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Above other created things, God loves man: therefore He forgives much; therefore He waits long. But, when God’s patience exceeds all bounds, then fire, not dew, does the work. Saint Nikolai Velimirovich

Ιησούς Χριστός_Jesus-Christ_Господне Иисус-Христос-Byzantine Orthodox Icon_4c47bd7e456e8974ba4a5ce385d6dc79Saint Paul the Confessor, Archbishop of Constantinople (c. 350)
Virgin-martyrs Tecusa, Alexandra, Claudia, Matrona, Polactia, Euphrosyne, and Athanasia, of Ancyra (303)
Venerable Luke of Tauromenium, monk, of Sicily (820)
Saint Demetrianus, Bishop of Cytheria on Cyprus, Wonderworker (c. 915)
Blessed Paul of Corinth, Fool-for-Christ
Venerable Barlaam of Khutyn, founder of Khutyn Monastery, Novgorod (1192)
Saint Barlaam of Keret, Karelia (16th century)
Synaxis of the New Martyrs of Sarov: Anatole, Basil, Hierotheus, Isaac, and Rufinus (1938)
Commemoration of the Sarov Elders: Abbot Pachomius (1794); Hieroschemamonk Joseph (1785); Hieromonks Pitirim (1789) and Matthew (1795); and Monk Joachim (1802).
Commemoration of the falling of ash from the sky in Constantinople in the year 472 during the reign of Emperor Leo the Great and Patriarch Gennadius.

Commemorated on November 6

Verses
You threatened to burn us, but we did not burn,
since You mingled Your anger with long-suffering O Word.

HYMN OF PRAISE
The Lord’s mercy and goodness
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovich

Ιησούς Χριστός ο Καλός ΠοιμέναςChrist the Good Shephera2ba277661596dc56b5b1906d164332fOur Lord is mercy and true goodness,
Yet He allows man to suffer for his sin:
Floods, sickness, earthquakes, droughts,
Horror and pains for body and soul.
He who does not see the Father when He offers gifts
Will see Him at the Judgment as the Righteous Judge.
The awesome Judge has many servants,
And employs them all for man’s salvation-
The earth’s thorns; serpents and beasts;
And floods, lightning, thunder from the sky;
And evil winds of illness; the sun, heat and darkness;
And the field, which gives either wheat or empty straw.
As many gifts await the faithful,
So many scourges are woven for the evil.
Adam’s fields are watered with gentle dew,
But Sodom and Gomorrah are mowed with a flaming sword.
Above other created things, God loves man:
Therefore He forgives much; therefore He waits long.
But, when God’s patience exceeds all bounds,
Then fire, not dew, does the work.
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovich, The Prologue from Ohrid
http://prologue.orthodox.cn/November6.htm

***

Synaxarion
by Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite

“In the eighteenth year of Emperor Leo the Great [472 AD] on November 6, in the afternoon hours, the entire sky [of Constantinople] was filled not only with the common black clouds, but with clouds as red as fire. All were amazed and feared that flames of fire would fall, burning them like Sodom. The people ran to the churches and prayed with tears and lamentation.

“But the God who loves mankind tempered His punishment with His love and in the evening it began to rain until midnight. The rain brought down dust that was black as ash and covered the earth and houses more than an inch. All the crops and grass and trees of the earth were burned. It was not easy to unstuck this dust with water, and thereby the anger of God was revealed for our sins.

“The following days many heavy rains fell and the dust was washed away. This means that our sins are like red and black dust on us and it eats away our every virtue, and like the rain many tears are needed and much repentance for us to be washed of the hot ashes of our sins. And when the evil ashes are washed away, let us water the good earth of our nous to bring forth fruit-bearing virtues. In this way we will escape the punishment of hell which will burn our bodies and souls, and gain the Kingdom of Heaven.
Menaion for November 6th, written by Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite

***

Saint Paul the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople

When Blessed Patriarch Alexander lay on his deathbed, the sorrowing faithful asked him who he would have follow him as the chief shepherd of the spiritual flock of Christ. He said: “If you desire a shepherd who will teach you and who will shine with virtues, choose Paul; but if you only want a suitable man, externally adorned, choose Macedonius.” The people chose Paul. Unfortunately, this was not accepted by the Arian heretics, nor was it accepted by Emperor Constantius, who was then in Antioch. Paul was soon deposed, and fled to Rome with St. Athanasius the Great. In Rome, Pope Julian and Emperor Constans received them warmly and upheld them in their Orthodox Faith. Emperor Constans and Pope Julian saw to it that Paul was returned to his throne, but when Emperor Constans died the Arians raised their heads again, and Patriarch Paul was banished to Cucusus in Armenia. Once, as Paul was celebrating the Divine Liturgy in exile, he was attacked by the Arians and strangled with his omophorion, in the year 351. In 381, during the reign of Emperor Theodosius, Paul’s relics were transferred to Constantinople, and in the year 1236 they were translated to Venice, where they still repose. His beloved priests and notaries, Marcian and Martyrius (October 25), suffered soon after their patriarch.
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovich, The Prologue from Ohrid
http://prologue.orthodox.cn/November6.htm

***

Ιησούς Χριστός ο Καλός ΠοιμέναςChrist the Good Shepherd2014-01-10 16.36.29If God can bring forth water from a rock as a comfort to men, He is also able to send down fire from the heavens as a punishment. The fate of Sodom and Gomorrah is a classic example of God’s punishment upon incorrigible sinners. That God can repeat this punishment was demonstrated over Constantinople in the year 472, during the time of Emperor Leo the Great and Patriarch Gennadius. At noon on November 6 of that year, the sky became overcast with thick, dark clouds, causing darkness on the land. These clouds turned red as fire, then became dark, and alternated their appearance continuously. This phenomenon over Constantinople lasted for a full forty days. The frightened people turned to repentance and prayer. With the emperor and patriarch, they walked in procession through the streets from church to church and prayed to God with tears and lamentation. On the final day hot black ash fell like rain from evening until midnight, then stopped. The following day dawned clear and bright, but the sooty ash lay on the ground to a depth of nine inches. With great effort, the people cleaned their houses and streets of this sooty ash, but the crops in the field were utterly destroyed. All who had understanding, understood that this was God’s punishment, and that it was God’s gentle punishment because the people hastened to repent before Him. Had it not been for this profound repentance for their great and accumulated sins, who knows what would have happened to Constantinople in those days? But the timely repentance of sinners, and the prayers of the Most-holy Theotokos, as well as the prayers of the countless saints and martyrs of Constantinople, greatly lessened the punishment.
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovich, The Prologue from Ohrid
http://prologue.orthodox.cn/November6.htm

Ιησούς Χριστός_Jesus-Christ_Господне Иисус-Христос-Byzantine Orthodox Icon_3673665551%818700Troparion of ST PAUL THE CONFESSOR, in Tone III:

Through thy confession of the divine Faith the Church hath shown thee to be another Paul,/ a zealot among her priests;/ and Abel crieth out to the Lord with thee,/ as doth the righteous blood of Zachariah.// O venerable father, entreat Christ God, that we be given great mercy.

On “Lord, I have cried …” , 6 stichera, in Tone IV:
Spec. Mel.: “Thou hast given a sign …”:

The divinely eloquent Paul, * ordaineth thee, O most blessed one, * as his namesake and emulator, * adorned with his character and piety * and his endurance of evil circumstances, * and aflame with his zeal, * O champion of Orthodoxy. * With him thou art now glorified * in the mansions of heaven. (Twice)

With the strong cords of thy dogmas * thou didst strangle the ungodly Arius * and the impious Macedonius; * and with thy right discourse on doctrine * thou didst make multitudes of the Orthodox steadfast, * O hieromartyr and father. * Wherefore, accepting thine all-radiant confession, * He Who loveth mankind * hath shown thee to share in His kingdom. (Twice)

With a splendid wreath of righteousness * hath Christ crowned thee, * O blessed hierarch * who finished thy race * and kept the Faith; * and He hath adorned thy confession, O right wondrous one. * Wherefore, having received a heavenly inheritance, * pray thou to the Savior * in behalf of those who hymn thee. (Twice)

O most blessed Paul, * namesake of confession, * as intercessor for those who fervently praise thee, * deliver us from all misfortune and every sin, * from the tempest of the passions and tyranny, * in that thou art an invincible martyr * and a right acceptable hierarch, O father; * for thou hast acquired boldness * before Christ our God.

