Thursday, December 8, 2011

December 7, 2011 - 26th Wednesday After Pentecost (12th of Luke)

FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:

Ambrose, Bishop of Milan
Athenodoros the Martyr of Mesopotamia
Righteous Father Gerasimus, Ascetic of Euboia
Holy Father John of Kronstadt

Τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρός ἡμῶν Ἀμβροσίου, Ἐπισκόπου Μεδιολάνων.
Τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Ἀθηνοδώρου. Τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρός ἡμῶν Γερασίμου τοῦ ἀσκητοῦ τοῦ ἐξ Εὐβοίας.

READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:

The Reading is from St. Paul's First Letter to Timothy 1:18-20; 2:8-15
TIMOTHY, my son, this charge I commit to you in accordance with the prophetic utterances which pointed to you, that inspired by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith, among them Hymenaios and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; also that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire but by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion. Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

Πρὸς Τιμόθεον α' 1:18-20;2:8-15
Τέκνον Τιμόθεε, ταύτην τὴν παραγγελίαν παρατίθεμαί σοι, τέκνον Τιμόθεε, κατὰ τὰς προαγούσας ἐπὶ σὲ προφητείας, ἵνα στρατεύῃ ἐν αὐταῖς τὴν καλὴν στρατείαν, ἔχων πίστιν καὶ ἀγαθὴν συνείδησιν, ἥν τινες ἀπωσάμενοι περὶ τὴν πίστιν ἐναυάγησαν· ὧν ἐστιν Ὑμέναιος καὶ Ἀλέξανδρος, οὓς παρέδωκα τῷ Σατανᾷ, ἵνα παιδευθῶσιν μὴ βλασφημεῖν. Βούλομαι οὖν προσεύχεσθαι τοὺς ἄνδρας ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ, ἐπαίροντας ὁσίους χεῖρας, χωρὶς ὀργῆς καὶ διαλογισμοῦ. Ὡσαύτως καὶ τὰς γυναῖκας ἐν καταστολῇ κοσμίῳ, μετὰ αἰδοῦς καὶ σωφροσύνης, κοσμεῖν ἑαυτάς, μὴ ἐν πλέγμασιν, ἢ χρυσῷ, ἢ μαργαρίταις, ἢ ἱματισμῷ πολυτελεῖ, ἀλλʼ ὃ πρέπει γυναιξὶν ἐπαγγελλομέναις θεοσέβειαν, διʼ ἔργων ἀγαθῶν. Γυνὴ ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ μανθανέτω ἐν πάσῃ ὑποταγῇ. Γυναικὶ δὲ διδάσκειν οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω, οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός, ἀλλʼ εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ. Ἀδὰμ γὰρ πρῶτος ἐπλάσθη, εἶτα Εὔα· καὶ Ἀδὰμ οὐκ ἠπατήθη, ἡ δὲ γυνὴ ἀπατηθεῖσα ἐν παραβάσει γέγονεν· σωθήσεται δὲ διὰ τῆς τεκνογονίας, ἐὰν μείνωσιν ἐν πίστει καὶ ἀγάπῃ καὶ ἁγιασμῷ μετὰ σωφροσύνης.

The Reading is from Luke 21:5-8, 10-11, 20-24
At that time, as some spoke of the temple how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, "As for these things, which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down." And they asked him, "Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign when this is about to take place?" And he said, "Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he!' and, 'The time is at hand!' Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified; for this must first take place, but the end will not be at once."
Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.
But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it; for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! For great distress shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led captive among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."

Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 21.5-8, 10-11,
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, λεγόντων τινων τῷ Ἰησοῦ περὶ τοῦ ἱεροῦ, ὅτι λίθοις καλοῖς καὶ ἀναθήμασι κεκόσμηται, εἶπε· ταῦτα ἃ θεωρεῖτε, ἐλεύσονται ἡμέραι ἐν αἷς οὐκ ἀφεθήσεται λίθος ἐπὶ λίθῳ ὃς οὐ καταλυθήσεται. ἐπηρώτησαν δὲ αὐτὸν λέγοντες· διδάσκαλε, πότε οὖν ταῦτα ἔσται, καὶ τί τὸ σημεῖον ὅταν μέλλῃ ταῦτα γίνεσθαι; τότε ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς· ἐγερθήσεται ἔθνος ἐπὶ ἔθνος καὶ βασιλεία ἐπὶ βασιλείαν, σεισμοί τε μεγάλοι κατὰ τόπους καὶ λιμοὶ καὶ λοιμοὶ ἔσονται, φόβητρά τε καὶ σημεῖα ἀπ᾿ οὐρανοῦ μεγάλα ἔσται. ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε κυκλουμένην ὑπὸ στρατοπέδων τὴν ῾Ιερουσαλήμ, τότε γνῶτε ὅτι ἤγγικεν ἡ ἐρήμωσις αὐτῆς. τότε οἱ ἐν τῇ ᾿Ιουδαίᾳ φευγέτωσαν εἰς τὰ ὄρη, καὶ οἱ ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῆς ἐκχωρείτωσαν, καὶ οἱ ἐν ταῖς χώραις μὴ εἰσερχέσθωσαν εἰς αὐτήν, ὅτι ἡμέραι ἐκδικήσεως αὗταί εἰσι τοῦ πληρωθῆναι πάντα τὰ γεγραμμένα. οὐαὶ δὲ ταῖς ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσαις καὶ ταῖς θηλαζούσαις ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις· ἔσται γὰρ τότε ἀνάγκη μεγάλη ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ ὀργὴ τῷ λαῷ τούτῳ, καὶ πεσοῦνται στόματι μαχαίρας, καὶ αἰχμαλωτισθήσονται εἰς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, καὶ ῾Ιερουσαλὴμ ἔσται πατουμένη ὑπὸ ἐθνῶν ἄχρι πληρωθῶσι καιροὶ ἐθνῶν.

READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:

Τῇ Ζ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Ἀμβροσίου, Ἐπισκόπου Μεδιολάνων.
Τὸ φθαρτὸν Ἀμβρόσιος ἐκδὺς σαρκίον,
Θείας μετέσχεν ἀμβροσίας ἀξίως.
Ἑβδόμῃ Ἀμβρόσιος ποτὶ ἄμβροτον ἤλυθεν οὖδας.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Ἀθηνοδώρου.
Χαίρων Ἀθηνόδωρος, εἰ τμηθῇ ξίφει,
Ἀφῃρέθη τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ πρὸ τοῦ ξίφους.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ἅγιος Νεόφυτος, ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ βληθείς, τελειοῦται.
Θανὼν ὁ Νεόφυτος ὑδάτων μέσον,
Παρ᾿ ὑδάτων ζῇ μυστικῶν διεξόδους.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ἅγιος Δομέτιος, ξίφει τελειοῦται.
Δὸς Δομέτιε Χριστομάρτυς καὶ λάβε.
Δὸς τὴν κεφαλήν, καὶ λάβε στέφος μέγα.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ Ἅγιοι Ἰσίδωρος, Ἀκεψιμᾶς, καὶ Λέων πυρὶ τελειοῦνται.
Διττοῖς συνάθλοις Ἰσίδωρε συμφλέγου·
Ἴσων γὰρ αὐτοῖς δωρεῶν Θεοῦ τύχης.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀμμοῦν, Ἐπίσκοπος Νητρίας, ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Ἀμμοῦν πατρὸς κατεῖδες Νητρία τρία,
Κόσμου φυγήν, ἄσκησιν, ἔξοδον βίου.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ Ἅγιοι Μάρτυρες, Γαϊανὸς καὶ Γάϊος, πυρὶ τελειοῦνται.
Ἂν καὶ καμίνου Γάϊε βληθῇς μέσον,
Σοῦ Γαϊανὸς οὐκ ἀφέξομαι λέγει.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ Ἅγιοι τριακόσιοι Μάρτυρες, οἱ ἐν Ἀφρικῇ, ξίφει τελειοῦνται.
Δόξης ὑπὲρ σῆς, ὦ Τριάς, τετμημένην,
Διπλοτριπλῆν δέχου με ἑξηκοντάδα.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ὅσιος, Ἰγνάτιος, ὁ πλησίον τῶν Βλαχερνῶν κείμενος, ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Πλήρης ἀπῆλθες πράξεων χρηστῶν Πάτερ,
Ἐκ τοῦ ματαίου καὶ κακῶν πλήρους βίου.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου πατρὸς ἡμῶν Παύλου Μοναχοῦ, τοῦ ὑποτακτικοῦ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῶν ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Πρίσκου, Μαρτίνου καὶ Νικολάου· ὧν ὁ μὲν λιμῷ, ὁ δὲ πέλεξι κατακοπείς, ὁ δὲ τρίτος διὰ πυρός, ἐτελειώθησαν· Ἡ δὲ σύναξις αὐτῶν τελεῖται πλησίον τοῦ τείχους τῶν Βλαχερνῶν.
Λιμῷ θανόντα Πρίσκον ἄρτου γηΐνου,
Ὁ Χριστὸς ἄρτον ψωμιεῖ τῶν Ἀγγέλων.
Πέλεξι συγκόπτουσι Μαρτίνου κρέα,
Κρεῶν μακέλλαις δυσσεβεῖς ἀνθρωπίνων.
Ἐξῆλθε δόγμα δαίμοσι πλάνης θύειν,
Οἷς, Νικόλαε, μὴ θύων, εἰς πῦρ θύῃ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, τὰ Ἐγκαίνια τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Θεοτόκου, ἐν τοῖς Κουράτορος.
Ἧς ταῖς ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον καὶ σῶσον ἡμᾶς Ἀμήν.

This Saint was born in Gaul in 340, and was a member of the Roman Senate. After the death of Auxentius, the Arian Bishop of Milan, a violent dispute arose among the Orthodox and Arians about who would succeed him. Ambrose, desiring as Governor of the province to restore the peace, attempted to mediate between them. As he spoke to the people, eloquently persuading them to elect a new bishop without tumult and disorder, a young child, inspired from on high, suddenly cried out "Ambrose, bishop!" To his astonishment and dismay, the people immediately took up this cry themselves, and over his many protests, he was raised to the episcopal throne of Milan on December 7, 374. A great Father of the Church, he wrote many works in Latin, and was both an unwearying opponent of Arianism, and a fearless accuser of emperors when they transgressed the law of God. Having lived fifty-seven years, he reposed on April 4, on the eve of Pascha, in the year 397.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Κανόνα πίστεως καί εικόνα πραότητος, εγκρατείας Διδάσκαλον, ανέδειξέ σε τή ποίμνη σου, η τών πραγμάτων αλήθεια, διά τούτο εκτήσω τή ταπεινώσει τά υψηλά, τή πτωχεία τά πλούσια, Πάτερ Ιεράρχα Αμβρόσιε, πρέσβευε Χριστώ τώ Θεώ, σωθήναι τάς ψυχάς ημών.
The truth of things hath revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, an icon of meekness, and a teacher of temperance; for this cause, thou hast achieved the heights by humility, riches by poverty. O Father and Hierarch Ambrose, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
Θείοις δόγμασι περιαστράπτων, ἀπημαύρωσας Ἀρείου πλάνην, Ἱερομύστα καὶ ποιμὴν Ἀμβρόσιε, θαυματουργῶν δὲ δυνάμει τοῦ Πνεύματος, πάθη ποικίλα σαφῶς ἐθεράπευσας, Πάτερ Ὅσιε, Χριστὸν τὸν Θεὸν ἱκέτευε, δωρήσασθαι ἡμῖν τὸ μέγα ἔλεος.
Flashing lightning-like with godly doctrines, thou, O Ambrose, dravest off the darkness of the impious error of Arius; and working wonders and signs by the Spirit's might, thou, O good shepherd, didst heal divers sufferings. Righteous Father, thou initiate of sacred mysteries, entreat Christ God to grant great mercy unto us.

