CHRIST THE SAVIOUR MONASTERY - Christminster
Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR)
New York, USA
January -- March 2016
JANUARY 2016
DAY NC OC F/A OBSERVANCE
FRI 1 19 F/A Ember Day (O Key of David)
SAT 2 20 F/A* Ember Day (O Day-spring)
SUN 3 21   ADVENT IV (O King of Nations)
MON 4 22   (O Emmanuel) St. Thomas, AP, II (Transferred)
TUE 5 23 A (O Virgin of Virgins)
WED 6 24 F/A* Vigil of Christmas
THU 7 25   CHRISTMAS, I
FRI 8 26   St. Stephen, M, II
SAT 9 27   St. John, Apostle and Evangelist, II
SUN 10 28   SUNDAY IN OCTAVE OF CHRISTMAS; Holy Innocents, II
MON 11 29   St. David, King and Prophet, IV
TUE 12 30   Octave
WED 13 31   St. Sylvester, BC, IV
THU 14 1   CIRCUMCISION, I
FRI 15 2   St. Seraphim of Sarov, MK, III
SAT 16 3   St. Genevieve, V, IV
SUN 17 4   SECOND SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS; St. Titus, BC, IV
MON 18 5   Vigil of Epiphany (Great Blessing of Water)
TUE 19 6   EPIPHANY, I (Blessing of Chalk, Houses)
WED 20 7   Octave
THU 21 8   Octave
FRI 22 9   Octave
SAT 23 10   Octave; St. Paul the Hermit, MK, IV
SUN 24 11   SUNDAY IN OCTAVE OF EPIPHANY; Octave
MON 25 12   St. Benedict Biscop, AB, IV
TUE 26 13   St. Kentigern, BC, IV; Octave
WED 27 14 F/A St. Hilary, BCD, III
THU 28 15   Sts. Maurus and Placid, MK, III
FRI 29 16 F/A St. Marcellus, BM, IV
SAT 30 17   St. Antony, AB, III
SUN 31 18   EPIPHANY II; St. Prisca, VM, IV

 

RANKS of Feasts:
I. Solemnity
II. Greater Feast
III. Lesser Feast
IV. Commemoration

 

Ranks I & II always have first and second Vespers; take precedence over Sundays ranked II; suspend fasting & abstinence from First Vespers through Second Vespers.

Rank III has First Vespers only and uses the psalms of the occurring feria, with proper antiphons (or antiphons from the Common).

Rank IV are commemorated only at First Vespers and Lauds, though the Mass may be of the commemorated saint(s).

See Customary for ranking of Sundays.

Abbreviations:
Ab = Abbot, Abbess K = King
AP = Apostle M = Martyr
APS = Apostles Mk = Monastic
B = Bishop MM = Martyrs
C = Confessor P = Priest, Prophet
Dc = Deacon V = Virgin
D = Doctor VV = Virgins
EV = Evangelist W = Widow

 

Daily Posting: December 19/January 1


To Friends of Christminster:
As we turn to a new year of the Lord, our thoughts and prayers are with you that it may be a year of blessings and of a deepening growth in Christ. As the world becomes a less. friendly place for Christians, our loyalty to Christ and his Church will be sorely tested, more and more. But this is not a thing to discourage us, for our Lord assured us that "in the world you will have trouble ... but I have overcome the world."

A blessed New Year to all.
In our Saviour,
Dom James
Abbot

Daily Posting: December 20/January 2

The Pharisees were false shepherds who threw the man who was born blind out, but Jesus the Good Shepherd took Him in! The man knew that He was Jesus, a prophet, and a Man of God; but he needed to learn that He is the Son of God. - - Lord, I believe.

The parents who are themselves blessed in Christ they also desire to have their children blessed in Him. "They also brought infants to Him", very young children, so He would touch them. It is the will of Christ that little children of those who belong to the kingdom of God do likewise belong to that kingdom, as the children of freemen are freemen.

Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.

The Lord Jesus came to heal both the body and the spirit To be cleansed we need to listen to His call for us and leave everything, which is the love of sin, and follow him.

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.

Daily Posting: December 21/January 3

"If we cannot accomplish anything, in the arts and sciences, by ourselves ... but still need someone who will instruct us well and guide us; how can it be anything but foolish to think that the spiritual art, the most difficult of all arts, has no need of a teacher?" (St. John Cassian)

Trust God that He will support you during your suffering. Do not depend upon your own knowledge and ingenuity. Trust in the Lord and He will provide you with immediate and extraordinary aid.

I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.

Daily Posting: December 22/January 4

The Gospel of St. John is the chief source of information concerning Thomas. When the Lord spoke to his disciples of the danger and death that awaited him in Judaea, Thomas said to his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. During the Last Supper, we learn that Thomas said unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest, and how can we know the way? He was absent when Christ appeared after his resurrection to his Apostles, and the others told him, saying, We have seen the Lord. He broke forth into expressions of scepticism, and the words he used show what a strong impression had been made on his mind by the sight of the wounded body of Christ as he had seen it prepared for the tomb.

On the evening of Low Sunday he was with the rest of the disciples, when Jesus stood in the midst, and bade him reach forth his hand and thrust it into his side and put his fingers into the print of the nails, showing his knowledge of Thomas' doubts and words. The effect was immediate. The conviction produced by the removal of his doubts became stronger than that of the other Apostles. The words in which he expressed this belief contain a higher assertion of his Master's Divine nature than is given in any other expression used by Apostolic lips before Pentecost, My Lord and my God.

Thomas is mentioned only twice more in the New Testament: once, when on the sea of Galilee fishing with the disciples, where he is numbered next after Peter; and again in the assemblage of the Apostles after the Ascension when God the Holy Ghost descended and filled them with his Power.

Eusebius says that Thomas sent Thaddeus to Edessa, and went himself to Parthia. Sophronius, quoted by St. Jerome, says that he planted the standard of the cross among the Medes, Persians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians and the neighbouring nations; and then suffered martyrdom. He is the Patron Saint of Portugal and of Parma. [St. Thomas, Apostle]

Daily Posting: December 23/January 5

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 41:

O God, Who are always the same, let me know myself and know You. [St. Augustine]

Late have I loved You, Beauty so ancient and so new! Late have I loved You. You were within me, but I was outside myself, and there I searched for You. [St. Augustine]

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us. [St. Augustine]

Come to the Father. [St. Ignatius of Antioch]

Daily Posting: December 24/January 6

The Nativity Proclamation from the Martyrology

In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world
from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;
the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;
the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;
the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses
and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;
the one thousand and thirty-second year from David's being anointed king;
in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;
in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;
the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;
the whole world being at peace,
in the sixth age of the world,
Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and nine months having passed since his conception,
was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary,
being made flesh.
The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

Daily Posting: December 25/January 7

Sequenia: Laetabundus

COME rejoicing,
Faithful choirs with rapture singing,
Alleluia.
Monarch's monarch,
From a stainless Maiden springing,
Matchless wonder!

Angel of the Counsel here,
Sun from star he doth appear,
Born of Maiden:
He a Sun who knows no night,
She a Star whose paler light
Shineth ever.

As a star its kindred ray,
Mary doth her Child display,
Like in nature:
Still undimmed the Star shines on,
And the Virgin bears a Son,
Pure as ever.
Lebanon's tall Cedar now,
Hyssop-like, in vale to bow
Condescendeth:
To our vale of sorrow came,
Word of God in mortal frame,
Born incarnate.

Though Isaias had foreshown,
Though the Synagogue had known,
Yet the truth she will not own,
Blind remaining.
If her prophets speak in vain,
Let her heed a Gentile strain,
And from mystic Sibyl gain
Light in darkness.

No longer then delay,
Hear what the Scriptures say,
Why be cast away?
A race forlorn?
Turn and this Child behold,
That very Son of old
In God's Writ foretold:
A Maid hath borne. Amen.

[Sequence of the Nativity]

Daily Posting: December 26/January 8

THE PURPOSE OF THE INCARNATION OF THE SON OF GOD
By Bishop Alexander (Meleant)

The parable of the lost sheep speaks graphically and vividly of the purpose of the coming of the Son of God into the world. The good shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep, by which is meant the angelic world, and sets out for the mountains in order to seek out his lost sheep - the human race perishing in sins. The shepherd's great love for the perishing sheep is evident not only in the fact that he solicitously seeks it, but especially in the fact that after finding it, he takes it upon his shoulders and carries it back. In other words, God, by His power, returns to us the innocence, holiness and blessedness lost by us. And having united Himself with our human nature, the son of God, according to the word of the Prophet, has borne our grief and carried our sorrows (Isaiah, ch. 53).

Christ became man not only to teach us the true way and to show us a good example. He became man in order to unite us with Himself, to join our feeble, diseased human nature to His divinity. The Nativity of Christ testifies to the fact that we attain the ultimate aim of our life not only by faith and by striving for good, but chiefly by the regenerating power of the incarnate Son of God, with Whom we are united.

Delving deeply into the mystery of the incarnation of the son of God, we see that it is closely bound up with the mystery of Holy Communion and with the Church, which, according to apostolic teaching, is the mystical Body of Christ. In the Holy Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, we are joined to the divine-human nature of Christ; we unite with Him and in this union we are wholly transfigured. At the same time, in Holy Communion, we are united also with other members of the Church, and so, the mystical Body of Christ grows.

We need to understand that we are ill not only spiritually, but also physically: All of human nature has been harmed by sin. It is essential, therefore, to heal the whole man, not only his spiritual part. To remove any doubt in the necessity for total communion with Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, in His discourse on the Bread of Life, speaks thus: Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in life in you. Whoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the day. . . . He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him (John 6:53-54, 56). Later, Christ uses the metaphor of the grapevine to explain to His disciples that it is precisely in close union with Him that man receives the strength essential for spiritual development and perfection: As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you except you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: For without me, you can do nothing (John 15:4-5).

Some Holy Fathers have justly likened Holy Communion to the mystical tree of life, from which our primogenitors ate in Eden, and which afterwards, St. John the Theologian saw in paradise (Gen. 2:9, Rev. 2:7, 22:2). In Holy Communion, Christians are joined to the immortal life of the God-Man.

Thus, the purpose of the incarnation of the Son of God is the spiritual and physical regeneration of the human race. Spiritual renewal is accomplished throughout the course of a Christian's whole life. But the renewal of his physical nature is completed on the day of the general resurrection of the dead, when the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matt. 13:43).

