Dimitri of Rostov: A miracle of St Nicholas the Wonderworker of Myra Sunday, Dec 6 2015 

Dimitry_rostovsky_17cA ship was once sailing from Egypt to Myra when a violent storm arose, churning up the sea.

The sails were torn, and it seemed that the vessel itself would be crushed by the mighty waves.

The passengers were in despair of their lives when they remembered the great hierarch Nicholas.

Although none of them had ever seen him, they had heard that he was the quick helper of those who call on him in misfortune, so they turned to him in prayer, begging his assistance.

The saint immediately appeared, announcing, “You called for me, and I have come to help you!”

He took the helm and began piloting the ship, calming the storm, as once did the Lord, Who said, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also.

Because he was a faithful servant of God, Nicholas gave commands to the wind and sea and they obeyed him. Sped by a fair wind, the boat reached Myra, and the passengers disembarked, hoping to see the holy Bishop.

They met the saint on his way to church, and recognizing their benefactor, fell at his feet, thanking him.

The wondrous Nicholas did not merely deliver them from danger of physical death, but took thought for the salvation of their souls as well.

Because he was clairvoyant, he perceived that some of the passengers were defiled by fornication, which estranges a man from God and causes him to neglect the Lord’s commandments.

“Children,” he said to them, “I beseech you to correct your hearts and thoughts, so that you may be pleasing to God. Consider that although we may reckon ourselves to be righteous and frequently succeed in deceiving men, we can conceal nothing from God. Let us therefore strive to preserve the holiness of our souls and to guard the purity of our bodies with all fervor.” […]

So saying, the blessed one, like a loving father, let them depart in peace.

Saint Nicholas’ countenance resembled that of an angel, splendid with divine grace. A brilliant ray shone from his face, as from Moses’, so that those who looked at him were astonished.

Whoever was oppressed by some affliction or passion of soul had only to lay eyes on the saint, and his sorrow was eased at once. As for those who conversed with him, they soon found themselves advancing on the path of virtue.

Not only the faithful but unbelievers as well were moved to compunction and directed their steps toward salvation when they heard his sweet lips speak; the evil of unbelief implanted in their hearts since childhood was uprooted, and in its place the word of truth was sown.

Dimitri of Rostov (1651-1709; Russian Orthodox): The Life of Our Father Among the Saints Nicholas the Wonder-worker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia  from The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints, Volume 2: October, compiled by St. Demetrius of Rostov @ Chrysostom Press.

Bede the Venerable: The death of St Aidan Monday, Aug 31 2015 

icon_bede-The feast of St Aidan, Enlightener of Northumbria, August 31st.

Aidan was in the king’s township…at the time when death caused him to quit the body, after he had been bishop sixteen years;

for having a church and a chamber in that place, he was wont often to go and stay there, and to make excursions from it to preach in the country round about, which he likewise did at other of the king’s townships, having nothing of his own besides his church and a few fields about it.

When he was sick they set up a tent for him against the wall at the west end of the church, and so it happened that he breathed his last, leaning against a buttress that was on the outside of the church to strengthen the wall.

[…] His body was. thence presently translated to the isle of Lindisfarne, and buried in the cemetery of the brethren.

Some time after, when a larger church was built there and dedicated in honour of the blessed prince of the Apostles, his bones were translated thither, and laid on the right side of the altar, with the respect due to so great a prelate. […]

It happened some years after, that Penda, king of the Mercians, coming into these parts with a hostile army, destroyed all he could with fire and sword, and the village where the bishop died, along with the church above mentioned, was burnt down;

but it fell out in a wonderful manner that the buttress against which he had been leaning when he died, could not be consumed by the fire which devoured all about it.

This miracle being noised abroad, the church was soon rebuilt in the same place, and that same buttress was set up on the outside, as it had been before, to strengthen the wall.

