Forefeast of the Procession of the Precious and Life-giving Cross of the Lord.
Righteous Joseph of Arimathea who buried the Master Christ (1st century).
Virgin Martyresses Sisters aged 14 MAXIMA and very young DONATILLA & aged 12 SECUNDA (Septima) in Tebourba (or Tuburbo) in North Africa (303)
St. Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre in Gaul (448).
Righteous Eudocimus of Cappadocia, Military Commander of Cappadocia (9th century)
Translation of the Relics of Apostle Philip to Cyprus.
Saint Arsenius, Bishop of Ninotsminda in Georgia (1082)
Repose of Elder Gerasim the Younger of Kaluga’s St. Sergius Skete (1918).
Commemorated on July 31
About Joseph of Arimathea
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
At that time Joseph of Arimathea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the Kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. There was another great man who had come from Arimathea, or Ramathain, on Mount Ephrem: the Prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1 ).
This Joseph is mentioned by all four Evangelists, specifically in connection with the dead Lord’s burial. John calls him a disciple of Jesus secretly (19:38); Luke – a good man and a just (23:50), Matthew – a rich man (27:57). (The Evangelist does not call Joseph rich from vanity, to show that the Lord had rich men among His disciples, “but in order to show how it was that he was able to get Jesus’ body from Pilate. To a poor and unknown man, it would not have been possible to penetrate to Pilate, the representative of Roman power.”- Jerome: “Commentary on Matthew“.) He was noble in soul: he feared God and waited for the Kingdom of God. In addition to his outstanding spiritual traits, Joseph was also a rich man of good standing. Mark and Luke call him a counsellor. He was, then, one of the elders of the people, like Nicodemus. Also, like Nicodemus, he was a secret admirer and disciple of the Lord Jesus. But, even though these two men were secret followers of Christ’s teaching, they were nevertheless ready to lay themselves open to danger by standing together with Christ. Nicodemus once asked the embittered Jewish leaders to their faces, when they were seeking an excuse to kill Christ: “Doth our law judge any man before it hear him?” (John 7:51). Joseph of Arimathea laid himself open to even greater danger by taking thought for the Lord’s body when His known disciples had fled and dispersed, and when the Jewish wolves, having killed the Shepherd, could at any moment fall on the sheep. That what Joseph was doing was dangerous is indicated by the Evangelist by the word “boldly”. He needed, then, more than courage; he needed daring to go to Caesar’s representative and ask for the body of a crucified felon. But Joseph, as Nicephorus says, “in his greatness of soul, threw off his fear and shook off all subservience, showing himself to be a disciple of Jesus Christ”.
+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Homilies: Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year, Volume 1, “22. The Second Sunday After Easter: The Gospel on the Myrhh-Bearing Women”
About the trial of our faith
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearance of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7).
Brethren, our faith is tried more often than is the reed rocked by the winds. Trials are like the winds: a weak faith they will uproot and a strong faith will be strengthened even more. Trials are also like the flame in which straw is burned and gold is purified.
Man’s intellectual pursuits and suppositions also try our faith. These are very strong and bitter winds. But we can overcome them if we are willing to adhere to the words of God and if, in opposition to those intellectual pursuits, we are able to emphasize the teachings of the Faith of Christ.
Our faith is further tried by fear and shame: fear of men who persecute the Faith and shame of men who arrogantly despise the Faith. These also are strong winds which we must resist if we wish to remain alive. How will we resist them? By the fear of God which should always be greater in our soul than the fear of men and of shame before the apostles, saints and martyrs who were not ashamed of their faith before emperors, princes and sages of this world.
Our faith is further tried by suffering and misery. This is the fire in which our faith either has to be burned like straw or to be tempered as pure gold. We will resist these trials if we would but remember Christ crucified on the Cross for us and so many thousands of martyrs for the Faith who, in their patience, conquered all and emerged from the flames as gold and who for centuries glow among the angels and among men.
Our faith is also tried by death, the death of our relatives and friends and the death of mankind in general. This is the bitter fire in which the faith of many have been burned. Is death the end of everything? It is not, but rather believe that it is the beginning of everything; it is the beginning of a new and just life. Believe in the Resurrection of Christ, believe in life beyond the grave and believe in the general resurrection and the Dreadful Judgment.