From: Holy Dormition Orthodox Church (Cumberland, Rhode Island) newsletter [Winter 2008]

Daily Posting: December 27/January 9

Jesus, the child in the crib, invites us to come to Him. He is the same today: the prince of peace. From Him we can receive peace. When we so frequently sense our lack of this peace, may we hear His words: 'Believe in God, believe also in Me' (Jn 14:1). He gives us what we have promised. He imparts to us His peace, especially when the outward circumstances seem to promise none.

Love is what prompted the Baby, who was lying there in a manger in Bethlehem, to come. Love made Him choose a lowly place for His birth: a cattle stall. In His overflowing love for the people in this world, this little child wanted to share in every aspect of their lives from birth to death. O loving little Child, how we need You in these times when love is growing cold everywhere. In You we find the love we seek, for You are the very essence of love.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Daily Posting: December 28/January 10

The Lord Jesus suffered in the world from the moment of His birth. Even when He returned from His exile in Egypt He had to dwell in the city of Nazareth. Nazareth did not have a good reputation among the Jews. He was called a Nazarene which speaks of Him as despised.

Daily Posting: December 29/January 11

Christ is Born! Peace and Good Will toward Men!
Milica Yaksich

This is a season of giving. For many it is all about the sparkly, ribbon embellished and fancy wrapped packages that sometimes contain useful things and sometimes the frivolous luxuries that bring to some so much joy. It is easy to get caught up in the commercially generated 'magical' atmosphere of this season and when swept up in the frenzy of holiday celebration and shopping to forget the real meaning and wonder of Christmas. Giving a gift to show affection or as an act of kindness, generosity and even charity is certainly a good thing. If we look at the custom of gift giving there are many examples in different cultures but the one most relevant to Christianity is in the story of the Nativity. The custom of giving and receiving gifts is in part to remind us of the gifts of Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh given to Jesus Christ by the Wise Men. Frankincense is an aromatic resin used in Jewish (and now Christian) worship and as a gift it showed that people would worship Jesus Christ. Gold was associated with Kings and was given to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the King of Kings. Myrrh is sweetly scented oil that was used to anoint dead bodies and it signified that Our Lord Jesus Christ would suffer and die for us.

A gift has more value when it has meaning. We sometimes forget this in our efforts to find satisfaction by trying to impress. It is in the nature of giving that a warm positive feeling is generated in the giver. This is even more satisfying when we know that our gift is well received and even more so when we see that it has brought joy. The best fulfillment, however, is derived from giving unselfishly and knowing that the gift will do some good and is needed. It does not need to be extravagant and it does not need to be glitzy or even material. A gift can be a kind word or act like sharing a meal or spending time with someone and letting them know that they are not alone. Christian charity means much more than giving donations and volunteering time to a good cause. It should never make the receiver feel demeaned or pitied and charity can apply to those near to us as well as to strangers. The world needs more kindness and more compassion throughout the year. (To be continued...)

[From: Istochnik (Herald of the Serbian Orthodox Church - Canada Diocese / Issue 88 - January 2014 / pages 27 - 28]

Daily Posting: December 30/January 12

Christ is Born! Peace and Good Will toward Men!
Milica Yaksich - - - continued...

During the holidays everyone brings out their best, including their best table settings, best food, and pretty much the best of everything. The origins of this can be found in worship with only 'unblemished sacrifices' and in customs for feasting where only the best fare was offered to honour God and give thanks. Today in our secular society, all too often it seems like these things are done out of vanity and pride. Christmas is a time to celebrate ("give glory to") the birth of Christ; therefore we should remember the One whose birth we are celebrating. Would we celebrate anyone else's birthday by selfishly ignoring them while we have a good time? We need to remember God and bring Christ and prayer back into our homes. We need to attend Liturgy and understand that Faith is an important part of our lives. This is what gives us meaning and it should be what guides us.

The Church is the body of Christ. We are the Church, which is the body, and Christ is the head of the Church. The Body does not rule the head, does not lead or make decisions. The Body goes where the Head decides. We are the flock, the sheep and we need a Shepherd to keep us on the right path. We also need humility and repentance. Our Lord tells us, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 18:3-4)

The purpose of the Church is, after all, to heal our spirits, save our souls, and to deliver us from evil. The Church has been compared to a hospital and a school and a ship. If we are too proud to learn, too proud to admit our shortcomings and wrongdoings, too proud to forgive then we are too proud and too foolish to be saved. If we do not trust the rudder to guide the ship in the right direction, the ship will crash on the rocks and sink. The rudder of the Orthodox Church is the Canon law as handed down by the Holy Apostles and the Holy Fathers and the Holy councils and they have all made it clear that the wisdom found there is from the Holy Ghost. Be not deceived into thinking that these Holy Canons were crafted by man. Do not dare to blaspheme the Holy Ghost in this way. "Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost will not be forgiven men." (Matt. 12:31)

God gave man free will because in His great wisdom He knew that what is not given of free will means nothing. Love cannot be delivered on command nor can it be forced into being and there would be no satisfaction in receiving such love. Neither can there be satisfaction from obedience when that obedience is filled with resentment because it is forced and given out of fear instead of love, trust and faith. Without true Faith and Love of God there would be no saints, no sacrifice and no martyrs. God is not a bully. Like a loving parent He teaches us and asks of us what He knows will be best for us to achieve happiness and success in our lives. He tells us clearly what He wants from us and He also tells us what the consequences of our actions will be, both good and bad. It is then up to us and because we have choice we must also accept responsibility for the choices we make.

God loves us and for that reason He gave us an example to live by. Our Lord and Saviour came into this world in humble circumstances and lived a humble life so that we may see what is truly important. What we wear, what we drive, how famous we are or how much money we have are all irrelevant. What is relevant is how we live, how we treat one another and the love, charity, hope, mercy and faith in our hearts. (To be continued...)

[From: Istochnik (Herald of the Serbian Orthodox Church - Canada Diocese / Issue 88 - January 2014 / pages 27 - 28]

Daily Posting: December 31/January 13

Christ is Born! Peace and Good Will toward Men!
Milica Yaksich - - - concluded...

This is a time of great joy for Christ our Lord and Saviour is born! Let us truly give glory to Him by giving the greatest gift of all: "Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" and "love your neighbour" by treating others as you would want to be treated. (Matt. 22:37-39)

In St. Matthew 25 our Lord Jesus Christ tells us that when He returns in His glory with all His angels, "31 He will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' 37 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' 40 "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.' 41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' 44 "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' 45 "He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' 46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Matt. 25: 31-46)

In this 'season of giving' let us remember the true meaning of Christian love and charity. May goodness and mercy guide you and may Christian love shine in your heart.

CHRIST IS BORN!
GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST,
AND ON EARTH PEACE,
GOOD WILL TOWARD MEN!

[From: Istochnik (Herald of the Serbian Orthodox Church - Canada Diocese / Issue 88 - January 2014 / pages 27 - 28]

Daily Posting: January 1/14

Circumcision in the Old Testament was a symbol of Baptism. As in circumcision a part of the body is cut off and dies, in baptism we are buried with Jesus for cutting off the body of the body of the sins of the flesh (2 Cor 2:11-12)

The Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost.

Daily Posting: January 2/15

The Lord chose for the Virgin Mary to conceive after she was betrothed for three reasons. The first that Mary's origin might be shown by the genealogy of Joseph, who was also her relative. Second, that she might not in accordance with the law of Moses be stoned as an adulterous. Third, that she might have some solace and a guardian during her flight to Egypt. (St. Jerome)

Daily Posting: January 3/16

What shall I offer the Lord for all His benefits towards me. He came down as a poor little infant Boy to save me from Satan's bond. I must first give my own self to God as living sacrifice and then lay out what I have for His honor in works of piety and charity.

I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord. [Ps 116:17]

Daily Posting: January 4/17

Veneration of the Virgin is a universal dogma which commenced at the Nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ as it is recorded in the Holy Bible: "For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed." (Lk 1:48). St. Mary received veneration from St. Elizabeth. As she heard the Virgin's voice she was filled with the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:42). The angel Gabriel venerated her in his greeting. He said: "rejoice, highly favored one, ... blessed are you among women." (Lk 1:28)

+++++++

TITUS was born of Gentile parents, being descended from the ancient royal family of Crete. He was the friend and companion of St. Paul, who called him, Brother, and, Son in Christ, and employed him as his secretary and interpreter, or sent him on various missions to the Churches. St. Paul, after his first imprisonment in Rome, stayed some time in Crete, and before leaving he consecrated Titus Bishop of the island, and left him there to continue the work of building up the Church, sending him instructions in that famous Epistle addressed to him, which contains the rule of episcopal life. Titus lived to a very great age, and finished a laborious and holy life by a peaceful, happy death at Crete.

Daily Posting: January 5/18

"Paramone" is a Greek term meaning "watch, vigil", especially on the eve of a festival. It is a term generally used for the vigils of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ and of the Epiphany.

I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. (Jn 1:32)

Daily Posting: January 6/19

The Lesson from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew

NOW when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews?

Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Hornily 10 on the Gospels

YOU have heard in the Gospel Lesson, beloved brethren, how the earthly king was troubled when the heavenly King was born: naturally the depths of the earth are confounded when the heights of heaven are revealed. Yet why was it, we must ask, that when our Redeemer was born, an Angel appeared to the shepherds in Judæa, and no Angel, but a star, led the wise men from the east to worship him?

It is but fitting that a reasonable being, that is, an Angel, should bring the tidings to the Jews, who possessed the use of reason: but the Gentiles were unenlightened and incapable of reasoning, and so they were led to the knowledge of God by means, not of a voice, but of a sign. It is said by St. Paul, Prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe; and, A sign is not for them that believe but to them that believe not. So the prophesying was given to the believers, and not to the unbelievers: and to those unbelievers was given the sign, which was not given to the believers.

It is to be observed that, when our Redeemer was of age, it was the Apostles who preached him to the Gentiles, and while he was a Babe and not yet speaking by means of his human body, it was the star that proclaimed him to the nations. It is in accordance with reason that the Lord's doctrine should be made known to us by his own speech when he was old enough to speak, and that, while he was yet too young, the dumb elements should themselves be his preachers. But the remarkable thing is this, that in spite of all the signs that were shown both at the Lord's birth and at his death, the hearts of the Jews were so hardened that neither by the gift of prophecies nor by miracles could they come to believe in him.

