CHRISTMINSTER
Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR)
1910 Falls Street, Niagara Falls, New York 14303 USA
July -- September 2016

JULY 2016
DAYNCOCF/AOBSERVANCE
FRI118F/A*St. Ephraim of Syria, DCD, III
SAT219St. John Maximovitch, BC, II / Sts. Gervase & Protase, MM, IV
SUN320Corpus Christi (PENTECOST II)
MON421[Repose of Abbot Augustine Whitfield]
TUE522St. Alban, M, III
WED623F/A*Vigil; St. Etheldreda, AB, IV
THU724Nativity of St. John the Baptist, I
FRI825F/A
SAT926St. John and Paul, MM, IV
SUN1027ALL SAINTS OF THE BRITISH ISLES (PENTECOST III)
MON1128F/A*Vigil, St. Irenaeus, BM, IV
TUE1229St Peter and Paul, AP, II
WED1330ALL HOLY APOSTLES, II
THU141
FRI152Visitation of BVM, I
SAT163
SUN174PENTECOST IV; Holy Royal Russian Martyrs, III
MON185
TUE196
WED207F/ASt. Cyril and Methodius, BC, III
THU218
FRI229F/A
SAT2310St. Anthony of the Kiev Caves, AB, IV
SUN2411PENTECOST V; Solemnity of our Holy Father Benedict, I
MON2512
TUE2613
WED2714F/A
THU2815St. Vladimir, Enlightener of Russia, III
FRI2916F/A
SAT3017St. Andrei Rublev, Mk, IV
SUN3118PENTECOST VI


Daily Posting: June 18/July 1

EPHREM was a Syrian, the son of a citizen of Nisibis. In his youth he betook himself to the holy bishop James, who baptized him, and in a short while he attained such sanctity and learning that he was made a master of the flourishing school at Nisibis. He was ordained deacon of the church at Edessa, but refused the priesthood, out of humility. He shone with the splendour of all the virtues. He produced many elaborate literary works to banish the innumerable errors then troubling the Church of God. All his works were so infused with the splendour of learning that even while he was yet living he was given the great honour of being regarded as a Doctor of the Church.

Daily Posting: June 19/July 2

The following is recited nightly after Vespers at Christminster:

Prayer to St John Maximovitch for the
Restoration of Western Rite Orthodoxy

O Lord Jesus Christ, who hast called the simple and humble to carry the light of the Gospel into the world; and, in these latter days, hast raised up thy holy servant Saint John to foster and bless the mission and ministry of Orthodoxy in the West: pour forth thy wisdom and grace upon those who seek to spread the Word of thy Truth by encouraging a wider vision of the Orthodox faith; that the West may recover from its apostasy and deep divisions, and its ancient rites be restored in their fullness to thy holy Church. Open the minds and hearts of all Orthodox peoples and hierarchs to acknowledge the rightful place of their Western brethren within the Orthodox Church, that the efforts of Saint John may bear fruit and thy Church may be one. This we ask, Lord Jesus Christ, who, with the Father and Holy Ghost, livest and reignest , one God, world without end. Amen.

Daily Posting: June 20/July 3

O wonder! The Creator clothed in a human being enters the house of tax collectors and prostitutes. Thus the entire universe, through the beauty of the sight of Him, was drawn by His love to the single confession of God, the Lord of all. [St. Isaac the Syrian]

Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You, when I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary. [Ps 28:2]

Daily Posting: June 21/July 4

Anniversary of the repose of Abbot Augustine Whitfield
Memory eternal!

O God, who hast made thy servant Augustine to flourish among the ministers of Apostolic Succession in the honourable office of a Priest: grant, we beseech thee, that he may also be joined with them in a perpetual fellowship. 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 for a departed priest]

Daily Posting: June 22/July 5

From the Ecclesiastical History of St. Bede the Venerable

ALBAN, when he was yet a pagan, entertained in his house a certain clergyman, flying from his persecutors. He observed that this man was in continual prayer and watching day and night; then, through the light of divine grace, he began to imitate the example, of faith and piety which was set before him, and, casting off the darkness of idolatry, he became a Christian in all sincerity of heart.

It came to the ears of the wicked prince that the aforesaid clergyman was concealed at Alban's house. Whereupon he sent soldiers to make a strict search after him. When they came to the martyr's house, Alban immediately presented himself to the soldiers, in place of his guest and master, in the habit or long coat which he wore, and was led bound before the judge, who, when he saw that Alban was not to be overcome by tortures, or withdrawn from the exercise of the Christian religion, ordered him to be put to death.

The executioner, moved by divine inspiration, hastened to meet Alban at the place of execution, and casting away the sword which he had carried ready drawn, fell at his feet, praying that he might rather suffer with the martyr, whom he was ordered to execute, or, if possible, instead of him.

Alban suffered death on June 22, near the city of Verulam. At the same time was beheaded the soldier, who, through divine admonition, had refused to give the stroke to the holy confessor. Of whom it is apparent, that though he was not regenerated by baptism, yet he was cleansed by the washing of his own blood, and rendered worthy to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Daily Posting: June 23/July 6

HOLY Scripture teaches us to praise not only those who are worthy of honour, but their parents as well; in order, as it were, that the inheritance of spotless purity which is passed on to those whom we desire to praise might shine the brighter. For what other intention had the holy Evangelist in this place but to make St. John the Baptist noble in his parentage as well as in his miracles, way of life, office, and passion? So, likewise, is Hannah the mother of Samuel praised; so did Isaac receive from his parents that nobility of godliness which he bequeathed to his descendants. Therefore Zacharias the priest was not only a Priest, but was of the course of Abia, that is, noble even among noble families.

And his wife, says the Evangelist, was of the daughters of Aaron. Therefore the nobility. of St. John was derived, not only from his parents, but from his ancestors as well, who were not distinguished as regards worldly power, but who were venerable in their religious succession. For it behoved the Forerunner of Christ to have such ancestors; that it might be seen that his preaching the faith of the Lord's coming was not sudden conception, but had been received and infused into him by the law of nature. And, says the Evangelist, They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. What do they make of this, who, to console themselves for their own sins, consider it impossible for man to be without frequent sin, and who make use of that sentence in the Book of Job: Not one is clean, even though his life on earth be but one day?

We must answer them first What do they mean by a man without sin: whether they mean one who has never sinned at all, or one who has ceased to sin. For if they consider that to be without sin is never to have sinned at all, then I agree with them. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. But if they deny that a man can avoid wrong-doing who has corrected his former fault and transformed the quality of his life in such a way that he can refrain from sin; I cannot agree with their opinion, since we read: Christ so loved the church, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing: but that it should be holy and without blemish. [Vigil of St. John the Baptist, Homily by St. Ambrose, Bishop]

Daily Posting: June 24/July 7

Zacharias and Elizabeth were a righteous couple living always to fulfill God's will. But they had no child. Zacharias had prayed often for a son and God answered His prayers and gave him a son that was the greatest of the prophets.

He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer. [Ps 102:17]

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Almighty God, by whose providence thy servant John Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour, by preaching of repentance : make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life,that we may truly repent according to his preaching and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake. 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. [Collect, Nativity of St. John the Baptist, June 24/July 7]

Daily Posting: June 25/July 8

Just as the soldier and hunter when they go to fight are not concerned about knowing whether others are wounded or saved but each one fights on his own account, so must we be. We need to be ready every day to face difficulties and surpass it with the help of the Holy Spirit to be worthy of His kingdom.

Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

Unless one is born of water and Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Daily Posting: June 26/July 9

JOHN and Paul are reputed to have been martyred at Rome about the year 362, but no historical records remain as to their passion. However, in the fourth century relicks, which were believed to be theirs, were deposited on the Caelian Hill where was built the basilica now called after them ; and mention is made daily of their names in the Gregorian Canon. The so-called Acts of these Martyrs were written in later times, from which some of the formularies of their Office and the rest of this Legend are taken ; according to which, they were Romans and blood-brothers, the godly and trustworthy servants of Constantia, daughter of Constantine ; and after her death they spent in feeding Christ's poor the property which she had left them.

Julian the Apostate asked them to enter his household, but they bravely answered that they would not be servants to one who had run away from the service of Jesus Christ. Thereupon Julian gave them ten days to ponder on their choice, whether at the end of that time they would cleave to him, and sacrifice to Jupiter, or most surely die. This interval they spent in distributing to poor folk, all that remained of their goods, that they might be quite free to depart hence to the Lord. So in their lifetime they succoured many by whom they have long since been a received into everlasting habitations. When the tenth day came, Terentian, Prefect of the Pretorian Cohort, was sent to them, bringing with him an image of Jupiter.

Terentian explained to them the command of the Emperor, that they should worship the said image or die. They were engaged in prayer, but answered him that for their loyalty to Christ, whom their understanding acknowledged, even as their mouths confessed, to be God, they felt no hesitation in choosing to suffer death. Terentian, to avoid the uproar which might have been caused by their public execution, caused their heads to be cut off at home where they then were. Thus (according to their Acts) they lifted up their last earthly testimony, namely, upon June 26th, in the year of our Lord 362, and were privately buried, and a story went about that they had been sent into exile; but the fact of their death could not be kept secret because of the wonders wrought at their tomb.

Daily Posting: June 27/July 10

LIGHT FROM THE EAST

If each Orthodox Christian prepares his heart to be God's throne, the heart of Western man, grown weary of his self-idolatry, may begin to see the true light from the East. God, in His good providence, has sent holy Orthodoxy into the west in these latter days not to be a curiosity, a museum-piece, a relic of the Old World. He has sent the light of Orthodoxy throughout the world to be a light unto the nations in their time of greatest darkness. Like the sun, Orthodoxy may have its dawning in the East, but its destiny is to illumine the whole world, to scatter the shades of night and the darkness of death, and to reveal to a dark and weary world the living presence of the Risen Christ. Each of us, transfigured by grace and by joyful obedience to His rule, must become a living icon of this true Light that has come into the world.

It is the folly of the West to have believed in the transformation of the world by economics, politics and social agendas. It is the folly of Soviet authorities to have believed that such forces could destroy the true Faith. War, revolution, social, political and economic upheaval are the tools the world trusts to bring about change. Against all of these, the Orthodox Christian must proclaim by his life the one power that can heal and change the world -- transfiguration through love and grace. This happens in secret, in silence, in prayer -- in the depths where man meets God in love. Only then and there is the wounded human heart filled with healing, joy, and peace -- our gifts to suffering humanity. And these gifts may be had only by a total surrender to Christ's love, by a death to all things that would separate one from His love. We must become obedient unto death by entering into the mystery of the suffering of Christ whereby the whole world is made a new creation.

