The Little Things in Life

St Basil the Bishop of Ryazan

My beloved spiritual children in Christ, Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

PSALM 93[92]

The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty; the Lord is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength. Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved. Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting. The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves. The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea. Your testimonies are very sure; Holiness adorns Your house, O Lord, forever.

[This is a psalm of enthronement of God as King. It is sung every Saturday evening at Great Vespers to inaugurate the Lord's Day (Sunday), proclaiming Christ as King and Ruler over all. In Israel, as in the Orthodox Church, the day begins with sundown the night before (Genesis 1:5). Thus Sunday (Lord's Day) worship starts on Saturday at sundown with a service that Orthodox Christians consider of great importance. This psalm may be seen to refer to the first coming of the Lord, when He dwelt on earth, and established His Church.]



On July 3rd 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, Teachers and of every righteous soul perfected in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: St. Hyacinth of Caesarea; Saints Diomedes, Evlambius, Asclepiodotos, and Golinduc of Caesarea; St. Anatolius, Bishop of Laodicea, and his successor Efsevius; Saint Symeon the Styline of Cilicia; Saint Anatolius, recluse of the Far Caves in Kiev; St. Isaiah the Solitary of Scetis; Saints Theodotos and Theodora, martyred with St. Hyacinth; Holy Martyrs Mark and Mocian; St. Alexander of the Monastery of the Unlseeping Ones; Saints John and Longinus of Yarenga; Holy Princes Basil and Constantine of Yaroslavl; New Holy Martyr Gerasimos of Carpenision; Saint Nicodemos of Kozha Lake; Saint John "Iron Cap" of Moscow, fool-for-Christ; St. George and God-bearer of the Black Mountain; St. Joachim the New of Notena; Translation (Anakomedi) of the holy relics of St. Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow; "Milk Feeder" holy Icon of the Theotokos.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Bishops, Holy Mothers, Holy Fathers, Holy Monks, Holy Princes, Holy Ascetics, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

THE HOLY MARTYR HYACINTHUS. A young man, a courtier at the court of the pagan Roman Emperor Trajan, he was a secret Christian. Once, when the Emperor and all his court were offering sacrifice to idols, St. Hyacinthus stood apart from these abominable ceremonies. He was therefore denounced and brought to trial before the pagan Emperor. The Emperor urged him to deny Christ and sacrifice to idols, but St. Hyacinthus remained firm and said to the Emperor: "I am a Christian. I revere Christ and worship Him, and I bring my living self to Him as a sacrifice." Whipped, spat upon and flayed, this holy martyr was flung into prison. By order of the Emperor, he was given nothing to eat but food that had been sacrificed to idols. St. Hyacinthus would not eat this, and died in prison after eight days. The warder saw two shining Angels in the prison, one covering the holy Martyr's body with his own glorious vesture and the other placing a wreath of glory on his head; and the whole prison was filled with light and radiance. The young Hyacinthus suffered with honor and was crowned with a wreath of glory in the year of our Lord 108.

HOLY PRINCES BASIL AND CONSTANTINE VSEVOLODOVICH OF YARSLAVL. King Vsevolod, the father of these two princes, fell in battle against the Mongols in the 13th century. Basil, the eldest, succeeded him, but his reign was one of sorrow. The Mongols had destroyed the city and villages, and the people were without food and shelter. In order to gain the goodwill of the Mongol leader, Basil would travel to meet with the Horde. Basil also lost his only son during this time frame. Yet, he ruled well, concerned himself with the misfortunes of his people, built churches, and was not contentious with other princes. But the strain of these conditions exhausted St. Basil, and he took ill and died. St. Constantine followed in St. Basil's footsteps in the year 1249, but the Mongols continued murdering and pillaging. Eight years later, they attacked the city of Yaroslavl. When St. Constantine went into battle, he was killed. Almost 250 years later, the holy relics of these two Princes were uncovered and found incorrupt. They now rest in the Cathedral in Yaroslavl.


Holy Epistle Lesson: 11:13-24
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 11:27-30


"He who wishes to overcome temptations without prayer and patient endurance will not succeed in driving them away, but will, in fact, become more entangled in them."  (Saint Mark the Ascetic)


By Saint John Maximovitch

Many people believe that to live according to the faith and to fulfill the will of God is very difficult. Actually--it's very easy. One needs only attend to details, to trifles, and try to avoid evil in the slightest and most trivial things. This is the simplest and surest way to enter the world of the Spirit and draw near to God. A man often thinks that the Creator demands great things of him, that the Gospel insists on complete self-sacrifice, the abolition of one's personhood, etc., as a condition of faith. A man is so frightened by this that he begins to be afraid of becoming acquainted with God, of drawing near to God, and hides himself from God, not even wishing to look into God's Word. "If I can't do anything important for God, then I'd just better stay away from things spiritual, stop thinking about eternity, and live "in a normal way."