It happened again, some time after, that the village and likewise the church were carelessly burned down the second time. Then again, the fire could not touch the buttress; and, miraculously, though the fire broke through the very holes of the nails wherewith it was fixed to the building, yet it could do no hurt to the buttress itself.

When therefore the church was built there the third time, they did not, as before, place that buttress on the outside as a support of the building, but within the church, as a memorial of the miracle; where the people coming in might kneel, and implore the Divine mercy.

And it is well known that since then many have found grace and been healed in that same place, as also that by means of splinters cut off from the buttress, and put into water, many more have obtained a remedy for their own infirmities and those of their friends.

The Venerable Bede (672/4-735): Ecclesiastical History of England, 3, 17.

Adomnán of Iona: St Columba and the Grace of the Holy Spirit Monday, Jun 9 2014 

St-Columba_Aidan-HartJune 9th is the feast of St Columba.

Four holy founders of monasteries came from Scotia (Ireland), to visit St. Columba, and found him in the Hinba island (Eilean-na-Naoimh)….

They all with one consent agreed that St. Columba should consecrate, in their presence in the church, the holy mysteries of the Eucharist.

The saint complied with their express desire, and entered the church with them on Sunday as usual, after the reading of the Gospel….

There, during the celebration of the solemn offices of the Mass, St. Brenden Mocu Alti saw, as he told Comgell and Cainnech afterwards, a ball of fire like a comet burning very brightly on the head of Columba, while he was standing before the altar, and consecrating the holy oblation.

And thus it continued burning and rising upwards like a column, so long as he continued to be engaged in the same most sacred mysteries….

When the saint was living in the Hinba island (Eilean-na-Naoimh), the grace of the Holy Ghost was communicated to him abundantly and unspeakably, and dwelt with him in a wonderful manner….

For three whole days, and as many nights, without either eating or drinking, he allowed no one to approach him, and remained confined in a house which was filled with heavenly brightness.

Yet out of that house, through the chinks of the doors and keyholes, rays of surpassing brilliancy were seen to issue during the night. Certain spiritual songs also, which had never been heard before, he was heard to sing.

He came to see, as he allowed in the presence of a very few afterwards, many secrets hidden from men since the beginning of the world fully revealed; certain very obscure and difficult parts of sacred Scripture also were made quite plain, and clearer than the light to the eye of his pure heart.

Another night also, one of the brothers…came by chance, while the other brothers were asleep, to the gate of the church, and stood there for some time praying.

Then suddenly he saw the whole church filled with a heavenly light, which more quickly than he could tell, flashed like lightning from his gaze. He did not know that St. Columba was praying at that time in the church, and after this sudden appearance of light, he returned home in great alarm.

On the following day the saint called him aside and rebuked him severely, saying: “Take care of one thing, my child, that you do not attempt to spy out and pry too closely into the nature of that heavenly light which was not granted thee, but rather fled from thee, and that thou do not tell any one during my lifetime what thou hast seen.”

Adomnán of Iona (628-704): Life of St. Columba, Book 3, 18, 19, 21; from Life of Saint Columba, Founder of Hy, Written by Adamnan, Ninth Abbot of that Monastery, ed. William Reeves, (Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1874) @ Internet Medieval Source Book; icon of St Columba by Aidan Hart.

Severus of Al-Ushmunain: How St Mark Healed and Converted a Cobbler in Alexandria Friday, Apr 25 2014 

St.-Mark-the-Apostle

April 25th is the Feast of St Mark the Evangelist.

Mark journeyed to the city of Alexandria; and when he entered in at the gate, the strap of his shoe broke.

And when he saw this, he thought: «Now I know that the Lord has made my way easy».

Then he turned, and saw a cobbler there, and went to him and gave him the shoe that he might mend it.

And when the cobbler received it, and took the awl to work upon it, the awl pierced his hand. So he said: «Heis ho Theos»; the interpretation of which is, «God is One».

