But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ” Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.
For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not. He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us. Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it: “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” Then they departed from there and passed through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know it. For He taught His disciples and said to them, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.”
(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,
Great multitudes followed Him-from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan. And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Saints and Feasts celebrated today
Venerable John Lestvichnik ( ).
The Monk John of the Ladder (Lestvichnik; Klimatikos; Climaticus) is honoured by Holy Church as a great ascetic and author of the reknown spiritual work called “The Ladder”, whereby the monk likewise received the title “of-the-Ladder” [Lestvichnik (Slav.); Klimatikos (Grk.); Climaticus (Lat.)]. About the origins of the monk John there is almost no account preserved. Tradition suggests, that he was born about the year 570, and was the son of Saints Xenophones and Maria, whose is celebrated by the Church on 26 January. The sixteen year old lad John arrived at the Sinai monastery. Abba Martyrios became instructor and guide of the monk. After four years of living on Sinai, Saint John Lestvichnik was vowed into monasticism. One of those present at the taking of vows, Abba Stratigios, predicted, that he was set to become a great luminary in the Church of Christ. Over the course of 19 years the monk John pursued asceticism in obedience to his spiritual father. After the death of abba Martyrios the monk John chose an hermit’s life, settling into a wild place called Tholos, where he spent 40 years in deeds of silence, fasting, prayer and tears of penitence. It is not by chance that in “The Ladder” the monk John speaks thus about tears of repentance: “Just as fire burns and destroys firewood, so thus do pure tears wash away all impurity, both outer and inner”. His holy prayer was strong and efficacious, as evidenced from an example from the life of the God-pleasing saint. The Monk John had a student, the monk Moses. One time the instructor ordered his student to bring ground to the garden for bedding. Having fulfilled the obedience, the monk Moses lay down to rest under the shade of a large rock, because of the strong heat of summer. The monk John Lestvichnik was at this time in his cell resting after a prayerful labour. Suddenly a man of remarkable appearance appeared to him and, having roused the holy ascetic, said to him in reproach: “Why dost thou, John, rest peacefully here, when Moses is in danger?” The monk John immediately woke up and began to pray for his student. When his disciple returned in the evening, the monk asked, whether some sort of woe had befallen him. The monk answered: “No, but I was exposed to great danger. A large fragment of stone, having broken off from the rock under which I had fallen asleep at mid-day, just barely missed me. By luck, I had a dream that thou wast calling me, and I woke up and started to run off, and at that very moment the huge stone fell with a crash on that very spot, from which I had fled…” About the manner of life of the monk John is known, that he nourished himself by such as what is not prohibited a fasting life by the ustav, but in moderation. He did not spend the night without sleep, although he slept not much, only as much as was necessary for keeping up his strength, so that by an unceasing vigilance he would not destroy the mind. “I do not fast excessively, said he about himself, nor do I give myself over to intense all-night vigil, nor lay upon the ground, but restrain myself…, and the Lord soon saved me”. The following example of humility of the monk John Lestvichnik is noteworthy. Gifted with a deeply penetrating mind, and having become wise by profound spiritual experience, he lovingly received all who came to him so as to guide them to salvation. But when there appeared some who through envy reproached him with loquacity, which they explained away as vanity, the monk John then gave himself over to silence so as not to give cause for blame, and he kept silence for the space of a year. The envious realised their error and they themselves returned to the ascetic with the request not to deprive them of the spiritual profit of his conversation. Concealing his ascetic deeds from people, the monk John sometimes withdrew into a cave, but accounts of his holiness spread far beyond the locality: incessantly there came to him visitors from every rank and calling, wanting to hear his words of edification and salvation. At age 75, after forty years of ascetic striving in solitude, the monk was chosen as hegumen of the Sinai monastery. For about four years the monk John Lestvichnik governed the holy Sinai monastery. Towards the end of his life, the Lord granted the monk grace-bearing gifts of perspicacity and wonderworking. During the time of his governing the monastery, at the request of the hegumen of the Raipha monastery Saint John (Comm. on Cheesefare Saturday), there was written for the monks the reknown “Ladder”, an instruction for rising to spiritual perfection. Knowing about the wisdom and spiritual gifts of the monk, the Raipha hegumen on behalf of all the monks of his monastery requested him to write down for them “a true instruction for those following after invariably, and as such would be a ladder of affirmation, which would lead those wishing it to the Heavenly gates…” The monk John, noted for his humble opinion about himself, was at first perplexed, but