Glory …, the composition of Germanus, in Tone I:

Arrayed in hierarchal vestments, O venerable father, thou didst emulate thy namesake Paul: having endured persecution and tribulations, in thy constant pangs thou didst put to shame the pernicious opinions of Arius; and having suffered for the unoriginate and consubstantial Trinity, thou didst cast down the impious Macedonius, the opponent of the Spirit, and, having made the Orthodox Faith clear to all, thou dwellest with the immaterial angels. With them pray now, that our souls be saved.


We, who have the immortal Bridegroom in heaven, do not strive to adorn our souls with repentance; the beauty of the virtues, to bathe them with the tears, The Lord will set the sinner before His Dread Judgment and will rebuke us through her. Saint Nonnus of Heliopolis for Venerable Pelagia the Penitent

Πελαγια-Pelagia_Пелагия_ΠΕΛΑΓΙΑ-ΝΟΝΝΟς-ag-Pelagia - 23443344Virgin-martyr Pelagia of Antioch (303)
Venerable Thaïs of Egypt (Taisia), repentant courtesan (4th century)
Venerable Pelagia the Penitent, of the Mount of Olives (457)
Martyrs Palatias and Laurentia, in Fermo near Ancona, Italy (302)
Saint Keyne (Keyna, Keyne, Ceinwen), hermitess of Cornwall (5th century)
Saint Anthony of Novgorod, Archbishop of Novgorod (1232)
Venerable Dositheus of Verkhneostrov in Pskov (1482)
Saint Tryphon of Vyatka, Archimandrite (1612)
New Monk-martyr Ignatius of Bulgaria and Mt. Athos, at Constantinople (1814)
Translation of the relics of St. Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne and Enlightener of Northumbria.

Commemorated on October 8

Saint Nikolai Velimirovič 

Oh, if only we would invest as much effort in our souls as we invest in our bodies! Oh, if only we could become as desirous of adorning ourselves with virtue before God and His glorious angels, as we do with the vain, transitory, external displays of appearances!
At first, both Pelagia and Thais were only aware of theier bodies, while their souls were slaves bound in the prison of the body. Both were adorned with nothing but vanity: clothed in vanity, arrayed with vanity, surrounded by vanity, and flattered by vanity. But what a sudden change! What a divine turn of events in their lives! More wondrous than if a wild apple were to be grafted and begin to bring forth sweet fruits; or if a turgid, fetid swamp were suddenly to become clear, pure potable water.

When Bishop Nonnus, in the company of other bishops, first saw the sinner Pelagia in her outward splendor-clothed in the most expensive garments, adorned and bedecked with rings, necklaces and baubles, perfumed, and surrounded by slaves-Bishop Nonnus began to weep, and said to his companions: “In truth, I have learned much from this woman. The Lord will set her before His Dread Judgment and will rebuke us through her. How many hours does this woman spend in her room bathing herself, clothing herself, adorning herself, and looking at herself in the mirror-and for what? Only to appear more beautiful to men.

And we, who have the immortal Bridegroom in heaven, do not strive to adorn our souls with repentance; we do not hasten to bathe them with the tears of repentance and clothe them in the beauty of the virtues, that they might appear more beautiful before the eyes of God!”
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič 
http://prologue.orthodox.cn/October8.htm

Πελαγια-Pelagia_Пелагия_ΠΕΛΑΓΙΑ-ΝΟΝΝΟς-πελαγια νονος sf_pelaghia_3_decani - ΑντιγραφήHomily
on how the weapons of the enemy will vanish in the end
by St. Nikolai Velimirovich

O thou enemy, thy destructions are come to a perpetual end, even as the cities which thou hast destroyed; thy memorial is perished with a roar (Psalm 9:7).

The enemy of the human race, the murderer of men from the very beginning, has used every weapon and intrigue against man. He thinks up new weapons and new intrigues day and night, in order to destroy someone as a roaring lion, … seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8). He hides like a poisonous snake and awaits his prey; he stretches his webs everywhere, like a spider, with the sole purpose of ensnaring some human soul and entrapping it in his foul kingdom. Pagan peoples were his cities. Until the coming of Christ, he ruled untroubled and absolutely in them. When they served idols, they served him; the practices of soothsaying and fortune-telling served him; he protected, directed and enhanced men’s unbridled licentiousness; human sacrifice, fiery passions, discord, war, evildoings of all descriptions-this was all pleasure for him.

Ταϊσία η πρώην πόρνη Святая Таисия жила в Египте_1051148But in the end, no weapons remained in him; his “cities” were destroyed and his memorial is perished with a roar. This “end” of which the prophet speaks is the coming of Jesus Christ the Lord into the world.
The Lord manifested His power over the devil when He overcame his temptations on the mountain. He manifested His authority in driving demons out of men, commanding them to go this way or that; He manifested His invincible lordship over sin and death by His suffering and Resurrection. And, what is perhaps most important, He harrowed hell and scattered the demonic power. He did not desire to utterly destroy the demons, but to disperse them and smash their weapons; He smashed them and scattered them as He later did the Jews, but more terribly than He did the Jews. He freed the people from their domination; and even more importantly, He gave men authority over the demons, such that they can drive the demons out by the power of His name.

Do you see how the Lord linked His victory over the demons with His mercy toward men? He so weakened and broke them, He so confused and dispersed them, that He placed them under the authority of men. Even so, the Lord did not grant authority over demons to all men, but only to those who believe in Him and who follow His commandments. He gave them authority, and He also gave them a weapon. That weapon is the Cross.

O Lord our God, our Savior from the dominion of the devil, help us also to do that “least part” that Thou hast left us to do.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
Prologue of Ohrid: Lives of the Saints by St. Nikolai Velimirovich
http://livingorthodoxfaith.blogspot.com/2010/04/prologue-october-8-october-21.html

Troparion of ST Pelagia Tone 4

Like a fragrant rose growing from thorns/ thou wast shown to the Church through thy virtuous deeds/ and wast a source of joy for the faithful./ Thou didst offer thy life in sweet-smelling fragrance to Him Who made thee wonderful./ Entreat Him to save us from every passion, O righteous Pelagia.

Troparion of ST Pelagia ― Tone 8

In thee, O Mother, that which was created according to the image of God was manifestly saved./ For accepting thy cross thou didst follow after Christ,/ and praying thou didst learn to disdain the flesh,/ for thou didst transcend it to take care of thine immortal soul.// Wherefore, with the angels doth thy soul rejoice, O venerable Pelagia.

Troparion of ST THAÏS ― Tone 4

O God of our fathers,
Do not take your mercy from us,
But ever act towards us according to your kindness
And by the prayers of your Holy Thais,
Guide our lives in peace!

Troparion of ST Keyne ― Tone 8

Having turned serpents to stone, thou didst give thy name to Keynsham, O holy Keyne,/ and after thy life, resplendent with miracles,/ our Father Cadoc ministered to thee at thy repose./ By thy prayers, O Virgin, may we be granted great mercy.

Kontakion of ST Pelagia ― Tone 2 “Seeking the highest”

Laying waste to thy body with fasting,/ with vigilant supplications thou didst entreat the Creator concerning thy deeds,/ that thou mightest receive complete remission;/ and this thou hast manifestly acquired, O mother,// having shown us the path of repentance.

Kontakion of ST THAÏS ― Tone 2

Let us praise the blessed Thais,
The truly fruitful branch from a corrupt root,
The sweet stream from a salty source,
The image of repentance and rule of patience!
Once a vessel of sin, she is now the chosen vessel of grace!
Let us cry aloud to her:
O Venerable Thais, entreat Christ God that our souls may be saved!