Saint John of Kronstadt was a married priest, who lived with his wife in virginity. Through his untiring labours in his priestly duties and love for the poor and sinners, he was granted by our Lord great gifts of clairvoyance and miracle - working, to such a degree that in the last years of his life miracles of healings - both of body and of soul - were performed countless times each day through his prayers, often for people who had only written to him asking his help. During his lifetime he was known throughout Russia, as well as in the Western world. He has left us his diary My Life in Christ as a spiritual treasure for Christians of every age; simple in language, it expounds the deepest mysteries of our Faith with that wisdom which is given only to a heart purified by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Foreseeing as a true prophet the Revolution Of 1917, he unsparingly rebuked the growing apostasy among the people; he foretold that the very name of Russia would be changed. As the darkness of unbelief grew thicker, he shone forth as a beacon of unquenchable piety, comforting the faithful through the many miracles that he worked and the fatherly love and simplicity with which he received all. Saint John reposed in peace in 1908.

Ενός γενναίου Ιεράρχου την μνήμη γιορτάζει σήμερα η Εκκλησία, του αγίου Αμβροσίου Επισκόπου Μεδιολάνων. Ο άγιος Αμβρόσιος σε πολλά ομοιάζει με το σύγχρονό του άγιο Βασίλειο και μάλιστα ως προς την γενναιότητα του φρονήματός του. Η στάση του απέναντι στην αρειανήν Ιουστίνα, μητέρα του βασιλέα Γρατιανού μοιάζει με τη στάση του Μεγάλου Βασιλείου απέναντι στον έπαρχο Μόδεστο και τα λόγια του προς τον αυτοκράτορα Θεοδόσιο θυμίζουν τα λόγια του Προφήτου Νάθαν προς τον Δαβίδ. Όταν οι αρειανοί θέλησαν να του πάρουν εκκλησίες, εκείνος απάντησε στον βασιλέα: "Ο Επίσκοπος δεν παραδίδει ποτέ ναούς του Κυρίου". Και στον Αυτοκράτορα Θεοδόσιο, μετά τη σφαγή επτά χιλιάδων ανθρώπων στην Θεσσαλονίκη, όταν θέλησε να μπη στο ναό και να κοινωνήση, ο Αμβρόσιος στάθηκε ακλόνητος. Ο αυτοκράτορας θέλησε να δικαιολογηθή πως και ο Δαβίδ αμάρτησε. Ο Αμβρόσιος του είπε: "Τον μιμήθηκες στο έγκλημα, μιμήσου τον και στην μετάνοια".

Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀμβρόσιος ἐπίσκοπος Μεδιολάνων
Ὁ Ἀμβρόσιος, διακεκριμένος Ῥωμαῖος πολίτης, γεννήθηκε περίπου τὸ 340 μ.Χ. Σπούδασε ῥητορική, φιλοσοφία καὶ νομικά. Στὰ Μεδιόλανα ἀσχολήθηκε μὲ τὸ ἐπάγγελμα τοῦ δικαστῆ. Φύλαττε μὲ λόγια καὶ ἔργα τὴν ἀλήθεια καὶ ἀπέδιδε ἀντικειμενικὰ τὴν δικαιοσύνη, ἂν καὶ δὲν εἶχε βαπτισθεῖ ἀκόμα χριστιανός. Ὅσον ἀφορᾷ σ᾿ αὐτὸ ὅμως, ἀπαντᾷ ὁ θεόπνευστος λόγος τῆς Ἁγίας Γραφῆς: «Ἀλλ᾿ ἐν παντὶ ἔθνει ὁ φοβούμενος αὐτὸν καὶ ἐργαζόμενος δικαιοσύνην δεκτὸς αὐτῷ ἐστι». Δηλαδή, σὲ κάθε ἔθνος, ὁποῖος σέβεται τὸ Θεὸ καὶ πολιτεύεται στὴ ζωή του μὲ δικαιοσύνη, εἶναι δεκτὸς ἀπ᾿ Αὐτὸν καὶ εἶναι δυνατὸν νὰ ἀρέσει σ᾿ Αὐτόν. Καὶ πράγματι, ὁ Ἀμβρόσιος μὲ τὴ ζωή του ἄρεσε στὸ Θεό. Γι᾿ αὐτὸ καὶ τὸν ἀξίωσε νὰ βαπτισθεῖ χριστιανός, νὰ γίνει ἔπειτα ἀναγνώστης, καὶ ἀφοῦ μέσα σὲ λίγο χρονικὸ διάστημα πέρασε ὅλους τοὺς ἐκκλησιαστικοὺς βαθμούς, μετὰ ἀπὸ ἀπόφαση τοῦ βασιλιᾶ Οὐαλεντιανοῦ τοῦ Α´, χειροτονήθηκε ἐπίσκοπος Μεδιολάνων. Σὰν ἐπίσκοπος, ὁ Ἀμβρόσιος ποίμανε ἄριστα τὸ ποίμνιό του, ἀγωνίστηκε κατὰ τῶν αἱρέσεων, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸ βασιλιὰ Θεοδόσιο δὲν ἐπέτρεψε νὰ εἰσέλθει στὸ ναό, παρὰ μόνο ὅταν μετάνιωσε εἰλικρινὰ γιὰ τοὺς φόνους ποὺ ἔκανε στὸν Ἱππόδρομο τῆς Θεσσαλονίκης. Ὁ Ἀμβρόσιος πέθανε εἰρηνικὰ τὸ ἔτος 397 μ.Χ., σὲ ἡλικία 57 χρονῶν.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀθηνόδωρος
Ὑπερβολικὰ θαυμαστὴ ὑπῆρξε ἡ εὐψυχία, μὲ τὴν ὁποία ὑπέφερε φρικιαστικὰ μαρτύρια, ἐπειδὴ ἐπέμενε στὴν ὁμολογία τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Ὁ ἅγιος Ἀθηνόδωρος καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Μεσοποταμία καὶ μαρτύρησε ὅταν αὐτοκράτορας ἦταν ὁ Διοκλητιανὸς (290). Ἔτσι λοιπόν, στὴν ἀρχὴ τοῦ ἔκαψαν τὶς σάρκες μὲ ἀναμμένες ἀπὸ ῥητίνη λαμπάδες. Ἔπειτα, τοῦ ἔβαλαν στὶς μασχάλες σιδερένιες πυρακτωμένες σφαῖρες. Καὶ στὴ συνέχεια τὸν ξάπλωσαν σὲ χάλκινο πυρωμένο τάπητα. Ἀλλ᾿ ἡ καρτερία ποὺ ἔδειξε σ᾿ ὅλα αὐτὰ τὰ μαρτύρια καὶ οἱ θερμὲς προσευχές του πρὸς τὸν Ὕψιστο, τράβηξαν στὴ χριστιανικὴ πίστη πενήντα εἰδωλολάτρες. Ἔτσι παρέδωσε τὴν ἁγία του ψυχή, ἀφοῦ προετοίμασε γιὰ τὸν οὐρανὸ καὶ ἄλλες ἐκλεκτὲς διὰ τῆς ἀληθινῆς ἀρετῆς ψυχές.

