St Seraphim of Sarov – 2nd January

 

After experiencing visions and miraculous healing as both a child and a young monk, Seraphim  began to withdraw into his “farther hermitage”—the forest wilderness about five km from Sarov Monastery. Wild animals—bears, rabbits, wolves, foxes and others—came to the hut of the ascetic. The elder of the Diveevo monastery, Matrona Plescheeva, witnessed how St. Seraphim fed a bear that had come to him out of his hand: “Seraphim’s face was particularly miraculous. It was joyous and bright, as that of an angel,” she described. While living in this little hermitage of his, Seraphim once suffered greatly at the hands of robbers. Although he was physically very strong and was holding an axe at the time, St. Seraphim did not resist them. In answer to their threats and their demands for money, he lay his axe down on the ground, crossed his arms on his chest and obediently gave himself up to them. They began to beat him on the head with the handle of his own axe. Blood began to pour out of his mouth and ears, and he fell unconscious. After that they began to hit him with a log, trampled him under foot, and dragged him along the ground. They stopped beating him only when they had decided that he had died. The only treasure which the robbers found in his cell was the icon of the Mother of God of Deep Emotion (Ymileniye), before which he always prayed. When, after some time, the robbers were caught and brought to justice, the holy monk interceded on their behalf before the judge. After the beating, Seraphim remained hunched over for the rest of his life.

Soon after this began the “pillar” period of the life of Seraphim, when he spent his days on a rock near his little hermitage, and nights in the thick of the forest. He prayed with his arms raised to heaven, almost without respite. This feat of his continued for a thousand days.

Because of a special vision of the Mother of God he was given toward the end of his life, St. Seraphim took upon himself the feat of becoming an elder. He began to admit everyone who came to him for advice and direction. Many thousands of people from all walks of life and conditions began to visit the elder now, who enriched them from his spiritual treasures, which he had acquired by many years of efforts. Everyone saw Seraphim as meek, joyful, pensively sincere. He greeted all with the words: “My joy! Christ is risen” To many he advised:

“Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you thousands will be saved.”

No matter who came to him, Seraphim  bowed to the ground before all, and, in blessing, kissed their hands. He did not need the visitors to tell him about themselves, as he could see what each had on their soul.

One winters day, an follower of Seraphim, called Motovilov, was sitting on a stump in the woods.  Seraphim was squatting across from him and telling his pupil the meaning of a Christian life, explaining for what we Christians live on earth.

“It is necessary that the Holy Spirit enter our heart. Everything good that we do, that we do for Christ, is given to us by the Holy Spirit, but prayer most of all, which is always available to us,” he said.

“Father,” answered Motovilov, “how can I see the grace of the Holy Spirit? How can I know if He is with me or not?”

St. Seraphim began to give him examples from the lives of the saints and apostles, but Motovilov still did not understand. The elder then firmly took him by the shoulder and said to him, “We are both now, my dear fellow, in the Holy Spirit.” It was as if Motovilov’s eyes had been opened, for he saw that the face of the elder was brighter than the sun. In his heart Motovilov felt joy and peace, in his body a warmth as if it were summer, and a fragrance began to spread around them. Motovilov was terrified by the unusual change, but especially by the fact that Seraphim’s face shone like the sun. But St. Seraphim said to him, “Do not fear, dear fellow. You would not even be able to see me if you yourself were not in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Thank the Lord for His mercy toward us.”

INTERCEDING

On this day, lift before God:

  • all who seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
  • All who seek to live peaceably.
  • All who pray for healing.
  • All who have compassion.
  • All who lead others into the Christian life.

 

The Holy name of Jesus

Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus.

