Why Remember the Saints?

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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Pondero » March 31st, 2014, 10:58 am

A wonderful story of St.Cuthbert, a saint I knew nothing about.
Wonderful photos of England too.
Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing make you afraid.
All things are passing.
God alone never changes.
Patience gains all things.
If you have God you will want for nothing.
God alone suffices.

— St. Teresa, The bookmark of Teresa of Ávila, [28]
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Theophilus » November 1st, 2014, 7:06 pm

Monkmartyr James of Prodromou on Mt Athos
Commemorated on November 1

The monastic martyrs James of Kastoria and his disciples, the Deacon James and Dionysius of Prodromou Monastery on Mt. Athos. St James was tonsured on Mt. Athos at the Docheiariou monastery. Transferring to the neglected Georgian skete of St John the Baptist, the monk restored it under the supervision of the Elder Ignatius.

Fulfilling various obediences in the monastery, St James scaled the heights of purity. He was granted heavenly revelations, just like the Apostle Paul, so the saint also saw the mansions of Paradise and the depths of Hades. By a gift from above, St James perceived the heart’s mysteries and the secret thoughts of those who came to him.

The saint also was found worthy of the gift of wonderworking. Visiting with disciples in Aetolia, he worked many miracles, healing the sick and instructing all. The Turkish authorities, fabricated false charges against the monk that he allegedly intended to foment rebellion. In this manner, they attempted to force the saint into renouncing Orthodoxy. But St James and both his disciples, Deacon James and St Dionysius, endured the fiercest of torments over a period of many days. They suffered martyrdom on November 1, 1520.

The relics of the Monkmartyrs, glorified by miraculous healings, were placed in the monastery of St Anastasia, Deliverer from Potions in the small town of Galatista, near Thessalonica. In a short time, the fame of the holy relics attractedabout 100 brethren to the monastery under St Theonas (April 4), who himself was a disciple of St James.
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Pondero » February 19th, 2015, 3:05 pm

St, Pius X called her the greatest saint of modern times. I am speaking of St.Therese of Lisieux who died in 1897. She lived a life of contemplation with the Carmelite sisters in France, near to her home.
One incident strikes out as being indicative of her devotion to Jesus Christ. It was this: when her father took her to Rome they got an audience with the Pope. Therese who was 15 wanted to enter the convent before time, immediately. The young girl Therese got down on her knees before Pope Leo XIII and with tears in her eyes pleaded with him that she be allowed to enter the convent, resting her joined hands on the Pope's knees. She was told not to, but still pleaded with Pope. Finally, two Vatican guards,one on either side lifted her up by the elbows and deposited her at the door, still praying.
The Pope did communicate with her bishop and I am unsure whether she was allowed as a direct result of the Pope's intervention to enter the convent before being old enough or not.
Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing make you afraid.
All things are passing.
God alone never changes.
Patience gains all things.
If you have God you will want for nothing.
God alone suffices.

— St. Teresa, The bookmark of Teresa of Ávila, [28]
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Theophilus » February 20th, 2016, 7:23 pm

St Leo, bishop of Catania in Sicily (~780)
He lived at the time of the first persecutions of the holy icons. He was born in Ravenna to a noble family, and became bishop of his native city. Soon his reputation as a true shepherd of Christ's flock spread, and he was elected Bishop of Catania in Sicily. As is so often true even today, the city, though nominally Christian, was plagued by superstition and paganism. The holy bishop set about to turn the people away from error: by his prayers he caused a pagan temple to collapse and built a church on its site, dedicated to the Forty Maryrs of Sebaste. At that time the entire island was under the oppressive rule of a magus named Heliodorus, who used all his magical skills to oppress the people and advance himself. Though he had been taken captive by Imperial order, and condemned to death, he was always able to escape his captors by his occult skills. Saint Leo, who sought the conversion of everyone,did his best to turn the magus to Christ, but to no effect. One day Heliodorus entered the church during the Divine Liturgy, mocking the Mysteries of Christ. The Saint came out of the sanctuary and , casting his omophorion over the mocker, instantly deprived him of his demonic powers. The Prefect of Sicily ordered the magus to be burnt alive. Bishop Leo went to the stake with him, but emerged unmarked without even the smell of fire upon him, while Heliodorus was burnt to ashes.
  Saint Leo's fierceness in defense of the Faith was matched by his love and compassion for the poor and defenseless, for whom he poured himself out unceasingly with prayers, alms and visitation. By his prayers he restored sight to the blind and healed the paralyzed. After his repose, his holy relics, which exuded a fragrant myrrh, were venerated in a church that he had founded in honor of Saint Lucia.