Οἱ Ἅγιοι 300 Μάρτυρες ποὺ μαρτύρησαν στὴν Ἀφρική
Μαρτύρησαν τὸν 5ο αἰῶνα μετὰ Χριστὸν στὰ χρόνια τοῦ βασιλιᾶ Ζήνωνα. Τότε στὴν Ἀφρικὴ δυὸ ἐπίσκοποι Μονοφυσῖτες, ὁ Κύριλλος καὶ ὁ Βαλινάρδης, ἔπεισαν τὸν ἄρχοντα Ὀνώριχο, μονοφυσίτη καὶ αὐτόν, νὰ κινήσει ἄγριο καὶ φονικὸ διωγμὸ ἐναντίον τῶν χριστιανῶν. Οἱ ἐν λόγῳ λοιπὸν Μάρτυρες, καταγγέλθηκαν καὶ ἐπέμειναν στὴν ὀρθόδοξη ὁμολογία καὶ ἔτσι ὅλοι πέθαναν δι᾿ ἀποκεφαλισμοῦ. Μεταξὺ αὐτῶν, ἦταν γέροντες, νέοι καὶ οἰκογενειάρχες, ἀλλὰ ὅλοι ὑπέστησαν τὸ μαρτύριο γενναιότατα, ἀληθινοὶ ἥρωες τῆς θρησκείας τοῦ Σταυροῦ.

Ἅγιοι Ὀρθόδοξοι Μάρτυρες ποὺ κάηκαν μέσα σὲ Ναό
Αὐτοὶ κάηκαν ζωντανοὶ ἀπὸ τοὺς Ἀρειανοὺς στὴν Καρχηδόνα, τὴν στιγμὴ ποὺ ἦταν συναθροισμένοι στὸν Ναὸ καὶ προσεύχονταν.

Οἱ Ἅγιοι Δύο ἱερεῖς
Αὐτοὶ μαρτύρησαν στὴν Καρχηδόνα στὰ χρόνια τοῦ βασιλιᾶ Ζήνωνα (474-476) καὶ ὅταν ἄρχοντας ἐκεῖ ἦταν ὁ Ὀνώριχος ὁ Ἀρειανός. Ἀφοῦ τοὺς συνέλαβαν, τοὺς θανάτωσαν μαρτυρικὰ μὲ πριόνισμα.

Οἱ Ἅγιοι 60 ἱερεῖς
Ἀφοῦ συνελήφθησαν μαζὶ μὲ τοὺς πιὸ πάνω Μάρτυρες, θανατώθηκαν, ἀφοῦ τοὺς ἔκοψαν τὶς γλῶσσες.

Ἡ Ἁγία Ὀρθόδοξη γυναίκα ποὺ μαρτύρησε στὴ Ῥώμη
Κάηκε ζωντανὴ στὴ Ῥώμη, ἐπειδὴ δὲν θέλησε νὰ δεχτεῖ τὸν Ἀρειανισμὸ καὶ προτίμησε τὴν Ὀρθοδοξία.

Ὁ Ὅσιος Παῦλος ὁ Ὑποτακτικός
Ἀπὸ ποὺ ἦταν καὶ ποὺ μόναζε οἱ Συναξαριστὲς δὲν τὸ ἀναφέρουν. Ἀναφέρουν μόνο μερικὲς παράδοξες θαυματουργίες του, ὅτι δηλαδὴ ἔβαλε τὸ χέρι του μέσα σὲ καυτὴ πίσσα χωρὶς νὰ καεῖ καὶ ἄλλα παρόμοια. Ἀπὸ τὴν Μονή του, στὴν ὁποία εἶχε φήμη Ἁγίου καὶ θαυματουργοῦ, ἀναχώρησε στὰ Ἱεροσόλυμα καί, ἀφοῦ προσκύνησε τοὺς Ἁγίους Τόπους, πέρασε στὴν Κύπρο, ὅπου ἀσκήτευε πάνω σ᾿ ἕνα βουνὸ γιὰ ἀρκετὰ χρόνια. Ἐπειδὴ ὅμως τὸν ἐνοχλοῦσαν οἱ προστρέχοντας σ᾿ αὐτόν, ἔφυγε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη καί, ἀφοῦ ἀνέβηκε μὲ θεία προσταγὴ στὸ ὄρος Παρηγοριά, ἀπεβίωσε μετὰ ἀπὸ μικρὸ χρονικὸ διάστημα.

Ὁ Ὅσιος Γρηγόριος ὁ Ἡσυχαστής
Ἔζησε στὰ μέσα τοῦ 14 αἰῶνα μ.Χ. καὶ ὑπῆρξε κτήτορας τῆς Μονῆς Ἁγίου Νικολάου τοῦ Ἁγίου Ὄρους, ποὺ σήμερα ὀνομάζεται Μονὴ Γρηγορίου, ἀπὸ τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ κτήτορα.Ἔζησε ὁσιακὰ καὶ ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά.