O Lord, slow to anger, have mercy on us before the last wrath of that Dreadful Day. Help us to repent, O God… such as Ninevites. Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Ιωνάς προφήτης_Jonah or Jonas prophet_Иона пророк-Menologion_of_Basil_008Apodosis of the Exaltation of the Cross.
Prophet Jonah (8th century BC)
Apostle Quadratus of the Seventy, bishop of Athens (130).
Martyr Eusebius of Phoenicia (2nd c.) and Martyr Priscus of Phrygia.
Holy Six Martyrs, by the sword (298)
Martyrs Eusebius, Nestabus, Zeno, and Nestor and Busiris, the Confessor of Gaza (4th c.).
Hieromartyr Hypatius, bishop of Ephesus, and his presbyter Andrew (730).
Sts. Isaacius and Meletius, bishops of Sitis (Σίτης) in Cyprus.
Venerable Jonah the Sabbaite (9th c.), father of Sts. Theophanes the Hymnographer and Theodore Graptus
Venerable Daniel, abbot of Shugh Hill (Novgorod) (16th c.).
Venerable Joseph of Zaonikiev Monastery (Vologda) (1612).
New Hieromartyr Archimandrite Platon (Aivazidis), Protosyncellus of Metropolitan Germanos Karavangelis of Amasya (1921)
St. Ioane (Maisuradze) (1957) and St. Giorgi-Ioane (Mkheidze), (1960), confessors, of Georgia
Uncovering of the relics (1752) of St. Demetrius, metropolitan of Rostov (1709)

Commemorated on September 21

Walking humanity through history is a long journey. On this long journey, humanity ‘ gets dirty ‘ ‘ and ‘ ‘ dust ‘ ‘ always with the same dust and ‘ ‘ wash ‘ ‘ always with same water. Dust is sin and water is Repentance. Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Hymn of Praise
The Holy Prophet Jonah
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Ιωνάς προφήτης_Jonah or Jonas prophet_Иона пророк-0_8d228_27812c1c_origs1018006Nineveh! Nineveh resounds with sin,
And God sends Jonah to heal Nineveh.
Jonah does not want to, and flees from God!
Oh, where will you go, Jonah, to hide from the Most High?
Jonah sleeps; he sleeps and the tempest rises.
God moves slowly, but He will find you in time.
Hurled into the waves, swallowed by the whale,
“From whom did I flee?” Jonah asks himself.
“I fled from Him, from Whom one cannot hide!”
God chastises Jonah and yet delivers him,
And, by His providence, glorifies him forever.
Jonah, you do not want to speak to the Ninevites,
But through your punishment you will prophesy the immortal Christ.
You do not want to by words? Then you must, by deeds,
Prophesy Christ and the death and resurrection of the body!
Your deeds, Jonah, will not fade away,
And Christ the Lord will speak of you to men,
That, through you, the mercy of the Living God might be revealed,
By which you will be saved, as well as Nineveh.
Through you, the power of repentance shall be revealed-
The power of repentance and God’s forgiveness.
You pitied the gourd, and God pitied men.
Help us to repent, O God, and save us from condemnation.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
http://livingorthodoxfaith.blogspot.com/2010/04/prologue-september-22-october-5.html

***

St. Nikolai Velimirovich

God was the reason of true faith and good behavior and of the knowledge of technology among people.

While people continually felt God above them, before them, and around them, in the same way air and light is felt, they attributed and dedicated all their technological works and handiwork to Him, their Lord and Creator.

When the feeling of God’s presence became dulled and spiritual vision darkened, that is when pride entered into tradesmen and technologists, and they started to give glory exclusively to themselves for their buildings, handiwork and intellectual works, and began to misuse their work that is when the shadow of cursedness began to fall on technology.
St. Nikolai Velimirovich, From the Complete Works of Bishop Nikolai [in Serbian], Book 12, p. 23. Translated from the Serbian by Marija Miljkovic.

***

Ιωνάς προφήτης_Jonah or Jonas prophet_Иона пророк-0_8d228_27812c1c_origMany complain against technology.
Many accuse modern technology for all the woes in the world.
Is technology really to blame, or those who create technology and use it?
Is a wooden cross to blame if somebody crucifies someone on it?
Is a hammer to blame if a neighbor breaks his neighbors skull?
Technology does not feel good or evil.
The same pipes can be used for drinking water or the sewer.
Evil does not come from unfeeling, dead technology, but from the dead hearts of people.

***

Repentance is the abandoning of all false paths that have been trodden by men’s feet, and men’s thoughts and desires, and a return to the new path: Christ’s path. But how can a sinful man repent unless he, in his heart, meets with the Lord and knows his own shame? Before little Zacchaeus saw the Lord with his eyes, he met Him in his heart and was ashamed of all his ways.
St. Nikolai Velimirovic, “The Thirty-Second Sunday After Pentecost: The Gospel on Repentant Zacchaeus, Luke 19:1-10,” Homilies Volume II: Sundays after Pentecost

***

Homily
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
About how God whitens the repentant sinners

“Though your sins be like scarlet, they may be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

O, the boundless mercy of God! In His greatest wrath upon the faithless and ungrateful people, upon the people “laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters” (Isaiah 1:4), as “princes [rulers] of Sodom” (Isaiah 1:10) and upon the people who have become as the “people of Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:10) – in such wrath, the Lord does not abandon mercy but rather calls them to repentance. Just as after terrible lightnings, a gentle rain falls. Such is the Lord long-suffering [patient] and full of mercy and “neither will He keep His anger forever” (Psalm 103:9). Only if sinners cease to commit evil and learn to do good and turn to God with humility and repentance they will become “white as snow.The Lord is mighty and willing. No one, except Him, is able to cleanse the sinful soul of man from sin and, by cleansing, to whiten it. No matter how often linen is washed in water with ashes and soap, no matter how often it is washed and rewashed, it cannot receive whiteness until it is spread under the light of the sun. Thus, our soul cannot become white, no matter how often we cleanse it by our own effort and labor even with the help of all legal means of the law until we, at last, bring it beneath the feet of God, spread out and opened wide so that the light of God illumines it and whitens it. The Lord condones and even commends all of our labor and effort, i.e., He wants us to bathe our soul in tears, by repentance to constrain it by the pangs of the conscience to press it, to clothe it with good deeds and in the end of ends, He calls us to Him: “Come now,” says the Lord, “and let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18). That is, I will look at you and I will see if there is Me in you and you will look upon Me as in a mirror and you will see what kind of person you are.

O Lord, slow to anger, have mercy on us before the last wrath of that Dreadful Day.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
http://livingorthodoxfaith.blogspot.com/2010/04/prologue-august-5-august-18.html

The Book of Jonah
http://www.christopherklitou.com/old_testament_greek_english_jonah_1-4.htm

Ιωνάς προφήτης_Jonah or Jonas prophet_Иона пророк-0_8d ΙΩΝΑΣApolytikion of the Holy Cross – First Tone

O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance. Grant victories to the to the Emperor over the barbarians; and by the power of Thy Cross, preserve Thy habitation. (3 times)

Apolytikion of Prophet Jonah
Third Tone

To the Ninevites, thou wast a trumpet, blaring fearful threats of Heaven’s judgments, at the which they repented with all their hearts; and from the sea-monster’s belly didst thou foreshow the Lord’s divine Resurrection to all the world. Hence, entreat Him to bring out of corruption all of us, who honour thee, O Jonah, as a friend of God.

Kontakion of Prophet Jonah
Third Tone

Thou didst pass three days and nights within the sea-monster’s entrails, showing forth the Lord’s descent into the belly of Hades; for when He had freely suffered His saving Passion, He arose out of the sepulchre on the third day. Hence, we honour thee, O Prophet, who wast deemed worthy to be a figure of Christ.

Apolytikion of St QUADRATUS — Tone 3

O Holy Apostle Kodratos, intercede with the merciful God that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of offences.

Troparion of St QUADRATUS — Tone 1

Thy life became radiant with wisdom; thou didst draw down the fire of the Spirit/ and discern the doctrines of life,/ Quadratus, Apostle of Christ./ We cry to thee as to an enlightener:/ Glory to Christ Who has glorified thee; glory to Him Who has crowned thee:/ glory to Him Who through thee works healings for all.


Let men only repent and they will receive all. Merciful Lord, help us that we may repent before death in order that we may live eternally. Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Ιησούς Χριστός_Jesus-Christ_Иисус-Христос-Byzantine Orthodox Iconfile

HOMILY
About repentance and the forgiveness of sins

by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name” (St. Luke 24:47).

This is the final instruction of the Savior to the holy apostles. In these words as in the shell of a walnut, is contained the gospel of reconciliation between God and men. What does God seek from men and what does God give them? He seeks repentance and He grants forgiveness of sins. He seeks little but He gives all. Let men only repent for committed sins and let men cease to sin and men will receive all from God; all; not only all that their hearts could desire rather even more, much more. In truth, to the righteous everything is promised. The righteous will be the inheritors of the Kingdom of God, they will be the sons of God, and they will be the children of light, the children of immorality, companions to the angels, brothers of Christ. The righteous will have an abundant life, an abundance of peace, an abundance of wisdom, an abundance of power and an abundance of joy. The righteous will have all, for all has been promised to them.