All the elements bore witness of the coming of their Creator. Let me express their witness in human speech: The sky knew its God, and straightway sent forth a star. The sea knew him, and offered itself as a roadway under the soles of his feet. The earth knew him, and quaked when he was dying. The sun knew him, and hid its radiant light. The rocks and the walls knew him, and were rent at the time of his death. Hell acknowledged him, and gave back to him those that it held in death. And now, when all the inanimate elements recognize their Lord, even to this very day the hearts of the Jews show no sign of acknowledging that he is God, and, harder than rocks, they will not be rent by repentance.

Daily Posting: January 7/20

THOU who didst visit on the hill, deign in these plains to visit still our Mother Church below; Of Christian souls thou medicine, may that be ours by grace divine which man cannot bestow. Of earthly women, thou most blest, Star of the Sea, Light manifest, comfort thy mournful servants' breast, on all thy brightness send. Grant us that blessedness to know which from thy Holy Child doth flow, that so He may on us bestow a glory without end. [From the Sarum Missal]

The kingdom of God is coming. The king Himself has come and has established his kingdom in the world and He will come again to take us to His eternal kingdom. Here on earth there may be dark nights of waiting, but the sunrise of Jesus' return is always just at hand.

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.

Daily Posting: January 8/21

Those who are filled with the Holy Spirit must learn to live a life of self-denial and mortification [and] must be dead to the pleasures of sense; and keep their minds from everything that is disturbing to them.

He will be greater in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine, nor strong drink.

The church is built upon the faith that Christ is the Son of God the Savior.

And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Teach us Lord;
To serve You as You deserve;
To give and not to count the cost;
To fight and not to heed the wounds;
To toil and not to ask any reward;
To save that of knowing that we do Your will. (St. Ignatius of Loyola)

Daily Posting: January 9/22

Catholic and Orthodox Christians Affirm Sanctity of Life, Invite People into the Embrace of Christ

Daily Posting: January 10/23

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 42:

Jesus Christ
Who is He? Briefly learn: the Word of truth, the Word of incorruption that generates man by bringing him back to the truth -- the goad that urges us to salvation -- He Who expels destruction and pursues death -- He Who builds up the temple of God in men that He may cause God to take up His abode in men. [St. Clement of Alexandria]

He is the door of the greatest temple. He is the way of light. He is the guide to salvation. He is the gate of life. [Lactantius]

The Son of God became the Son of Man so that sons of men could become sons of God. [St. Athanasius]

Daily Posting: January 11/24

Christ calls people to bring the divine ideal to reality. Only short-sighted people imagine that Christianity has already happened, that it took place, say, in the thirteenth century, or the fourth, or some other time. I would say that it has only made the first hesitant steps in the history of the human race. Many words of Christ are incomprehensible to us even now, because we are still Neanderthals in spirit and morals; because the arrow of the Gospels is aimed at eternity; because the history of Christianity is only beginning. What has happened already, what we now call the history of Christianity, are the first half-clumsy, unsuccessful attempts to make it a reality. (Fr. Alexander Men)

Daily Posting: January 12/25

Prayer of a Parent:
Father of mankind, help me fulfill my duty toward these, your children and mine. Teach me what to give and what to withhold, when to reprove and when to forebear. Make me gentle, yet firm, considerate, yet watchful, neither weakly indulgent nor excessively harsh. Grant me to lead them along true ways of holiness, that with them I may share in the unspeakable joys of our true home.

Life is not always pleasant. Sometimes we are alone and mistreated in the world. But one day Jesus will come back, and all of our sadness will be gone forever.

You now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

Daily Posting: January 13/26

Keynote Address by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Synaxis of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches.

Daily Posting: January 14/27

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 42:

The omnipotent God engaged in combat with His most bitter enemy, not in the strength of His own majesty, but in our human infirmity. [Pope St. Leo the Great]

Christ saved men not with thunder and lightning, but as a wailing babe in the manger and as a silent sufferer upon the Cross. [St. Jerome]

His compassion for us compelled Him -- Who cannot be compelled -- to be born in a human body at Bethlehem. [St. Methodius of Olympus]

Daily Posting: January 15/28

All saints and desert fathers who perfected fasting were famous of sleeplessness. Getting filled with food leads to body heaviness and consequently to sleep. We notice that after the Passover and the last supper the disciples' eyes grew heavy in the Orchard and they could not keep awake with the Lord even for hour (Mt 26:40). Training yourself in fasting will go along with wakefulness with God and spending the night prayer.

When you fear people, you start to hide things, and this leads to hypocrisy. You fail to confess Christ openly and depend on the Holy Spirit and this silences your witness.

Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell.

Daily Posting: January 16/29

Christ instructs His disciples to receive the kindness of those that should entertain and welcome them. They have receive such entertainment because the laborer is worthy of his hire, and it is not an act of charity, but of justice.

The Laborer is worthy of his wages.

++++++++

A breath of prayer in the morning
Means a day of blessing sure;
A breath of prayer in the evening
Means a night of rest secure;
A breath of prayer in our weakness
Means a clasp of a mighty hand;
A breath of prayer when we're lonely
Means someone to understand.

Daily Posting: January 17/30

The weekly office of St. Mary (mid-8th c.) consists of festive Hours and Mass of Our Lady on unimpeded Saturdays. The reason is as follows. In a church of Constantinople, in ancient times, there was an icon of the Holy Virgin. Now, usually a veil hung over it, but Friday evenings the veil would raise itself miraculously, and descend again the following Saturday evening. The weekly remembrance has prevailed ever since.

Many prophecies in the Holy Bible refer to the Virgin Mary Ps 45:9, 13 calls her 'the queen' and the Royal daughter of the King. For that cause the Coptic Orthodox Church, in all the icons of the Virgin Mary, portrays her as a crowned queen and places her at the right hand of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

FEBRUARY 2016
DAYNCOCF/AOBSERVANCE
MON119St Mark of Ephesus, BC, III
TUE220Sts. Fabian & Sebastian, MM, IV
WED321F/ASt. Agnes, VM, III; St. Maximus the Confessor, MK, IV
THU422St. Timothy, BM, III
FRI523F/A
SAT624St. Xenia of St. Petersburg, II
SUN725EPIPHANY III; Conversion of St. Paul, II
MON826St. Polycarp, BM, III
TUE927St John Chrysostom, BCD, III
WED1028F/ASt. Cyril of Alexandria, BCD, III
THU1129St. Gildas, B, IV
FRI1230F/A*
SAT1331All New Russian Martyrs, II
SUN141EPIPHANY IV; St. Ignatius of Antioch, BM, III; St. Bridget, AB, IV
MON152PRESENTATION, I (Candlemas)
TUE163St. Blaise, BM, IV; (Blessing of throats); St. Nicholas of Japan, BC, IV
WED174F/A
THU185St. Agatha, VM, III / St. Melchisedec, IV
FRI196F/ASt. Photius of Constantinople, BC, IV
SAT207St. Romuald, AB, III
SUN218EPIPHANY V
MON229
TUE2310St. Scholastica, AB, II; St. Caedmon, MK, IV
WED2411F/ASt. Benedict of Aniane, AB, IV
THU2512
FRI2613F/A
SAT2714St. Valentine, BM, IV
SUN2815SEPTUAGESIMA
MON2916


RANKS of Feasts:
I.Solemnity
II.Greater Feast
III.Lesser Feast
IV.Commemoration

Ranks I & II always have first and second Vespers; take precedence over Sundays ranked II; suspend fasting & abstinence from First Vespers through Second Vespers.

Rank III has First Vespers only and uses the psalms of the occurring feria, with proper antiphons (or antiphons from the Common).

Rank IV are commemorated only at First Vespers and Lauds, though the Mass may be of the commemorated saint(s).

See Customary for ranking of Sundays.

Abbreviations:
Ab = Abbot, AbbessK = King
AP = ApostleM = Martyr
APS = ApostlesMk = Monastic
B = BishopMM = Martyrs
C = ConfessorP = Priest, Prophet
Dc = DeaconV = Virgin
D = DoctorVV = Virgins
EV = EvangelistW = Widow


Daily Posting: January 20/February 2

Symbolically, the year reveals Christ our God and Saviour. Its twelve months call to mind the twelve apostles by whom His message was particularized or realized within each soul embracing faith. We see, in the saints' feasts, the Gospel as something lived-embodied in flesh and blood.

If the kingdom of God is within us, and the actual kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy; then the man who abides in these is most certainly in the kingdom of God. (St. Moses the Ethiopian)

The person who is genuinely charitable not only gives charity out of his own possessions, but gladly tolerates injustice from others and forgives them. Whoever lays down his soul for his brother acts generously, rather than the person who demonstrates his generosity by his gifts. (St. Isaac the Syrian)

Daily Posting: January 21/February 3

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 43:

The Word of God, Jesus Christ, because of His great love for mankind, became what we are in order to make us what He is Himself. [St. Irenaeus]

He was made man that we might be made God, and He manifested Himself by a body that we might receive the idea of the unseen Father; and He endured the insolence of men that we might inherit immortality. [St. Athanasius]

The Word was not impaired in receiving a body, that He should seek to receive a grace, but rather He deified that which He put on, and more than that, gave it graciously to the race of man. [St. Athanasius]

Daily Posting: January 22/February 4

Ask and it will be given you; seek, and you will find.

Patience is the origin of all virtues and its protector. Patience is the tolerance of all evil that falls upon us from others calmly, bearing no remorse feelings against them who are causing it. (St. Gregory the Great)

In your patience possess your souls.

For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.

Daily Posting: January 23/February 5

"We are at peace with Him and we are so through virtue, much more will He be at peace with us. For He who so loved us, as to show favor to us even against our will, will He not, if He sees us hasting toward Him, Himself yet much more exhibit His love toward us?" (St. John Chrysostom)

It is the duty of those who are in the rank of priesthood to teach the people in season, when some special opportunity offers itself of speaking, and out of season.

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. [2 Tim 4:2]

Daily Posting: January 24/February 6

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 43:

By partaking of Him, we partake of the Father; because the Word is the Father's own. [St. Athanasius]

Unless He were true God, He could bring us no help; and if He were not true man, He could offer us no example. [Pope St. Leo the Great]

He has become man, so that He might deify us in Himself! And He has been born of a woman, and begotten of a virgin, in order to transfer to Himself our erring generation, and that we may become ever more a holy race, and "partakers of the divine nature," as St. Peter wrote (2 Pet 1:4). [St. Athanasius]

Daily Posting: January 25/February 7

Sermon by St. Augustine, Bishop
For the Conversion of St. Paul

We are told to-day in the Lesson from the Acts of the Apostles, how Paul the Apostle, from being the persecutor of Christians, became the messenger of Christ. For Christ smote down his persecutor to make him his Doctor of the Church. He strikes him and heals him; he is dying, and behold, he lives. The Lamb was slain by the wolves, and behold, he makes the wolves into lambs. For what happened to Paul is clearly foretold by the Prophet, when Jacob the Patriarch blessed his sons: as he touched the son who was actually before him, he foresaw the son who was to come.

