Beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
PRAYER FOR ENEMIES
Lord Jesus Christ, in Your great mercy You prayed for the forgiveness of those who crucified You, and You taught us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. Lord, I pray that You forgive those who treat me unjustly and speak out against me, and that You bless them and guide them according to Your will. Take away any bitterness I may have in my heart against them. Lord, may Your forgiveness, goodness and love be revealed in all of us, to Your praise and glory. Amen.
On April 26th Our Holy Orthodox Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, and Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Stephen, Bishop of Perm; St. Glaphyra and Basil of Amasia; Saints Andrew and Anatole, disciples of Saints Efthymius the Great; Saint Ioannikios of Devich; Holy and Righteous Nestor; Holy and Righteous Justa.
THE HIEROMARTYR BASIL, BISHOP OF AMASEA. Licinius, the brother-in-law of the Emperor Constantine, whose sister he had married, dissembled before the great Emperor, saying that he was a Christian. When he received authority over the whole of the East, he began, at first secretly but then publicly, to persecute the Christians and to uphold idolatry. His wife grieved greatly over this, but could not turn her husband back from this dishonour. Giving himself over to idolatry, Licinius gave himself over to all the passions, and especially to brutality towards women. Through this fall into such an impure passion, he desired to deflower the maiden Glaphyra, who was in waiting at the imperial court. She complained to the Empress, who sent her away from the court at Nicomedia secretly to the coast of Pontus. The maiden got as far as the town of Amasea, and was there warmly received by the bishop, Basil, and the other Christians. Glaphyra was very joyful that God had preserved her virginity, and wrote of this to the Empress. And the Empress rejoiced and sent her money for the Church in Amasea. But one letter of Glaphyra's, on its way to the Empress, fell into the hands of an imperial eunuch, who showed it to Emperor Licinius. Discovering where Glaphyra was to be found, he immediately sent orders that she and the bishop be brought to Nicomedia. In the meantime, Glaphyra died, and the soldiers brought only Basil, in bonds. After torture and imprisonment, this blessed man was beheaded and thrown into the sea, in the year of Our Lord 322 A.D. His priests, with the help of an Angel of God, fund his holy body near the town of Synope, took it out of the water with the aid of fishing nets and carried it to Amasea, where they gave it burial in the church which he had built by his labours. The Emperor Constantine raised an army against Licinius, overcame him, arrested him and sent him into exile in Gaul, where he ended his God-hating days.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Hieromartyrs, O Christ Our God have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 4:23-31
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 5:24-30
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"The name of believer is not sufficient for us; no, we must demonstrate our faith through our deeds. This means that we must labor. We must act, and demonstrate our standing in truth through deeds. Yes, this might be unpopular in the eyes of the children of this age, but let us recall the admonition of Saint Symeon the New Theologian: "He who loves the glory of man is not a true Christian but a sturdy warrior of the devil." (Saint John of Damascus)
MIRACLES ACCORDING TO OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN TRADITION
by Augoustinos N. Kantiotes, Bishop of Florina, Greece; of blessed memory
MIRACLES AND MIRACLES
The world asks for miracles in order to believe, in other words, extraordinary events that exceed the Law of Nature, defeat it, and astonish reason. For example, there is a sick person. He suffers from an incurable disease. No medicine can cure him. He goes toward death with mathematical certainty. The doctors, who know the stages of this incurable illness, foretell that his life will last only a few days or even hours. If the patient is not taken to some holy shrine, and his relatives and friends beg the Lord with unshakable faith, and the sick person is completely cured, who can doubt that a miracle has happened, that divine intervention has taken place which has restored the patient's health. And the doctors who attended the sick man and were in despair, if they were not called and examined the man, they would be astonished at how the symptoms of that deadly disease had disappeared and he had become well.
A sick person who is cured in this way, a blind man who without medicines but through the invocation of the Lord's Name receives his sight, a paralytic who strongly asks God's mercy, gets up from his bed and walks, a demoniac who is cured by the prayers and supplications of his kinfolk, are these not astonishing events? The news that this kind of miracle has taken place somewhere stirs up the conscience and many people run to venerate at the places where miracles have taken place. There are holy shrines in Greece which are famous for the miracles that take place there because of the intervention of Saints, and great numbers of people come to them at their feast days, even from distant places. And they conduct vigil services, and wait to witness a miracle. And they will not leave unless they see a miracle!