We must be "signs" of the end, of the Kingdom that is the end of all our petty securities, our selfishness, our false ideals and comfortable habits. Yet we must show that the end, though it will be an utter catastrophe for our old ways, will be finally a deep and gracious blessing, filling our emptiness with God, feeding our eternally hungry hearts with His unfathomable love. We must show the world, even as its ways and institutions crumble into dust, that Christ has already overcome the world: Christ is risen and the power of death has been vanquished. The world needs to see us -- living icons of Christ -- undaunted by the world's show of power, by its death throes. We must be as Saint Paul tells us, "as unknown, yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things" (II Corinthians 6:9-10).

In our quiet, obedient observance of the Holy Orthodox Faith, our life must radiate the light of Christ into the darkness of our days. The end of all draws near, but it will be the end not of life, but of darkness and death. And in that dawn, made bright with the risen Christ -- the true light from the East, the unsetting Sun -- in that final, perfect dawn, may we sing with the Psalmist: Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing; Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; O Lord my God, I will give thanks to Thee for ever.

Daily Posting: June 28/July 11

IRENAEUS was a Greek of Ionia, where he was instructed in Christianity by Polycarp, the disciple of blessed John the Evangelist. He was well known for his learning, his eloquence, and his writings, and he was commended by such scholars as Tertullian, Eusebius and Jerome. He was sent to Lyons by Polycarp, where he was ordained priest by Bishop Pothinus; soon afterwards the severe persecution of Christians began in Gaul, and Pothinus was martyred with many others. Whilst the persecution of Christians was still raging, Irenaeus was called to fill this position of great danger, and was consecrated in the year 178. He escaped martyrdom for a time, though as Bishop he laboured so zealously for the conversion of the heathen that he won over nearly the entire city of Lyons to the Faith. He did much to restore unity and peace in the Church by refuting the widespread teaching of the Gnostics, and by reconciling all parties in a heated controversy over the celebration of Easter. He also wrote some learned treatises of great value as being some of the earliest statements of catholic doctrine. Irenaeus was martyred at Lyons in the persecution of Septimus Severus in the year 202, with thousands of others whom he converted to Christianity.

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O GOD, who gavest grace to blessed Irenaeus thy Martyr and Bishop to overcome false doctrine by the truth of his teaching, and favourably to establish peace in thy Church: give thy people, we beseech thee, constancy in holy religion, and grant us thy peace all the days of our life. 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. Irenaeus]

Daily Posting: June 29/July 12

The Apostles' Feast
Martyrdom of Sts. Peter and Paul

The Church celebrates the the martyrdom of the apostles not just to honor them but to walk after their example in steadfast faith, burning love, righteous fight and faithful witness to the Lord Jesus Christ.

O LORD, who by thy right hand didst save thy blessed Apostle Saint Peter, that he sank not when he walked upon the waves, and didst thrice in shipwreck deliver Saint Paul his fellow from the depths of the sea : mercifully hear our prayers; and grant that by the intercessions of these thy Saints, we may be brought unto the glory of everlasting life : Who with God the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, Sts. Peter and Paul June 29/July 12]

Daily Posting: June 30/July 13

A NOTE ON THE FEAST:
We owe today's feast of All Holy Apostles to the Orthodox Church of France, under its hierarch, Saint John Maximovitch. The Roman calendar celebrated Saint Peter on 29 June, with a commemoration of Saint Paul on 30 June. This arrangement and the texts of the feast tended to emphasise the Roman claim of special petrine authority. By combining Saints Peter and Paul, both apostles martyred in Rome, and following with a feast of all the Apostles, the shared collegial authority of all of them is celebrated.

O ALMIGHTY GOD, who hast built thy Church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner-stone : grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their doctrine, that we may be made an holy temple acceptable unto thee. 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. [Collect, All Holy Apostles, June 30/July 13]

Daily Posting: July 1/14

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 51:

Listen to the Savior: I regenerated you, unhappily born by the world to death. I set you free, I healed you, I redeemed you. I will give you life that is unending, eternal, supernatural. I will show you the face of God, the good Father. [St. Clement of Alexandria]

I urge you to be saved. This Christ desires. [St. Clement of Alexandria]

Daily Posting: July 2/15

WHEN our Redeemer came to us, he went straight to his friend John who was still in his mother's womb. And when John, from womb to womb, beheld him, shaking the barriers of nature, he cried out: I see the Lord who founded the barriers of nature, and I am not waiting for the time of birth. The space of nine months is not necessary, for he who is eternal is in me. I shall go forth from this dark dwelling-place, I shall proclaim my pent-up knowledge of wonderful things. I am a sign: let me point to the coming of Christ. I am a trumpet: let me proclaim the dispensation of the Son of God in flesh. Let me sound the trumpet, by it let me bless my father's tongue, that it may speak. Let me sound the trumpet, that I may quicken my mother's womb.

Behold, beloved, what a new and wondrous mystery is here. He is not yet born, and he speaks by his leaps; he has not yet appeared, and he gives a warning; it is not yet given him to cry, and he is heard by his action; he is not yet brought to life, and he preaches God; he has not yet seen the light, and he reveals the Sun; he is not yet born, and he hastens to be the Forerunner. In the presence of the Lord he cannot bear to be kept back; he cannot endure, the restraint of natural barriers; but he strives to break out from the prison of the womb, and is eager to herald the coming of the Saviour. He who loosens bonds, he cries, is coming, and why do I stay bound, and held fast, so that I have to remain here? The Word comes, that he may order all things: and am I to remain still held? I shall go forth, I shall run before him, and proclaim to all: Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

But tell us, O John, how you perceived and heard, when you were still shut up in the dark womb of your mother? how you beheld things divine? how you leaped and rejoiced? It is a great mystery, he said, that is here accomplished, and it is far removed from human understanding. It is fitting that I should do things new to nature, because of him who will do new things that are above nature.

I see, although I am yet in the womb, because I see the Sun of Righteousness being carried in a womb. I hear with my ears, because I am born as the voice of the great Word. I cry out, because I contemplate the only-begotten Son of the Father clothed in flesh. I exult, because I see the Creator of the universe take the form of a man. I leap, because I think of the Redeemer of the world become Incarnate. I run before his coming, and by my confession, as it were, I go before him to you. [Sermon by St. John Chrysostom, Visitation of St. Mary the Virgin]

Daily Posting: July 3/16

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 51:

The thief was on the cross, and he was justified by a single word. And Judas, who was counted among the Apostles, lost all his labor in a single night and descended from heaven to hell. So, let no one boast of his good works, for all those who trust in themselves fall. [Anonymous (Sayings of the Desert Fathers)]

Into the Jews' olive tree we have been grafted. [Tertullian]

Daily Posting: July 4/17

Today the Church commemorates the Russian Royal martyrs. The following link is provided.

Daily Posting: July 5/18

St. Nilus of Sora says that because of laziness, attachment to the world, and carelessness in the life of the spirit, we say, 'The life of the spirit was natural only to the ancient holy men, but we don't need it and it is impossible.' Not so! It is only impossible for him who, of his own will, subjects himself to passions and does not sincerely wish to repent and truly apply himself to the Spirit of God, but only concern himself with the useless affairs of life. The Lord accepts all who sincerely repent, who with sincere love and fear seek Him, who turn to Him alone and fulfil His commandments. [- excerpted from the Glinsk Patericon]

Daily Posting: July 6/19

St. Barsoum who was perfect in the love of God when his uncle took all his possession that his parents left him he did not quarrel. Instead, he forsook the world and lived outside the city in solitude. Later he lived for twenty years in in a cell inside St. Mercurius church. He spent his life in prayers and fasting and endured the great persecution of his time. It is known that a serpent used to live with the saint as tamed animal.

Keep yourself in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. [Jude 21]

Daily Posting: July 7/20

O shining light of your own land!
O beacon to the Slavic race!
Our hearts in thankfulness demand
For this your feast its yearly place.

O brothers, who by Rome were blessed
As sons, with motherly embrace,
'Twas there the Church on you impressed
Her seal of consecrating grace.

In might to far off lands ye went,
Their savages in Christ to school,
And his own light and love present
To minds and hearts with darkness full.

In souls which sin held in its bands
Ye made a heav'nly ardour glow;
Where horrid thorns then choked the lands,
Ye made the flow'rs of grace to grow.

Now ye do rest secure, enthroned;
Entreat for peoples gone astray,
Who have the holy Faith disowned,
Or slipped from unity away.

Grant, O thou blessed Trinity,
Some ardour from thy heav'nly fires.
That sons may tread right zealously
The noble footsteps of their sires. Amen.

[Lauds Hymn. {Lux o decora patriae} Sts. Cyril and Methodius, July 7/20]

Daily Posting: July 8/21

When we find love, we partake of heavenly bread and are made strong without labor and toil. The heavenly bread is Christ, who came down from heaven and gave life to the world. This is the nourishment of angels. The person who has found love eats and drinks Christ every day and every hour and is thereby made immortal. ... When we hear Jesus say, "Ye shall eat and drink at the table of My Kingdom," what do we suppose we shall eat, if not love? Love, rather than food and drink; is sufficient to nourish a person. This is the wine "which maketh glad the heart..." [St. Isaac the Syrian]

Daily Posting: July 9/22

When Jesus healed the born-blind man He made clay with the saliva. Jesus reveals His deity by restoring part of the creation in the same way He had created humanity in the beginning from the earth. (Gen 2:7)

He is coming to judge the earth. With righteousness He shall judge the world, and the people with equity. [Ps 98:9]

I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name. [Ps. 86:2]

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. [Ps 51:2]

Daily Posting: July 10/23

The Lord Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees 'Hypocrites' because they show off that they are religious. Inside themselves they were normally rotten. We may deceive ourselves, but we cannot fool God.

Justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done without leaving the others undone.

First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother's eye. [Lk 6:42]

Daily Posting: July 11/24

JEWEL most precious for the King celestial,
Rule of the righteous, way of all the cloistered,
Forth from the miring of the world's uncleanness,
Benedict, draw us.

Spurning the earthly, you, O starry-hearted,
Gave your possessions to your aged parents;
For the marred vessel earned the vessel perfect,
Meet for the Master.

Great though the hermit, slender were the members
Striving to conquest over youth and labour:
Narrow beginnings by your zealous fervour
Won their fulfilment.

When a wall, falling, overwhelmed a stripling,
Soon as you prayed, prayer to life restored him;
At the same moment, sense to flesh returned,
Soundness to body.

When, all unknowing, rose the lovely spirit
Of your dead sister, piercing star -- set heaven,
Rightly, in semblance of a dove so gentle,
Did you behold it.