O Good Lord, strengthen the faith in us and have mercy on us.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
St. Sophrony the Anthonite
“No one on this earth can avoid affliction; and although the afflictions which the Lord sends are not great men imagine them beyond their strength and are crushed by them. This is because they will not humble their souls and commit themselves to the will of God. But the Lord Himself guides with His grace those who are given over to God’s will, and they bear all things with fortitude for the sake of God Whom they have so loved and with Whom they are glorified for ever. It is impossible to escape tribulation in this world but the man who is given over to the will of God bears tribulation easily, seeing it but putting his trust in the Lord, and so his tribulations pass.”
“My profound conviction is that if you—this goes for everybody—do not live through these ordeals[:] poverty, humiliations, perhaps even hunger, utter abandonment by everybody—by men and even by God too . . . you will never know divine love.”
“The heart that is not broken by the wounds of tribulations and has not been humbled unto the end by every form of poverty, both spiritual and material, will never be fitted to receive divine grace.”
Everything subject to decay lost its value for me. When I looked at people, without thinking further I saw them in the power of death, dying, and my heart was flooded with fellow-suffering. I wanted neither fame from those ‘dead mortals’ nor power over them. I did not look to people to like me. I despised material wealth and did not think much of intellectual assets which afforded no answer to what I was seeking. Had I been offered centuries of happy life, I would have refused them. My spirit required eternal life, and eternity.
“It is vital to have experienced, if only once, the heavenly fire which Christ brought with Him to know with our entire being what it is to be even a little like Christ.”
“Essentially speaking, it is impossible to ‘live’ as a Christian. It is only possible to ‘die’ as a Christian, a thousand deaths every day.”
“[The soul] cannot come down from the cross because every time she considers ‘coming down’ [cf. Matt. 27:40] from this cross the flow of real eternity decreases in her.”
“No one descends from the Cross, but they take him down” Christ to Elder Sophrony (Sakharov)
St Germanus the Bishop of Auxerre discerned a special divine purpose for St. Geneviève of Paris
Troparion of the Forefeast, Tone 1.
O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance. Grant Thou unto Orthodox Christians victories over adversaries, and by Thy Cross preserve Thy people.
Troparion of St JOSEPH ― Tone 2
Noble Joseph took Thine immaculate Body down from the tree,/ wrapped It in a clean shroud and spices,/ and having embalmed It, laid It in a new sepulcher./ But on the third day Thou didst rise, O Lord,/ granting the world great mercy.
Apolytikion of St JOSEPH ― Tone 2
The noble Joseph, taking down thy most pure Body from the Tree, wrapped it in clean linen and sweet spices and laid it in a new tomb. But on the third day thou didst rise, O Lord, granting the world great mercy.
Apolytikion of St JOSEPH ― Plagal Tone 1
Let us honor the man that gave burial to God and showed compassion to Him by Whose mercy all things exist, Christ the Angel of Great Counsel’s Noble Counselor, who gave his narrow grave to Christ and received as recompense the vast spaciousness of Heaven, where he entreateth the Savior to show His mercy to those praising him.
Apolytikion of St GERMANUS ― Plagal Tone 4
By endurance you gained your reward, venerable Father, you persevered in prayer unceasingly, you loved the poor and provided for them in all things. Blessed Germanus of Auxerre, intercede with Christ God that our souls may be saved.
Troparion of St Eudocimus, Tone 4.
He who did call thee from earth unto heaven keepeth thy body unharmed after death, holy Eudocimus; for thou didst live a sober and holy life and didst not defile thy flesh; so with boldness intercede with Christ that we may be saved.
Kontakion of the Forefeast, Tone 4.
O Thou Who was raised up on the Cross of Thine own will, do Thou bestow Thy bounties now upon Thy people which is named after Thee, O Christ our God. Gladden Orthodox Christians with Thy power, granting them victories over their adversaries; for they have for their aid Thy weapon, the invincible trophy of peace.
Kontakion of St JOSEPH ― Tone 2
Joseph of Arimathea took Thee, the Life of all, down from the Tree as one dead,/ and wrapped Thee in clean linen and spices./ He yearned to embrace and kiss Thy pure Body with heart and lips/ yet he restrained himself with fear./ He cried to Thee rejoicing:/ Glory to Thy condescension, O Lover of Mankind.