And. when the holy Mark heard him mention the name of God, he rejoiced greatly, and turned his face to the East and said: «O my Lord Jesus, it is thou that makest my road easy in every place».

Then he spat on the ground and took from it clay, and put it on the place where the awl had pierced the cobbler’s hand, saying:

«In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, the One living and eternal God, may the hand of this man be healed at this moment, that thy holy name may be glorified».

Then his hand at once became whole.

[…] The cobbler remained astonished at the power of God which descended upon the holy Mark, and said to him: «I pray thee, O man of God, to come to the dwelling of thy servant, to rest and eat bread, for I find that to-day thou hast conferred a benefit upon me».

[…] After they had eaten, the cobbler said to him: «O my father, I beg thee to make known to me who thou art that hast worked this great miracle».

Then the saint answered him: «I serve Jesus Christ, the Son of the ever living God». The cobbler exclaimed: «I would that I could see him».

The holy Mark said to him: «I will cause thee to behold him». Then he began to teach him the gospel of good tidings, and the doctrine of the glory and power and dominion which belong to God from the beginning, and…ended by saying to him:

«The Lord Christ in the last times became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and came into the world, and saved us from our sins». And he explained to him what the prophets prophesied of him, passage by passage.

[…] Then when the cobbler had heard wisdom and the words of the Scriptures from the holy Mark, together with the great miracle which he had seen him work upon his hand, his heart inclined towards him, and he believed in the Lord, and was baptized, he and all the people of his house, and all his neighbours.

Severus of Al-Ushmunain (d. 987): History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church of Alexandria.

The image, found at Pravmir, is a Coptic icon of St Mark, the first of the Coptic Patriarchs of Alexandria in the history written by Severus.

Peter of Damascus: “The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom” Monday, Mar 3 2014 

peter_of_damascusAs David says, ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’.

[…] Our Lord Himself began His teaching by speaking of fear: He says, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’, that is, those who quail with fear of God and are inexpressibly contrite in soul.

For the Lord has established this as the fundamental commandment, since He knows that, without this, even living in heaven would be without benefit to us, because we would still be possessed of the same madness through which the devil, Adam, and many others have fallen.

If, then, we wish to observe the first commandment – that is, to possess fear of the Lord – we should think very carefully about the contingencies of life already described and upon God’s immeasurable and unfathomable blessings.

We should consider how much He has done and continues to do for our sake through things visible and invisible, through commandments and dogmas, threats and promises;

how He guards, nourishes and provides for us, giving us life and saving us from seen and unseen enemies;

how through the prayers and intercessions of His saints, He cures the diseases caused by our own indiscipline;

how He is always long-suffering as regards our sins, our irreverence, our delinquency, all those things we have done, are doing, and will do, from which His grace has saved us;

how we have angered Him with our actions, words and thoughts; and how He not only bears with us, but even bestows greater blessings on us, either He Himself, or acting through the angels, the Scriptures, through righteous men and prophets, apostles and martyrs, teachers and holy fathers.

Moreover, we should not only recall the sufferings and struggles of the saints and martyrs, but should also reflect with wonder on the self-abasement of our Lord Jesus Christ:

how He lived in the world, His spotless Passion, the Cross, His death, burial, resurrection and ascension, the advent of the Holy Spirit, His ineffable miracles which are always occurring, every day, paradise, the crowns, the adoption that He has accorded us, and all the things contained in Holy Scripture and so much else.

If we bring all this to mind, we will be overwhelmed at God’s compassion, and with trembling will marvel at His forbearance and patience.

We will grieve because of what our nature has lost – the dispassion of the angels, paradise and all the blessings which we have forfeited – and because of the evils into which we have fallen: demons, passions and sins.

In this way our soul will be filled with contrition, realizing all the evils which have been caused by our wickedness and the cunning of the demons.

Peter of Damascus (?12th Century): A Treasury of Divine Knowledge  @ Pemptousia.

