Prologue entry for 01/08/23 (read on 01/21/23 on the Old Calendar)
1. The Holy Martyrs Julian And Basilissa
Julian and Basilissa were of noble and wealthy parents. United in marriage, they vowed to live chastely as brother and sister. They distributed all of their property to the poor and both were tonsured. Julian founded a monastery and Basilissa founded a convent. Julian had about ten-thousand monks and Basilissa about a thousand nuns. When a terrible persecution began under Diocletian, Basilissa implored God that none of her nuns would become frightened of the tortures and would not fall away from the Orthodox Faith. The Lord heard the prayers of His worthy handmaiden and, in the course of six months, received unto Himself all the nuns, one by one, and finally their abbess, Basilissa. Before her death, Basilissa had a vision of her nuns from the other world. All of them appeared to her radiant and joyful as angels of God, and beckoned their spiritual mother to come to them as soon as possible. Unlike Basilissa’s convent, Julian’s monastery was set ablaze by the persecutors, and Julian was inhumanly tortured and reposed amidst the most difficult sufferings. During his tortures, the Lord watched over him and strengthened him, so that he heroically endured, preserved his Faith, and glorified the name of Christ. Beheaded with Julian were Celsus and Maronilla, the son and the wife of the tormentor Marcian, who–witnessing Julian’s heroism in suffering and torture–were themselves converted to the Christian Faith. Also beheaded were twenty Roman soldiers, seven brothers from that town, the presbyter Anthony, and a certain Anastasius, whom Julian, at the time of his torture, resurrected from the dead by prayer. All suffered honorably for Christ and became citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom in about the year 313 A.D.
2. The Venerable George The Chozibite
George lived an ascetical life in the seventh century in the Choziba Monastery in Jericho on the road from Jerusalem, the monastery where the Venerable John the Chozibite first led an ascetical life.
3. Saint Domnica
During the reign of Emperor Theodosius, Domnica, unbaptized, came from Carthage to Constantinople with four other pagan maidens. Patriarch Macarius baptized them and gave his blessing to them to live as nuns. With great zeal, St. Domnica gave herself up to a life of asceticism and did not waver in that zeal until her death in extreme old age. She reposed in the Lord in about 474 A.D. She was so enlightened by the Holy Spirit that she was able to discern events in the future and work miracles through prayer.
4. Saint Gregory, Bishop Of Ohrid
Gregory was a devout teacher and shepherd of Christ’s flock. He reposed in the year 1012 A.D. In one of the inscriptions in the Church of St. Sophia in Ohrid, he is referred to as “Gregory, the all-wise.”
Hymn Of Praise
Saints Julian And Basilissa
Bound together by marriage, but bound more closely to Christ
In spiritual union, a union more lasting.
In the Book of the Living, their names, the Spirit wrote:
"Brother Julian and Sister Basilissa."
They forsook all and after Christ they followed,
And when the hour struck, their lives they gave up
For the love of God, for the love of the Triune Sun.
Glory, they despised—all earthly glory;
They glorified themselves by their love for God,
And they left us a wonderful example.
A treasure of the Church, an adornment and honor,
Is the miracle-working blood of these wondrous martyrs.
On one of the stones in the Church of St. Sophia, the following words were engraved: “Wash your sins, not only your face.” Whoever entered this glorious church read this inscription and remembered that the Christian Faith requires of him moral purity: purity of the soul, purity of the heart and purity of the mind. Inasmuch as the complete spiritual man is concentrated in the heart of man, the Lord also said: Blessed are the pure in heart(Matthew 5:8). Total external cleanliness does not help at all in gaining the Kingdom of Heaven. Oh, if only we would invest as much effort in washing ourselves from sins as we invest daily in washing our faces, then God would truly be seen in our hearts as though in a mirror!
Contemplate the three temptations by which Satan tempted the Lord Jesus:
- Gluttony–the temptation with bread;
- Vainglory–lifting Him above the Temple;
- Avarice–offering Him the possession of the entire world.
on the need of caution for those who think that they are secure
“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). The Apostle who gives such advice knew human nature and all its weakness perfectly. Day after day, this experience is confirmed: as soon as a man straightens up from the mud of sin, he sways and falls again. As soon as he is cured of the sin of avarice, he falls into the vice of vainglory. Or, as soon as he extends his hand to help a poor man, pride topples him to the other side. Or, as soon as he becomes accustomed to prayer, he opens wide his mouth to degrade those who are not yet accustomed to prayer. Or, as soon as he feels that the Spirit of God is directing him to the path of salvation, he immediately sets himself up as a teacher to the entire world until, unfortunately, through this he completely drives the Spirit from himself. When the Lord foretold to His disciples that they would all deny Him and flee, then Peter, confident in his stability, cried out: Though all men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended (Matthew 26:33). Discerning his very heart and seeing him already fallen into self-conceit and pride, the Lord responded to him: This night, before the cockcrow, thou shalt deny me thrice (Matthew 26:34). And when such a fall happened to the apostle in the immediate proximity of the Lord, why would it not happen to us? This is why, brethren, when we rise and turn from a certain sin and stand erect, we should ascribe this to the power and mercy of God and not to ourselves, and we should be very vigilant to protect ourselves and implore God that we do not fall again, be it to one side or the other side, but walk on the upright path of the Lord. O All-seeing Lord, help us to stand straight before Thee by the Spirit, and when we become upright, uphold us that we do not fall anymore. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.