Now Paul, as he himself declares, was of the tribe of Benjamin. So when Jacob, blessing each of his sons in turn, came to Benjamin, he said, Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf. What follows? Shall it always be thus? Far from it. Jacob added, In the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil. This was fulfilled in Paul the Apostle, just as it was prophesied of him.

Now, by your leave, let us see how in the morning he is ravenous, and how in the evening he divides the spoil. Morning and evening, applied to him, mean before and after his conversion. So we could put it thus: Before his conversion he was ravenous; afterwards, he divided the spoil. This is the fierce wolf: Saul went unto the high priest and desired of him letters, that if he found any of this way, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

He went, Breathing out threatenings and slaughter: this is his morning devouring the prey. Now when Stephen was stoned, he became the first martyr to lay down his life in Christ's Name; and most clearly Saul was present at the time; In fact, he was so confederate with those who were stoning that it was not enough for him to stone Stephen with his own hands. For it was as though his will moved the hands of all those who were casting the stones, while he held their clothes. He raged more fiercely by helping all of them, than by stoning with his own hands. Thus we see how in the morning he was ravenous. Now let us see how to the same degree in the evening he divided the spoil. The voice of Christ from heaven felled him to the earth, and at that decree from on high the ravenous wolf fell on his face, and he who was first smitten down was afterwards lifted up; he was first stricken, and then healed. [Conversion of St. Paul, January 25/February 7]

Daily Posting: January 26/February 8

Those who are going to inherit the kingdom of heaven must not be despondent about their salvation. The pagans are gloomy, and the Jews wail, and sinners mourn, but the just will rejoice ... we who have been considered worthy of so great a hope, how shall we not rejoice without ceasing? (Abba Apollo)

He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. [1 Jn 4:6]

Our life is like a garden,
That needs constant, loving care,
There are woes that does beset us,
Things that make life seem unfair.

We need so much cultivation,
To produce a steady start,
With a vast supply of sunshine,
That will warm the coldest heart.

Daily Posting: January 27/February 9

Not every quiet man is humble, but every humble man is quiet. [St. Isaac the Syrian]

When we are praying for strength against our spiritual enemies, our lusts and corruptions, we must pray continuously and not faint.

Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; do not be silent at my tears. ... [Ps 39:12]

Give your thoughts to Jesus,
He will give you peace,
Calming every worry,
And with His grace release
The strength to overcome
All problems you must bear.
With love and understanding,
He answers every prayer.

Daily Posting: January 28/February 10

Silence is a mystery of the age to come, but words are instruments of this world. [St. Isaac the Syrian]

The powerful grace of God working in and with the tribulation gives us patience. By tribulation we make an experiment of our sincerity.

We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Daily Posting: January 29/February 11

From blog of James M. Kushiner, Executive Director, The Fellowship of St. James:

As I blogged about 3 years ago at this time, Gildas reminds me that we're not the only Christians troubled by their times. Gildas the Wise was a 6th-century monk from the British Isles (born, it seems, in my maternal ancestral home of Dumbarton, Scotland--Alt Clut in Briton, Dumbarton Rock). In his treatise, De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae, "On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain," he writes of the current Anglo-Saxon invasions of Britain and cites the moral laxity and infidelity of Christians as their cause. During earlier periods of scarcity and suffering, the Christians had remained faithful and trusted in God. But in a recent time of prosperity, they had forgotten God. Rampant immorality, corrupt clergy, and selfish leaders plagued the land. (Sound familiar?)

But if you think Gildas was simply "venting," you'd be wrong. He begins:

"Whatever my attempt shall be in this epistle, made more in tears than in denunciation, in poor style, I allow, but with good intent, let no man regard me as if about to speak under the influence of contempt for men in general, or with an idea of superiority to all, because I weep the general decay of good, and the heaping up of evils, with tearful complaint. On the contrary, let him think of me as a man that will speak out of a feeling of condolence with my country's losses and its miseries, and sharing in the joy of remedies."

"Sharing in the joy of remedies" is a beautiful phrase. Gildas, a godly man enflamed with a love for Jesus, viewed the world with the eyes of Christ. He sought a return to God's grace, the healing of souls, and an end to sin and its destruction. He loved his audience. He was a curator of the healing grace of God that all men need for salvation.

It is this that we, too, seek to promote in Touchstone. There is one reason to articulate orthodox doctrine: to assist us in the firm knowledge of the Savior, who is both God and Man, and thus able to save. St. Paul insisted on sound doctrine, without which the saving faith would be watered down, corrupted, and lost.

At such times as this, however, it may seem that there is little one person can do. Again, Gildas points the way. A verse addressed to him in a hymn of the Eastern Church runs: "Teach us to despise nothing, that all our talents, however small, may be employed in God's service." To begin with, each of us can and must pray, daily, for our families, our neighbors, our pastors, our parish families, and our leaders. Support the good, encourage the weak, love all men, do good to all. Use every one and every bit of what abilities we have.

"The harvest of righteous is sown in peace by those who make peace." (James 3:18.) Notice the order: the fruit comes from such peaceful sowing, humbly offering what we can. Sometimes in the history of the church, that which was sown was the blood of martyrs, "the seed of the church." It was taken in violence, but it was offered in peace. We have the honor and privilege of witnessing to Christ. We may together share in the joy of remedies!

Daily Posting: January 30/February 12

Pray for the Patriarch's and the Pope's meeting in Cuba today that God's Will be shown forth.

+++++++

Let me follow in Your footsteps, to the path that leads above. And, forever, know Your blessings, of eternal life and love.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

Daily Posting: January 31/February 13

O God of unspeakable mercy, who didst enable thy holy Martyrs to lay aside an earthly for an heavenly crown, and to overcome death by dying for thy Name: deliver us, we beseech thee, by their intercession, from all bondage to sin and death, that with them we may come to thy perfect freedom in the heavenly fatherland. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [All New Russian Martyrs]

+++++++++

Sow a word of praise today,
Plant a kindness-seed;
Listen to a troubled friends,
Help someone in need.

Ask the Lord to bless each one
And one day you'll reap
A harvest full of loving friends
To cherish and keep.

Daily Posting: February 1/14

The twelve disciples said, "Send them away!" But Jesus said, "Bring what you have to Me!" Give Jesus your all, and He will use it to meet the need. He can do the impossible with whatever is wholly given to Him.

And looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples. . .

The Lord tenderly deals with our doubts and unbelief. We today cannot see Him or feel His wounds, but we have the Word of God to assure us. When your faith falters, do not ask for signs. Open His Word and let Him reassure you. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

Daily Posting: February 2/15

Presentation of the Lord Jesus into the Temple
The eye is not satisfied with seeing till it has seen Christ. The one who has seen salvation does welcome death.

Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation.

Daily Posting: February 3/16

Today is the feast of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr. It is the the tradition on this day to bless the throats of the faithful. Placing blest candles against the throat of each, the priest gives the following blessing: "By the intercession of St. Blaise, may the Lord preserve thee from every ailment of the throat, and from every other evil; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."

Daily Posting: February 4/17

Abba Pijimi was twelve years old when he dwelt in the desert of Scete. He grew in asceticism, prayer and fasting. He used to fast a week at a time and at the end of the week he ate a handful of dates and drinks a little water. After many years, the angel of the Lord appeared to him and commanded him to return to his city. Abba Pijimi went and built a small cell on the outskirts of his city. The people of his town used to come to him to be nourished with his spiritual teachings. At age seventy he departed in peace.

Daily Posting: February 5/18

When my burdens lie heavy upon me
And the load seems too much to bear,
The words that often come to mind-
"Give it to God in prayer."

I shall face tomorrow with hope
As life's lessons I gladly share.
It's never as dark as it seems
When you "Give it to God in prayer."

We must not only ask, but we must seek, we must second our prayers with our endeavors. In asking and seeking we must continue pressing, still knocking at the same door, and we shall at length prevail.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.

Daily Posting: February 6/19

Nothing created by God is evil. It is not food that is evil but gluttony, not the begetting of children but unchastity, not material things but avarice, not esteem but self-esteem. It is only the misuse of things that is evil, not things themselves. (St. Maximus the Confessor)

Daily Posting: February 7120

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 44:

Born as a son and led forth as a lamb, sacrificed as a sheep, buried as a man, He rose from the dead as God, being by nature both God and man. [St. Melito of Sardis]

We call Him Helper and Savior, the power of whose name even the demons fear, and today, when they are exorcized in the name of Jesus Christ, crucified under Pontius Pilate, Governor of Judea, they are overcome. [St. Justin Martyr]

Daily Posting: February 9/22

So they all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets of the leftover fragments were taken up by them.

Dear God, we're weak and often fail
In what you'd have us do;
You choose to bless us anyway
And draw us close to You.
So, thank You, Jesus, for loving us,
For blessings undeserved;
In return, I offer You myself,
With praises unreserved.

Daily Posting: February 10/23

NOW we our voices raise in sweet angelic hymn,
While earthly hills and vales in silent night grow dim;
Scholastica calls forth a heavenly melody
From souls of virgin purity.

SHE, sprung from Nursian race, her stem nobility,
As bride to Virgin Lamb more noble yet shall be;
The fragrance of the Spouse she ever doth impart,
The beauty of his wounded Heart.

AT their fraternal meal besought she zealously:
For greater nourishment hungered her charity.
And so with still more joy her brother truth outpoured
While she more fervently implored.

O PEACEFUL hours of night, O time of quiet rest,
When heavenly feasting so inebriates the breast,
While words of loving zeal from one another flow;
Thy will, O Jesus, they would know.

O VERY Rest of heart, O wondrous Trinity
Whose glance doth satiate with heavenly radiancy,
May talk of thee be sweet, more sweet thee to attain,
Sweetest eternally to gain. Amen.

[Hymn at Matins {Hymnis angelicis ora}, St. Scholastica, February 10/23]

Daily Posting: February 11/24

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 44.

