Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ascension of Christ Resource Page

On this day, the Thursday of the sixth week of Pascha, we celebrate the Ascension of our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ.


Thou didst sit at the right hand of the Father, O Word,
Granting unto Thine initiates a most steadfast faith.

Synaxarion for the Thursday of the Ascension

The Ascension of Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ

The Ascension of the Lord in the Flesh to Heaven

Synaxarion of Saint Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain

St. Symeon the New Stylite of the Wondrous Mountain (Feast Day - May 24)


Beforehand Symeon you inhabited the land of Wondrous Mountain,
Now you dwell on the all-wondrous mountain in the heavens.
On the twenty-fourth Symeon you entered where noetic beings are all around.

The Venerable and Wonderworking Symeon, lived during the reign of Emperor Justin II (565-574). He was born in Antioch of Syria, whose father was named John and was from Edessa, and mother was named Martha who was raised in Antioch. All that is written of him is wondrous, and higher than the boundaries of human nature, both those things which took place through him with the help of God, and those things he himself did. He was conceived through prayer, and before he was conceived the great Forerunner and Baptist John testified of him regarding his future virtue, and he foretold the perfection to his mother that her son was to receive. Having been born, he never breastfed from the left breast of his mother. By this she considered her child would be eager towards good impulse, and that he would not participate in the wicked works of the left. When he was six years old, although not of a mature age, he did not care for childish things, and was not easily led towards that which is vulgar, therefore this divinely-wise child turned away from all these earthly things of leisure, and he went to the mountain, where he immediately undertook such a harsh life and dwelling, which only by forcing himself was he able to acquire after many years a habit towards, this even by aged men. Thus through such eagerness and life, he beheld many divine and angelic appearances and visions, which taught him all that he was to do, namely to always honor that which is good and virtuous, and to flee and hate wickedness and sin.

Saint Vincent of Lerins (+ 445)

St. Vincent of Lerins (Feast Day - May 24)

Saint Vincent was born in Toulouse, Gaul. He was the brother of Saint Lupus, Bishop of Troyes, who was a companion of Saint Germanus of Auxerre. Saint Vincent was first a soldier, and he informs us that having been some time tossed about in the storms of a bustling military life, he began seriously to consider the dangers with which he was surrounded, and the vanity and folly of his pursuits. He desired to take shelter in the harbor of religion, which he calls the safest refuge from the world. His view in this resolution was, that he might strenuously labor to divest his soul of its ruffling passions, of pride and vanity, and to offer to God the acceptable sacrifice of a humble and Christian spirit, and that being further removed from worldly temptations, he might endeavor more easily to avoid not only the wrecks of the present life, but also the burnings of that which is to come. Thus by avoiding the concourse and crowds of cities, he could follow without distraction the Psalmist's admonition, “Be still, and know that I am God.” The place he chose for his retirement was in a small remote island (today known as Isle Saint-Honorat), sheltered from the noise of the world, the renowned Monastery of Lerins. There he was tonsured a monk and ordained a priest.

He considered that true faith is necessary to salvation no less than virtue, and that the former is the foundation of Christian virtue; and he grieved to see the Church at that time pestered with numberless heresies, which sucked their poison from their very antidote, the Holy Scriptures, and which, by various wiles, spread on every side their dangerous snares. To guard the faithful against the false and perplexing false teachers, and to open the eyes of those who had been already seduced by them, he, with great clearness, eloquence, and force of reasoning, wrote a book, which he titled, A Commonitory Against Heretics, which he composed in 434, three years after the Third Ecumeincal Synod of Ephesus had condemned the Nestorians. He had chiefly in view the heretics of his own times, especially the Nestorians and the Apollinarians, but he confuted them by general, clear principles, which overturn all heresies to the end of the world. Together with the ornaments of eloquence and erudition, the inward beauty of his mind, and the brightness of his devotion, sparkle in every page of his book. Out of humility, he disguised himself in this book under the name of Peregrinus, to express the quality of being a pilgrim or stranger on earth, and one by his monastic state, in a more particular manner, estranged from the world. He styles himself "The least of all the servants of God, and less than the least of all the saints, unworthy to bear the holy name of a Christian."

Without identifying by name Augustine the Bishop of Hippo, Saint Vincent condemns his doctrine of grace and predestination, calling it heresy to teach of "a certain great and special and altogether personal grace of God [which is given to the predestined elect] without any effort, without any industry, even though they neither ask, nor seek, nor knock" (Commonitory, ch. 26). Saint John Cassian wrote his refutations before, and Saint Vincent after, the condemnation of Nestorius at the Third Synod in 431, and the death of Augustine in 430. Saint Vincent reposed in peace about the year 445. His relics are preserved at Lérins.