  • V. Lord, have mercy on us.
    R. Christ, have mercy on us.
    V. Lord, have mercy on us. Jesus, hear us.
    R. Jesus, graciously hear us.
    V. God the Father of Heaven
    R. Have mercy on us.
    V. God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
    R. Have mercy on us.
    V. God the Holy Spirit,
    R. Have mercy on us.
    V. Holy Trinity, one God,
    R. Have mercy on us.
    V. Jesus, Son of the living God, R. Have mercy on us.
    Jesus, splendor of the Father, [etc.]
    Jesus, brightness of eternal light.
    Jesus, King of glory.
    Jesus, sun of justice.
    Jesus, Son of the Virgin Mary.
    Jesus, most amiable.
    Jesus, most admirable.
    Jesus, the mighty God.
    Jesus, Father of the world to come.
    Jesus, angel of great counsel.
    Jesus, most powerful.
    Jesus, most patient.
    Jesus, most obedient.
    Jesus, meek and humble of heart.
    Jesus, lover of chastity.
    Jesus, lover of us.
    Jesus, God of peace.
    Jesus, author of life.
    Jesus, example of virtues.
    Jesus, zealous lover of souls.
    Jesus, our God.
    Jesus, our refuge.
    Jesus, father of the poor.
    Jesus, treasure of the faithful.
    Jesus, good Shepherd.
    Jesus, true light.
    Jesus, eternal wisdom.
    Jesus, infinite goodness.
    Jesus, our way and our life.
    Jesus, joy of Angels.
    Jesus, King of the Patriarchs.
    Jesus, Master of the Apostles.
    Jesus, teacher of the Evangelists.
    Jesus, strength of Martyrs.
    Jesus, light of Confessors.
    Jesus, purity of Virgins.
    Jesus, crown of Saints.

V. Be merciful, R. spare us, O Jesus.
V. Be merciful, R. graciously hear us, O Jesus.

V. From all evil, R. deliver us, O Jesus.
From all sin, deliver us, O Jesus.
From Your wrath, [etc.]
From the snares of the devil.
From the spirit of fornication.
From everlasting death.
From the neglect of Your inspirations.
By the mystery of Your holy Incarnation.
By Your Nativity.
By Your Infancy.
By Your most divine Life.
By Your labors.
By Your agony and passion.
By Your cross and dereliction.
By Your sufferings.
By Your death and burial.
By Your Resurrection.
By Your Ascension.
By Your institution of the most Holy Eucharist.
By Your joys.
By Your glory.

V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. spare us, O Jesus.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. graciously hear us, O Jesus.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. have mercy on us, O Jesus.
V. Jesus, hear us.
R. Jesus, graciously hear us.

Let us pray.

O Lord Jesus Christ, You have said, “Ask and you shall receive, seek, and you shall find, knock, and it shall be opened to you.” Grant, we beg of You, to us who ask it, the gift of Your most divine love, that we may ever love You with our whole heart, in word and deed, and never cease praising You.

Give us, O Lord, as much a lasting fear as a lasting love of Your Holy Name, for You, who live and are King for ever and ever, never fail to govern those whom You have solidly established in Your love. Amen.

Zoticus, cherisher of the poor and servant of lepers.

