Life & Faith

We Commune, Aware That We Are the Dust of the Earth

An Interview with the Ukrainian Primate, Metropolitan Onuphry

How can we restore unity to world Orthodoxy and overcome the schism? What do the schism of 1054 and the current Church rupture have in common? What is needed to restore Eucharistic communion between the Phanar and the Russian Orthodox Church? Is there a threat to Ukrainian Orthodoxy from the Muslim world? How should the Church and its clergy carry out their mission today, and how do today’s trials affect the spiritual life of the faithful?

Feast of the Translation of the Relics of Saint George

On this day we commemorate the translation of the relics of St. George, from Nicomedia, where he suffered at the time of Emperor Diocletian, to the city of Lydda in Palestine. The suffering of this wonderful saint is described on April 23. Anticipating his martyrdom, St. George begged his servant to take his relics to Palestine, where his mother had been born, and where he had distributed his large estate to the poor. The servant did so. During the reign of Emperor Constantine, pious Christians built a beautiful church to St. George in Lydda and, upon the consecration of that church, the relics of the saint were interred there. Innumerable miracles have occurred from these miracle-working relics of St. George, the great-martyr of Christ.

Holy Wonderworkers and Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian

Cosmas and Damian were unmercenaries and miracle-workers. They were brothers both in the flesh and in the spirit, born somewhere in Asia Minor of a pagan father and a Christian mother. After their father’s death, their mother St. Theodota devoted all her time and effort to educating her sons and raising them as true Christians. God helped her, and her sons matured as sweet fruit and luminaries of the world. They were learned in the art of medicine and ministered to the sick without payment, not so much with medicine as by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. They were called “unmercenary physicians,” that is, unpaid physicians, for they healed freely and thus fulfilled the commandment of Christ: Freely ye have received, freely give (Matthew 10:8). So careful were they in healing men free of charge that Cosmas became very angry with his brother Damian because he accepted three eggs from a woman, Palladia, and ordered that he not be buried alongside his brother Damian after his death. In fact, St. Damian did not accept these three eggs as a reward for healing the ailing Palladia, but rather because she adjured him in the name of the Most-holy Trinity to accept these three eggs. Nevertheless, after their death in the town of Fereman, they were buried together according to a revelation from God. The holy brothers were great miracle-workers both during their life and after their death. A snake crawled through the mouth and into the stomach of a certain farm laborer during his sleep, and the unfortunate man would have died in the greatest pain had he not, in the last moment, invoked the help of Saints Cosmas and Damian. Thus, the Lord glorified forever the miracle-working of those who glorified Him on earth by their faith, purity and mercy.

The Venerable Virgin-martyr Anastasia the Roman (ca. 250)

(November 11 / October 29)

She was born in Rome of noble parents, and was left an orphan at the age of three. As an orphan, she was taken to a convent near Rome where the abbess was Sophia, a nun of the highest level of perfection. After sev- enteen years, Anastasia was well known—among the Christians as a great ascetic, and among the pagans as a rare beauty. Probus, the pagan gover- nor, heard of Anastasia and sent his soldiers to bring her to him. For two hours, the good Abbess Sophia counseled Anastasia how to keep the Faith, how to resist flattering deceits, and how to endure torture. Anastasia said to her: “My heart is ready to suffer for Christ; my soul is ready to die for my Sweet Jesus.” Brought before the governor, Anastasia openly expressed her faith in Christ the Lord, and when the governor tried to turn her away from the Faith—first by promises and then by threats—the martyr said to him: “I am ready to die for my Lord not only once, but—oh, if it were only possible—a hundred times!” When they stripped her naked to hu- miliate her, she cried out to the servants: “Whip me, cut me up and tear me apart, cover my naked body with wounds and cover my shame with blood!” She was beaten, torn and cut up. On two occasions she felt a great thirst and asked for water, and a Christian, Cyril, gave her a drink, for which he was blessed by the martyr of Christ and beheaded by the pagans. Anastasia’s breasts and tongue were severed, but an angel of God appeared and sustained her. Finally, she was beheaded outside the city. Blessed Sophia found her body and buried it honorably. Anastasia was crowned with the wreath of martyrdom during the reign of Decius.

 

The Holy Great-martyr Parasceva of Iconium (3rd c.)

(November 10 / October 28)

She was born in the city of Iconium of wealthy and Christ-loving parents. After the death of her parents, the maiden Parasceva began to distribute her possessions to the poor and the less fortunate, all in the name of Christ the Lord. When a persecution began under Diocletian, Parasceva was brought to trial before the governor of that land. When the governor asked her for her name, she replied that she was called a Christian. The governor rebuked her because she did not give her usual name and Parasceva said to him: “First, I had to tell you my name in eternal life, and then my name in this tem- poral life.” After flogging her, the governor cast Parasceva into prison where an angel of God appeared to her, healed her of her wounds, and com- forted her. By prayer, Parasceva destroyed all the in the pagan temple. After prolonged and harsh tortures, Parasceva was beheaded with the sword and took up her abode in eternal life.