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.
ON JUNE 13TH OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTAN CHURCH COMMEMORATES THE FEAST OF THE HOLY MARTYR AQUILINA
Born in the Palestinian town of Biblos of Christian parents, little Aquilina was already, at the age of seven, living as a true Christian, and by the age of ten was so filled with divine understanding and the grace of the Holy Spirit that she used to preach Christ with great power and zeal to her girlfriends. When the pagan Roman emperor Diocletian's persecution began, Aquilina was handed over to the imperial governor, Volusianus, who was more like a beast than a man. He ordered that she first be flogged and then that a heated rod be passed through her ears and brain. Until the last moment, the virgin Aquilina freely and clearly confessed Christ the Lord; but when her brain started flowing with her blood from her head, she fell as if dead. Believing her to be indeed dead, the governor ordered that her body be taken outside the city and thrown onto a dung heap for the dogs to eat. But during the night, an Angel of God appeared to her and said: 'Arise and be healed!', and the maiden arose and was restored to health, and stood a long time expressing her gratitude and praise to God and begging Him not to deny her a martyr's death. A voice was heard from Heaven: 'Go, and it shall be to thee as thou desirest', and Aquilina went into the city. The city gates opened of their own accord to her, and she passed through them and went to the governor's palace like a ghost, standing before his bed and showing herself to him. The governor was seized with unspeakable terror when he saw the maiden whom he had thought dead. On the following day, he ordered the executioner to take Aquilina out and behead her with the sword. Before her execution, she knelt in prayer and surrendered her spirit into God's hands, leaving her dead body to be beheaded by the executioner. Her holy relics gave healing to many of the sick. Saint Aquilina was twelve (12) years old when she suffered for the Lord; she endured her Passion and was crowned with a wreath of martyrdom in the year 293 A.D.
Meekness and gentleness adorned the Saints and gave them the strength and the motive not to return evil for evil. When the Emperor Constantius, Constantine's son, fell ill in Antioch, he summoned Saint Spyridon to come and pray over him. In company with his deacon, Triphylllius, Saint Spyridon left Cyprus and, arriving at the Imperial Court in Antioch, asked for admittance. He was clad in poor clothing, with a simple woven cap on his head and a palm staff in his hand, and he was clutching to his breast a small earthware pot in which he had some oil that had been set before the Holy Cross (such being the tradition among Christians in Jerusalem), dressed in this way, worn out by fasting and the journey, the Saint gave no hint of his rank and dignity. And so, when he wished to set foot in the Emperor's Court, one of the Imperial servants, tasking him for a pauper, struck him a blow on one cheek. The meek and forgiving Saint turned the other cheek to him. When he managed, with great difficulty, to reach the Emperor, he placed his hand on Constantius's head, and the Emperor's son immediately recovered.
Homily -On the Path of Life and Path of Death.
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12).
Sometimes it may seem to a man that the path of the godless is right when he sees that the godless grow rich and enjoy success. But just let him be allowed to see the end of that path! He would be horrified, and would certainly never tread it.
If the end of a path is ruination, can that path be a right one? Therefore, O man, do not say that a certain path is right if you cannot see its end. You ask: 'How can I, a weak and shortsighted man, see the end of a long path?' By two methods: by reading the Holy Scripture within the experience of the Orthodox Christian Church and by observing the end of the earthly road of those who die around you and have died before you. But the first path is a far more reliable path and, if you keep to it, be sure you will not fall into the darkness of eternal death.
Only the path which God has shown us to be right can be the right path. All other paths, which may seem right to your mind but do not coincide with God's path, are all wrong and lead to death. Behold, even the wild beasts have their own paths, but would you go by those paths if they seemed right to you? Of course, you would not, because you would, in the end, fall into the hungry jaws of those wild beasts. But the road indicated by God is right, and, even if it seems wrong to you, go by it. Because we are sinful, God's path sometimes seems wrong to us. If we were not sinful and our minds were not led astray by sin, it would not be possible for us for even for a moment to think that there can be any other path of God. A mind that has been led astray reckons many wrong paths to be right and thinks the only right path to be wrong.
O All-seeing Lord, Who showest us the way, set our minds aright that we are not detained on false paths. Thou, O Jesus, art the Way, the Truth and the Life, and all that we invent apart from Thee is a dead end, a lie and death. To Thee be Glory and praise forever. Amen. (Source: The Prologue from Ochrid)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" - Saint John Chrysostomos
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God