There exists at the entrance to the spiritual realm a "hypnosis of great deeds: "one must either do some big thing or do nothing. And so people do nothing at all for God or for their souls! It is very strange--the more a man is devoted to the little things of life, the less he wishes to be honest or pure or faithful to God in those same little things. And, moreover, each one must adopt a correct attitude toward little things if one wishes to come near to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Wishes to come near: In this is summed up all the difficulties of the religious life. Often one wishes to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven quite unexpectedly, in some miraculous and magical way, or, by right--through some kind of great feat. But neither the one nor the other is the right way to find the higher world. One does not enter God's presence in some wondrous manner while remaining indifferent on earth to the needs of the Kingdom of God and its bright eternity, nor can one purchase the treasures of the Kingdom of God by some kind of eternal act, however great that act might be. Yet good deeds, holy deeds are necessary for one to grow into a higher life, a bright will, a good desire, a heavenly psychology, a heart that is both pure and fair.

A glass of water: "Verily, verily I say unto you that whosoever offers one of the least of these but a cup of cold water, in the name of a disciple, shall not lose his reward." In this saying of the Lord is the highest expression of the smallest of the good. "A glass of water"--this is not much.

Communicating in good spirit: In every communication between people there must without fail be a good spirit: this spirit is Christ, openly manifest or hidden. "In the name of a disciple": this is the first step in communicating with another person in the name of Jesus Christ Himself. Many people, not as yet knowing the Lord and the wondrous fellowship in His Name still have among themselves an unselfish, pure and human fellowship which brings them ever closer to the Spirit of Christ.

The lesser good is necessary: As a matter of fact, the lesser good is more necessary for mankind than the greater. People can get along with their lives without the greater good; without the lesser they cannot exist. Mankind perishes not from a lack of the greater good, but from an insufficiency of just this lesser good. The greater good is no more than a roof, erected on the brick walls of the lesser good.

The lesser, easier good was left on this earth for man by the Creator Himself, who took all the greater good upon Himself. Whosoever does the lesser, the same creates--and through him the Creator Himself creates--the greater good. Of our little good the Creator makes His Own great good. For as our Lord is the Creator Who formed all things from nothingness, so is He more able to create the greater good from the lesser.

Through such lesser, easy work, done with the greatest simplicity, a man is accustomed to the good and begins to serve it with his whole heart, sincerely, and in this way enters into an atmosphere of good, lets down the roots of his life into new soil, the soil of the good. The roots of human life quickly accommodate themselves to this good earth, and soon cannot live without it...Thus is a man saved: from the small comes the great. "Faithful in little things" turns out to be "faithful in the greater."

Our moral sense: Lay aside all theoretical considerations that it is forbidden to slaughter millions, women, children, and elderly; be content to manifest your moral sense by in no way killing the human dignity of your neighbor, neither by word, nor by innuendo, nor by gesture. Do not be angry over trifles "against your brother vainly" (St. Matthew 5:22) or in the daily contacts of life speak untruth to your neighbor. These are trifles, small change, of no account; but just try to do this and you will see what comes of it.

Prayer: It is hard to pray at night. But try in the morning. If you can't manage to pray at home than at least as you ride to your place of employment to attempt with a clear head the "Our Father" and let the words of this short prayer resound in your heart. And at night commend yourself with complete sincerity into the hands of the Heavenly Father. This indeed is very easy.

And give, give a glass of cold water to everyone who has need of it; give a glass filled to the brim with simple human companionship to everyone that lacks it, the very simplest companionship...

"O wondrous path of little things, I sing thee a hymn! Surround yourselves, O people, gird up yourselves with little works of good--with a chain of little, simple, easy and good feelings which cost us naught, a chain of bright thoughts, words and deeds. Let us abandon the big and the difficult. That is for them that love it and not for us for whom the Lord in His Mercy, for us who have not yet learned to love the greater, has poured forth the lesser love everywhere, free as water and air."

(Source: Orthodox Heritage)


The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.


"To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen"


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George