Life & Faith

The Holy Martyr Christina and Venerable Polycarp

July 24 / August 6

The Holy Martyr Christina

Christina was born in the city of Tyre. She was the daughter of Urban the imperial deputy, an idol-worshiper. The reason her parents gave her the name of Christina is unknown, but it contained within itself the mystery of her future following of Christ. Until the age of eleven she knew nothing of Christ. When she reached that age, her father made her live in the top of a high tower, in order to protect her from the world, because of her extraordinary beauty. He planned to have her live there until she reached full maturity. All the comforts of life were afforded her—slaves to serve her, and gold and silver idols that she might offer sacrifices to them daily. However, the soul of young Christina was saddened in this isolated, idolatrous environment. Looking out the window each day at the sun and all the beauty of the world, and again at night at the wondrous constellations of shining stars, Christina came to a firm belief in the One Living God through her own natural understanding. The merciful God, seeing her longing for the truth, sent His angel to trace the sign of the Cross upon Christina. The angel called her the bride of Christ, and instructed her fully in the knowledge of divine things. Then Christina smashed all the idols in her quarters, thus provoking wild fury in her father. He brought her to trial, and had her tortured. Then he had her thrown into prison, intending to have her beheaded the next day. That night Urban, who had been in full health, spewed forth his soul and went to the grave before his daughter. After this, two imperial deputies, Dion and Julian, continued to torture this holy virgin. Christina’s courageous endurance and the miracles she worked by the power of God converted many pagans of Tyre to Christianity. During the torturing of Christina, Dion suddenly fell dead in the midst of the people. Dion’s successor, Julian, severed Christina’s breasts and tongue. The martyr threw her severed tongue into Julian’s face, and he was instantly blinded. Finally, her suffering for Christ ended beneath the sharp sword, but her life continues in the Immortal Kingdom of the angels. St. Christina suffered honorably in the third century. 

The Venerable Polycarp, Abbot of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves

Polycarp possessed “love toward God and neighbor, joy from an untainted conscience, peace from victory over all the passions, patience in time of temptation and misfortune, goodness in submission to all, benevolence toward the poor, undoubting faith in fulfilling the commandments, truth in fulfilling his vows, meekness in freedom from anger, abstinence and so forth.” So well did he govern the Kiev Caves Lavra that, after his death, a worthy successor among the monks could not be found (for those who were worthy did not want to accept the rank of abbot out of humility), so that the brethren were compelled to take Basil, a secular priest, as their abbot. St. Polycarp reposed in the Lord in the year 1182. 
 

SAINT NIKOLAI VELIMIROVIC

Holy, Glorious Prophet Elijah

The Holy Prophet Elijah is one of the greatest of the prophets and the first dedicated to virginity in the Old Testament. He was born in Tishba of Gilead into the Levite tribe 900 years before the Incarnation of the Word of God.

Saint Epiphanius of Cyprus gives the following account about the birth of the Prophet Elijah: “When Elijah was born, his father Sobach saw in a vision angels of God around him. They swaddled him with fire and fed him with flames.” The name Elijah (the Lord’s strength) given to the infant defined his whole life. From the years of his youth he dedicated himself to the One God, settled in the wilderness and spent his whole life in strict fasting, meditation and prayer. Called to prophetic service, which put him in conflict with the Israelite king Ahab, the prophet became a fiery zealot of true faith and piety.

Bishop Mardarije (Uskokovic)

The First Serbian Bishop of America and Canada

Bishop Mardarije was born in Podgorica on December 22, 1889, his father, Pero, being a tribal captain and mother Jela, nee Bozovic. He finished elementary school in Cetinje where he started high school, continuing in Belgrade. Leaving high school in his fifth year, he went to Studenica Monastery. In 1906, with the blessing of Bishop Sava (Barac) of Zica, he took monastic vows and was ordained a deacon. He graduated from the Seminary in Kisenjev where a collection of his sermons was published. From here he went to St. Petersburg, graduating from the Theological Academy in 1916.

Is the Apostle’s Fast “Easier”?

The Apostle’s asceticism and the “vacation season”

The Apostles’ fast goes back to the earliest times of the Christian Church. As we know, it was established when in both Constantinople and Rome, churches were built in honor of the chief apostles Peter and Paul. The sanctification of the Constantinople church was performed on the feast day of these apostles, June 29 (according to the old calendar; that is, July 12 according to the new), and from that time on this day has become particularly solemn in both the East and West. This is the day that the fast ends. It’s beginning is moveable, depending upon the celebration of Pascha; therefore the length of the fast varies from six weeks to a week and a day [if observed according to the Julian Church calendar.—Ed.].

Life Of Our Father Justin Archimandrite of Chelije

Troparion, Tone 4

As Orthodox sweetness and divine nectar, Venerable Father* thou dost flow into the hearts of believers as a wealth:* by thy life and teachings thou didst reveal thyself to be a living book of the Spirit, most wise Justin;* therefore pray to Christ the Word* that the Word may dwell in those who honor thee. 

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit:  Holy love has a way of consuming some. This is what is meant by one who said "Thou hast ravished our hearts, ravished them" (Song of Songs 4:9). And it make others bright and overjoyed. In this regard it has been said "My heart hath hope in Him, and I am helped and my flesh hath flourish again" (Ps. 27:7). "For when the heart is cheerful, the face beams" (cf.Prov.15:13), and "a person flooded with the love of God reveals in his body, as if in a mirror, the splendor of his soul, a glory like of Moses when he came face to face with God" (cf. Ex. 34:29-35) - St. John Climacus. 

Martyr Justin the Philosopher and those with him at Rome

The Holy Martyr Justin the Philosopher was born around 114 at Sychem, an ancient city of Samaria. Justin’s parents were pagan Greeks. From his childhood the saint displayed intelligence, love for knowledge and a fervent devotion to the knowledge of Truth. When he came of age he studied the various schools of Greek philosophy: the Stoics, the Peripatetics, the Pythagoreans, the Platonists, and he concluded that none of these pagan teachings revealed the way to knowledge of the true God.

Once, when he was strolling in a solitary place beyond the city and pondering about where to seek the way to the knowledge of Truth, he met an old man. In the ensuing conversation he revealed to Justin the essential nature of the Christian teaching and advised him to seek the answers to all the questions of life in the books of Holy Scripture. “But before anything else,” said the holy Elder, “pray diligently to God, so that He might open to you the doors of Light. No one is able to comprehend Truth, unless he is granted understanding from God Himself, Who reveals it to each one who seeks Him in prayer and in love.”