My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
ON DECEMBER 4TH OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH COMMEMORATES THE FEAST DAY OF SAINT AND GREEAT MARTYR BARBARA
[Other Saints of the day: Saint Juliana; Saint John Damascene, Saint Gennadius, Archbishop of Novgorod; Saint Seraphim, Archbishop of Phanarion; Saint John, Bishop of Polybotum; Saint Damascenos, Bishop of Glukhov, and his father Nicholas; Holy Martyrs Christodulos and Christodula; Saint Alexander Hotovitzsky of Russia.]
This famous follower of Christ was betrothed to Him from her early years. Her father, Dioscorus, was a pagan in the city of Heliopolis in Egypt, and was famed for his wealth and standing. Dioscorus shut up his daughter, who was both intelligent and beautiful, in a high tower, surrounded her with all possible comforts, gave her a host of attendants, set up idols for worship and built her a bathroom with two windows. As she gazed through the windows of the tower upon the earth below and the starry sky above, Barbara's mind was opened by the grace of God, and she came to know Him as the One, True God and Creator, although she had no human teacher to bring her to the knowledge of Him. Once, when her father was away from the city, she came out of the tower and, by God's Providence, met some Christians who told her about the True Christian faith. Barbara's heart was set on fire with love for Christ. She had a third window cut in the bathroom as a symbol of the Holy Trinity, and traced a Cross with her finger on one wall of it, which etched itself deep in the stone as if cut by a chisel. A spring of water gushed forth from the bathroom floor from her footprint, and it later gave healing from sickness to many. When Dioscorus found out about his daughter's faith, he beat her harshly and drove her from the tower, chasing after her to kill her, but a cliff opened and hid Barbara from her irate father. When she appeared again, Dioscorus took her to Marcian, the governor of the city, who handed her over for torture. The innocent Barbara was stripped and beaten until her entire body was covered in bloody wounds, but the Lord Himself appeared to her in the prison with many Angels, and healed her. A certain woman, Juliana, beheld this and conceived a desire for martyrdom herself. Both of them were fearfully tortured and taken around the city to be mocked, then their breasts were cut off and much blood flowed from them. They were finally led out to the place of execution, and Juliana was slain by soldiers while Saint Barbara was killed by her own father. On the same day, lightning struck Dioscorus's house, killing both him and Marcian. Saint Barbara suffered in 306 AD, and her wonderworking (miracle-working) holy relics are preserved in Kiev. Greatly glorified in the Kingdom of Christ, she had appeared many times down to our own days, sometimes alone and sometimes in the company of the Most Holy Mother of God.
Obedience couple with humility, is the basis of the spiritual life and the foundation of salvation--and the foundation also of the whole edifice of the Church of God. The great Saint John Damascene, great in every virtue, left as a monk a deep impression on the history of the Church by his extraordinary example of obedience and humility. His elder and spiritual father, wishing to test him, one day handed him some woven baskets and told him to take them into Damascus and sell them there. The elder (geronda) laid down a very high price for the baskets, thinking that they would not sell at such a price and would have to be brought back. John had, then, firstly to undertake a very long journey; secondly, to enter as a poor monk the city where he had earlier been the man next to the Caliph; thirdly, to ask an absurdly high price for the baskets; and, fourthly, should the baskets not be sold, he had to endure the long journey there and back for nothing. The elder (geronda) wished, in this way, to test the obedience, the humility and the patience of his famous disciple. John silently prostrated before the elder and, without a word, took up the baskets and set out. When he came to the city of Damascus, he stood in the market-place and waited for customers. When he told interested passers-by the price of his goods, they began to laugh and mock him as a lunatic. He stood there the whole day, exposed to mockery and ridicule, but God, who sees all things, did not abandon His patient servant. A passing citizen happened to glance at John, and, although John was wearing a monk's poor habit and his face was shrunken and pale from fasting, the man recognized him as the former nobleman and first Minister of the Caliph, in whose service he also has been. John also recognized him, but they began to deal as strangers. Even though Saint John told him the ridiculously high price of the baskets, the man bought them and paid the price without comment, mindful of the good deeds that Saint John Damascene had once done for him. Then holy John returned singing triumphantly to the Monastery, and brought joy to his elder (geronda).
Let us ponder on Adam and Eve's fall into sin (Genesis 3):
- How, once they had sinned, they hid from God.
- How they fled when they heard the voice of God, and hid among the trees.
- How every sin takes us further from God.
- How a sinner hides himself in irrational nature when he hears the voice of God in his conscience.
(Source: The Prologue from Ochrid)
DIVINE SERVICE FOR THE FEAST OF SAINT BARBARA THE GREAT MARTYR:
Divine Liturgy at 9:00 a.m.
(There is no Orthros (Matins)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God