The Life of the Monastic Mary of Egypt
Commemorated on the 5th Sunday of the Great Lent, April 1
The Life of the Monastic Mary of Egypt: At a certain Palestinian monastery on the outskirts of Caesarea there lived a saintly monk, Zosima. Having dwelt at the monastery since his childhood, he asceticised at it until he reached age 53, when he was disturbed by the thought: “Is there to be found in all the furthermost wilderness – some holy person surpassing me in spiritual sobriety and deeds?”
Just hardly had he thought this, when an Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: “Thou, Zosima, by human standards hath asceticised not badly, but of mankind there is no one righteous (Rom. 3: 10). So that thou canst realise, how many there are of others and of higher forms of salvation, come out from this monastery, like Abraham from the house of his father (Gen. 12: 1), and go to the monastery situated by the Jordan”.
Abba Zosima immediately left the monastery and following behind the Angel he went to the Jordan monastery and settled in it.
Here he beheld elders, truly radiant in their efforts. And Abba Zosima began to imitate the holy monks in spiritual activity.
Thus passed much time, and the holy Forty-Day Lent approached. At the monastery there existed a custom, on account of which also God had led the Monk Zosima thither. On the First Sunday (i.e. Forgiveness Sunday) starting the Great Lent the hegumen served the Divine-liturgy, all communed the All-Pure Body and Blood of Christ, and they partook afterwards of a small repast and then gathered again in church.
Having made prayer and a due number of poklon-prostrations, the elders, having asked forgiveness one of another, took blessing from the hegumen and during the common singing of the Psalm “The Lord is my Light and my Saviour: whom shalt I fear? The Lord is Defender of my life: from what shalt I be afraid?” (Ps. 26 : 1), they opened the monastery gate and went off into the wilderness.
Each of them took with him a modest amount of food, such as needed it, while some however took nothing into the wilderness and fed on roots. The monks went about beyond the Jordan and spread out as far as possible, so that no one might see, how anyone fasted or asceticised.
When Great Lent drew to a close, the monks returned to the monastery on Palm Sunday with the fruit of their labour (Rom. 6: 21-22), having tested out their own conscience (1 Pet. 3: 16). And as regards this, no one asked anything, how anyone had toiled or made their effort.
And this year Abba Zosima also, in the monastery custom, went about beyond Jordan. He wanted to go deep into the wilderness, so as to find there any saints and great elders, both saving themselves there and praying for the world. Continue reading
October 26 the Orthodox Church commemorates St. Demetrios the Myrrhbearer & Great Martyr of Thessaloniki…
Saint Demetrius was a Thessalonian, a most pious son of pious and noble parents, and a teacher of the Faith of Christ. When Maximian first came to Thessalonica in 290, he raised the Saint to the rank of Duke of Thessaly. But when it was discovered that the Saint was a Christian, he was arrested and kept bound in a bath-house. While the games were under way in the city, Maximian was a spectator there. A certain friend of his, a barbarian who was a notable wrestler, Lyaeus by name, waxing haughty because of the height and strength of his body, boasted in the stadium and challenged the citizens to a contest with him. All that fought with him were defeated. Seeing this, a certain youth named Nestor, aquaintance of Demetrius’, came to the Saint in the bath-house and asked his blessing to fight Lyaeus single-handed. Receiving this blessing and sealing himself with the sign of the precious Cross, he presented himself in the stadium, and said, “O God of Demetrius, help me!” and straightway he engaged Lyaeus in combat and smote him with a mortal blow to the heart, leaving the former boaster lifeless upon the earth. Maximian was sorely grieved over this, and when he learned who was the cause of this defeat, he commanded straightway and Demetrius was pierced with lances while he was yet in the bath-house, As for Nestor, Maximian commanded that he be slain with his own sword.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone
The world has found in you a great champion in time of peril, as you emerged the victor in routing the barbarians. For as you brought to naught the boasts of Lyaios, imparting courage to Nestor in the stadium, in like manner, holy one, great Martyr Demetrios, invoke Christ God for us, that He may grant us His great mercy.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
God, who gave you invincible power and with care kept your city invulnerable, royally clothed the Church in purple with the streams of your blood, for you are her strength, O Demetrios.
Today is the commemoration of Monk Hilarion the Great. I copied the following from the Holy Trinity Orthodox site:
The Monk Ilarion the Great was born in the year 291 in the Palestinian village of Tabath. He was sent for study to Alexandria, where he became acquainted with Christianity and accepted holy Baptism. Hearing an account of the angelic life of the Monk Anthony the Great (Comm. 17 January), Ilarion set out to him, in order to study that which is pleasing to God. Ilarion soon returned to his native-land. His parents had already died. Having distributed his familial inheritance to the poor, Ilarion set out into the wilderness surrounding he city of Maium. The monk struggled intensely with impure thoughts, vexations of the mind and the burning of the flesh, defeating them with heavy toil, fasting and fervent prayer. The devil sought to terrorise the saint with phantoms and apparitions. During times of prayer Saint Ilarion heard children crying, women wailing, and the growling of lions and other wild beasts. The monk perceived that it was the demons causing these terrors, in order to drive him away from the wilderness, and therefore he overcame his fear with the help of fervent prayer. Continue reading
O All-merciful Lord!
Grant me the divine gift of holy prayer, flowing from the depth of my heart.
Gather together the dispersed thoughts of my mind, that it may always strive towards its Creator and Saviour.
Destroy the burning arrows of the evil one, which tear me away from Thee.
Quench the flame of the passionate thoughts that devour me during prayer.
Cover me with the grace of Thy Most-holy Spirit, that to the very end of my sinful life I may love Thee alone with all my heart, all my soul and mind, and all my strength, and in the hour when my soul takes leave of my mortal body, O Sweetest Jesus, take into Thy hands my spirit when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom.
Prayer found here, and there is also a link to a pdf file that can be printed out and put into the prayer book…
“Saint John of Kronstadt was a married priest, who lived with his wife in virginity. Through his untiring labours in his priestly duties and love for the poor and sinners, he was granted by our Lord great gifts of clairvoyance and miracle-working, to such a degree that in the last years of his life miracles of healings — both of body and of soul — were performed countless times each day through his prayers, often for people who had only written to him asking his help. During his lifetime he was known throughout Russia, as well as in the Western world. He has left us his diary My Life in Christ as a spiritual treasure for Christians of every age; simple in language, it expounds the deepest mysteries of our Faith with that wisdom which is given only to a heart purified by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Foreseeing as a true prophet the Revolution of 1917, he unsparingly rebuked the growing apostasy among the people; he foretold that the very name of Russia would be changed. As the darkness of unbelief grew thicker, he shone forth as a beacon of unquenchable piety, comforting the faithful through the many miracles that he worked and the fatherly love and simplicity with which he received all. Saint John reposed in peace in 1908.” (Great Horologion)
Righteous John of Kronstadt, Troparion, in Tone IV — Continue reading