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Gratitude springs up in our hearts more powerfully, more gloriously when what we receive is undeserved… The Healing of the Ten Lepers. Anthony Bloom Metropolitan of Sourozh

Ιησούς Χριστός Θεραπεία των δέκα λεπρών Jesus-Christ_Healing of the Ten Lepers-Иисус-Христос-Byzantine Orthodox Icon_24235432

Sermon On Gratitude
Anthony Bloom (Metropolitan of Sourozh (1914- 2003)
17 December 1989

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Ten lepers came to the Lord; ten men who were ritually unclean and therefore, ritually rejected by their community, unable to attend the common worship of the Temple, unable to come near the habitations of men; and unclean also in the eyes of men because their sickness could be transmitted to others: others could become impure, others could be sick unto death.

They came to Christ and stood afar off because they knew that they had no right to come near, to touch Him as had done the woman who had an issue of blood and who had been healed. From afar off they cried for mercy, and the Lord healed them; He sent them to the priests in order to be ritually cleansed. Ten of them went, and nine never came back. One of them, discovering on his way that he was healed, let go of every other concern but his gratitude to Him that had restored him to wholeness. He came back and thanked the Lord, and the Gospel tells us that this man was a Samaritan, a man who was outside of the Hebrew community, a man who had no rights within the people of Israel, a man who was not only a stranger, but a reject.

Why is it – and Christ Himself asks the question – why is it that nine of them never thought of returning? Because they felt that now that they were clean they were restored to the wholeness of the people of Israel; they needed nothing more, they had everything. The Samaritan knew that he had been cleansed, healed, made whole without having any right to this love of God and this act of Christ.

Isn’t it true that gratitude springs up in our hearts more powerfully, more gloriously when what we receive is undeserved, when it is a miracle of divine and human love? When we think that we deserve something and receive it, we receive it as our due; so did the nine Jews. But the Samaritan knew he had no right to the mercy of God, no right to this miracle of healing, and his heart was filled with gratitude.

Does this not apply to us? Indeed, it does! Indeed it does so sadly, because all of us do feel that we have a right: a right to human concern, to human love, a right to everything which the earth and human relationships can give, ultimately, a right for God’s care and love for us. And therefore, when we receive a gift we are superficially grateful, we say a perfunctory ‘thank you’; but it does not transform our relationship, either to God or to those who have been merciful to us. We receive it as our due, and we are grateful to those who were instrumental in conveying to us what ‘naturally’ we had a right to have.

The first Beatitude speaks to us in that respect very clearly: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.…..Who are the poor in spirit? It is not those who are simply poor; poverty does not call out the great virtues simply by itself; the poor in spirit are those who in their heart and mind, in their whole self, know that they possess nothing which is not a gift, and deserve nothing of what gratuitously is given to us. Let us reflect one moment on this.

We did not come into being of our own volition; God brought us into being, and not by command, by an act of power. He brought us into being by an act of love, He loved us into existence. By doing this, He says to us: I love you! Without you, the world which I have created would be incomplete in my eyes; but also, I have faith in you that you will not betray my trust. I put my hope in all the good there is in you; My love will never falter, My faith and hope in you will remain unshaken – respond to them! The wonder is that however little we believe in God, God believes in us. Is not this a marvel, a wonder? And we exist only because of this faith of God in us, because of this hope and love He has vested in us.

And if we think further we have not only existence – we are alive, alive with the breath of God that makes us akin to Him, capable of knowing Him! And again, He has revealed Himself to us in so many ways, but ultimately in the Incarnation: God Himself has become man for us to see how much we are loved, and how great we are in His eyes, and indeed how great we are potentially in our humanity; we can all become by communion to Christ the sons and daughters of the Living God, partakers of the Divine nature. And to achieve this Christ has given us His life, His teaching, His death, the forgiveness He gave to those who crucified Him: Forgive them, Father, they don’t know what they are doing! This applies to us also, all the time, day in, day out, of His Resurrection, and the manifestation of our human glory by His sitting at the right hand of God, Saint John Chrysostom says, If you want to know how great man is, look up to the throne of God – you will see Man enthroned at the right hand of glory!

Is not that enough for us to be grateful, to be grateful before any other particular gift is bestowed: the love of our closest, and of other people that care, the security of life, food, air, health! But we all take this for granted; we are not poor in spirit – we take it as our due; why should we be grateful that we are given what is our right? Why shouldn’t God give us all that is His obligation to give. This is our attitude, we don’t formulate it so crudely, but we live by it!