afterwards out of obedience he set about fulfilling the request of the Raipha monks. The monk thus also named his work “The Ladder”, and explained the title in the following manner: “I have constructed a ladder of ascent… from the earthly to the holy… in the form of the thirty years of age for the Lord’s maturity, symbolically I have constructed a ladder of 30 steps, by which, having attained the Lord’s age, we find ourselves with the righteous and secure from falling down”. The purpose of this work, is to teach that the reaching of salvation requires difficult self-denial and demanding ascetic deeds. “The Ladder” presupposes, first, a cleansing from the impurity of sin, the eradication of vices and passions in the old man; second, the restoration in man of the image of God. Although the book was written for monks, any christian living in the world receives from it the hope of guidance for ascent to God, and a support for spiritual life. The Monks Theodore the Studite (Comm. 11 November and 26 January), Sergei of Radonezh (Comm. 25 September and 5 July), Joseph of Volokolamsk (Comm. 9 September and 18 October), and others in their instructions relied on “The Ladder” as an important book for salvific guidance. The content of one of the steps of “The Ladder” (the 22nd) discusses the ascetic deed of the destruction of vainglory. The monk John writes: “Vanity springs out in front of each virtue. When, for example, I keep a fast I am given over to vanity, and when I in concealing the fasting from others permit myself food, I am again given over to vanity by my prudence. Dressing up in bright clothing, I am vanquished by love of honour and, having changed over into drab clothing I am overcome by vanity. If I stand up to speak I fall under the power of vanity. If I wish to keep silence, I am again given over to it. Wherever this thorn comes up, it everywhere stands with its points upwards. It is vainglorious…, on the surface to honour God, and in deed to strive to please people rather than God… People of lofty spirit bear insult placidly and willingly, but to hear praise and feel nothing of pleasure is possible only for the saints and for the unblameworthy… When thou hearest, that thy neighbour or friend either afront the eyes or behind the eyes slandereth thee, praise and love him… Does this not shew humility, and who can reproach himself, and be intolerant with himself? But who, having been discredited by another, would not diminish in his love for him… Whoever is exalted by natural gifts a felicitous mind, a fine education, reading, pleasant elocution and other similar qualities, which are readily enough acquired, that person might yet never obtain to supernatural gifts. Wherefore whoever is not faithful in the small things, that one also is not faithful in the large, and is vainglorous. It often happens, that God Himself humbles the vainglorious, sending a sudden misfortune… If prayer does not destroy a proud thought, we bring to mind the leaving of the soul from this life. And if this does not help, we threaten it with the shame of the Last Judgement. “Rising up to humble oneself” even here, before the future age. When praisers, or better flatterers, start to praise us, immediately we betake ourselves to recollection of all our iniquities and we find, that we are not at all worth that which they impute to us”. This and other examples, located in “The Ladder”, offer us an image of this saint’s zealousness about his own salvation, which is necessary for each person who wishes to live piously. It is a written account of his thought, the collective fruit of many and also of his refined observation from his own soul and his own profound spiritual experience. It reveals itself as a guide and great help on the way to truth and good. The steps of “The Ladder” this proceeding from strength to strength on the path of man’s proclivity to perfection, is not something suddenly but rather gradually to be reached, as in the saying of the Saviour: “The Kingdom of Heaven is taken by strength, and those utilising strength shalt delight of it” (Mt 11: 12).
Martyr Sabinas of Hermopolis, Egypt (303).
The Holy Martyr Sabinus was governor of the Egyptian city of Hermopolis. During the time of persecution against christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), Saint Sabinus hid himself away with like-minded companions in a remote village. But his dwelling-place was revealed for two gold coins given to a certain ungrateful beggar, whom the saint had constantly fed and helped with money. Together with six other christians, Sabinus was seized, and after torture they were all drowned in the Nile (+ 287).
Martyr Papas of Lycaonia (305).
The Holy Martyr Papas lived in the city of Larandum (Asia Minor) during the reign of Maximian (305-311). They arrested and tortured him for belief in Christ, and afterwards, in boots with sharp nails hammered inside, they took him for further trial to the city of Diocaesarea and later to Isaurian Seleucia. Saint Papas died bound to a barren tree, which thereupon became fruitful.
Apostle Aristobulus of the Seventy, bishop of Britain (1st c.).
The Holy Disciple from among the 70 Aristoboulus, Bishop of Britanium (Britain), was born on Cyprus. Together with his brother, the holy Disciple from among the 70 Barnabus, he accompanied the holy Apostle Paul on his journeys. Saint Aristoboulus is mentioned by the Apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Romans (Rom 16: 10). The Apostle Paul made Saint Aristoboulus a bishop and sent him to preach the Gospel in Britanium, where he converted many to Christ, for which he suffered persecution by the pagans. Saint Aristoboulus died in Britain. His memory is on 31 October and on 4 January also amidst the Sobor / Assemblage of the 70 Disciples.