Soon the high triumph you yourself repeated,
Won starry summits after earth was conquered;
Lo, a bright pathway of supernal radiance
Flamed from your mantle.

Praise to the Father, to the Sole-begotten,
And to thee, alway with the Twain co-equal,
Fostering Spirit; one and only Godhead
Through all the ages.
Amen.

[Vespers hymn {Gemma caelestis}, Solemnity of Our Holy Father Benedict, Abbot, July 11/24]

Daily Posting: July 12/25

The person who lives in love reaps the fruit of life from God, and while yet in this world, even now breathes the air of the Resurrection. . . . In love did God bring the world into existence; in love is God going to bring it to that wondrous transformed state, and in love will the world be swallowed up in the great mystery of the One Who has performed all these things; in love will the whole course of the governance of creation be finally comprised. [St. Isaac the Syrian]

Daily Posting: July 13/26

We ought to praise God for his mercies and the great things He does for us. We ought to be glad and rejoice for the almighty power of our God. We ought to praise Him and not forget to give thanks to Him for Him for He has redeemed us.

I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. [Ps 9:1]

I am the living bread which came down from heaven.

If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.

Daily Posting: July 14/27

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 51:

Let the sinner rejoice, since he is invited to grace. Let the Gentiles exult, for they are called to life. [Pope St. Leo the Great]

It is His will that men should praise Him with unanimity and adore Him with one consent. For this is His will in Christ, that those who are saved by Him may be many; but that you do not cause any loss or lessening to Him or to the Church, or diminish the number by one soul, destroyed by you, who might have been saved by repentance. [Anonymous (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles)]

Daily Posting: July 15/28

ST. VLADIMIR, APOSTLE OF RUSSIA

O GOD, who didst bestow the grace of conversion upon blessed King Vladimir, in such wise that he not only put away all false gods, but sought thee only with his whole heart: turn us, we beseech thee, from our evil ways ; that like him we may seek thee first, and in all things, and work with boldness and holy zeal for the establishment of thy Kingdom and its righteousness. 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. Vladimir, Enlightener of Russia, July 15/28]

Daily Posting: July 16/29

The Lord Jesus is not belittling His mother and relatives. For St. Mary was obedient to the will of God (more) than anyone else. The Lord Jesus is drawing our attention that if we obey God we become like His mother and become sons of God.

For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother. [Mark 3:31-35]

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! [Ps 118:26]

I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. [Jn 6:35-45]

Daily Posting: July 17/30

Explanation of Andrei Rublev's Icon of The Trinity.
Daily Posting: July 18/31

. . . Love, rather than food and drink is sufficient to nourish a person. This is the wine "which maketh glad the heart." Blessed is the one who partakes of this wine! Licentious people have drunk this wine and become chaste; sinners have drunk it and have forgotten the pathways of stumbling; drunkards have drunk this wine and become fasters; the rich have drunk it and desired poverty, the poor have drunk it and been enriched with hope; the sick have drunk it and become strong; the unlearned have taken it and become wise. [St. Isaac the Syrian]

AUGUST 2016
DAYNCOCF/AOBSERVANCE
MON119St. Macrina, V, IV
TUE220St. Margaret of Antioch, VM, IV
WED321F/A*
THU422St. Mary Magdalene, Penitent, II
FRI523F/ASt. Apollinaris, BM, IV
SAT624F/A*Vigil
SUN725PENTECOST VII; St. James the Greater, Apostle, II
MON826Sts. Joachim and Anne, Parents of BVM, III
TUE927
WED1028F/ASt. Pantaleimon, MK, IV; St Victor, BM, IV
THU1129St. Martha of Bethany, V, III
FRI1230F/A
SAT1331
SUN141PENTECOST VIII; Chains of St. Peter, III; Holy Maccabees, IV
MON152St. Stephen, BM, IV
TUE163St. Nicodemus, M, IV
WED174F/A
THU185St. Oswald, KM, IV
FRI196TRANSFIGURATION, I
SAT207Holy Name of Jesus, II
SUN218PENTECOST IX
MON229F/A*Vigil
TUE2310St. Lawrence, M, II
WED2411F/A
THU2512
FRI2613F/A
SAT2714F/A*Vigil
SUN2815PENTECOST X; ASSUMPTION, I; St. Tarcisius, M, IV [Blessing of herbs]
MON2916
TUE3017
WED3118F/ASt. Helena, Empress, III; St. Fiacre, M, IV


Daily Posting: August 1/July 19

MAY the Almighty God, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Eternal King, bless you and have mercy upon you. May He send you His holy Angel, Michael, to guard your hearts and bodies. May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ remain with you, that ye may walk in the light of that peace, and be reckoned in the number of the Saints. Through Thy mercy, O our God, who art blessed, and dost reign, and govern all things, world without end. Amen. [From the Mozarabic Missal]

Daily Posting: August 2/July 20

GRANT, O Lord, that, like as blessed Margaret, thy Virgin and Martyr : by the merits of her chastity and godliness of conversation did ever walk acceptably in thy sight ; so she may at all times effectually intercede for our forgiveness. 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. Margaret of Antioch, August 2/July 20]

THIS Margaret is one of the most widely venerated Saints of the Church, East and West, but nothing is certainly known of her beyond the fact that she was a maiden who suffered death for Christ at Antioch. In the East she is called The Great-Martyr Marina, which name, like Margaret, signifieth a pearl; and her feast is kept on July 12th. From the East her fame spread to the West, and in the seventh century her name, changed to Margaret, appeared in an English Litany. During the middle ages she came to be much beloved throughout Europe, and was venerated as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, as such being invoked against demoniac possession, and by women in childbirth, and by those who were fearful. And hers was one of the voices which encouraged Joan of Arc in her struggle against evil and injustice. In 908 her reputed relicks were stolen from Antioch, and brought to Europe, and finally enshrined in the Cathedral of Montefiascone. * At some late date her so-called Acts were written, but these constitute a symbolic narrative concerning the overcoming of evil by Christian simplicity and innocence, and therefore are not regarded as a purely factual account. According to these Acts, she was born at Antioch in Pisidia, her father being the heathen priest Aedesius, which same put her out to nurse with a Christian woman. From her she learnt Christ, whereupon her father would have none of her. And so she was forced to make her living as a shepherdess, and was seen by the Prefect Olybrius, who for her rare beauty desired her to wife, if she were a free woman, but to sin with, if she were a slave ; but she would have nothing to do with him. At his judgement-seat she was questioned by him thus : What is thy name and birth and religion? To whom she answered : Margaret is my name ; I am of noble birth ; and by religion I am a Christian. * Then said the Prefect : The first and second answers befit thee, but the third is a folly, for who can make a god out of one crucified? To whom the Virgin replied : Whence didst thou learn that the Lord Jesus was crucified? To which the Prefect answered : Out of the books of the Christians. And Margaret made answer : Is this thy wisdom? that when in the same books both the passion and glory of Christ are witnessed to, thou dost believe one and reject the other? Whereupon she was tried with all kinds of tortures ; and in the darkness of her prison it seemed to her that the devil came as a great dragon and swallowed her up, but could not stomach the cross which she carried, and therefore spewed her forth. And other spiritual trials and agonies came to her during her physical conflict; but in her patience she in such wise possessed her soul in Christ that many came through her to believe in him ; whereupon she went in triumph to him her Spouse by beheading, namely, in the reign and persecution of Diocletian, early in the fourth century.

Daily Posting: August 3/July 21

Before Jesus' second coming it will be a time of testing and testimony, oppression and opportunity, vengeance and victory.

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

Contemplation at God's word gives us a flowing fountain that fulfills our thirst.

Glory in His name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord. [Ps 105:3]

Daily Posting: August 4/July 22

Sermon by St. Gregory the Great
Hornily 25 on the Gospels

MARY MAGDALENE, a woman of the city, which was a sinner, washed out the stains of her sins with her tears, by her love of the Truth; and the Word of Truth is fulfilled which says, Her sins are forgiven, for she loved much. She who had previously been cold through sin was afterwards aflame with love. She would not leave the Lord's sepulchre even when the disciples had left. She was seeking him and could not find him. As she sought, she wept, and enkindled with the fire of his love, she was aflame with longing for him whom she believed had been taken away. Whence it happened that she alone saw him, as she alone had stayed behind to seek him: for the power of good works lies in perseverance.

The first time that she sought him she could in no wise find him: she persevered in seeking, and so it came about that she found him. And this happened, because longing increases when unsatisfied, and thus increased, can retain what it finds. For it is of him that the Church, the Bride in the Song of Solomon, says: By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth. We seek the Beloved on our bed, when, in the brief rest of this present life we pine with love for our Redeemer. We seek by night, because, although our mind is now watching for him, yet is our eye still in darkness.

But it remains for her who finds not her Beloved to rise and go about the city; that is, by thought and questioning to go through the Church of the elect: let her seek in the streets and in the broad ways; that is, let her look upon the passers by in the narrow and in the wide paths, to see whether there is any among them whose footprints she may follow: for there are some even in this present life whose virtuous deeds we may strive to follow.

But the watchmen that go about the city find us as we search: for the holy fathers who guard the bulwarks of the Church hasten to meet our good endeavours, that they may teach us either by word or writing. When we have passed from them but a little, we find him whom our soul loveth: for although by his humility our Redeemer became a man among men, yet by his Divinity was he above men.

Daily Posting: August 5/July 23

O GOD, who rewardest the souls of the faithful, who hast likewise made this day holy with the martyrdom of thy blessed Priest Apollinaris : grant, we pray thee ; that we thy servants, who here observe his solemn festival, may by his intercession obtain the pardon of thy mercy. 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. Apollinaris, August 5/July 23]

APOLLINARIS was the first to be Bishop of Ravenna, and Saint Peter Chrysologus, the most illustrious of his successors, in a sermon which hath come down to us, referred to him as a Martyr, but added that although he frequently shed his blood for Christ, his persecutors did not take away his life. However, he was venerated in the early days as one of the greatest of Martyrs, and it is therefore to be presumed that he suffered much and often for Christ. * The Book of his Acts, which is not considered entirely historical, saith that he came to Rome along with blessed Peter, and that the Apostle himself consecrated him as bishop, and sent him to Ravenna to preach the Gospel, where he converted many to the Christian Faith. For which the idolatrous priests caught him and gave him a sharp flogging. Whereafter a second riot was got up against him because he healed Boniface, a nobleman who had long been dumb, and delivered his daughter from an unclean spirit. On this occasion Apollinaris was flogged again, and made to walk barefoot over hot embers, and then expelled from the city. Whereupon he hid for a while with certain Christians, and afterwards went to Emilia, where he brought many to Christ. For which the ruler of that city also had him driven from place to place and country to country, until he was thus driven back to Ravenna, where he was denounced by the same idolatrous priests as before. * After which things Apollinaris fled away again, but was followed after, and caught and beaten, and left for dead by the roadside, where some Christians found him, and took him and cared for him, so that he lived seven days, exhorting them to stand firm in the Faith. And so he departed this life with the glorious splendour of martyrdom, and his body was buried hard by the wall of the city.