St Bessarion the Great, wonder-worker of Egypt (466)
"An Egyptian by birth, Abba Bessarion was initiated into the angelic life by Saint Anthony the Great. He later became a disciple of Saint Macarius, the founder of Scetis (19 Jan.), and then set out to lead the life of a wanderer, borne hither and thither by Providence like a bird by the wind. All his wealth lay in the Gospel, which he always had in his hand. Living in the open air, he patiently endured all weathers, untroubled by care for a dwelling or for clothing. Fortified by the strength of the faith, he thus remained untouched by all the passions of the flesh.
  "On coming to a monastery where the brethren led the common life, he would sit weeping at the gate. A brother once offered him hospitality and asked why he was distressed. 'I cannot live under a roof, until I have regained the wealth of my house,' he replied, meaning the heavenly inheritance lost since Adam. 'I am afflicted, in danger of death every day, and without rest because of my huge misfortunes, which oblige me ever to travel on in order to finish my course.'
  "He wandered for forty years without ever lying down to sleep, and he spent all of forty days and forty nights standing wide awake in a thorn bush. One winter's day, he was walking through a village when he came upon a dead man. Without hesitation, he took off his own coat and covered the body. A little further on, he gave his tunic to a poor man who was shivering in the cold. An army officer, who happened to be passing, saw the naked ascetic and wanted to know who had stripped him of his clothing. 'He did!' replied Bessarion, holding up the Gospel Book. On another occasion, he met with a poor man and, having nothing to give him in alms, he hurried to the market in order to sell his Gospel Book. On his disciple's asking him where the Book was, he replied cheerfully, 'I have sold it in obedience to the words which I never cease to hear: God, sell what you possess and give to the poor (Matt. 19:21).
  "Through this evangelic way of life he became a chosen vessel of Grace, and God wrought many miracles through him. One day, for example, he made sea water sweet through the sign of the Cross, to quench his disciple's thirst. When the latter wanted to keep some for the remainder of the journey, he prevented him, saying, 'God is here, God is everywhere!' At another time, having stood for two weeks in prayer with hands raised to heaven, he brought about rain enough to fill a thirsty brother's coat. Then there was the time when he stopped the sun from setting until he reached the cell of an elder whom he wished to meet; and the time when he walked across the waters of a river. Through these and many other wonders wrought by the Saint, God showed, as He did with Moses, Joshua and Elias, that He grants His servants mastery even over natural phenomena. Through the power of Christ, he raised a paralytic, drove out demons and showed himself truly to be a 'god' upon the earth.
  "When, having reached his goal, he was at the point of regaining that dwelling in heaven which he had sought throughout his wanderings, he said to those about him, 'The monk ought, like the cherubim, to be all eye.'
  "In answer to a brother who asked what a monk living in community ought to do, he replied: 'Keep silence and do not measure yourself.' Indeed, this is how even in the midst of people one can obtain the grace of the great anchorites."


Thirty-four Holy Martyrs of the Monastery of Valaam (1578)
These thirty-four venerable fathers of the Monastery of the Transfiguration at Valaam on Lake Ladoga were massacred by a party of converts to Lutheranism who besieged the monastery and attempted to make the brethren renounce the Orthodox Faith.
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Theophilus » February 23rd, 2016, 4:42 pm

Hieromartyr Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna (167)

He was born at Ephesus around the year 70. St Irenaeus of Lyons, his disciple, says that St Polycarp was 'a disciple of the Apostles and acquainted with those who had seen the Lord.' His parents died as martyrs, and he was given into the care of a devout lady named Callista. As a child, the Saint was so eager to follow the commandments of Christ that he repeatedly emptied his foster-mother's pantry to feed the poor. Since her supplies were always miraculously renewed, Callista changed his name from Pancratius to Polykarpos, meaning 'Much fruit.'

When grown, Polycarp became a disciple of St John the Theologian, and in time became Bishop of Smyrna; it is told that the messages to the Church at Smyrna in the Book of Revelation are addressed to St Polycarp and his flock. He knew St Ignatius of Antioch personally, and some of their correspondence is preserved. Polycarp led his Church in holiness for more than fifty years, and became known throughout the Christian world as a true shepherd and standard-bearer of the Faith. About the year 154 he traveled to Rome and consulted with Pope Anacletus on the defense of the Faith.

Not long after he returned to Smyrna, a fierce persecution was unleashed against Christians in Asia Minor; along with many others, St Polycarp was arrested, having predicted his imminent martyrdom. (The account of his martyrdom that follows is based on eyewitness accounts gathered immediately after his death.)

On the evening of Holy Friday, soldiers burst into the farmhouse where he was staying. The Bishop welcomed them cheerfully, and ordered that a meal be prepared for them. He was granted some time to pray, and for two hours stood commemorating everyone that he had known and praying for the Church throughout the world. His captors sorrowed that they had come to take such a venerable man, and reluctantly took him to the Proconsul. When urged to deny Christ and save his life, the aged Saint replied, 'For eighty-six years I have been his servant, and he has wronged me in nothing; how can I blaspheme my King and Savior?' Told that he would die by fire if he did not apostatize, Polycarp replied 'You threaten me with a fire that burns for a short time and then goes out, while you know nothing of the fire of the judgment to come and of the everlasting torment awaiting the wicked. Why wait any longer? Do what you will!'