Zoticus was born in Rome, and as a young man was chosen by the Emperor Constantine to assist in the foundation of his new capital at Byzantium. An outbreak of leprosy in the new City became so severe that the Emperor ordered that all lepers, whatever their rank, be driven from the city or drowned in the sea. Zoticus, moved by compassion for these people, went to the Emperor and asked him for a large amount of gold to buy gems and pearls to enhance the glory of the city, ‘For, as Your Majesty knows, I am well-qualified in this field.’ The Saint then used the gold to ransom all those being led into exile or to drowning, and to establish for them a camp on the hill of Olivet on the opposite shore of the Bosphorus. There he brought the sick and provided for their care.
In 337 Constantius, an Arian heretic, took the throne upon the death of his father. Some of Zoticus’ enemies at court, seeing an opportunity, denounced Zoticus to the new Emperor, saying that he not only held subversive views, but had misappropriated public money. When he learned of these charges, Zoticus presented himself to the Emperor, finely dressed, and offered to take Constantius to see the gems and pearls that he had bought on his behalf. When they reached the hill of Olivet, Constantius was astonished to see a company of lepers coming to greet him with lighted candles, honouring and praising him and their patron Zoticus. Then the holy Zoticus said to the Emperor, ‘These are the precious stones and brilliant pearls that give luster to the crown of the heavenly Kingdom that you will inherit by their prayers. I bought them for the salvation of your soul.’
Instead of being grateful, the heartless Emperor ordered that Zoticus be tied behind wild mules and dragged until dead. The mules ran down the hill, breaking the Saint’s body upon the rocks and brush. Then, of their own accord, they returned to the top of the hill, still dragging the body, and, like Balaam’s ass, spoke and proclaimed that the Martyr must be buried on that hill. The astonished and repentant Emperor ordered the Martyr buried with honour, and commanded that a hospital for lepers be built there, staffed by the best physicians and caretakers.
Saint Zoticus is also called Orphanotrophos, ‘Cherisher of Orphans,’ because in later years a large orphanage was added to the leprosarium. The orphanage included a general hospital and a home for the aged. The Saint was honored throughout Byzantine history as the patron of the orphanage.

INTERCEDING

On this day lift before God:

  • All with leprosy and those working for its curing.
  • All who see the humanity in those society wishes to reject.
  • All who recognise people as more precious than jewels.
  • Orphans and those who adopt or care for them.
  • Those who fund, build and work in hospitals.

Simon, outpourer of myrrh.

Some time in the 13th century, Simon arrived on the Holy Mountaim Recalling the saying of the Fathers that without obedience one cannot be saved. He sought most of all to find a spiritual elder to whom he could entrust his soul without reserve.

After looking all over the Holy Mountain, he finally chose out of the multitude of monks leading virtuous lives, an unknown elder, perfect in all respects in the ascetic life. He laboured in complete submission to his elder, fulfilling all his obediences with love and zeal and soon became known all over the Holy Mountain for his irreproachable life. Finally the time came when the elder was convinced that his period of trial was over. Casting aside his paternal kindness towards the venerable Simon, he decided to dwell with him, as with a brother and on several occasions he even asked for his advice and counsel. But instead of rejoicing over the benevolence and honor bestowed upon him by his elder, Simon was utterly grieved. He decided to leave, seeking for himself total reclusion. Expressing his intention to his elder, he asked his blessing amidst a shower of tears, desiring with heartfelt sorrow that the elder would grant his consent.

For a long time St. Simon searched all over the Holy Mountain for a secluded hermitage where no one would know of his existence and no one would find him. Finally, with God’s help, he found a deserted mountainside with caves on the southern part of the Holy Mountain. For many years St. Simon remained secluded within his cave where he endured the constant battle with the unseen enemies of his soul. He lived in sorrows and utter deprivation, lacking even the assurance of his own salvation.

Meanwhile, hearing of the severity of his life and in particular of his spiritual discernment and insight, many monks on the Holy Mountain began to come to him and to receive great spiritual benefit from his soul-profiting counsel. Together with those who came to him, Simon was accounted worthy to receive from the Lord the gift of prophecy. However, through his humility he grew weary of such earthly honour, and he sought refuge from the disturbance created by all those who came to him. He was burdened by the stream of visitors which, it seemed to him, only served as a hindrance to his desire for a life of seclusion. He yearned, therefore, to abandon his dwelling for a yet more isolated one. But God, desiring the well-being and salvation of each and every person, prevented the realization of his desire in the following way:

One night, whilst praying, Simon saw outside his cave, as if before his very eyes, a divine light; an ineffable fragrance spread all around him and he heard a loud voice: “Simon, Simon, thou faithful friend and servant of my Son! Do not go away from here. I shall glorify this place; you shall be its guiding light, and your name shall be glorified.” Out of caution, Simon chose at first not to believe this vision, not desiring to fall into the nets of the evil one; for he knew, according to the word of the Apostle, that satan could transform himself into an angel of light. Nevertheless, he continued to ponder upon the actual source of the voice. This took place shortly before the Feast of the Nativity of Christ. Then, one night, walking outside his cave, he saw a strange apparition: a star descended from the heavens and came to rest just above the rocky cliffs where later the holy monastery was to be situated. This same vision repeated itself on the following evenings; but Simon was still fearful. He continued to distrust the vision.