Daily Posting: August 6/July 24

If you know Christ as God's Son and your High priest, obey Him as your King, and seek to win others before He comes as Judge.

You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. [I Pet 3:15]

Daily Posting: August 7/July 25

JAMES the son of Zebedee, brother of John the Apostle, a Galilean, was one of the first Apostles to be called, and together with his brother he left his father and his nets, and followed the Lord; the two brothers were called Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder, by Jesus himself. He was one of the three Apostles whom the Saviour loved most, whom he wished to be witnesses of his Transfiguration, to be present at the raising to life of the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, and to be there when he withdrew to the mount of Olives to pray to the Father before he was taken by the Jews.

After the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, James preached his Divinity in Judaea and Samaria, and led many to the Christian faith. Soon after that he set out for Spain, where he converted many to Christ; among these were the seven who were later made bishops by blessed Peter and were the first to be sent into Spain.

Then James returned to Jerusalem, and to imbued Hermogenes the Magician, among others, with the true faith. Herod Agrippa, who had been raised to the kingship by the emperor Claudius, wishing to ingratiate himself with the Jews, condemned James to death for boldly confessing Jesus Christ to be God. When the man who had brought him to the tribunal saw the courage with which he faced martyrdom, he immediately declared that he also was a Christian.

As they were being hurried to the place of execution this man begged James to pardon him. James kissed him, and said: Peace be unto thee. They were both beheaded, James having healed a paralytic a little while beforehand. His body was later brought to Compostella, where it is honoured with great veneration, pilgrims flocking to it from all the corners of the earth to pay their devotion. The memorial of his birthday is celebrated to-day, which is the day of his translation, since it was at Easter time that he was the first of the Apostles to shed his blood at Jerusalem as a witness of Jesus Christ.

Daily Posting: August 8/July 26

The morning star succeeds to night,
The dawn soon follows, growing white
To herald in the sunrise bright
That floods the waking world with light.

Christ is the sun of righteousness,
The dawn, the Mother full of grace;
Bright Anne precedes her, like the star,
To drive the shades of law afar.

Lo, Anne; the very fruitful root,
The tree of healing, whence a shoot
To richest blossoming did spring.
And brought us Christ: to whom we sing,

All honour, laud, and glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born, to thee;
All glory, as is ever meet,
To Father and to Paraclete. Amen.

[Hymn at Lauds {Succedit nocti lucifer}, Sts. Joachim and Anne, July 26/August 8]

Daily Posting: August 9/July 27

Let us discipline our tongue to be the minister of the grace of the Spirit, expelling from the mouth all malignancy, and the practice of using disgraceful words. For it is in our power to make each one of our members an instrument of wickedness, or of righteousness. (St. John Chrysostom)

To get ready for His second coming we must walk as children of light. We must have no fellowship with sin We must witness against the sin of others by the holiness of our lives.

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. [Eph 5:11]

Daily Posting: August 10/July 28

Do not approach the words of the mysteries contained in the Divine Scriptures without prayer and beseeching God for help. But say: Lord grant me to perceive the power in them! Reckon prayer to he the key to the true understanding of Divine Scriptures. [St. Isaac the Syrian]

Daily Posting: August 11/July 29

Homily by St. Augustine the Bishop

Martha and Mary were sisters, not in the flesh only, but also in godliness. Together they clave unto the Lord. Together, with one heart, they served the Lord present in the flesh. Martha received him into her house, as strangers are wont to be received. But nonetheless, it was the handmaiden receiving her Lord, the sick receiving her Saviour, the creature receiving her Creator. And she received him to feed him in the flesh, and thereby she herself was fed unto life eternal. * For the Lord willed to take upon him the form of a servant ; and having taken the form of a servant to be fed by servants. This was his good pleasure, to offer himself as a subject for hospitality. He had flesh, wherein he was some-whiles an hungered and a-thirst, but know ye not how that when he was in the desert and was an hungered, Angels came and ministered unto him? Himself it was therefore, that gave unto them (of whom he was fain to be fed) the wherewithal. * Thus was that same Lord received as a guest, who came unto his own, and his own received him not, but as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God; adopting servants and making them children, redeeming prisoners and appointing them joint-heirs with himself. Perchance some of you will say : O how blessed were they who were worthy to receive Christ as a guest into their own home! But mourn not, neither murmur, because thou dost live in an age wherein thou canst no more see Christ in the flesh, He hath not put the honour of receiving him beyond thy reach. Inasmuch, saith he, as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Daily Posting: August 12/July 30

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 52:

When the mind is filled with divine knowledge and understanding through no agency of man or of angel, then may the mind believe that it receives the very kisses of the Word of God. [Origen]

There are divine gifts which God gives also to those who do not pray, such as the beginning of faith, and divine gifts which He gives only to those who pray, such as final perseverance. [St. Augustine]

If grace does not exist, how does He save the world? If there is no free will, how does He judge the world? [St. Augustine]

Daily Posting: August 13/July 31

We have put the light burden aside, that is, self-accusation; and we have loaded ourselves with a heavy burden, that is, self-justification. Humanity and fear of God are above all virtues. (St. John the Dwarf)

Daily Posting: August 14/1

Whatever thou bindest here on earth in punishment
Likewise remaineth firmly bound in paradise;
What thou dost loosen here by thine authority
Over the heavens ever hath its liberty:
When this world endeth, thou shalt judge eternally.

Glory, O Father, be to thee eternally;
Grace and dominion to the Son adorable;
Unto the Spirit, honour and authority;
Praise to the holy undivided Trinity,
Praise everlasting through the ages infinite. Amen.

[Matins Hymn [Quodcunique vinclis] Chains of St. Peter, August 14/1]

Daily Posting: August 15/2

We are God's servants, and He expects us to be faithfully doing our work when Jesus returns. We should constantly be prepared for His coming.

Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Daily Posting: August 19/6

CHRIST, then, the mighty God, the giver of life, and conqueror of death, the true Sun of justice, today transfigured on Thabor's height, did glorify the flesh which He had taken of the Virgin. O how happy the lot of the good! For such will be the resurrection of the blessed. As shines the sun in fulness of his light, so shone the countenance of God and Man, as the Gospel testifieth. The brightness, too, of His sacred robe gave testimony of His Godhead and of the glory to come. Wondrous the honour and sublime: wondrous exceedingly, O God, is the power of thine almightiness. [Adam of Saint Victor]

Six days after Christ's talk to His disciples about the coming of the kingdom of God He gave three of His disciples to see a glimpse of that kingdom in the Transfiguration.

This is My beloved Son, listen to Him.

Daily Posting: August 20/7

Holy Name of Jesus

Facing distress? Place God between you and the trial. Remember God's hand with the righteous, "the angel of His presence saved them" (Is 63:9). Say with the psalmist "Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth." (Ps 124:7-8)

Asking the Father in Christ's name includes a sense of spiritual wants and a desire of spiritual blessings. Asking in Christ's name includes an acknowledgment of our unworthiness, and an entire dependence upon Christ.

Whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.

Tell the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey. [Mt 21:5]

Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

Daily Posting: August 21/8

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 52:

God is seen by those who are enabled to see Him, when they have the eyes of their soul opened. For all have eyes, but in some they are covered and do not see the light of the sun. [St. Theophilus of Antioch]

It was impossible for man to come to know God's ways by his own efforts. But God did not leave man to err in search of the light of wisdom, wandering through inescapable darkness with nothing to show for his labor. At last He opened his eyes, and made the investigation of the truth His own gift, so that He might show the nothingness of human wisdom, and point out to man, who was wandering in error, the way of obtaining immortality. [Lactantius]

Daily Posting: August 22/9

Do not afflict yourself with cares about the necessary support of life for your life is more precious than being burdened with temporary things.

Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.

+++++++++++

O my Hope, pour into my heart the libation of hope in Thee! O Jesus Christ, the Resurrection and the Light of all the worlds, place upon my soul's head the crown of the knowledge of Thee; open quickly before me the door of mercies; and cause the rays of Thy grace to shine out from within my heart. [St. Isaac the Syrian]

Daily Posting: August 23/10

Sermon by St. Leo the Great
Sermon 86
On the Birthday of St. Laurence

WHEN the power of the heathen was raging against Christ's chosen members, and was especially seeking out those in priestly orders, the wicked persecutor bore down on the Levite Laurence, who was preeminent in distributing the Church's substance, as well as in ministering the sacraments; the persecutor promised himself a two-fold booty from one man, for if he could make him hand over the holy funds, he would also make him an apostate from the true religion.

THIS man, then, was furnished with a double motive, greed for money, and hatred of the truth: avarice, for he would seize the treasure, wickedness, for he would rob Christ. He orders the spotless minister of the sanctuary to bring him the Church's wealth, which he so greedily desires. The most chaste Levite, to show him where that treasure lay, brought him a great crowd of the holy poor, on whose food and clothing he had invested those resources so that they could never be lost; for they were all the more safe, for the holy way in which they had been spent.

THUS frustrated, the robber rages, and seething with hatred for a religion which had appointed such use for wealth, he tries to steal a higher treasure from him in whose hands he found no money; he attempts to rob him of that wealth which made him rich in holiness. He orders Laurence to renounce Christ, and prepares fearful tortures to overcome the Levite's most steadfast strength of soul; when the first tortures are of no avail worse ones follow. He orders his lacerated limbs, cut by many stripes, to be roasted over a fire; so that the torture should be more severe and the suffering prolonged, his body was to be turned from side to side on the gridiron, the bars of which were themselves burning hot by reason of the slow fire beneath.

O RAGING cruelty, gaining nothing, obtaining nothing! That which can die is withdrawn from thy tortures, and Laurence goes forth to heaven, while thou failest with thy flames. The love of Christ could not be overcome by flames. The fire which licked around him was slower than that which burned within. Thou didst rage, O persecutor of a martyr; thou didst rage, and by increasing his tortures thou didst help him to his palm. For what could thy imagination find that was not conducive to the victor's glory, when the very instruments of torture turned to the honour of his triumph? Let us rejoice, therefore, with spiritual joy, beloved brethren, and in the most happy end of this illustrious man let us glory in the Lord, who is wonderful in his Saints, in whom he hath given us both help and example. He hath thus made his glory to shine throughout the world, that from the rising up of the sun unto the going down of the same, amidst the shining brightness of the Levitical lights, as Jerusalem is made glorious by Stephen, so Rome is made illustrious by Laurence.