Ὁ Ὅσιος Γεράσιμος ὁ ἐξ Εὐρίπου (Εὐβοίας)
Ἱεραπόστολος τῆς Ἑλλάδας κατὰ τοὺς χρόνους τῆς φραγκοκρατίας (μέσα 13ου αἰῶνα - περὶ τὸ 1320). Γεννήθηκε στὴ νῆσο Εὔριπο (Εὔβοια) ἀπὸ πλούσιους καὶ εὐγενεῖς γονεῖς. Οἱ γονεῖς τοῦ Γερασίμου κατάγονταν ἀπὸ τὴν δυτικὴ φραγκικὴ οἰκογένεια τοῦ Ῥήγα Φάτζου. Κατὰ τὸ δεύτερο μισὸ τοῦ 13ου αἰῶνα, ὁ Γεράσιμος ἦλθε στὸ Σινᾶ, στὴ Μονὴ τῆς Ἁγίας Αἰκατερίνης. Ἐκεῖ γνώρισε τὸ «ὑπερβάλλον» τῆς ἀρετῆς τοῦ Γρηγορίου τοῦ Σιναΐτου, προσκολλήθηκε σ᾿ αὐτὸν καὶ ἔγινε ἕνας ἀπὸ τοὺς μαθητές του. Ἔτσι ἔφθασε σὲ μεγάλο ὕψος πράξεως καὶ θεωρίας, ὥστε νὰ γίνει γιὰ τοὺς ἄλλους «ὑπόδειγμα καὶ ἀρχέτυπον τῶν καλῶν ἁπάντων» καὶ «ἐκμαγεῖον ἀρετῶν». Ὅταν ὁ Γρηγόριος ὁ Σιναΐτης ἐγκατέλειψε τὸ Σινᾶ, ὁ μαθητής του Γεράσιμος τὸν ἀκολούθησε καὶ ὅταν ἔφθασαν στὴν Ἑλλάδα, στάθμευσαν γιὰ λίγο στοὺς Καλοὺς λιμένες τῆς Κρήτης, ἀπὸ ὅπου ὁ μὲν Γρηγόριος ὁ Σιναΐτης κατευθύνθηκε στὸ Ἅγιον Ὄρος, ὁ δὲ Γεράσιμος ἀποβιβάστηκε στὴν ἠπειρωτικὴ Ἑλλάδα, ὅπου καὶ ἔδρασε ἱεραποστολικά. Τελικά, ἐπέστρεψε ὡς μοναχὸς Γεράσιμος Σιναΐτης στὴν ἰδιαίτερη πατρίδα του, τὴν Εὔβοια.

Our Father among the Saints Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (397)
This illustrious light of Orthodoxy in the Western Church was born in Gaul in 349, but his widowed mother took the family to Rome while he was still a small child. Brilliant and well-educated, he was made a provincial Governor in 375 and took up residence in Milan. In those days, the Arian heresy was still dividing the Church, despite its repudiation at the Council of Nicaea in 325. When the time came to elect a new Bishop in Milan, the Orthodox and Arian parties were so divided that they could come to no agreement on a new Bishop. When Ambrose came as Governor to try to restore peace and order, a young child, divinely inspired, called out "Ambrose, Bishop!" To Ambrose's amazement, the people took up the cry, and Ambrose himself was elected, though he tried to refuse, protesting that he was only a catechumen (it was still common in those days to delay Holy Baptism for fear of polluting it by sin). He even attempted to flee, but his horse brought him back to the city. Resigning himself to God's will, he was baptized and, only a week later, elevated to Bishop. Immediately, he renounced all possessions, distributed all of his money to the poor and gave his estates to the Church. Straightaway, he entered into a spirited defense of Orthodoxy in his preaching and writings to the dismay of the Arians who had supported his election. Soon he persuaded Gratian, Emperor of the West, to call the Council of Aquilea, which brought an end to Arianism in the Western Church. (Arianism, however, continued to prosper among the barbarian nations for many years; see the Martyrs of Africa, also commemorated today).
Several times the holy Bishop was called upon to defend the Church against domination by the secular powers. Once, putting down an uprising in Thessalonika, the Emperor Theodosius punished the city by ordering the massacre of thousands of its residents. When the Emperor later visited Milan and came to the Cathedral to attend the Liturgy, Saint Ambrose stopped him at the door, condemned his crime before all the people, forbade him entrance to the church and excommunicated him for eight months. The Emperor went away weeping, and submitted in humility to the Church's discipline. When he returned after long penance to be restored to Communion, he went into the sanctuary along with the clergy, as had been the custom of the Emperors since Constantine the Great. But again the holy Ambrose humbled him in the sight of all the people, saying "Get out and take your place among the laity; the purple does not make priests, but only emperors." Theodosius left without protest, took his place among the penitents, and never again attempted to enter the sanctuary of a church. (When the Emperor died, it was Bishop Ambrose who preached his funeral eulogy).
Saint Ambrose, by teaching, preaching and writing, brought countless pagans to the Faith. His most famous convert was St Augustine (June 15), who became his disciple and eventually a bishop. Ambrose's many theological and catechetical works helped greatly to spread the teaching of the Greek fathers in the Latin world. He wrote many glorious antiphonal hymns which were once some of the gems of the Latin services.
Saint Ambrose reposed in peace in 397; his relics still rest in the basilica in Milan.