What new mystery is this? The Judge is judged, and holds His peace; the Invisible One is seen, and is not ashamed; the Incomprehensible is laid hold upon, and is not indignant; the Illimitable is circumscribed, and does not resist; the Impossible suffers, yet does not avenge; the Immortal dies, and answers not a word; the Celestial is laid in the grave, and endures! [St. Melito of Sardis]

The very tomb of His slain body, small and narrow though it be, is more revered than the countless palaces of kings, more honored than the kings themselves. [St. John Chrysostom]

Daily Posting: February 12/25

Our faith in His word is tested in the storms of life. If the disciple had really trusted His Word, they would not have panicked and accused Him of not caring. You can trust His Word, for it will never fail.

Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?

The Lord Jesus, who does not have sin, walked on the sea. Peter, His disciple, also walked on the sea when the Lord commanded him. But because Peter had sin in the heart, the sin of doubt, he started to sink down.

O you of little faith, why did you doubt?

Daily Posting: February 13/26

"It is our duty, therefore, to be faithful to God, pure in heart, merciful and kind, just and holy; for these things imprints in us the outlines of the divine likeness, and perfects us as heirs of eternal life." (St. Cyril of Alexandria)

Daily Posting: February 14/27

Prayer is the speech of man with God and his heavenly Father. It raises the heart and the mind together to God. Prayer is the key of heaven and by its power; man can do everything because it is the source of all virtues, the ladder on which we can climb up to heaven, the action of angels and the base of the faith. (St. Augustine)

Daily Posting: February 15/28

Christ's flock in this world is a little flock. The church is a small vineyard compared with the wilderness of this world. Though it be a little flock, quite over-numbered be its enemies, yet it is the will of Christ they should not be afraid.

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Daily Posting: February 16/29

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 44 - 45:

Look for Him who is above time -- the Timeless, the Invisible, who for our sake became visible. [St. Ignatius of Antioch]

We do not yet see Christ made "all things in all," as the Apostle says; still we can find Him bit by bit in all. [St. John Cassian]

Christ prays for us, prays in us, is prayed to by us. He prays for us as our Priest; He prays in us as our Head, is prayed to by us as our God. We therefore recognize our voice in Him and His in us. [St. Augustine]

Daily Posting: February 17/March 1

The powers of Satan which go before all sin are three: forgetfulness, negligence, and desire. For truly, every time forgetfulness comes, it engenders negligence; and from negligence, desire proceeds; and desire causes a man to fall. But if the spirit stands on guard against Satan, it does not desire, if [it] does not desire, by the grace of Christ it does not fall. (from the wisdom of the Desert Fathers)

MARCH 2015
DAYNCOCF/AOBSERVANCE
TUE117
WED218F/ASt. Simeon of Jerusalem, BM, IV / St. Colman of Lindisfarne, MK, III
THU319
FRI420F/ASt. Mildred of Thanet, AB, IV
SAT521
SUN622SEXAGESIMA
MON723
TUE824
WED925St. Matthias, AP, II
THU1026St. Walburga, Ab, IV
FRI1127F/A
SAT1228St Raphael of Brooklyn, BC, III
SUN1329QUINQUAGESIMA; St Oswald, BC, IV
MON141St. David of Wales, BC, III
TUE152St. Chad, BC, IV
WED163F/AASH WEDNESDAY
THU174F
FRI185F/ASt. Nikolaj Velimirovich, BC, IV
SAT196A*
SUN207LENT I; Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, MM, IV
MON218F/A
TUE229FSt. Gregory of Nyssa, BCD, III
WED2310F/AForty Martyrs of Sebaste, IV / / [Repose of Abbot David Pierce, 2014]
THU2411F*St. Constantine, Protomartyr of Scotland, M, IV
FRI2512St Gregory the Great, BCD, II
SAT2613A*
SUN2714LENT II
MON2815F/ASt. Aristobulus, BM, III / St. Longinus, M, IV
TUE2916F
WED3017F/ASt Patrick, BC, III
THU3118FSt. Cyril of Jerusalem, BCD, IV


RANKS of Feasts:
I.Solemnity
II.Greater Feast
III.Lesser Feast
IV.Commemoration

Ranks I & II always have first and second Vespers; take precedence over Sundays ranked II; suspend fasting & abstinence from First Vespers through Second Vespers.

Rank III has First Vespers only and uses the psalms of the occurring feria, with proper antiphons (or antiphons from the Common).

Rank IV are commemorated only at First Vespers and Lauds, though the Mass may be of the commemorated saint(s).

See Customary for ranking of Sundays.

Abbreviations:
Ab = Abbot, AbbessK = King
AP = ApostleM = Martyr
APS = ApostlesMk = Monastic
B = BishopMM = Martyrs
C = ConfessorP = Priest, Prophet
Dc = DeaconV = Virgin
D = DoctorVV = Virgins
EV = EvangelistW = Widow


Daily Posting: February 18/March 2

The source of the heart's tranquility is not the world with its passions and desires, but God alone. No one who lives remote from God can live in peace, his heart remains troubled as it is buffed by the winds of his desire, until he come to know God and experiences the sweetness of living with Him. (Pope Shenouda III)

"Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee." (Augustine, Confessions (Book 1)

Daily Posting: February 19/March 3

An excellent article from Orthodox Christianity in defense of Western Rite.

Daily Posting: February 20/March 4

The Lord Jesus has a pleasure in forgiving sinners when they repent. This sinful woman wanted to express her love to Him. True faith cannot be hidden, and true faith shows itself in love and worship. Simon the Pharisee was blind, he could not see himself, the Lord, or the woman. He did not know the debt he owed!

Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.

Daily Posting: February 21/March 5

Do you not understand your own nobility? Each of you has been anointed with the heavenly chrism; each of you has become a Christ by grace. Each is king and prophet of the heavenly mysteries. (St. Macarius)

Daily Posting: February 21/March 5

Do you not understand your own nobility? Each of you has been anointed with the heavenly chrism; each of you has become a Christ by grace. Each is king and prophet of the heavenly mysteries. (St. Macarius)

Daily Posting: February 22/March 6

Just as no one can cause harm to someone close to the king, no more can Satan do anything to us if our souls are close to God, for truly He said, "Draw near to Me, and I shall be near to you." But since we often exalt ourselves, the enemy has no difficulty in drawing our poor souls into shameful passions.

Many Christians would have to go through hard times before seeing. Even those closest to them might hate them. But persecution against them will provide them with opportunities to give testimony to their faith.

But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.

Daily Posting: February 23/March 7

Sometimes God allows a relative or co-worker to cause us problems in order to exercise our patience and humility. A good Christian must also endure his bad supervisors. God does not want us, His children, to be pestered. He gives us trials and hardships in order to make us perfect. Temptations will cease in our life, once we reach the level of perfection. [St. Paisios of Athos]

Daily Posting: February 24/March 8

"He is the Way, because He leads us through Himself; the Door, as letting us in; as making us dwell in a place of green pastures, and bringing us by waters of rest, and leading us there, and protecting us from wild beasts." (St. Gregory of Nazianzus)

Daily Posting: February 25/March 9

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 46:

It is impossible for anyone to acquire the grace of God if he does not have the Holy Spirit, in Whom ... all the gifts of God consist. [Didymus the Blind]

The Holy Spirit is the plenitude of all gifts, and nothing is given in the Divinity without Him, because all the advantages that are received from the favor of God's gifts flow from this Fountainhead. [Didymus the Blind]

Daily Posting: February 26/March 10

WALBURGA was the daughter of the West Saxon Thane Saint Richard, and sister to Willibald and Wunnibald, all of whom were venerated by the Saxons as great Saints of God. Walburga became a nun at Wimborne ; and when her kinsman Saint Boniface was evangelizing the Germans, she was sent, along with Saint Lioba and other nuns, to help him. The Abbey of Heidenheim, which had been founded by her aforesaid holy brothers, now added a house for women ; and Walburga held rule over both the monks and nuns thereof until her death, about the year 780. She is venerated under various names throughout France, Germany, and the Low Countries, where her feast is kept on May 1st. [St. Walburga, February 26/March 10]

Daily Posting: February 27/March 11

Is the Simplicity of St. Benedict the Answer to America's Problems?

Daily Posting: February 28/March 12

Massive new report documents IS genocide of Christians in Iraq, Syria
By Matt Hadro
Washington D.C., Mar 10, 2016 / 04:45 pm (CNA/EWTN News).

One week before the State Department must announce if Islamic State atrocities against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria are genocide, a 278-page report has been released documenting that Christians there do face genocide.

"We now stand on the cusp of another historic decision," stated Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, who released the report along with the advocacy group In Defense of Christians, at the National Press Club on Thursday.

"The evidence contained in this report, as well as the evidence relied upon by the European Parliament, fully support, and I suggest to you, compel, that reasonable grounds exist to believe that the crime of genocide has been committed against Christians in the region," he said March 10.

"History will record the recent atrocities committed against religious minorities in the Middle East as genocide," he added. "The question is whether America will be remembered as courageous, as in the case of Darfur, or as something much less so, as in the case of Rwanda."

Advocates have been pressuring the State Department to include Iraqi and Syrian Christians, as well as other ethno-religious minorities in the region, as genocide victims. Last fall the agency was reportedly set to only consider Yazidis in northern Iraq as genocide victims, based on a Holocaust Museum report with a narrow focus on time and place.

Authorities such as the European Union Parliament and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bi-partisan federal government commission that makes advisory recommendations to the State Department, have already declared that the Islamic State is committing genocide against Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities.

According to a provision in the omnibus spending bill passed in December, the State Department has until March 17 to send Congress a review of persecution of Middle Eastern religious minorities by "Islamic extremists." It must include whether the persecution "constitutes mass atrocities or genocide."

Although a delegation led by Anderson requested in December to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss the matter, they received no response from the State Department.

However, four weeks ago, the office of Ambassador at-Large for International Religious Freedom David Saperstein asked them for a detailed report on atrocities committed against Christians, Anderson confirmed on Thursday.

The report lists many acts of violence, displacement, theft, hostage-taking, and sexual slavery, but new reports are surfacing daily, Anderson said. "As comprehensive as this report is, we believe that it may only be the tip of the iceberg."

For instance, according to credible reports in the last two days, Anderson said the number of Christian women enslaved by the Islamic State in Iraq's Nineveh province is seven times the previous estimate.

"Over and over again, we have found that as bad as we know things are and have been, the facts are worse, and the atrocities are more numerous," he added.

The report is the result of a fact-finding mission to Iraq and contains a legal brief sent to Kerry as well as extensive documentation and testimonies of victims of Islamic State militants. It contains new stories "the world has not heard," In Defense of Christians president Toufic Baaklini stated.

One of the stories was that of "Khalia," a middle-aged woman who was captured with 47 other persons and held for 15 days. "She literally fought off ISIS militants as they tried to rape the girls, and again later when they tried to take a 9-year-old as a bride," the report stated. "Ultimately, the hostages were left in the desert to walk to Erbil."