When the Christmas Eve t arrived, he saw in a dream a brilliant star and heard a divine voice: “Simon! you must build a monastic dwelling here. I myself shall help you. Cast aside your doubts, or you shall be punished for your unbelief.” The same voice spoke to him three times. At that time (as he later related to his disciples) it seemed to him that he was in Bethlehem of Judea, in the very place where the shepherds were tending their flocks, and he heard the sweet sound of angelic singing: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men: fear not, for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke2:l4, 10). After this, said the saint, all fear and uneasiness were dispelled from his soul and he rejoiced in spirit, and secretly beheld the scene in Bethlehem; there, before the manger, tMary stood before Jesus, lying in swaddling clothes.

Several days after the Christmas, three rich men came to the Simon. They confessed all their sins and began to entreat him to permit them to live in obedience under his direction. After a brief period of trial and testing, Simon revealed the divine vision to them. More than once he related the vision concerning the building of a monastery on the neighboring cliffs to them, asking them not to speak of it to any, one while he was still alive until the proper time. Hearing all this, the brothers with love offered to the saintly elder all of their earthly wealth for the construction of the monastery, and in accordance with the saint’s wish and blessing, they offered immediately to prepare everything necessary for such an important and God-pleasing labor.

All necessary preparations were made. When Simon directed the brothers to the location where the church and other buildings were to be constructed they were  horrified, seeing the sheer cliffs which, according to his orders, were to serve as the monastery’s foundation. “Are you trying to fool us, Abba?” they asked, ‘or are you speaking the truth? How can this be the site, when that cliff might be quite dangerous for the workers and even more so for those that will dwell here.” Seeing that he could not convince them to proceed with the work, Simon ordered the trapeza meal to be served. While they were eating, one of the saint’s disciples who was bringing wine to the table, lost his balance, and fell off the cliff into a great abyss; still holding in one hand a pitcher and in the other several glasses of wine. Stricken with horror at this sudden tragedy, the spokesman of the brothers strongly rebuked Simon:

“Behold, Abba, what has already been wrought by these deadly crags before you have even begun your undertaking. How many similar incidents of such a frightful death will occur if we should agree to build the monastery here.” The saint did not answer but secretly prayed that he would not be put to shame. What happened next was entirely unexpected: the brother who had fallen over the precipice suddenly appeared before them. He was not only perfectly whole and unscathed, but he even held the glasses and pitcher from which not a drop of wine had spilled! Such a miracle brought fear and trembling upon the labourers. They fell to their knees before the saint and begging forgiveness said: “Now we know, O father, that you are truly a man of God.” Then, under the immediate supervision of Simon himself, his disciples, formerly simple labourers, proceeded with the construction of the Monastery.

Having established the monastery which he named New Bethlehem, and having spent his life in God-pleasing labours, Simon died on the 28th of December, 1287. On the morning of the next day, in the presence of the entire brotherhood, his face shone with a wondrous light. After his soul had ascended, a fragrant myrrh issued forth from his holy relics through which St. Simon worked many miracles to the glory of God, for kings, monks, and laymen.

(adapted from the Russian “Athonite Patericon” by’Rassophore-monk Gerasim; taken from: http://www.roca.org/OA/25/25d.htm)

INTERCEDING

On this day lift before God:

  • Those who desire ardently to learn to live a Christ-like life.
  • All who seek solitude and silence.
  • All who find others seeking their counsel.
  • Construction workers.
  • Perfumers
  • Those entrusted with visions for the future and those called to interpret them.