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Lord, You are our strength. Help us to endure to the end with faith that You are beside us. – Patience of sorrows is the highest virtue of our time, Blessed Lyubushka Fool for Christ of Susanino

Επταβηματίζουσα Παναγία_Αννα_Byzantine Orthodox icon-290_dionisiatMartyrs Demetrius, his wife Evanthia, and their son Demetrian, at Skepsis on the Hellespont (1st century)
Venerable Theodora of Alexandria (491)
Holy Martyr Theodora of Vasta, in the central Peloponnese (10th century)
Saint Paphnutius the Confessor, Bishop in the Egyptian Thebaid (4th century)
Saint Euphrosynus the Cook of Alexandria (9th century)
Venerable Elias the Cave-dweller of Calabria (Elia Speleota), and his spiritual father St. Arsenios (c. 960)
Translation of relics of Sergius and Herman, Wonder-workers of Valaam Monastery (1542-1550)
Matuska Lyubushka (= Love) Fool for Christ of Susanino of St. Petersburg (1997), spiritual daughter of Saint Seraphim of Viritsa (-1949)
Glorification of St. Xenia of Saint Petersburg, Fool-for-Christ (1978)

Commemorated on September 11

“He who endures to the end will be saved”Patience of sorrows is the highest virtue of our time, said Staritsa Blessed Lyubushka Fool for Christ of Susanino

HOMILY
About enduring to the end
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

“But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved” (St. Matthew 24:13).

Παναγια Γλυκοφιλουσα_Божией Матери Икона_Virgin Mary –Byzantine Orthodox Icon_181_05df0d1c0ff023a96defd95ff1b75821O Lord most wonderful, You have endured all, all to the end. That is why You became not only blessed but the source of blessings for all men who desire good forthemselves throughout the ages of ages.
The apostles endured all to the end and entered into blessed eternity. The saints willingly endured the difficulties and sufferings to the end and were glorified, both in heaven and on earth.
The martyrs willingly endured all pains to the end and became the adopted co-inheritors of the Kingdom of Christ.

Every founder of a new organization recruits followers for himself with the promise of good fruits and many pleasures but deliberately remains silent about the hardships and labors which lead to those fruits and pleasures. Our Lord Jesus is the only one Who spoke the whole truth to His followers, both the bitter and the sweet side of the truth. He did not promise fruits without service, nor glory without suffering, nor ultimate rest without the thorny path, nor victory without struggle, nor pleasure without bitterness, nor the kingdom without tears and self-denial.

Although our Lord counted the many difficulties which would befall His followers, in the end He does not abandon them without comfort. He gives meaning to their sufferings and does not leave them in darkness. He says, “The one who perseveres to the end will be saved.” What is that blessing which awaits those who endure to the end that He Jesus fully revealed and that has been witnessed even until today and is being witnessed by many saints, who, have either appeared in glory to the faithful from the other world or who, while yet in the flesh, were uplifted in the spirit to a vision of that glory and blessedness which await the faithful, the chosen and persevering?

O Lord, You are our strength. Help us to endure to the end with faith that You are beside us.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič 
http://prologue.orthodox.cn/March9.htm

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ΣΕΡΑΦΕΙΜ ΒΙΡΙΤΣΑ_Σεραφείμ-Saint Seraphim of Vyritsa_Преп. Серафим, Вырицкий__7c205y_92f012c6Lyubushka of Susanino (Lyubov Ivanovna Lazareva; 1911/1912 (?) – 1997), Blessed, ascetic. She lived with her elder brother in Peresburg after her parents died in 1923. She worked at the factory “Red Triangular”, then she worked at the linen factory. She was settled in the psychiatric hospital but she escaped. She lived without home and passport, wandered, leaded the life of “God’s fool”. She moved to Kuban before WWII, where she lived for six years, then she returned to Leningrad. She lived in a forest, in a cemeteries. St Seraphim of Vyritsa and Archimandrite Naum from the Holy Trinity- St Sergius Lavra were her spiritual teachers. She lived in the settlement of Vyritsa as homeless for seven years and from 1974 she lived in the house of L.I. Mironova. From 1983 she lived in the settlement of Susanino of the Gatchina District where Mironova bought the house. Lyubushka of Susanino was well-known as a prophetess and thousands of people came to her for the spiritual advices. From the end of 1995 she was in the Nicholas- Shartomsky Monastery of the Ivanovj District for about year and from 1997 she was in the Kazan Convent in the town of Vyshny Volochok of the Tver District where she died after the serious illness. She was buried in the Kazan Convent and the Chapel was constructed under her grave. The “Lyubushka House” having the prayer room was built in Susanino near the church.