But are there not other miracles besides these, which the Blessed Lord performs in every generation through His chosen servants, the Saints? Is the meaning of the word miracle restricted only to the cures of people with incurable diseases? Certainly not! There are other kinds of miracle which are not as impressive as the above. They do not abruptly affect the senses of hearing and vision, they do not arouse the curiosity of the multitude. They are, however, miracles. Miracles which do not affect the material elements of a man's body. They do not contravene natural law but take place in the spiritual word, defeating the corrupt nature in everyone, the evils and the passions which are psychological illnesses far worse than the physical one. And they elevate man to a higher plane of life. To distinguish them from the first kind of miracles, let us call them the miracles of the soul and of the spiritual nature of man, moral miracles. And these, as this talk will show, are the most important and beneficial miracles.
Let us begin with the lesser ones. Here is a couple. They are not rich. They do not live in a mansion. They live in a poor home, a hut. They are not Angels, they are human. The man and the woman have faults and are of different personality types which in other couples would cause a storm of domestic quarrels. But accord prevails with this couple which not only unites their bodies but their souls as well. They pray together, they study the Word of God together, they put a great deal of effort into their personal edification. They have been married twenty years. They have encountered many sorrows and temptations in their life together but the fire of their love is not extinguished. The secret of this love is Christ. From His love they also draw their strength to love each and to live in harmony.
In the midst of thousands of unfortunate couples who are fighting, whose disputes are talked about everywhere, and not infrequently end up in court, in the midst of so many everyday domestic dramas, divorces, and pitiful disasters, is not a couple whose love is inextinguishable for two or three decades a miracle I ask?
That hovel that has love is a church of Christ.
We leave that hovel where the spouses live the miracle of Christ's love and go to a monastic or missionary brotherhood. Is it a small thing that twenty or thirty people from different places and families come together and maintain a miraculous unity in spite of their differences in origin, education, character, and family background? A pilgrim who knows what animosity reigns today in the world, which is so bad that even blood relatives hate each other bitterly and fight in the courts over property, when he visits a monastery and sees the equity that reigns in that holy institution, he cannot do other than admire it and say: Christ lives here! The love that reigns in a monastic brotherhood is a miracle that the grace of the Lord performs. It does not matter that the monks do not perform miracles as the ascetics did in the past. It does not matter that they do not perform some other missionary activity in the world worthy of notice. Let them however have love, not that false and hypocritical one, but that genuine, sincere Chrsitian love, and if this love of theirs exists it preaches far louder to the world than all miracles and more eloquently than all teachings.
That love that unites the brothers and makes a spiritual family out of them is a miracle, a miracle far greater than the healing of the sick. And we are not the ones who say this. One of the most illustrious representatives of the Monastic life and conduct, Saint Theodore of Studium, preaches this. Let us listen as to how he characterizes this love: "Perhaps one thinks that being holy and having miraculous powers that expel demons, cure the blind, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, affect nature, move mountains, turn the seas into land, or do things like these, are great miracles and wonders. I however, do not think that is as miraculous, as is this. That people from different places and lands, different races, languages and ages come together in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and become united and joined as one multi-souled, multi-hearted body of one mind and heart, not to do evil but the will of God, and veneration and worship of the Holy Trinity, which no one, no man, no ruler, no authority, no king, not even the champion of the demons himself, has the power and the strength of overcome."
Truly! A true monastic brotherhood which has the love of Christ, in which "this is mine and this is yours" is not heard, is one of the greatest miracles of divine grace, which defeats the selfishness and self-interest of man…
What good is it, beloved, if we see miracles, while in our hearts we nourish the wild beasts of envy, hatred, and every other evil? What did it gain the evil and envious Jews, if I may ask, who saw the greatest of miracles during the time of Christ, and yet in a few days, in spite of this, senselessly committed the greatest of crimes, crucifying the Benefactor of all?
Do we want to see a miracle? The Lord is close to us. Let us, those who call ourselves Christians, try to cash in the gold coins of the commandment of Christ: love one another, and convert it into good works. And then our earth will see the greatest of miracles, it will see a new society. And before this great miracle, even the most incredulous in this world will be forced to recognize that one Religion, which has the power to defeat the strongest of passions and transform people into the most beneficial of beings, is divine in origin. The Lord told us this: "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love of one another" (St. John 13:35).
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God