Adomnán of Iona: “A Humble and Contrite Heart God doth not Despise” Saturday, Nov 2 2013 

St-Columba_Aidan-HartOne very cold day in winter the saint (Columba) was much afflicted, and wept bitterly. His attendant, Diormit, asked the cause of his sadness, and received this answer from him:

“With just reason am I sad today, my little child, seeing that my monks, now wearied after their severe labours, are engaged by Laisran in building a large house; with this I am very much displeased.”

Strange to say, at that very moment, Laisran, who was living at the time in the monastery of the Oakwood Plain (Derry), felt somehow impelled, and as it were consumed by a fire within him, so that he commanded the monks to stop from working, and some refreshments to be made ready for them.

He also gave directions that they were to rest not only that day, but also on other occasions of severe weather.

The saint, hearing in spirit these words of consolation addressed by Laisran to his brethren, ceased weeping, and though he himself was living in the Iouan island (Hy, now Iona), he rejoiced with exceeding great joy, and told all the circumstances to his brethren, while at the same time he blessed Laisran for his timely relief to the monks.

Another time the saint was sitting on the top of the mountain which overhangs this our monastery, at some distance from it, and turning to his attendant Diormit, said to him, “I am surprised that a certain ship from Scotia (Ireland) does not appear sooner: there is on board a certain wise man who has fallen into a great crime, but who, with tears of repentance, shall soon arrive.”

Not long after the attendant, looking to the south, saw the sail of a ship that was approaching the harbour. When its arrival was pointed out to the saint he got up quickly and said, “Let us go to meet this stranger, whose sincere penance is accepted by Christ.”

As soon as Feachna came on shore, he ran to meet the saint, who was coming down to the shore, and falling on his knees before him lamented most bitterly with wailing and tears, and there in the presence of all made open confession of his sins.

Then the saint, also shedding tears, said to him, “Arise, my son, and be comforted; the sins thou hast committed are forgiven thee, because, as it is written, ‘a humble and contrite heart God doth not despise. He then arose, and the saint received him with great joy.

After a few days he was sent to Baithene, who at that time was the superior of the monastery in the plain of Lunge (Maigh Lunge, in Tiree), and he journeyed thither in peace.

Adomnán of Iona (628-704): Life of St. Columba, Book 3, 23 & 24; from Life of Saint Columba, Founder of Hy, Written by Adamnan, Ninth Abbot of that Monastery, ed. William Reeves, (Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1874) @ Internet Medieval Source Book; icon of St Columba by Aidan Hart.

Bede the Venerable: How Saint Wilfrid Converted the Province of the South Saxons to Christ (681 A.D.) Saturday, Oct 12 2013 

icon_bede-October 12th is the feast of St Wilfrid (c. 633-c. 709).

Wilfrid was expelled from his bishopric, and having long travelled in many lands, went to Rome, and afterwards returned to Britain.

Though he could not, by reason of the enmity of the aforesaid king, be received into his own country or diocese, yet he could not be restrained from the ministry of the Gospel;

for, taking his way into the province of the South Saxons, which …  was at that time still in bondage to pagan rites, he administered to them the Word of faith, and the Baptism of salvation.

[…]  The bishop, therefore, with the consent of King Ethelwalch, or rather to his great joy, cleansed in the sacred font the foremost ealdormen and thegns of that country; and the priests…baptized the rest of the people.

The queen, whose name was Eabae, had been baptized in her own country, … but all the province of the South Saxons was ignorant of the Name of God and the faith.

[…] Bishop Wilfrid, while preaching the Gospel to the people, not only delivered them from the misery of eternal damnation, but also from a terrible calamity of temporal death.

For no rain had fallen in that district for three years before his arrival in the province, whereupon a grievous famine fell upon the people and pitilessly destroyed them.

[…] . But on the very day on which the nation received the Baptism of the faith, there fell a soft but plentiful rain; the earth revived, the fields grew green again, and the season was pleasant and fruitful.