It includes testimonies of Christian women who were sold by the Islamic State as sex slaves, with age-specific prices listed on a "menu." There are numerous witness statements from persons in Iraq describing why they left their home, what happened to them and their family, and what members of the Islamic State said to them or their family.

There is also an extensively-sourced list of attacks against Christians in Iraq, Syria, and North Africa, and testimonies on the deleterious effects of displacement on the mental and emotional health of persons.

The Islamic State has made explicit statements of its intent to fight Christians in its magazine Dabiq, the report states, speaking out against Rome, the Pope, the "crusading armies" of Western powers, and Coptic Christians. They have "established a clear intent to destroy Christians as a group and Christianity as a religion," Anderson said.

The 21 Coptic Christians murdered by Islamic State militants on the Libyan coast last February, in a video titled "A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross," were targeted not "for any other reason than they were Christians," said Bishop Anba Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom.

A State Department designation of genocide, while not imposing specific legal consequences, would carry great moral weight, panel members insisted.

"Ladies and gentlemen, if Christians are excluded from the classification of genocide, my concern, my fear, my expectation is that we will be responsible for a greater and more ruthless campaign of persecution against them, not only in that country, but in the region," Bishop Angaelos stated.

"So if you recognize genocide for one group and not the other," he continued, "on the ground in the Middle East when you get people who want to actually persecute minorities, what they will do is see this as a green light to say that the international community is backing one group and not another ... they will take soft targets."

"The word [genocide] packs moral force," stated Dr. Gregory Stanton, former president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars. Using the term "requires action" to prevent further acts of genocide, he said.

Fr. Douglas al-Bazi, an Iraqi priest who ministers to the Mar Elia Refugee Camp in Erbil, said members of his congregation "feel that we are forgotten and we are alone and I am here to tell America the first [step] that should be taken is to call it a genocide."

Internally displaced persons have flooded Erbil, said Fr. Dankha Joola of the Chaldean Archeparchy of Erbil. Some estimates have placed 70,000 internally displaced persons in the city.

"If this is not genocide, then truly this word has no moral or legal meaning," Fr. Joola said. People have had to flee to a different society with many challenges of income, lack of privacy, and education.

"Are you going to take 100 years, or maybe 100 months to call what happened to my people a genocide? At that time, you will not find anyone of my people left."

Professor Robert Destro of the Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law excoriated lawyers at the State Department for the agency's lack of action on the genocide issue, calling it :genocide denial."

"How long is it going to take for the lawyers to get the message?" he asked, saying of Mary McLeod in the Office of the Legal Advisor, "she's not serving her client well."

"For the United States government to stand alone in denying this is genocide would be shameful, and an abdication not just of leadership, but of cooperation and common sense," Anderson stated.

Daily Posting: February 29/March 13

When the Lord Jesus said these words, "judge not", He addressed it to the general multitude upon the mountain. As brothers we must not sit in the judgment-seat. However, God has entrusted some people with the duty of judgment. Examples of these are parents whom God have entrusted with the upbringing of their children. (1 Sam 2:22-25)

Judge not, that you be not judged.

Daily Posting: March 1/14

HOLY David, Patron of Wales, is one of the most celebrated of the British Saints. But in the absence of authentic records, there now remaineth of his life little more than the glorious memory of his holiness and of his labours amongst the Welsh peoples. For much of what hath come down to us concerning him is the invention of pious affection, in an attempt to make manifest his greatness of mind and soul. * He lived in the latter part of the sixth century, and is said to have been the son of a Welsh chieftain. He was ordained priest, and studied for a while, perhaps on the Isle of Wight, under the direction of a disciple of that Saint Germanus who later became Bishop of the Isle of Man. Thereafter David was a most active missionary, and taught the Faith and built churches in very many places. Finally he settled in the southwest corner of Wales, at Menevia, and founded a monastery, wherein he and his monks lived a life of extreme austerity, in imitation of the cenobites of the Thebaid. And because they never drank anything stronger than water, Saint David got the nickname of Waterman. * There is an old story that he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and that he was there consecrated Archbishop of Wales by the Patriarch of Jerusalem However it may have happened, it is certain that he was made Bishop of Menevia, which same was afterwards called Saint David's in his honour and was the chief See of Wales. His death is supposed to have occurred about the year 601. Giraldus saith that he was a great ornament and example to his age, and that he continued his rule as bishop until he was a very old man, when he went to God. In 1398, Archbishop Arundel of Canterbury ordered his feast kept throughout his province of the Church.

GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God : that the devout prayers of blessed David, thy Confessor and Bishop, may in such wise succour and defend us, that we which on this day observe his festival, may follow his constancy in the defence of thy true religion. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, St. David, March 1/14]

Daily Posting: March 2/15

CHAD was one of four holy brothers, all of whom became priests, whereof two were advanced to the episcopate, namely, holy Chad himself and his elder brother Saint Cedd. Chad was at first Abbot of the monastery called Lastingham, in the Wolds of Yorkshire, and a man holy and lowly, well read in the Scriptures, and a diligent practiser of what he learnt therefrom. Wherefore Wini, Bishop of the West Saxons, at the desire of King Oswy, ordained him Bishop of York. Being so consecrated, he set himself to look to the orthodoxy and clean-living of the clergy, to seek after lowliness, self-control, and learning ; and to make a visitation of the towns, country, cottages, hamlets, and castles, that he might preach the Gospel therein ; going always not on horseback, but on foot, after the fashion of the Apostles. * Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, took Bishop Chad to task as though he had not been rightly consecrated. To whom he answered : If thou knowest that I have not rightly been made a bishop, I willingly lay down mine office ; neither did I ever deem myself fit to hold it ; but when I was commanded, I took it, for obedience' sake. Theodore marvelled at his lowliness, and made him Bishop of the Mercians and of Lindisfarne in the which office he strove to do his duty in great perfection of life, after the ensample of our ancient Fathers. * When the hour of his death drew near, he exhorted the brethren who stood by to keep love and peace with each other and with all the faithful of the monastic life. His sickness increasing, he made him ready to depart by receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord ; and on the seventh day his soul was set free from the toilsome prison of the body, and went away to be in gladness for ever. He died at his own See City of Lichfield, on March 2nd, 672.

[From the Ecclesiastical History of England by St. Venerable Bede the Priest (Lib. 3, xxiii, xxviii; 9, ii, iii)]

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, * who on this day dost gladden us with the feast of blessed Chad thy Confessor and Bishop : we humbly beseech thy mercy ; that we which here do honour him with our devout observance, may by his intercession obtain thy healing unto life eternal. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, St. Chad, March 2/15]

Daily Posting: March 3/16

All saints and desert fathers who perfected fasting were famous of sleeplessness. Getting filled with food leads to bodily heaviness and consequently to sleep. We notice that after the Passover and the last supper the disciples' eyes grew heavy in the orchard and they could not keep awake with the Lord even for one hour (Mt 26:40). Training yourself in fasting will go along with wakefulness with God and spending the night in prayer.

Daily Posting: March 4/17

"The day when God is absent, when He is silent -- that is the beginning of prayer. Not when we have a lot to say, but when we say to God, 'I can't live without you, why are you so cruel, so silent?' This knowledge that we must find or die -- that makes us break through to the place where we are in the Presence. If we listen to what our hearts know of love and longing and are never afraid of despair, we find that victory is always there the other side of it." (Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, "Beginning to Pray")

Daily Posting: March 5/18

As we enter the season of Lent, it is good to be reminded of some of the dangers that Lent can arouse if we observe it in the wrong spirit. As a cautionary tale, Nathaniel Hawthorne's story "The Man of Adamant" might help us avoid some these dangers.

The Man of Adamant
AN APOLOGUE

IN the old times of religious gloom and intolerance lived Richard Digby, the gloomiest and most intolerant of a stern brotherhood. His plan of salvation was so narrow, that, like a plank in a tempestuous sea, it could avail no sinner but himself, who bestrode it triumphantly, and hurled anathemas against the wretches whom he saw struggling with the billows of eternal death. In his view of the matter, it was a most abominable crime--as, indeed, it is a great folly--for men to trust to their own strength, or even to grapple to any other fragment of the wreck, save this narrow plank, which, moreover, he took special care to keep out of their reach. In other words, as his creed was like no man's else, and being well pleased that Providence had entrusted him, alone of mortals with the treasure of a true faith, Richard Digby determined to seclude himself to the sole and constant enjoyment of his happy fortune.

"And verily," thought he, "I deem it a chief condition of Heaven's mercy to myself, that I hold no communion with those abominable myriads which it hath cast off to perish. Peradventure, were I to tarry longer in the tents of Kedar, the gracious boon would be revoked, and I also be swallowed up in the deluge of wrath, or consumed in the storm of fire and brimstone, or involved in whatever new kind of ruin is ordained for the horrible perversity of this generation."

So Richard Digby took an axe, to hew space enough for a tabernacle in the wilderness, and some few other necessaries, especially a sword and gun, to smite and slay any intruder upon his hallowed seclusion; and plunged into the dreariest depths of the forest. On its verge, however, he paused a moment, to shake off the dust of his feet against the village where he had dwelt, and to invoke a curse on the meetinghouse, which he regarded as a temple of heathen idolatry. He felt a curiosity, also, to see whether the fire and brimstone would not rush down from Heaven at once, now that the one righteous man had provided for his own safety. But, as the sunshine continued to fall peacefully on the cottages and fields, and the husbandmen labored and children played, and as there were many tokens of present happiness, and nothing ominous of a speedy judgment, he turned away, somewhat disappointed. The further he went, however, and the lonelier he felt himself, and the thicker the trees stood along his path, and the darker the shadow overhead, so much the more did Richard Digby exult. He talked to himself, as he strode onward; he read his Bible to himself, as he sat beneath the trees; and, as the gloom of the forest hid the blessed sky, I had almost added, that, at morning, noon, and eventide, he prayed to himself. So congenial was this mode of life to his disposition, that he often laughed to himself, but was displeased when an echo tossed him back the long, loud roar.