Hieromartyr Alexander , pope of Rome (119).
The PriestMartyr Alexander, Pope of Rome, occupied the papal throne for ten years. He was burned alive on 3 May of the year 119 by order of the emperor Adrian (117-138).
Martyr Julian of Anazarbus (305).
The PriestMartyr Julian of Anazauria suffered for Christ in Syrian Antioch under the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311). His relics were glorified by miracles during the time of Sainted John Chrysostomos (+ 407). Sainted John Chrysostom speaks about the martyr in his 47th homily.
Martyrs Trophimus and Thalus of Laodicea (300).
The Holy Martyrs Trophymos and Phalos, by birth brothers and presbyters, served in Carian Laodiceia. During the time of a persecution under the emperor Diocletian (284-305) and his co-emperor Maximian (284-305), the brothers were taken under guard and brought before the governor Asclepiodotos. He ordered the holy brothers to be beaten with stones, but the stones, which they threw at the saints, flew back again and struck those that threw them. After a second interrogation the holy brothers were sentenced to crucifixion. Going to execution, they glorified God in that they were found worthy of the Saviour’s death on a cross. The wondrous witnesses to God hanging on crosses continued their preaching, and their brave mother stood at the foot of the crosses. A certain Jewess, having bowed to the saints, cried out: “Blessed is the mother, having given birth to such sons”. When the martyrs gave up their spirits to God, the prison guard said that he saw the souls of the holy brothers being carried upwards to heaven in the company of three Angels. All night the people stayed with the bodies of the holy martyrs. And in the morning the wife of the torturer Asclepiodotos came to the place of execution with her perfumed bejeweled veil. She told the people, that she saw by night in a dream the holy martyrs and the Angels, sent for the punishment of her husband. The mother of the martyrs and two christians, by the names of Zosima and Artemon, buried the holy brothers in their native city of Stratonika. The torturer Asclepiodotos soon fell ill and died an horrible death.
Additional Saints and Feasts Celebrated Today:
- St. Serapion, archbishop of Novgorod (1516).
- Venerable Christodulus, wonderworker of Patmos (1093).
- Martyr Romanus at Parium on the Hellespont.
- 10 Martyrs in Phoenicia (Greek).
- St. Pimen, Fool-for-Christ and Enlightener of Dagestan, and his companion Anton Meskhi, the Censurer of Kings (13th c.) (Georgia).
- St. Ambrosi (Khelaia) the Confessor, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia (1927) (Georgia).
- New Martyr Malachi of Rhodes, who suffered at Jerusalem (1500).
- St. Abban of Kilabban (650) (Celtic & British).
The Fourth Sunday of Great Lent: Venerable John Lestvichnik, Troparion,
Thou didst prove to be a freeman of the desert, an angel in a body, and a
wonder-worker, O our God – bearing Father John. By fasting, vigil and prayer
thou didst obtain heavenly gifts, and thou healest the sick and the souls of
those who have recourse to thee with faith. Glory to Him Who gave thee strength,
glory to Him Who crowned thee, glory to Him Who works through thee healings for
Kontakion, Tone I
Offering ever-blossoming fruits of learning from thy book, O wise one, thou
delightest the hearts of those who study it seriously, O blessed one. For it is
a ladder which leads up from the earth to the heavenly and abiding glory souls
who with faith honour thee.
Troparion of the Sunday, Tone VIII
Thou didst descend from on high, O Merciful One! / Thou didst accept the three-day burial
to free us from our sufferings! / O Lord, our Life and Resurrection: glory to Thee!
Hymn to the Theotokos, Tone VIII
For our sake Thou wast born of the Virgin / and did endure crucifixion, O Good One, /
destroying death by death. / Revealing the resurrection as God, / do not despise the work of
Thy hand. / Reveal Thy love for man, O merciful One, / and accept the Theotokos praying for
us, / and save Thy despairing people, O Savior.
Kontakion of the Sunday, Tone VIII
By rising from the tomb, Thou didst raise the dead and resurrect Adam. / Eve exults in Thy
Resurrection, / and the world celebrates Thy rising from the dead, O greatly Merciful One!
Holy Martyr Sabinas
No Troparion is given in the Menaion.
Kontakion, Tone II “The steadfast”
O God-bearing Sabinas,/ thou divine scion, unfading bloom, branch heavy-laden
with fruit,/ with thy gladness fill them that with faith honor thy memory,//
and pray thou unceasingly for us all.
Today’s Fasting Guidelines
Great Lent. Food with Oil