1. VENERABLE THEODOSIUS THE GREAT [THE CENOBIARCH]
Theodosius was the first founder and organizer of the cenobitic way of monastic life. He was born in the province of Cappadocia in the village of Mogarissus of devout parents. As a child, he visited St. Simeon the Stylite who blessed him and prophesied great and spiritual honors about him. With a thurible [censer] in which he placed unburned charcoal and incense, Theodosius sought out a place where he could settle and establish his monastery and stopped when the charcoal fired up on its own. Here, he settled and began to live the ascetical life. Soon, he gathered around him many monks of various nationalities. He built a church for each nationality so that, at the same time, services and hymns were offered to God in Greek, Armenian, Georgian, etc. But, on the day of Holy Communion, all the brotherhood gathered in the great church in which the Greek language was used. There was a communal table for all, communal property, communal penance, communal labor, communal patience and, not too rare, communal hunger. Theodosius was an exalted model of life to all the monks; an example in labor, prayer, fasting, watchfulness and in all Christian virtues. God granted him the gift of working miracles by which he was able to heal the sick, to appear from a distance, to tame wild beasts, to discern the future and to cause bread and wheat to multiply. Prayer was on his lips day and night. He died peacefully in the Lord in the year 529 A.D., the one-hundred fifth year after his birth.
2. BLESSED MICHAEL, A FOOL FOR CHRIST
Blessed Michael was a Russian of a princely family. He made himself appear foolish so as to conceal his virtues from the world and to avoid the praise of men. Thus, he prepared himself for praise before God. He died in the year 1453 A.D. in the Klops Monastery near Novgorod where his relics repose.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Those who with fear stand before God,
Those who fear the Living God only,
Only they can witness
That the righteous one receives that for which he prays to God.
By true prayer, God does for people -
The dawn glows to the one who turns to the dawn.
Saint Theodosius, by his prayers
Helped many and also helped us.
For he lives even now as he once did
And works miracles, as he once did and does now -
The Lord bestowed upon him power, because of his faith,
And love for God; love immeasurable.
Wonderful Theodosius, zealot of truth,
Wondrous organizer of the monastic life,
Let him be praised by us, who is glorified by God,
Now a glorious citizen of the Kingdom of Christ
To be bribable means to be not a Christian. The Orthodox Fathers of the Church were not given to bribery nor to be intimidation. Bribery in matters of the Faith is equal to Judas's betrayal of Christ for money. Such bribery was characteristic only of certain heretics. When Emperor Anastasius succumbed to the heresy of Euthychius, Emperor Anastasius rose up against the decisions of the Fourth Ecumenical Council (Chalcedon, 451 A.D) and wanted to outlaw those decisions. In order to win over the most distinguished representatives of the Church for himself, the emperor began to send them various gifts. St. Theodosius, by his fame, was the first in all of Palestine. The emperor sent him thirty liters of gold as a gift, supposedly for the needs of the monastery. By this, Theodosius immediately understood that the emperor wanted to bribe him. How wisely this saint of God acted! He did not want to keep the money for the monastery even though it was in great need; neither did he want to return it to the emperor so that the emperor would not become more embittered against Orthodoxy; thus he immediately distributed all the gold to the poor in the emperor's name. This charity strengthened his prayer to God for the correction of the emperor and return to the true path.
To contemplate the weeping of the Lord Jesus:
1. The weeping and sorrow over the lifeless Lazarus as well as over the fate of Jerusalem;
2. The weeping and sorrow in the Garden of Gethsemane because of man's bondage to sin, to the demon and to death.
About the progressive growth in spiritual development
"Everyone who lives on milk lacks experience of the word of righteousness, for he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties are trained by practice to discern good and evil" (Hebrews 5:13-14).
Those who feed on the food of the milk of sensual reflection cannot easily distinguish between good and evil. They usually come to the conclusion that all Faiths are equally the same in value; that sin is the indispensable shadow of virtue; that evil, in general, is the unavoidable companion of good. A true Christian cannot come to such erroneous conclusions. A true Christian is a mature person who is not fed of milk, one who is distrustful of the senses, one who judges much finer and makes a finer distinction between the values of all that is and all that was. To the Christian, indeed, is given clear distinction of God's Revelation for distinguishing good from evil; nevertheless, for him [the Christian] a long and laborious study is necessary in order that he, as being perfect, could in every given case know what is good and what is evil. This knowledge should pass over into feeling in order to be trustworthy and without error. Both good and evil wish to touch the heart of man. That is why man should be trained, with his feeling in the heart, to immediately recognize what approaches him in the same manner, as with his tongue he immediately senses the salty and the unsalty, the sweet and the bitter.
Brethren, let us endeavor every day and every moment to sharpen our heart that the heart could always distinguish good and evil. For everything that happens to us, the question is posed: What is good and what is evil? Precisely everything that happens to us, happens to us so that we could realize what is good and to follow after good. We place ourselves in such temptations even a hundred times a day. He who has eyes to see, let him see.
O Lord, Lover of mankind, warm our hearts with good which is from You. Make us wise, O Lord, to be able to distinguish good from evil. O Master, strengthen us that we should always embrace good and discard evil for the sake of Your glory, O Lover of mankind, and for the sake of our salvation.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.