The Martyrs of Africa, who suffered during the Vandal persecution (429 and following)
In the year 429, Eighty thousand Vandals crossed from Spain into Africa and, in the course of ten years of massacre and pillage, gained control of most of the Roman territories of North Africa. Many people picture these barbarians as pagans, but they were in fact Arian heretics, who under their leader Genseric began a fierce persecution of the Church wherever they encountered it. The tortures that many thousands endured in their confession of the Faith are too horrible to describe here; the clergy were singled out for special cruelty.
Today we especially commemorate the Orthodox faithful whom the Vandals burned to death in their church, who went on singing hymns and praising God until the moment of their death. We also commemorate the three hundred Martyrs in Carthage who died by the sword rather than submit to Arian baptism.
The death of Genseric in 454 brought little relief, for after a short hiatus his successors Huneric (477-484) and Gonthamund (484-497) continued the persecution as viciously as before. Christian Africa lived under the Vandal yoke for almost 100 years: freedom from persecution was not secure until Justinian's forces overcame and drove off the Vandals in 523-525. The African Church, once a beacon of Christianity, never recovered its former vitality.
Our Venerable Father Antony of Siya (1556)

Saint Anthony is one of the holy protectors of iconographers.
He was born in 1477 in a Russian village near Archangel. From an early age he devoted himself to reading sacred books and making icons. When his parents died, he entered the service of a wealthy lord in Novgorod, and later married the lord's daughter. But less than a year after his marriage he was widowed. Despairing of earthly consolations, he gave his wealth to the poor and, owning only the clothes that he wore, went to become a monk at the Monastery of St Pachomius. There he excelled in prayer, vigil and ascesis, praying for most of the night, taking on the heaviest work by day, and eating only every second day. After a short time he was ordained to the priesthood.
Some years later he and two companions, seeking a more secluded life for prayer, traveled to the frigid shores of the White Sea and established a small monastic brotherhood where the River Siya enters Lake Mikhailov. They lived in utter poverty, staying alive by gathering mushrooms and wild berries. Many times they heard the sound of bells, though there was no church or habitation anywhere nearby. In time other brethren were attracted to the site, and a monastery was founded with the help of the Grand Prince of Moscow. When the monastery church burned down, an icon of the Holy Trinity painted by St Antony miraculously survived unscathed, and later worked many miracles. The Saint himself withdrew into the forests, living alone for many years until he was called back by his spiritual children to serve as the monastery's abbot. Having foreseen his own end, he reposed in peace in 1556. He asked that his body be thrown into the lake, but his disciples, obedient in every other way, did not fulfil his request. His tomb was the source of many miracles in the coming years.

Sainted Ambrose, Bishop of Mediolanum (Milan), was born in the year 340 into the family of the Roman governor of Gaul (now France). Even in the saint's childhood there appeared presentiments of his great future. Thus, one time bees covered the face of the sleeping infant and they flew away after leaving honey on his tongue.
After the death of the father of the family, Ambrose journeyed off to Rome, where the future saint and his brother Satyrus received a most excellent, for their time, law education. About the year 370, upon completion of his course of study, Ambrose was appointed to the official position of governor (consular prefect) of districts of Liguria and AEmilia, though he continued to live at Mediolanum (now Milan). In the year 374 the bishop of Mediolanum, Auxentius, died. This entailed complications between the Orthodox and the Arians, since each side wanted to have its own bishop. Ambrose, as the chief city official, set off to the church for presiding over the agenda. When he turned from speaking to the crowd, suddenly some child cried out: "Ambrose -- bishop!" The people took up this chant. Ambrose, who at this time was still in the rank of the catechumens, considered himself unworthy, and began to refuse. He attempted falsely to disparage himself, and moreover tried to flee from Mediolanum. The matter went ultimately before the emperor Valentinian the Elder (364-375), whose orders Ambrose dared not disobey. He accepted holy Baptism from an Orthodox priest and, -- having in a mere seven days passed through all the ranks of the Church clergy, on 7 December 374 he was ordained to the dignity of bishop of Mediolanum and at once he dispersed all his possessions, money and property for the embellishment of churches, the upkeep of orphans and the poor, and he turned himself towards a strict ascetic life.
Ambrose combined strict temperance, intense vigilance and work within the fulfilling of his duties as pastor. Saint Ambrose, defending the unity of the Church, energetically opposed the spread of heresy. Thus, in the year 379 he traveled off to set up an Orthodox bishop at Sirmium, and in 385-386 he refused to hand over the basilica of Mediolanum to the Arians.
The preaching of Saint Ambrose in defense of Orthodoxy was deeply influential. Another noted father of the Western Church, Blessed Augustine (Comm. 15 June), gave witness to this, having in the year 387 accepted holy Baptism by the grace of the preaching of the bishop of Mediolanum.
Saint Ambrose also actively partic ipated in civil matters. Thus, the emperor Gracian (375-383), having received from him the "Exposition of the Orthodox Faith" (De Fide), removed -- by decree of the saint -- the altar of Victory from the halls of the Senate at Rome, on which oaths were wont to be taken. Displaying a pastoral boldness, Saint Ambrose placed a severe penance on the emperor Theodosius I (379-395) for a massacre of innocent inhabitants of the city of Soluneia (Thessalonika). For him there was no difference between emperor and common person: having then released Theodosius from the penance, the saint would not permit the emperor to commune at the altar, but compelled him to stand together with all the flock.
Fame about Bishop Ambrose and his actions attracted to him many followers from other lands. From faraway Persia came to him students of sagacity, wanting to discern the Truth. Fritigelda, queen of the military Germanic tribe of the Markomanni, which often had attacked Mediolanum, asked the saint to instruct her in the Christian faith. The saint in his letter to her persuasively stated the dogmas of the Church. And having become a believer, the queen converted her own husband to Christianity and persuaded him to seal a treaty of peace with the Roman empire.
The saint combined strictness with an uncommon kindliness. Granted a gift of wonderworking, he healed many from sickness. One time at Florence, staying at the house of Decentus, he resurrected a dead boy.
The repose of Saint Ambrose, who expired to God on the night of Holy Pascha, was accompanied by many miracles, -- and he even appeared in a vision to the children being baptised this night. The saint was buried in the Ambrosian basilica in Mediolanum, beneathe the altar, between the Martyrs Protasius and Gervasius.
A zealous preacher and valiant defender of the Christian faith, Saint Ambrose received particular reknown as a Church writer. In dogmatic compositions he set forth the Orthodox teaching about the Holy Trinity, the Sacraments and Repentance: "Five Books about the Faith" ("De Fide"); "Explication of the Symbol of the Faith" ("Explanatio Symboli"); "About the Incarnation" ("De Incarnationis"); "Three Books about the Holy Spirit" ("De Spiritu Sancto"); "About the Sacraments" ("De Sacramento"); "Two Books about Repentance" ("De Paenitentia"). In writings about Christian morality, he explained the excellence of Christian moral teaching compared to pagan moral teaching. A well-known work of Saint Ambrose, "About the Duties of Clergy-Servers" ("De Officiis Ministrorum") evidences a deep awareness by him of pastoral duty; in it is contained not only the command for proper knowledge of Church-services, but the proper knowledge also of moral precepts, for those that serve in the Church. Saint Ambrose was also a reformer of Church-singing. He introduced into the western Church antiphonal singing (along the Eastern or Syrian form), which became known as "Ambrosian Chant"; and he composed 12 hymns, which were used during his lifetime. His solemn thanksgiving hymn, -- "Thou, O God, we praise" (Te Deum), composed in the year 386, entered into the Divine-services of the Orthodox Church.

