St. Mark the Ascetic
(The Martyrs of Kvabtakhevi, commemorated on April 10th.)
In the 14th century, Timur (Tamerlane) invaded Georgia inflicting irreparable damage, at which time he and his army forced their way into the Kvabtakhevi Monastery where monastics and laymen alike were gathered, and promised to burn them in the church, to which the faithful cried:
“Go ahead and burn our flesh – in the Heavenly Kingdom our souls will burn with a divine flame more radiant than the sun… We ask only that you not commit this sin before the eyes of men and angels. The Lord alone knows the sincerity of our will and comforts us in our righteous afflictions.”
From Archpriest Zakaria Machitadze
Lives of the Georgian Saints, David and Lauren Ninoshvili (trs), Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood (ed), Platina, CA, 2006, p. 151.
hat tip: Church Fathers Wisdom ~ Daily Dynamis
Why do we honor the Cross with such reverence that we make mention of its power in our prayers after asking for the intercession of the Mother of God and the Heavenly Powers, before asking for that of the Saints, and sometimes even before asking for that of the Heavenly Powers? Because after the Saviour’s sufferings, the Cross became the sign of the Son of Man, that is, the Cross signifies the Lord Himself, incarnate and suffering for our salvation.
~Saint John of Kronstadt
Let us contemplate with faith the mystery of the divine Incarnation… For who, relying on the power of rational demonstration, can explain how the conception of the divine Logos took place? …How was there an engendering without loss of maidenhood? How did a mother, after giving birth remain a virgin? …How was He Who was pure baptized? How did He Who was hungry give sustenance? How did He Who was weary impart strength? How did He Who suffered dispense healing? How did He Who was dying bestow life? And, to put the most important last, how did God become a man? …Faith alone can embrace these mysteries, for it is faith that makes real for us things beyond intellect and reason.
~Saint Maximos the Confessor
hat tip: Daily Dynamis Church Fathers Wisdom
This is the giveforward.com page for Rdr Daniel Armstrong. A wonderful young man who is fighting cancer. Daniel is also the choir director at my Church, Holy Theophany Orthodox Church in Colorado Springs.
I will have a link in the side bar of Christ is in our midst for those who would like to help.
Vibia Perpetua was a young woman of noble birth. She was twenty-two, a wife, a mother of a young son and a Christian. In the city of Carthage in North Africa on March 7th of the year 203 she was put to death for her religious convictions. Her story comes to us from three eyewitness accounts written shortly after her death.
Perpetua was one of five Christians condemned to death in the arena. One of her companions, Felicitas, was a slave and eight months pregnant. Two days before her execution she gave birth to a daughter. Perpetua’s father was a pagan and came often to the prison (many times with Perpetua’s son in his arms) to plead with his daughter to renounce her religion and save her life – to no avail.
On March 7th Perpetua and her four companions were led to the arena where the crowd demanded they be scourged. Then a boar, a bear and a leopard were loosened upon the men while the women were attacked by a wild bull. Wounded, Perpetua was then put to the sword.
“When I was in the hands of the persecutors, my father in his tender solicitude tried hard to pervert me from the faith.”
‘My father,’ I said, ‘you see this pitcher. Can we call it by any other name than what it is?’
‘No,’ he said.
‘Nor can I, ‘call myself by any other name than that of Christian.’
So he went away, but, on the rumor that we were to be tried, wasted away with anxiety.
‘Daughter,’ he said, ‘have pity on my gray hairs; have pity on thy father. Do not give me over to disgrace. Behold thy brothers, thy mother, and thy aunt: behold thy child who cannot live without thee. Do not destroy us all.’
Thus spake my father, kissing my hands, and throwing himself at my feet. And I wept because of my father, for he alone of all my family would not rejoice in my martyrdom. So I comforted him, saying:
‘In this trial what God determines will take place. We are not in our own keeping, but in God’s.’ So he left me – weeping bitterly.
Perpetua and another Christian woman, Felicitas, were tossed and gored by a bull; but despite cruel manglings yet survived. Perpetua, says a sympathizing recorder, seemed in a trance. ‘When are we to be tossed?’ she asked, and could scarcely be induced to believe that she had suffered, in spite of the marks on her body. After having exhorted the others to ‘stand fast in the faith and love one another,’ she guided to her own throat the uncertain hand of the young gladiator.”
Perpetua’s account appears in Davis, William Stearns, Readings in Ancient History vol. II (1913); Duruy, Victor, History of Rome and the Roman People (1883); Gibbon, Edward, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1896-1902).
Kontakion in Tone Three:
Born at Lelich in Serbia
You served as archpastor at the church of Saint Nahum in Ohrid.
Taking your place on the throne of Saint Sabbas at Zicha,
You taught God’s people and enlightened them with the Gospel.
You brought people to repentance and the love of Christ,
And for Christ you endured suffering at Dachau.
Therefore we glorify you, a new Nicholas well–pleasing to God.
on Last Sunday’s Epistle:
“Instruct me, Father, how to protect myself from the terrible temptation of passions in general, and from tempting thoughts while praying at home or even in church.”
“The beginning of all these temptations,” the Elder responded, “Is pride. A man imagines that he is living piously, not judging his own sinfulness at all, but sometimes even judging others—then, the Lord allows the enemy to lay snares for him. Be attentive to your own way of life, check your conscience, and you will always come, however unwillingly, to the conviction that you have not yet fulfilled even one of the Lord’s commandments as a Christian should. Reasoning in this way, you will clearly see your spiritual weaknesses, which cause fleshly falls. In order to deliver yourself from these falls, you must acquire humility. As far as the sinful thoughts at church or while praying at home are concerned, since they are not caused by you, but by the enemy, you don’t have to be troubled. Try not to dwell on these thoughts, but turn to God instead with the prayer: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!’ Here is an example for you: when parents take their little children out for a walk, they usually let the children go ahead, not letting them out of their sight. Suddenly, from out of some corner, a dog runs out and jumps at the children. What do they do? They rush right over to their parents, crying ‘Papa! Mama!’ With childish simplicity and pure faith, they expect their parents to help them. The same goes for you on the path of your temporal life. If our tempter, the devil, even starts laying snares for you, don’t be disturbed, and do not even think of getting through it on your own, but with childlike simplicity hurry to the heavenly Father with the cry, ‘Lord, I am Thy creation, have mercy on me!’ Finally, I’ll tell you that, in my opinion, it is hard to protect oneself from worldly temptations while living in big cities. How can a man who is still spiritually weak hold his ground against the temptations of the contemporary world? Take note that high society consists in part of people with other beliefs, and in part of Christians who, although Orthodox, have been so seduced by the customs of the world in their weakness, that they are Orthodox in name only, while in reality they have drifted far from true Orthodoxy. It’s hard to fight the passions, but it is incomparably more difficult to withstand continuous temptations. Finally, luxury, the pursuit of fashion, the goals of this way of life—all of this is so expensive that no financial means would suffice to satisfy all the demands of high society.
~Elder Macarius of Optina
hat tip: Sunday Bulletin of Holy Theophany Orthodox Church