 Blessed – wanderer Lyubushka, as well as her spiritual mentor St. Seraphim Vyritsky, accepted the feat of pillar domination. She prayed, never allowing herself to sit down, nor lie down. In the village of Susanino, not far from the Kazan Church, Lyubushka’s house has been preserved, which was built especially for her and in which she did not live a day. The memory of blessed Lyubushka is still alive today – every year on the day of her angel, September 17, pilgrims from all over Russia come to Susanino. 

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Conceal your spiritual treasures
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Λιούμπουσκα-Αγάπη η δια Χριστόν Σαλή του Σουσάνινο_старицы Любушки Сусанинской_Lyubushka of Susanino_2 (1)22Conceal your spiritual treasures and do not reveal them unnecessarily. Behold, how men conceal and hide their material wealth and how, when forced to reveal how much they have, they always conceal the greater amount and only reveal the lesser amount. Very few are the number of men who want to reveal all that they possess, and fewer still are those who would reveal more than they, in reality, possess. This, the world considers frivolous and mindless. This clearly shows you how you need to conceal your spiritual wealth, that is, your virtues, your good works, your fastings, your vigils, and your prayers. Why do not the wise children of this world reveal their material wealth? For two reasons: So that thieves would not hear of it and not to provoke the envy of evil men. There also exist envious and jealous thieves after spiritual treasure. They are the spirits of envy. As soon as you reveal your spiritual treasure, they will endeavor to belittle it and to squander it. Just as soon as you reveal it without need [let us say, out of vanity, so as to be praised], they have seized it and disparaged it; and you, O rich man of spiritual treasure, will imperceptibly and suddenly become a poor man. Many who were spiritually rich, the saints, made themselves out to be fools before the world so that by appearing foolish, they would conceal their great wisdom and strength within themselves. The Abba Isaiah writes, “Those good works which are performed in secret are more pleasing to God.” St. Nilus of Sinai says, “The covered skin of the body is white, but the uncovered skin in parched and black.” So it is with our concealed and revealed good works.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
http://livingorthodoxfaith.blogspot.gr/2009/12/prologue-march-9-march-22.html

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Learn to become invisible… so that God can see you and bless you.
Tito Colliander

Ξένη ἡ διὰ Χριστὸν Σαλή_St. Xenia of Petersburg_ Святая Ксения Петербургская_3198 (2)It all takes place in the heart, and in silence, deep within us; and this is another serious matter, on which the holy Fathers lay much stress: keep your lips tight shut on your secret! If one opens the door of the steam bath the heat escapes, and the treatment loses its benefit.

Thus say nothing to anyone of your newly conceived purpose. Say nothing of the new life you have begun or of the experiment you are making and experiences you expect to have. All this is a matter between God and you, and only between you two. The only exception might be your father-confessor.

This silence is necessary because all chatter about one’s own concerns nourishes self-preoccupation and self-trust. And these must be stifled first of all! Through stillness one’s trust grows in Him who sees what is hidden; through silence one talks with Him who hears without words. To come to Him is your endeavour, and in Him shall be all your confidence: you are anchored in eternity, and in eternity there are no words.

Hereafter you will consider that everything that happens to you, both great and small, is sent by God to help you in your warfare. He alone knows what is necessary for you and what you need at the moment: adversity and prosperity, temptation and fall. Nothing happens accidentally or in such a way that you cannot learn from it; you must understand this at once, for this is how your trust grows in the Lord whom you have chosen to follow. (taken from The Way of the Ascetics by Tito Colliander)

Apolytikion of Nativity of the Theotokos
Fourth Tone

Your birth, O Theotokos, brought joy to the whole world, for from you dawned the sun of righteousness, Christ our God. Freeing us from the curse, He gave us His blessings. Abolishing death, He granted us eternal life.