Let men only repent and they will receive all. Let the beggar only cleanse himself, bathe himself and clothe himself in purity before the doors of the royal court and he will be immediately ushered into the royal court and he will be met and embraced by the king and he will have all. He will live with the king, sit at the royal table; he will have all, all, all!

O my brethren, these are not only words rather this is the living and holy truth. For we know that many penitents, both female and male, received all of this, which was promised. Many have appeared from the other world and have proved the truth of these words, witnessing how they now live as royal sons and daughters. But they repented promptly; and there remains time for us to repent if we desire to be together with them as the heirs of the kingdom.

O Merciful Lord, help us that we may repent before death in order that we may live eternally.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
http://livingorthodoxfaith.blogspot.gr/2009/12/prologue-february-24-march-9.html

Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian

O Lord and Master of my life,
give me not the spirit of laziness,
despair, lust of power, and idle talk. (
prostration)

But give rather the spirit of sobriety,
humility, patience and love to Thy servant. (
prostration)

Yea, O Lord and King,
grant me to see my own transgressions
and not to judge my brother,
for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages. Amen


Welcome, my Angel! Thank you for coming with such a bright synodeia to take my soul. Thank you! Thank you!

Άγγελοι_Angels_Ангелы_romania-moldavia-24109-L

“A few years ago, I was the parish priest of St. Vasileios church (Piraeus) and was called to hear the confession of a young man, Xenophon, 42 years old.

When I arrived, his days were numbered. Cancer with rapid metastases had affected his brain too. He was all alone at the ward, the bed next to him was empty, so we were all alone.
This is what he told me about how he came to Faith, since he was a “hardened atheist” in his own words:

‘I arrived here about 35 days ago, in this ward of two beds. Next to me was another patient, about 80 years old. He was suffering from cancer too, in his bones, and although he was experiencing excruciating pain, he was constantly praising the Lord “Glory to God! Glory to God for all things!” He also recited more prayers which I heard for the first time in my life since I was an atheist who had never set my foot to church. Often, all those prayers comforted him and he slept for a couple of hours. Then, after 2-3 hours, he woke up again from the excruciating pain, and he would start over “My Christ, I thank you! Glory be to Thy Name! Glory to God! Glory to God for all things!” I was moaning with my pain, and this patient at the next bed to mine was glorifying God. I was blaspheming Christ and the Theotokos, and he was thanking God, thanking him for the cancer which he had given to him, and for all the excruciating pain he was suffering.

I was so rebellious and indignant at this! Not only for the excruciating pain I was suffering, but also for his never-ending Doxology. He was also partaking daily of Holy Communion, while I was throwing up in disgust.

– ‘Will you please shut up! Shut up and stop saying all the time ‘Glory to God’! Can’t you see that this God, Whom you are thanking and glorifying, this same God is torturing us with such cruelty? What kind of God this is? No, He does not exist!’

And the patient on the next bed would meekly answer me: ‘He does exist, my child, and He is also a most loving Father, because with all this illness and pain, He cleanses me from my many sins. If you had worked on some rough task, and your clothes and your body stank, would you not need a rough brush to clean all this dirt? Likewise, God is using this disease as a balm, as a beneficial cleansing for my soul, in order to prepare it for the Kingdom of Heaven’.

His replies got even more on my nerves and I was blaspheming gods and demons. All my reactions were sadly most negative, and all I did was to keep on screaming: ‘There is no God. … I do not believe in anything. … Neither in this God nor in His Kingdom …’

I remember his last words: ‘Wait and you shall see with your own eyes how the soul of a Christian who believes is separated from his body. I am a sinner, but His Mercy will save me. Wait, and you will behold and will believe!’

And that day came. The nurses wanted to place a screen, as is their duty, but I protested against and stopped them. I told them ‘No, don’t do this, because I want to watch how this old man will die!!!’

Νεκτάριος Αιγινης_St. Nectarios of Aegina_прп.Нектарий Аэгинский__3034966954470376762_nSo I watched him and he was glorifying God all the time. He also said a few ‘Hail, Unwedded Bride’ for the Theotokos, which as I later found out, they are called ‘Salutations’. He would also chant “Theotokos Virgin Mary …”, “From my many sins ..” and “It is truly right to bless you, Theotokos …”, and he would also make the sign of the Cross a number of times.

Then … he raised both of his hands and said “Welcome, my Angel! Thank you for coming with such a bright synodeia to take my soul. Thank you! Thank you!” He raised his hands a little bit more, he made the sign of the Cross, he crossed his arms on his chest and fell asleep in the Lord. Suddenly, the ward was filled with Light, like ten and more bright suns had risen all together, such was splendour of the light with which this ward was lit!” And not only was this ward lit, but a heavenly fragrance spread around, inside the ward, even outside the corridor, so powerful that those patients in the neighbouring wards who were not asleep and could get out of their beds, they came out and started walking up and down the corridor, trying to discern where this special fragrance was exuded from.

Thus, my Father, I, the hardened atheist did believe and called for you to hear my Confession.’

***

Xenophon was firm and merciless with his old self, but the Mercy of our Lord was great, really great! He offered a clear confession, received Holy Communion a couple of times, and departed in deep repentance, in peace, a holy death, himself glorifying God!”
By Protopresbyter Stephanos Anagnostopoulos
By: http://deathtotheworld.com/articles/stop-saying-glory-to-god-for-all-things/οι ψυχές στο χέρι του Αγγελου_Души праведных в руце Божией_Orthodox icon_The souls of the righteous in the hand of Angel40054140113_3470978d7b_z

Saint Paisios the Athonite

Geronda, the final diagnosis has been made. Your tumor is cancerous and it’s aggressive. 
–– Bring me a handkerchief so that I may dance to the song: “I bid farewell to you, O poor world!” I have never danced in my life, but now I will dance for joy as my death approaches. 

–– Geronda, the doctor said that first he wants to use radiation to shrink the tumor and then do surgery. 
–– I understand! First the air force will bombard the enemy, and then the attack will begin! I’ll go up then and bring you news! Some people, even the elderly, when told by the doctor, “You will die,” or “You have a fifty percent chance of surviving” get very distressed. They want to live. And then what? I wonder! Now, if someone is young, well , this is justifiable, but if someone is old and is still desperately trying to hang on, well, this I just don’t understand. Of course, it’s quite different if someone wants to undergo therapy in order to manage pain. He’s not interested in extending life; he only wants to make the pain somewhat more bearable so that he can take care of himself until he dies –– this does make sense. 

–– Geronda, we are praying that God may give you an extension on your life. 
–– Why? Doesn’t the Psalmist say, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten?” 

–– But the Psalmist adds the following, “And if by reason of strength they be foreshore years…” 
–– Yes, but he adds the following, “Yet is their strength labor and sorrow,” in which case it is better to have the peace of the other life. 

–– Geronda, can someone, out of humility, feel spiritually unprepared for the other life and wish to live longer in order to get prepared? 
–– This is a good thing, but how can he know that, even if he does live longer, he won’t become spiritually worse? 

–– Geronda, when can we say that a person is reconciled with death? 
–– When Christ lives inside him, then death is a joy. But one must not rejoice in dying just because he has become tired of this life. When you rejoice in death, in the proper sense, death goes away to find someone who’s scared! When you want to die, you don’t. Whoever lives the easy life is afraid of death because he is pleased with worldly life and doesn’t want to die. If people talk to him about death, he reacts with denial: “Get away from here!” However, whoever is suffering, whoever is in pain, sees death as a release and says, “What a pity, Charon has not yet come to take me… He must have been held up!” 
Few are the people who welcome death. Most people have unfinished business and don’t want to die. But the Good God provides for each person to die when he is fully matured. In any case, a spiritual person, whether young or old, should be happy to live and be happy to die, but should never pursue death, for this is suicide. 
For a person who is dead to worldly matters and has been spiritually resurrected, there is never any agony, fear or anxiety, for he awaits death with joy because he will be with Christ and delight in His presence. But he also rejoices in being alive, again because he is united with Christ even now and experiences a portion of the joy of Paradise here on earth and wonders whether there is a higher joy in Paradise than the one he feels on earth. Such people struggle with philotimo and self-denial; and because they place death before themselves and remember it every single day, they prepare more spiritually, struggling daringly, and defeating vanity.
Reference: Elder Paisios of Mount Athos Spiritual Councils IV: Family Life, pp 274-276.