Daily Posting: August 24/11

Where Are Our Monks?

p> From a most moving address given in 1977 by Dom Gerard, then prior of the Monastery of Sainte-Madeleine-a-Bedoin. Do read it all here, and then ask, where are our monks? Here are some excerpts: "A religion which is not contemplative is unworthy of God. So because he interests himself in God above all, the monk not only points to God, not only testifies to Him, he bear witness to the excellence of God. The God whom the majority of men forget - it is He whom the monk makes the centre of his life. The only thing that interests him, the only interesting thing in the world for him, is God. A monk is thus simply someone who has been ravished by the thought - by more than the thought of God; the monk has been caught up by the very sweetness of God, by the goodness of God, by the beauty of God. So he reaches out to seize hold immediately, in this present life, of what others lose sight of and end by encountering, sometimes too late, at the moment of death, on the threshold of eternity...." (The monastic institution) reminded men that there is another world, the world of God. The sacred penetrated human institutions. It shaped the piety of Christians, because our West, however sick it is, however decadent because unfaithful to its vocation, has nevertheless received a seal, an impression that has marked it forever: it was the first monks sent out by the Benedictine Pope St. Gregory the Great who completed the evangelisation of Europe. He sent them to England, to the Friesians in Germany, to Spain and as far as Scandinavia. St. Maurus, the first disciple of our Father St. Benedict, had already planted the Benedictine monastic life among the Gauls. These missionary monks were sent not at first to preach, because at the beginning that was impossible, but to live their monastic life among the pagans. They founded monasteries, they lived the Rule of St. Benedict, they taught men how to work. It is good when a man works well, when he does a beautiful piece of work. They taught men to read in a beautiful book which the pagans did not know, the book of Holy Scripture. And, above all they taught them how to pray, thanks to the liturgical river which flows throughout the year and which is the best school of prayer. "In this way, Western Christianity was moulded by the first Benedictine monks. And something of it remains, something not always found on other continents where Anglo-Saxon Protestantism has placed its mark, where temporal success is considered a blessing from God, where luck evidently has its place. With us, it is not the same pattern. In our West, sick as it is (it is perhaps stricken to death), despite our degradation, our surrenders, there is a sense of God, a spiritual quest. Why? Because it is in our blood. It was instilled into us in our cradle. Our civilisation was signed by the Benedictines in the early centuries. They laid stress on the gratuitousness of divine service on disinterested love. And I believe it is this which will save the world..."

Daily Posting: August 25/12

Parents have to discipline their children. They shall be responsible for such an omission! "If you do not warn the wicked man to renounce his ways, then he shall die for his sin, but I will hold you responsible for his death (Ez 33:3)". Correction is therefore the duty of parents. Admonishment, given with peace, calm and detachment, increases the sense of responsibility on the part of the children who will always remember it.

Daily Posting: August 26/13

Parents, follow Jesus' steps in teaching your children. He spoke a language that is alive, filled with images, concrete, brief and precise. The so-called long "sermons" are not accepted by our young people. A few words are enough, offered by a true pure and selfless love. Jesus also used dialogue, alternating questions and answers. The dialogue between you and your children must always be open, calm and constructive, as between friends.

Daily Posting: August 27/14

St. Mary humbly submitted to the Lord because she had faith that He keep His promise. Her decision would bring her sorrow and suffering, but she willingly yielded to it.

Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.

Daily Posting: August 28/15

Mary is taken up into heaven, the company of the Angels is joyful. Yea, the Angels rejoice and glorify the Lord.

From a Sermon by St. John of Damascus

THIS day the Ark of the living God even the holy and living Ark, wherein once its own Maker had been held, is borne to its resting place in that Temple of the Lord which is not made with hands. Her ancestor David leapeth before it. And in company with him the Angels dance, the Archangels sing aloud, the Virtues ascribe glory, the Principalities shout for joy, the Powers make merry, the Dominions rejoice, the Thrones keep holiday, the Cherubim utter praise, and the Seraphim proclaim its glory. This day the Eden of the new Adam receiveth her who was the living garden of delight, wherein the condemnation was annulled, wherein the Tree of Life was planted, wherein our nakedness was covered.

This day the spotless Virgin, who had been defiled by no earthly lust, but rather was enobled by heavenly desires, died only to live without returning to dust. For being herself a living heaven, she took her place today among the heavenly mansions. From her the true Life had flowed for all men, and how should she taste of death? But she yielded obedience to the law established by him to whom she had given birth, and, as the daughter of the old Adam, underwent the old sentence, which even her Son, who is the very Life itself, had not refused. But, as the Mother of the living God, she was worthily taken by him unto himself.

Eve, who had said Yea to the proposals of the serpent, was condemned to the pains of travail and the punishment of death, and found her place in the shades of the Netherworld. But this truly blessed being had inclined her ears to the Word of God. Her womb had been filled by the action of the Holy Ghost. As soon as she heard the salutation of the Archangel, she conceive. And the Son of God thus was made Man in her womb, without union or delectation, but solely by the Spirit. And she brought forth her Offspring without the pangs of travail. So was she altogether consecrate unto service of God. How was death ever to feed upon such an one as this? how was the grave ever to eat her up? how was corruption to break into that body into which Life had been welcomed? For her there was a straight, smooth, and easy way to heaven. For if Christ, who is the Life and the Truth, hath said : Where I am, there shall also my servant be : how much more shall not rather his Mother be with him?

Daily Posting: August 29/16

John the Baptist was from a religious home, filled with the Holy Spirit from His mother's womb, simple in his clothes, denied himself and preached the coming of the kingdom.

There is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist.

When having difficulty or in trouble pray with David in confidence that God will save you out of your present troubles for He saves the upright in heart, as far as is good for them.

My defense is of God, who saves the upright in heart. [Ps 7:10]

The key to Divine gifts is given to the heart by love of neighbor, and, in proportion to the heart's freedom from the bonds of the flesh, the door of knowledge begins to open before it. [St. Isaac the Syrian]

Daily Posting: August 30/17

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 53:

Our eyes cannot frequently look upon . . . the sun. But when we look upon its splendor or its rays pouring in, perhaps, through windows or some small openings to admit the light, we can reflect how great is the supply and source of the light of the body. In the same way, the works of divine providence and the plan of this whole world are a sort of rays, as it were, of the nature of God. [Origen]

Many have been converted to Christianity as if against their will, some sort of spirit having suddenly transformed their minds from a hatred of the doctrine to a readiness to die in its defense. [Origen]

Daily Posting: August 31/18

O LORD Jesus Christ, who in the Finding of the Cross didst suffer blessed Helena to enrich thy Church with a treasure most precious : grant us the help of her prayers ; that by the ransom paid upon the Tree of life, we may attain unto life eternal. Who with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, livest and reignest God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, St.Helena, August 31/18]

From a Sermon by St. Ambrose the Bishop

HELENA came on a pilgrimage to the holy places. For the Holy Ghost had inspired her to seek the Wood of the Cross. Wherefore she came to Golgotha ; and there she spake within herself on this wise : Behold the battlefield! Where is the sign of victory? I seek the Standard of Salvation and I find it not. Am I, saith she, upon a throne, and the Lord's Cross in the dust? Am I in kingly halls, and Christ's triumph in ruins? There it must needs be lying hid, and therefore in this place there lieth hid the palm of life eternal. Why should I think myself redeemed if the means of redemption itself is unseen? I see what thou hast done, O Satan, to hide the sword wherewith thou hast been slain. But Isaac digged again the wells of water which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them, after the death of Abraham ; and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them. And Isaac's servants digged in the valley and found there a well of living water. Therefore let the ruins be cleared away, that the Staff of Life may be seen. Let the sword wherewith the true Goliath's head hath been cut off be drawn from its sheath. Let the earth be opened that salvation may flash forth. Hast thou not hid the Tree, O Satan, merely to be conquered once again?

Mary conquered thee! even Mary who brought forth the Victor! Mary who, remaining always Virgin, brought forth him who was to conquer thee by his crucifixion, and crush thee by his death! And thou shalt be conquered this day also, to the end that a woman may detect thy tricks. Mary in her holiness bore the Lord, I will search out his Cross! She carried him when he was born ; I will carry him now that he is risen from the dead! She caused God to be seen among men ; I will raise up his Standard from these ruins for the healing of sinners. Whereupon Helena openeth the ground; she putteth away the dust ; she findeth lying heaped together the three crosses which the enemy had hidden and the ruin had covered. But the triumph of Christ cannot be obscured. As a mere woman she is at a loss, but the Holy Ghost inspireth her to a search that can leave no doubt.

And then she seeketh for the nails wherewith the Lord had been crucified, and she findeth them. With one nail she commandeth to make a horse's bit, another she hath worked up into a crown ; of the one she maketh an ornament, of the other an object for godliness. Mary was visited to set Eve free. Helena was visited to redeem Emperors. She sendeth unto her son Constantine the crown set with gems, wherewith she (who was precious as a gem in God's sight) had joined the more precious iron of the nails, surmounted by the Sign of the Cross, whereof was God's redemption of man. She sendeth the bit also. Constantine used them both ; and he hath bequeathed his Faith unto the Monarchs that have followed him. As saith the Greek version of Zechariah in Chapter 14, verse 20 : In that day what is upon the horse's bit shall be holy unto the Lord Almighty : so did it now come to pass. Thus, in that day of Helena's time, the beginning of the believing Emperors was set forth by the horses' bit which was holy ; and from him began the time of believing, whereby persecution ended and godliness took its place. Wisely hath Helena done in setting the Cross above kings' heads, that on kings, Christ's Cross may be adored. For to bow down to the holy sign of Redemption is not a novelty but an act of godliness. God therefore is the nail of the Roman Empire which ruleth the whole globe, and clotheth the brows of princes, that they who once were persecutors may now be preachers.

Along with St. Helena we also remember today St. Fiacre.

SEPTEMBER 2016
DAYNCOCF/AOBSERVANCE
THU119
FRI220F/A
SAT321
SUN422PENTECOST XI
MON 523F/A*Vigil
TUE624St. Bartholomew, Apostle, II
WED725F/A
THU826St. Zacchaeus the Publican, B, IV
FRI927F/A
SAT1028St. Augustine, BCD, III; St. Moses the Ethiopian, AB & M, IV
SUN1129PENTECOST XII; Beheading of St. John Baptist, II
MON1230
TUE1331St. Aidan of Lindisfarne, BC, III
WED141F/ASt. Giles, AB, III
THU152
FRI163F/ASt. Edward, M, III
SAT174
SUN185PENTECOST XIII
MON196
TUE207
WED218NATIVITY OF BVM, I
THU229
FRI 2310F/A
SAT2411Sts. Protus and Hyacinth, MM, IV
SUN2512PENTECOST XIV
MON2613
TUE2714Holy Cross, I
WED2815F/AEmber Day
THU2916St. Ninian, BC, III
FRI3017F/AEmber Day; St. Lambert, BM, IV


Daily Posting: September 1/August 19

Fed up with God Lite?