The Samaritan did not; he had no right to share anything that was the right of Israel – and he was given it! And his gratitude was aflame, aglow! Can we not learn something from him? And also, can we not realise how wonderful it would be if out of gratitude we lived in such a way as to give God joy, the joy of knowing that He has not created us in vain, that He does not believe in us in vain, that He has not put His trust in us in vain, that His love has been received, is now incarnate, not only in emotion, but in action! Saint Paul says, It is a greater joy to give than to receive; is that our attitude? If we are truly grateful for the gifts which are ours – how generously, how joyfully we would give to everyone around us in an act of love which would be our sharing in the love of God… And if we realised that all we have, in body, in soul, in circumstances of life, even in the tragedies of life, comes because God has sent us into the world as His messengers to bring divine presence at a cost, if necessary, of our lives – how grateful we would be, and how we would live in order that God should look at us, each of us, and say, Here is a disciple of Mine who has understood, and who lives accordingly!

Let us reflect on this; let us learn to live out of gratitude, out of the joy of being loved, out of our communion with God, but knowing that it is an act of gratuitous generosity, that we have no rights – and yet we possess all things. Saint Paul said that: I have nothing, and I possess all things. Each of us could be such a rich person in our utter poverty, rich with all the love and power and richness of God.

Let us reflect, and let us give God, in an act of gratitude not only spoken, not only dimly felt, but lived in every action of our life: let us give Him joy, and the certainty that He has not created us in vain, not lived and died for us in vain, that we are truly disciples who have understood and who want to live His Gospel. Amen.
http://www.mitras.ru/eng/eng_96.htmΙησούς Χριστός_Jesus-Christ_Господне Иисус-Христос-Byzantine Orthodox Icon_virgin-mary-church-goreme-cappadocia

You should continually and unceasingly call to mind all the blessings which God in His love has bestowed upon you in the past, and still bestows for the salvation of your soul. You must no let forgetfulness of evil or laziness make you grow unmindful of these many and great blessings, and so pass the rest of your life uselessly and ungratefully. For this kind of continual recollection, pricking the heart like a spur, moves it constantly to confession and humility, to thanksgiving with a contrite soul, and to all forms of sincere effort, repaying God through its virtue and holiness. St. Mark the Ascetic

Luke 17:12-19 (Gospel)

Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner? And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

 

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“I am not yet a monk, but I have seen monks,” said Abba Macarius to the Nitrian brethren.

St. Macarius the Great of Egypt (390)
Saint Macarius of Alexandria
Saint Mark Eugenikos, Archbishop of Ephesus
Saint Anthony the Stylite of Martomq’ophi (Martkob),
Blessed Theodore of Novgorod the Fool-For-Christ

Commemorated on January 19

Μακάριος ὁ Αἰγύπτιος _Macarius of Egypt the Great_ Макарий Великий Египетский_ΜΑΚΑΡΙΟς ΜΕΓΑΛ6Examples of the meek in enduring assaults such as we find in the Holy Fathers are simply amazing. Returning once from the path to his cell, Macarius the Great saw a certain thief removing his belongings from his cell and loading them onto a donkey. Macarius did not say anything to him but rather began to assist him to comfortably load all the things on the donkey, saying to himself, “For we brought nothing into the world” (I Timothy 6:7). Another elder, when the thieves stole everything from his cell, looked around, noticed that they did not take a bundle with money which lay hidden somewhere, and immediately took this bundle, called out to the thieves and gave that to them also. Again, a third elder came across thieves as they were robbing his cell and cried out to them: “Hurry, hurry before the brothers come that they may not prevent me to fulfill the commandments of Christ.” “From the one who takes what is yours, do not demand it back” (St. Luke 6:30). (The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič for date January 19)

Abba Macarius said, “One evil word makes even the good evil, while one good word makes even the evil good.”

Abba Macarius said “If a soul still in the world does not possess in itself the sanctity of the Spirit for great faith and for prayer, and does not strive for the oneness of Divine communion, then it is unfit for the heavenly kingdom”

A few days after his ordination as a deacon he left and settled near another village.
Here there came upon him a difficult trial which he bore with extraordinary good-heartedness, which testified of the already high degree of his spirituality. In this village a girl, being pregnant, under the influence of the evil spirit slandered Macarius, saying that he was the Cause of her sin. The enraged parents together with their fellow-villagers subjected him to beating and tortures. Leaving him scarcely alive, they obligated him to furnish support for the girl. Meekly and without murmuring, St. Macarius bore all this and began to work all the harder saying to himself: “Now Macarius you have a wife and children, and therefore you have to work day and night to furnish their support.”