***

Saint Paisios the Athonite
Everything that God allows to happen is humane

οι ψυχές στο χέρι του Θεού_Души праведных в руце Божией_Orthodox icon_The souls of the righteous in the hand of God_ Manasija (Resava) monasery, Serbia, 15th century2345– Geronda, why does God allow misfortunes to occur?

– There can be many reasons for it. In some cases God allows misfortune to happen in order that something better come of it, while in other cases – for instructional purposes. Some people receive just recompense, while others pay for their sins, so that nothing goes to waste. You should realize that everything allowed by God is humane, even when people perish, for God is kindhearted.

Culture is all well and good, but in order for it to bring benefit, one must also “enculture” one’s soul, otherwise culture will end in catastrophe. “Evil, – said St. Cosmas of Aetolia, – will come from literate people.” Despite the fact that science has progressed far and has attained such great success, people who are trying to help the world are doing it in such a way that they are destroying it without realizing what they are doing. God has allowed man to do everything according to his own lights, but man is destroying himself by disobeying God. Man is ruining himself with what he himself creates.
The people of the 20th century – what have they attained with their culture and civilization! They have driven the world mad, they have polluted the atmosphere, they have spoiled everything on earth. If a wheel comes off its axis, it continues to revolve aimlessly. The same with people – having come off the axis of God’s harmony, they are in torment. In ancient times people suffered from war; today they suffer from civilization. Formerly, because of war, people moved from the cities to the villages and lived somehow by cultivating small plots of land. Nowadays people are unable to live in cities and leave them because of the pressure of civilization. Formerly war brought death to people; civilization now brings them illnesses.

Geronda, why has cancer become so widespread?

– Do you think that Chernobyl and all the rest of if are gone without a trace? Everything comes from there. Such are people and such are their consequences… Mankind has become deformed. In what epoch were there so many sick people? People were not like that in ancient times. And now there is either cancer, or psychosis, or heart attacks, or destroyed families. Cancer used to be a rarity, since life used to be natural. Man ate natural foods and was in good health. Everything was pure: fruits, vegetables, water. But now even the natural foods harm people. Those who eat only fruit and vegetables are harmed to an even greater degree, because everything is polluted. Currently everything is fertilized, everything is sprayed… Just think of what modern people eat! Spiritual unrest, artificial foods – all of this causes illness in people. By using science without reasoning, people are putting themselves out of commission.
Saint Paisios the Athonite  With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man.
http://www.holy-transfiguration.org/library_en/mod_mankind1.html

ODE VIII
First Three-canticled Canon, in Tone IV:
Irmos: In wisdom hast Thou fashioned all things …,

Refrain: Have mercy on me O God, have mercy on me.
The arena of God-given abstinence hath been opened unto us: let us who are in need of mercy gladly enter therein. In His tender compassion God thirsteth for our salvation, and He longeth to grant forgiveness to those who sincerely seek Him, and serve Him with love

ODE IX
First Three-canticled Canon, in Tone III:
Irmos: We magnify thee, the unburnt bush …,

Refrain: Have mercy on me O God, have mercy on me.
Rain down upon us, O Benefactor, the raindrops of Thy compassion, drowning all our filth, and granting us repentance.

Of the Martyrs, in Tone III:

Even after death ye shine as lights in the world O holy martyrs, * ye who have fought the good fight: * since ye have great boldness, ** pray to Christ that He be merciful to our souls.

Glory …, Now & ever …, Theotokion, in Tone III:

Holy art thou among women, O Theotokos, * Mother unwedded: * pray to the King and Son Whom thou didst bear, ** that He save us in that He is the Lover of mankind.


The closer we come to God, the more we see that we are sinners. Archbishop Kallistos Ware

άσωτος γιος_ the Prodigal Son_ Притча о блудном сынеprodigal-son-greek-1035426c93013c2e8d53002849e0886071_hdBe compared ourselves with God and not with other people.
The more the saints approach God, the more they see themselves as sinners.
Elder Ignatius Kapnisis of Evia

Verses

If thou art prodigal, as I am, come with confidence.
For the door of God’s mercy hath been opened

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

I would like to say something about the Holy Eucharist.
Let me begin with two words. The first is from 19th century Russia, St. John of Kronstadt: “The Eucharist is a continual miracle.” And my second word is from 14th century Byzantium, from St. Nicolas Cabasilas: “This is the final mystery. Beyond this it is not possible to go, nor can anything be added to it.” So, let us reflect together this evening on this “continual miracle,” this “final mystery,” which holds the church in unity, makes the church to be itself, and which is the heart of our life as Christians
In the Liturgy, the word used is “we.”
We say throughout the Liturgy “we,” not “I.”

I often think of the story retold by Dostoevsky in The Brothers Karamazov about an old woman and an onion. 

άσωτος γιος_ the Prodigal Son_ Притча о блудном сынеFiul-cel-pierdut-10Once upon a time there was a peasant woman and a very wicked woman she was. And she died and did not leave a single good deed behind. The devils caught her and plunged her into the lake of fire. So her guardian angel stood and wondered what good deed of hers he could remember to tell to God; ‘She once pulled up an onion in her garden,’ said he, ‘and gave it to a beggar woman.’ And God answered: ‘You take that onion then, hold it out to her in the lake, and let her take hold and be pulled out. And if you can pull her out of the lake, let her come to Paradise, but if the onion breaks, then the woman must stay where she is.’ The angel ran to the woman and held out the onion to her. ‘Come,’ said he, ‘catch hold and I’ll pull you out.’ he began cautiously pulling her out. He had just pulled her right out, when the other sinners in the lake, seeing how she was being drawn out, began catching hold of her so as to be pulled out with her. But she was a very wicked woman and she began kicking them. ‘I’m to be pulled out, not you. It’s my onion, not yours.’ As soon as she said that, the onion broke. And the woman fell into the lake and she is burning there to this day. So the angel wept and went away.

If she had only said, “It’s our onion,” might it not have been strong enough to pull them all out? To be in the image of God to be in the image of the Trinity, a community of love. The old woman was also non-liturgical: “my” and not “our.” In the Divine Liturgy, we are precisely sharing the noetic onion.

As persons made in the image of God, we are made in the image of God the Holy Trinity; and the Holy Trinity signifies mutual love.If we are made in the image of the Trinity, that means we are made to love one another.And if we refuse to love one another, that means we lose our true human personhood…

Always we say “we.” The Liturgy expresses mutual love. One of the things that I was taught by Nicholas Zernov very early in my acquaintance with the Orthodox Church was how important in the Liturgy is the phrase “Let us love one another, that so we may confess Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — the Trinity, one in essence and undivided.” Without mutual love there is no true confession of the Trinity, and no true Liturgy…

First Timothy [2.4]: God desires all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.The offer of salvation is made to all.The offer of salvation is to all.
God’s love is infinite.άσωτος γιος_ the Prodigal Son_ Притча о блудном сынеFiul-cel-pierdut-10

Archbishop Kallistos Ware

To repent is to look, not downward at my own shortcomings, but upward at God’s love; not backward with self-reproach, but forward with trustfulness. It is to see, not what I have failed to be, but what by the grace of Christ I can yet become….

Repentance, then, is an illumination, a transition from darkness to light; to repent is to open our eyes to the divine radiance – not to sit dolefully in the twilight but to greet the dawn …

The connection between repentance and the advent of the great light is particularly significant. Until we have seen the light of Christ, we cannot really see our sins. So long as a room is in darkness, observes St. Theophan the Recluse, we do not notice the dirt; but So it is with the room of our soul. The sequence is not to repent first, and then to become aware of Christ; for it is only when the light of Christ has already in some measure entered our life that we begin truly to understand our sinfulness. To repent, says St. John ofKronstadt, is to know that there is a lie in our heart; but how can we detect the presence of a lie unless we have already some sense of the truth? In the words of E. I. Watkin, “Sin … is the shadow cast by the light of God intercepted by any attachment of the will which prevents it illuminating the soul. Thus knowledge of God gives rise to the sense of sin, not vice versa.” As the Desert Fathers observe, “The closer we come to God, the more we see that we are sinners.” And they cite Isaiah as an example of this: first he sees the Lord on His throne and hears the seraphim crying “Holy, holy, holy;” and it is only after this vision that he exclaims, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips” (Is. 6:1-5)

Such, then, is the beginning of repentance: a vision of beauty, not of ugliness; an awareness of God’s glory, not of my own squalor.
from Archbishop Kallistos Ware. It is a medley of excerpts from a great article of his entitled ” The Orthodox Experience of Repentance .”