Had it with watered-down religion?

Tired of insipid and spineless Christianity?

Curious about the real thing?

Many years ago the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard attacked the Christianity of his age and culture as having lost all its original vigor and taste, comparing it to weak and diluted tea. Christianity, he said, had become "about as genuine as tea made from a bit of paper which once lay in a drawer next to another bit of paper which had once been used to wrap up a few dried tea leaves from which tea had already been made three times." Having lost its original savor and tang, Christianity had become insipid and dull.

Original Christianity -- that of the Gospels and of the early Church -- was an intoxicating and invigorating drink. It turned weak and cowardly followers of Christ into fiery apostles and martyrs, unafraid to challenge and confront the might of Caesar's empire, secure in the knowledge that no worldly power -- not even death itself -- could vanquish them. Theirs was a Christianity unafraid to point out Caesar's failings and the foolish wisdom of secular ways. No weak and diluted tea, their Christianity was a hearty and invigorating brew that enabled them to bring an empire to its knees and acknowledge Christ as King and Lord and Saviour.

Over the centuries that original religion of Christ has been weakened and drained of its energizing power. Diluted by countless tinkerings -- whether these be the addition to it of novel and alien elements (as in Roman Catholicism) or the abandonment of supposedly erroneous elements (as in Protestantism) -- Christianity has become a lukewarm and insipid religion far removed from that rousing and intoxicating faith that set the original Christians ablaze with courage and love to challenge the world for Christ. In much of the western world, at the dawn of the third millennium, we often seem to be living in the twilight of Christianity.

But it would be more accurate to call it the twilight not of Christianity but of Christendom -- that hybrid mix of religion, culture, sociology and custom that is symbolized in North America by vast and empty churches. These often imposing structures, representing prime real estate and marked by exquisite architectural and artistic detail, were built decades ago at great sacrifice by immigrants motivated by religion, but seeking also to provide some ethnic bonding and solidarity with the world and culture they had left behind. In subsequent decades, not only has the ethnic bond dissolved as generations have blended into the new world society, but even the religious roots and beliefs have withered and died. One has only to visit some of the great cities of Canada -- Montreal, Quebec, Toronto -- to see these exquisite monuments to a dying or dead Christianity. Many of these churches are still open (though many too have had to close) but the teeming numbers and families that built them and filled them with worship and praise every Sunday are sadly diminished in numbers.

Where are the ancient heroes of the faith? Where are those men and women, intoxicated with the love of God and the truths of Christianity, ready to challenge and accuse worldly power and values? Who will stand up to the Caesars of our age? Who will challenge the powers-that-be in the name of Christ? Where are the saints now? Where are the martyrs? How many contemporary Christians are ready to spill their blood for Christ? How many are even willing just to go to church on Sunday for Christ? Where is the savour and tang of Christianity's original brew to be found?

Many in the west have assumed there is no answer to that question -- that the age of faith and of martyrs and saints is forever lost to us. And yet these same people would be surprised to learn that the greatest period of Christian martyrs (in terms of numbers alone) has been the twentieth century. Under atheistic and totalitarian regimes -- in Germany, China, Russia, to name three -- more Christians were martyred for their faith in Christ that in all the previous centuries combined. In Russia alone, in the name of atheistic Communism, untold thousands of Orthodox Christians refused to bow to the new Caesar and were tortured and slain for their allegiance to Christ.

And there lies the secret -- and the answer to our earlier question: where is the power and strength of original Christianity to be found? That original Christianity, tried and tested by centuries of struggle and martyrdom, is to be found today in Orthodox Christianity -- in the ancient, yet ever new, Orthodox Church. With its doctrine pure and preserved intact, its worship holy and timeless, Orthodox Christianity has flowing within it the original vigor and sap of its first planting by Christ through his apostles. Like a great and venerable tree, the Orthodox Church stands flourishing and alive, having weathered centuries of attack and attempts to root her up and cut her down and render her lifeless. Neither centuries of Moslem persecution nor nearly a century of atheistic totalitarian government has diminished her vitality and strength, for she knows first hand that the blood of her martyrs only makes her stronger. She has, as Christ had assured her, prevailed against her enemies. For in her Christ is alive and triumphant over all the forces of death and darkness and oppression. It is he who assures his people that he has trampled down death and that they therefore need have no fear of what death-dealing tyrants and oppressors threaten to do.

It is this kind of strength that enabled millions to make their way, under the threat of death, to hidden rooms and forest groves and caves to celebrate in secret the liturgy, to worship and feed on Christ himself in the holy Eucharist -- the true and only food for martyrs and the medicine of immortality. The powers-that-be might be able to close the buildings, but the Orthodox faithful, at great peril, found ways to come together to be the Church and to worship Christ. What a sad and pathetic contrast to the empty churches of the west, empty because the faith that would fill them is no more. In lands where freedom of worship is available and unquestioned, the churches slowly empty and deteriorate. In Russia where churches were closed by government fiat and all worship prohibited, Orthodox Christians risked their very lives to gather to worship in secret, and if discovered, accepted the sentence of death from a godless authority, knowing that they live and serve under a higher authority -- God himself.

Is this not that same intoxicating and invigorating faith that challenged the Caesars of old?

Daily Posting: September 2/August 20

"As long as the dark foundation of our nature, grim in its all-encompassing egoism, mad in its drive to make that egoism into reality, to devour everything and to define everything by itself, as long as that foundation is visible, as long as this truly original sin exists within us, we have no sensible reason to be in this world and there is no logical answer to our existence. Imagine a group of people who are all blind, deaf and slightly demented and suddenly someone in the crowd asks, "What are we to do?"... The only possible answer is "Look for a cure." Until you are cured, there is nothing you can do. And since you don't believe you are sick, there can be no cure.

"But if the faith communicated by the Church to Christian humanity is a living faith, and if the grace of the sacraments is an effectual grace, the resultant union of the divine and the human cannot be limited to the special domain of religion, but must extend to all Man's common relationships and must regenerate and transform his social and political life." --Vladimir Soloviev, 1853-1900), a Russian philosopher, theologian and poet who played a significant role in the development of Russian philosophy and poetry at the end of the 19th century. Soloviev became a friend and confidant of Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881). It is widely held that Soloviev was one of the sources for Dostoyevsky's characters Alyosha Karamazov and Ivan Karamazov in The Brothers Karamazov. In opposition to his friend, Soloviev was sympathetic to the Roman Catholic Church. He favored the healing of the schism (ecumenism, sobornost) between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. He influenced the religious philosophy of Nicolas Berdyaev, Sergey Bulgakov, Pavel Florensky and Nikolai Lossky. The Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar explored his work as one example of seven lay styles, which reveal the glory of God's revelation, in volume III of The Glory of the Lord (pp. 279-352).

Daily Posting: September 3/August 21

Sit in your cell as in paradise. Put the whole world behind you and forget it. Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman watching for fish. The path you must follow is in the Psalms -- never leave it.

Take every opportunity you can to sing the Psalms in your heart and to understand them with your mind. And if your mind wanders as you read, do not give up; hurry back and apply your mind to the words once more. Realize above all that you are in God's presence, and stand there with the attitude of one who stands before the emperor. Empty yourself completely and sit waiting, content with the grace of God, like the chick who tastes nothing and eats nothing but what his mother brings him. [Quotes of St. Romuald, Born: 951 AD, Ravenna, Italy -- Died: June 19, 1027, Fabriano, Italy]

Daily Posting: September 4/August 22

In Christianity I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13). There are some things which seem difficult in Christianity such: the cross, the narrow gate, and in spite of that the Christians carried the cross and entered the narrow gate chanting the words of the apostle "And His commandments are not burdensome." (1 Jn 5:3). The difficult commandment in Christianity bears in itself the power to carry it out. It is difficult to those who do not live in Grace and who did not take part in the Holy Spirit. (Pope Shenouda III)

Daily Posting: September 5/August 23

A strange question that Jesus asked to one who was ill for 38 years and unable to walk. Some indeed would not be made whole because their sores serve them to beg by. In spiritual cases, some people are not willing to be made whole. Instead they blame others for misery.

When He avenges blood, He remembers them; He does not forget the cry of the humble. [Ps 9:12]

Daily Posting: September 6/August 24

BARTHOLOMEW is that Apostle who is also called Nathaniel. For Nathaniel is his true name, whereas Bartholomew is his patronymic, derived from Bar-Tolomai, that is, Son-of-Tolomai. The Gospel according to John hath no mention of any Apostle by the name of Bartholomew, but speaketh of Nathaniel as being led to Christ by Philip; whereas the other Gospels speak of Bartholomew and his fellow Philip, but make no mention of Nathaniel. Hence he was that Galilean of whom John saith : Philip findeth Nathaniel, and saith unto him, we have found him of whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathaniel made answer : Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? To whom Philip replied : Come and see. And when Jesus saw Nathaniel coming unto him, he said : Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile Whereupon Nathaniel asked Whence knowest thou me. To whom, in answer, Jesus made mention of something whereof only Nathaniel had knowledge, most likely a secret struggle as to his vocation saying : Before Philip called thee when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Whereupon this man whose goodness Jesus commended as a true Israelite, and a man without guile, made his allegiance, saying Rabbi, thou art the Son of God! thou art the King of Israel!

THERE are no historical records of the Apostle Bartholomew except in the Scripture. But the popular tradition concerning him is as followeth. In the division of the world among the Apostles it fell to his lot to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the region which the ancients styled Hither India, which was a name applied to parts of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia, and the lands adjoining. And he went thither, and preached the coming of the Lord Jesus, taking with him, for their instruction, the Gospel according to Matthew. When he had turned many in that region to Jesus Christ and had endured many toils and woes, he came into the Greater Armenia. According to the unanimous tradition of the later historians of Armenia, that country was the place of his passion and death. For it is said that he there brought to the Christian Faith Polymius the King, and his wife, and likewise the inhabitants of twelve cities. This provoked a great hatred against him among the priests of that nation, who so stirred up Astyages the brother of King Polymius, and inflamed him against the Apostle, that he savagely ordered Bartholomew to be flayed alive and beheaded ; under the which martyrdom he gave up his soul to God.