When it came time for the girl to give birth, the just judgment of God overtook her for several days she was in terrible torment and could not be delivered of her burden. Then she understood that this was a punishment for her slandering of an innocent man. She acknowledged everything and indicated the one who was really guilty. Heating this, all were greatly frightened, fearing God’s chastisement for wronging the righteous one, and, bothered by their conscience, they decided to go to Macarius in order to obtain forgiveness for themselves. A friend of Macarius with joy forewarned him of this. But Macarius, who had willingly accepted dishonor, did not desire to receive honors and glory. At night he secretly left for the desert of Nitria.
There he lived and labored in asceticism in a cave for some time, and then went to St. Anthony in the desert of Pharan.

ABBA Macarius constantly instilled the idea that the foundation of everything is humility: “If we see that anyone exalts himself and becomes haughty because he is a participant of grace, then even were he to perform signs and raise the dead, if he does not acknowledge his soul to be dishonored and debased, and himself poor in spirit and vile, he is robbed by malice and does nor know it.”

“I am not yet a monk, but I have seen monks,” said Abba Macarius to the Nitrian brethren, and related how once by inspiration from above he went to the inner desert and, coming to an immense marsh, saw wild animals who had come to drink water. Among them were two naked men. They informed the Saint that they had dwelt here for thirty years already and lived on the food of dumb animals. They informed the Saint that they suffered neither from frost in winter nor from heat in summer. “What must I do to be a monk?” Macarius asked them. They said; “If you cannot renounce the world as we have, then go to your cell and weep over your sins.”

By the testimony of the elders of Scetis, he was as it were an “earthly god” just as God, they said, while seeing the whole world docs not chastise sinners, so also Macarius covered up men’s weaknesses, which as it were he saw without seeing, and’ heard without hearing.

During the years of the reign of the emperor Valens — an Arian heretic (364-378), the Monk Makarios the Great together with the Monk Makarios of Alexandria was subjected to persecution by the adherents of the Arian bishop Luke. The Egyptian desert dwellers were zealous defenders of the Nicene Creed. Lucius attempted by cruelty and tortures to force them into Arianism, but he did not succeed in this. Then he began to send the holy desert dwellers into captivity. St. Macarius the Great and St. Macarius of Alexandria were among the first seized. Together with some of the brethren they were placed by soldiers in a ship at night and sent to an island where only pagans lived. But here also the Lord glorified His faithful slaves. By the prayers of the saints there, the daughter of a pagan priest received healing, at which the pagan priest and all the inhabitants of the island accepted holy Baptism. Learning about what had happened, the Arian bishop became ashamed and permitted the elders to return to their own monasteries. 

An extraordinary and irresistible impression was produced by St. Macarius on all who came into contact with him. Divine grace transfigured his whole being. It could be noticed in his glance, in his speech, and in that extraordinary love which poured out upon all around him. His word, even the simplest, was always uttered with authority. It created and built. Filled with divine wisdom and power, it penetrated to the very depth of the human spirit. Even those who didn’t know St. Macarius recognized him instantly amidst other monks by his extraordinary appearance.

Apolytikion St. Macarius the Great of Egypt in the First Tone

Thou didst prove to be a citizen of the desert, an angel in the flesh, and a wonderworker, O Makarios, our God-bearing Father. By fasting, vigil, and prayer thou didst obtain heavenly gifts, and thou healest the sick and the souls of them that have recourse to thee with faith. Glory to Him that hath given thee strength. Glory to Him that hath crowned thee. Glory to Him that worketh healings for all through thee.

Troparion — Tone 1

Dweller of the desert and angel in the body / you were shown to be a wonder-worker, our God-bearing Father Macarius. / You received heavenly gifts through fasting, vigil, and prayer: / healing the sick and the souls of those drawn to you by faith. / Glory to Him who gave you strength! / Glory to Him who granted you a crown! / Glory to Him who through you grants healing to all!

Kontakion — Tone 4

The Lord truly placed you in the house of abstinence, / as a star enlightening the ends of the earth, / Venerable Macarius, Father of Fathers.