Tone 1 – ‘Lord, I have cried unto Thee…’

Rich and fertile was the earth allotted to us,
But all we planted were the seeds of sin.
We reaped the sheaves of evil with the sickle of laziness;
We failed to place them on the threshing-floor of sorrow.
Now we beg Thee, Lord, eternal Master of the harvest:
May Thy love become the breeze to winnow the straw of our worthless deeds.
Make us like precious wheat to be stored in heaven, and save us all! (twice)


The parable of the Prodigal Son speaks to us not only of sin and repentance but also of the forgiveness that God gives us. Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh

άσωτος γιος_ the Prodigal Son_ Притча о блудном сынеprodigal-son-greek-1035426c93013c2e8d53002849e0886071_hdSunday of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)

Parable of the Prodigal Son
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
1967, 26 February

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

The parable of the Prodigal Son speaks to us not only of sin and repentance but also of the forgiveness that God gives us. When the prodigal son had come to his senses through suffering, privation, loneliness and rejection he set out to his father’s house, and his father, who had probably often looked out for his return, saw him from afar. The Gospel tells us that love and tenderness and pity filled his heart, “his son was dear to him” and without waiting for his son’s arrival the old man who had been deeply hurt by the young man’s sins and heartlessness ran to meet him, fell on his neck, embraced and kissed him.

Is that how we meet each other when we see from a distance someone coming from that far country to which all of us at some moment, frequently perhaps, get drawn by sin, a former friend, relation or acquaintance returning to us? Is that how we meet him? To begin with, is it often that our love is so unshakeable that we constantly go to the door of the house and look into the distance hoping for his return? And when we do see a person who once was close but has become estranged moving our way, are we often pierced to the heart by the old love and tenderness and pity? And do we often make the first move towards him without waiting for his repentance or words of regret, embrace him and try to console him for his own inconstancy in love and friendship? Do we not in fact more often behave like the son who had nothing to reproach himself with before his father? When that one returned from work in the fields and heard sounds of rejoicing in the house he asked a servant what it was about, and hearing that his younger brother who was starving had returned, he was unwilling to go in. His sinful brother through shame and fear had understood what he had done, and seeing the state he had reduced himself to had come from the far country to his father’s house uncertain how he would be received. But he, the righteous one was standing outside the house where there was rejoicing over the return to life of one who was dead, and waiting for his father to come and implore him, “enter into the common joy. I rejoice, the servants rejoice, your brother rejoices, partake of our joy.” But the righteous son rebukes his father saying that for all those years of work and virtuous living he had received no reward, whereas when that “son of yours” returned the father had slain the fatted calf. And the father says, “should we not have rejoiced when your brother came back?” But the elder son sees in the prodigal only the sinful son of his father whom he can no longer accept as a brother, though his father reminds him that if the prodigal also is his son, he must be the righteous one’s brother.

άσωτος γιος_ the Prodigal Son_ Притча о блудном сынеFiul-cel-pierdut-10Again I say, does it often happen that we perceive someone who has sinned, not necessarily against us but done wrong in general as our brother? Do we not more often say “your son” with contemptuous rejection? Do we often admit that he is our brother all the same, he is dear to the father and should be infinitely dear to us? But no, we are like the son who thought himself virtuous because he was a good worker, although he remained alien to the spirit of his father’s house.

One further comment. The father did not allow his son to ask to become a servant; he could not take him as a servant but only as a son returned. And he told then to bring his original robe, not the best garment in the house but the one he used to wear before he became a stranger, before he shed it to dress up as a foreigner. When the son put on his former robe instead of his rags he felt it fit him snugly, and his father ordered then to bring him the ring, not just a ring, but the ring with which in older times a man sealed his letters. The father put complete trust in him. Why? Why did he not first demand proofs of his repentance? Because he knew that if his son had overcome shame and fear in order to come home his return was secure. But when a person, formerly a friend but who has hurt either us or someone dear to us, approaches us, are we ready to entrust ourselves to him, give him the old affection? No, and therefore the reconciliation is not permanent. That is why a person is so afraid of seeking reconciliation; he knows he will not meet the father but only false, humiliating virtue which says “you are not my brother even if my father does acknowledge you as his son”.

Let us consider this question of forgiveness, because soon it will be forgiveness Sunday and it might catch us unprepared. Amen.
http://www.mitras.ru/eng/eng_157.htm

A family man flooded with Taborian Light, He seen the “uncreated Light”. When the Grace of God is within us, then day is within our souls. Saint Paisius the Athonite – Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2019/08/11/30716/

Your sins are my sins, St. Nikolai Velimirovic Bishop of Ochrid
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2018/02/07/your-sins-are-my-sins-st-nikolai-velimirovic-bishop-of-ochrid-2/

Tone 3 Kontakion (from the Lenten Triodion)

I have recklessly forgotten Thy glory, O Father; and among sinners I have scattered the riches which Thou gavest me. And now I cry to thee as the Prodigal: I have sinned before Thee, O merciful Father; receive me as a penitent, and make me as one of Thy hired servants!

Tone 1 – ‘Lord, I have cried unto Thee…’

Brethren, our purpose is to know the power of God’s goodness,
For when the Prodigal Son abandoned his sin,
He hastened to the refuge of his Father.
That good man embraced him and welcomed him:
He killed the fatted calf and celebrated with heavenly joy!
Let us learn from this example to offer thanks to the Father who loves all people,
And to the Victim, the glorious Saviour of our souls!

Doxastikon in Tone Six

Loving Father, I have gone far from you, but do not forsake me, nor declare me unfitted for your Kingdom. The all-evil enemy has stripped me naked and taken all my wealth. I have squandered like the Profligate the graces given to my soul. But now I have arisen and returned, and I cry aloud to you, ‘Make me as one of your hired servants, You who for my sake stretched out Your spotless hands on the Cross, to snatch me from the fearsome beast and to clothe me once again in the first robe, for You alone art full of mercy’.


O Lord Jesus, our Mind and our Life, help us to think with Thee, and to live with Thee. Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Θεοφάνεια_ Theophany_Богоявле́ние-Теофа́ния_Teofanía_ნათლისღება_Boboteaza Greek Byzantine Orthodox Icon0106theophany250_a0d50_81ec794c_

Wash you, be clean; remove your iniquities from your souls before mine eyes; cease from your iniquities; ( Isaiah 1, 16)

And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be purged from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols, and I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and will put a new spirit in you: and I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and will give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36, 25-26)

HOMILY
About how God whitens the repentant sinners
St. Nikolai Velimirovich

“Though your sins be like scarlet, they may be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

O, the boundless mercy of God! In His greatest wrath upon the faithless and ungrateful people, upon the people “laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters” (Isaiah 1:4), as “princes [rulers] of Sodom” (Isaiah 1:10) and upon the people who have become as the “people of Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:10) – in such wrath, the Lord does not abandon mercy but rather calls them to repentance. Just as after terrible lightnings, a gentle rain falls. Such is the Lord long-suffering [patient] and full of mercy and “neither will He keep His anger forever” (Psalm 103:9). Only if sinners cease to commit evil and learn to do good and turn to God with humility and repentance they will become “white as snow.” The Lord is mighty and willing. No one, except Him, is able to cleanse the sinful soul of man from sin and, by cleansing, to whiten it. No matter how often linen is washed in water with ashes and soap, no matter how often it is washed and rewashed, it cannot receive whiteness until it is spread under the light of the sun. Thus, our soul cannot become white, no matter how often we cleanse it by our own effort and labor even with the help of all legal means of the law until we, at last, bring it beneath the feet of God, spread out and opened wide so that the light of God illumines it and whitens it. The Lord condones and even commends all of our labor and effort, i.e., He wants us to bathe our soul in tears, by repentance to constrain it by the pangs of the conscience to press it, to clothe it with good deeds and in the end of ends, He calls us to Him: “Come now,” says the Lord, “and let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18). That is, I will look at you and I will see if there is Me in you and you will look upon Me as in a mirror and you will see what kind of person you are.

