astonished men with mighty miracles,
Baptized the prince and hundreds of men.
Having known the sweetness of Christ he left his home,
And for sweet Christ he was glorified in torture.
For labor and torture in this life,
He now reaps his reward in the Kingdom of Christ.
Holy Cornelius, now help us
By your prayers before the Eternal Judge.
What happens to the persecutors of Christ’s Church? Ask Saul, the persecutor of the Church, what happened to him. It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks (Acts 9:5), the Lord said to Saul; and Saul was baptized and became Paul. What happened to Herod, the first persecutor of Christians? What happened to Julian the Apostate? They died evil deaths and their efforts against Christ dispersed into nothing, like smoke. And so it was throughout all of history: some persecutors converted to Christianity and others died evil deaths; but always, the efforts of one or the other against Christianity are dispersed into nothing, like smoke. When he attacked Jerusalem, Emperor Hadrian sought revenge against the Jews and against the Christians, for he did not distinguish Christians from Jews. He dispersed the Jews throughout the world, and built an idolatrous temple on the spot where the Temple of Solomon had stood. He also renamed Jerusalem “Aelia,” after his own name [Aelius], and forbade that this city be called Jerusalem by anyone. He built a temple on Golgotha to the foul Venus, a temple to Zeus over the tomb of the Lord, and a temple to Adonis in Bethlehem. How sorrowful the Christians of that time must have felt, seeing their holy shrines mocked in such a manner. But what happened in the end? Emperor Hadrian died an evil death and, in the time of Empress Helena and Emperor Constantine, the pagan temples were torn down, and in their places beautiful Christian churches were built–and these are still standing, even today. It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. Oh, how desperate and hopeless is every struggle against Christ!
Contemplate the vanity of men’s efforts in opposition to the will of God (I Kings 12):
- How ten tribes broke away and took Solomon’s servant as king;
- How Rehoboam prepared an army to make war against Jeroboam;
- How God held him back from war, saying through the prophet: For this thing is of Me (I Kings 12:24).
on how the world hates the witness of its sin
The world cannot hate you; but Me it hateth (John 7:7). Why does the world hate Christ the Lord? The Lord Himself immediately explained this: Because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil (John 7:7). Men do not hate anyone as much as a witness to their sin. Because of this, the greatest misdeeds of the world are committed at night, in darkness. But does God not see at night, in darkness? In truth, God sees, but the evildoers do not see God. And even if some of them believe somewhat in God, they think, because of their own insufficient enlightenment, that darkness is a curtain between men and God. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself clearly revealed that God is all-seeing, and that no darkness prevents His eyes from seeing. He Himself saw men at a distance, such as Nathaniel under the fig tree. He saw a donkey with its colt in another village. His sight was not impeded by spatial distance. He foresaw the denial of Peter, the betrayal of Judas, His own death and Resurrection, the destruction of Jerusalem, the eternity of His Church, the suffering of His followers, and the events at the end of time. His sight was not impeded by the distance of time. But what more is there to enumerate? And what is more hidden than the hearts of men? Is not the heart hidden by the thick curtain of the body? Are not the thoughts in the heart more hidden than the heart itself? Nevertheless, He penetrated the darkness of men’s hearts and read their thoughts there: Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? (Matthew 9:4). Brethren, it is no wonder that all those who thought or committed evil were afraid of such a witness. Is it a wonder, then, that the evildoers hated Him? The world cannot hate you. Whom? All of you who participate in the evil of the world and who, because of your participation, dare not witness against the world. How can those who fear men witness against men? How can those who seek the glory of men bring the condemnation of men against themselves? O my brethren, it is better for us if the world hates us, and Christ loves us– than if the whole world loves us and glorifies us, and Christ turns His face from us, saying: I know you not. If the world hates us, let us be comforted by the words of the Savior: If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you (John 15:18). O Blessed Lord, the Source of all blessings, strengthen our hearts, that we may not be frightened when the world hates us. Only bless and love us, O Good Savior. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.