Placed on the pyre, Polycarp lifted his eyes heavenward and gave thanks to God for finding him worthy to share with the holy Martyrs of the cup of Christ. When he had said his Amen, the executioners lit the fire. The eyewitnesses write that the fire sprang up around him like a curtain, and that he stood in its midst glowing like gold and sending forth a delightful scent of incense. Seeing that the fire was not harming him, the executioners stabbed him with a sword. His blood flowed so copiously that it put out the fire, and he gave back his soul to God. His relics were burned by the persecutors, but Christians rescued a few fragments of bone, which were venerated for many generations on the anniversary of his repose.

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Saint Gorgonia (372)

She was the elder sister of St Gregory the Theologian (Jan. 25), and the daughter of St Gregory Nazianzen the Elder (January 1) and St Nonna (August 5). She married Alypius, a citizen of Iconium, and with him had three daughters. She became a holy guide to countless Christians whose lot it was to live out their Faith in the world. The Synaxarion says, "Her wisdom and knowledge of all that pertains to godliness made her the very model of a Christian wife. Her relatives, fellow-citizens, and numerous strangers relied on her as a counsellor who would indicate the Christian response in any of the knotty problems which they encountered while living in the world. She was foremost in her care for the churches of God, and in her respect for the priests and clergy, to whom the doors of her house were always open. Neither had she her equal in almsgiving nor in compassion for all the afflicted, so that you could well say that, like righteous Job, she was eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, a mother to the orphans."

She received holy Baptism late in life, as was common at that time, and soon afterward the day of her death was revealed to her. She fell ill on the appointed day and, gathering her family and friends around her bed, gave them her final counsels. She then reposed in peace.

Our Venerable Father Alexander the Unsleeping (430)


He was born sometime in the mid-fourth century on an island in the Aegean. For a time he lived successfully in the world, receiving a good education in Constantinople, then serving for a time for the Prefect of the Praetorium. But, becoming aware of the vanity of worldly things, he answered Christ's call, gave away all his goods to the poor and entered a monastery in Syria. After four years in obedience, he came to feel that the security of monastic life was inconsistent with the Gospel command to take no thought for the morrow; so he withdrew to the desert, taking with him only his garment and the Book of the Gospel. There he lived alone for seven years.

At the end of this period he set out on an apostolic mission to Mesopotamia, where he brought many to Christ: the city prefect Rabbula was converted after Alexander brought down fire from heaven, and a band of brigands who accosted the Saint on the road were transformed into a monastic community. He finally fled the city when the Christians there rose up demanding that he be made bishop. He once again took up a solitary life in the desert beyond the Euphrates, spending the day in prayer and part of the night sheltered in a barrel. There he remained for forty years. His holiness gradually attracted more than four hundred disciples, whom Alexander organized into a monastic community. Each disciple owned only one tunic, and was required to give away anything that they did not need for that day. (despite this threadbare life, the monastery was able to set up and run a hospice for the poor!)

Alexander was perplexed as to how the admonition Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17) could be fulfilled by frail human flesh, but after three years of fasting and prayer, God showed him a method. He organized his monks into four groups according to whether their native language was Greek, Latin, Syriac or Coptic, and the groups prayed in shifts throughout the day and night. Twenty-four divine services were appointed each day, and the monks would chant from the Psalter between services. The community henceforth came to be known as the Akoimetoi, the Unsleeping Ones. [Note: Similar communities later sprang up in the West, practicing what was there called Laus Perennis; St Columban founded many of these.]

Always desiring to spread the holy Gospel, Saint Alexander sent companies of missionaries to the pagans of southern Egypt. He and a company of 150 disciples set out as a kind of traveling monastery, living entirely on the charity of the villages they visited. Eventually they settled in some abandoned baths in Antioch, setting up a there a monastery dedicated to the unceasing praise of God; but a jealous bishop drove them from the city. Making his way to Constantinople, he settled there with four monks. In a few days, more than four hundred monks had left their monasteries to join his community. The Saint organized them into three companies — Greeks, Latins and Syrians &mash; and restored the program of unsleeping prayer that his community had practiced in Mesopotamia. Not surprisingly, his success aroused the envy and anger of the abbots whose monasteries had been nearly emptied; they managed to have him condemned as a Messalian at a council held in 426. (The Messalians were an over-spiritualizing sect who believed that the Christian life consisted exclusively of prayer.) Alexander was sent back to Syria, and most of his monks were imprisoned; but as soon as they were released, most fled the city to join him again. The Saint spent his last years traveling from place to place, founding monasteries, often persecuted, until he reposed in 430, 'to join the Angelic choirs which he had so well imitated on earth.'

The practice of unceasing praise, established by St Alexander, spread throughout the Empire. The Monastery of the Akoimetoi, founded by a St Marcellus, a successor of Alexander, was established in Constantinople and became a beacon to the Christian world. 'Even though it has not been retained in today's practice, the unceasing praise established by Saint Alexander was influential in the formation of the daily cycle of liturgical offices in the East and even more so in the West.'
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