Mănăstirea Sf. Macarie cel Mare, Egipt


It was revealed to Abba Anthony that there was one who was his equal in the city. He was a doctor….

Saint Anthony the Great, the Anchorite of Egypt, and The Father of All Monks
Holy Emperor Theodosius the Great
Saint New Martyr George of Ioannina
Saint Achillas of Scetes, the Anchorite of Egypt

Commemorated on January 17

Ἀντώνιος ὁ Μέγας_ Saint Anthony the Great_ Св. Антоний Вели́кий_ ანტონი დიდი0001 1They said that a certain old man asked God to let him see the Fathers and he saw them all except Abba Anthony. So he asked his guide, “Where is Abba Anthony?” He told him in reply that in the place where God is, there Anthony would be.

Abba Anthony said, “I no longer fear God, but I love Him. For perfect love casts out fear.” (John 4.18)

St. Ammon of Nitria came to St. Anthony and asked him, “My labors are greater than yours, yet your name is widespread among people more than mine, why?” St. Anthony replied, “Because I love God more than you do.”

 “If a man loves God with all his heart, all his thoughts, all his will, and all his strength, he will gain the fear of God; the fear will produce tears, tears will produce strength; by the perfection of this the soul will bear all kinds of fruits.”

Abba Anthony said, ‘I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, “What can get through from such snares?” Then I heard a voice saying to me, “Humility.”‘

He also said, ‘Whoever has not experienced temptation cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. ‘He even added, ‘Without temptations no-one can be saved.’

A brother in a monastery was falsely accused of fornication, and he got up and went to Abba Anthony. And the brothers came from the monastery to heal him and take him back, and they started to charge that he did so. But he defended himself that he did no such thing. Now Abba Paphnutius happened to be there, and he said this parable: I have seen a man on the bank of the river stuck in the mud up to his knees, and some men came to give him a hand, plunging him in up to his neck. And Abba Anthony said this to them about Abba Paphnutius, Behold a genuine man, able to heal and save souls. So they were pierced by remorse at the word of the elders, and they offered repentance to the brother. And, encouraged by the elders, they took the brother to the monastery.

Abba Anthony said, “A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, ‘You are mad, you are not like us.‘”

He also said, ‘God does not allow the same warfare and temptations to this generation as he did formerly, for men are weaker now and cannot bear so much.’

When the same Abba Anthony thought about the depth of the judgements of God, he asked, ‘Lord, how is it that some die when they are young, while others drag on to extreme old age? Why are there those who are poor and those who are rich? Why do wicked men prosper and why are the just in need?’He heard a voice answering him, ‘Anthony, keep your attention on yourself; these things are according to the judgement of God, and it is not to your advantage to know anything about them.’

A hunter in the desert saw Abba Anthony enjoying himself with the brethren and he was shocked. Wanting to show him that it was necessary sometimes to meet the needs of the brethren, the old man said to him, ‘Put an arrow in your bow and shoot it.’ So he did. The old man then said, ‘Shoot another,’ and he did so. Then the old man said, ‘Shoot yet again and the hunter replied ‘If I bend my bow so much I will break it.’ Then the old man said to him, ‘It is the same with the work of God. If we stretch the brethren beyond measure they will soon break. Sometimes it is necessary to come down to meet their needs.’ When he heard these words “the hunter was pierced by compunction and, greatly edified by the old man, he went away. As for the brethren, they went home strengthened.

“Tire yourself in reading the books, and following the commandments, so that the mercy of God comes upon you speedily.”
Once St. Anthony was asked, “What good work shall I do?” And he answered. “All works are not equal, the scriptures said that Abraham was hospitable, and God was with him. And, David was humble, and God was with him. What therefore you find that your soul desires in following God, that do, and keep your heart.”

It was revealed to Abba Anthony in his desert that there was one who was his equal in the city. He was a doctor by profession and whatever he had beyond his needs he gave to the poor, and every day he sang the Sanctus with the angels.

Abba Ammon was a close friend of St. Anthony the Great. When Abba Ammon died in Nitria, in approximately 350, St. Anthony saw Abba Ammon’s soul in the heights from his cell and said to the brethren: “Today Abba Ammon died; behold, I see his holy soul as the angels bear it to heaven.”