O Lord, slow to anger, have mercy on us before the last wrath of that Dreadful Day.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.

St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Homily for August 5 in The Prologue of Ohrid Volume II
http://livingorthodoxfaith.blogspot.gr/2010/04/prologue-august-5-august-18.htmlΘεοφάνεια_ Theophany_Богоявле́ние-Теофа́ния_Teofanía_ნათლისღება_Boboteaza Greek Byzantine Orthodox Icon0100HOMILY
on the ignorance and hardheartedness of the pagans
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

The gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart (Ephesians 4:17-18).

What is vanity, my brethren? All that is seen outside God, cut off from God and done without the fear of God. What is vanity of the mind, my brethren? To live and interpret life, not by God’s law but rather by one’s own passing thoughts and desires. Whence, my brethren, does this evil come to men? From hardness of heart and from inner ignorance. What does hardness of heart mean, brethren? It means a heart empty of love for God and fear of God, and filled with lustfulness and fear of everything for the body’s sake. Brethren, what is born of hardness of heart? Ignorance-complete ignorance of divine things, divine ways and divine laws; a heart completely dulled to spiritual life and spiritual thought. What is the final consequence, brethren, of hardness of heart and ignorance of divine truth? A darkened understanding and alienation from the Living God. Darkened understanding occurs when the mind of man becomes as darkened as the body, and the light that is in man becomes darkness. Oh, such a darkness! A darkened understanding is a darkened mind. A darkened mind knows the meaning of nothing, or denies the meaning of everything. In such a condition, a man is alienated from the life of God, and he withers and dies like a body part cut off from the body. Such are the pagans, such are the godless, and such are those of little faith or false Christians. But even dry wood, when it is watered with the life-creating water of Christ, comes to life and bursts forth in greenery. Even the dried-up pagan world was raised up and brought to life by Christ the Lord. How much more so would it be for repentant Christian sinners!

Let us look at ourselves, my brethren. Let us do so every day. Let us ask ourselves every day whether we have become darkened and alienated from the life of God because of our vanity. Soon there will be death, the end and judgment. The dry wood will be cast into the unquenchable fire.

O Lord Jesus, our Mind and our Life, help us to think with Thee, and to live with Thee.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
http://prologue.orthodox.cn/November30.htmΠηγή_πουλιά_Mausoleums_der_Galla_Placidia_in_Ravenna_008

Repentance is conversion, the recentering of our life upon the Holy Trinity. That is the essence of repentance.
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2019/01/05/repentance-is-conversion-the-recentering-of-our-life-upon-the-holy-trinity-that-is-the-essence-of-repentance/

Troparion of the forefeast, in Tone IV:

Once, the River Jordan was turned back by the mantle of Elisha when Elijah was borne aloft, and the waters were parted on either side, and the path which before was wet became dry for him, as a true image of baptism, whereby we pass through the flow of life. Christ hath appeared in the Jordan to sanctify the waters.

Tone VIII:
Spec. Mel.: “Thy martyrs, O Lord …”:

He that is truly unbearable Fire shall go forth into the Jordan to cleanse me who have been destroyed by the wicked violation. In the midst of the waters shall He receive the rain of heaven which washes away the stain of many transgressions, in that He is compassionate and great in mercy.

Glory … , Now and ever … , in Tone VI:

Christ came to the Jordan truly to be baptized by John; and he said to Him: “I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me? I, a shadow, dare not come in contact with fire! Sanctify me, O Master, by Thy divine manifestation!”


Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Mediolansus (Milan), I knew of your fearlessness; that is why I helped you to be chosen as bishop. Correct our faults as the Law of God teaches, and heal our unrighteousness.

Γέννηση του Ιησού Χριστού_ Рождество Христово_ Nativity of Christ-icon1122528d9401e31c_kSaint Ambrose, Bishop of Mediolansus (Milan) (397).
Martyr Athenodorus of Mesopotamia (304).
Saint Ammoun, Bishop of Nitria, reposed in peace.
holy 300 Martyrs in North Africa slain by the Arian Vandals (474-475)
Saint Neophytos died when he was thrown into the sea.
Saint Dometios died by the sword.
Saints Isidore, Acepsimas, and Leo died by fire.
Martyrs Gaianos and Gaius died by fire.
St. Ignatius, who was near Blachernae, reposed in peace.
father Paul the Monk, the subordinate
hesychast Gregory, Founder of Gregoriou Monastery on Mount Athos(1405)
Martyr Philothea of Arges, Protectress of Romania (1206-1208)
Gerasimos, Ascetic of Euboea, (c. 1320)
Anthony the New, Wonderworker of Siya (1556).
holy Martyrs Priscus, Martin, and Nicholas; the first (Priscus) was starved, the second (Martin) cut to pieces with an axe, and the third (Nicholas) died by fire. The services in their honor were held near the wall of Blachernae.
Consecration of the Church of the Most Holy Theotokos at the Curator.

Commemorated on December 7

Saint Ambrose,
Bishop of Mediolanum (Milan)

Αμβρόσιος Μεδιολάνων-St Ambrose of Mediolansus–Milan_Свт. Амвросий Медиоланский_palermo_e13Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, was born in the year 340 into the family of the Roman prefect of Gaul (now France). Even in the saint’s childhood there appeared presentiments of his great future. Once, bees covered the face of the sleeping infant. They flew in and out of his mouth, leaving honey on his tongue. Soon they flew away so high that they could no longer be seen. Ambrose’s father said that the child would become something great when he reached manhood.

After the death of the father of the family, Ambrose journeyed to Rome, where the future saint and his brother Satyrius received an excellent education. About the year 370, upon completion of his course of study, Ambrose was appointed to the position of governor (consular prefect) of the districts of Liguria and Aemilia, though he continued to live at Mediolanum (now Milan).

In the year 374 Auxentius, the Arian Bishop of Mediolanum, died. This led to complications between the Orthodox and the Arians, since each side wanted to have its own bishop. Ambrose, as the chief city official, went to the church to resolve the dispute.

While he was speaking to the crowd, suddenly a child cried out, “Ambrose for bishop!” The people took up this chant. Ambrose, who at this time was still a catechumen, considered himself unworthy, and tried to refuse. He disparaged himself, and even tried to flee from Mediolanum. The matter went ultimately before the emperor Valentinian the Elder (364-375), whose orders Ambrose dared not disobey. He accepted holy Baptism from an Orthodox priest and, passing through all the ranks of the Church clergy in just seven days, on December 7, 374 he was consecrated Bishop of Mediolanum. He dispersed all his possessions, money and property for the adornment of churches, the upkeep of orphans and the poor, and he devoted himself to a strict ascetic life.

Ambrose combined strict temperance, intense vigilance and work within the fulfilling of his duties as archpastor. St Ambrose, defending the unity of the Church, energetically opposed the spread of heresy. Thus, in the year 379 he traveled off to establish an Orthodox bishop at Sirmium, and in 385-386 he refused to hand over the basilica of Mediolanum to the Arians.

The preaching of St Ambrose in defense of Orthodoxy was deeply influential. Another noted Father of the Western Church, St Augustine (June 15), bore witness to this, having accepted holy Baptism in the year 387 by the grace of the preaching of the bishop of Mediolanum.

St Ambrose also actively participated in civil matters. Thus, the emperor Gracian (375-383), having received from him the “Exposition of the Orthodox Faith” (De Fide), removed, by decree of the saint, the altar of Victory from the halls of the Senate at Rome, on which oaths were wont to be taken. Displaying a pastoral boldness, St Ambrose placed a severe penance on the emperor Theodosius I (379-395) for the massacre of innocent inhabitants of Thessalonica. For him there was no difference between emperor and commoner. Though he released Theodosius from the penance, the saint would not permit the emperor to commune at the altar, but compelled him to do public penance.