To conceal your own virtue and the shortcomings of others, this is the preeminent spiritual wisdom. Saint Nikolai Velimirovich

Αγία Σκέπη Παναγίας_Покров Пресвятой Богородицы pokrov_protection-theotokos_Byzantine Orthodox Icon-2344-PLATYTERA

Saint Nikolai Velimirovich

It is said about Pericles that he was a man of almost perfect human beauty but that his head was oblong and resembled a squash, so that he incurred being ridiculed when he appeared bareheaded in public. In order to conceal the defect of this great man of his people, Greek sculptors always portrayed him with a helmet on his head.

When some, among the pagans, knew how to conceal the defects of their friends, how much more, therefore, are we as Christians obligated to do the same? “Love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10), commands the apostle to those who cling to Christ. How can we say that we adhere to the meek and All-pure Christ, if we daily poison the air with tales about the sins and shortcomings of others? To conceal your own virtue and the shortcomings of others, this is the preeminent spiritual wisdom.
http://prologue.orthodox.cn/April9.htm

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They said of Abba Macarius the Great that he became, as it is written, a god upon earth, because, just as God protects the world, so Abba Macarius would cover the faults which he saw, as though he did not see them; and those which he heard, as though he did not hear them.

Παναγια_Божией Матери Икона_Virgin Mary –Byzantine Orthodox Icon_ac4acb1Faras_Saint_Anne_detail

The same Abba Macarius while he was in Egypt discovered a man who owned a beast of burden engaged in plundering Macarius’ goods. So he came up to the thief as if he was a stranger and he helped him to load the animal. He saw him off in great peace of soul, saying, ‘We have brought nothing into this world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.’ (1 Tim. 6.7) ‘The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ (Job 1.21)

A brother questioned Abba Poemen saying, ‘If I see my brother committing a sin, is it right to conceal it?’ The old man said to him, ‘At the very moment when we hide our brother’s fault, God hides our own and at the moment when we reveal our brother’s fault, God reveals ours too.’

Some old men came to see Abba Poemen and said to him, ‘When we see brothers who are dozing at the synaxis, shall we rouse them so that they will be watchful?’ He said to them, ‘For my part when I see a brother who is dozing, I put his head on my knees and let him rest.’

Abba Poimen once went to dwell in the region of Egypt. Nearby there lived a brother who had a concubine, for which Abba Poimen never reproached him. It so happened that one night this woman gave birth, and when the Elder got wind of this, he summoned his younger brother and said to him: ‘Take a knidion of wine with you and offer it to our neighbor, for he has need of it today.’ The other members of his brotherhood had no idea about any of this, but the younger brother did as the Elder instructed him.
The erring brother accepted the wine and, being moved to compunction, let his concubine go after a few days, after giving her whatever he possessed. He went to the Elder and said: ‘From today on, I am going to repent.’ The Elder encouraged him in his repentance. The brother built himself another cell near Abba Poimen, and there he kept in regular contact with the Elder. The latter illumined for the monk the way of God and thus won over the sinful brother. (from the Evergetinos, Book 3, Hypothesis II, ‘That one should not condemn or denigrate even one who sins openly, but should be attentive to himself and not busy himself with other people’s affairs; for he who attends to his own vices is incapable of condemning his neighbor’—Archbishop Chrysostomos, p. 27)

The old man said that a brother asked Abba Pambo if it is good to praise one’s neighbour and that the old man said to him, ‘It is better to be silent.’

Abba Ammonas came one day to eat in a place where there was a monk of evil repute. Now it happened that a woman came and entered the cell of the brother of evil reputation. The dwellers in that place, having learnt this, were troubled and gathered together to chase the brother from his cell. Knowing that Bishop Ammonas was in the place, they asked him to join them. When the brother in question learnt this, he hid the woman in a large cask. The crowd of monks came to the place. Now Abba Ammonas saw the position clearly but for the sake of God he kept the secret; he entered, seated himself on the cask and commanded the cell to be searched. Then when the monks had searched everywhere without finding the woman, Abba Ammonas said, ‘What is this? May God forgive you!’ After praying, he made everyone go out, then taking the brother by the hand he said, ‘Brother, be on your guard.’ With these words, he withdrew.