Thus the old superstition was cast away, and idolatry renounced, the heart and flesh of all rejoiced in the living God, for they perceived that He Who is the true God had enriched them by His heavenly grace with both inward and outward blessings.

For the bishop, when he came into the province, and found so great misery from famine there, taught them to get their food by fishing; for their sea and rivers abounded in fish, but the people had no skill to take any of them, except eels alone.

The bishop’s men having gathered eel-nets everywhere, cast them into the sea, and by the blessing of God took three hundred fishes of divers sorts, which being divided into three parts, they gave a hundred to the poor, a hundred to those of whom they had the nets, and kept a hundred for their own use.

By this benefit the bishop gained the affections of them all, and they began more readily at his preaching to hope for heavenly blessings, seeing that by his help they had received those which are temporal.

The Venerable Bede (672/4-735): Ecclesiastical History of England, 4, 13.

Nikolai Velimirovich: The Changing of Water into Wine is the Fundamental Miracle of Christ Friday, Sep 6 2013 

Nikolai VelimirovichThis beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee (John 2:11).

Our God is Almighty; and His power has no limit and is beyond description. He created all that was created by His Word: By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made (Psalm 33:6).

By His Word, He created the body of man. By the Word of God, lifeless earth is transformed into the bodies of men, animals and plants.

By the Word of God, flowing water is changed into vapor, and vapor into ice and snow. By this same Word, the water in a vine is changed into wine, wine that maketh glad the heart of man (Psalm 104:15).

Therefore, how difficult a miracle was it for the Word of God Incarnate – Christ our Lord – to change water into wine in Cana?

For us men, darkened by sin, this is a great miracle; for our nature, weakened by sin, it is an unattainable miracle. Yet, isn’t the working of miracles the usual occupation of the Creator?

When the servants filled the six large vessels with water, the Lord Christ said to them: Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast (John 2:8).

He did not even say, “Let the water become wine,” he merely thought it. For God’s thoughts have the same power as His words.

Why is it said that this was the “beginning of miracles,” when it appears that, long before this miracle, the Lord worked other miracles?

Because, brethren, the changing of water into wine is the fundamental miracle of Christ, and is the essence of all His miracles.

Human nature was diluted with its own tears, and it was necessary to change it into wine. The divine spark in man was extinguished, and it was necessary to rekindle it.

Infirmity is like water, health is like wine; the impurities of the evil spirits are like water, purity is like wine; death is like water, life is like wine; ignorance is like water, truth is like wine.

Hence, whenever the Lord made the sick whole, the impure pure, the dead alive, and prodigals enlightened, He essentially turned water into wine.

O Lord our God, Thou miraculous Transformer of water into wine: bring Thy divine flame to our extinguished hearth.

Transform the water of our being into divine wine, that we may be like unto Thee-and that we may thus abide with Thee in Thine Immortal Kingdom, with Thy radiant angels. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

Nikolai Velimirovich (1880-1956; Orthodox Church): Prologue from Ohrid, September 4th.

Gregory the Great: “Will the Rhinoceros be Willing to Serve Thee?” (2) Tuesday, Sep 3 2013 

St-Gregory-the-Dialogist(September 3rd is the feast of St Gregory the Great)

Following on from here…

Will the rhinoceros be willing to serve thee? (Job 39:9).

But at the very beginning of the rising Church – when the might of the wealthy was raising itself against her, and was panting for her death – who could then believe that she would subdue those stiff and stubborn necks of the haughty, and would bind them, with the gentle bands of faith, when tamed by the yoke of holy fear?

For she was tossed about, for a long while, in her beginnings, by the horn of this rhinoceros, and was struck by it, as though to be utterly destroyed. But by the dispensation of Divine grace, she both gained life and strength by death, and this rhinoceros, wearied with striking, bowed down his horn.