HIS body was buried at the town of Albanopolis in the Greater Armenia, where he had suffered. His relicks are reputed to have been carried hither and thither in after times, for example : to the island of Lipari; and then to Benevento ; and lastly, the Emperor Otho III brought some of them to Rome, where they were laid in the church dedicated to God in his name on the inland in the Tiber. And his feast is kept on August 24th, the traditional date of the translation of these last-named relicks. He is revered as the Apostle of the Armenians, and is invoked as the Patron of hospitals, but most of all as one who for his goodness merited praise from the Lord. The love that Christ had for this Israelite without guile is shewn by the Evangelist John, who recordeth that Nathaniel was with Peter, Thomas, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples, on the shores of the Tiberian Sea, when after the resurrection their Master came to comfort them, and fed them with the food with his own hands, he had prepared and cooked for them.

Daily Posting: September 7/August 25

God takes care of His servants, His priests. He clothes them with righteousness that gives them honor. Care must be taken that we also double honor them as St. Paul requests from us in I Tim 5:17 -- "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine."

Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your saints shout for joy.

The disciples were astonished to hear that it should be hard for rich people to go to heaven. Christ reconciled them to it, by referring it to the almighty power of God to help even rich people over the difficulties that lie in the way of their salvation.

With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.

Daily Posting: September 8/August 26
Zacchaeus the Publican
[Luke 19:1-10 -- King James Version (KJV)]

1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. -- 2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. -- 3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. -- 4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. -- 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. -- 6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. -- 7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. -- 8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. -- 9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. -- 10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Daily Posting: September 9/August 27

The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation
A review of a forthcoming book (March 4, 2017) by Rod Dreher.

In a radical new vision for the future of Christianity, NYT bestselling author and conservative columnist Rod Dreher calls on American Christians to prepare for the coming Dark Age by embracing an ancient Christian way of life.

The light of the Christian faith is flickering out all over the West, and only the willfully blind refuse to see it. From the outside, American churches are beset by challenges to religious liberty in a rapidly secularizing culture. From the inside, they are being hollowed out by the departure of young people and a watered-down pseudo-spirituality. Political solutions have failed, as the triumph of gay marriage and the self-destruction of the Republican Party indicate, and the future of religious freedom has never been in greater doubt. The center is not holding. The West, cut off from its Christian roots, is falling into a new Dark Age.

The bad news is that the roots of religious decline run deeper than most Americans realize. The good news is that the blueprint for a time-tested Christian response to this decline is older still. In The Benedict Option, Dreher calls on traditional Christians to learn from the example of St. Benedict of Nursia, a sixth-century monk who turned from the chaos and decadence of the collapsing Roman Empire, and found a new way to live out the faith in community. For five difficult centuries, Benedict's monks kept the faith alive through the Dark Ages, and prepared the way for the rebirth of civilization. What do ordinary 21st century Christians -- Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox -- have to learn from the teaching and example of this great spiritual father? That they must read the signs of the times, abandon hope for a political solution to our civilization's problems, and turn their attention to creating resilient spiritual centers that can survive the coming storm. Whatever their Christian tradition, they must draw on the secrets of Benedictine wisdom to build up the local church, create countercultural schools based on the classical tradition, rebuild family life, thicken communal bonds, and develop survival strategies for doctors, teachers, and others on the front lines of persecution.

Now is a time of testing, when believers will learn the difference between shallow optimism and Christian hope. However dark the shadow falling over the West, the light of Christianity need not flicker out. It will not be easy, but Christians who are brave enough to face the religious decline, reject trendy solutions, and return to ancient traditions will find the strength not only to survive, but to thrive joyfully in the post-Christian West. The Benedict Option shows believers how to build the resistance and resilience to face a hostile modern world with the confidence and fervor of the early church. Christians face a time of choosing, with the fate of Christianity in Western civilization hanging in the balance. In this powerful challenge to the complacency of contemporary Christianity, Dreher shows why those in all churches who fail to take the Benedict Option aren't going to make it.

Daily Posting: September 10/August 28

AUGUSTINE was born at Tagaste in Africa of honourable parents. As a boy he far surpassed his fellows in the teachableness of his disposition, and quickly outran them all in his learning. In his youth, while at Carthage, he fell into the Manichaean heresy. He later went to Rome, and from thence to Milan, to teach rhetoric. There he frequently listened to Bishop Ambrose, and through him was fired with zeal for the Catholic Faith. He was baptized by Ambrose at the age of thirty-three. Returning to Africa, he united with his religion sanctity of life, and was ordained priest by Valerius, Bishop of Hippo, a man of marked holiness. At that time he founded a religious community, enjoying with his monks their common life and worship, and training them carefully in the discipline of the Apostolic life and doctrine.

Since the Manichsean heresy continued to flourish, he began to attack it more eagerly, and confounded the heresiarch Fortunatus. Valerius, moved by Augustine's service to the faith, appointed him his assistant in the episcopal office. No man was more humble, more temperate than he. His bed and raiment were modest, his food that of the common people, and he ever seasoned it with holy reading or discussion. Such was his benevolence to the poor that when he had no other means he would break the sacred vessels to support their want. He avoided the company and acquaintance of women, among them even the daughters of his brother and sister. For he said that although women who were relatives were not open to suspicion, yet those who visited them might arouse suspicion.

He never ceased to preach the Word of God unless afflicted with grievous illness. He attacked the heretics unceasingly, both in person and in his writings. Nowhere did he suffer them to settle, and for the most part he freed Africa from the Manichees, Donatists, Pelagians and other heretics. He composed so many works of piety, subtlety and eloquence that he greatly enlightened Christian doctrine. It was Augustine who was followed by those men who were later to hand on theological teaching by method and disputation. While the Vandals were ravaging Africa by war and besieging Hippo for three months, Augustine fell ill of a fever.

When Augustine knew that his departure from this life was at hand, he caused the Penitential Psalms to be placed before him, and read them with streaming tears. He was wont to say that no man, even if he were not conscious of any sin, ought to go forth from this life without penitence. And so, with senses unimpaired, wrapt in prayer, with his brethren whom he had exhorted to charity standing by, he went forth on his way to heaven. He lived seventy-six years, thirty-six as bishop. His body was first brought to Sardinia, and later bought by Luitprand, King of the Lombards, and translated to Pavia, where it was buried with honour.

Daily Posting: September 11/August 29

From the Book by St. Ambrose, Bishop, On Virgins

BECAUSE the story of blessed John Baptist is not to be passed over in haste, we must needs observe who he was, and by whom and for what reason, in what way and at what time, he was slain. The righteous was slain by adulterers, and the death sentence is passed by the guilty. Moreover, the death of the Prophet is a dancing girl's reward. Finally (a thing which would even horrify all the barbarians) the order to put the atrocity into effect goes forth during feasting and merri-making. Moreover, the servants of this shameful deed went to and fro from the banquet to the prison. What a load of wickedness does this single crime carry!

As the messenger is seen hurrying from the banquet to the prison, who would not think that he had been ordered to release the prisoner? Who, I say, on hearing that it was Herod's birthday, that it was a great feast, that he had let the dancing girl choose whatever she wanted, would not conclude that the messenger was sent to set John free? What has cruelty to do with feasting? What has death to do with pleasure?

The prophet is hurried to his doom while the feast is in progress, by order of the reveller from whom he has not sought release: he is slain by the sword, his head is brought in on a dish. Cruelty needs this portion to feed the ferocity that is not satisfied by the banquet. Behold, O cruel king, a spectacle worthy of thy banquet. Stretch forth thy hand, lest any savagery be wanting; that streams of holy blood may flow between thy fingers.

Since thy hunger could not be satisfied by feasting, since the flagons could not quench the thirst of thy monstrous cruelty, drink the blood still flowing from the gushing veins of the severed head. Look at the eyes, the witnesses, even in death, of thy crime. Those eyes are closed, not so much by reason of death, as in horror of thine indulgence. That bloodless, golden mouth, whose judgments thou couldest not bear, has ceased to speak, yet still it makes thee fear.

Daily Posting: September 12/August 30

Anastasia was born to Roman Christian parents who raised her well and taught her the Christian manners. When she grew up she joined one of the convents in Rome. She grew in asceticism and virtues. One day she saw the soldiers of Darius torturing some Christians. She shouted at them for their hard-heart. Anastasia was captured and she confessed her faith being Christian. She was severely tortured. Then she was crucified and a fire lighted under her. When she did not give up her faith she was beheaded.

Those who believe in Christ do not abide in which they were by nature; they are light in that darkness which abides forever.

I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.

Daily Posting: September 13/August 31

From the Ecclesiastical History by St. Venerable Bede the Priest

OSWALD, King of the Northumbrians, had been baptized when he was in banishment amongst the Scots. Afterwards, when he was set on the throne, he sent to the elders of that nation for a Catholic bishop. And they sent him a man called Aidan, a monk of great meekness and godliness, from the Monastery of Saint Columba, in the island of Iona. To him Oswald gave a Bishop's See in the Island of Lindisfarne. Now Aidan could not speak English well, and when he was preaching the Gospel, there could often be seen the lovely spectacle of the King himself interpreting the heavenly word to his own officers and servants. * Aidan had no thought of seeking or loving anything in this world. He went about everywhere on foot. And when he met any, if they were heathens, he entreated them to almsgiving and good works. It was from his example that the monks and nuns of that time took the custom of eating nothing until after three o'clock in the afternoon, upon all Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year except during the fifty days of Eastertide. * In this man are many things which I recommend for the imitation of my readers. He was a profound lover of peace and charity, of self-control, and of lowliness ; his soul had risen above anger and avarice ; he looked down upon pride and vainglory. He was very diligent in working and in teaching ; firm as became a priest when it was his duty to rebuke the proud and mighty ; very tender in comforting the sick and relieving the poor ; in short, I may say that it was his use to leave nothing undone which he knew from the Evangelists, or the Apostles, or the Prophets, that he ought to do. He died [in 651, surviving Saint Oswald by only eleven days,] in the seventeenth year of his episcopate, and was buried in the Island of Lindisfarne on the right hand of the altar, as an honour due to such a bishop. He was never formally canonized, but hath the right of an immemorial cultus in the English province of the Church.