The fame of Bishop Ambrose and his actions attracted to him many followers from other lands. From faraway Persia learned men came to him to ask him questions and absorb his wisdom. Fritigelda (Frigitil), queen of the military Germanic tribe of the Markomanni, which often had attacked Mediolanum, asked the saint to instruct her in the Christian Faith. The saint in his letter to her persuasively stated the dogmas of the Church. And having become a believer, the queen converted her own husband to Christianity and persuaded him to conclude a treaty of peace with the Roman Empire.

The saint combined strictness with an uncommon kindliness. Granted a gift of wonderworking, he healed many from sickness. One time at Florence, while staying at the house of Decentus, he resurrected a dead boy.

The repose of St Ambrose, who departed to the Lord on the night of Holy Pascha, was accompanied by many miracles. He even appeared in a vision to the children being baptized that night. The saint was buried in the Ambrosian basilica in Mediolanum, beneath the altar, between the Martyrs Protasius and Gervasius (October 14).

***

Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Αμβρόσιος Μεδιολάνων -St Ambrose of Mediolansus– Milan_Свт. Амвросий Медиоланский__e1354843281678Fear of God drives all fear from the hearts of men. In every great hierarch of the Orthodox Church, we see meekness and fearlessness wonderfully united. St. Nicholas grabbed the sword of the executioner and pulled it away so that innocent men would not be beheaded. St. Chrysostom reproached the Empress Eudoxia for her misdeeds without consideration for the unpleasantness and danger to his own life, to which he was exposed as a result. And there are many, many other examples similar to this: Emperor Valentinian the Elder, upon hearing of Ambrose‘s stern criticism of him, said: “I knew of your fearlessness; that is why I helped you to be chosen as bishop. Correct our faults as the Law of God teaches, and heal our unrighteousness.” When Valentinian the Younger, at the instigation of his mother Justina, an Arian, ordered that the cathedral church in Milan be yielded to the heretics, Ambrose shut himself in the church with the faithful and would not come out for three days. He sent a message to the emperor and empress that, if they desired his death, he was prepared at any moment “here in the church to be run through either by the sword or spear.” Hearing this, the emperor and empress withdrew their decree. When a riot occurred in Thessalonica, at which time about seven thousand people were beheaded by the decree of Emperor Theodosius the Great, Ambrose became so enraged at the emperor that, when the emperor visited Milan and wished to enter the church, the saint forbade him. The emperor said to Ambrose: “Even David sinned and was not deprived of God’s mercy.” To this the bishop replied: “As you have imitated David in sin, imitate him also in repentance.” The emperor was ashamed, turned back and repented bitterly of the sin he had committed.
http://www.westsrbdio.org/en/prologue/718-december-9

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Apolytikion. For the Saint
Mode 4.

A rule of faith are you, and an icon of gentleness, and a teacher of self-control. And to your flock this was evident, by the truth of your life and deeds. You were humble and therefore you acquired exalted gifts, treasure in heaven for being poor. Father holy hierarch Ambrose, intercede with Christ our God, and entreat Him to save our souls.

Exaposteilarion
Mode 2. N/M (On the mountain.)

O Ambrose, you were a champion of Orthodoxy, a firm foundation of the Church, the supporter of hierarchs, and a wise shepherd, guiding the flock to pastures of true religion. You drove out the untamed factions of heretics like wild beasts, O revealer of God, and you publicly taught that the Holy Trinity is consubstantial.

Tour virtuale of the Basilica of Saint Ambrose in Milan – εικονική περιήγηση στην Βασιλική του Αγίου Αμβροσίου στο Μιλανο
http://www.basilicasantambrogio.it/la-basilica/tour-virtuale/


Great Martyr James the Persian, Oh, what wonderful faith and love! Oh, the noble soul of this knight of Christ!

Προσκυνηση τριων μαγων_Поклонение волхвов Три царя _Adoration of the Three Magi_4977455834_97584dc0d4_oGreat Martyr James the Persian. (421)
Pinuphrius and Nathanael of Egypt. (4th cen.)
Venerable Romanus the Wonderworker of Cilicia (5th century)
Venerable Moses
Saint Secundinus, Bishop of Dunshaughlin and fellow labourer of Saint Patrick.
Saint Maximus, Bishop of Riez in Gaul.
Diodore of Yurievo, of George Hill Olonets (Solovki -1633).
17 Monastic Martyrs in India (4th cen)
Blessed Andrei Ilyich (Ogorodnikov) of Simbirsk (1841)

Commemorated on November 27

The Holy Martyr James the Persian
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič 

James was born of Christian parents in the Persian city of Elapa (or Vilat), brought up in the Christian Faith and married to a Christian woman. The Persian King Yezdegeherd took a liking to James for his talents and skillfulness, and made him a noble at his court. Flattered by the king, James was deluded and began offering sacrifices to the idols that the king worshiped. His mother and wife learned of this, and wrote him a letter of reproach in which they grieved over him as an apostate and one who was spiritually dead. Yet, at the end of the letter, they begged him to repent and return to Christ. Moved by this letter, James repented bitterly, and courageously confessed his faith in Christ the Lord to the king. Angered, the king condemned him to death by a special torture: his entire body was to be cut up, piece by piece, until he breathed his last. The executioners fulfilled this command of the wicked king to the letter, and cut off James’s fingers, then his toes, his legs and arms, his shoulders, and finally his head. During every cutting, the repentant martyr gave thanks to God. A sweet-smelling fragrance, as of a cypress, emanated from the wounds. Thus, this wonderful man repented of his sin and presented his soul to Christ his God in the Kingdom of Heaven. James suffered in about the year 400. His head is to be found in Rome and a part of his relics in Portugal, where he is commemorated on May 22.

***

Ιάκωβος-ΙΑΚΩΒΟΣ ΠΕΡΣΗΣ-IakovosPersis-Иаков Персянин родился в IV веке--03When the executioners severed the thumb of St. James’s right hand, he said: “Even a vine is pruned in this manner, so that in time a young branch may grow.”
At the severing of his second finger, he said: “Receive also, O Lord, the second branch of Thy sowing.”
At the severing of his third finger, he said: “I bless the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
At the severing of his fourth finger, he said: “O Thou who acceptest the praise of the four beasts [symbols of the four evangelists], accept the suffering of the fourth finger.”
At the severing of the fifth finger, he said: “May my rejoicing be fulfilled as that of the five wise virgins at the wedding feast.”
During the severing of the sixth finger, he said: “Thanks be to Thee, O Lord, Who at the sixth hour stretched out Thy most pure arms on the Cross, that Thou hast made me worthy to offer Thee my sixth finger.”
At the severing of the seventh finger, he said: “Like David who praised Thee seven times daily, I praise Thee through the seventh finger severed for Thy sake.”
At the severing of the eighth finger, he said: “On the eighth day Thou Thyself, O Lord, wast circumcised.” At the severing of the ninth finger, he said: “
At the ninth hour, Thou didst commend Thy spirit into the hands of Thy Father, O my Christ, and I offer Thee thanks during the suffering of my ninth finger.”
At the severing of the tenth finger, he said: “On a ten-stringed harp I sing to Thee, O God, and thank Thee that Thou hast made me worthy to endure the severing of the ten fingers of my two hands, for the Ten Commandments written on two tablets.”

Oh, what wonderful faith and love! Oh, the noble soul of this knight of Christ!
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
livingorthodoxfaith.blogspot.com/2010/04/prologue-november-27-december-10.html

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Holy Fools often serve the same purpose as their Old Testament prophets
iconandlight.wordpress.com/2017/11/26/19557/

Saint Alypius the Stylite of Adrianopolis in Paphlagonia
iconandlight.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/saint-alypius-the-stylite-of-adrianopolis-in-paphlagonia/

Apolytikion of Martyr James the Persian
First Tone

Be entreated, O Lord, by the sufferings endured for You by the Saints, and we pray You, heal all our pain.

Kontakion of Martyr James the Persian
Second Tone

O stout-hearted James, persuaded by thy noble wife, and fearing the dread tribunal, thou didst scorn all fear of the Persians with their profane decrees, and thou wast shown forth to be a most wondrous martyr of Christ, when all of thy body was pruned like a vine.

The Troparion of Andrei Ilyich the Fool for Christ of Simbirsk, In Tone I:

Having heard the voice of Thine Apostle Paul, saying: * We are foolish for Christ’s sake, * Thy servant Andrew, O Christ God, * did love the life of the foolish for Thy sake on earth. * Wherefore in venerating his [her] memory * we entreat Thee, O Lord, to save our souls.