1. SAINT EUDOCIMUS
Eudocimus was born in Cappadocia of devout parents, Basil and Eudocia. At the time of the Emperor Theophilus (829-842 A.D.), Eudocimus was a young officer in the army. Even as an officer, he exerted all effort to live according to the commandments of the Holy Gospel. Preserving his purity undefiled, he avoided conversing with any woman, except his mother; he was merciful toward the misfortunate and needy, conscientious in reading holy books and more conscientious in his prayers to God. He avoided vain gatherings and verbosity. "Among the throngs and worldly vanity, he was a lily among thorns and as gold in the fire." Because of his unusual good works, the emperor appointed him as the commander of Cappadocia. In this high position, Eudocimus strived to be just before God and before men. According to the Providence of God he died at an early age, in his thirty-third year. His relics were found to possess healing properties. An insane man touched his grave and immediately became whole; a child also touched his grave and was made whole. After eighteen months, his mother opened his coffin and found his body as though it were still alive, without any signs of decay or corruption. A wonderful aroma emitted from the body of the saint. His relics were later translated to Constantinople and buried in the new church of the Holy Theotokos which the parents of this righteous Eudocimus built.
2. THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYR JULITA
Julita was from Caesarea in Cappadocia. She had a dispute with her neighbor over some property. The neighbor went to the judge and reported that Julita was a Christian which, at that time, meant the same thing as being outside the protection of the state. St. Julita gladly denied her property rather than her faith. But even after that, the evil pagans did not leave her in peace but tortured her and finally burned her alive in the year 303 A.D. Thus, this follower of Christ sacrificed her estate and her body for the sake of the eternal salvation of her soul.
3. SAINT JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA
The noble Joseph, a wealthy man and member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, was secretly a follower of Christ. "Now when it was evening, there came a certain rich man of Arimathea, Joseph by name, who was himself a disciple of Jesus" (St. Matthew 27:57). "Now after these things Joseph of Arimathea, because he was a disciple of Jesus (although for fear of the Jews a secret one), besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus" (St. John 19:38). Together with Nicodemus, Joseph removed the body of Christ from the cross and placed it in his sepulchre. Because of this, he was shackled by the Jews and thrown into prison. But the resurrected Lord appeared to him and convinced him of His resurrection. After that, the Jews released him from prison and banished him from the fatherland. He went throughout the world to preach the Holy Gospel of Christ, and that "good news" he brought to England where he reposed in the Lord.
4. SAINT JOHN THE EXARCH
John was a distinguished Bulgarian priest and theologian during the time of Emperor Simeon (892-896 A.D.). He translated the "Six Days" by Basil and the "Exposition of the Orthodox Faith" by John Damascene into Slavonic. He died peacefully in the Lord.
HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA
Joseph a noble and rich man,
Of Christ the Crucified, (he) did not scandalize,
But when the sun darkened and the earth shook,
He to Pilate went and brought him news
That the Lord died, the Life-giving Lord,
The secret disciple thus became public.
When the public one hid, the secret became public,
Thus Joseph the wise, in a day became famous.
And together with Nicodemus, the body of Christ
In his garden in a new tomb placed it.
The Jewish spies heard, reported it,
The righteous Joseph in chains they placed.
In the darkened dungeon, Joseph languished
While his Lord in Hades glowed.
Joseph pondered his remembrance of Christ,
Mentioning his miraculous works,
Miracles and words and prophecies many,
Before Him, he stood in the presence of God,
And now darkness everywhere from without and within,
Dark days, nights, evenings and mornings
After a glowing flash, than the sun, more radiant,
O desperate darkness, darker than Hades!
But behold suddenly in the dungeon dawned:
The Resurrected One appeared to the shackled servant.
O Joseph brave and noble
Neither of the Resurrected One did you scandalize.
About the dead Christ, you to Pilate informed
And recognized and glorified the Resurrected One.
Let the land of Britain honorably glorify you,
You, for her, planted the first seed of salvation.
Ascetics in the wilderness labor to sever their will and to live according to the will of God. Some erroneously think that the hermit lives completely in isolation. Not one hermit thinks thusly. He lives in the company of God, angels of God and the departed saints who have found repose in the Lord. Wherever the mind of man is, there also is the life of the man. The mind of the hermit is among the greatest, the most pure and in the most numerous company in which one man can possibly be. One time, Abba Mark remarked to St. Arsenius the hermit: "For what reason do you flee from our company and of conversation with us?" Arsenius replied: "God knows that I love you all but I cannot be both, together with God and with man. In heaven, thousands and thousands of thousands have but one will and, with men, there are many and various wills. That is why I cannot leave God and be with men."
To contemplate the punishment of God which befell Abimelech and the Shechemites (Judges 9):
1. How Abimelech with the help of the Shechemites slew seventy of his brethren;
2. How Abimelech himself, after that, slew the Shechemites and plowed under the city, sowing it with salt;
3. How Abimelech, after many victories, was killed by a woman who, from a tower, cast a piece of a millstone on his head;
4. How the curse of Jotham, the son of Gideon, came upon the Shechemites and Abimelech.
About the last awaiting
"Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that you may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless" (2 Peter 3:14).
Brethren, what is our last awaiting? In the night we await the day and in the day we await the night and again the day and again the night. But this awaiting is not our last awaiting. Brethren, what is our last awaiting? In joy we tremble waiting for sorrow and in sorrow we wait with hope for joy and again sorrow, and again joy. But not even these awaitings are our last awaitings. Brethren, our last awaiting is the awaiting of the Judgment of God. When the judgment of God comes, the Dreadful Day "which burns like a furnace" (Malachi 4:1), then we welcome all that we deserve; a day for some, without change into night, and night for others, without change into day; joy for some without change to sorrow and sorrow for others without change to joy. Brethren, that is the last awaiting of the human race, whether he knows it or does not know it, whether he thinks about it or does not think about it.
But, you faithful should know this and you should think about this. Let this knowledge be the zenith of all your knowledge and let this thought direct all your other thoughts. In the knowledge and contemplation of this, include that which is even most important, include your diligence "that you may be found of Him in peace without spot and blameless" (or still more correctly translated: pure and blameless). Be diligent to be pure in mind and in heart, correct in your conscience and in peace with God. Only in that way will the last awaiting not frighten you with unexpectancy, nor will it hurl you into the night without day or into sorrow without joy. As everything else in the life of the Lord Jesus was a surprise for man, thus will be His Second Coming unexpected, in power and in glory. Unexpected was His birth by the All-holy Virgin, unexpected was His poverty, unexpected also was His miracle-working and every word and humiliation and voluntary death, the resurrection, the ascension, the Church and the spreading of His Faith. Unexpected will be His Second Coming, unexpectation more frightful than all other unexpectations.
O Lord, O righteous Judge, how will we meet You, unclad in purity and blameless even in peace? Help us, help us that however much as possible we may prepare for the dreadful encounter with You.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.