Prologue entry for 01/29/23 (read on 02/11/23 on the Old Calendar)
1. The Holy Hieromartyr [Priestly-Martyr] Ignatius The God-Bearer
The principal feast of St. Ignatius is celebrated in winter, on December 20. On this date we commemorate the translation of his relics from Rome, where he suffered martyrdom, to Antioch, where he had earlier been bishop. When St. Ignatius was summoned to Rome to account for his faith before Emperor Trajan, he was accompanied on this long journey by several citizens from Antioch, who were motivated in this by a great love toward their wonderful archpastor. Since he would never deny his faith in Christ, this saint of God, who abhorred all the adulation and promises of Emperor Trajan, was condemned to death and thrown to wild beasts in the Circus Maximus. The wild beasts tore him apart, and he surrendered his soul to God. His companions then gathered his exposed bones, took them to Antioch, and honorably buried them. When the Persians captured Antioch in the sixth century, the relics of St. Ignatius were again translated from Antioch to Rome.
2. The Holy Martyrs Romanus, James, Philotheus, Hyperechius, Abibus, Julian And
Paregorius They all suffered martyrdom for the Lord Jesus Christ in Samosata during the reign of Emperor Maximilian, in the year 297 A.D. Philotheus and Hyperechius were aristocrats and the others were young men of noble birth. The pagans inflicted a terrible death upon them, hammering nails into the heads of each of them. They suffered martyrdom honorably and entered into eternal joy.
3. The Venerable Lawrence Of The Monastery Of The Kiev Caves
Lawrence voluntarily chose the life of a recluse, following the examples of the earlier recluses Isaac and Nicetas. However, he guarded himself against the diabolical delusions which befell the other two in the beginning. With great abstinence, prayer and divine contemplation, Lawrence attained a high state of perfection. He learned from a terrified demon that, of the 118 monks in the Monastery of the Caves, 30 had been given by God authority over evil spirits. Lawrence went to the Lord in the year 1194 A.D.
Hymn Of Praise
Saint Ignatius The God-Bearer
The bitter death of Christ dulled the sting of death
And banished forever the irrational fear of death.
A host of martyrs flocked to Christ in death,
But without fear, complaints or shrieks.
Many, with rejoicing, hurried to death,
Because, before their deaths, they saw angels and heaven.
St. Ignatius traveled to Rome.
Along the way, to the Living God, he prayed
As a son would pray to his parents,
That the teeth of the beasts would grind him!
That for which he prayed, God granted him.
Behold, the saint, having been ground, remained alive!
Alive and whole he remains, before the Table of Heaven,
Bread made tender by torture for Christ—
St. Ignatius, the courageous God-bearer.
Throughout the ages he imparts courage to those being tortured.
There can only be two kinds of sufferings:
For the truth or for sins—this cannot be concealed.
Pain for one's sins is pain without hope,
But pain for the truth is joy without sorrow.
As light through rain paints the rainbow,
Thus does joy through tears and gentle sorrow
Depict, in the spiritual heavens, Paradise and God,
Strengthening the souls of the holy martyrs.
The more a man advances in spiritual knowledge and in purification of the heart, the more it appears to him that the depth in which he finds himself is even lower than he had previously thought, and that the height to which he strives is even higher. When one spiritual giant, who was on his deathbed, heard that his companions were praising him because of his great asceticism, he began to weep, and said, “My children, I have not even begun my spiritual life.” When St. Ignatius the God-bearer lay chained in the dungeon, he wrote to the Ephesians: “I do not command you as though I were someone significant. Even though I am in chains for the name of Jesus Christ, nevertheless, I still have not perfected myself in Him. Now I am beginning to be His disciple, and I speak to you as to an assembly of my teachers.”
Contemplate the Lord Jesus in the simplicity of His behavior:
- How He behaved simply with fishermen, as well as with the scribes and princes;
- How He responded to everyone and entered into the home of everyone who invited Him;
- How His royal dignity clearly radiated through all the simplicity of His behavior.
on perfection through the fulfilling of the will of God
“Jesus saith unto them, ‘My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work’ " (John 4:34). Here is a saving example given to us by our Savior! He Who had such power, authority and wisdom says that He came into the world to do not His own will but the will of the Father, and to do not His own work but the work of His Father–but we, even though we are as weak as a cobweb, continuously emphasize our will and, some of us, even our work! The Son is equal to the Father, as He says in another place: I am my Father are one (John 10:30). Nevertheless, the Lord Jesus says that He came into the world to do His Father’s will and to accomplish His Father’s will. He is not saying this in order show the smallness of His being before the Father’s being–for Their being is one–but, rather, to show the greatness of His love toward the Father, and in order to motivate us, out of love toward God, to totally adopt His will. All of our misery in this life comes from the fact that we do not implement the will of Him Who sent us into this world. We do not implement His will because we do not have love toward Him. For whoever loves someone acts according to his will. The Lord Himself said: If ye love Me, keep My commandments (John 14:15). By what means could the Lord proclaim His love toward the Father, if not by fulfilling the will of the Father? And by what means can we proclaim our love toward the Lord Jesus, crucified for us on the Cross, if not by fulfilling His will? Our will, O my brethren, is as deceitful as a shadow. Let us not follow it, that we may not perish. Rather, let us follow the will of the Lover of mankind, the Lord, Who alone knows what is best for us. O humble and man-loving Lord, teach us to do Thy will. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.