When Saint Anthony felt that the day of his departure had approached, he commanded his disciples to give his staff to Saint Macarius, and to give one sheepskin cloak to Saint Athanasius and the other sheepskin cloak to Saint Serapion, his disciple. He further instructed his disciples to bury his body in an unmarked, secret grave. He himself left no writings. His biography was written by Saint Athanasius. Athanasius writes, “For monks, the life of Anthony is a sufficient example of asceticism.”Ἀντώνιος ὁ Μέγας_ Saint Anthony the Great_ Св. Антоний Вели́кий_ ანტონი დიდიamoun

Apolytikion Saint Anthony the Great (Fourth Tone)

O Father Anthony, you imitated the zealous Elijah.You followed the straight paths of the Baptist and became a desert dweller.By prayer you confirmed the universe.Wherefore, intercede with Christ our God to save our souls.


Build our whole lives upon the example and words of St. Seraphim of Sarov. Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Σεραφείμ Σάρωφ_St. Seraphim of Sarov_ Преподобный Серафим Саровский_sarovsky_620

St. Seraphim of Sarov the Wonderworker

Commemorated on January 2(15) and July 19

“Acquire the Spirit of Peace and a Thousand Souls Around You Shall Be Saved”

My joy, I beg you, acquire the Spirit of Peace. That means to bring oneself to such a state that our spirit will not be disturbed by anything. For one must go through many sorrows to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This is the way all righteous men were saved and inherited the Heavenly Kingdom…” St. Seraphim of Sarov 

Today celebrates Diveyevo celebrates our beloved Batiushka Seraphim of Sarov!!!

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Today we celebrate the day of St. Seraphim of Sarov, one of the most beloved, most glorious saints of the Russian Church. However, celebrating the saint’s day means, first of all—amazed as we are at his spiritual beauty—turning to him with the question: How can we follow your example? What can we do in order to learn what you learned, to become someone like you who lived for the glory of God, and after hundreds of years shine with eternal glory?

When he was asked one day, in what does a perishing sinner differ from a righteous man who is saving his soul, a saint, St. Seraphim answered: Only in his resolve… Our salvation is in our will, in our firmness, in the steadfastness of our resolve to be godly to the end. The Lord does not give His Spirit by measure, nor does He give His grace by measure; He gives everything, and He gives Himself. But we receive grace and make use of God’s gifts to the measure of our readiness to receive what He gives—and that means what He gives, and not what we want—and bring forth the fruit that He expects from us.

This would be enough for us to build our whole lives upon the example and words of St. Seraphim. Let each of us pose the question to ourselves: Do we want to be Christ’s? Do we want to be Godly? Do we want to be like those who inspire in us such reverence, such rapture, awe and love, and to whom we turn with our every need, our every pain, and with all our joy? If that is so, then we will in earnest hear, receive, and fulfill this commandment of St. Seraphim: To set out upon the path of the Lord with resolve. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness—only in the human weakness that gives itself to God with resolve to remain faithful to him in life and in death. Amen.Άγιος Σεραφείμ Σάρωφ_St. Seraphim of Sarov_ Преподобный Серафим Саровский_021948d8bb43e1orig

“True hope seeks the one Kingdom of God and is sure that everything necessary for this mortal life will surely be given. The heart cannot have peace until it acquires this hope. This hope pacifies it fully and brings joy to it. The most holy lips of the Saviour spoke about this very hope: “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28).”

The Elder saw into the hearts of people, and as a spiritual physician, he healed their infirmities of soul and body through prayer and by his grace-filled words. Those coming to St Seraphim felt his great love and tenderness. No matter what time of the year it was, he would greet everyone with the words, “Christ is Risen, my joy!” He especially loved children. Once, a young girl said to her friends, “Father Seraphim only looks like an old man. He is really a child like us.”

All condemnation is from the devil. Never condemn each other…Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace.”

The Lord asks such a hypocrite: “Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? (Mat. 7:4)

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye”(Mat. 7:1-5).

In spite of our sinfulness, in spite of the darkness surrounding our souls, the Grace of the Holy Spirit, conferred by baptism in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, still shines in our hearts with the inextinguishable light of Christ … and when the sinner turns to the way of repentance the light smooths away every trace of the sins committed, clothing the former sinner in the garments of incorruption, spun of the Grace of the Holy Spirit. It is this acquisition of the Holy Spirit about which I have been speaking.