The Monk Nil of Stolobensk was born into a peasant family in a small village of the Novgorod diocese. In the year 1505 he took monastic vows at the monastery of the Monk Savva of Krypetsk near Pskov. After 10 years in ascetic life at the monastery he set out to the River Sereml', on the side of the city of Ostashkova; here for 13 years he led a strict ascetic life in incessant struggle against the snares of the devil, who took on the appearance of apparitions -- reptiles and wild beasts. Many of the inhabitants of the surrounding area started coming to the monk for instruction, but this became burdensome for him and he prayed God to point out to him a place for deeds of quietude. One time after long prayer he heard a voice: "Nil! Go to Lake Seliger. There upon the island of Stolobensk thou canst be saved!" From people that came to him the Monk Nil learned the whereabouts of the island; when he arrived there, he was astonished at its beauty.
In the midst of the lake -- the island was covered over by dense forest; on it the monk found a small hill and dug out a cave, and after a certain while he built himself an hut, in which he lived for 26 years. Exploits of strict fasting and quietude [ie. hesychia] he accompanied with another and unique effort -- he never lay down to sleep, but permitted himself only a light nap, leaning on a prop set into the wall of the cell.
The pious life of the monk many a time roused the envy of the enemy of mankind, which evidenced itself through the spiteful action of the local inhabitants. One time someone set fire to the woods on the island where stood the hut of the monk, but the flames upon reaching the hill in miraculous manner went out. Another time robbers forced themselves into the hut. The monk said to them: "All my treasure is in the corner of the cell". In this corner stood an icon of the Mother of God, but the robbers began to search there for money and became blinded. Then with tears of repentance they begged the monk for forgiveness.
Many other miracles done by the monk are known of. He was wont to quietly refuse an offering if the conscience of the one offering it to him was impure, or if they were in bodily impurity.
In an awareness of his end, the Monk Nil prepared for himself a grave. And at the time of his death they came to him on the island an hegumen from one of the nearby monasteries and communed him with the Holy Mysteries. Before the departure of the hegumen, the Monk Nil for a last time made prayer and censed round the holy icons and the cell, and gave up to the Lord his immortal soul on 7 December 1554. The glorification of his holy relics (now venerated at the Znamenie Icon of the Mother of God church in the city of Ostashkova) was done in the year 1667, with feastdays established both on the day of his death and on 27 May.

The Monk Antonii of Siisk, in the world Andrei, was born into a family of rich farmers in the village of Kekhta near the North Dvina river. In childhood he received a fine education, read much and learned iconography. Bereaved of his parents, Andrei set off to Novgorod and for five years worked for a boyar (nobleman) there. He later married, but his wife died after a year. Then Andrei decided to dedicate himself to monasticism. He distributed his goods to the poor and as a wanderer came to the Pakhomiev wilderness-monastery at the River Kena. The Monk Pakhomii gave him monastic vows with the name Antonii. Soon they had him ordained to the dignity of priest-monk, and the monk by himself -- with the blessing of the hegumen, made the Divine-services. He went out together with the other monks of the monastery to work for the monastic needs in common. Out of love for solitude the Monk Antonii eventually left the Pakhomiev wilderness, -- having chosen from the monastic brethren two companions, and he settled upon Mikhailov island, on the one side washed by the River Sii, and on the other, by encircling lakes. In this harsh frontier within the dense thickets a chapel was built by Antonii in 1520. But to clear the forest required difficult work, and the companions of Antonii began to grumble against him. And just then quite unexpectedly an unknown man began to furnish them the means of subsistence, offering even money for good measure. The Siisk monastery became reknown, and inhabitants of surrounding villages often visited it. And again the Monk Antonii, taking one disciple, withdrew to a still more remote place on Lake Palun. There, in a solitary cell, he dwelt for three years. When the hegumen Theoktist refused further to guide the Siisk monastery, the brethren tried to persuade the Monk Antonii to return to them. He finally acceded to the request of the monks, again became hegumen and piously guided the monastery until his death in the year 1556, when he was 79 years old.

THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:

1. Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Mediolanum (Milan)
This great holy father of the Orthodox Church was of eminent birth. His father was the imperial deputy of Gaul and Spain and was a pagan by faith, but his mother was a Christian. While he was still in the cradle, a swarm of bees settled on him, poured honey onto his lips, and flew away. And while still a child, he extended his hand and spoke prophetically: ``Kiss it, for I will be a bishop.'' After his father's death, the emperor appointed him as his representative in the province of Liguria, of which Milan was the chief city. When the bishop of Milan died, a great dispute arose between the Orthodox Christians and the Arian heretics concerning the election of a new bishop. Ambrose entered the church to maintain order, this being his duty. At that moment, a child at its mother's bosom exclaimed: ``Ambrose for bishop!'' All the people took this as the voice of God, and unanimously elected Ambrose as their bishop, contrary to his will. Ambrose was baptized, passed through all the necessary ranks and was consecrated to the episcopacy, all within a week. As bishop, Ambrose strengthened the Orthodox Faith, suppressed the heretics, adorned churches, spread the Faith among the pagans, wrote many instructive books, and served as an example of a true Christian and a true Christian shepherd. He composed the famous hymn ``We Praise Thee, O God.'' This glorious hierarch, whom men visited from distant lands for his wisdom and sweetness of words, was very restrained, diligent and vigilant. He slept very little, labored and prayed constantly, and fasted every day except Saturday and Sunday. Therefore, God allowed him to witness many of His miracles and to perform miracles himself. He discovered the relics of the Holy Martyrs Protasius, Gervasius, Nazarius and Celsus (October 14). Meek toward lesser men, he was fearless before the great. He reproached Empress Justina as a heretic, cursed Maximus the tyrant and murderer, and forbade Emperor Theodosius to enter a church until he had repented of his sin. He also refused to meet with Eugenius, the tyrannical and self-styled emperor. God granted this man, so pleasing to Him, such grace that he even raised the dead, drove out demons from men, healed the sick of every infirmity, and foresaw the future. Ambrose died peacefully on the morning of Pascha in the year 397.