And that which was impossible to men, was not difficult to God, who crushed the stubborn powers of this world, not by words, but by miracles. For behold we observe daily the rhinoceroses becoming slaves, when we see the mighty of this world, who had before, with foolish pride, relied on their own strength, now subject to God.

The Lord was speaking, as it were, of a certain untamed rhinoceros, when He was saying; A rich man will hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 19:23). And when it was replied to Him; And who will be able to be saved? He immediately added; With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matt. 25:26).

As if He were saying: This rhinoceros cannot be tamed by human strength, but yet it can be subdued by Divine miracles. Whence it is here also fitly said to blessed Job, as representing Holy Church; Will the rhinoceros be willing to serve thee? i.e. As Myself, Who bore for a long while with his resisting the preaching of men, but yet suddenly overpowered him with miracles, when thus I willed it.

As if He said more plainly; Are they who are proud with foolish haughtiness, subjected to thy preaching, without My assistance? Consider therefore by Whom thou prevailest, and in every thing wherein thou prevailest bow down thy feeling of pride.

Or certainly, what wondrous works are wrought at last by the Apostles, who subject the world to God, and bend the pride of the mighty of this world, when subdued to His power, is brought before the notice of blessed Job, to bring down his confidence, in order that blessed Job may think the less highly of himself, the more he beholds such stubborn souls gathered together to God by others.

Let Him say then; Will the rhinoceros be willing to serve thee? i.e. As it will serve Me, by means of those, whom I shall have sent.

Gregory the Great (c.540-604): Reflections (Moralia) on Job, 31, 1-2 (on Job 39:9) @ Lectionary Central.

Gregory the Great: “Will the Rhinoceros be Willing to Serve Thee?” (1) Tuesday, Sep 3 2013 

St-Gregory-the-Dialogist(September 3rd is the feast of St Gregory the Great)

Will the rhinoceros be willing to serve thee? (Job 39:9).

The devil, through envy, inflicted the wound of pride on healthful man in Paradise; in order that he, who had not received death when created, might deserve it when elated.

But since it is competent for Divine power, not only to make good things out of nothing, but also to refashion them from the evils which the devil had committed the humility of God appeared amongst men, as a remedy against this wound inflicted by the proud devil, that they who had fallen through imitation of their haughty enemy, might rise by the example of their humbled Creator.

Against, therefore, the haughty devil, God appeared amongst men, having been made a humble Man. The mighty of this world, that is, the members of the haughty devil, believed Him to be as despicable, as they saw Him to be lowly.

For the more the wound of their heart swelled up, the more it despised the soothing remedy. Our medicine therefore being spurned by the wound of the proud, came to the wound of the humble. For God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty (1 Cor. 1:27).

And a work was wrought upon the poor, for the wealthy proud ones afterwards to wonder at. For while they behold in them new virtues, they were afterwards astounded at the miracles of those, whose life they before despised. And thence, returning immediately with fear to their own hearts, they dreaded that sanctity in miracles, which they had scorned in precepts.

Mighty things were therefore confounded by the weak; because while the life of the humble rises to veneration, the pride of the haughty has fallen.

Because therefore blessed Job is a type of Holy Church, and Almighty God foresaw that, in the early times of the rising Church, the mighty of this world would refuse, with the stubborn neck of their heart, to undertake its light burden, let Him say: Will the rhinoceros be willing to serve thee?

For the rhinoceros is quite of an untamed nature, so that, if it is ever taken, it cannot in any way be kept. For, as is said, it dies immediately from being unable to bear it.

[…] What is, therefore, designated by this rhinoceros, but the mighty of this world, or the supreme powers themselves of the kingdoms therein, who, elated by the pride of foolish boasting, whilst they are puffed up by false honour without, are made inwardly destitute by real miseries? To whom it is well said; Why boastest thou, O dust and ashes? (Sirach 10:9).

Gregory the Great (c.540-604): Reflections (Moralia) on Job, 31, 1-2 (on Job 39:9) @ Lectionary Central.

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