Daily Posting: September 14/1

THE holy Abbot Giles, who went to God in the eighth century, was one of the best beloved Saints of the middle ages, and was much invoked as the Patron of cripples, beggars, and blacksmiths ; and therefore he came to be numbered among the so-called Fourteen Holy Helpers, that is, Saints whose prayers and examples are helpful to those in need. Very little is certainly known of blessed Giles, for no trustworthy records as to the details of his holy life are any longer to be found. But in the tenth century was compiled an account of what was then believed of him, wherein we are told that he was born to wealth and its luxuries, and was a vigorous youth, and well-favoured. And that when he had gained fame for giving his clothes to a beggar, he began more and more to fear the temptations of luxury and popularity. For which reason he disposed of his estate, and fled to a cave, in the solitude of the woods near the mouth of the Rhone River, so that separated from the admiration of men, he might wrestle with himself, and gain spiritual vigour, and the favour of God. And there in his loneliness he made a pet of a little hind, on whose milk he largely depended for sustenance. Now it happened one day that certain huntsmen, with their dogs, saw the timid little beast, and pursued her till she disappeared in some thick bushes, whereupon the dogs refused to give further chase. Which same happened also on the second day, and again on the third. But this last time the huntsmen themselves searched the bushes, and saw behind them an entrance to a cave, wherein at a venture they shot an arrow. And when they drew near thereto, they saw Giles sitting, pierced with the shaft, but the hind safe, nestling between his knees. Whereupon they were amazed, and desired to carry Giles away, to be nursed. But he entreated them to leave him alone with God, and with his little hind. And after they had gone, he prayed God not to give him back his full physical vigour, but to leave him always an infirmity of the flesh, wherefrom to gain strength of spirit. And his fame grew, and many came to him to be taught the lore of godliness. And under his tutelage they built there an habitation, and they did all things with their own hands. Thus was founded both a monastery and a town, later called Saint-Giles. And this holy man ruled as Abbot thereof till he went home to heaven.

Daily Posting: September 15/2

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, pages 53--54:

Grace cannot be unjust. Nor can justice be cruel. [St. Augustine]

Not all who have sight are illuminated by Christ in equal measure. Each has illumination in proportion as he has capacity to receive the power of the light. The eyes of our body do not receive the light of the sun in equal measures, but the higher the levels to which one climbs, the more lofty the viewpoint from which one watches the vista of the sunrise, and the larger is one's sense of the power of the sun's light and heat. So it is also with our spirit: the higher and the further it goes in its approach to Christ, the more nearly it exposes itself to the glory of His light, the more finely and splendidly is it illuminated by His radiance. [Origen]

Daily Posting: September 16/3

We are grateful, O Lord, for Your bountiful blessings You have given me all through this year. Forgive me my sins and strengthen me to always be faithful to you this new year. Throughout the days of this coming year help me to practice the full surrender to Your will and follow the good example of the Virgin Mary in her true love and full surrender to Your will, and Follow the example of all saints in their diligence.

Thus far the Lord has helped us. (I Sam 7:12)

Daily Posting: September 17/4

Man's reconciliation to God was revealed to those who were simple in their understanding. Paul indeed was one of the wise but he became a babe when he made no use of any other knowledge than that of Christ and Him crucified.

You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes.

Daily Posting: September 18/5

O GOD, the Glory of all the Saints, and the Rewarder of the righteous, who art above all, and through all, and in us all; grant us sanctification of heart, fervour of spirit, purity of body; that being mortified from all earthly vices, and undefined in mind and body, we may ever offer Thee the sacrifice of praise. Amen.

From the Gothic Missal

Daily Posting: September 19/6

Almsgiving has been introduced not for the sake of the receivers, but of the givers, for the latter are they which make the greatest gain. (St. John Chrysostom)

It is more blessed to give than to receive. [Acts 20:25]

Daily Posting: September 20/7

The negative form of the Golden Rule, "Don't do to others what you don't want them to do to you", was well known in Judaism. Jesus' form is positive: "to do for others whatever you want them to do to you."

Whatever you want men to for you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Daily Posting: September 21/8

Sermon by St. Augustine, Bishop
On the Annunciation of Our Lady

BELOVED, this is the longed for day of the blessed and venerable ever-virgin Mary. Therefore let earth rejoice with exceeding joy, illumined by the birthday of so great a Virgin. For she is the flower of the field; from her has sprung the precious lily of the valley, through whose birth the nature of earthly day is changed and sin is destroyed.

In her was cancelled that word concerning the woe of Eve: In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children; for in gladness she brought forth her Lord. Eve mourned: she exulted. Eve carried tears in her womb; Mary, joy. Eve brought forth a sinner: Mary the sinless One. The mother of our race brought punishment to the world: the Mother of our Lord brought salvation to the world.

Eve was the source of sin: Mary of merit. Eve by bringing death was our undoing: Mary by bringing life was our profit. Eve wounded us: Mary healed us. Obedience is given in exchange for disobedience, faith atones for infidelity. Now let Mary play upon instruments, and let the timbrels sound between the quick fingers of the young mother. Let choirs sing with joy, and tuneful lays mingle in alternate strains.

Hearken, therefore, how our Musician sang: My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his Name. Therefore the miraculous new birth conquered the prevailing error; and Mary's song silenced Eve's lament.

Daily Posting: September 22/9

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, pages 53, 54:

Preaching, although in itself true and most worthy of belief, is not sufficient to reach the human heart, unless a certain power be imparted to the speaker from God and a grace appear upon his words. And it is only by divine agency that this takes place in those who speak effectively. [Origen]

I forget my own country, O Lord, for desire of Your grace. I forget. . . even the desire of mother and family for You, O Christ, are all things to me. [St. Methodius of Olympus]

To praise oneself is a hateful bragging. Yet it may not be bragging, but gratitude, to recall what is attributed not to the virtue of man, but to the blessing of God. [St. Cyprian of Carthage]

When God crowns our merits, he is crowning nothing other than His gifts. [St. Augustine]

Daily Posting: September 23/10

We found the following article and video deeply touching and edifying. In these days of emptying churches, the fidelity of these people is a lesson to us all. May God prosper their work.

Daily Posting: September 24/11

Sts. PROTUS AND HYACINTH, Martyrs
Collect

We pray thee, O Lord : that we may at all times be comforted by the meritorious confession of thy blessed Martyrs, Protus and Hyacinth ; and be ever defended by 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.

ON this day since early times, have been commemorated the Martyrs Protus and Hyacinth, who are believed to have been brothers. In 1845 the burial-place of Hyacinth was found undisturbed in the Cemetery of Saint Basilla, on the Old Salarian Way at Rome. There, under an ancient inscription which was found to read : Hyacinth the Martyr buried September 11th : were discovered ashes and charred human bones, wrapped in the remains of a costly fabric. Nearby was an empty tomb, bearing the inscription : The tomb of Protus the Martyr. The story which in later days came to be told of these Martyrs is this : They were slave-eunuchs in Egypt of Saint Eugenia the Virgin, and were baptized with her ; whereafter they studied God's Word diligently, and dwelt for a while in a monastery; and then they followed Eugenia to Rome, where they brought Saint Basilla to the Faith; and were for Christ's sake cruelly put to death with her, about the year 257.

Daily Posting: September 25/12

Julius lived at the time of emperor Diocletian. He used to minister to the holy martyrs and dress their wounds. He wrote the biography of the martyrs and sent their bodies to their homes. Later he was tortured and beheaded together with his two sons and many others.

========

The work of the Lord is perfect,
And happy are they that hear;
It stores the heart with knowledge
That shines like the noonday clear.

The word of the Lord is perfect,
The word of the Lord is pure;
And they, who in faith receive it,
Have anchored their hope secure.

Daily Posting: September 26/13

This is indeed His true Body and true Blood. For it would not be just of God to judge us guilty if it is mere bread and wine. For St. Paul says: 'Whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord' (I Cor 11:27).

This is the bread which came down from heaven ... He who eats this bread will live forever.

Daily Posting: September 14/27 - - Exaltation of the Holy Cross

O God, who makest us glad this day by the yearly solemnity of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: grant, we beseech thee, that we who on earth have learned the mystery of our redemption, may be found worthy of its rewards in heaven. 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, Exaltation of the Holy Cross, September 14/27]

Daily Posting: September 28/15

When Christ entered Simon Peter's house, He healed his mother-in-law. Those who bid Him welcome into their hearts and houses shall be no losers by Him; He comes with healing. Though such houses are liable to the common calamities of this life, but He gives them strength to rise up and serve Him.

I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. [Ps 16:8]

Daily Posting: September 29/16

Ninian was a Briton by nation, who, while he was yet young, left his country and kinsfolk and went to Rome, where he sought to be taught the mysteries of the truth under the best teachers. When he had dwelt there for many years, and had made great way in holy learning and living, Pope Saint Siricius consecrated him bishop and sent him back into Britain to preach the Gospel of Christ to the unbelievers, of whom the most part dwelt in the northern half of the island. * He therefore went unto the people of the Picts, and by his preaching, which was commended unto them the more from the wonderful holiness of his life and the glory of his miracles, he happily brought a great multitude of them, even all that dwelt to the south of the Grampian Mountains, out of the darkness of idolatry unto the true light, which is Christ. * He had his See at the place which is called Whithern, (that is, White-House,) from the church which he built there of white stone, after a fashion unused to the Britons who built mostly of wood. And hearing of the death of Saint Martin, he named the church for him. And in that town holy Ninian fell asleep in the Lord, about the middle of the fifth century.

Daily Posting: September 30/17

Lambert was born about the year 635 at Maestricht, in what we now call Holland but was then part of the Merovingian dominions. He was the son of wealthy and devout Christians, who gave him to Saint Theodard, Bishop of Maestricht, for training in godly living and learning; at whose violent death by murder, Lambert was consecrated bishop in his stead. Those were turbulent days ; and only for a while was Lambert able to rule his See in peace ; for soon Ebroin, Mayor of the Palace for the Kingdom of Neustria, drove him out, and intruded another man into his place. * Whereat Lambert entered the monastery of Stavelot, south of Liege, and lived there as a simple monk for seven years, conspicuous for obedience and humility. But when Pepin of Heristal became Mayor of the Palace, after Ebroin's assassination, he recalled Lambert to his See. Whereafter the spirit of the blessed Apostles seemed to descend upon this holy bishop ; and he not only cared for his own flock but evangelized all the country round about, for he had become mighty in charity and its persuasiveness ; and one of his fellow-labourers was Saint Willibrord, who had recently come there from Saint Wilfrid's monastery at Ripon in England. * But finally Lambert's church was plundered and desecrated, whereat some of his friends slew ten of the maurauders. In revenge for which, the rest of the band returned and slew the holy Bishop, which same refused to defend himself, or to permit others to defend him, but offered himself as a sacrifice to God for the sins of his people. He therefore lay down before them, and stretched out his arms like our Saviour on the Cross ; and one of his enemies pierced him with a single thrust of a spear ; and so he went to God, about the year 700.