It was said of him that some people came to him to be judged, and Abba Ammonas feigned madness. A woman standing near him said to her neighbour, ‘The old man is mad.’ Abba Ammonas heard it, caller her, and said, ‘How much labour have I given myself in the desert to acquire this folly and through you I have lost it today!’

Saint Nikolai Velimirovich said, Silence was sought by all great souls, for they deeply felt the truth of folk wisdom: “Silence is gold.”

ODE I
Canon of John the monk, in Tone IV:
Irmos: I
srael of old, traversing the depths of the Red Sea with dryshod feet, vanquished the power of Amalek in the wilderness by Moses’ arms outstretched in the form of the Cross.

The Church is not adorned with the law, O Lord, nor by the outstretched hands of servants, but, boasting in the grace of the Cross, it singeth to Thee: Let us chant a hymn to our God!

ODE VI
Irmos: I
have fallen into the depths of the sea, and the tempest of my manifold sins hath engulfed me; but as Thou art God, lead up my life from the abyss, O greatly Merciful One.

Thou hast been shown to us as a mighty weapon, whereby in sacred manner we kiss thee with uprightness of soul and overpower all the assaults of the adversary, O divine Cross.


I know of a priest in Athens. He is the most humble of priests and the most simple of men. Alexandros Papadiamandis on St. Nicholas Planas

Νικόλαος Πλανάς St. Nicholas Planas Святой Николай Планас-5656άγ. Νικόλαος Πλανάς, σκηνέςSaint Nicholas Planas of Athens (1932)
Hieromartyrs Nestor the Bishop, and Tribiminus the Deacon, at Perge in Pamphylia (ca. 250)
Martyr Troadius of Neo-Caesarea, and those with him (251)
Virgin-martyr Euthalia of Sicily (252
Martyr Hesychius the Senator (the Palatine), of Antioch (ca. 304)
Saint Agathon of Egypt, monk (5th century)
440 Martyrs slain by the Lombards in Italy (Martyrs of Campania) (ca. 579)
Saint Ambrose (Khelaia) the Confessor, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia (1927)
Repose of Abbess Philareta of Ufa (1890)
Appearance of the Kolomenskoye “Reigning” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (1917)

Commemorated on March 2nd

Abba Agathon

ΑΓΑΘΩΝ_Αγάθων_st-agatho_of-egypt_andthecrippledman-65765The same Abba Agathon was walking with his disciples. One of them, finding a small green pea on the road, said to the old man, ‘Father, may I take it?’ The old man, looking at him with astonishment, said, ‘Was it you who put it there?’ ‘No,’ replied the brother, ‘How then,’ continued the old man, ‘can you take up something which you did not put down?’

It was said of Abba Agathon that for three years he lived with a stone in his mouth, until he had learnt to keep silence.

It was said of him and of Abba Amoun that, when they had anything to sell, they would name the price just once and silently accept what was given them in peace. Just as, when they wished to buy something, they gave the price they were asked in silence and took the object adding no further word

Whenever his thoughts urged him to pass judgement on something which he saw, he would say to himself, Agathon, it is not your business to do that.’ Thus his spirit was always recollected.

Abba Agathon said, ‘If I could meet a leper, give him my body and take his, I should be very happy.’ That indeed is perfect charity.

One day when the brethren were conversing about charity, Abba Joseph said, ‘Do we really know what charity is?’ Then he told how when a brother came to see Abba Agathon, he greeted him and did not let him go until he had taken with him a small knife which he had.

Abba Daniel said, ‘Before Abba Arsenius came to live with my Fathers, they dwelt with Abba Agathon. Now Abba Agathon loved Abba Alexander because he was both ascetic and discreet. Now it happened that all the disciples were washing their rushes in the river, but Abba Alexander was washing his with discretion. The other brothers said to the old man, ‘Brother Alexander is getting nowhere.’ Wishing to cure them he said to him, ‘Brother Alexander, wash them thoroughly because they are flax.’ The brother was hurt by these words. Afterwards the old man comforted him, saying, ‘Did I not know that you were working well? But I said that in front of them in order to cure them by your obedience, brother.’