***

The Life of St. Seraphim of Sarov, Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2018/07/18/the-life-of-st-seraphim-of-sarov-metropolitan-anthony-of-sourozh/

The prophetic letter of St. Seraphim for to St.Tsar Martyr Nicholas II of Russia
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2016/07/16/the-prophetic-letter-of-st-seraphim-for-to-st-tsar-martyr-nicholas-ii-of-russia/

The meeting of the Tsar Nicholas II with the Blessed Pasha (Parasceva) the Fool-for-Christ
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2016/07/15/the-meeting-of-the-tsar-nicholas-ii-with-the-blessed-pasha-parasceva-the-fool-for-christ/

St. Seraphim of Sarov, The Lord will preserve, as the apple of His eye, His people, that is, Orthodox Christians who love Him and serve Him with all their heart and all their mind, both in word and deed, day and night.
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2019/01/01/26742/

Troparion of St. Seraphim of Sarov, Tone 4

You loved Christ from your youth, O blessed one, and, longing to work for Him alone, you struggled in the wilderness in constant prayer and labor. With penitent heart and great love for Christ you were favored by the Mother of God. Therefore we cry to you:“Save us by your prayers, venerable Seraphim, our father!”

Tone 1 (to Seraphim) (Oh, the marvelous wonder)

Great are Your mysteries, O Christ our God! 
You have given us the holy monk Seraphim to be a light for us, 
a strong defender against the enemy, 
intercessor before God for monastics and all the Orthodox faithful, 
his own monastery’s strength and boast. 
For now he intercedes with You, O Lord,// 
asking for our souls peace and great mercy.

Aposticha
Tone 5 (Rejoice, O life-bearing Cross)

Rejoice, O venerable Seraphim, emulator of the Angels, Living piously on earth, you taught the fear of the Lord to many who flocked to you. Illumined by the grace of the Holy Spirit, you beheld the future as though it were the present, and filled with joy and tender contrition many who were sorrowful in  soul. Therefore, we entreat you:“Pray to the Lord for those who honor you!”


St. Anthony the Great said: Woe is me, my children! I saw Elias, I saw John in the wilderness – and in truth, I saw Paul in Paradise!

Παύλος Θηβαίος_St Paul of Thebes_Св. Павел Фиве́йский_ღირსი პავლე თებაიდელი_s1-e1e4-24

Saints Salome of Ujarma and Perozhavra of Sivnia, disciples of St. Nino, Enlightener of Georgia (ca.361)
Saint Paul of Thebes, the First Hermit (342)
Saint John Kalyvites (the hut-dweller) (~450)

Commemorated on January 15

  The Monk Paul of Thebes was born in Egypt, in the Thebaid city. Left orphaned, he suffered many things from a greedy kinsman over a parental inheritance. During the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Decius (249-251), Saint Paul learned of the insidious plan to deliver him into the hands of the persecutors, and so he fled the city and set out into the wilderness.
Settling into a cave at the bottom of an hill, and known there to no one, the Monk Paul dwelt in it for 91 years, praying incessantly to God both day and night. He sustained himself on dates and bread, which a raven brought him, and he sheltered himself from cold and frost with a garb made of palm leaves. Through the foresight of God, shortly before the end of the Monk Paul, the Lord revealed about him to the Monk Anthony the Great (Comm. 17 January), who also asceticised in the Thebaid wilderness. One time a thought came to Saint Anthony, that scarcely was there another so great a wilderness dweller as he, and then he heard a voice: “Anthony, there is a servant of God more accomplished than thee, and he hath settled here in this wilderness before thee. Go further into the remote area and there find him”. Anthony went and came to the cave of Saint Paul. A lesson in humility having been taught Anthony, the Monk Paul came out towards him. The elders greeted each other by name, and having hugged they entered into lengthy discussion. During the time of the conversation the raven flew by and brought them both bread. The Monk Paul disclosed to Saint Anthony that his end time was approaching and gave him instruction to bury him. The Monk Paul then expired during the time of prayer, upright on his knees. The Monk Anthony then beheld, how his soul, amidst Angels and prophets and apostles, ascended up to God. Two lions ran out from the wilderness and with their claws dug out the grave. The Monk Anthony buried the holy elder, and having taken his garb of palm leaves, he set out to his own monastery. The Monk Anthony kept this garb as a great holy reminder and put it out only twice a year – on Pascha and Pentecost. Returning from this visit, Anthony said to his monks: “Woe is me, my children! A sinful and false monk am I, a monk only in name. I saw Elias, I saw John in the wilderness – and in truth, I saw Paul in Paradise!” St. Paul lived 113 years and peacefully reposed in the Lord in the year 342. He did not establish a single monastery, but soon after his end there appeared many imitators of his life and they filled the wilderness with monasteries. The Monk Paul is considered a father of Orthodox monasticism.
In the XII Century the body of Saint Paul, on orders of the emperor Manuel (1143-1180), was transferred to Constantinople and placed in the Peribleptoi monastery of the Mother of God. Afterwards it was taken to Venice, and finally to Hungary, at Ofa. Part of his head is situated in Rome.