In this manner, he journeyed onward three days and two nights, and came, on the third evening, to the mouth of a cave, which, at first sight, reminded him of Elijah's cave at Horeb, though perhaps it more resembled Abraham's sepulchral cave, at Machpelah. It entered into the heart of a rocky hill. There was so dense a veil of tangled foliage about it, that none but a sworn lover of gloomy recesses would have discovered the low arch of its entrance, or have dared to step within its vaulted chamber, where the burning eyes of a panther might encounter him. If Nature meant this remote and dismal cavern for the use of man, it could only be, to bury in its gloom the victims of a pestilence, and then to block up its mouth with stones, and avoid the spot forever after. There was nothing bright nor cheerful near it, except a bubbling fountain, some twenty paces off, at which Richard Digby hardly threw away a glance. But he thrust his head into the cave, shivered, and congratulated himself.

"The finger of Providence hath pointed my way!" cried he, aloud, while the tomb-like den returned a strange echo, as if some one within were mocking him. "Here my soul will be at peace; for the wicked will not find me. Here I can read the Scriptures, and be no more provoked with lying interpretations. Here I can offer up acceptable prayers, because my voice will not be mingled with the sinful supplications of the multitude. Of a truth, the only way to Heaven leadeth through the entrance of this cave--and I alone have found it!"

In regard to this cave, it was observable that the roof, so far as the imperfect light permitted it to be seen, was hung with substances resembling opaque icicles; for the damps of unknown centuries, dripping down continually, had become as hard as adamant; and wherever that moisture fell, it seemed to possess the power of converting what it bathed to stone. The fallen leaves and sprigs of foliage, which the wind had swept into the cave, and the little feathery shrubs, rooted near the threshold, were not wet with a natural dew, but had been embalmed by this wondrous process. And here I am put in mind, that Richard Digby, before he withdrew himself from the world, was supposed by skilful physicians to have contracted a disease, for which no remedy was written in their medical books. It was a deposition of calculous particles within his heart, caused by an obstructed circulation of the blood, and unless a miracle should be wrought for him, there was danger that the malady might act on the entire substance of the organ, and change his fleshly heart to stone. Many, indeed, affirmed that the process was already near its consummation. Richard Digby, however, could never be convinced that any such direful work was going on within him; nor when he saw the sprigs of marble foliage, did his heart even throb the quicker, at the similitude suggested by these once tender herbs. It may be, that this same insensibility was a symptom of the disease.

Be that as it might, Richard Digby was well contented with his sepulchral cave. So dearly did he love this congenial spot, that, instead of going a few paces to the bubbling spring for water, he allayed his thirst with now and then a drop of moisture from the roof, which, had it fallen anywhere but on his tongue, would have been congealed into a pebble. For a man predisposed to stoniness of the heart, this surely was unwholesome liquor. But there he dwelt, for three days more, eating herbs and roots, drinking his own destruction, sleeping, as it were, in a tomb, and awaking to the solitude of death, yet esteeming this horrible mode of life as hardly inferior to celestial bliss. Perhaps superior; for, above the sky, there would be angels to disturb him. At the close of the third day, he sat in the portal of his mansion, reading the Bible aloud, because no other ear could profit by it, and reading it amiss, because the rays of the setting sun did not penetrate the dismal depth of shadow roundabout him, nor fall upon the sacred page. Suddenly, however, a faint gleam of light was thrown over the volume, and raising his eves, Richard Digby saw that a young woman stood before the mouth of the cave, and that the sunbeams bathed her white garment, which thus seemed to possess a radiance of its own.

"Good evening, Richard," said the girl, "I have come from afar to find thee."

The slender grace and gentle loveliness of this young woman were at once recognized by Richard Digby. Her name was Mary Goffe. She had been a convert to his preaching of the word in England, before he yielded himself to that exclusive bigotry, which now enfolded him with such an iron grasp, that no other sentiment could reach his bosom. When he came a pilgrim to America, she had remained in her father's hall, but now, as it appeared, had crossed the ocean after him, impelled by the same faith that led other exiles hither, and perhaps by love almost as holy. What else but faith and love united could have sustained so delicate a creature, wandering thus far into the forest, with her golden hair dishevelled by the boughs, and her feet wounded by the thorns! Yet, weary and faint though she must have been, and affrighted at the dreariness of the cave, she looked on the lonely man with a mild and pitying expression, such as might beam from an angel's eyes, towards an afflicted mortal. But the recluse, frowning sternly upon her, and keeping his finger between the leaves of his half closed Bible, motioned her away with his hand.

"Off!" cried he. "I am sanctified, and thou art sinful. Away!"

"Oh, Richard," said she, earnestly, "I have come this weary way, because I heard that a grievous distemper had seized upon thy heart; and a great Physician hath given me the skill to cure it. There is no other remedy than this which I have brought thee. Turn me not away, therefore, nor refuse my medicine; for then must this dismal cave be thy sepulchre."

"Away!" replied Richard Digby, still with a dark frown. "My heart is in better condition than thine own. Leave me, earthly one; for the sun is almost set; and when no light reaches the door of the cave, then is my prayer time!"

Now, great as was her need, Mary Goffe did not plead with this stony hearted man for shelter and protection, nor ask any thing whatever for her own sake. All her zeal was for his welfare.

"Come back with me!" she exclaimed, clasping her hands--"Come back to thy fellow men; for they need thee, Richard; and thou hast tenfold need of them. Stay not in this evil den; for the air is chill, and the damps are fatal; nor will any, that perish within it, ever find the path to Heaven. Hasten hence, I entreat thee, for thine own soul's sake; for either the roof will fall upon thy head, or some other speedy destruction is at hand."

"Perverse woman!" answered Richard Digby, laughing aloud; for he was moved to bitter mirth by her foolish vehemence. "I tell thee that the path to Heaven leadeth straight through this narrow portal, where I sit. And, moreover, the destruction thou speakest of, is ordained, not for this blessed cave, but for all other habitations of mankind, throughout the earth. Get thee hence speedily, that thou may'st have thy share!"

So saying, he opened his Bible again, and fixed his eyes intently on the page, being resolved to withdraw his thoughts from this child of sin and wrath, and to waste no more of his holy breath upon her. The shadow had now grown so deep, where he was sitting, that he made continual mistakes in what he read, converting all that was gracious and merciful, to denunciations of vengeance and unutterable woe, on every created being but himself. Mary Goffe, meanwhile, was leaning against a tree, beside the sepulchral cave, very sad, yet with something heavenly and ethereal in her unselfish sorrow. The light from the setting sun still glorified her form, and was reflected a little way within the darksome den, discovering so terrible a gloom, that the maiden shuddered for its self-doomed inhabitant. Espying the bright fountain near at hand, she hastened thither, and scooped up a portion of its water, in a cup of birchen bark. A few tears mingled with the draught, and perhaps gave it all its efficacy. She then returned to the mouth of the cave, and knelt down at Richard Digby's feet.

"Richard," she said, with passionate fervor, yet a gentleness in all her passion, "I pray thee, by thy hope of Heaven, and as thou wouldst not dwell in this tomb forever, drink of this hallowed water, be it but a single drop! Then, make room for me by thy side, and let us read together one page of that blessed volume--and, lastly, kneel down with me and pray! Do this; and thy stony heart shall become softer than a babe's, and all be well."

But Richard Digby, in utter abhorrence of the proposal, cast the Bible at his feet, and eyed her with such a fixed and evil frown, that he looked less like a living man than a marble statue, wrought by some dark imagined sculptor to express the most repulsive mood that human features could assume. And, as his look grew even devilish, so, with an equal change, did Mary Goffe become more sad, more mild, more pitiful, more like a sorrowing angel. But, the more heavenly she was, the more hateful did she seem to Richard Digby, who at length raised his hand, and smote down the cup of hallowed water upon the threshold of the cave, thus rejecting the only medicine that could have cured his stony heart. A sweet perfume lingered in the air for a moment, and then was gone.

"Tempt me no more, accursed woman," exclaimed he, still with his marble frown, "lest I smite thee down also! What hast thou to do with my Bible?--what with my prayers?-- what with my Heaven?"

No sooner had he spoken these dreadful words, than Richard Digby's heart ceased to beat; while--so the legend says--the form of Mary Goffe melted into the last sunbeams, and returned from the sepulchral cave to Heaven. For Mary Goffe had been buried in an English churchyard, months before; and either it was her ghost that haunted the wild forest, or else a dreamlike spirit, typifying pure Religion.

Above a century afterwards, when the trackless forest of Richard Digby's day had long been interspersed with settlements, the children of a neighbouring farmer were playing at the foot of a hill. The trees, on account of the rude and broken surface of this acclivity, had never been felled, and were crowded so densely together, as to hide all but a few rocky prominences, wherever their roots could grapple with the soil. A little boy and girl, to conceal themselves from their playmates, had crept into the deepest shade, where not only the darksome pines, but a thick veil of creeping plants suspended from an overhanging rock, combined to make a twilight at noonday, and almost a midnight at all other seasons. There the children hid themselves, and shouted, repeating the cry at intervals, till the whole party of pursuers were drawn thither, and pulling aside the matted foliage, let in a doubtful glimpse of daylight. But scarcely was this accomplished, when the little group uttered a simultaneous shriek and tumbled headlong down the hill, making the best of their way homeward, without a second glance into the gloomy recess. Their father, unable to comprehend what had so startled them, took his axe, and by felling one or two trees, and tearing away the creeping plants, laid the mystery open to the day. He had discovered the entrance of a cave, closely resembling the mouth of a sepulchre, within which sat the figure of a man, whose gesture and attitude warned the father and children to stand back, while his visage wore a most forbidding frown. This repulsive personage seemed to have been carved in the same gray stone that formed the walls and portal of the cave. On minuter inspection, indeed, such blemishes were observed, as made it doubtful whether the figure were really a statue, chiselled by human art, and somewhat worn and defaced by the lapse of ages, or a freak of Nature, who might have chosen to imitate, in stone, her usual handiwork of flesh. Perhaps it was the least unreasonable idea, suggested by this strange spectacle, that the moisture of the cave possessed a petrifying quality, which had thus awfully embalmed a human corpse.

There was something so frightful in the aspect of this Man of Adamant, that the farmer, the moment that he recovered from the fascination of his first gaze, began to heap stones into the mouth of the cavern. His wife, who had followed him to the hill, assisted her husband's efforts. The children, also, approached as near as they durst, with their little hands full of pebbles, and cast them on the pile. Earth was then thrown into the crevices, and the whole fabric overlaid with sods. Thus all traces of the discovery were obliterated, leaving only a marvellous legend, which grew wilder from one generation to another, as the children told it to their grandchildren, and they to their posterity, till few believed that there had ever been a cavern or a statue, where now they saw but a grassy patch on the shadowy hill-side. Yet, grown people avoid the spot, nor do children play there. Friendship, and Love, and Piety, all human and celestial sympathies, should keep aloof from that hidden cave; for there still sits, and, unless an earthquake crumble down the roof upon his head, shall sit forever, the shape of Richard Digby, in the attitude of repelling the whole race of mortals--not from Heaven--but from the horrible loneliness of his dark, cold sepulchre.