Isle Saint-Honorat

He wrote the Commonitory as an aid to distinguish the true teachings of the Church from the confusions of heretics; his most memorable saying is that all Christians must follow that faith which has been believed "everywhere, always, and by all." The title Commonitory means "Remembrance", insinuating that the work is intended as a memory aid, a work that one may consult quickly for the purpose of refreshing one's memory, as the Saint himself notes in his introductory comments. In his great work, the Saint tells us that we may discover the truth first through reading Holy Scripture, for that is the basis of everything. Yet, he points out men may differ in their interpretation of Holy Scripture. How may we know which interpretation is the correct one? We know by consulting the writings of authorities within the Church, the great Saints and Church Fathers, and this we do carefully. Vincent offers three tests of accurate, Orthodox scripture interpretation:

1. Universality, meaning the entire Church adheres to the teaching;

2. Antiquity, meaning the Ecumenical Synods determined the teaching to be Orthodox; and

3. Consent, meaning that bishops harmoniously consulting one another agree the teaching is true.

Saint Vincent observes that souls which have lost the anchorage of the Catholic faith, "are tossed and shattered with inward storms of clashing thoughts, that by this restless posture of mind they may be made sensible of their danger; and taking down the sails of pride and vanity which they have unhappily spread before every gust of heresy, they may make all the sail they can into the safe and peaceful harbor of their holy mother the Catholic Church; and being sick from a surfeit of errors, may there discharge those foul and bitter waters to make room for the pure waters of life. There they may unlearn well what they have learned ill; may get a right notion of all those doctrines of the church they are capable of understanding, and believe those that surpass all understanding."

He further explains: "In ancient times, our forefathers sowed the seeds of the wheat of faith in that field which is the Church. It would be quite unjust and improper if we, their descendants, gathered, instead of the genuine truth of wheat, the false tares of error. On the contrary, it is logically correct that the beginning and the end be in agreement, that we reap from the planting of the wheat of doctrine the harvest of the wheat of dogma. In this way, none of the characteristics of the seed is changed, although something evolved in the course of time from those first seeds and has now expanded under careful cultivation. What may be added is merely appearance, beauty, and distinction, but the proper nature of each kind remains."

His defense of the traditions of the Fathers and his condemnation of innovation and novelty in the Church are as appropriate today as they were in his time:

"The Church of Christ, zealous and cautious guardian of the dogmas deposited with it, never changes any phase of them. It does not diminish them or add to them; it neither trims what seems necessary, nor grafts things superfluous; it neither gives up its own nor usurps what does not belong to it. But it devotes all its diligence to one aim: to treat tradition faithfully and wisely; to nurse and polish what from old times may have remained unshaped and unfinished; to consolidate and to strengthen what already was clear and plain; and to guard what already was confirmed and defined. After all, what have the synods brought forth in their decrees but that what before was believed plainly and simply might from now on be believed more diligently; that what before was preached rather unconcernedly might be preached from now on more eagerly."

By teaching in this way, Saint Vincent remained in the spirit of the Apostle Paul: "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to your trust" (1 Tim. 6:20).

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
With wisdom hast thou made plain to all the Orthodox faith as that which alone hath been believed and honored by all men, always and everywhere, also showing heresy to be innovation, groundless and unstable as a gust in a tempest. O Vincent, thine invincible prayers shelter the Church of God.

Apolytikion in the Second Tone
We bring to you our honor Saint Vincent of Lérins. You set the standard by which we now are blessed. The faith of old, and that of Divine assent; that which always and everywhere received consent. These ancient truths revealed to us in Scripture the faith you received to us you impart. We humbly beg you, O holy man of God, your intercessions as we seek the path you trod.

On the Fifty Day Celebration of the Resurrection (St. Gregory Palamas)

By St. Gregory Palamas

Throughout the current season of fifty days we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ from the dead, proving by the length of this feast its superiority over the others. For if these fifty days also include the yearly commemoration of the ascension into heaven, it too shows the distinction between the risen Master and those of His servants who have from time to time been brought back to life. All who were raised from the dead were raised by other people, and when they died again, returned to the earth. But when Christ rose from the dead, death no longer had any power over Him (Rom. 6:9). He alone resurrected Himself on the third day and, instead of returning again to the earth, He ascended into heaven, making our human substance share the same throne as the Father, being equally divine. He alone became the beginning of the coming resurrection of all (Col. 1:18), the firstfruits of them that slept (1 Cor. 15:20), the firstborn from the dead (Col. 1:18), and the Father of the world to come (Is. 9:6 Lxx). "As in Adam all," sinners and the just, "die, so in Christ shall all," both sinners and the just, "be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterwards they that are Christ's at His coming. Then comes the end, when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power and put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (1 Cor. 15:22-26), at the time of the General Resurrection, "at the last trump" (1 Cor. 15:52). "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (1 Cor. 15:53).

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Miracles of Saint Basil of Ostrog (5 of 5)


Maksim Jovovic wrote down the story in 1959:

“In the village of Zupci, near Bar, people still talk of the incident that happened to some Italian guards in the World War II.

It took place one dark night in 1942 when the occupying Italian army was guarding its positions at Ribnjak, in a church dedicated to St. Basil of Ostrog which was had been by King Nikola.

As the Italian soldiers were building a fire in the church and preparing their supper, suddenly the entire church was bathed in a strange light. A white-bearded Elder clad in the robes of an Orthodox Bishop appeared before them.

He ordered them sternly to clean up the church and leave at once. The church went dark and the elder disappeared in the darkness. The soldiers were filled with fright and ran out of the church and all the way down to the foot of the hill. They prepared their supper there and would not on any account ever eat and prepare food in the church again.

One day one of the Italian guards saw an icon of St. Basil of Ostrog in the home of a local family. He said: 'This is exactly what the Bishop who turned us out of the church looked like!'"

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