Source: https://www.holytrinityorthodox.com/calendar/los/January/15-01.htm

HOMILY
About how man is most dear to God and God to man
Saint Nikolai Velimirovich of Ohrid and Žiča Serbia

“For I want not what is yours, but you” (I Corinthians 12:14).

Παύλος Θηβαίος_St Paul of Thebes_Св. Павел Фиве́йский_ღირსი პავლე თებაიდელი_otcy_pustynniki4With these words, which could have only been spoken by the fiery apostolic love toward one’s neighbor, is expressed the essence of the relationship of the Christian toward God and God toward the Christian. The love of God could very well say: “You, O Christian, fast for My sake; for My sake you distribute alms; for My sake you lift up heartfelt prayers; for My sake you build churches; for My sake you offer sacrifices and you perform many other good deeds. All of this is good, and all of this is pleasing to Me, but you are more precious to Me than all of this. In the end, I seek nothing of all of this rather, I seek you, only you.”

The love of a Christian could very well say: “O Lord, You gave me health and that is good. You turn on the light; You permit the rain to fall; You refresh the air by Your thunder and that is good. You bestow wealth, wisdom, many years, offspring and many other good things which You bountifully place on the table of this life. All of this is good and overly-good. I receive all of this with gratitude. But, in the ultimate end, that is only the hem of Your garment. Ultimately, I do not seek anything of that but You, O Lord, You alone I seek.”

O my brethren, that is not God which is seen with the physical eyes, neither is that man which is seen with the physical eyes. That which is seen in the whole of nature is only something of God; and that which is seen in the physical garment is only something of man. Brethren, God is Love which heaven lowers to earth; Brethren, man is love which raises earth to heaven.

O Lord, Lover of mankind, Creator and Almighty, take up Your abode more and even more in us with Your Life-giving Spirit that we may live; that we may be alive in Your kingdom without death.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
http://prologue.orthodox.cn/January12.htm

Troparion Venerable Paul of Thebes — Tone 3

Inspired by the Spirit, / you were the first to dwell in the desert in emulation of Elijah the zealot; / as one who imitated the angels, you were made known to the world by Saint Anthony the Great. / Righteous Paul, entreat Christ God to grant us His great mercy.

Kontakion

O ye faithful, let us all laud the divine Paul, the bright luminary that shone at the virtues’ lofty height; and let us joyously cry aloud: O Christ, Thou art the rejoicing of all the Saints.


Stoop down, my King, so that I may whisper to You my most precious secret, my most secret prayer… St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Bishop of Ochrid

Προσευχή-αγια-ΝΙΝΑ_PRAYER- Моление-8456ce96d63bc489b24e155e84b2dc5b (1)

Prayers by the Lake
St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Bishop of Ochrid
Poem XIX (19)

Amidst the racket and ridicule of people my prayer rises toward You, O my King and my Kingdom. Prayer is incense, that ceaselessly censes my soul and raises it toward You, and draws You toward her.

Stoop down, my King, so that I may whisper to You my most precious secret, my most secret prayer, my most prayerful desire. You are the object of all my prayers, all my searching. I seek nothing except You, truly, only You.
What could I seek from You, that would not separate me from You? Should I seek to be Lord over a few stars, instead of reigning as Lord with You over all the stars?

Should I seek to be first among men? How shameful it would be fore me, when You would seat me at the last place at Your table!1

Should I seek for millions of human mouths to praise me? How horrible it would be for me, when all those mouths are filled with earth.2

Should I seek to be surrounded by the most precious objects from the entire world? How humiliating it would be for me for those objects to outlast me and be glistening even as earthen darkness fills my eyes!3

Should I seek for You not to separate me from my friends? Ah separate me, O Lord, separate me from my friends as soon as possible, because they are the thickest wall between You and me.

“Why should we pray,” say my neighbors, “when God does not hear our prayers?” But I say to them: “Your prayer is not prayer, but peddling merchandise. You do not pray to God to give you God but Satan. Therefore, the Wisdom of heaven does not accept the prayers from your tongue.”

