Beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord, God and Only True Savior Jesus Christ,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
THE SONG OF DAVID THE PROPHET AND KING
THE FIRST KATHISMA
Blessed is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, no stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the pestilent. But his will is rather in the law of the Lord, and in His law will he meditate day and night. And he shall be like the tree which is planted by the streams of the waters, which shall bring forth its fruit in its season; and its leaf shall not fall, and all things whatsoever he may do shall prosper. Not so are the ungodly, not so; bur rather they are like the chaff which the wind doth hurl away from the face of the earth. For this reason shall the ungodly not stand up in judgment, nor sinners in the council of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, and the way of the ungodly shall perish.
On May 18th Our Holy Orthodox Christian 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: Holy Martyrs: Peter, Dionysius, Andrew, Paul, Christina, Heraclius, Paulinus and Benedimus.
THE HOLY MARTYRS PETER, DIONYSIUS, ANDREW, PAUL, CHRISTINA, HERACLIUS, PAULINUS AND BENEDIMUS. St. Peter--a young and gifted man; St. Dionysius--a nobleman; Sts. Andrew and Paul--soldiers; Christina--a sixteen-year-old girl; they all courageously confessed Christ the Lord and underwent torture and death for His name in the year 250 A.D. One Nicomachus, who was tortured with them, denied Christ under torture, and instantly lost his mind, tearing at his body with his teeth and foaming at the mouth until he breathed his last. Saints Heraclius, Paulinus and Benedimus were Athenians, and suffered for the Faith in the time of the pagan Roman emperor Decius. They were thrown into a burning furnace for the name of Christ.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 15:5-12
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 10:17-28
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"To bear one's cross does not mean only visible, external sorrows but also internal, spiritual ones. One must endure darkness, faintheartedness, and similar things as well. For God sends this for the destruction of our pride and the acquiring of humility". [St. Macarius of Optina]
FROM THE LIFE OF SAINT NIKON
by Denis F. Sullivan
[source: The Life of Saint Nikon]
Let another miracle worthy of mention and hearing be put into the narration for those who love God. There is a monastery situated in the port area of Lacedaimon which lies to the West, opposite the city. There that great wonderworker among bishops the famous Nicholas is honored. The monastery accepts the contemplative life and is a dwelling befitting those who choose to live in virtue and strive for the inspired life. Now in this monastery there was once a young boy living and counted in the ranks of the novices under a teacher and shepherd, a godly man and nourisher of virtue. The young man's name was Luke. And to our day he can be seen alive and surviving, shining in the monastic state in the rank of priest and receiving great reverence as a result of the nobility of his ways and the gray hair now on his head. And I myself have often heard him with strong voice telling what sort of and what great kindness he enjoyed because of his trust in the Saint and his firm hope in God. The story will now reveal what the nature of this kindness was. Luke once experienced a paralysis of the jaws as a result of a sickening and pestilential draft. The entire condition of his mouth was ruined and nearly destroyed and the pains were unbearable, as the evil fell on him quite severely. And the pain had a fierce sting so that he was unable to take any nourishment whatsoever except barley gruel. Nor could he stop the saliva from being carried out spontaneously and flowing from his mouth in ugly fashion. Nor was there any cure for the pain, since the suffering was beyond any human skill or care and made life somehow more difficult than death for the suffering man. And so what did the reverent and God-loving man do, a man most quick at understanding what was necessary? He scorned everything else as useless. For all things are evident to those who understand, as has been written, and right for those who have found grace. He took refuge in the clear and acknowledged aid, I mean the divine Nikon. Entrusting the matter to prayer, he approached that holy and revered icon of the blessed one which hung before the sanctuary of the holy precinct of the monastery in which he was living. "Holy man of God," he said, "If you know with what faith and undoubting resolution I come to you, seeking release from the illness which is crushing me, listen to me; unworthy though I am, do not deprive me of your assistance. For in God alone and in you His servant I place all my hopes of salvation." So he spoke to the holy icon of the illustrious one, firmly fixing his eyes on it. Then strengthened by divine inspiration, he comes in thought to the divine and holy house of the blessed one and on the very wings of faith he touches the coffin itself with his lips. And he calls, though physically apart, upon the one who is able to be present through grace. Who would not rejoice in amazement at the novelty of the miracle? For a rapid and miraculous cure followed the supplication. The nature of the cure was as follows. Sleep lifts up the young man after his supplication. And in his sleep he seemed to be found on the very end of the west stairway of the divine and holy house of the Saint. There the commanding and divine icon bearing the name of Antiphonetes is situated and there also the figure of the great one is represented. Reverencing this, I believe, in his sleep and begging relief from the terrible disease, he seemed to hear a voice coming from the holy icon of the Saint itself. It bade him to raise his hand to the lamp hanging there and to smear the painful area with the oil from it. And so he seemed to do as ordered. And when the hand was lightly touching the lamp (it did not seem to completely grasp it), the lamp appeared to be turned upside down and the oil was poured over him. And he was torn by fear and awakened. Oh, the miracle full of astonishment! Oh, the strange and fearful portent! For the lamp was in its place and full of oil and he was healthy in the place where he was in reality and was completely cured of the crushing evil. The wonder of the miracle witnessed even more the intimacy of the Saint with God. But it caused that man to doubt a little if he was the one who a little earlier was affected by such great and severe suffering and to see these things as dreams and to think the thing was a fantasy, but not truth. Yet recovering and being himself, he perceived clearly that the sign was not still a dream, but true. And that kindly soul, in his love for God, gave thanks as best he knew how to the divine Nikon and through him to God. Then he was as if inspired by immeasurable joy. For the miracle showed him to be a man almost crazy. With the striking of the wooden signal, he called to himself in the depth of the night the abbot and the other worshippers. And they came quickly to the spot and saw the immensity of the miracle and learned the nature of the cure from the words of the one cured. They were filled with joy in their hearts and sending up hymns of thanks to God, they told everyone the splendor of the miracle to the honor of the God who so honors as promised.
[Next: More miracles from the life of Saint Nikon]
With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God