***

Saint Nicholas Planas of Athens
the most humble of priests and the most simple of men

ΝΙΚΟΛΑΟς ΠΛΑΝΑς-AGIOS-NIKOLAOS-PLANASHe was compassionate, and had no care for wordly things or estates. Night and day he was absorbed in divine worship, and with his small parish of St. Panteleimon in Neo Kosmo which was comprised of thirteen families. The people loved him. His simplicity, his island piety, his kindness, his chastity, his lack of love for money, drew everyone to divine worship. Everyone wanted him to bless their homes, their stores. And he ran everywhere joyously. From aristocratic homes down to the poorest homes, he never kept a drachma on him. The poor always waited outside the church for him to distribute whatever he had in his pocket.

His patience and forbearance were unlimited. He had a helper, Michael, who always accompanied him and chanted if no one else was there. Even though he loved the elder a lot, at the same time he tormented him. On freezing days of winter when he was forced to be near Father Nicholas while he commemorated for unending hours, Michael would shout “Come o-o-on, Father-er-er-er! You are looking to take the dead out of hades and bury us with the cold…” Another time, he did not allow him to do a supplication service to the Panaghia at the end of the Liturgy. Father Nicholas was pout-faced all day and would say to himself, “Imagine Michael not allowing me to do a supplication service!…” And he would repeat again, “Imagine, he wouldn’t allow me.” When sometimes they argued in church, the elder would hide in the altar so as not to take part. And once he was advising one of his spiritual children on how to restrain her anger, and would say, “Do you think, my child, that I don’t know how to speak out? I know but I think of the result.”

Yet one other incident reveals the unsurpassed faith and piety which he had in the performance of his sacred duties. He went one day to commune a leper, but the illness had destroyed his lips so much that he could not take the Holy Body of the Lord, and it fell a little to the side of his mouth. Without hesitation, Father knelt and took the Divine Pearl which had fallen, and “consumed It”! Those who have a difficult time consuming because they fear germs should see this!! What a blasphemy! The irrational throughts of darkened unbelievers….

In the various churches where he celebrated he was the consolation and refuge of people. He was the “sacred little elder” who comforted every human pain.

On March 2, 1932, however, his holy life reached its end. He liturgized for the last time on the Sunday of the Prodigal Son. Like a little bird he gave up his holy soul to Him Whom he had worshipped his whole life long.

(Source: From the article, “Papa-Nicholas Planas” in “Orthodoxos Phhiotheos Martyria”., Vol.64, Orthodoxos Kypseli Publications, January-March., 1996. Translated Father Nicholas Palis of Aliquippa, of the Kismisis Tis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Church, Aliquippa, Pa.)

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Alexandros Papadiamandis on St. Nicholas Planas

Νικόλαος Πλανάς St. Nicholas Planas Святой Николай Планас-0_1bd076_5f5fa174_origI know of a priest in Athens. He is the most humble of priests and the most simple of men. For any divine service, if you give him one drachma, half a drachma, or one tenth, he takes it. If you do not give him anything, he does not ask… If you give him only two drachmas, he does not complain. Every list bearing the names of the dead to be commemorated, when once given to him, he keeps always. For two and three years he continues to commemorate the names. At every Prothesis he commemorates two or three thousand names. He never becomes weary. His Prothesis lasts two hours. The Liturgy another two. After the dismissal of the Liturgy, he distributes to all present whatever pieces of prosphora or antidoron he has in the sanctuary. He keeps practically nothing.

From The Songs of God:

After three days we accompanied little Koula to the grave. The “professional” priests and the chanters chanted the usual hymns from the “Blessed are the blameless in the way” up to the “Let us give the final kiss”. Papa-Nicholas, from the Island of Naxos, of the Church of Saint John in the Field, appeared as though he were doing a separate service. He murmured to himself, and his eyes seemed filled with tears. “What are you murmuring, Father?” I asked him from behind the stall on which he leaned. “I am saying the Funeral Service for Children to myself,” answered Papa-Nicholas. The Service for Children befits this guileless man.