Daily Posting: March 6/19

The "tree of knowledge" was good and its fruit was good. For it was not the tree, but the disobedience, which had death in it. For there was nothing in the fruit but knowledge and knowledge is good when uses it discretely. But Adam, being only an infant in age, was not yet able to receive knowledge worthily. (St. Theophilus)

Daily Posting: March 7/20

Collect
O GOD, who among the manifold works of thine almighty power hast bestowed even upon the weakness of women strength to win the victory of martyrdom : grant, we beseech thee, that we, who on this day |recall the heavenly birth of blessed Perpetua and Felicity, thy Martyrs, may so follow in their footsteps, that we may likewise attain unto thee. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen.

PERPETUA and Felicity, along with that other great Martyr, Anastasia, are the holy Matrons who have mention in the Gregorian Canon. The Acts of Saint Perpetua and her Companions are one of the greatest treasures of ecclesiastical history, and in the fourth century were read in the African Church like as if they were Holy Scripture itself. They were written by one of the blessed Companions of Perpetua, perhaps by the Martyr Satyr, and after their deaths were completed by another hand, and are therefore accepted as genuine. * According to these Acts, Perpetua and Felicity, in the persecution of the Emperor Severus in Africa, were seized along with Revocatus, Saturninus and Secundulus, and thrown into a very dark prison. Afterwards Satyr joined himself to them voluntarily. There in prison they were baptized, for hitherto they were but catechumens. Then were they condemned to the beasts. Whereupon one of the guards asked Felicity, who was in the labour of childbirth : What wilt thou do when thou art thrown to the beasts if thou groanest thus now? To whom she answered : I alone suffer now ; but when I come to die, there is One who will comfort me, seeing that he is always with me, and that it is for him that I shall then be suffering. * Thereafter they were led into the amphitheatre, with all the people looking on. And first they were lashed with scourges. Then Perpetua and Felicity were tossed about by a very fierce heifer, which had been maddened for the purpose. Afterwards they were beaten by cudgels, and struck down to the earth. At last, with their Companions who had been harassed by divers beasts, they consummated martyrdom by the sword, probably on March 7th, about the year 203.

Daily Posting: March 8/21

Because the Pharisees did not have the light of life, consequently they did not understand what Jesus taught them. St John Chrysostom writes: "Oh what stupidity! After so long a time and miracles and teachings, they asked 'Who are You?"

If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.

Take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness.

Daily Posting: March 9/22

It is only through Christ that we are made free. Free from the bondage of sin, free from our spiritual enemies.

Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.

Daily Posting: March 10/23

The Forty Holy Martyrs were amongst the most greatly venerated Martyrs of early times. They were forty soldiers at Sebaste, a city of Armenia, who in the year 320 gave a singular instance of faith in Jesus Christ, and bravery under suffering. After being often remanded to a horrid prison-house, bound in fetters, and their mouths bruised with stones, they were ordered out in the depth of winter, stripped naked, and put upon a frozen pool, to die of cold during the night. The prayer of them all was the same : O Lord, forty of us have begun to run in the race ; grant that all forty of us may receive the crown ; let not one be wanting at the last. * When the keepers were all asleep, and the watchman only was awake, the latter saw one of them whose courage could not bear the cold, which same came and leaped into a warm bath that stood ready at hand. Whereby the other thirty-nine were sorrowed grievously. Nevertheless God suffered not that their prayer should return unto them void ; for the watchman thereupon stripped himself of his clothes, and with a loud voice confessed himself a Christian, and joined the Martyrs. When the pagans knew that the watchman also had become a Christian, they went with clubs and brake the legs of the forty men. * Under this torment they died, except Melito who was the youngest. Now his mother stood by, and when she saw that his legs were broken, but that he was yet alive, she cried out to him : My son, have patience but a little longer ; behold how Christ standeth at the door to help thee. When she saw the bodies of all the others put upon carts and taken away to be buried, and that her son was left behind, because the multitude wickedly hoped that being but a lad, if he lived, he might yet be drawn to commit idolatry, the holy mother took him on her own shoulders and bravely followed behind the carts laden with the bodies of the Martyrs. In her arms Melito gave up his soul to God, and the mother who loved him so well laid his body with her own hands upon the pile, with those of the other Martyrs, that, as they had all been one in faith and strength, in death they might not be divided. Their bodies were burned, but their ashes were rescued and laid in an honourable sepulchre. These holy Martyrs are spoken of by Saints Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Gaudentius of Brescia, and by many other writers, and a copy of the document or testament which the Martyrs themselves executed on the verge of martyrdom is still extant.

Collect
GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God : that, like as we have known thy glorious Martyrs to be constant in their confession of thy Faith ; so we may feel the succour of their loving intercession. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [The Forty Holy Martyrs, March 10/23]

Daily Posting: March 11/24

We can serve God with money. We can make friends for the Lord by the wise use money.

Make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

He shall judge the world in righteousness.

Daily Posting: March 12/25

Be Always Vigilant

When the eyes of the ox are covered he turns the mill, but if they are not covered he does not turn it. Even so does the devil. If he succeeds in covering a man's eyes he weakens him and leads him to commit all kinds of sin, but if a man's eyes are full of light it is easy for him to flee from the devil. (from the wisdom of the Desert Fathers)

Daily Posting: March 13/26

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 46:

He is called Spirit, as "God is Spirit" (Jn 4:24), and "the breath of our nostrils, the Lord's anointed" (Lam 4:20). He is called Holy, as the Father is Holy, and the Son is Holy; for, to the creature, holiness was brought in from outside, but to the Spirit holiness is the fulfillment of nature, and it is for this reason that He is described not as being sanctified, but as sanctifying. [St. Basil the Great]

There is close relationship with God through the Spirit, for "God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!'" (Gal4:6). [St. Basil the Great]

Daily Posting: March 14/27

Second Sunday of Lent (the Temptation) The Lord Jesus was tested so that He could help us when we are "put to test" by things that tempt us to sin. He fought the devil's temptations and won.

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Daily Posting: March 15/28

Spread your cloak over those who fall into sin, each and every one, and shield them. [St. Isaac the Syrian]

Daily Posting: March 16/29

The sign of Jonah refers to Jesus' resurrection from the dead and His preaching by His apostles to the gentiles.

A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

Daily Posting: March 17/30

Collect
O GOD, who didst send forth blessed Patrick, thy Confessor and Bishop, to preach unto the Gentiles the glory of thy Name : grant that by his intercession ; we may of thy mercy be enabled to fulfil all such things as thou commandest. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen.

PATRICK, called the Apostle of Ireland, was born about the year 389, of Roman and British parentage. Blessed Martin of Tours is said to have been among his kin. But although he is usually accounted as British, the place of his birth is unknown. When Patrick was a lad he was taken prisoner by slavers and carried to Ireland, whence he escaped after six years. Meanwhile he learned to serve God well, for whilst attending the flock of his master he would rise before the light, in snow and frost and rain, to make his prayers. * Having been finally raised to the priesthood, Saint Germanus of Auxerre consecrated him bishop, and sent him back to Ireland, in succession to Saint Palladius, the first Christian missionary, who, after twelve months of labour there, had gone to Scotland and then died. Patrick travelled to every part of Ireland, converting many of the people and their chiefs by his preaching and example. And everywhere his preaching of the Word was confirmed by wonders and signs following. He washed many of the Irish folk in the laver of regeneration, ordained many bishops and clerks, and decreed rules for virgins and for widows living in continency. And he established Armagh as the primatial See of all Ireland. * Besides that which came upon him daily, the care of all the churches of Ireland, he never suffered his spirit to weary in constant prayer. It is said that it was his custom to repeat daily the whole Book of Psalms, together with certain other hymns and prayers, and that he took his short rest lying on a bare stone. He was a great practiser of lowliness, and after the pattern of the Apostle, always continued to work with his own hands. At last he fell asleep in the Lord in extreme old age, according to some authorities about the year 461, glorious both in word and deed. His body was translated to the Cathedral of Down in Ulster in 1185. [St. Patrick, March 17/30]

Daily Posting: March 18/31

Collect
GRANT, we beseech thee. Almighty God : that at the intercession of thy blessed Bishop Saint Cyril, we may learn to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent ; that we may be found worthy to be numbered for ever among the sheep that hear his voice. Through the same Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen.

CYRIL of Jerusalem was born about the year 315, and as a young man became a monk. He was ordained priest by holy Maximus, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and undertook with eminent success the task of preaching the Word of God to the faithful and to the catechumens. The works for which he is famous are chiefly two series of instructions; one for catechumens, given during Lent before Baptism ; the other on Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, and the offering of the Holy Sacrifice for the living and the dead. These writings are said to furnish the earliest example extant of a formal system of Catholic theology. After the death of Saint Maximus, Cyril was chosen as his successor by the bishops of that province. In this office he had to endure for the Faith's sake, like his blessed contemporary Athanasius, many wrongs and sufferings at the hands of the Arian sect. He was of a gentle and conciliatory character ; but the Arians could not bear that he should stedfastly withstand their heresy. Accordingly they assailed him with calumnies, and in a pretended council voted to depose him, and then drove him out of his See. * As long as the Emperor Constantius lived Cyril suffered the hardships of exile. But when the Apostate Julian came to the throne, he returned to Jerusalem, where he set himself with burning zeal to deliver his flock from false doctrine and from sin. He was driven into exile a second time under the Emperor Valens. But when peace was restored to the Church by Theodosius the Great, and the cruelty and insolence of the Arians were restrained, Cyril was received with honour by the Emperor as one of Christ's most eminent soldiers, and was finally restored to his See. * How well he fulfilled the duties of his exalted office was made manifest by the flourishing state of the Church of Jerusalem at that time, of which a picture hath been left for us by holy Basil, who dwelt there for a season, whilst worshipping at the holy places. A little while before his death he was present at the second Council of Constantinople, wherein was condemned the heresy of Macedonius, and once more the Arian heresy. After his return to Jerusalem he died a holy death, in the sixty-ninth year of his age and the thirty-fifth of his episcopate. Of these he had spent sixteen years in the sufferings of exile. From the earliest times he hath been venerated as a Saint, and in 1883 his feast began to be celebrated according to the rite of a Doctor of the Church. [St. Cyril of Alexandria, March 18/31]