“Why should we pray,” grumble my neighbors, “when God knows what we need beforehand?” But I sadly answer them: “That is true, God knows–that you need nothing except Him alone. At the door of your soul He is waiting to come in.4 Through prayer the doors are opened for the entrance of the majestic King. Does not one of you say to the other at your door: ‘Please enter’?

“God does not seek glory for Himself but for you. All the worlds in the universe can add nothing to His glory, much less can you. Your prayer is a glorification of you, not of God. Fullness and mercy are to be found in Him. All the good words that you direct to Him in prayer, return to you twofold.”

O my illustrious King and my God, to You alone I bow down and pray. Flood into me, as a raging stream into thirsty sand. Just flood me with Yourself, life-giving Water; then grass will easily grow in the sand and white lambs will graze in the grass.

Just flood into my parched soul, my Life and my Salvation.

1. Cf. Luke 14:7-10.
2. Cf. John 12:43.
3. Matt. 6:19-21.
4. Cf. Rev. 3:20.
http://www.sv-luka.org/praylake/pl19.htm

Prayers by the Lake, XIX (19), by St. Nikolai Velimirovic
Written at Lake Ohrid 1921-1922.

.. Like the Old Testament Psalmist, our holy Vladika poured out his soul in his works and in prayer. This is especially evident in his “Prayers by the Lake,” “The Spiritual Lyre,” and “Prayerful Songs.” From his poetic inspiration and fervor arose prayers on the level of the Psalms, like the most beautiful flowers of paradise. Vladika Nikolai’s spirit of prayer was so powerful that it often threw him to his knees. He was often seen weeping. He was inflamed by divine eros.* His thirst for God was unquenchable; it could be satisfied only with complete union with God.ΜΠΟΝΤΜΠΕ μονή Αγίας Νίνας_Monastery of St. Nino at Bodbe_Бодбийский монастырь св Нины_ბოდბის წმინდა ნინოს მონასტერი_IMG_6412_новый размер

Saints Salome of Ujarma and Perozhavra of Sivnia, disciples of St. Nino, Enlightener of Georgia
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2018/01/14/saints-salome-of-ujarma-and-perozhavra-of-sivnia-disciples-of-st-nino-enlightener-of-georgia/


Virgin most beautiful, Nina of noble birth…

Νίνα της Γεωργίας_Saint Nina of Georgia_წმინდა ნინო_Света Нина Грузије_святой Нины Иберии_Saint Nino4f6ed8495d37 (1)

Apodosis of Theophany
Saint Nina the Equal to the Apostles and Enlightener of Georgia, a relative of St. George the Great Martyr (†335) 

commemorated January 14th

HYMN OF PRAISE
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
Saint Nina the Equal to the Apostles and Enlightener of Georgia

Virgin most beautiful, Nina of noble birth,
By Divine Providence became the Apostle to the Georgians,
In defiance of the persecution by Diocletian, the Emperor,
With the Cross, she baptized Emperor Mirian
His wife Nana and his son Bakar,
Through them, all the people and the elite of the leaders,
With the Cross of the Son of God, baptized them all,
Saint Nina, Apostle to the Georgians.
From her youth, Nina prayed to God
That Djul (the Rose) – Georgia, she baptize.
For that which she prayed to God, the good God granted:
From Nina’s hand, the Cross shown
To docile Georgia where it shines even now,
Where Nina’s hand blesses even now.
There is Nina’s grave, overwhich a church glistens,
Glorifying Saint Nina and the Lord Christ.

The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič for Old Calendar date January 14, and New Calendar date January 27 .

THE LIFE OF ST. NINA, Karen Keck
http://orthochristian.com/67914.html

Troparion of St. Nina of Georgia, Tone 4

O handmaid of the Word of God, who in preaching equaled the first-called Apostle Andrew, and emulated the other Apostles, enlightener of Iberia and reed-pipe of the Holy Spirit, holy Nina, pray to Christ our God to save our souls.

Christ our God was crucified for the sake of the world, and we likewise have been crucified for His sake. We bared our breasts for this small Georgia, and on our breasts, as on a rock, we erected a temple to the Christian God. Instead of stone we offered our bones, and instead of lime we offered our blood, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!
Saint Ilia Chavchavadze the Righteous

Orthodox Byzantine Chant – Ormylia Monastery – Psalm – Aliluia