Apolytikion of St. Nicholas Planas
Plagal First Tone

Let us praise our protector, the godly Nicholas;
as one endowed with blest virtue,
he shone forth as true priest of the most high God,
and was His fervent worshipper.
For, by his holy life on earth, he has left us most sublime,
divine and unfailing teachings of long-suffering, meekness, patience, unfeigned humility
and true God-like love.

Kontakion (Tone 3)
Humble of spirit and pure of heart, illustrious in life and dispassionate of a truth, wast thou, O wise one. Thou didst illumine all by the virtues and dost grant grace unto them that draw nigh unto thee; and by thine intercessions, thou dost heal them that call upon thee, O Father Nicholas.

Megalynarion
As a simple shepherd of Christ God’s lambs, thou didst tend thy flock well on the pasture of piety, nourishing their spirits with ceaseless supplications and leading them to Christ, O wise Father Nicholas.


Lord, Most-wise, direct the lives of us sinners in the wilderness of this life according to Your will as You directed the life of St. John the Baptist. Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Θεοφάνεια_ Theophany_Богоявле́ние-Теофа́ния_ნათლისღება_Boboteaza Greek Byzantine Orthodox IconДмитрием Кунцевичем19277The Synaxis of St. John the Forerunner the Baptist.
(January 7 also commemorates the transfer of the relic of the right hand of John the Baptist from Antioch to Constantinople in 956)

Commemorated on January 7

Hymn of praise
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
to Saint John, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord

Ιωάννης Πρόδρομος_St. John the Forerunner_св.Иоанна Предтечи_Greek Byzantine Orthodox Iconc_Αμβροσίας_2016-01-02-2Thirty years of fasting and silence!
This, not even the mountain beasts can endure.
The lion alleviates his hunger with the music of roaring,
And the tree rustles when the wind approaches
And, you do not rustle neither roar nor moan,
Neither your lament nor your song through the wilderness echoed!

Tell me, are you a man? What is your name?
Will you ever want to speak with someone?
Voice, voice, voice, I am the voice; but the Word of God, He is,
To the children of Israel, I was sent to cry out:
Repent, O people, behold, He comes,
Bring forth good fruit, each according to your strength.
Behold, behold He comes; O Wonder of Wonders,
In the midst of the water, from heaven, a hidden fire!
Behold, the Lamb of God, among the wolves, walks;
Wolves, your lupine temper, in the water, cleanse!

Thirty years of silence and fasting,
Of your body, what remains; except your voice?
Your withered body is but a shadow of your voice,
Which proclaims the news: Behold, God comes to us!
Your withered body, a reed; that Herod broke
But the voice continues, continues; no one to silence it.
Whose voice is that? From whom even the centuries tremble?
A hungry lion! No, No – a man of faith.

***

HOMILY
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
About submission to the Will of God

“Your will be done, on earth as in heaven” (St. Matthew 6:10).

Ιωάννης Πρόδρομος-ΙΔΕ Ο ΑΜΝΟΣ_Behold the Lamb of God-St. John the Baptist_см. Иоа́нн Предте́ча-ΠΡΟΔΡΟΜΟΣ 589Blessed be John the Baptist, for he fulfilled the Good News before the arrival of the Good News! Going into the wilderness, he gave himself up completely to the will of God, both body and soul. The will of God was carried out in his body on earth as well as in the heaven of his soul. Neither hunger nor wild beasts did harm his body throughout the many years that he spent in the wilderness. Neither was his soul harmed by despair because of loneliness, nor pride because of heavenly visions. He did not seek from man either bread or knowledge. God granted him everything that was necessary for him because he gave himself up completely to the will of God.

Neither did he direct his footsteps in the wilderness nor away from the wilderness. An invisible rudder from on high steered his life. For when it was necessary for him to depart the wilderness and go out to meet the Lord, it is said: “The Word of God came to John” (St. Luke 3:2). As an innocent youth, in this manner John spoke simply about his communication with the powers of heaven: “And I did not know Him [Christ] but the One Who sent me to baptize with water told me, `On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, He is the One Who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that He is the Son of God” (St. John 1: 33-34). How tenderly and simply he speaks about heavenly things! How he is as awesome as a lion when he speaks out against the injustice of men, against Herod and Herodias! The lamb and the lion dwell in him together. Heaven is as close to him as a mother is to her child. The will of God is as accessible and clear to him as the angels in heaven.