2. The Venerable Gregory the Hesychast
Gregory was a Serb by birth. He was the founder of the Monastery of St. Nicholas on the Holy Mountain, known as ``Gregoriou'' after him. His cell, where he prayed in silence and repented, can be found about a quarter of an hour distance from the monastery. In the year 1761, there was a great fire in the monastery, and on this occasion some of the monks took his relics and translated them to Serbia. This man of God entered peacefully into rest in the year 1406.

3. The Venerable Nilus of Stolbensk
Nilus was a farmer and was born in Novgorod. Withdrawing into the wilderness, he fed on plants. At the instruction of a voice from on high, he settled on the island of Stolbensk. Once, some robbers entered his cell in order to plunder it, and they were immediately blinded. He dug a grave for himself close to his cell and wept over it every day. Nilus entered into rest peacefully and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of Christ in the year 1554. His miracle-working relics rest in the place where he fasted.

HYMN OF PRAISE
Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan
Ambrose, converted late in life,
Ambrose, soon consecrated,
A pillar of truth, a light of piety,
A soldier of Christ, a persecutor of impiety,
He divinely served the Church of God,
And the Church repaid its shepherd.
In hymns and with love, the Church glorifies him,
And angels are among those who glorify him.
The Church glorifies him as a father,
As a shepherd, and as a miracle-worker;
And as a wise man equal to Solomon,
The whole universe recognizes him,
The invisible as well as the visible,
And to the Living God it renders praise.
Thee, O God, we also glorify,
And to Thy power we bow down-
To Thy might and Thy mercy,
Eternal justice, wondrous wisdom.
Most beautifully Thy glory shone
Through Thy wonderful St. Ambrose.
O how merciful art Thou, O God,
O how wondrous art Thou in Thy saints!

REFLECTION
Brethren, God returns a loan a hundredfold, when it is lent to Him through the poor. At one time, there was a Christian woman married to a pagan, and they lived together in love and poverty. When the husband, with much difficulty, saved up fifty silver pieces, he told his wife that this money should be given to someone as a loan with interest. Otherwise, he stated, they would spend their savings coin by coin, and again they would be left with nothing. His wife replied: ``If you want to loan it out, lend it to the Christian God.'' ``And where is the Christian God?'' the husband asked. His wife led him to the church and told him to distribute the money to the beggars in front of the church, saying to her husband: ``The Christian God will accept this from them, since all of them are His.'' They distributed all fifty silver pieces to the poor and returned home. After a period of time, they were left without any bread in the house. Then the wife told her husband to go to the church, and he would receive the money that he loaned to God. The man went to the church and saw only beggars there, and in his perplexity as to who would give him money, he walked around the church. Suddenly he saw a silver coin in front of him. He took it, purchased a fish with it, and brought the fish home. He complained to his wife that he had not seen anyone and no one had given him anything, but that he accidentally had found a silver coin. His wife replied: ``God is invisible and works in an unseen manner.'' When the wife cut open the fish, she found a glittering stone in it. She gave this stone to her husband and he took it to a merchant to see what he could get for it. The merchant offered him five silver pieces, and the man began to laugh, thinking that the merchant was joking by offering him such a high price. However, the merchant, thinking that the man was laughing because of the small price he had offered him, then offered him ten, then fifteen, then thirty, then fifty silver pieces. The man, realizing that it was a precious stone, began to hesitate. The merchant raised the price higher and higher until he reached the price of three hundred silver pieces. Then the man accepted the three hundred silver pieces and went home joyfully. ``Do you see how good the Christian God is?'' his wife said to him. The amazed husband was immediately baptized and, together with his wife, glorified God.

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate the sinful fall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3):
1. How God drove Adam and Eve out of Paradise;
2. How He placed the Cherubim with a flaming sword before the gate of Paradise;
3. How Paradise remained closed to men until the advent of Christ the Lord on earth.

HOMILY
on how all that God created was very good
And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good (Genesis 1:31).
Brethren, when all the parts of a building are good, then the building in its entirety is very good. Every single brick is good, and every stone, the mortar and the lime, and the beams and the pillars-but man is moved to admiration only when he views the entire structure. Oftentimes, a certain detail in the building seems unintelligible and inappropriate to him, but he forgets about this in a moment when he turns his gaze upon the whole. And, indeed, there are many details in this world, as well as in things and in events, that are unintelligible and inappropriate to us. Only when the entire thing as a whole is revealed to us do we understand and are reassured. We consider many of the sufferings and deprivations in our lives as truly ugly and senseless at the time they occur. However, when days and years pass, those very sufferings and deprivations shine as precious stones in our memory, illumining the later path of our life. Therefore, if something in God's creation offends you, look at the whole; if something in life embitters you, wait patiently with faith and hope for new days and years. And if this entire life seems painful and sorrowful to you, raise your spiritual eyes to the other world, and you will have peace and joy. For this entire visible world is not a perfect whole-the other world also exists. For it is said: God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1). Even an artist directs the viewer to look at his painting from a distance, so that he may see it in all its beauty.
O Lord, O Immortal Artist, how very good is everything that Thou hast created!
 To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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