O Lord, Most-wise, direct the lives of us sinners in the wilderness of this life according to Your will as You directed the life of St. John the Baptist.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

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Saint John the Baptist
By Saint Nikolai Velimirovich

Because John’s main role in his life was played out on the day of the Epiphany (Theophany), the Church from earliest times dedicated the day following Epiphany to his memory. To this feast is also linked the incident with the hand of the Forerunner. The Evangelist Luke desired to remove the body of John from Sebaste, where the great prophet was beheaded by Herod, to Antioch his place of birth. He succeeded though, in acquiring and translating only one hand which was preserved in Antioch until the tenth century after which it was transferred to Constantinople from where it disappeared during the time of the Turks. Feasts of St. John are celebrated several times throughout the year, but this day, January 7, has the most Svecara. [That is, those Orthodox Serbs who honor St. John the Baptist as their Krsna Slava – Patron Saint. The Krsna Slava is the day that the Orthodox Serbs commemorate the baptism of their ancestors into Christianity]. Among the Gospel personalities who surround the Savior, John the Baptist occupies a totally unique place by the manner of his entry into the world as well as by the manner of his life in this world, by his role in baptizing people for repentance and for his baptizing the Messiah and, finally, by his tragic departure from this life. He was of such moral purity that, in truth, he could be called an angel [messenger] as Holy Scripture calls him rather than a mortal man. St. John differs from all other prophets especially in that he had that privilege of being able, with his hand, to show the world Him about Whom he prophesied. It is said that every year on the feast of the saint, the bishop brought the hand of St. John before the people. Sometimes the hand appeared open and other times the hand appeared clenched. In the first case it signified a fruitful and bountiful year and, in the second case, it meant a year of unfruitfulness and famine.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič, 
http://prologue.orthodox.cn/January7.htmδεξί χέρι του Αγίου Ιωάννη του Προδρόμου_The incorrupt right hand of St. John the Forerunner_Десница Св. Иоанна Предте́ча_Μονή Διονυσίου, Άγιον Όρος_Dionysiou monastery_Дионисиа́т А80According to tradition, the body of Saint John the Baptist was buried in the Samaritan city of Sebaste. The holy Evangelist Luke, who went preaching Christ in various cities and towns, came to Sebaste, where they gave him the right hand of the holy Prophet John, the very hand with which he had baptized the Savior. The Evangelist Luke took it with him to his native city of Antioch, where by she s they have committed many miracles, including what was the dragon. It is said that a dragon had its nest around the city of Antioch. On this dragon, pagan people there considered him to be God and revere the sacrifices all these years; and he brought his sacrifice was a man. Dragon crawling out of the nest, and showing the terrifying sight, helmet loud, take sacrifice and tear with their teeth. And, passing the time, came the turn of one of the Christians to give his daughter to the dragon. Therefore, the girl’s father was chosen as sacrifice asked of God and St. John the Baptist, to deliver her daughter from the bitter death. And i was enlightened mind to do this: asked to venerate the holy hand of Saint John; and while kissing the hand he broke teeth, in secret, the thumb of the hand of the saint; and acquiring what he wanted, he walked out of the church. And when he arrived it was the day of sacrifice and gathered all the people, went and the girl’s father leading his daughter. And approaching the dragon helmet and waited sacrifice mouth, throat and threw holy finger in the Forerunner. And with it, the dragon died. Father was back home with his daughter alive, telling her wonderful deliverance. People and the crowd, marveling at this miracle, thanked God and Saint John, building a big church dedicated to Saint.

Θεοφάνεια_ Theophany_Богоявле́ние-Теофа́ния_Teofanía_ნათლისღება_Boboteaza Greek Byzantine Orthodox Icon5botezul_domnuluiWhen the Muslims seized Antioch centuries later, a deacon named Job brought the holy hand of the Forerunner from Antioch to Chalcedon by order of Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos (r. 945-959). From there, on the eve of the Theophany of the Lord, it was transferred to Constantinople (956) and kept thereafter in the royal palace. St. Nikolai Velimirovich writes in his Prologue: “It is said that every year on the feast of the saint, the bishop brought the hand of St. John before the people. Sometimes the hand appeared open and other times the hand appeared clenched. In the first case it signified a fruitful and bountiful year and, in the second case, it meant a year of unfruitfulness and famine.” Initially this miracle occurred annually on the 14th of September, which is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The hand would rise at times, flexing or clenching its fingers. Becaue it was believed to predict future happiness or misfortune, many sovereigns tried to possess it as a priceless treasure, especially Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos (r. 945-959) and his son the Emperor Romanos II (r. 959-963). This was one reason why the relic was kept in the imperial palace. The Synaxis of St. John took place in the Phorakion.*

*Saint John was exceedingly venerated at Constantinople, where he had thirty-six churches and monasteries dedicated to his memory, of which the most famous was the Studios; others were Lips, the Prodromos in Petra, and in Sphorakion, etc. The Monastery of Phoverou on the Asiatic Shore of the Bosporos was also dedicated to the Forerunner. The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, s.v. “John the Baptist”.

Pain helps us to find the deep man of the heart. Only that work which we have wrought within our heart will accompany us into eternity. Fr. Zacharias (Zacharou)
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2020/01/08/pain-helps-us-to-find-the-deep-man-of-the-heart-only-that-work-which-we-have-wrought-within-our-heart-will-accompany-us-into-eternity-fr-zacharias-zacharou/

St. John the Baptist is the friend of the bridegroom. Anthony (Bloom) Metropolitan of Sourozh
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2020/01/07/st-john-the-baptist-is-the-friend-of-the-bridegroom-anthony-bloom-metropolitan-of-sourozh/Ιωάννης Πρόδρομος_St. John the Forerunner_св.Иоанна Предтечи_Greek Byzantine Orthodox Iconc_b8%d0b5%d1%87Apolytikion Saint John the Forerunner. Second Tone

The memory of the just is celebrated with hymns of praise, but the Lord’s testimony is sufficient for thee, O Forerunner; for thou hast proved to be truly even more venerable than the Prophets, since thou was granted to baptize in the running waters Him Whom they proclaimed. Wherefore, having contested for the truth, thou didst rejoice to announce the good tidings even to those in Hades: that God hath appeared in the flesh, taking away the sin of the world and granting us great mercy.

Apolytikion: (First Tone)

Lord, when You were baptized in the Jordan, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest. For the voice of the Father gave witness to You, calling You Beloved; and the Spirit, in the form of a dove, confirmed the certainty of His words. Glory to You, Christ our God, who appeared and enlightened the world.

the Stichera, In Tone VIII:
Spec. Mel.: O most glorious wonder.

O blessed John the Forerunner, * sincere friend of the Lord, * who in the waters of the Jordan * touched with thy hand His all-purest crown, * by thy holy intercessions * do thou always with love elevate my humble soul to the Lord, * extinguishing the fire of things that feed my passions, * and leading me to the faithful execution of the divine commandments * truly cleansing the senses of my heart, * that I may glorify thee.

Glory …, In Tone IV:

Today appeared the great Forerunner, * who came forth from the barren womb of Elizabeth, * a Prophet, indeed the greatest of all the Prophets, * for there was no greater before, nor hath one arisen since. * The lamp that preceded the most resplendent Light, * that followed after the voice the Word, * the Bridegroom’s harbinger. * He prepared the multitudes of the peoples for the Lord, * cleansing them with water in preparation for the cleansing of the Spirit; * Zacharia’s offspring and a good pupil of wilderness living, * the preacher of repentance and cleansing of transgressions, * announcing unto those in Hades * the resurrection from the dead and ever interceding for our souls.

Glory …, In Tone IV:

   O Godly illustrious voice, * lamp of the Light, * Forerunner of the Lord, * testified to by Christ, * the first among the Prophets! * While interceding with thine supplications for the world, * do thou also remember thy flock and preserve it in safety.

O divine Forerunner, thou hast appeared as a beautiful turtle-dove, as a sweetly-spoken swallow, announcing Christ the Divine Spring; I implore thee do thou entreat Him to deliver me from the soul-corrupting wintry storm of sins.